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Title: He Knew He Was Right
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 "He Knew He Was Right" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D., and Delpine Lettau



Transcriber's note:

      This novel was first published in serial form in 1868-1869,
      followed by a two-volume book version in 1869. Both were
      illustrated by Marcus Stone, and those illustrations can
      be seen in the HTML version of this e-text. See
HE KNEW HE WAS RIGHT

by

ANTHONY TROLLOPE

With Illustrations by Marcus Stone



CONTENTS

         I. SHEWING HOW WRATH BEGAN.
        II. COLONEL OSBORNE.
       III. LADY MILBOROUGH'S DINNER PARTY.
        IV. HUGH STANBURY.
         V. SHEWING HOW THE QUARREL PROGRESSED.
        VI. SHEWING HOW RECONCILIATION WAS MADE.
       VII. MISS JEMIMA STANBURY, OF EXETER.
      VIII. "I KNOW IT WILL DO."
        IX. SHEWING HOW THE QUARREL PROGRESSED AGAIN.
         X. HARD WORDS.
        XI. LADY MILBOROUGH AS AMBASSADOR.
       XII. MISS STANBURY'S GENEROSITY.
      XIII. THE HONOURABLE MR. GLASCOCK.
       XIV. THE CLOCK HOUSE AT NUNCOMBE PUTNEY.
        XV. WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT IT IN THE CLOSE.
       XVI. DARTMOOR.
      XVII. A GENTLEMAN COMES TO NUNCOMBE PUTNEY.
     XVIII. THE STANBURY CORRESPONDENCE.
       XIX. BOZZLE, THE EX-POLICEMAN.
        XX. SHEWING HOW COLONEL OSBORNE WENT TO COCKCHAFFINGTON.
       XXI. SHEWING HOW COLONEL OSBORNE WENT TO NUNCOMBE PUTNEY.
      XXII. SHEWING HOW MISS STANBURY BEHAVED TO HER TWO NIECES.
     XXIII. COLONEL OSBORNE AND MR. BOZZLE RETURN TO LONDON.
      XXIV. NIDDON PARK.
       XXV. HUGH STANBURY SMOKES HIS PIPE.
      XXVI. A THIRD PARTY IS SO OBJECTIONABLE.
     XXVII. MR. TREVELYAN'S LETTER TO HIS WIFE.
    XXVIII. GREAT TRIBULATION.
      XXIX. MR. AND MRS. OUTHOUSE.
       XXX. DOROTHY MAKES UP HER MIND.
      XXXI. MR. BROOKE BURGESS.
     XXXII. THE "FULL MOON" AT ST. DIDDULPH'S.
    XXXIII. HUGH STANBURY SMOKES ANOTHER PIPE.
     XXXIV. PRISCILLA'S WISDOM.
      XXXV. MR. GIBSON'S GOOD FORTUNE.
     XXXVI. MISS STANBURY'S WRATH.
    XXXVII. MONT CENIS.
   XXXVIII. VERDICT OF THE JURY--"MAD, MY LORD."
     XXXIX. MISS NORA ROWLEY IS MALTREATED.
        XL. "C. G."
       XLI. SHEWING WHAT TOOK PLACE AT ST. DIDDULPH'S.
      XLII. MISS STANBURY AND MR. GIBSON BECOME TWO.
     XLIII. LABURNUM COTTAGE.
      XLIV. BROOKE BURGESS TAKES LEAVE OF EXETER.
       XLV. TREVELYAN AT VENICE.
      XLVI. THE AMERICAN MINISTER.
     XLVII. ABOUT FISHING, AND NAVIGATION, AND HEAD-DRESSES.
    XLVIII. MR. GIBSON IS PUNISHED.
      XLIX. MR. BROOKE BURGESS AFTER SUPPER.
         L. CAMILLA TRIUMPHANT.
        LI. SHEWING WHAT HAPPENED DURING MISS STANBURY'S ILLNESS.
       LII. MR. OUTHOUSE COMPLAINS THAT IT'S HARD.
      LIII. HUGH STANBURY IS SHEWN TO BE NO CONJUROR.
       LIV. MR. GIBSON'S THREAT.
        LV. THE REPUBLICAN BROWNING.
       LVI. WITHERED GRASS.
      LVII. DOROTHY'S FATE.
     LVIII. DOROTHY AT HOME.
       LIX. MR. BOZZLE AT HOME.
        LX. ANOTHER STRUGGLE.
       LXI. PARKER'S HOTEL, MOWBRAY STREET.
      LXII. LADY ROWLEY MAKES AN ATTEMPT.
     LXIII. SIR MARMADUKE AT HOME.
      LXIV. SIR MARMADUKE AT HIS CLUB.
       LXV. MYSTERIOUS AGENCIES.
      LXVI. OF A QUARTER OF LAMB.
     LXVII. RIVER'S COTTAGE.
    LXVIII. MAJOR MAGRUDER'S COMMITTEE.
      LXIX. SIR MARMADUKE AT WILLESDEN.
       LXX. SHEWING WHAT NORA ROWLEY THOUGHT ABOUT CARRIAGES.
      LXXI. SHEWING WHAT HUGH STANBURY THOUGHT ABOUT THE DUTY OF MAN.
     LXXII. THE DELIVERY OF THE LAMB.
    LXXIII. DOROTHY RETURNS TO EXETER.
     LXXIV. THE LIONESS AROUSED.
      LXXV. THE ROWLEYS GO OVER THE ALPS.
     LXXVI. "WE SHALL BE SO POOR."
    LXXVII. THE FUTURE LADY PETERBOROUGH.
   LXXVIII. CASALUNGA.
     LXXIX. "I CAN SLEEP ON THE BOARDS."
      LXXX. "WILL THEY DESPISE HIM?"
     LXXXI. MR. GLASCOCK IS MASTER.
    LXXXII. MRS. FRENCH'S CARVING KNIFE.
   LXXXIII. BELLA VICTRIX.
    LXXXIV. SELF-SACRIFICE.
     LXXXV. THE BATHS OF LUCCA.
    LXXXVI. MR. GLASCOCK AS NURSE.
   LXXXVII. MR. GLASCOCK'S MARRIAGE COMPLETED.
  LXXXVIII. CROPPER AND BURGESS.
    LXXXIX. "I WOULDN'T DO IT, IF I WAS YOU."
        XC. LADY ROWLEY CONQUERED.
       XCI. FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING.
      XCII. TREVELYAN DISCOURSES ON LIFE.
     XCIII. "SAY THAT YOU FORGIVE ME."
      XCIV. A REAL CHRISTIAN.
       XCV. TREVELYAN BACK IN ENGLAND.
      XCVI. MONKHAMS.
     XCVII. MRS. BROOKE BURGESS.
    XCVIII. ACQUITTED.
      XCIX. CONCLUSION.



ILLUSTRATIONS

   SHEWING HOW WRATH BEGAN.                         Chapter I
   SHEWING HOW RECONCILIATION WAS MADE.             Chapter VI
   "I ONLY COME AS A MESSENGER."                    Chapter IX
   AUNT STANBURY AT DINNER WILL NOT SPEAK.          Chapter XII
   TO HAVE BEEN THE MOTHER OF A FUTURE PEER!        Chapter XIII
   NORA TRIES TO MAKE HERSELF BELIEVE.              Chapter XVI
   THE WOODEN-LEGGED POSTMAN OF NUNCOMBE PUTNEY.    Chapter XXI
   NIDDON PARK.                                     Chapter XXIV
   THAT THIRD PERSON WAS MR. BOZZLE.                Chapter XXVI
   DOROTHY MAKES UP HER MIND.                       Chapter XXX
   THE "FULL MOON" AT ST. DIDDULPH'S.               Chapter XXXII
   "I WONDER WHY PEOPLE MAKE THESE REPORTS."        Chapter XXXV
   "AM I TO GO?"                                    Chapter XXXIX
   AT ST. DIDDULPH'S.                               Chapter XLI
   BROOKE BURGESS TAKES HIS LEAVE.                  Chapter XLIV
   MISS STANBURY VISITS THE FRENCHES.               Chapter XLVIII
   THE WORLD WAS GOING ROUND WITH DOROTHY.          Chapter LI
   NORA'S LETTER.                                   Chapter LIII
   "BROOKE WANTS ME TO BE HIS WIFE."                Chapter LVII
   "PUT IT ON THE FIRE-BACK, BOZZLE."               Chapter LIX
   "AND WHY DOES HE COME HERE?"                     Chapter LXIII
   "YOU HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN MAMMA?"                   Chapter LXVII
   "BUT YOU MUST GIVE IT UP," SAID SIR MARMADUKE.   Chapter LXX
   "ONLY THE VAGARIES OF AN OLD WOMAN."             Chapter LXXIII
   THE RIVALS.                                      Chapter LXXVI
   "IT IS HARD TO SPEAK SOMETIMES."                 Chapter LXXIX
   CAMILLA'S WRATH.                                 Chapter LXXXII
   TREVELYAN AT CASALUNGA.                          Chapter LXXXIV
   BARTY BURGESS.                                   Chapter LXXXVIII
   "I MUST ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT I MET YOU THERE."   Chapter XC
   NORA'S VEIL.                                     Chapter XCV
   MONKHAMS.                                        Chapter XCVI



CHAPTER I.

SHEWING HOW WRATH BEGAN.


   [Illustration]

When Louis Trevelyan was twenty-four years old, he had all the world
before him where to choose; and, among other things, he chose to go
to the Mandarin Islands, and there fell in love with Emily Rowley,
the daughter of Sir Marmaduke, the governor. Sir Marmaduke Rowley,
at this period of his life, was a respectable middle-aged public
servant, in good repute, who had, however, as yet achieved for
himself neither an exalted position nor a large fortune. He had been
governor of many islands, and had never lacked employment; and now,
at the age of fifty, found himself at the Mandarins, with a salary
of £3,000 a year, living in a temperature at which 80° in the shade
is considered to be cool, with eight daughters, and not a shilling
saved. A governor at the Mandarins who is social by nature and
hospitable on principle, cannot save money in the islands even on
£3,000 a year when he has eight daughters. And at the Mandarins,
though hospitality is a duty, the gentlemen who ate Sir Rowley's
dinners were not exactly the men whom he or Lady Rowley desired to
welcome to their bosoms as sons-in-law. Nor when Mr. Trevelyan came
that way, desirous of seeing everything in the somewhat indefinite
course of his travels, had Emily Rowley, the eldest of the flock,
then twenty years of age, seen as yet any Mandariner who exactly came
up to her fancy. And, as Louis Trevelyan was a remarkably handsome
young man, who was well connected, who had been ninth wrangler at
Cambridge, who had already published a volume of poems, and who
possessed £3,000 a year of his own, arising from various perfectly
secure investments, he was not forced to sigh long in vain. Indeed,
the Rowleys, one and all, felt that providence had been very good to
them in sending young Trevelyan on his travels in that direction, for
he seemed to be a very pearl among men. Both Sir Marmaduke and Lady
Rowley felt that there might be objections to such a marriage as that
proposed to them, raised by the Trevelyan family. Lady Rowley would
not have liked her daughter to go to England, to be received with
cold looks by strangers. But it soon appeared that there was no one
to make objections. Louis, the lover, had no living relative nearer
than cousins. His father, a barrister of repute, had died a widower,
and had left the money which he had made to an only child. The head
of the family was a first cousin who lived in Cornwall on a moderate
property,--a very good sort of stupid fellow, as Louis said, who
would be quite indifferent as to any marriage that his cousin might
make. No man could be more independent or more clearly justified in
pleasing himself than was this lover. And then he himself proposed
that the second daughter, Nora, should come and live with them in
London. What a lover to fall suddenly from the heavens into such a
dovecote!

"I haven't a penny-piece to give to either of them," said Sir Rowley.

"It is my idea that girls should not have fortunes," said Trevelyan.
"At any rate, I am quite sure that men should never look for money.
A man must be more comfortable, and, I think, is likely to be more
affectionate, when the money has belonged to himself."

Sir Rowley was a high-minded gentleman, who would have liked to have
handed over a few thousand pounds on giving up his daughters; but,
having no thousands of pounds to hand over, he could not but admire
the principles of his proposed son-in-law. As it was about time for
him to have his leave of absence, he and sundry of the girls went to
England with Mr. Trevelyan, and the wedding was celebrated in London
by the Rev. Oliphant Outhouse, of Saint Diddulph-in-the-East, who
had married Sir Rowley's sister. Then a small house was taken and
furnished in Curzon Street, Mayfair, and the Rowleys went back to the
seat of their government, leaving Nora, the second girl, in charge of
her elder sister.

The Rowleys had found, on reaching London, that they had lighted upon
a pearl indeed. Louis Trevelyan was a man of whom all people said
all good things. He might have been a fellow of his college had he
not been a man of fortune. He might already,--so Sir Rowley was
told,--have been in Parliament, had he not thought it to be wiser to
wait awhile. Indeed, he was very wise in many things. He had gone
out on his travels thus young,--not in search of excitement, to kill
beasts, or to encounter he knew not what novelty and amusement,--but
that he might see men and know the world. He had been on his travels
for more than a year when the winds blew him to the Mandarins. Oh,
how blessed were the winds! And, moreover, Sir Rowley found that his
son-in-law was well spoken of at the clubs by those who had known him
during his university career, as a man popular as well as wise, not
a book-worm, or a dry philosopher, or a prig. He could talk on all
subjects, was very generous, a man sure to be honoured and respected;
and then such a handsome, manly fellow, with short brown hair, a nose
divinely chiselled, an Apollo's mouth, six feet high, with shoulders
and legs and arms in proportion,--a pearl of pearls! Only, as Lady
Rowley was the first to find out, he liked to have his own way.

"But his way is such a good way," said Sir Marmaduke. "He will be
such a good guide for the girls!"

"But Emily likes her way too," said Lady Rowley.

Sir Marmaduke argued the matter no further, but thought, no doubt,
that such a husband as Louis Trevelyan was entitled to have his own
way. He probably had not observed his daughter's temper so accurately
as his wife had done. With eight of them coming up around him, how
should he have observed their tempers? At any rate, if there were
anything amiss with Emily's temper, it would be well that she should
find her master in such a husband as Louis Trevelyan.

For nearly two years the little household in Curzon Street went on
well, or if anything was the matter no one outside of the little
household was aware of it. And there was a baby, a boy, a young
Louis, and a baby in such a household is apt to make things go
sweetly.

The marriage had taken place in July, and after the wedding tour
there had been a winter and a spring in London; and then they passed
a month or two at the sea-side, after which the baby had been born.
And then there came another winter and another spring. Nora Rowley
was with them in London, and by this time Mr. Trevelyan had begun to
think that he should like to have his own way completely. His baby
was very nice, and his wife was clever, pretty, and attractive. Nora
was all that an unmarried sister should be. But,--but there had come
to be trouble and bitter words. Lady Rowley had been right when she
said that her daughter Emily also liked to have her own way.

"If I am suspected," said Mrs. Trevelyan to her sister one morning,
as they sat together in the little back drawing-room, "life will not
be worth having."

"How can you talk of being suspected, Emily?"

"What does he mean then by saying that he would rather not have
Colonel Osborne here? A man older than my own father, who has known
me since I was a baby!"

"He didn't mean anything of that kind, Emily. You know he did not,
and you should not say so. It would be too horrible to think of."

"It was a great deal too horrible to be spoken, I know. If he does
not beg my pardon, I shall,--I shall continue to live with him, of
course, as a sort of upper servant, because of baby. But he shall
know what I think and feel."

"If I were you I would forget it."

"How can I forget it? Nothing that I can do pleases him. He is civil
and kind to you because he is not your master; but you don't know
what things he says to me. Am I to tell Colonel Osborne not to come?
Heavens and earth! How should I ever hold up my head again if I were
driven to do that? He will be here to-day I have no doubt; and Louis
will sit there below in the library, and hear his step, and will not
come up."

"Tell Richard to say you are not at home."

"Yes; and everybody will understand why. And for what am I to deny
myself in that way to the best and oldest friend I have? If any such
orders are to be given, let him give them and then see what will come
of it."

Mrs. Trevelyan had described Colonel Osborne truly as far as words
went, in saying that he had known her since she was a baby, and that
he was an older man than her father. Colonel Osborne's age exceeded
her father's by about a month, and as he was now past fifty, he might
be considered perhaps, in that respect, to be a safe friend for a
young married woman. But he was in every respect a man very different
from Sir Marmaduke. Sir Marmaduke, blessed and at the same time
burdened as he was with a wife and eight daughters, and condemned as
he had been to pass a large portion of his life within the tropics,
had become at fifty what many people call quite a middle-aged man.
That is to say, he was one from whom the effervescence and elasticity
and salt of youth had altogether passed away. He was fat and slow,
thinking much of his wife and eight daughters, thinking much also of
his dinner. Now Colonel Osborne was a bachelor, with no burdens but
those imposed upon him by his position as a member of Parliament,--a
man of fortune to whom the world had been very easy. It was not
therefore said so decidedly of him as of Sir Marmaduke, that he
was a middle-aged man, although he had probably already lived more
than two-thirds of his life. And he was a good-looking man of his
age, bald indeed at the top of his head, and with a considerable
sprinkling of grey hair through his bushy beard; but upright in his
carriage, active, and quick in his step, who dressed well, and was
clearly determined to make the most he could of what remained to him
of the advantages of youth. Colonel Osborne was always so dressed
that no one ever observed the nature of his garments, being no doubt
well aware that no man after twenty-five can afford to call special
attention to his coat, his hat, his cravat, or his trousers; but
nevertheless the matter was one to which he paid much attention, and
he was by no means lax in ascertaining what his tailor did for him.
He always rode a pretty horse, and mounted his groom on one at any
rate as pretty. He was known to have an excellent stud down in the
shires, and had the reputation of going well with hounds. Poor Sir
Marmaduke could not have ridden a hunt to save either his government
or his credit. When, therefore, Mrs. Trevelyan declared to her sister
that Colonel Osborne was a man whom she was entitled to regard with
semi-parental feelings of veneration because he was older than her
father, she made a comparison which was more true in the letter than
in the spirit. And when she asserted that Colonel Osborne had known
her since she was a baby, she fell again into the same mistake.
Colonel Osborne had indeed known her when she was a baby, and had in
old days been the very intimate friend of her father; but of herself
he had seen little or nothing since those baby days, till he had met
her just as she was about to become Mrs. Trevelyan; and though it was
natural that so old a friend should come to her and congratulate her
and renew his friendship, nevertheless it was not true that he made
his appearance in her husband's house in the guise of the useful old
family friend, who gives silver cups to the children and kisses the
little girls for the sake of the old affection which he has borne for
the parents. We all know the appearance of that old gentleman, how
pleasant and dear a fellow he is, how welcome is his face within the
gate, how free he makes with our wine, generally abusing it, how he
tells our eldest daughter to light his candle for him, how he gave
silver cups when the girls were born, and now bestows tea-services as
they get married,--a most useful, safe, and charming fellow, not a
year younger-looking or more nimble than ourselves, without whom life
would be very blank. We all know that man; but such a man was not
Colonel Osborne in the house of Mr. Trevelyan's young bride.

Emily Rowley, when she was brought home from the Mandarin Islands
to be the wife of Louis Trevelyan, was a very handsome young woman,
tall, with a bust rather full for her age, with dark eyes--eyes that
looked to be dark because her eye-brows and eye-lashes were nearly
black, but which were in truth so varying in colour, that you could
not tell their hue. Her brown hair was very dark and very soft; and
the tint of her complexion was brown also, though the colour of her
cheeks was often so bright as to induce her enemies to say falsely of
her that she painted them. And she was very strong, as are some girls
who come from the tropics, and whom a tropical climate has suited.
She could sit on her horse the whole day long, and would never be
weary with dancing at the Government House balls. When Colonel
Osborne was introduced to her as the baby whom he had known, he
thought it would be very pleasant to be intimate with so pleasant a
friend,--meaning no harm indeed, as but few men do mean harm on such
occasions,--but still, not regarding the beautiful young woman whom
he had seen as one of a generation succeeding to that of his own, to
whom it would be his duty to make himself useful on account of the
old friendship which he bore to her father.

It was, moreover, well known in London,--though not known at all
to Mrs. Trevelyan,--that this ancient Lothario had before this
made himself troublesome in more than one family. He was fond of
intimacies with married ladies, and perhaps was not averse to the
excitement of marital hostility. It must be remembered, however, that
the hostility to which allusion is here made was not the hostility
of the pistol or the horsewhip,--nor, indeed, was it generally the
hostility of a word of spoken anger. A young husband may dislike
the too-friendly bearing of a friend, and may yet abstain from that
outrage on his own dignity and on his wife, which is conveyed by a
word of suspicion. Louis Trevelyan having taken a strong dislike to
Colonel Osborne, and having failed to make his wife understand that
this dislike should have induced her to throw cold water upon the
Colonel's friendship, had allowed himself to speak a word which
probably he would have willingly recalled as soon as spoken. But
words spoken cannot be recalled, and many a man and many a woman who
has spoken a word at once regretted, are far too proud to express
that regret. So it was with Louis Trevelyan when he told his wife
that he did not wish Colonel Osborne to come so often to his house.
He had said it with a flashing eye and an angry tone; and though she
had seen the eye flash before, and was familiar with the angry tone,
she had never before felt herself to be insulted by her husband. As
soon as the word had been spoken Trevelyan had left the room, and had
gone down among his books. But when he was alone, he knew that he
had insulted his wife. He was quite aware that he should have spoken
to her gently, and have explained to her, with his arm round her
waist, that it would be better for both of them that this friend's
friendship should be limited. There is so much in a turn of the eye
and in the tone given to a word when such things have to be said,--so
much more of importance than in the words themselves. As Trevelyan
thought of this, and remembered what his manner had been, how much
anger he had expressed, how far he had been from having his arm round
his wife's waist as he spoke to her, he almost made up his mind to
go up-stairs and to apologise. But he was one to whose nature the
giving of any apology was repulsive. He could not bear to have to own
himself to have been wrong. And then his wife had been most provoking
in her manner to him. When he had endeavoured to make her understand
his wishes by certain disparaging hints which he had thrown out as to
Colonel Osborne, saying that he was a dangerous man, one who did not
show his true character, a snake in the grass, a man without settled
principles, and such like, his wife had taken up the cudgels for her
friend, and had openly declared that she did not believe a word of
the things that were alleged against him. "But still, for all that,
it is true," the husband had said. "I have no doubt that you think
so," the wife had replied. "Men do believe evil of one another, very
often. But you must excuse me if I say that I think you are mistaken.
I have known Colonel Osborne much longer than you have done, Louis,
and papa has always had the highest opinion of him." Then Mr.
Trevelyan had become very angry, and had spoken those words which
he could not recall. As he walked to and fro among his books
down-stairs, he almost felt that he ought to beg his wife's pardon.
He knew his wife well enough to be sure that she would not forgive
him unless he did so. He would do so, he thought, but not exactly
now. A moment would come in which it might be easier than at present.
He would be able to assure her when he went up to dress for dinner,
that he had meant no harm. They were going out to dine at the house
of a lady of rank, the Countess Dowager of Milborough, a lady
standing high in the world's esteem, of whom his wife stood a little
in awe; and he calculated that this feeling, if it did not make his
task easy would yet take from it some of its difficulty. Emily would
be, not exactly cowed, by the prospect of Lady Milborough's dinner,
but perhaps a little reduced from her usual self-assertion. He would
say a word to her when he was dressing, assuring her that he had not
intended to animadvert in the slightest degree upon her own conduct.


   [Illustration: Shewing how wrath began.]


Luncheon was served, and the two ladies went down into the
dining-room. Mr. Trevelyan did not appear. There was nothing in
itself singular in that, as he was accustomed to declare that
luncheon was a meal too much in the day, and that a man should eat
nothing beyond a biscuit between breakfast and dinner. But he would
sometimes come in and eat his biscuit standing on the hearth-rug,
and drink what he would call half a quarter of a glass of sherry. It
would probably have been well that he should have done so now; but
he remained in his library behind the dining-room, and when his wife
and his sister-in-law had gone up-stairs, he became anxious to learn
whether Colonel Osborne would come on that day, and, if so, whether
he would be admitted. He had been told that Nora Rowley was to be
called for by another lady, a Mrs. Fairfax, to go out and look at
pictures. His wife had declined to join Mrs. Fairfax's party, having
declared that, as she was going to dine out, she would not leave
her baby all the afternoon. Louis Trevelyan, though he strove to
apply his mind to an article which he was writing for a scientific
quarterly review, could not keep himself from anxiety as to this
expected visit from Colonel Osborne. He was not in the least jealous.
He swore to himself fifty times over that any such feeling on his
part would be a monstrous injury to his wife. Nevertheless he knew
that he would be gratified if on that special day Colonel Osborne
should be informed that his wife was not at home. Whether the man
were admitted or not, he would beg his wife's pardon; but he could,
he thought, do so with more thorough efficacy and affection if she
should have shown a disposition to comply with his wishes on this
day.

"Do say a word to Richard," said Nora to her sister in a whisper as
they were going up-stairs after luncheon.

"I will not," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"May I do it?"

"Certainly not, Nora. I should feel that I were demeaning myself were
I to allow what was said to me in such a manner to have any effect
upon me."

"I think you are so wrong, Emily. I do indeed."

"You must allow me to be the best judge what to do in my own house,
and with my own husband."

"Oh, yes; certainly."

"If he gives me any command I will obey it. Or if he had expressed
his wish in any other words I would have complied. But to be told
that he would rather not have Colonel Osborne here! If you had seen
his manner and heard his words, you would not have been surprised
that I should feel it as I do. It was a gross insult,--and it was not
the first."

As she spoke the fire flashed from her eye, and the bright red colour
of her cheek told a tale of her anger which her sister well knew how
to read. Then there was a knock at the door, and they both knew that
Colonel Osborne was there. Louis Trevelyan, sitting in his library,
also knew of whose coming that knock gave notice.



CHAPTER II.

COLONEL OSBORNE.


It has been already said that Colonel Osborne was a bachelor, a man
of fortune, a member of Parliament, and one who carried his half
century of years lightly on his shoulders. It will only be necessary
to say further of him that he was a man popular with those among
whom he lived, as a politician, as a sportsman, and as a member
of society. He could speak well in the House, though he spoke but
seldom, and it was generally thought of him that he might have been
something considerable, had it not suited him better to be nothing at
all. He was supposed to be a Conservative, and generally voted with
the Conservative party; but he could boast that he was altogether
independent, and on an occasion would take the trouble of proving
himself to be so. He was in possession of excellent health; had all
that the world could give; was fond of books, pictures, architecture,
and china; had various tastes, and the means of indulging them, and
was one of those few men on whom it seems that every pleasant thing
has been lavished. There was that little slur on his good name to
which allusion has been made; but those who knew Colonel Osborne best
were generally willing to declare that no harm was intended, and
that the evils which arose were always to be attributed to mistaken
jealousy. He had, his friends said, a free and pleasant way with
women which women like,--a pleasant way of free friendship; that
there was no more, and that the harm which had come had always
come from false suspicion. But there were certain ladies about the
town,--good, motherly, discreet women,--who hated the name of Colonel
Osborne, who would not admit him within their doors, who would not
bow to him in other people's houses, who would always speak of him as
a serpent, a hyena, a kite, or a shark. Old Lady Milborough was one
of these, a daughter of a friend of hers having once admitted the
serpent to her intimacy.

"Augustus Poole was wise enough to take his wife abroad," said old
Lady Milborough, discussing about this time with a gossip of hers
the danger of Mrs. Trevelyan's position, "or there would have been a
break-up there; and yet there never was a better girl in the world
than Jane Marriott."

The reader may be quite certain that Colonel Osborne had no
premeditated evil intention when he allowed himself to become the
intimate friend of his old friend's daughter. There was nothing
fiendish in his nature. He was not a man who boasted of his
conquests. He was not a ravening wolf going about seeking whom he
might devour, and determined to devour whatever might come in his
way; but he liked that which was pleasant; and of all pleasant things
the company of a pretty clever woman was to him the pleasantest. At
this exact period of his life no woman was so pleasantly pretty to
him, and so agreeably clever, as Mrs. Trevelyan.

When Louis Trevelyan heard on the stairs the step of the dangerous
man, he got up from his chair as though he too would have gone into
the drawing-room, and it would perhaps have been well had he done so.
Could he have done this, and kept his temper with the man, he would
have paved the way for an easy reconciliation with his wife. But when
he reached the door of his room, and had placed his hand upon the
lock, he withdrew again. He told himself he withdrew because he would
not allow himself to be jealous; but in truth he did so because he
knew he could not have brought himself to be civil to the man he
hated. So he sat down, and took up his pen, and began to cudgel
his brain about the scientific article. He was intent on raising a
dispute with some learned pundit about the waves of sound,--but he
could think of no other sound than that of the light steps of Colonel
Osborne as he had gone up-stairs. He put down his pen, and clenched
his fist, and allowed a black frown to settle upon his brow. What
right had the man to come there, unasked by him, and disturb his
happiness? And then this poor wife of his, who knew so little of
English life, who had lived in the Mandarin Islands almost since she
had been a child, who had lived in one colony or another almost since
she had been born, who had had so few of those advantages for which
he should have looked in marrying a wife, how was the poor girl to
conduct herself properly when subjected to the arts and practised
villanies of this viper? And yet the poor girl was so stiff in her
temper, had picked up such a trick of obstinacy in those tropical
regions, that Louis Trevelyan felt that he did not know how to manage
her. He too had heard how Jane Marriott had been carried off to
Naples after she had become Mrs. Poole. Must he too carry off his
wife to Naples in order to place her out of the reach of this hyena?
It was terrible to him to think that he must pack up everything and
run away from such a one as Colonel Osborne. And even were he to
consent to do this, how could he explain it all to that very wife for
whose sake he would do it? If she got a hint of the reason she would,
he did not doubt, refuse to go. As he thought of it, and as that
visit up-stairs prolonged itself, he almost thought it would be best
for him to be round with her! We all know what a husband means when
he resolves to be round with his wife. He began to think that he
would not apologise at all for the words he had spoken,--but would
speak them again somewhat more sharply than before. She would be
very wrathful with him; there would be a silent enduring indignation,
which, as he understood well, would be infinitely worse than any
torrent of words. But was he, a man, to abstain from doing that which
he believed to be his duty because he was afraid of his wife's anger?
Should he be deterred from saying that which he conceived it would
be right that he should say, because she was stiff-necked? No. He
would not apologise, but would tell her again that it was necessary,
both for his happiness and for hers, that all intimacy with Colonel
Osborne should be discontinued.

He was brought to this strongly marital resolution by the length of
the man's present visit; by that and by the fact that, during the
latter portion of it, his wife was alone with Colonel Osborne. Nora
had been there when the man came, but Mrs. Fairfax had called, not
getting out of her carriage, and Nora had been constrained to go down
to her. She had hesitated a moment, and Colonel Osborne had observed
and partly understood the hesitation. When he saw it, had he been
perfectly well-minded in the matter, he would have gone too. But he
probably told himself that Nora Rowley was a fool, and that in such
matters it was quite enough for a man to know that he did not intend
any harm.

"You had better go down, Nora," said Mrs. Trevelyan; "Mrs. Fairfax
will be ever so angry if you keep her waiting."

Then Nora had gone and the two were alone together. Nora had gone,
and Trevelyan had heard her as she was going and knew that Colonel
Osborne was alone with his wife.

"If you can manage that it will be so nice," said Mrs. Trevelyan,
continuing the conversation.

"My dear Emily," he said, "you must not talk of my managing it, or
you will spoil it all."

He had called them both Emily and Nora when Sir Marmaduke and Lady
Rowley were with them before the marriage, and, taking the liberty of
a very old family friend, had continued the practice. Mrs. Trevelyan
was quite aware that she had been so called by him in the presence of
her husband,--and that her husband had not objected. But that was now
some months ago, before baby was born; and she was aware also that
he had not called her so latterly in presence of her husband. She
thoroughly wished that she knew how to ask him not to do so again;
but the matter was very difficult, as she could not make such a
request without betraying some fear on her husband's part. The
subject which they were now discussing was too important to her
to allow her to dwell upon this trouble at the moment, and so she
permitted him to go on with his speech.

"If I were to manage it, as you call it,--which I can't do at
all,--it would be a gross job."

"That's all nonsense to us, Colonel Osborne. Ladies always like
political jobs, and think that they,--and they only,--make politics
bearable. But this would not be a job at all. Papa could do it better
than anybody else. Think how long he has been at it!"

The matter in discussion was the chance of an order being sent out to
Sir Marmaduke to come home from his islands at the public expense,
to give evidence, respecting colonial government in general, to a
committee of the House of Commons which was about to sit on the
subject. The committee had been voted, and two governors were to be
brought home for the purpose of giving evidence. What arrangement
could be so pleasant to a governor living in the Mandarin Islands,
who had had a holiday lately, and who could but ill afford to
take any holidays at his own expense? Colonel Osborne was on this
committee, and, moreover, was on good terms at the Colonial Office.
There were men in office who would be glad to do Colonel Osborne a
service, and then if this were a job, it would be so very little of
a job! Perhaps Sir Marmaduke might not be the very best man for the
purpose. Perhaps the government of the Mandarins did not afford the
best specimen of that colonial lore which it was the business of the
committee to master. But then two governors were to come, and it
might be as well to have one of the best sort, and one of the second
best. No one supposed that excellent old Sir Marmaduke was a paragon
of a governor, but then he had an infinity of experience! For over
twenty years he had been from island to island, and had at least
steered clear of great scrapes.

"We'll try it, at any rate," said the Colonel.

"Do, Colonel Osborne. Mamma would come with him, of course?"

"We should leave him to manage all that. It's not very likely that he
would leave Lady Rowley behind."

"He never has. I know he thinks more of mamma than he ever does of
himself. Fancy having them here in the autumn! I suppose if he came
for the end of the session, they wouldn't send him back quite at
once?"

"I rather fancy that our foreign and colonial servants know how to
stretch a point when they find themselves in England."

"Of course they do, Colonel Osborne; and why shouldn't they? Think of
all that they have to endure out in those horrible places. How would
you like to live in the Mandarins?"

"I should prefer London, certainly."

"Of course you would; and you mustn't begrudge papa a month or two
when he comes. I never cared about your being in Parliament before,
but I shall think so much of you now if you can manage to get papa
home."

There could be nothing more innocent than this,--nothing more
innocent at any rate as regarded any offence against Mr. Trevelyan.
But just then there came a word which a little startled Mrs.
Trevelyan, and made her feel afraid that she was doing wrong.

"I must make one stipulation with you, Emily," said the Colonel.

"What is that?"

"You must not tell your husband."

"Oh, dear! and why not?"

"I am sure you are sharp enough to see why you should not. A word of
this repeated at any club would put an end at once to your project,
and would be very damaging to me. And, beyond that, I wouldn't wish
him to know that I had meddled with it at all. I am very chary of
having my name connected with anything of the kind; and, upon my
word, I wouldn't do it for any living human being but yourself.
You'll promise me, Emily?"

She gave the promise, but there were two things in the matter, as it
stood at present, which she did not at all like. She was very averse
to having any secret from her husband with Colonel Osborne; and she
was not at all pleased at being told that he was doing for her a
favour that he would not have done for any other living human being.
Had he said so to her yesterday, before those offensive words had
been spoken by her husband, she would not have thought much about it.
She would have connected the man's friendship for herself with his
very old friendship for her father, and she would have regarded the
assurance as made to the Rowleys in general, and not to herself in
particular. But now, after what had occurred, it pained her to be
told by Colonel Osborne that he would make, specially on her behalf,
a sacrifice of his political pride which he would make for no other
person living. And then, as he had called her by her Christian name,
as he had exacted the promise, there had been a tone of affection in
his voice that she had almost felt to be too warm. But she gave the
promise; and when he pressed her hand at parting, she pressed his
again, in token of gratitude for the kindness to be done to her
father and mother.

Immediately afterwards Colonel Osborne went away, and Mrs. Trevelyan
was left alone in her drawing-room. She knew that her husband was
still down-stairs, and listened for a moment to hear whether he would
now come up to her. And he, too, had heard the Colonel's step as he
went, and for a few moments had doubted whether or no he would at
once go to his wife. Though he believed himself to be a man very firm
of purpose, his mind had oscillated backwards and forwards within the
last quarter of an hour between those two purposes of being round
with his wife, and of begging her pardon for the words which he
had already spoken. He believed that he would best do his duty by
that plan of being round with her; but then it would be so much
pleasanter--at any rate, so much easier, to beg her pardon. But of
one thing he was quite certain, he must by some means exclude Colonel
Osborne from his house. He could not live and continue to endure the
feelings which he had suffered while sitting down-stairs at his desk,
with the knowledge that Colonel Osborne was closeted with his wife
up-stairs. It might be that there was nothing in it. That his wife
was innocent he was quite sure. But nevertheless, he was himself so
much affected by some feeling which pervaded him in reference to this
man, that all his energy was destroyed, and his powers of mind and
body were paralysed. He could not, and would not, stand it. Rather
than that he would follow Mr. Poole, and take his wife to Naples. So
resolving, he put his hat on his head and walked out of the house. He
would have the advantage of the afternoon's consideration before he
took either the one step or the other.

As soon as he was gone Emily Trevelyan went up-stairs to her baby.
She would not stir as long as there had been a chance of his coming
to her. She very much wished that he would come, and had made up her
mind, in spite of the fierceness of her assertion to her sister, to
accept any slightest hint at an apology which her husband might offer
to her. To this state of mind she was brought by the consciousness of
having a secret from him, and by a sense not of impropriety on her
own part, but of conduct which some people might have called improper
in her mode of parting from the man against whom her husband had
warned her. The warmth of that hand-pressing, and the affectionate
tone in which her name had been pronounced, and the promise made to
her, softened her heart towards her husband. Had he gone to her now
and said a word to her in gentleness all might have been made right.
But he did not go to her.

"If he chooses to be cross and sulky, he may be cross and sulky,"
said Mrs. Trevelyan to herself as she went up to her baby.

"Has Louis been with you?" Nora asked, as soon as Mrs. Fairfax had
brought her home.

"I have not seen him since you left me," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"I suppose he went out before Colonel Osborne?"

"No, indeed. He waited till Colonel Osborne had gone, and then he
went himself; but he did not come near me. It is for him to judge of
his own conduct, but I must say that I think he is very foolish."

This the young wife said in a tone which clearly indicated that she
had judged her husband's conduct, and had found it to be very foolish
indeed.

"Do you think that papa and mamma will really come?" said Nora,
changing the subject of conversation.

"How can I tell? How am I to know? After all that has passed I am
afraid to say a word lest I should be accused of doing wrong. But
remember this, Nora, you are not to speak of it to any one."

"You will tell Louis?"

"No; I will tell no one."

"Dear, dear Emily; pray do not keep anything secret from him."

"What do you mean by secret? There isn't any secret. Only in such
matters as that,--about politics,--no gentleman likes to have his
name talked about!"

A look of great distress came upon Nora's face as she heard this. To
her it seemed to be very bad that there should be a secret between
her sister and Colonel Osborne to be kept from her brother-in-law.

"I suppose you will suspect me next?" said Mrs. Trevelyan, angrily.

"Emily, how can you say anything so cruel?"

"You look as if you did."

"I only mean that I think it would be wiser to tell all this to
Louis."

"How can I tell him Colonel Osborne's private business, when Colonel
Osborne has desired me not to do so. For whose sake is Colonel
Osborne doing this? For papa's and mamma's! I suppose Louis won't
be--jealous, because I want to have papa and mamma home. It would not
be a bit less unreasonable than the other."



CHAPTER III.

LADY MILBOROUGH'S DINNER PARTY.


Louis Trevelyan went down to his club in Pall Mall, the Acrobats, and
there heard a rumour that added to his anger against Colonel Osborne.
The Acrobats was a very distinguished club, into which it was now
difficult for a young man to find his way, and almost impossible
for a man who was no longer young, and therefore known to many. It
had been founded some twenty years since with the idea of promoting
muscular exercise and gymnastic amusements; but the promoters had
become fat and lethargic, and the Acrobats spent their time mostly in
playing whist, and in ordering and eating their dinners. There were
supposed to be, in some out-of-the-way part of the building, certain
poles and sticks and parallel bars with which feats of activity might
be practised, but no one ever asked for them now-a-days, and a man,
when he became an Acrobat, did so with a view either to the whist or
the cook, or possibly to the social excellences of the club. Louis
Trevelyan was an Acrobat;--as was also Colonel Osborne.

"So old Rowley is coming home," said one distinguished Acrobat to
another in Trevelyan's hearing.

"How the deuce is he managing that? He was here a year ago?"

"Osborne is getting it done. He is to come as a witness for this
committee. It must be no end of a lounge for him. It doesn't count as
leave, and he has every shilling paid for him, down to his cab-fares
when he goes out to dinner. There's nothing like having a friend at
Court."

Such was the secrecy of Colonel Osborne's secret! He had been so
chary of having his name mentioned in connection with a political
job, that he had found it necessary to impose on his young friend
the burden of a secret from her husband, and yet the husband heard
the whole story told openly at his club on the same day! There was
nothing in the story to anger Trevelyan had he not immediately felt
that there must be some plan in the matter between his wife and
Colonel Osborne, of which he had been kept ignorant. Hitherto,
indeed, his wife, as the reader knows, could not have told him. He
had not seen her since the matter had been discussed between her and
her friend. But he was angry because he first learned at his club
that which he thought he ought to have learned at home.

As soon as he reached his house he went at once to his wife's room,
but her maid was with her, and nothing could be said at that moment.
He then dressed himself, intending to go to Emily as soon as the girl
had left her; but the girl remained,--was, as he believed, kept in
the room purposely by his wife, so that he should have no moment of
private conversation. He went down-stairs, therefore, and found Nora
standing by the drawing-room fire.

"So you are dressed first to-day?" he said. "I thought your turn
always came last."

"Emily sent Jenny to me first to-day because she thought you would be
home, and she didn't go up to dress till the last minute."

This was intended well by Nora, but it did not have the desired
effect. Trevelyan, who had no command over his own features, frowned,
and showed that he was displeased. He hesitated a moment, thinking
whether he would ask Nora any question as to this report about her
father and mother; but, before he had spoken, his wife was in the
room.

"We are all late, I fear," said Emily.

"You, at any rate, are the last," said her husband.

"About half a minute," said the wife.

Then they got into the hired brougham which was standing at the door.

Trevelyan, in the sweet days of his early confidence with his wife,
had offered to keep a carriage for her, explaining to her that the
luxury, though costly, would not be beyond his reach. But she had
persuaded him against the carriage, and there had come to be an
agreement that instead of the carriage there should always be an
autumn tour. "One learns something from going about; but one learns
nothing from keeping a carriage," Emily had said. Those had been
happy days, in which it had been intended that everything should
always be rose-coloured. Now he was meditating whether, in lieu of
that autumn tour, it would not be necessary to take his wife away to
Naples altogether, so that she might be removed from the influence
of--of--of--; no, not even to himself would he think of Colonel
Osborne as his wife's lover. The idea was too horrible! And yet, how
dreadful was it that he should have, for any reason, to withdraw her
from the influence of any man!

Lady Milborough lived ever so far away, in Eccleston Square, but
Trevelyan did not say a single word to either of his companions
during the journey. He was cross and vexed, and was conscious that
they knew that he was cross and vexed. Mrs. Trevelyan and her sister
talked to each other the whole way, but they did so in that tone
which clearly indicates that the conversation is made up, not for any
interest attached to the questions asked or the answers given, but
because it is expedient that there should not be silence. Nora said
something about Marshall and Snellgrove, and tried to make believe
that she was very anxious for her sister's answer. And Emily said
something about the opera at Covent Garden, which was intended
to show that her mind was quite at ease. But both of them failed
altogether, and knew that they failed. Once or twice Trevelyan
thought that he would say a word in token, as it were, of repentance.
Like the naughty child who knew that he was naughty, he was trying to
be good. But he could not do it. The fiend was too strong within him.
She must have known that there was a proposition for her father's
return through Colonel Osborne's influence. As that man at the club
had heard it, how could she not have known it? When they got out at
Lady Milborough's door he had spoken to neither of them.

There was a large dull party, made up mostly of old people. Lady
Milborough and Trevelyan's mother had been bosom friends, and
Lady Milborough had on this account taken upon herself to be much
interested in Trevelyan's wife. But Louis Trevelyan himself, in
discussing Lady Milborough with Emily, had rather turned his mother's
old friend into ridicule, and Emily had, of course, followed her
husband's mode of thinking. Lady Milborough had once or twice given
her some advice on small matters, telling her that this or that air
would be good for her baby, and explaining that a mother during a
certain interesting portion of her life, should refresh herself
with a certain kind of malt liquor. Of all counsel on such domestic
subjects Mrs. Trevelyan was impatient,--as indeed it was her nature
to be in all matters, and consequently, authorized as she had been
by her husband's manner of speaking of his mother's friend, she
had taken a habit of quizzing Lady Milborough behind her back,
and almost of continuing the practice before the old lady's face.
Lady Milborough, who was the most affectionate old soul alive,
and good-tempered with her friends to a fault, had never resented
this, but had come to fear that Mrs. Trevelyan was perhaps a little
flighty. She had never as yet allowed herself to say anything worse
of her young friend's wife than that. And she would always add that
that kind of thing would cure itself as the nursery became full. It
must be understood therefore that Mrs. Trevelyan was not anticipating
much pleasure from Lady Milborough's party, and that she had accepted
the invitation as a matter of duty.

There was present among the guests a certain Honourable Charles
Glascock, the eldest son of Lord Peterborough, who made the
affair more interesting to Nora than it was to her sister. It had
been whispered into Nora's ears, by more than one person,--and
among others by Lady Milborough, whose own daughters were all
married,--that she might, if she thought fit, become the Honourable
Mrs. Charles Glascock. Now, whether she might think fit, or
whether she might not, the presence of the gentleman under such
circumstances, as far as she was concerned, gave an interest to the
evening. And as Lady Milborough took care that Mr. Glascock should
take Nora down to dinner, the interest was very great. Mr. Glascock
was a good-looking man, just under forty, in Parliament, heir to
a peerage, and known to be well off in respect to income. Lady
Milborough and Mrs. Trevelyan had told Nora Rowley that should
encouragement in that direction come in her way, she ought to allow
herself to fall in love with Mr. Glascock. A certain amount of
encouragement had come in her way, but she had not as yet allowed
herself to fall in love with Mr. Glascock. It seemed to her that Mr.
Glascock was quite conscious of the advantages of his own position,
and that his powers of talking about other matters than those with
which he was immediately connected were limited. She did believe that
he had in truth paid her the compliment of falling in love with her,
and this is a compliment to which few girls are indifferent. Nora
might perhaps have tried to fall in love with Mr. Glascock, had she
not been forced to make comparisons between him and another. This
other one had not fallen in love with her, as she well knew; and she
certainly had not fallen in love with him. But still, the comparison
was forced upon her, and it did not result in favour of Mr. Glascock.
On the present occasion Mr. Glascock as he sat next to her almost
proposed to her.

"You have never seen Monkhams?" he said. Monkhams was his father's
seat, a very grand place in Worcestershire. Of course he knew very
well that she had never seen Monkhams. How should she have seen it?

"I have never been in that part of England at all," she replied.

"I should so like to show you Monkhams. The oaks there are the finest
in the kingdom. Do you like oaks?"

"Who does not like oaks? But we have none in the islands, and nobody
has ever seen so few as I have."

"I'll show you Monkhams some day. Shall I? Indeed, I hope that some
day I may really show you Monkhams."

Now when an unmarried man talks to a young lady of really showing her
the house in which it will be his destiny to live, he can hardly mean
other than to invite her to live there with him. It must at least be
his purpose to signify that, if duly encouraged, he will so invite
her. But Nora Rowley did not give Mr. Glascock much encouragement on
this occasion.

"I'm afraid it is not likely that anything will ever take me into
that part of the country," she said. There was something perhaps in
her tone which checked Mr. Glascock, so that he did not then press
the invitation.

When the ladies were up-stairs in the drawing-room, Lady Milborough
contrived to seat herself on a couch intended for two persons only,
close to Mrs. Trevelyan. Emily, thinking that she might perhaps hear
some advice about Guinness's stout, prepared herself to be saucy. But
the matter in hand was graver than that. Lady Milborough's mind was
uneasy about Colonel Osborne.

"My dear," said she, "was not your father very intimate with that
Colonel Osborne?"

"He is very intimate with him, Lady Milborough."

"Ah, yes; I thought I had heard so. That makes it of course natural
that you should know him."

"We have known him all our lives," said Emily, forgetting probably
that out of the twenty-three years and some months which she had
hitherto lived, there had been a consecutive period of more than
twenty years in which she had never seen this man whom she had known
all her life.

"That makes a difference, of course; and I don't mean to say anything
against him."

"I hope not, Lady Milborough, because we are all especially fond of
him." This was said with so much of purpose, that poor, dear old Lady
Milborough was stopped in her good work. She knew well the terrible
strait to which Augustus Poole had been brought with his wife,
although nobody supposed that Poole's wife had ever entertained a
wrong thought in her pretty little heart. Nevertheless he had been
compelled to break up his establishment, and take his wife to Naples,
because this horrid Colonel would make himself at home in Mrs.
Poole's drawing-room in Knightsbridge. Augustus Poole, with courage
enough to take any man by the beard, had taking by the beard been
possible, had found it impossible to dislodge the Colonel. He could
not do so without making a row which would have been disgraceful to
himself and injurious to his wife; and therefore he had taken Mrs.
Poole to Naples. Lady Milborough knew the whole story, and thought
that she foresaw that the same thing was about to happen in the
drawing-room in Curzon Street. When she attempted to say a word to
the wife, she found herself stopped. She could not go on in that
quarter after the reception with which the beginning of her word had
been met. But perhaps she might succeed better with the husband.
After all, her friendship was with the Trevelyan side, and not with
the Rowleys.

"My dear Louis," she said, "I want to speak a word to you. Come
here." And then she led him into a distant corner, Mrs. Trevelyan
watching her all the while, and guessing why her husband was thus
carried away. "I just want to give you a little hint, which I am sure
I believe is quite unnecessary," continued Lady Milborough. Then she
paused, but Trevelyan would not speak. She looked into his face, and
saw that it was black. But the man was the only child of her dearest
friend, and she persevered. "Do you know I don't quite like that
Colonel Osborne coming so much to your house." The face before her
became still blacker, but still the man said nothing. "I dare say it
is a prejudice on my part, but I have always disliked him. I think he
is a dangerous friend;--what I call a snake in the grass. And though
Emily's high good sense, and love for you, and general feelings on
such a subject, are just what a husband must desire--Indeed, I am
quite sure that the possibility of anything wrong has never entered
into her head. But it is the very purity of her innocence which makes
the danger. He is a bad man, and I would just say a word to her, if I
were you, to make her understand that his coming to her of a morning
is not desirable. Upon my word, I believe there is nothing he likes
so much as going about and making mischief between men and their
wives."

Thus she delivered herself; and Louis Trevelyan, though he was sore
and angry, could not but feel that she had taken the part of a
friend. All that she had said had been true; all that she had said
to him he had said to himself more than once. He too hated the man.
He believed him to be a snake in the grass. But it was intolerably
bitter to him that he should be warned about his wife's conduct by
any living human being; that he, to whom the world had been so full
of good fortune,--that he, who had in truth taught himself to think
that he deserved so much good fortune, should be made the subject of
care on behalf of his friend, because of danger between himself and
his wife! On the spur of the moment he did not know what answer to
make. "He is not a man whom I like myself," he said.

"Just be careful, Louis, that is all," said Lady Milborough, and then
she was gone.

To be cautioned about his wife's conduct cannot be pleasant to any
man, and it was very unpleasant to Louis Trevelyan. He, too, had been
asked a question about Sir Marmaduke's expected visit to England
after the ladies had left the room. All the town had heard of it
except himself. He hardly spoke another word that evening till the
brougham was announced; and his wife had observed his silence. When
they were seated in the carriage, he together with his wife and Nora
Rowley, he immediately asked a question about Sir Marmaduke. "Emily,"
he said, "is there any truth in a report I hear that your father is
coming home?" No answer was made, and for a moment or two there was
silence. "You must have heard of it, then," he said. "Perhaps you can
tell me, Nora, as Emily will not reply. Have you heard anything of
your father's coming?"

"Yes; I have heard of it," said Nora slowly.

"And why have I not been told?"

"It was to be kept a secret," said Mrs. Trevelyan boldly.

"A secret from me; and everybody else knows it! And why was it to be
a secret?"

"Colonel Osborne did not wish that it should be known," said Mrs.
Trevelyan.

"And what has Colonel Osborne to do between you and your father in
any matter with which I may not be made acquainted? I will have
nothing more between you and Colonel Osborne. You shall not see
Colonel Osborne. Do you hear me?"

"Yes, I hear you, Louis."

"And do you mean to obey me? By G----, you shall obey me. Remember
this, that I lay my positive order upon you, that you shall not see
Colonel Osborne again. You do not know it, perhaps, but you are
already forfeiting your reputation as an honest woman, and bringing
disgrace upon me by your familiarity with Colonel Osborne."

"Oh, Louis, do not say that!" said Nora.

"You had better let him speak it all at once," said Emily.

"I have said what I have got to say. It is now only necessary that
you should give me your solemn assurance that you will obey me."

"If you have said all that you have to say, perhaps you will listen
to me," said his wife.

"I will listen to nothing till you have given me your promise."

"Then I certainly shall not give it you."

"Dear Emily, pray, pray do what he tells you," said Nora.

"She has yet to learn that it is her duty to do as I tell her," said
Trevelyan. "And because she is obstinate, and will not learn from
those who know better than herself what a woman may do, and what she
may not, she will ruin herself, and destroy my happiness."

"I know that you have destroyed my happiness by your unreasonable
jealousy," said the wife. "Have you considered what I must feel in
having such words addressed to me by my husband? If I am fit to be
told that I must promise not to see any man living, I cannot be fit
to be any man's wife." Then she burst out into an hysterical fit of
tears, and in this condition she got out of the carriage, entered her
house, and hurried up to her own room.

"Indeed, she has not been to blame," said Nora to Trevelyan on the
staircase.

"Why has there been a secret kept from me between her and this man;
and that too, after I had cautioned her against being intimate with
him? I am sorry that she should suffer; but it is better that she
should suffer a little now, than that we should both suffer much
by-and-by."

Nora endeavoured to explain to him the truth about the committee, and
Colonel Osborne's promised influence, and the reason why there was to
be a secret. But she was too much in a hurry to get to her sister to
make the matter plain, and he was too much angered to listen to her.
He shook his head when she spoke of Colonel Osborne's dislike to have
his name mentioned in connection with the matter. "All the world
knows it," he said with scornful laughter.

It was in vain that Nora endeavoured to explain to him that though
all the world might know it, Emily herself had only heard of the
proposition as a thing quite unsettled, as to which nothing at
present should be spoken openly. It was in vain to endeavour to make
peace on that night. Nora hurried up to her sister, and found that
the hysterical tears had again given place to anger. She would not
see her husband, unless he would beg her pardon; and he would not see
her unless she would give the promise he demanded. And the husband
and wife did not see each other again on that night.



CHAPTER IV.

HUGH STANBURY.


   [Illustration]

It has been already stated that Nora Rowley was not quite so well
disposed as perhaps she ought to have been, to fall in love with the
Honourable Charles Glascock, there having come upon her the habit of
comparing him with another gentleman whenever this duty of falling in
love with Mr. Glascock was exacted from her. That other gentleman was
one with whom she knew that it was quite out of the question that she
should fall in love, because he had not a shilling in the world; and
the other gentleman was equally aware that it was not open to him to
fall in love with Nora Rowley--for the same reason. In regard to such
matters Nora Rowley had been properly brought up, having been made
to understand by the best and most cautious of mothers, that in that
matter of falling in love it was absolutely necessary that bread and
cheese should be considered. "Romance is a very pretty thing," Lady
Rowley had been wont to say to her daughters, "and I don't think life
would be worth having without a little of it. I should be very sorry
to think that either of my girls would marry a man only because he
had money. But you can't even be romantic without something to eat
and drink." Nora thoroughly understood all this, and being well aware
that her fortune in the world, if it ever was to be made at all,
could only be made by marriage, had laid down for herself certain
hard lines,--lines intended to be as fast as they were hard. Let
what might come to her in the way of likings and dislikings, let the
temptation to her be ever so strong, she would never allow her heart
to rest on a man who, if he should ask her to be his wife, would not
have the means of supporting her. There were many, she knew, who
would condemn such a resolution as cold, selfish, and heartless. She
heard people saying so daily. She read in books that it ought to be
so regarded. But she declared to herself that she would respect the
judgment neither of the people nor of the books. To be poor alone, to
have to live without a husband, to look forward to a life in which
there would be nothing of a career, almost nothing to do, to await
the vacuity of an existence in which she would be useful to no one,
was a destiny which she could teach herself to endure, because it
might probably be forced upon her by necessity. Were her father to
die there would hardly be bread for that female flock to eat. As it
was, she was eating the bread of a man in whose house she was no more
than a visitor. The lot of a woman, as she often told herself, was
wretched, unfortunate, almost degrading. For a woman such as herself
there was no path open to her energy, other than that of getting a
husband. Nora Rowley thought of all this till she was almost sick of
the prospect of her life,--especially sick of it when she was told
with much authority by the Lady Milboroughs of her acquaintance that
it was her bounden duty to fall in love with Mr. Glascock. As to
falling in love with Mr. Glascock, she had not as yet quite made up
her mind. There was so much to be said on that side of the question,
if such falling in love could only be made possible. But she had
quite made up her mind that she would never fall in love with a poor
man. In spite, however, of all that, she felt herself compelled to
make comparisons between Mr. Glascock and one Mr. Hugh Stanbury, a
gentleman who had not a shilling.

Mr. Hugh Stanbury had been at college the most intimate friend of
Louis Trevelyan, and at Oxford had been, in spite of Trevelyan's
successes, a bigger man than his friend. Stanbury had not taken so
high a degree as Trevelyan,--indeed had not gone out in honours at
all. He had done little for the credit of his college, and had never
put himself in the way of wrapping himself up for life in the scanty
lambswool of a fellowship. But he had won for himself reputation as
a clever speaker, as a man who had learned much that college tutors
do not profess to teach, as a hard-headed, ready-witted fellow, who,
having the world as an oyster before him, which it was necessary that
he should open, would certainly find either a knife or a sword with
which to open it.

Immediately on leaving college he had come to town, and had entered
himself at Lincoln's Inn. Now, at the time of our story, he was a
barrister of four years' standing, but had never yet made a guinea.
He had never made a guinea by his work as a barrister, and was
beginning to doubt of himself whether he ever would do so. Not, as he
knew well, that guineas are generally made with ease by barristers
of four years' standing, but because, as he said to his friends, he
did not see his way to the knack of it. He did not know an attorney
in the world, and could not conceive how any attorney should ever
be induced to apply to him for legal aid. He had done his work of
learning his trade about as well as other young men, but had had no
means of distinguishing himself within his reach. He went the Western
Circuit because his aunt, old Miss Stanbury, lived at Exeter, but, as
he declared of himself, had he had another aunt living at York, he
would have had nothing whatsoever to guide him in his choice. He sat
idle in the courts, and hated himself for so sitting. So it had been
with him for two years without any consolation or additional burden
from other employment than that of his profession. After that, by
some chance, he had become acquainted with the editor of the Daily
Record, and by degrees had taken to the writing of articles. He had
been told by all his friends, and especially by Trevelyan, that if
he did this, he might as well sell his gown and wig. He declared,
in reply, that he had no objection to sell his gown and wig. He did
not see how he should ever make more money out of them than he would
do by such sale. But for the articles which he wrote, he received
instant payment, a process which he found to be most consolatory,
most comfortable, and, as he said to Trevelyan, as warm to him as a
blanket in winter.

Trevelyan, who was a year younger than Stanbury, had taken upon
himself to be very angry. He professed that he did not think much of
the trade of a journalist, and told Stanbury that he was sinking from
the highest to almost the lowest business by which an educated man
and a gentleman could earn his bread. Stanbury had simply replied
that he saw some bread on the one side, but none on the other; and
that bread from some side was indispensable to him. Then there had
come to be that famous war between Great Britain and the republic
of Patagonia, and Hugh Stanbury had been sent out as a special
correspondent by the editor and proprietor of the Daily Record.
His letters had been much read, and had called up a great deal of
newspaper pugnacity. He had made important statements which had been
flatly denied, and found to be utterly false; which again had been
warmly reasserted and proved to be most remarkably true to the
letter. In this way the correspondence, and he as its author, became
so much talked about that, on his return to England, he did actually
sell his gown and wig and declare to his friends,--and to Trevelyan
among the number,--that he intended to look to journalism for his
future career.

He had been often at the house in Curzon Street in the earliest
happy days of his friend's marriage, and had thus become
acquainted,--intimately acquainted,--with Nora Rowley. And now again,
since his return from Patagonia, that acquaintance had been renewed.
Quite lately, since the actual sale of that wig and gown had been
effected, he had not been there so frequently as before, because
Trevelyan had expressed his indignation almost too openly.

"That such a man as you should be so faint-hearted," Trevelyan had
said, "is a thing that I can not understand."

"Is a man faint-hearted when he finds it improbable that he shall be
able to leap his horse over a house?"

"What you had to do had been done by hundreds before you."

"What I had to do has never yet been done by any man," replied
Stanbury. "I had to live upon nothing till the lucky hour should
strike."

"I think you have been cowardly," said Trevelyan.

Even this had made no quarrel between the two men; but Stanbury had
expressed himself annoyed by his friend's language, and partly on
that account, and partly perhaps on another, had stayed away from
Curzon Street. As Nora Rowley had made comparisons about him, so had
he made comparisons about her. He had owned to himself that had it
been possible that he should marry, he would willingly entrust his
happiness to Miss Rowley. And he had thought once or twice that
Trevelyan had wished that such an arrangement might be made at some
future day. Trevelyan had always been much more sanguine in expecting
success for his friend at the Bar, than Stanbury had been for
himself. It might well be that such a man as Trevelyan might think
that a clever rising barrister would be an excellent husband for his
sister-in-law, but that a man earning a precarious living as a writer
for a penny paper would be by no means so desirable a connection.
Stanbury, as he thought of this, declared to himself that he would
not care two straws for Trevelyan in the matter, if he could see his
way without other impediments. But the other impediments were there
in such strength and numbers as to make him feel that it could not
have been intended by Fate that he should take to himself a wife.
Although those letters of his to the Daily Record had been so
pre-eminently successful, he had never yet been able to earn by
writing above twenty-five or thirty pounds a month. If that might be
continued to him he could live upon it himself; but, even with his
moderate views, it would not suffice for himself and family.

He had told Trevelyan that while living as an expectant barrister he
had no means of subsistence. In this, as Trevelyan knew, he was not
strictly correct. There was an allowance of £100 a year coming to him
from the aunt whose residence at Exeter had induced him to devote
himself to the Western Circuit. His father had been a clergyman with
a small living in Devonshire, and had now been dead some fifteen
years. His mother and two sisters were still living in a small
cottage in his late father's parish, on the interest of the money
arising from a life insurance. Some pittance from sixty to seventy
pounds a year was all they had among them. But there was a rich aunt,
Miss Stanbury, to whom had come considerable wealth in a manner most
romantic,--the little tale shall be told before this larger tale
is completed,--and this aunt had undertaken to educate and place
out in the world her nephew Hugh. So Hugh had been sent to Harrow,
and then to Oxford,--where he had much displeased his aunt by not
accomplishing great things,--and then had been set down to make his
fortune as a barrister in London, with an allowance of £100 a year,
his aunt having paid, moreover, certain fees for entrance, tuition,
and the like. The very hour in which Miss Stanbury learned that her
nephew was writing for a penny newspaper she sent off a dispatch to
tell him that he must give up her or the penny paper. He replied by
saying that he felt himself called upon to earn his bread in the only
line from which, as it seemed to him, bread would be forthcoming. By
return of post he got another letter to say that he might draw for
the quarter then becoming due, but that that would be the last. And
it was the last.

Stanbury made an ineffectual effort to induce his aunt to make over
the allowance,--or at least a part of it,--to his mother and sisters,
but the old lady paid no attention whatever to the request. She never
had given, and at that moment did not intend to give, a shilling
to the widow and daughters of her brother. Nor did she intend, or
had she ever intended, to leave a shilling of her money to Hugh
Stanbury,--as she had very often told him. The money was, at her
death, to go back to the people from whom it had come to her.

When Nora Rowley made those comparisons between Mr. Hugh Stanbury and
Mr. Charles Glascock, they were always wound up very much in favour
of the briefless barrister. It was not that he was the handsomer man,
for he was by no means handsome, nor was he the bigger man, for Mr.
Glascock was six feet tall; nor was he better dressed, for Stanbury
was untidy rather than otherwise in his outward person. Nor had
he any air of fashion or special grace to recommend him, for he
was undoubtedly an awkward-mannered man. But there was a glance of
sunshine in his eye, and a sweetness in the curl of his mouth when he
smiled, which made Nora feel that it would have been all up with her
had she not made so very strong a law for her own guidance. Stanbury
was a man about five feet ten, with shoulders more than broad in
proportion, stout limbed, rather awkward of his gait, with large feet
and hands, with soft wavy light hair, with light grey eyes, with a
broad, but by no means ugly, nose. His mouth and lips were large, and
he rarely showed his teeth. He wore no other beard than whiskers,
which he was apt to cut away through heaviness of his hand in
shaving, till Nora longed to bid him be more careful. "He doesn't
care what sort of a guy he makes of himself," she once said to her
sister, almost angrily. "He is a plain man, and he knows it," Emily
had replied. Mr. Trevelyan was doubtless a handsome man, and it was
almost on Nora's tongue to say something ill-natured on the subject.
Hugh Stanbury was reputed to be somewhat hot in spirit and manner. He
would be very sage in argument, pounding down his ideas on politics,
religion, or social life with his fist as well as his voice. He was
quick, perhaps, at making antipathies, and quick, too, in making
friendships; impressionable, demonstrative, eager, rapid in his
movements,--sometimes to the great detriment of his shins and
knuckles; and he possessed the sweetest temper that was ever given
to a man for the blessing of a woman. This was the man between whom
and Mr. Glascock Nora Rowley found it to be impossible not to make
comparisons.

On the very day after Lady Milborough's dinner party Stanbury
overtook Trevelyan in the street, and asked his friend where he was
going eastward. Trevelyan was on his way to call upon his lawyer, and
said so. But he did not say why he was going to his lawyer. He had
sent to his wife by Nora that morning to know whether she would make
to him the promise he required. The only answer which Nora could draw
from her sister was a counter question, demanding whether he would
ask her pardon for the injury he had done her. Nora had been most
eager, most anxious, most conciliatory as a messenger; but no good
had come of these messages, and Trevelyan had gone forth to tell all
his trouble to his family lawyer. Old Mr. Bideawhile had been his
father's ancient and esteemed friend, and he could tell things to
Mr. Bideawhile which he could not bring himself to tell to any
other living man; and he could generally condescend to accept Mr.
Bideawhile's advice, knowing that his father before him had been
guided by the same.

"But you are out of your way for Lincoln's Inn Fields," said
Stanbury.

"I have to call at Twining's. And where are you going?"

"I have been three times round St. James's Park to collect my
thoughts," said Stanbury, "and now I am on my way to the Daily R.,
250, Fleet Street. It is my custom of an afternoon. I am prepared
to instruct the British public of to-morrow on any subject, as per
order, from the downfall of a European compact to the price of a
London mutton chop."

"I suppose there is nothing more to be said about it," said
Trevelyan, after a pause.

"Not another word. How should there be? Aunt Jemima has already drawn
tight the purse strings, and it would soon be the casual ward in
earnest if it were not for the Daily R. God bless the Daily R. Only
think what a thing it is to have all subjects open to one, from the
destinies of France to the profit proper to a butcher."

"If you like it!"

"I do like it. It may not be altogether honest. I don't know what
is. But it's a deal honester than defending thieves and bamboozling
juries. How is your wife?"

"She's pretty well, thank you."

Stanbury knew at once from the tone of his friend's voice that there
was something wrong.

"And Louis the less?" he said, asking after Trevelyan's child.

"He's all right."

"And Miss Rowley? When one begins one's inquiries one is bound to go
through the whole family."

"Miss Rowley is pretty well," said Trevelyan.

Previously to this, Trevelyan when speaking of his sister-in-law to
Stanbury, had always called her Nora, and had been wont to speak
of her as though she were almost as much the friend of one of them
as of the other. The change of tone on this occasion was in truth
occasioned by the sadness of the man's thoughts in reference to his
wife, but Stanbury attributed it to another cause. "He need not be
afraid of me," he said to himself, "and at least he should not show
me that he is." Then they parted, Trevelyan going into Twining's
bank, and Stanbury passing on towards the office of the Daily R.

Stanbury had in truth been altogether mistaken as to the state of his
friend's mind on that morning. Trevelyan, although he had, according
to his custom, put in a word in condemnation of the newspaper line of
life, was at the moment thinking whether he would not tell all his
trouble to Hugh Stanbury. He knew that he should not find anywhere,
not even in Mr. Bideawhile, a more friendly or more trustworthy
listener. When Nora Rowley's name had been mentioned, he had not
thought of her. He had simply repeated the name with the usual
answer. He was at the moment cautioning himself against a confidence
which after all might not be necessary, and which on this occasion
was not made. When one is in trouble it is a great ease to tell one's
trouble to a friend; but then one should always wash one's dirty
linen at home. The latter consideration prevailed, and Trevelyan
allowed his friend to go on without burdening him with the story of
that domestic quarrel. Nor did he on that occasion tell it to Mr.
Bideawhile; for Mr. Bideawhile was not found at his chambers.



CHAPTER V.

SHEWING HOW THE QUARREL PROGRESSED.


Trevelyan got back to his own house at about three, and on going into
the library, found on his table a letter to him addressed in his
wife's handwriting. He opened it quickly, hoping to find that promise
which he had demanded, and resolving that if it were made he would at
once become affectionate, yielding, and gentle to his wife. But there
was not a word written by his wife within the envelope. It contained
simply another letter, already opened, addressed to her. This letter
had been brought up to her during her husband's absence from the
house, and was as follows:--


   Acrobats, Thursday.

   DEAR EMILY,

   I have just come from the Colonial Office. It is all
   settled, and Sir M. has been sent for. Of course, you will
   tell T. now.

   Yours, F. O.


The letter was, of course, from Colonel Osborne, and Mrs. Trevelyan,
when she received it, had had great doubts whether she would enclose
it to her husband opened or unopened. She had hitherto refused to
make the promise which her husband exacted, but nevertheless, she was
minded to obey him. Had he included in his demand any requirement
that she should receive no letter from Colonel Osborne, she would not
have opened this one. But nothing had been said about letters, and
she would not shew herself to be afraid. So she read the note, and
then sent it down to be put on Mr. Trevelyan's table in an envelope
addressed to him.

"If he is not altogether blinded, it will show him how cruelly he has
wronged me," said she to her sister. She was sitting at the time with
her boy in her lap, telling herself that the child's features were in
all respects the very same as his father's, and that, come what come
might, the child should always be taught by her to love and respect
his father. And then there came a horrible thought. What if the child
should be taken away from her? If this quarrel, out of which she saw
no present mode of escape, were to lead to a separation between her
and her husband, would not the law, and the judges, and the courts,
and all the Lady Milboroughs of their joint acquaintance into the
bargain, say that the child should go with his father? The judges,
and the courts, and the Lady Milboroughs would, of course, say that
she was the sinner. And what could she do without her boy? Would not
any humility, any grovelling in the dust be better for her than that?
"It is a very poor thing to be a woman," she said to her sister.

"It is perhaps better than being a dog," said Nora; "but, of course,
we can't compare ourselves to men."

"It would be better to be a dog. One wouldn't be made to suffer so
much. When a puppy is taken away from its mother, she is bad enough
for a few days, but she gets over it in a week." There was a pause
then for a few moments. Nora knew well which way ran the current of
her sister's thoughts, and had nothing at the present moment which
she could say on that subject. "It is very hard for a woman to know
what to do," continued Emily, "but if she is to marry, I think she
had better marry a fool. After all, a fool generally knows that he is
a fool, and will trust some one, though he may not trust his wife."

"I will never wittingly marry a fool," said Nora.

"You will marry Mr. Glascock, of course. I don't say that he is a
fool; but I do not think he has that kind of strength which shows
itself in perversity."

"If he asked me, I should not have him;--and he will never ask me."

"He will ask you, and, of course, you'll take him. Why not? You can't
be otherwise than a woman. And you must marry. And this man is a
gentleman, and will be a peer. There is nothing on earth against him,
except that he does not set the Thames on fire. Louis intends to set
the Thames on fire some day, and see what comes of it."

"All the same, I shall not marry Mr. Glascock. A woman can die, at
any rate," said Nora.

"No, she can't. A woman must be decent; and to die of want is very
indecent. She can't die, and she mustn't be in want, and she oughtn't
to be a burden. I suppose it was thought necessary that every man
should have two to choose from; and therefore there are so many more
of us than the world wants. I wonder whether you'd mind taking that
down-stairs to his table? I don't like to send it by the servant; and
I don't want to go myself."

Then Nora had taken the letter down, and left it where Louis
Trevelyan would be sure to find it.

He did find it, and was sorely disappointed when he perceived that
it contained no word from his wife to himself. He opened Colonel
Osborne's note, and read it, and became, as he did so, almost more
angry than before. Who was this man that he should dare to address
another man's wife as "Dear Emily?" At the moment Trevelyan
remembered well enough that he had heard the man so call his wife,
that it had been done openly in his presence, and had not given him
a thought. But Lady Rowley and Sir Marmaduke had then been present
also; and that man on that occasion had been the old friend of the
old father, and not the would-be young friend of the young daughter.
Trevelyan could hardly reason about it, but felt that whereas the one
was not improper, the other was grossly impertinent, and even wicked.
And then, again, his wife, his Emily, was to show to him, to her
husband, or was not to show to him, the letter which she received
from this man, the letter in which she was addressed as "Dear Emily,"
according to this man's judgment and wish, and not according to his
judgment and wish,--not according to the judgment and wish of him who
was her husband, her lord, and her master! "Of course you will tell
T. now." This was intolerable to him. It made him feel that he was
to be regarded as second, and this man to be regarded as first. And
then he began to recapitulate all the good things he had done for his
wife, and all the causes which he had given her for gratitude. Had
he not taken her to his bosom, and bestowed upon her the half of all
that he had simply for herself, asking for nothing more than her
love? He had possessed money, position, a name,--all that makes life
worth having. He had found her in a remote corner of the world, with
no fortune, with no advantages of family or social standing,--so
circumstanced that any friend would have warned him against such
a marriage; but he had given her his heart, and his hand, and his
house, and had asked for nothing in return but that he should be all
in all to her,--that he should be her one god upon earth. And he had
done more even than this. "Bring your sister," he had said. "The
house shall be big enough for her also, and she shall be my sister as
well as yours." Who had ever done more for a woman, or shown a more
absolute confidence? And now what was the return he received? She was
not contented with her one god upon earth, but must make to herself
other gods,--another god, and that too out of a lump of the basest
clay to be found around her. He thought that he could remember to
have heard it said in early days, long before he himself had had
an idea of marrying, that no man should look for a wife from among
the tropics, that women educated amidst the languors of those sunny
climes rarely came to possess those high ideas of conjugal duty and
feminine truth which a man should regard as the first requisites of a
good wife. As he thought of all this, he almost regretted that he had
ever visited the Mandarins, or ever heard the name of Sir Marmaduke
Rowley.

He should have nourished no such thoughts in his heart. He had,
indeed, been generous to his wife and to his wife's family; but we
may almost say that the man who is really generous in such matters,
is unconscious of his own generosity. The giver who gives the most,
gives, and does not know that he gives. And had not she given too?
In that matter of giving between a man and his wife, if each gives
all, the two are equal, let the things given be what they may! King
Cophetua did nothing for his beggar maid, unless she were to him,
after he had married her, as royal a queen as though he had taken her
from the oldest stock of reigning families then extant. Trevelyan
knew all this himself,--had said so to himself a score of times,
though not probably in spoken words or formed sentences. But, that
all was equal between himself and the wife of his bosom, had been
a thing ascertained by him as a certainty. There was no debt of
gratitude from her to him which he did not acknowledge to exist also
as from him to her. But yet, in his anger, he could not keep himself
from thinking of the gifts he had showered upon her. And he had been,
was, would ever be, if she would only allow it, so true to her! He
had selected no other friend to take her place in his councils! There
was no "dear Mary," or "dear Augusta," with whom he had secrets to
be kept from his wife. When there arose with him any question of
interest,--question of interest such as was this of the return of Sir
Marmaduke to her,--he would show it in all its bearings to his wife.
He had his secrets too, but his secrets had all been made secrets for
her also. There was not a woman in the world in whose company he took
special delight in her absence.

And if there had been, how much less would have been her ground of
complaint? Let a man have any such friendships,--what friendships he
may,--he does not disgrace his wife. He felt himself to be so true of
heart that he desired no such friendships; but for a man indulging in
such friendships there might be excuse. Even though a man be false,
a woman is not shamed and brought unto the dust before all the world.
But the slightest rumour on a woman's name is a load of infamy on
her husband's shoulders. It was not enough for Cæsar that his wife
should be true; it was necessary to Cæsar that she should not even be
suspected. Trevelyan told himself that he suspected his wife of no
sin. God forbid that it should ever come to that, both for his sake
and for hers; and, above all, for the sake of that boy who was so
dear to them both! But there would be the vile whispers, and dirty
slanders would be dropped from envious tongues into envious ears, and
minds prone to evil would think evil of him and of his. Had not Lady
Milborough already cautioned him? Oh, that he should have lived to
have been cautioned about his wife;--that he should be told that eyes
outside had looked into the sacred shrine of his heart and seen that
things there were fatally amiss! And yet Lady Milborough was quite
right. Had he not in his hand at this moment a document that proved
her to be right? "Dear Emily!" He took this note and crushed it in
his fist, and then pulled it into fragments.

But what should he do? There was, first of all considerations, the
duty which he owed to his wife, and the love which he bore her.
That she was ignorant and innocent he was sure; but then she was so
contumacious that he hardly knew how to take a step in the direction
of guarding her from the effects of her ignorance, and maintaining
for her the advantages of her innocence. He was her master, and she
must know that he was her master. But how was he to proceed when she
refused to obey the plainest and most necessary command which he laid
upon her? Let a man be ever so much his wife's master, he cannot
maintain his masterdom by any power which the law places in his
hands. He had asked his wife for a promise of obedience, and she
would not give it to him! What was he to do next? He could, no
doubt,--at least he thought so,--keep the man from her presence. He
could order the servant not to admit the man, and the servant would
doubtless obey him. But to what a condition would he then have been
brought! Would not the world then be over for him,--over for him as
the husband of a wife whom he could not love unless he respected her?
Better that there should be no such world, than call in the aid of a
servant to guard the conduct of his wife!

As he thought of it all it seemed to him that if she would not obey
him, and give him this promise, they must be separated. He would not
live with her, he would not give her the privileges of his wife, if
she refused to render to him the obedience which was his privilege.
The more he thought of it, the more convinced he was that he ought
not to yield to her. Let her once yield to him, and then his
tenderness should begin, and there should be no limit to it. But he
would not see her till she had yielded. He would not see her; and if
he should find that she did see Colonel Osborne, then he would tell
her that she could no longer dwell under the same roof with him.

His resolution on these points was very strong, and yet there came
over him a feeling that it was his duty to be gentle. There was a
feeling also that that privilege of receiving obedience, which was
so indubitably his own, could only be maintained by certain wise
practices on his part, in which gentleness must predominate.
Wives are bound to obey their husbands, but obedience cannot be
exacted from wives, as it may from servants, by aid of law and
with penalties, or as from a horse, by punishments and manger
curtailments. A man should be master in his own house, but he should
make his mastery palatable, equitable, smooth, soft to the touch,
a thing almost unfelt. How was he to do all this now, when he had
already given an order to which obedience had been refused unless
under certain stipulations,--an agreement with which would be
degradation to him? He had pointed out to his wife her duty, and she
had said she would do her duty as pointed out, on condition that he
would beg her pardon for having pointed it out! This he could not and
would not do. Let the heavens fall,--and the falling of the heavens
in this case was a separation between him and his wife,--but he would
not consent to such injustice as that!

But what was he to do at this moment,--especially with reference to
that note which he had destroyed. At last he resolved to write to his
wife, and he consequently did write and send to her the following
letter:--


   May 4.

   DEAREST EMILY,

   If Colonel Osborne should write to you again, it will
   be better that you should not open his letter. As you
   know his handwriting, you will have no difficulty in so
   arranging. Should any further letter come from Colonel
   Osborne addressed to you, you had better put it under
   cover to me, and take no notice of it yourself.

   I shall dine at the club to-day. We were to have gone to
   Mrs. Peacock's in the evening. You had better write a line
   to say that we shall not be there. I am very sorry that
   Nora should lose her evening. Pray think very carefully
   over what I have asked of you. My request to you is, that
   you shall give me a promise that you will not willingly
   see Colonel Osborne again. Of course you will understand
   that this is not supposed to extend to accidental
   meetings, as to which, should they occur,--and they would
   be sure to occur,--you would find that they would be
   wholly unnoticed by me.

   But I must request that you will comply with my wish in
   this matter. If you will send for me, I will go to you
   instantly, and after one word from you to the desired
   effect, you will find that there will be no recurrence by
   me to a subject so hateful. As I have done, and am doing
   what I think to be right, I cannot stultify myself by
   saying that I think I have been wrong.

   Yours always, dearest Emily,
   With the most thorough love,

   LOUIS TREVELYAN.


This letter he himself put on his wife's dressing-room table, and
then he went out to his club.



CHAPTER VI.

SHEWING HOW RECONCILIATION WAS MADE.


"Look at that," said Mrs. Trevelyan, when her sister came into her
room about an hour before dinner-time. Nora read the letter, and
then asked her sister what she meant to do. "I have written to Mrs.
Peacock. I don't know what else I can do. It is very hard upon
you,--that you should have been kept at home. But I don't suppose Mr.
Glascock would have been at Mrs. Peacock's."

"And what else will you do, Emily?"

"Nothing;--simply live deserted and forlorn till he shall choose to
find his wits again. There is nothing else that a woman can do. If he
chooses to dine at his club every day, I can't help it. We must put
off all the engagements, and that will be hard upon you."

"Don't talk about me. It is too terrible to think that there should
be such a quarrel."

"What can I do? Have I been wrong?"

"Simply do what he tells you, whether it is wrong or right. If it's
right, it ought to be done, and if it's wrong, it will not be your
fault."

"That's very easily said, and it sounds logical; but you must know
it's unreasonable."

"I don't care about reason. He is your husband, and if he wishes it
you should do it. And what will be the harm? You don't mean to see
Colonel Osborne any more. You have already said that he's not to be
admitted."

"I have said that nobody is to be admitted. Louis has driven me
to that. How can I look the servant in the face and tell him that
any special gentleman is not to be admitted to see me? Oh dear! oh
dear! have I done anything to deserve it? Was ever so monstrous an
accusation made against any woman! If it were not for my boy, I would
defy him to do his worst."

On the day following, Nora again became a messenger between the
husband and wife, and before dinner-time a reconciliation had been
effected. Of course the wife gave way at last; and of course she gave
way so cunningly that the husband received none of the gratification
which he had expected in her surrender. "Tell him to come," Nora had
urged. "Of course he can come if he pleases," Emily had replied.
Then Nora had told Louis to come, and Louis had demanded whether,
if he did so, the promise which he had exacted would be given. It
is to be feared that Nora perverted the truth a little; but if ever
such perversion may be forgiven, forgiveness was due to her. If
they could only be brought together, she was sure that there would
be a reconciliation. They were brought together, and there was a
reconciliation.

"Dearest Emily, I am so glad to come to you," said the husband,
walking up to his wife in their bed-room, and taking her in his arms.


   [Illustration: Shewing how reconciliation was made.]


"I have been very unhappy, Louis, for the last two days," said she,
very gravely,--returning his kiss, but returning it somewhat coldly.

"We have both been unhappy, I am sure," said he. Then he paused that
the promise might be made to him. He had certainly understood that
it was to be made without reserve,--as an act on her part which she
had fully consented to perform. But she stood silent, with one hand
on the dressing-table, looking away from him, very beautiful, and
dignified too, in her manner; but not, as far as he could judge,
either repentant or submissive. "Nora said that you would make me the
promise which I ask from you."

"I cannot think, Louis, how you can want such a promise from me."

"I think it right to ask it; I do indeed."

"Can you imagine that I shall ever willingly see this gentleman again
after what has occurred? It will be for you to tell the servant. I
do not know how I can do that. But, as a matter of course, I will
encourage no person to come to your house of whom you disapprove. It
would be exactly the same of any man or of any woman."

"That is all that I ask."

"I am surprised that you should have thought it necessary to make any
formal request in the matter. Your word was quite sufficient. That
you should find cause of complaint in Colonel Osborne's coming here
is of course a different thing."

"Quite a different thing," said he.

"I cannot pretend to understand either your motives or your fears.
I do not understand them. My own self-respect prevents me from
supposing it to be possible that you have attributed an evil thought
to me."

"Indeed, indeed, I never have," said the husband.

"That I can assure you I regard as a matter of course," said the
wife.

"But you know, Emily, the way in which the world talks."

"The world! And do you regard the world, Louis?"

"Lady Milborough, I believe, spoke to yourself."

"Lady Milborough! No, she did not speak to me. She began to do so,
but I was careful to silence her at once. From you, Louis, I am bound
to hear whatever you may choose to say to me; but I will not hear
from any other lips a single word that may be injurious to your
honour." This she said very quietly, with much dignity, and he felt
that he had better not answer her. She had given him the promise
which he had demanded, and he began to fear that if he pushed the
matter further she might go back even from that amount of submission.
So he kissed her again, and had the boy brought into the room, and by
the time that he went to dress for dinner he was able, at any rate,
to seem to be well pleased.

"Richard," he said to the servant, as soon as he was down-stairs,
"when Colonel Osborne calls again, say that your mistress is--not at
home." He gave the order in the most indifferent tone of voice which
he could assume; but as he gave it he felt thoroughly ashamed of it.
Richard, who, with the other servants, had of course known that there
had been a quarrel between his master and mistress for the last two
days, no doubt understood all about it.

While they were sitting at dinner on the next day, a Saturday, there
came another note from Colonel Osborne. The servant brought it to
his mistress, and she, when she had looked at it, put it down by her
plate. Trevelyan knew immediately from whom the letter had come, and
understood how impossible it was for his wife to give it up in the
servant's presence. The letter lay there till the man was out of the
room, and then she handed it to Nora. "Will you give that to Louis?"
she said. "It comes from the man whom he supposes to be my lover."

"Emily!" said he, jumping from his seat, "how can you allow words so
horrible and so untrue to fall from your mouth?"

"If it be not so, why am I to be placed in such a position as this?
The servant knows, of course, from whom the letter comes, and sees
that I have been forbidden to open it." Then the man returned to the
room, and the remainder of the dinner passed off almost in silence.
It was their custom when they dined without company to leave the
dining-room together, but on this evening Trevelyan remained for a
few minutes that he might read Colonel Osborne's letter. He waited,
standing on the rug with his face to the fire-place, till he was
quite alone, and then he opened it. It ran as follows:--


   House of Commons, Saturday.

   DEAR EMILY,--


Trevelyan, as he read this, cursed Colonel Osborne between his teeth.


   DEAR EMILY,

   I called this afternoon, but you were out. I am afraid you
   will be disappointed by what I have to tell you, but you
   should rather be glad of it. They say at the C. O. that
   Sir Marmaduke would not receive their letter if sent
   now till the middle of June, and that he could not be
   in London, let him do what he would, till the end of
   July. They hope to have the session over by that time,
   and therefore the committee is to be put off till next
   session. They mean to have Lord Bowles home from Canada,
   and they think that Bowles would like to be here in the
   winter. Sir Marmaduke will be summoned for February next,
   and will of course stretch his stay over the hot months.
   All this will, on the whole, be for the best. Lady Rowley
   could hardly have packed up her things and come away at a
   day's notice, whatever your father might have done. I'll
   call to-morrow at luncheon time.

   Yours always,

   F. O.


There was nothing objectionable in this letter,--excepting always the
"Dear Emily,"--nothing which it was not imperative on Colonel Osborne
to communicate to the person to whom it was addressed. Trevelyan must
now go up-stairs and tell the contents of the letter to his wife.
But he felt that he had created for himself a terrible trouble. He
must tell his wife what was in the letter, but the very telling of
it would be a renewing of the soreness of his wound. And then what
was to be done in reference to the threatened visit for the Sunday
morning? Trevelyan knew very well that were his wife denied at
that hour, Colonel Osborne would understand the whole matter. He
had doubtless in his anger intended that Colonel Osborne should
understand the whole matter; but he was calmer now than he had been
then, and almost wished that the command given by him had not been so
definite and imperious. He remained with his arm on the mantel-piece,
thinking of it, for some ten minutes, and then went up into the
drawing-room. "Emily," he said, walking up to the table at which she
was sitting, "you had better read that letter."

"I would so much rather not," she replied haughtily.

"Then Nora can read it. It concerns you both equally."

Nora, with hesitating hand, took the letter and read it. "They are
not to come after all," said she, "till next February."

"And why not?" asked Mrs. Trevelyan.

"Something about the session. I don't quite understand."

"Lord Bowles is to come from Canada," said Louis, "and they think he
would prefer being here in the winter. I dare say he would."

"But what has that to do with papa?"

"I suppose they must both be here together," said Nora.

"I call that very hard indeed," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"I can't agree with you there," said her husband. "His coming at all
is so much of a favour that it is almost a job."

"I don't see that it is a job at all," said Mrs. Trevelyan. "Somebody
is wanted, and nobody can know more of the service than papa does.
But as the other man is a lord, I suppose papa must give way. Does he
say anything about mamma, Nora?"

"You had better read the letter yourself," said Trevelyan, who was
desirous that his wife should know of the threatened visit.

"No, Louis, I shall not do that. You must not blow hot and cold too.
Till the other day I should have thought that Colonel Osborne's
letters were as innocent as an old newspaper. As you have supposed
them to be poisoned I will have nothing to do with them."

This speech made him very angry. It seemed that his wife, who
had yielded to him, was determined to take out the value of her
submission in the most disagreeable words which she could utter. Nora
now closed the letter and handed it back to her brother-in-law. He
laid it down on the table beside him, and sat for a while with his
eyes fixed upon his book. At last he spoke again. "Colonel Osborne
says that he will call to-morrow at luncheon time. You can admit him,
if you please, and thank him for the trouble he has taken in this
matter."

"I shall not remain in the room if he be admitted," said Mrs.
Trevelyan.

There was silence again for some minutes, and the cloud upon
Trevelyan's brow became blacker than before. Then he rose from his
chair and walked round to the sofa on which his wife was sitting. "I
presume," said he, "that your wishes and mine in this matter must be
the same."

"I cannot tell what your wishes are," she replied. "I never was more
in the dark on any subject in my life. My wishes at present are
confined to a desire to save you as far as may be possible from the
shame which must be attached to your own suspicions."

"I have never had any suspicions."

"A husband without suspicions does not intercept his wife's letters.
A husband without suspicions does not call in the aid of his servants
to guard his wife. A husband without suspicions--"

"Emily," exclaimed Nora Rowley, "how can you say such things,--on
purpose to provoke him?"

"Yes; on purpose to provoke me," said Trevelyan.

"And have I not been provoked? Have I not been injured? You say now
that you have not suspected me, and yet in what condition do I find
myself? Because an old woman has chosen to talk scandal about me, I
am placed in a position in my own house which is disgraceful to you
and insupportable to myself. This man has been in the habit of coming
here on Sundays, and will, of course, know that we are at home. You
must manage it as you please. If you choose to receive him, I will go
up-stairs."

"Why can't you let him come in and go away, just as usual?" said
Nora.

"Because Louis has made me promise that I will never willingly be
in his company again," said Mrs. Trevelyan. "I would have given the
world to avoid a promise so disgraceful to me; but it was exacted,
and it shall be kept." Having so spoken, she swept out of the room,
and went up-stairs to the nursery. Trevelyan sat for an hour with his
book before him, reading or pretending to read, but his wife did not
come down-stairs. Then Nora went up to her, and he descended to his
solitude below. So far he had hardly gained much by the enforced
obedience of his wife.

On the next morning the three went to church together, and as they
were walking home Trevelyan's heart was filled with returning
gentleness towards his wife. He could not bear to be at wrath with
her after the church service which they had just heard together.
But he was softer-hearted than was she, and knowing this, was
almost afraid to say anything that would again bring forth from her
expressions of scorn. As soon as they were alone within the house he
took her by the hand and led her apart. "Let all this be," said he,
"as though it had never been."

"That will hardly be possible, Louis," she answered. "I cannot forget
that I have been--cautioned."

"But cannot you bring yourself to believe that I have meant it all
for your good?"

"I have never doubted it, Louis;--never for a moment. But it has hurt
me to find that you should think that such caution was needed for my
good."

It was almost on his tongue to beg her pardon, to acknowledge that
he had made a mistake, and to implore her to forget that he had ever
made an objection to Colonel Osborne's visit. He remembered at this
moment the painful odiousness of that "Dear Emily;" but he had to
reconcile himself even to that, telling himself that, after all,
Colonel Osborne was an old man,--a man older even than his wife's
father. If she would only have met him with gentleness, he would have
withdrawn his command, and have acknowledged that he had been wrong.
But she was hard, dignified, obedient, and resentful. "It will, I
think," he said, "be better for both of us that he should be asked in
to lunch to-day."

"You must judge of that," said Emily. "Perhaps, upon the whole, it
will be best. I can only say that I will not be present. I will lunch
up-stairs with baby, and you can make what excuse for me you please."
This was all very bad, but it was in this way that things were
allowed to arrange themselves. Richard was told that Colonel Osborne
was coming to lunch, and when he came something was muttered to him
about Mrs. Trevelyan being not quite well. It was Nora who told the
innocent fib, and though she did not tell it well, she did her very
best. She felt that her brother-in-law was very wretched, and she was
most anxious to relieve him. Colonel Osborne did not stay long, and
then Nora went up-stairs to her sister.

Louis Trevelyan felt that he had disgraced himself. He had meant to
have been strong, and he had, as he knew, been very weak. He had
meant to have acted in a high-minded, honest, manly manner; but
circumstances had been so untoward with him, that on looking at his
own conduct, it seemed to him to have been mean, and almost false
and cowardly. As the order for the exclusion of this hated man from
his house had been given, he should at any rate have stuck to the
order. At the moment of his vacillation he had simply intended to
make things easy for his wife; but she had taken advantage of his
vacillation, and had now clearly conquered him. Perhaps he respected
her more than he had done when he was resolving, three or four days
since, that he would be the master in his own house; but it may be
feared that the tenderness of his love for her had been impaired.

Late in the afternoon his wife and sister-in-law came down dressed
for walking, and, finding Trevelyan in the library, they asked him to
join them,--it was a custom with them to walk in the park on a Sunday
afternoon,--and he at once assented, and went out with them. Emily,
who had had her triumph, was very gracious. There should not be a
word more said by her about Colonel Osborne. She would avoid that
gentleman, never receiving him in Curzon Street, and having as little
to say to him as possible elsewhere; but she would not throw his name
in her husband's teeth, or make any reference to the injury which had
so manifestly been done to her. Unless Louis should be indiscreet,
it should be as though it had been forgotten. As they walked by
Chesterfield House and Stanhope Street into the park, she began to
discuss the sermon they had heard that morning, and when she found
that that subject was not alluring, she spoke of a dinner to which
they were to go at Mrs. Fairfax's house. Louis Trevelyan was quite
aware that he was being treated as a naughty boy, who was to be
forgiven.

They went across Hyde Park into Kensington Gardens, and still the
same thing was going on. Nora found it to be almost impossible to say
a word. Trevelyan answered his wife's questions, but was otherwise
silent. Emily worked very hard at her mission of forgiveness, and
hardly ceased in her efforts at conciliatory conversation. Women
can work so much harder in this way than men find it possible to do!
She never flagged, but continued to be fluent, conciliatory, and
intolerably wearisome. On a sudden they came across two men together,
who, as they all knew, were barely acquainted with each other. These
were Colonel Osborne and Hugh Stanbury.

"I am glad to find you are able to be out," said the Colonel.

"Thanks; yes. I think my seclusion just now was almost as much due to
baby as to anything else. Mr. Stanbury, how is it we never see you
now?"

"It is the D. R., Mrs. Trevelyan;--nothing else. The D. R. is a most
grateful mistress, but somewhat exacting. I am allowed a couple of
hours on Sundays, but otherwise my time is wholly passed in Fleet
Street."

"How very unpleasant."

"Well; yes. The unpleasantness of this world consists chiefly in the
fact that when a man wants wages, he must earn them. The Christian
philosophers have a theory about it. Don't they call it the primeval
fall, original sin, and that kind of thing?"

"Mr. Stanbury, I won't have irreligion. I hope that doesn't come from
writing for the newspapers."

"Certainly not with me, Mrs. Trevelyan. I have never been put on
to take that branch yet. Scrubby does that with us, and does it
excellently. It was he who touched up the Ritualists, and then the
Commission, and then the Low Church bishops, till he didn't leave one
of them a leg to stand upon."

"What is it, then, that the Daily Record upholds?"

"It upholds the Daily Record. Believe in that and you will surely be
saved." Then he turned to Miss Rowley, and they two were soon walking
on together, each manifestly interested in what the other was saying,
though there was no word of tenderness spoken between them.

Colonel Osborne was now between Mr. and Mrs. Trevelyan. She would
have avoided the position had it been possible for her to do so.
While they were falling into their present places, she had made a
little mute appeal to her husband to take her away from the spot, to
give her his arm and return with her, to save her in some way from
remaining in company with the man to whose company for her he had
objected; but he took no such step. It had seemed to him that he
could take no such step without showing his hostility to Colonel
Osborne.

They walked on along the broad path together, and the Colonel was
between them.

"I hope you think it satisfactory,--about Sir Rowley," he said.

"Beggars must not be choosers, you know, Colonel Osborne. I felt a
little disappointed when I found that we were not to see them till
February next."

"They will stay longer then, you know, than they could now."

"I have no doubt when the time comes we shall all believe it to be
better."

"I suppose you think, Emily, that a little pudding to-day is better
than much to-morrow."

Colonel Osborne certainly had a caressing, would-be affectionate mode
of talking to women, which, unless it were reciprocated and enjoyed,
was likely to make itself disagreeable. No possible words could have
been more innocent than those he had now spoken; but he had turned
his face down close to her face, and had almost whispered them. And
then, too, he had again called her by her Christian name. Trevelyan
had not heard the words. He had walked on, making the distance
between him and the other man greater than was necessary, anxious to
show to his wife that he had no jealousy at such a meeting as this.
But his wife was determined that she would put an end to this state
of things, let the cost be what it might. She did not say a word to
Colonel Osborne, but addressed herself at once to her husband.

"Louis," she said, "will you give me your arm? We will go back, if
you please." Then she took her husband's arm, and turned herself and
him abruptly away from their companion.

The thing was done in such a manner that it was impossible that
Colonel Osborne should not perceive that he had been left in anger.
When Trevelyan and his wife had gone back a few yards, he was obliged
to return for Nora. He did so, and then rejoined his wife.

"It was quite unnecessary, Emily," he said, "that you should behave
like that."

"Your suspicions," she said, "have made it almost impossible for me
to behave with propriety."

"You have told him everything now," said Trevelyan.

"And it was requisite that he should be told," said his wife. Then
they walked home without interchanging another word. When they
reached their house, Emily at once went up to her own room, and
Trevelyan to his. They parted as though they had no common interest
which was worthy of a moment's conversation. And she by her step,
and gait, and every movement of her body showed to him that she was
not his wife now in any sense that could bring to him a feeling of
domestic happiness. Her compliance with his command was of no use
to him unless she could be brought to comply in spirit. Unless she
would be soft to him he could not be happy. He walked about his room
uneasily for half-an-hour, trying to shake off his sorrow, and then
he went up to her room. "Emily," he said, "for God's sake let all
this pass away."

"What is to pass away?"

"This feeling of rancour between you and me. What is the world to us
unless we can love one another? At any rate it will be nothing to
me."

"Do you doubt my love?" said she.

"No; certainly not."

"Nor I yours. Without love, Louis, you and I can not be happy. But
love alone will not make us so. There must be trust, and there must
also be forbearance. My feeling of annoyance will pass away in time;
and till it does, I will shew it as little as may be possible."

He felt that he had nothing more to say, and then he left her; but he
had gained nothing by the interview. She was still hard and cold, and
still assumed a tone which seemed to imply that she had manifestly
been the injured person.

Colonel Osborne, when he was left alone, stood for a few moments on
the spot, and then with a whistle, a shake of the head, and a little
low chuckle of laughter, rejoined the crowd.



CHAPTER VII.

MISS JEMIMA STANBURY, OF EXETER.


   [Illustration]

Miss Jemima Stanbury, the aunt of our friend Hugh, was a maiden lady,
very much respected, indeed, in the city of Exeter. It is to be
hoped that no readers of these pages will be so un-English as to be
unable to appreciate the difference between county society and town
society,--the society, that is, of a provincial town, or so ignorant
as not to know also that there may be persons so privileged, that
although they live distinctly within a provincial town, there
is accorded to them, as though by brevet rank, all the merit of
living in the county. In reference to persons so privileged, it is
considered that they have been made free from the contamination of
contiguous bricks and mortar by certain inner gifts, probably of
birth, occasionally of profession, possibly of merit. It is very
rarely, indeed, that money alone will bestow this acknowledged
rank; and in Exeter, which by the stringency and excellence of its
well-defined rules on such matters, may perhaps be said to take the
lead of all English provincial towns, money alone has never availed.
Good blood, especially if it be blood good in Devonshire, is rarely
rejected. Clergymen are allowed within the pale,--though by no means
as certainly as used to be the case; and, indeed, in these days of
literates, clergymen have to pass harder examinations than those ever
imposed upon them by bishops' chaplains, before they are admitted ad
eundem among the chosen ones of the city of Exeter. The wives and
daughters of the old prebendaries see well to that. And, as has been
said, special merit may prevail. Sir Peter Mancrudy, the great Exeter
physician, has won his way in,--not at all by being Sir Peter, which
has stood in his way rather than otherwise,--but by the acknowledged
excellence of his book about saltzes. Sir Peter Mancrudy is supposed
to have quite a metropolitan, almost a European reputation,--and
therefore is acknowledged to belong to the county set, although he
never dines out at any house beyond the limits of the city. Now, let
it be known that no inhabitant of Exeter ever achieved a clearer
right to be regarded as "county," in opposition to "town," than had
Miss Jemima Stanbury. There was not a tradesman in Exeter who was not
aware of it, and who did not touch his hat to her accordingly. The
men who drove the flies, when summoned to take her out at night,
would bring oats with them, knowing how probable it was that they
might have to travel far. A distinct apology was made if she was
asked to drink tea with people who were simply "town." The Noels of
Doddescombe Leigh, the Cliffords of Budleigh Salterton, the Powels of
Haldon, the Cheritons of Alphington,--all county persons, but very
frequently in the city,--were greeted by her, and greeted her, on
terms of equality. Her most intimate friend was old Mrs. MacHugh,
the widow of the last dean but two, who could not have stood higher
had she been the widow of the last bishop. And then, although Miss
Stanbury was intimate with the Frenches of Heavitree, with the
Wrights of Northernhay, with the Apjohns of Helion Villa,--a really
magnificent house, two miles out of the city on the Crediton
Road, and with the Crumbies of Cronstadt House, Saint Ide's,--who
would have been county people, if living in the country made the
difference;--although she was intimate with all these families,
her manner to them was not the same, nor was it expected to be the
same, as with those of her own acknowledged set. These things are
understood in Exeter so well!

Miss Stanbury belonged to the county set, but she lived in a large
brick house, standing in the Close, almost behind the Cathedral.
Indeed it was so close to the eastern end of the edifice that a
carriage could not be brought quite up to her door. It was a large
brick house, very old, with a door in the middle, and five steps
ascending to it between high iron rails. On each side of the door
there were two windows on the ground floor, and above that there
were three tiers of five windows each, and the house was double
throughout, having as many windows looking out behind into a gloomy
courtyard. But the glory of the house consisted in this, that there
was a garden attached to it, a garden with very high walls, over
which the boughs of trees might be seen, giving to the otherwise
gloomy abode a touch of freshness in the summer, and a look of space
in the winter, which no doubt added something to the reputation even
of Miss Stanbury. The fact,--for it was a fact,--that there was
no gloomier or less attractive spot in the whole city than Miss
Stanbury's garden, when seen inside, did not militate against this
advantage. There were but half-a-dozen trees, and a few square yards
of grass that was never green, and a damp ungravelled path on which
no one ever walked. Seen from the inside the garden was not much;
but, from the outside, it gave a distinct character to the house, and
produced an unexpressed acknowledgment that the owner of it ought to
belong to the county set.

The house and all that was in it belonged to Miss Stanbury herself,
as did also many other houses in the neighbourhood. She was the owner
of the "Cock and Bottle," a very decent second class inn on the other
side of the Close, an inn supposed to have clerical tendencies, which
made it quite suitable for a close. The choristers took their beer
there, and the landlord was a retired verger. Nearly the whole of
one side of a dark passage leading out of the Close towards the High
Street belonged to her; and though the passage be narrow and the
houses dark, the locality is known to be good for trade. And she
owned two large houses in the High Street, and a great warehouse
at St. Thomas's, and had been bought out of land by the Railway at
St. David's,--much to her own dissatisfaction, as she was wont to
express herself, but, undoubtedly, at a very high price. It will be
understood therefore, that Miss Stanbury was wealthy, and that she
was bound to the city in which she lived by peculiar ties.

But Miss Stanbury had not been born to this wealth, nor can she
be said to have inherited from her forefathers any of these high
privileges which had been awarded to her. She had achieved them by
the romance of her life and the manner in which she had carried
herself amidst its vicissitudes. Her father had been vicar of
Nuncombe Putney, a parish lying twenty miles west of Exeter, among
the moors. And on her father's death, her brother, also now dead, had
become vicar of the same parish,--her brother, whose only son, Hugh
Stanbury, we already know, working for the "D. R." up in London. When
Miss Stanbury was twenty-one she became engaged to a certain Mr.
Brooke Burgess, the eldest son of a banker in Exeter,--or, it might,
perhaps, be better said, a banker himself; for at the time Mr.
Brooke Burgess was in the firm. It need not here be told how various
misfortunes arose, how Mr. Burgess quarrelled with the Stanbury
family, how Jemima quarrelled with her own family, how, when her
father died, she went out from Nuncombe Putney parsonage, and lived
on the smallest pittance in a city lodging, how her lover was untrue
to her and did not marry her, and how at last he died and left her
every shilling that he possessed.

The Devonshire people, at the time, had been much divided as to the
merits of the Stanbury quarrel. There were many who said that the
brother could not have acted otherwise than he did; and that Miss
Stanbury, though by force of character and force of circumstances
she had weathered the storm, had in truth been very indiscreet. The
results, however, were as have been described. At the period of which
we treat, Miss Stanbury was a very rich lady, living by herself in
Exeter, admitted, without question, to be one of the county set, and
still at variance with her brother's family. Except to Hugh, she had
never spoken a word to one of them since her brother's death. When
the money came into her hands, she at that time being over forty
and her nephew being then just ten years old, she had undertaken to
educate him, and to start him in the world. We know how she had kept
her word, and how and why she had withdrawn herself from any further
responsibility in the matter.

And in regard to this business of starting the young man she had been
careful to let it be known that she would do no more than start him.
In the formal document, by means of which she had made the proposal
to her brother, she had been careful to let it be understood that
simple education was all that she intended to bestow upon him,--"and
that only," she had added, "in the event of my surviving till his
education be completed." And to Hugh himself she had declared that
any allowance which she made him after he was called to the Bar,
was only made in order to give him room for his foot, a spot of
ground from whence to make his first leap. We know how he made that
leap, infinitely to the disgust of his aunt, who, when he refused
obedience to her in the matter of withdrawing from the Daily Record,
immediately withdrew from him, not only her patronage and assistance,
but even her friendship and acquaintance. This was the letter which
she wrote to him--


   I don't think that writing radical stuff for a penny
   newspaper is a respectable occupation for a gentleman, and
   I will have nothing to do with it. If you choose to do
   such work, I cannot help it; but it was not for such that
   I sent you to Harrow and Oxford, nor yet up to London and
   paid £100 a year to Mr. Lambert. I think you are treating
   me badly, but that is nothing to your bad treatment of
   yourself. You need not trouble yourself to answer this,
   unless you are prepared to say that you will not write any
   more stuff for that penny newspaper. Only I wish to be
   understood. I will have no connection that I can help,
   and no acquaintance at all, with radical scribblers and
   incendiaries.

   JEMIMA STANBURY.

   The Close, Exeter, April 15, 186--.


Hugh Stanbury had answered this, thanking his aunt for past favours,
and explaining to her,--or striving to do so,--that he felt it to be
his duty to earn his bread, as a means of earning it had come within
his reach. He might as well have spared himself the trouble. She
simply wrote a few words across his own letter in red ink:--"The
bread of unworthiness should never be earned or eaten;" and then sent
the letter back under a blank envelope to her nephew.

She was a thorough Tory of the old school. Had Hugh taken to writing
for a newspaper that had cost sixpence, or even threepence, for its
copies, she might perhaps have forgiven him. At any rate the offence
would not have been so flagrant. And had the paper been conservative
instead of liberal, she would have had some qualms of conscience
before she gave him up. But to live by writing for a newspaper! and
for a penny newspaper!! and for a penny radical newspaper!!! It was
more than she could endure. Of what nature were the articles which he
contributed it was impossible that she should have any idea, for no
consideration would have induced her to look at a penny newspaper, or
to admit it within her doors. She herself took in the John Bull and
the Herald, and daily groaned deeply at the way in which those once
great organs of true British public feeling were becoming demoralised
and perverted. Had any reduction been made in the price of either of
them, she would at once have stopped her subscription. In the matter
of politics she had long since come to think that everything good was
over. She hated the name of Reform so much that she could not bring
herself to believe in Mr. Disraeli and his bill. For many years she
had believed in Lord Derby. She would fain believe in him still if
she could. It was the great desire of her heart to have some one in
whom she believed. In the bishop of her diocese she did believe, and
annually sent him some little comforting present from her own hand.
And in two or three of the clergymen around her she believed, finding
in them a flavour of the unascetic godliness of ancient days which
was gratifying to her palate. But in politics there was hardly a name
remaining to which she could fix her faith and declare that there
should be her guide. For awhile she thought she would cling to Mr.
Lowe; but, when she made inquiry, she found that there was no base
there of really well-formed conservative granite. The three gentlemen
who had dissevered themselves from Mr. Disraeli when Mr. Disraeli was
passing his Reform bill, were doubtless very good in their way; but
they were not big enough to fill her heart. She tried to make herself
happy with General Peel, but General Peel was after all no more than
a shade to her. But the untruth of others never made her untrue, and
she still talked of the excellence of George III. and the glories of
the subsequent reign. She had a bust of Lord Eldon, before which she
was accustomed to stand with hands closed and to weep,--or to think
that she wept.

She was a little woman, now nearly sixty years of age, with bright
grey eyes, and a strong Roman nose, and thin lips, and a sharp-cut
chin. She wore a head-gear that almost amounted to a mob-cap, and
beneath it her grey hair was always frizzled with the greatest care.
Her dress was invariably of black silk, and she had five gowns,--one
for church, one for evening parties, one for driving out, and one for
evenings at home, and one for mornings. The dress, when new, always
went to church. Nothing, she was wont to say, was too good for the
Lord's house. In the days of crinolines she had protested that she
had never worn one,--a protest, however, which was hardly true; and
now, in these later days, her hatred was especially developed in
reference to the head-dresses of young women. "Chignon" was a word
which she had never been heard to pronounce. She would talk of "those
bandboxes which the sluts wear behind their noddles;" for Miss
Stanbury allowed herself the use of much strong language. She was
very punctilious in all her habits, breakfasting ever at half-past
eight, and dining always at six. Half-past five had been her time,
till the bishop, who, on an occasion, was to be her guest, once
signified to her that such an hour cut up the day and interfered with
clerical work. Her lunch was always of bread and cheese, and they who
lunched with her either eat that,--or the bread without the cheese.
An afternoon "tea" was a thing horrible to her imagination. Tea and
buttered toast at half-past eight in the evening was the great luxury
of her life. She was as strong as a horse, and had never hitherto
known a day's illness. As a consequence of this, she did not believe
in the illness of other people,--especially not in the illness of
women. She did not like a girl who could not drink a glass of beer
with her bread and cheese in the middle of the day, and she thought
that a glass of port after dinner was good for everybody. Indeed, she
had a thorough belief in port wine, thinking that it would go far to
cure most miseries. But she could not put up with the idea that a
woman, young or old, should want the stimulus of a glass of sherry
to support her at any odd time of the day. Hot concoctions of strong
drink at Christmas she would allow to everybody, and was very strong
in recommending such comforts to ladies blessed, or about to be
blessed, with babies. She took the sacrament every month, and gave
away exactly a tenth of her income to the poor. She believed that
there was a special holiness in a tithe of a thing, and attributed
the commencement of the downfall of the Church of England to rent
charges, and the commutation of clergymen's incomes. Since Judas,
there had never been, to her thinking, a traitor so base, or an
apostate so sinful, as Colenso; and yet, of the nature of Colenso's
teaching she was as ignorant as the towers of the cathedral opposite
to her.

She believed in Exeter, thinking that there was no other provincial
town in England in which a maiden lady could live safely and
decently. London to her was an abode of sin; and though, as we have
seen, she delighted to call herself one of the county set, she did
not love the fields and lanes. And in Exeter the only place for a
lady was the Close. Southernhay and Northernhay might be very well,
and there was doubtless a respectable neighbourhood on the Heavitree
side of the town; but for the new streets, and especially for the
suburban villas, she had no endurance. She liked to deal at dear
shops; but would leave any shop, either dear or cheap, in regard to
which a printed advertisement should reach her eye. She paid all her
bills at the end of each six months, and almost took a delight in
high prices. She would rejoice that bread should be cheap, and grieve
that meat should be dear, because of the poor; but in regard to other
matters no reduction in the cost of an article ever pleased her.
She had houses as to which she was told by her agent that the rents
should be raised; but she would not raise them. She had others which
it was difficult to let without lowering the rents, but she would not
lower them. All change was to her hateful and unnecessary.

She kept three maid-servants, and a man came in every day to clean
the knives and boots. Service with her was well requited, and much
labour was never exacted. But it was not every young woman who could
live with her. A rigidity as to hours, as to religious exercises,
and as to dress, was exacted, under which many poor girls altogether
broke down; but they who could stand this rigidity came to know that
their places were very valuable. No one belonging to them need want
for aught, when once the good opinion of Miss Stanbury had been
earned. When once she believed in her servant there was nobody like
that servant. There was not a man in Exeter could clean a boot except
Giles Hickbody,--and if not in Exeter, then where else? And her own
maid Martha, who had lived with her now for twenty years, and who had
come with her to the brick house when she first inhabited it, was
such a woman that no other servant anywhere was fit to hold a candle
to her. But then Martha had great gifts,--was never ill, and really
liked having sermons read to her.

Such was Miss Stanbury, who had now discarded her nephew Hugh. She
had never been tenderly affectionate to Hugh, or she would hardly
have asked him to live in London on a hundred a year. She had never
really been kind to him since he was a boy, for although she had paid
for him, she had been almost penurious in her manner of doing so,
and had repeatedly given him to understand, that in the event of her
death not a shilling would be left to him. Indeed, as to that matter
of bequeathing her money, it was understood that it was her purpose
to let it all go back to the Burgess family. With the Burgess family
she had kept up no sustained connection, it being quite understood
that she was never to be asked to meet the only one of them now left
in Exeter. Nor was it as yet known to any one in what manner the
money was to go back, how it was to be divided, or who were to be the
recipients. But she had declared that it should go back, explaining
that she had conceived it to be a duty to let her own relations know
that they would not inherit her wealth at her death.

About a week after she had sent back poor Hugh's letter with the
endorsement on it as to unworthy bread, she summoned Martha to the
back parlour in which she was accustomed to write her letters. It was
one of the theories of her life that different rooms should be used
only for the purposes for which they were intended. She never allowed
pens and ink up into the bed-rooms, and had she ever heard that any
guest in her house was reading in bed, she would have made an instant
personal attack upon that guest, whether male or female, which would
have surprised that guest. Poor Hugh would have got on better with
her had he not been discovered once smoking in the garden. Nor would
she have writing materials in the drawing-room or dining-room. There
was a chamber behind the dining-room in which there was an inkbottle,
and if there was a letter to be written, let the writer go there
and write it. In the writing of many letters, however, she put no
confidence, and regarded penny postage as one of the strongest
evidences of the coming ruin.

"Martha," she said, "I want to speak to you. Sit down. I think I am
going to do something." Martha sat down, but did not speak a word.
There had been no question asked of her, and the time for speaking
had not come. "I am writing to Mrs. Stanbury, at Nuncombe Putney; and
what do you think I am saying to her?"

Now the question had been asked, and it was Martha's duty to reply.

"Writing to Mrs. Stanbury, ma'am?"

"Yes, to Mrs. Stanbury."

"It ain't possible for me to say, ma'am, unless it's to put Mr. Hugh
from going on with the newspapers."

"When my nephew won't be controlled by me, I shan't go elsewhere
to look for control over him; you may be sure of that, Martha. And
remember, Martha, I don't want to have his name mentioned again in
the house. You will tell them all so, if you please."

"He was a very nice gentleman, ma'am."

"Martha, I won't have it; and there's an end of it. I won't have it.
Perhaps I know what goes to the making of a nice gentleman as well as
you do."

"Mr. Hugh, ma'am,--"

"I won't have it, Martha. And when I say so, let there be an end
of it." As she said this, she got up from her chair, and shook her
head, and took a turn about the room. "If I'm not mistress here, I'm
nobody."

"Of course you're mistress here, ma'am."

"And if I don't know what's fit to be done, and what's not fit, I'm
too old to learn; and, what's more, I won't be taught. I'm not going
to have my house crammed with radical incendiary stuff, printed with
ink that stinks, on paper made out of straw. If I can't live without
penny literature, at any rate I'll die without it. Now listen to me."

"Yes, ma'am."

"I have asked Mrs. Stanbury to send one of the girls over here."

"To live, ma'am?" Martha's tone as she asked the question, showed how
deeply she felt its importance.

"Yes, Martha; to live."

"You'll never like it, ma'am."

"I don't suppose I shall."

"You'll never get on with it, ma'am; never. The young lady'll be out
of the house in a week; or if she ain't, somebody else will."

"You mean yourself."

"I'm only a servant, ma'am, and it don't signify about me."

"You're a fool."

"That's true, ma'am, I don't doubt."

"I've sent for her, and we must do the best we can. Perhaps she won't
come."

"She'll come fast enough," said Martha. "But whether she'll stay,
that's a different thing. I don't see how it's possible she's to
stay. I'm told they're feckless, idle young ladies. She'll be so
soft, ma'am, and you,--"

"Well; what of me?"

"You'll be so hard, ma'am!"

"I'm not a bit harder than you, Martha; nor yet so hard. I'll do my
duty, or at least I'll try. Now you know all about it, and you may go
away. There's the letter, and I mean to go out and post it myself."



CHAPTER VIII.

"I KNOW IT WILL DO."


Miss Stanbury carried her letter all the way to the chief post-office
in the city, having no faith whatever in those little subsidiary
receiving houses which are established in different parts of the
city. As for the iron pillar boxes which had been erected of late
years for the receipt of letters, one of which,--a most hateful thing
to her,--stood almost close to her own hall door, she had not the
faintest belief that any letter put into one of them would ever reach
its destination. She could not understand why people should not walk
with their letters to a respectable post-office instead of chucking
them into an iron stump,--as she called it,--out in the middle of the
street with nobody to look after it. Positive orders had been given
that no letter from her house should ever be put into the iron post.
Her epistle to her sister-in-law, of whom she never spoke otherwise
than as Mrs. Stanbury, was as follows:--


   The Close, Exeter, 22nd April, 186--.

   MY DEAR SISTER STANBURY,

   Your son, Hugh, has taken to courses of which I do not
   approve, and therefore I have put an end to my connection
   with him. I shall be happy to entertain your daughter
   Dorothy in my house if you and she approve of such a plan.
   Should you agree to this, she will be welcome to receive
   you or her sister,--_not her brother_,--in my house any
   Wednesday morning between half-past nine and half-past
   twelve. I will endeavour to make my house pleasant to her
   and useful, and will make her an allowance of £25 per
   annum for her clothes as long as she may remain with me. I
   shall expect her to be regular at meals, to be constant in
   going to church, and not to read modern novels.

   I intend the arrangement to be permanent, but of course I
   must retain the power of closing it if, and when, I shall
   see fit. Its permanence must be contingent on my life. I
   have no power of providing for any one _after my death_.

   Yours truly,

   JEMIMA STANBURY.

   I hope the young lady does not have any false hair about
   her.


When this note was received at Nuncombe Putney the amazement which it
occasioned was extreme. Mrs. Stanbury, the widow of the late vicar,
lived in a little morsel of a cottage on the outskirts of the
village, with her two daughters, Priscilla and Dorothy. Their whole
income, out of which it was necessary that they should pay rent for
their cottage, was less than £70 per annum. During the last few
months a five-pound note now and again had found its way to Nuncombe
Putney out of the coffers of the "D. R.;" but the ladies there were
most unwilling to be so relieved, thinking that their brother's
career was of infinitely more importance than their comforts or even
than their living. They were very poor, but they were accustomed
to poverty. The elder sister was older than Hugh, but Dorothy, the
younger, to whom this strange invitation was now made, was two years
younger than her brother, and was now nearly twenty-six. How they had
lived, and dressed themselves, and had continued to be called ladies
by the inhabitants of the village was, and is, and will be a mystery
to those who have had the spending of much larger incomes, but have
still been always poor. But they had lived, had gone to church every
Sunday in decent apparel, and had kept up friendly relations with the
family of the present vicar, and with one or two other neighbours.

When the letter had been read first by the mother, and then aloud,
and then by each of them separately, in the little sitting-room in
the cottage, there was silence among them,--for neither of them
desired to be the first to express an opinion. Nothing could be more
natural than the proposed arrangement, had it not been made unnatural
by a quarrel existing nearly throughout the whole life of the person
most nearly concerned. Priscilla, the elder daughter, was the one of
the family who was generally the ruler, and she at last expressed an
opinion adverse to the arrangement. "My dear, you would never be able
to bear it," said Priscilla.

"I suppose not," said Mrs. Stanbury, plaintively.

"I could try," said Dorothy.

"My dear, you don't know that woman," said Priscilla.

"Of course I don't know her," said Dorothy.

"She has always been very good to Hugh," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"I don't think she has been good to him at all," said Priscilla.

"But think what a saving it would be," said Dorothy. "And I could
send home half of what Aunt Stanbury says she would give me."

"You must not think of that," said Priscilla, "because she expects
you to be dressed."

"I should like to try," she said, before the morning was over,--"if
you and mamma don't think it would be wrong."

The conference that day ended in a written request to Aunt Stanbury
that a week might be allowed for consideration,--the letter being
written by Priscilla, but signed with her mother's name,--and with a
very long epistle to Hugh, in which each of the ladies took a part,
and in which advice and decision were demanded. It was very evident
to Hugh that his mother and Dorothy were for compliance, and that
Priscilla was for refusal. But he never doubted for a moment. "Of
course she will go," he said in his answer to Priscilla; "and she
must understand that Aunt Stanbury is a most excellent woman, as true
as the sun, thoroughly honest, with no fault but this, that she likes
her own way. Of course Dolly can go back again if she finds the house
too hard for her." Then he sent another five-pound note, observing
that Dolly's journey to Exeter would cost money, and that her
wardrobe would want some improvement.

"I'm very glad that it isn't me," said Priscilla, who, however, did
not attempt to oppose the decision of the man of the family. Dorothy
was greatly gratified by the excitement of the proposed change in
her life, and the following letter, the product of the wisdom of the
family, was written by Mrs. Stanbury:--


   Nuncombe Putney, 1st May, 186--.

   MY DEAR SISTER STANBURY,

   We are all very thankful for the kindness of your offer,
   which my daughter Dorothy will accept with feelings of
   affectionate gratitude. I think you will find her docile,
   good-tempered, and amiable; but a mother, of course,
   speaks well of her own child. She will endeavour to comply
   with your wishes in all things reasonable. She, of course,
   understands that should the arrangement not suit, she will
   come back home on the expression of your wish that it
   should be so. And she will, of course, do the same, if she
   should find that living in Exeter does not suit herself.
   [This sentence was inserted at the instance of Priscilla,
   after much urgent expostulation.] Dorothy will be ready
   to go to you on any day you may fix after the 7th of this
   month.

   Believe me to remain,
   Your affectionate sister-in-law,

   P. STANBURY.


"She's going to come," said Miss Stanbury to Martha, holding the
letter in her hand.

"I never doubted her coming, ma'am," said Martha.

"And I mean her to stay, unless it's her own fault. She'll have the
small room up-stairs, looking out front, next to mine. And you must
go and fetch her."

"Go and fetch her, ma'am?"

"Yes. If you won't, I must."

"She ain't a child, ma'am. She's twenty-five years old, and surely
she can come to Exeter by herself, with a railroad all the way from
Lessboro'."

"There's no place a young woman is insulted in so bad as those
railway carriages, and I won't have her come by herself. If she is to
live with me, she shall begin decently at any rate."

Martha argued the matter, but was of course beaten, and on the day
fixed started early in the morning for Nuncombe Putney, and returned
in the afternoon to the Close with her charge. By the time that she
had reached the house she had in some degree reconciled herself to
the dangerous step that her mistress had taken, partly by perceiving
that in face Dorothy Stanbury was very like her brother Hugh, and
partly, perhaps, by finding that the young woman's manner to herself
was both gentle and sprightly. She knew well that gentleness alone,
without some back-bone of strength under it, would not long succeed
with Miss Stanbury. "As far as I can judge, ma'am, she's a sweet
young lady," said Martha, when she reported her arrival to her
mistress, who had retired up-stairs to her own room, in order that
she might thus hear a word of tidings from her lieutenant, before she
showed herself on the field of action.

"Sweet! I hate your sweets," said Miss Stanbury.

"Then why did you send for her, ma'am?"

"Because I was an old fool. But I must go down and receive her, I
suppose."

Then Miss Stanbury went down, almost trembling as she went. The
matter to her was one of vital importance. She was going to change
the whole tenour of her life for the sake,--as she told herself,--of
doing her duty by a relative whom she did not even know. But we may
fairly suppose that there had in truth been a feeling beyond that,
which taught her to desire to have some one near her to whom she
might not only do her duty as guardian, but whom she might also love.
She had tried this with her nephew; but her nephew had been too
strong for her, too far from her, too unlike to herself. When he came
to see her he had smoked a short pipe,--which had been shocking to
her,--and he had spoken of Reform, and Trades' Unions, and meetings
in the parks, as though they had not been Devil's ordinances. And he
was very shy of going to church,--utterly refusing to be taken there
twice on the same Sunday. And he had told his aunt that owing to a
peculiar and unfortunate weakness in his constitution he could not
listen to the reading of sermons. And then she was almost certain
that he had once kissed one of the maids! She had found it impossible
to manage him in any way; and when he positively declared himself as
permanently devoted to the degrading iniquities of penny newspapers,
she had thought it best to cast him off altogether. Now, thus late in
life, she was going to make another venture, to try an altogether new
mode of living,--in order, as she said to herself, that she might be
of some use to somebody,--but, no doubt, with a further unexpressed
hope in her bosom, that the solitude of her life might be relieved by
the companionship of some one whom she might love. She had arrayed
herself in a clean cap and her evening gown, and she went down-stairs
looking sternly, with a fully-developed idea that she must initiate
her new duties by assuming a mastery at once. But inwardly she
trembled, and was intensely anxious as to the first appearance of
her niece. Of course there would be a little morsel of a bonnet.
She hated those vile patches,--dirty flat daubs of millinery as
she called them; but they had become too general for her to refuse
admittance for such a thing within her doors. But a chignon, a
bandbox behind the noddle,--she would not endure. And then there were
other details of feminine gear, which shall not be specified, as to
which she was painfully anxious,--almost forgetting in her anxiety
that the dress of this young woman whom she was about to see must
have ever been regulated by the closest possible economy.

The first thing she saw on entering the room was a dark straw hat,
a straw hat with a strong penthouse flap to it, and her heart was
immediately softened.

"My dear," she said, "I am glad to see you."

Dorothy, who, on her part, was trembling also, whose position was one
to justify most intense anxiety, murmured some reply.

"Take off your hat," said the aunt, "and let me give you a kiss."

The hat was taken off and the kiss was given. There was certainly no
chignon there. Dorothy Stanbury was light haired, with almost flaxen
ringlets, worn after the old-fashioned way which we used to think so
pretty when we were young. She had very soft grey eyes, which ever
seemed to beseech you to do something when they looked at you, and
her mouth was a beseeching mouth. There are women who, even amidst
their strongest efforts at giving assistance to others, always look
as though they were asking aid themselves, and such a one was Dorothy
Stanbury. Her complexion was pale, but there was always present in
it a tint of pink running here and there, changing with every word
she spoke, changing indeed with every pulse of her heart. Nothing
ever was softer than her cheek; but her hands were thin and hard,
and almost fibrous with the working of the thread upon them. She
was rather tall than otherwise, but that extreme look of feminine
dependence which always accompanied her, took away something even
from the appearance of her height.

"These are all real, at any rate," said her aunt, taking hold of the
curls, "and won't be hurt by a little cold water."

Dorothy smiled but said nothing, and was then taken up to her
bed-room. Indeed, when the aunt and niece sat down to dinner together
Dorothy had hardly spoken. But Miss Stanbury had spoken, and things
upon the whole had gone very well.

"I hope you like roast chicken, my dear?" said Miss Stanbury.

"Oh, thank you."

"And bread sauce? Jane, I do hope the bread sauce is hot."

If the reader thinks that Miss Stanbury was indifferent to
considerations of the table, the reader is altogether ignorant of
Miss Stanbury's character. When Miss Stanbury gave her niece the
liver-wing, and picked out from the attendant sausages one that had
been well browned and properly broken in the frying, she meant to do
a real kindness.

"And now, my dear, there are mashed potatoes and bread sauce. As for
green vegetables, I don't know what has become of them. They tell me
I may have green peas from France at a shilling a quart; but if I
can't have English green peas, I won't have any."

Miss Stanbury was standing up as she said this,--as she always did on
such occasions, liking to have a full mastery over the dish.

"I hope you like it, my dear?"

"Everything is so very nice."

"That's right. I like to see a young woman with an appetite. Remember
that God sends the good things for us to eat; and as long as we
don't take more than our share, and give away something to those who
haven't a fair share of their own, I for one think it quite right to
enjoy my victuals. Jane, this bread sauce isn't hot. It never is hot.
Don't tell me; I know what hot is!"

Dorothy thought that her aunt was very angry; but Jane knew Miss
Stanbury better, and bore the scolding without shaking in her shoes.

"And now, my dear, you must take a glass of port wine. It will do you
good after your journey."

Dorothy attempted to explain that she never did drink any wine, but
her aunt talked down her scruples at once.

"One glass of port wine never did anybody any harm, and as there is
port wine, it must be intended that somebody should drink it."

Miss Stanbury, as she sipped hers out very slowly, seemed to enjoy it
much. Although May had come, there was a fire in the grate, and she
sat with her toes on the fender, and her silk dress folded up above
her knees. She sat quite silent in this position for a quarter of an
hour, every now and then raising her glass to her lips. Dorothy sat
silent also. To her, in the newness of her condition, speech was
impossible.

"I think it will do," said Miss Stanbury at last.

As Dorothy had no idea what would do, she could make no reply to
this.

"I'm sure it will do," said Miss Stanbury, after another short
interval. "You're as like my poor sister as two eggs. You don't have
headaches, do you?"

Dorothy said that she was not ordinarily affected in that way.

"When girls have headaches it comes from tight-lacing, and not
walking enough, and carrying all manner of nasty smells about with
them. I know what headaches mean. How is a woman not to have a
headache, when she carries a thing on the back of her poll as big
as a gardener's wheel-barrow? Come, it's a fine evening, and we'll
go out and look at the towers. You've never even seen them yet, I
suppose?"

So they went out, and finding the verger at the Cathedral door, he
being a great friend of Miss Stanbury's, they walked up and down the
aisles, and Dorothy was instructed as to what would be expected from
her in regard to the outward forms of religion. She was to go to the
Cathedral service on the morning of every week-day, and on Sundays in
the afternoon. On Sunday mornings she was to attend the little church
of St. Margaret. On Sunday evenings it was the practice of Miss
Stanbury to read a sermon in the dining-room to all of whom her
household consisted. Did Dorothy like daily services? Dorothy, who
was more patient than her brother, and whose life had been much less
energetic, said that she had no objection to going to church every
day when there was not too much to do.

"There never need be too much to do to attend the Lord's house," said
Miss Stanbury, somewhat angrily.

"Only if you've got to make the beds," said Dorothy.

"My dear, I beg your pardon," said Miss Stanbury. "I beg your pardon,
heartily. I'm a thoughtless old woman, I know. Never mind. Now, we'll
go in."

Later in the evening, when she gave her niece a candlestick to go to
bed, she repeated what she had said before.

"It'll do very well, my dear. I'm sure it'll do. But if you read in
bed either night or morning, I'll never forgive you."

This last caution was uttered with so much energy, that Dorothy gave
a little jump as she promised obedience.



CHAPTER IX.

SHEWING HOW THE QUARREL PROGRESSED AGAIN.


On one Sunday morning, when the month of May was nearly over, Hugh
Stanbury met Colonel Osborne in Curzon Street, not many yards from
Trevelyan's door. Colonel Osborne had just come from the house, and
Stanbury was going to it. Hugh had not spoken to Osborne since the
day, now a fortnight since, on which both of them had witnessed
the scene in the park; but on that occasion they had been left
together, and it had been impossible for them not to say a few words
about their mutual friends. Osborne had expressed his sorrow that
there should be any misunderstanding, and had called Trevelyan a
"confounded fool." Stanbury had suggested that there was something in
it which they two probably did not understand, and that matters would
be sure to come all right. "The truth is Trevelyan bullies her," said
Osborne; "and if he goes on with that he'll be sure to get the worst
of it." Now,--on this present occasion,--Stanbury asked whether he
would find the ladies at home. "Yes, they are both there," said
Osborne. "Trevelyan has just gone out in a huff. She'll never be able
to go on living with him. Anybody can see that with half an eye."
Then he had passed on, and Hugh Stanbury knocked at the door.

He was shown up into the drawing-room, and found both the sisters
there; but he could see that Mrs. Trevelyan had been in tears. The
avowed purpose of his visit,--that is, the purpose which he had
avowed to himself,--was to talk about his sister Dorothy. He had told
Miss Rowley, while walking in the park with her, how Dorothy had been
invited over to Exeter by her aunt, and how he had counselled his
sister to accept the invitation. Nora had expressed herself very
interested as to Dorothy's fate, and had said how much she wished
that she knew Dorothy. We all understand how sweet it is, when two
such persons as Hugh Stanbury and Nora Rowley cannot speak of their
love for each other, to say these tender things in regard to some
one else. Nora had been quite anxious to know how Dorothy had been
received by that old conservative warrior, as Hugh Stanbury had
called his aunt, and Hugh had now come to Curzon Street with a letter
from Dorothy in his pocket. But when he saw that there had been some
cause for trouble, he hardly knew how to introduce his subject.

"Trevelyan is not at home?" he asked.

"No," said Emily, with her face turned away. "He went out and left us
a quarter of an hour since. Did you meet Colonel Osborne?"

"I was speaking to him in the street not a moment since." As he
answered he could see that Nora was making some sign to her sister.
Nora was most anxious that Emily should not speak of what had just
occurred, but her signs were all thrown away. "Somebody must tell
him," said Mrs. Trevelyan, "and I don't know who can do so better
than so old a friend as Mr. Stanbury."

"Tell what, and to whom?" he asked.

"No, no, no," said Nora.

"Then I must tell him myself," said she, "that is all. As for
standing this kind of life, it is out of the question. I should
either destroy myself or go mad."

"If I could do any good I should be so happy," said Stanbury.

"Nobody can do any good between a man and his wife," said Nora.

Then Mrs. Trevelyan began to tell her story, putting aside, with an
impatient motion of her hands, the efforts which her sister made to
stop her. She was very angry, and as she told it, standing up, all
trace of sobbing soon disappeared from her voice. "The fact is," she
said, "he does not know his own mind, or what to fear or what not to
fear. He told me that I was never to see Colonel Osborne again."

"What is the use, Emily, of your repeating that to Mr. Stanbury?"

"Why should I not repeat it? Colonel Osborne is papa's oldest friend,
and mine too. He is a man I like very much,--who is a real friend to
me. As he is old enough to be my father, one would have thought that
my husband could have found no objection."

"I don't know much about his age," said Stanbury.

"It does make a difference. It must make a difference. I should not
think of becoming so intimate with a younger man. But, however, when
my husband told me that I was to see him no more,--though the insult
nearly killed me, I determined to obey him. An order was given that
Colonel Osborne should not be admitted. You may imagine how painful
it was; but it was given, and I was prepared to bear it."

"But he had been lunching with you on that Sunday."

"Yes; that is just it. As soon as it was given Louis would rescind
it, because he was ashamed of what he had done. He was so jealous
that he did not want me to see the man; and yet he was so afraid that
it should be known that he ordered me to see him. He ordered him into
the house at last, and I,--I went away up-stairs."

"That was on the Sunday that we met you in the park?" asked Stanbury.

"What is the use of going back to all that?" said Nora.

"Then I met him by chance in the park," continued Mrs. Trevelyan,
"and because he said a word which I knew would anger my husband, I
left him abruptly. Since that my husband has begged that things might
go on as they were before. He could not bear that Colonel Osborne
himself should think that he was jealous. Well; I gave way, and the
man has been here as before. And now there has been a scene which has
been disgraceful to us all. I cannot stand it, and I won't. If he
does not behave himself with more manliness,--I will leave him."

"But what can I do?"

"Nothing, Mr. Stanbury," said Nora.

"Yes; you can do this. You can go to him from me, and can tell him
that I have chosen you as a messenger because you are his friend.
You can tell him that I am willing to obey him in anything. If he
chooses, I will consent that Colonel Osborne shall be asked never
to come into my presence again. It will be very absurd; but if he
chooses, I will consent. Or I will let things go on as they are, and
continue to receive my father's old friend when he comes. But if I
do, I will not put up with an imputation on my conduct because he
does not like the way in which the gentleman thinks fit to address
me. I take upon myself to say that if any man alive spoke to me as
he ought not to speak, I should know how to resent it myself. But I
cannot fly into a passion with an old gentleman for calling me by my
Christian name, when he has done so habitually for years."

From all this it will appear that the great godsend of a rich
marriage, with all manner of attendant comforts, which had come in
the way of the Rowley family as they were living at the Mandarins,
had not turned out to be an unmixed blessing. In the matter of the
quarrel, as it had hitherto progressed, the husband had perhaps been
more in the wrong than his wife; but the wife, in spite of all her
promises of perfect obedience, had proved herself to be a woman very
hard to manage. Had she been earnest in her desire to please her lord
and master in this matter of Colonel Osborne's visits,--to please
him even after he had so vacillated in his own behests,--she might
probably have so received the man as to have quelled all feeling of
jealousy in her husband's bosom. But instead of doing so she had
told herself that as she was innocent, and as her innocence had been
acknowledged, and as she had been specially instructed to receive
this man whom she had before been specially instructed not to
receive, she would now fall back exactly into her old manner with
him. She had told Colonel Osborne never to allude to that meeting
in the park, and to ask no creature as to what had occasioned her
conduct on that Sunday; thus having a mystery with him, which of
course he understood as well as she did. And then she had again taken
to writing notes to him and receiving notes from him,--none of which
she showed to her husband. She was more intimate with him than ever,
and yet she hardly ever mentioned his name to her husband. Trevelyan,
acknowledging to himself that he had done no good by his former
interference, feeling that he had put himself in the wrong on that
occasion, and that his wife had got the better of him, had borne with
all this, with soreness and a moody savageness of general conduct,
but still without further words of anger with reference to the man
himself. But now, on this Sunday, when his wife had been closeted
with Colonel Osborne in the back drawing-room, leaving him with his
sister-in-law, his temper had become too hot for him, and he had
suddenly left the house, declaring that he would not walk with the
two women on that day. "Why not, Louis?" his wife had said, coming up
to him. "Never mind why not, but I shall not," he had answered; and
then he left the room.

"What is the matter with him?" Colonel Osborne had asked.

"It is impossible to say what is the matter with him," Mrs. Trevelyan
had replied. After that she had at once gone up-stairs to her child,
telling herself that she was doing all that the strictest propriety
could require in leaving the man's society as soon as her husband
was gone. Then there was an awkward minute or two between Nora and
Colonel Osborne, and he took his leave.

Stanbury at last promised that he would see Trevelyan, repeating,
however, very frequently that often-used assertion, that no task
is so hopeless as that of interfering between a man and his wife.
Nevertheless he promised, and undertook to look for Trevelyan at
the Acrobats on that afternoon. At last he got a moment in which
to produce the letter from his sister, and was able to turn the
conversation for a few minutes to his own affairs. Dorothy's letter
was read and discussed by both the ladies with much zeal. "It is
quite a strange world to me," said Dorothy, "but I am beginning to
find myself more at my ease than I was at first. Aunt Stanbury is
very good-natured, and when I know what she wants, I think I shall be
able to please her. What you said of her disposition is not so bad to
me, as of course a girl in my position does not expect to have her
own way."

"Why shouldn't she have her share of her own way as well as anybody
else?" said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"Poor Dorothy would never want to have her own way," said Hugh.

"She ought to want it," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"She has spirit enough to turn if she's trodden on," said Hugh.

"That's more than what most women have," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

Then he went on with the letter. "She is very generous, and has given
me £6 5_s._ in advance of my allowance. When I said I would send part
of it home to mamma, she seemed to be angry, and said that she wanted
me always to look nice about my clothes. She told me afterwards to do
as I pleased, and that I might try my own way for the first quarter.
So I was frightened, and only sent thirty shillings. We went out
the other evening to drink tea with Mrs. MacHugh, an old lady whose
husband was once dean. I had to go, and it was all very nice. There
were a great many clergymen there, but many of them were young men."
"Poor Dorothy," exclaimed Nora. "One of them was the minor canon who
chants the service every morning. He is a bachelor--" "Then there is
a hope for her," said Nora--"and he always talks a little as though
he were singing the Litany." "That's very bad," said Nora; "fancy
having a husband to sing the Litany to you always." "Better that,
perhaps, than having him always singing something else," said Mrs.
Trevelyan.

It was decided between them that Dorothy's state might on the whole
be considered as flourishing, but that Hugh was bound as a brother
to go down to Exeter and look after her. He explained, however, that
he was expressly debarred from calling on his sister, even between
the hours of half-past nine and half-past twelve on Wednesday
mornings, and that he could not see her at all unless he did so
surreptitiously.

"If I were you I would see my sister in spite of all the old viragos
in Exeter," said Mrs. Trevelyan. "I have no idea of anybody taking so
much upon themselves."

"You must remember, Mrs. Trevelyan, that she has taken upon herself
much also in the way of kindness, in doing what perhaps I ought to
call charity. I wonder what I should have been doing now if it were
not for my Aunt Stanbury."

He took his leave, and went at once from Curzon Street to Trevelyan's
club, and found that Trevelyan had not been there as yet. In another
hour he called again, and was about to give it up, when he met the
man whom he was seeking on the steps.

"I was looking for you," he said.

"Well, here I am."

It was impossible not to see in the look of Trevelyan's face, and not
to hear in the tone of his voice, that he was, at the moment, in an
angry and unhappy frame of mind. He did not move as though he were
willing to accompany his friend, and seemed almost to know beforehand
that the approaching interview was to be an unpleasant one.

"I want to speak to you, and perhaps you wouldn't mind taking a turn
with me," said Stanbury.

But Trevelyan objected to this, and led the way into the club
waiting-room. A club waiting-room is always a gloomy, unpromising
place for a confidential conversation, and so Stanbury felt it to be
on the present occasion. But he had no alternative. There they were
together, and he must do as he had promised. Trevelyan kept on his
hat and did not sit down, and looked very gloomy. Stanbury having
to commence without any assistance from outward auxiliaries, almost
forgot what it was that he had promised to do.

"I have just come from Curzon Street," he said.

"Well!"

"At least I was there about two hours ago."

"It doesn't matter, I suppose, whether it was two hours or two
minutes," said Trevelyan.

"Not in the least. The fact is this; I happened to come upon the two
girls there, when they were very unhappy, and your wife asked me to
come and say a word or two to you."

"Was Colonel Osborne there?"

"No; I had met him in the street a minute or two before."

"Well, now; look here, Stanbury. If you'll take my advice, you'll
keep your hands out of this. It is not but that I regard you as being
as good a friend as I have in the world; but, to own the truth, I
cannot put up with interference between myself and my wife."

"Of course you understand that I only come as a messenger."


   [Illustration: "I only come as a messenger."]


"You had better not be a messenger in such a cause. If she has
anything to say she can say it to myself."

"Am I to understand that you will not listen to me?"

"I had rather not."

"I think you are wrong," said Stanbury.

"In that matter you must allow me to judge for myself. I can easily
understand that a young woman like her, especially with her sister to
back her, should induce such a one as you to take her part."

"I am taking nobody's part. You wrong your wife, and you especially
wrong Miss Rowley."

"If you please, Stanbury, we will say nothing more about it." This
Trevelyan said holding the door of the room half open in his hand, so
that the other was obliged to pass out through it.

"Good evening," said Stanbury, with much anger.

"Good evening," said Trevelyan, with an assumption of indifference.

Stanbury went away in absolute wrath, though the trouble which he had
had in the interview was much less than he had anticipated, and the
result quite as favourable. He had known that no good would come of
his visit. And yet he was now full of anger against Trevelyan, and
had become a partisan in the matter,--which was exactly that which he
had resolutely determined that he would not become. "I believe that
no woman on earth could live with him," he said to himself as he
walked away. "It was always the same with him,--a desire for mastery,
which he did not know how to use when he had obtained it. If it were
Nora, instead of the other sister, he would break her sweet heart
within a month."

Trevelyan dined at his club, and hardly spoke a word to any one
during the evening. At about eleven he started to walk home, but
went by no means straight thither, taking a long turn through St.
James's Park, and by Pimlico. It was necessary that he should make
up his mind as to what he would do. He had sternly refused the
interference of a friend, and he must be prepared to act on his own
responsibility. He knew well that he could not begin again with his
wife on the next day as though nothing had happened. Stanbury's visit
to him, if it had done nothing else, had made this impossible. He
determined that he would not go to her room to-night, but would see
her as early as possible in the morning;--and would then talk to her
with all the wisdom of which he was master.

How many husbands have come to the same resolution; and how few of
them have found the words of wisdom to be efficacious!



CHAPTER X.

HARD WORDS.


   [Illustration]

It is to be feared that men in general do not regret as they should
do any temporary ill-feeling, or irritating jealousy between husbands
and wives, of which they themselves have been the cause. The author
is not speaking now of actual love-makings, of intrigues and devilish
villany, either perpetrated or imagined; but rather of those passing
gusts of short-lived and unfounded suspicion to which, as to other
accidents, very well-regulated families may occasionally be liable.
When such suspicion rises in the bosom of a wife, some woman
intervening or being believed to intervene between her and the man
who is her own, that woman who has intervened or been supposed to
intervene, will either glory in her position or bewail it bitterly,
according to the circumstances of the case. We will charitably
suppose that, in a great majority of such instances, she will bewail
it. But when such painful jealous doubts annoy the husband, the
man who is in the way will almost always feel himself justified in
extracting a slightly pleasurable sensation from the transaction.
He will say to himself probably, unconsciously indeed, and with
no formed words, that the husband is an ass, an ass if he be in
a twitter either for that which he has kept or for that which he
has been unable to keep, that the lady has shewn a good deal of
appreciation, and that he himself is--is--is--quite a Captain bold
of Halifax. All the while he will not have the slightest intention
of wronging the husband's honour, and will have received no greater
favour from the intimacy accorded to him than the privilege of
running on one day to Marshall and Snellgrove's, the haberdashers,
and on another to Handcocks', the jewellers. If he be allowed to buy
a present or two, or to pay a few shillings here or there, he has
achieved much. Terrible things now and again do occur, even here in
England; but women, with us, are slow to burn their household gods.
It happens, however, occasionally, as we are all aware, that the
outward garments of a domestic deity will be a little scorched; and
when this occurs, the man who is the interloper, will generally find
a gentle consolation in his position, let its interest be ever so
flaccid and unreal, and its troubles in running about, and the like,
ever so considerable and time-destructive.

It was so certainly with Colonel Osborne when he became aware that
his intimacy with Mrs. Trevelyan had caused her husband uneasiness.
He was not especially a vicious man, and had now, as we know, reached
a time of life when such vice as that in question might be supposed
to have lost its charm for him. A gentleman over fifty, popular
in London, with a seat in Parliament, fond of good dinners, and
possessed of everything which the world has to give, could hardly
have wished to run away with his neighbour's wife, or to have
destroyed the happiness of his old friend's daughter. Such wickedness
had never come into his head; but he had a certain pleasure in being
the confidential friend of a very pretty woman; and when he heard
that that pretty woman's husband was jealous, the pleasure was
enhanced rather than otherwise. On that Sunday, as he had left the
house in Curzon Street, he had told Stanbury that Trevelyan had just
gone off in a huff, which was true enough, and he had walked from
thence down Clarges Street, and across Piccadilly to St. James's
Street, with a jauntier step than usual, because he was aware that he
himself had been the occasion of that trouble. This was very wrong;
but there is reason to believe that many such men as Colonel Osborne,
who are bachelors at fifty, are equally malicious.

He thought a good deal about it on that evening, and was still
thinking about it on the following morning. He had promised to go up
to Curzon Street on the Monday,--really on some most trivial mission,
on a matter of business which no man could have taken in hand whose
time was of the slightest value to himself or any one else. But now
that mission assumed an importance in his eyes, and seemed to require
either a special observance or a special excuse. There was no real
reason why he should not have stayed away from Curzon Street for the
next fortnight; and had he done so he need have made no excuse to
Mrs. Trevelyan when he met her. But the opportunity for a little
excitement was not to be missed, and instead of going he wrote to her
the following note:--


   Albany, Monday.

   DEAR EMILY,

   What was it all about yesterday? I was to have come up
   with the words of that opera, but perhaps it will be
   better to send it. If it be not wicked, do tell me whether
   I am to consider myself as a banished man. I thought that
   our little meetings were so innocent,--and so pleasant!
   The green-eyed monster is of all monsters the most
   monstrous,--and the most unreasonable. Pray let me have a
   line, if it be not forbidden.

   Yours always heartily,

   F. O.

   Putting aside all joking, I beg you to remember that I
   consider myself always entitled to be regarded by you as
   your most sincere friend.


When this was brought to Mrs. Trevelyan, about twelve o'clock in
the day, she had already undergone the infliction of those words
of wisdom which her husband had prepared for her, and which were
threatened at the close of the last chapter. Her husband had come
up to her while she was yet in her bed-room, and had striven hard
to prevail against her. But his success had been very doubtful. In
regard to the number of words, Mrs. Trevelyan certainly had had
the best of it. As far as any understanding, one of another, was
concerned, the conversation had been useless. She believed herself to
be injured and aggrieved, and would continue so to assert, let him
implore her to listen to him as loudly as he might. "Yes;--I will
listen, and I will obey you," she had said, "but I will not endure
such insults without telling you that I feel them." Then he had left
her, fully conscious that he had failed, and went forth out of his
house into the City, to his club, to wander about the streets, not
knowing what he had best do to bring back that state of tranquillity
at home which he felt to be so desirable.

Mrs. Trevelyan was alone when Colonel Osborne's note was brought to
her, and was at that moment struggling with herself in anger against
her husband. If he laid any command upon her, she would execute it;
but she would never cease to tell him that he had ill-used her. She
would din it into his ears, let him come to her as often as he might
with his wise words. Wise words! What was the use of wise words when
a man was such a fool in nature? And as for Colonel Osborne,--she
would see him if he came to her three times a day, unless her husband
gave some clearly intelligible order to the contrary. She was
fortifying her mind with this resolution when Colonel Osborne's
letter was brought to her. She asked whether any servant was waiting
for an answer. No,--the servant, who had left it, had gone at once.
She read the note, and sat working, with it before her, for a quarter
of an hour; and then walked over to her desk and answered it.


   MY DEAR COLONEL OSBORNE,

   It will be best to say nothing whatever about the
   occurrence of yesterday; and if possible, not to
   think of it. As far as I am concerned, I wish for no
   change;--except that people should be more reasonable.
   You can call of course whenever you please; and I am very
   grateful for your expression of friendship.

   Yours most sincerely,

   EMILY TREVELYAN.

   Thanks for the words of the opera.


When she had written this, being determined that all should be open
and above board, she put a penny stamp on the envelope, and desired
that the letter should be posted. But she destroyed that which she
had received from Colonel Osborne. In all things she would act as she
would have done if her husband had not been so foolish, and there
could have been no reason why she should have kept so unimportant a
communication.

In the course of the day Trevelyan passed through the hall to the
room which he himself was accustomed to occupy behind the parlour,
and as he did so saw the note lying ready to be posted, took it up,
and read the address. He held it for a moment in his hand, then
replaced it on the hall table, and passed on. When he reached his own
table he sat down hurriedly, and took up in his hand some Review that
was lying ready for him to read. But he was quite unable to fix his
mind upon the words before him. He had spoken to his wife on that
morning in the strongest language he could use as to the unseemliness
of her intimacy with Colonel Osborne; and then, the first thing she
had done when his back was turned was to write to this very Colonel
Osborne, and tell him, no doubt, what had occurred between her and
her husband. He sat thinking of it all for many minutes. He would
probably have declared himself that he had thought of it for an hour
as he sat there. Then he got up, went up-stairs and walked slowly
into the drawing-room. There he found his wife sitting with her
sister. "Nora," he said, "I want to speak to Emily. Will you forgive
me, if I ask you to leave us for a few minutes?" Nora, with an
anxious look at Emily, got up and left the room.

"Why do you send her away?" said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"Because I wish to be alone with you for a few minutes. Since what I
said to you this morning, you have written to Colonel Osborne."

"Yes;--I have. I do not know how you have found it out; but I suppose
you keep a watch on me."

"I keep no watch on you. As I came into the house, I saw your letter
lying in the hall."

"Very well. You could have read it if you pleased."

"Emily, this matter is becoming very serious, and I strongly advise
you to be on your guard in what you say. I will bear much for you,
and much for our boy; but I will not bear to have my name made a
reproach."

"Sir, if you think your name is shamed by me, we had better part,"
said Mrs. Trevelyan, rising from her chair, and confronting him with
a look before which his own almost quailed.

"It may be that we had better part," he said, slowly. "But in the
first place I wish you to tell me what were the contents of that
letter."

"If it was there when you came in, no doubt it is there still. Go and
look at it."

"That is no answer to me. I have desired you to tell me what are its
contents."

"I shall not tell you. I will not demean myself by repeating anything
so insignificant in my own justification. If you suspect me of
writing what I should not write, you will suspect me also of lying to
conceal it."

"Have you heard from Colonel Osborne this morning?"

"I have."

"And where is his letter?"

"I have destroyed it."

Again he paused, trying to think what he had better do, trying to be
calm. And she stood still opposite to him, confronting him with the
scorn of her bright angry eyes. Of course, he was not calm. He was
the very reverse of calm. "And you refuse to tell me what you wrote,"
he said.

"The letter is there," she answered, pointing away towards the door.
"If you want to play the spy, go and look at it for yourself."

"Do you call me a spy?"

"And what have you called me? Because you are a husband, is the
privilege of vituperation to be all on your side?"

"It is impossible that I should put up with this," he said;--"quite
impossible. This would kill me. Anything is better than this. My
present orders to you are not to see Colonel Osborne, not to write
to him or have any communication with him, and to put under cover to
me, unopened, any letter that may come from him. I shall expect your
implicit obedience to these orders."

"Well;--go on."

"Have I your promise?"

"No;--no. You have no promise. I will make no promise exacted from me
in so disgraceful a manner."

"You refuse to obey me?"

"I will refuse nothing, and will promise nothing."

"Then we must part;--that is all. I will take care that you shall
hear from me before to-morrow morning."

So saying, he left the room, and, passing through the hall, saw that
the letter had been taken away.



CHAPTER XI.

LADY MILBOROUGH AS AMBASSADOR.


"Of course, I know you are right," said Nora to her sister;--"right
as far as Colonel Osborne is concerned; but nevertheless you ought to
give way."

"And be trampled upon?" said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"Yes; and be trampled upon, if he should trample on you;--which,
however, he is the last man in the world to do."

"And to endure any insult and any names? You yourself--you would be a
Griselda, I suppose."

"I don't want to talk about myself," said Nora, "nor about Griselda.
But I know that, however unreasonable it may seem, you had better
give way to him now and tell him what there was in the note to
Colonel Osborne."

"Never! He has ordered me not to see him or to write to him, or to
open his letters,--having, mind you, ordered just the reverse a day
or two before; and I will obey him. Absurd as it is, I will obey him.
But as for submitting to him, and letting him suppose that I think
he is right;--never! I should be lying to him then, and I will never
lie to him. He has said that we must part, and I suppose it will be
better so. How can a woman live with a man that suspects her? He
cannot take my baby from me."

There were many such conversations as the above between the two
sisters before Mrs. Trevelyan received from her husband the
communication with which she had been threatened. And Nora, acting on
her own judgment in the matter, made an attempt to see Mr. Trevelyan,
writing to him a pretty little note, and beseeching him to be kind to
her. But he declined to see her, and the two women sat at home, with
the baby between them, holding such pleasant conversations as that
above narrated. When such tempests occur in a family, a woman will
generally suffer the least during the thick of the tempest. While
the hurricane is at the fiercest, she will be sustained by the most
thorough conviction that the right is on her side, that she is
aggrieved, that there is nothing for her to acknowledge, and no
position that she need surrender. Whereas her husband will desire a
compromise, even amidst the violence of the storm. But afterwards,
when the wind has lulled, but while the heavens around are still all
black and murky, then the woman's sufferings begin. When passion
gives way to thought and memory, she feels the loneliness of her
position,--the loneliness, and the possible degradation. It is all
very well for a man to talk about his name and his honour; but it is
the woman's honour and the woman's name that are, in truth, placed in
jeopardy. Let the woman do what she will, the man can, in truth, show
his face in the world;--and, after awhile, does show his face. But
the woman may be compelled to veil hers, either by her own fault, or
by his. Mrs. Trevelyan was now told that she was to be separated from
her husband, and she did not, at any rate, believe that she had done
any harm. But, if such separation did come, where could she live,
what could she do, what position in the world would she possess?
Would not her face be, in truth, veiled as effectually as though she
had disgraced herself and her husband?

And then there was that terrible question about the child. Mrs.
Trevelyan had said a dozen times to her sister that her husband could
not take the boy away from her. Nora, however, had never assented to
this, partly from a conviction of her own ignorance, not knowing what
might be the power of a husband in such a matter, and partly thinking
that any argument would be good and fair by which she could induce
her sister to avoid a catastrophe so terrible as that which was now
threatened.

"I suppose he could take him, if he chose," she said at last.

"I don't believe he is wicked like that," said Mrs. Trevelyan. "He
would not wish to kill me."

"But he will say that he loves baby as well as you do."

"He will never take my child from me. He could never be so bad as
that."

"And you will never be so bad as to leave him," said Nora after a
pause. "I will not believe that it can come to that. You know that he
is good at heart,--that nobody on earth loves you as he does."

So they went on for two days, and on the evening of the second day
there came a letter from Trevelyan to his wife. They had neither of
them seen him, although he had been in and out of the house. And
on the afternoon of the Sunday a new grievance, a very terrible
grievance, was added to those which Mrs. Trevelyan was made to bear.
Her husband had told one of the servants in the house that Colonel
Osborne was not to be admitted. And the servant to whom he had given
this order was the--cook. There is no reason why a cook should be
less trustworthy in such a matter than any other servant; and in
Mr. Trevelyan's household there was a reason why she should be more
so,--as she, and she alone, was what we generally call an old family
domestic. She had lived with her master's mother, and had known her
master when he was a boy. Looking about him, therefore, for some one
in his house to whom he could speak,--feeling that he was bound to
convey the order through some medium,--he called to him the ancient
cook, and imparted to her so much of his trouble as was necessary
to make the order intelligible. This he did with various ill-worded
assurances to Mrs. Prodgers that there really was nothing amiss. But
when Mrs. Trevelyan heard what had been done,--which she did from
Mrs. Prodgers herself, Mrs. Prodgers having been desired by her
master to make the communication,--she declared to her sister that
everything was now over. She could never again live with a husband
who had disgraced his wife by desiring her own cook to keep a guard
upon her. Had the footman been instructed not to admit Colonel
Osborne, there would have been in such instruction some apparent
adherence to the recognised usages of society. If you do not desire
either your friend or your enemy to be received into your house, you
communicate your desire to the person who has charge of the door. But
the cook!

"And now, Nora, if it were you, do you mean to say that you would
remain with him?" asked Mrs. Trevelyan.

Nora simply replied that anything under any circumstances would be
better than a separation.

On the morning of the third day there came the following letter:--


   Wednesday, June 1, 12 midnight.

   DEAREST EMILY,

   You will readily believe me when I say that I never in my
   life was so wretched as I have been during the last two
   days. That you and I should be in the same house together
   and not able to speak to each other is in itself a misery,
   but this is terribly enhanced by the dread lest this state
   of things should be made to continue.

   I want you to understand that I do not in the least
   suspect you of having as yet done anything wrong,--or
   having even said anything injurious either to my position
   as your husband, or to your position as my wife. But I
   cannot but perceive that you are allowing yourself to be
   entrapped into an intimacy with Colonel Osborne which if
   it be not checked, will be destructive to my happiness and
   your own. After what had passed before, you cannot have
   thought it right to receive letters from him which I was
   not to see, or to write letters to him of which I was
   not to know the contents. It must be manifest to you that
   such conduct on your part is wrong as judged by any of
   the rules by which a wife's conduct can be measured.
   And yet you have refused even to say that this shall be
   discontinued! I need hardly explain to you that if you
   persist in this refusal you and I cannot continue to live
   together as man and wife. All my hopes and prospects in
   life will be blighted by such a separation. I have not as
   yet been able to think what I should do in such wretched
   circumstances. And for you, as also for Nora, such a
   catastrophe would be most lamentable. Do, therefore, think
   of it well, and write me such a letter as may bring me
   back to your side.

   There is only one friend in the world to whom I could
   endure to talk of this great grief, and I have been to
   her and told her everything. You will know that I mean
   Lady Milborough. After much difficult conversation I
   have persuaded her to see you, and she will call in
   Curzon Street to-morrow about twelve. There can be no
   kinder-hearted, or more gentle woman in the world than
   Lady Milborough; nor did any one ever have a warmer friend
   than both you and I have in her. Let me implore you then
   to listen to her, and be guided by her advice.

   Pray believe, dearest Emily, that I am now, as ever, your
   most affectionate husband, and that I have no wish so
   strong as that we should not be compelled to part.

   LOUIS TREVELYAN.


This epistle was, in many respects, a very injudicious composition.
Trevelyan should have trusted either to the eloquence of his own
written words, or to that of the ambassador whom he was about to
despatch; but by sending both he weakened both. And then there were
certain words in the letter which were odious to Mrs. Trevelyan, and
must have been odious to any young wife. He had said that he did not
"as yet" suspect her of having done anything wrong. And then, when
he endeavoured to explain to her that a separation would be very
injurious to herself, he had coupled her sister with her, thus
seeming to imply that the injury to be avoided was of a material
kind. She had better do what he told her, as, otherwise, she and her
sister would not have a roof over their head! That was the nature of
the threat which his words were supposed to convey.

The matter had become so serious, that Mrs. Trevelyan, haughty and
stiff-necked as she was, did not dare to abstain from showing the
letter to her sister. She had no other counsellor, at any rate, till
Lady Milborough came, and the weight of the battle was too great for
her own unaided spirit. The letter had been written late at night, as
was shown by the precision of the date, and had been brought to her
early in the morning. At first she had determined to say nothing
about it to Nora, but she was not strong enough to maintain such a
purpose. She felt that she needed the poor consolation of discussing
her wretchedness. She first declared that she would not see Lady
Milborough. "I hate her, and she knows that I hate her, and she ought
not to have thought of coming," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

But she was at last beaten out of this purpose by Nora's argument,
that all the world would be against her if she refused to see her
husband's old friend. And then, though the letter was an odious
letter, as she declared a dozen times, she took some little
comfort in the fact that not a word was said in it about the baby.
She thought that if she could take her child with her into any
separation, she could endure it, and her husband would ultimately be
conquered.

"Yes; I'll see her," she said, as they finished the discussion. "As
he chooses to send her, I suppose I had better see her. But I don't
think he does much to mend matters when he sends the woman whom he
knows I dislike more than any other in all London."

Exactly at twelve o'clock Lady Milborough's carriage was at the door.
Trevelyan was in the house at the time and heard the knock at the
door. During those two or three days of absolute wretchedness,
he spent most of his hours under the same roof with his wife and
sister-in-law, though he spoke to neither of them. He had had his
doubts as to the reception of Lady Milborough, and was, to tell
the truth, listening with most anxious ear, when her ladyship was
announced. His wife, however, was not so bitterly contumacious as
to refuse admittance to his friend, and he heard the rustle of the
ponderous silk as the old woman was shown up-stairs. When Lady
Milborough reached the drawing-room, Mrs. Trevelyan was alone.

"I had better see her by myself," she had said to her sister.

Nora had then left her, with one word of prayer that she would be as
little defiant as possible.

"That must depend," Emily had said, with a little shake of her head.

There had been a suggestion that the child should be with her, but
the mother herself had rejected this.

"It would be stagey," she had said, "and clap-trap. There is nothing
I hate so much as that."

She was sitting, therefore, quite alone, and as stiff as a man in
armour, when Lady Milborough was shown up to her.

And Lady Milborough herself was not at all comfortable as she
commenced the interview. She had prepared many wise words to be
spoken, but was not so little ignorant of the character of the woman
with whom she had to deal, as to suppose that the wise words would
get themselves spoken without interruption. She had known from the
first that Mrs. Trevelyan would have much to say for herself, and the
feeling that it would be so became stronger than ever as she entered
the room. The ordinary feelings between the two ladies were cold and
constrained, and then there was silence for a few moments when the
Countess had taken her seat. Mrs. Trevelyan had quite determined that
the enemy should fire the first shot.

"This is a very sad state of things," said the Countess.

"Yes, indeed, Lady Milborough."

"The saddest in the world;--and so unnecessary;--is it not?"

"Very unnecessary, indeed, as I think."

"Yes, my dear, yes. But, of course, we must remember--"

Then Lady Milborough could not clearly bring to her mind what it was
that she had to remember.

"The fact is, my dear, that all this kind of thing is too monstrous
to be thought of. Goodness, gracious, me; two young people like you
and Louis, who thoroughly love each other, and who have got a baby,
to think of being separated! Of course it is out of the question."

"You cannot suppose, Lady Milborough, that I want to be separated
from my husband?"

"Of course not. How should it be possible? The very idea is too
shocking to be thought of. I declare I haven't slept since Louis
was talking to me about it. But, my dear, you must remember, you
know, that a husband has a right to expect some--some--some--a sort
of--submission from his wife."

"He has a right to expect obedience, Lady Milborough."

"Of course; that is all one wants."

"And I will obey Mr. Trevelyan--in anything reasonable."

"But, my dear, who is to say what is reasonable? That, you see, is
always the difficulty. You must allow that your husband is the person
who ought to decide that."

"Has he told you that I have refused to obey him, Lady Milborough?"

The Countess paused a moment before she replied. "Well, yes; I think
he has," she said. "He asked you to do something about a letter,--a
letter to that Colonel Osborne, who is a man, my dear, really to be
very much afraid of; a man who has done a great deal of harm,--and
you declined. Now in a matter of that kind of course the husband--"

"Lady Milborough, I must ask you to listen to me. You have listened
to Mr. Trevelyan, and I must ask you to listen to me. I am sorry
to trouble you, but as you have come here about this unpleasant
business, you must forgive me if I insist upon it."

"Of course I will listen to you, my dear."

"I have never refused to obey my husband, and I do not refuse now.
The gentleman of whom you have been speaking is an old friend of my
father's, and has become my friend. Nevertheless, had Mr. Trevelyan
given me any plain order about him, I should have obeyed him. A
wife does not feel that her chances of happiness are increased when
she finds that her husband suspects her of being too intimate with
another man. It is a thing very hard to bear. But I would have
endeavoured to bear it, knowing how important it is for both our
sakes, and more especially for our child. I would have made excuses,
and would have endeavoured to think that this horrid feeling on his
part is nothing more than a short delusion."

"But my dear--"

"I must ask you to hear me out, Lady Milborough. But when he tells me
first that I am not to meet the man, and so instructs the servants;
then tells me that I am to meet him, and go on just as I was going
before, and then again tells me that I am not to see him, and again
instructs the servants,--and, above all, the cook!--that Colonel
Osborne is not to come into the house, then obedience becomes rather
difficult."

"Just say now that you will do what he wants, and then all will be
right."

"I will not say so to you, Lady Milborough. It is not to you that
I ought to say it. But as he has chosen to send you here, I will
explain to you that I have never disobeyed him. When I was free, in
accordance with Mr. Trevelyan's wishes, to have what intercourse I
pleased with Colonel Osborne, I received a note from that gentleman
on a most trivial matter. I answered it as trivially. My husband saw
my letter, closed, and questioned me about it. I told him that the
letter was still there, and that if he chose to be a spy upon my
actions he could open it and read it."

"My dear, how could you bring yourself to use the word spy to your
husband?"

"How could he bring himself to accuse me as he did? If he cares for
me let him come and beg my pardon for the insult he has offered me."

"Oh, Mrs. Trevelyan,--"

"Yes; that seems very wrong to you, who have not had to bear it. It
is very easy for a stranger to take a husband's part, and help to put
down a poor woman who has been ill-used. I have done nothing wrong,
nothing to be ashamed of; and I will not say that I have. I never
have spoken a word to Colonel Osborne that all the world might not
hear."

"Nobody has accused you, my dear."

"Yes; he has accused me, and you have accused me, and you will make
all the world accuse me. He may put me out of his house if he likes,
but he shall not make me say I have been wrong, when I know I have
been right. He cannot take my child from me."

"But he will."

"No," shouted Mrs. Trevelyan, jumping up from her chair, "no; he
shall never do that. I will cling to him so that he cannot separate
us. He will never be so wicked,--such a monster as that. I would go
about the world saying what a monster he had been to me." The passion
of the interview was becoming too great for Lady Milborough's power
of moderating it, and she was beginning to feel herself to be in a
difficulty. "Lady Milborough," continued Mrs. Trevelyan, "tell him
from me that I will bear anything but that. That I will not bear."

"Dear Mrs. Trevelyan, do not let us talk about it."

"Who wants to talk about it? Why do you come here and threaten me
with a thing so horrible? I do not believe you. He would not dare to
separate me and my--child."

"But you have only to say that you will submit yourself to him."

"I have submitted myself to him, and I will submit no further. What
does he want? Why does he send you here? He does not know what he
wants. He has made himself miserable by an absurd idea, and he wants
everybody to tell him that he has been right. He has been very wrong;
and if he desires to be wise now, he will come back to his home,
and say nothing further about it. He will gain nothing by sending
messengers here."

Lady Milborough, who had undertaken a most disagreeable task from
the purest motives of old friendship, did not like being called a
messenger; but the woman before her was so strong in her words, so
eager, and so passionate, that she did not know how to resent the
injury. And there was coming over her an idea, of which she herself
was hardly conscious, that after all, perhaps, the husband was not in
the right. She had come there with the general idea that wives, and
especially young wives, should be submissive. She had naturally taken
the husband's part; and having a preconceived dislike to Colonel
Osborne, she had been willing enough to think that precautionary
measures were necessary in reference to so eminent, and notorious,
and experienced a Lothario. She had never altogether loved Mrs.
Trevelyan, and had always been a little in dread of her. But she had
thought that the authority with which she would be invested on this
occasion, the manifest right on her side, and the undeniable truth of
her grand argument, that a wife should obey, would carry her, if not
easily, still successfully through all difficulties. It was probably
the case that Lady Milborough when preparing for her visit, had
anticipated a triumph. But when she had been closeted for an hour
with Mrs. Trevelyan, she found that she was not triumphant. She was
told that she was a messenger, and an unwelcome messenger; and she
began to feel that she did not know how she was to take herself away.

"I am sure I have done everything for the best," she said, getting up
from her chair.

"The best will be to send him back, and make him feel the truth."

"The best for you, my dear, will be to consider well what should be
the duty of a wife."

"I have considered, Lady Milborough. It cannot be a wife's duty to
acknowledge that she has been wrong in such a matter as this."

Then Lady Milborough made her curtsey and got herself away in some
manner that was sufficiently awkward, and Mrs. Trevelyan curtseyed
also as she rang the bell; and, though she was sore and wretched,
and, in truth, sadly frightened, she was not awkward. In that
encounter, so far as it had gone, she had been the victor.

As soon as she was alone and the carriage had been driven well away
from the door, Mrs. Trevelyan left the drawing-room and went up to
the nursery. As she entered she clothed her face with her sweetest
smile. "How is his own mother's dearest, dearest, darling duck?"
she said, putting out her arms and taking the boy from the nurse.
The child was at this time about ten months old, and was a strong,
hearty, happy infant, always laughing when he was awake and always
sleeping when he did not laugh, because his little limbs were
free from pain and his little stomach was not annoyed by internal
troubles. He kicked, and crowed, and sputtered, when his mother took
him, and put up his little fingers to clutch her hair, and was to her
as a young god upon the earth. Nothing in the world had ever been
created so beautiful, so joyous, so satisfactory, so divine! And they
told her that this apple of her eye was to be taken away from her!
No;--that must be impossible. "I will take him into my own room,
nurse, for a little while--you have had him all the morning," she
said; as though the "having baby" was a privilege over which there
might almost be a quarrel. Then she took her boy away with her,
and when she was alone with him, went through such a service in
baby-worship as most mothers will understand. Divide these two! No;
nobody should do that. Sooner than that, she, the mother, would
consent to be no more than a servant in her husband's house. Was not
her baby all the world to her?

On the evening of that day the husband and wife had an interview
together in the library, which, unfortunately, was as unsatisfactory
as Lady Milborough's visit. The cause of the failure of them all
lay probably in this,--that there was no decided point which, if
conceded, would have brought about a reconciliation. Trevelyan asked
for general submission, which he regarded as his right, and which in
the existing circumstances he thought it necessary to claim, and
though Mrs. Trevelyan did not refuse to be submissive she would make
no promise on the subject. But the truth was that each desired that
the other should acknowledge a fault, and that neither of them would
make that acknowledgment. Emily Trevelyan felt acutely that she
had been ill-used, not only by her husband's suspicion, but by the
manner in which he had talked of his suspicion to others,--to Lady
Milborough and the cook, and she was quite convinced that she was
right herself, because he had been so vacillating in his conduct
about Colonel Osborne. But Trevelyan was equally sure that justice
was on his side. Emily must have known his real wishes about Colonel
Osborne; but when she had found that he had rescinded his verbal
orders about the admission of the man to the house,--which he had
done to save himself and her from slander and gossip,--she had taken
advantage of this and had thrown herself more entirely than ever into
the intimacy of which he disapproved! When they met, each was so sore
that no approach to terms was made by them.

"If I am to be treated in that way, I would rather not live with
you," said the wife. "It is impossible to live with a husband who is
jealous."

"All I ask of you is that you shall promise me to have no further
communication with this man."

"I will make no promise that implies my own disgrace."

"Then we must part; and if that be so, this house will be given up.
You may live where you please,--in the country, not in London; but I
shall take steps that Colonel Osborne does not see you."

"I will not remain in the room with you to be insulted thus," said
Mrs. Trevelyan. And she did not remain, but left the chamber,
slamming the door after her as she went.

"It will be better that she should go," said Trevelyan, when he found
himself alone. And so it came to pass that that blessing of a rich
marriage, which had as it were fallen upon them at the Mandarins from
out of heaven, had become, after an interval of but two short years,
anything but an unmixed blessing.



CHAPTER XII.

MISS STANBURY'S GENEROSITY.


On one Wednesday morning early in June, great preparations were being
made at the brick house in the Close at Exeter for an event which can
hardly be said to have required any preparation at all. Mrs. Stanbury
and her elder daughter were coming into Exeter from Nuncombe Putney
to visit Dorothy. The reader may perhaps remember that when Miss
Stanbury's invitation was sent to her niece, she was pleased to
promise that such visits should be permitted on a Wednesday morning.
Such a visit was now to be made, and old Miss Stanbury was quite
moved by the occasion. "I shall not see them, you know, Martha," she
had said, on the afternoon of the preceding day.

"I suppose not, ma'am."

"Certainly not. Why should I? It would do no good."

"It is not for me to say, ma'am, of course."

"No, Martha, it is not. And I am sure that I am right. It's no good
going back and undoing in ten minutes what twenty years have done.
She's a poor harmless creature, I believe."

"The most harmless in the world, ma'am."

"But she was as bad as poison to me when she was young, and what's
the good of trying to change it now? If I was to tell her that I
loved her, I should only be lying."

"Then, ma'am, I would not say it."

"And I don't mean. But you'll take in some wine and cake, you know."

"I don't think they'll care for wine and cake."

"Will you do as I tell you? What matters whether they care for it or
not? They need not take it. It will look better for Miss Dorothy.
If Dorothy is to remain here I shall choose that she should be
respected." And so the question of the cake and wine had been decided
overnight. But when the morning came Miss Stanbury was still in
a twitter. Half-past ten had been the hour fixed for the visit,
in consequence of there being a train in from Lessboro', due at
the Exeter station at ten. As Miss Stanbury breakfasted always
at half-past eight, there was no need of hurry on account of the
expected visit. But, nevertheless, she was in a fuss all the morning;
and spoke of the coming period as one in which she must necessarily
put herself into solitary confinement.

"Perhaps your mamma will be cold," she said, "and will expect a
fire."

"Oh, dear, no, Aunt Stanbury."

"It could be lighted of course. It is a pity they should come just so
as to prevent you from going to morning service; is it not?"

"I could go with you, aunt, and be back very nearly in time. They
won't mind waiting a quarter of an hour."

"What; and have them here all alone! I wouldn't think of such a
thing. I shall go up-stairs. You had better come to me when they are
gone. Don't hurry them. I don't want you to hurry them at all; and
if you require anything, Martha will wait upon you. I have told the
girls to keep out of the way. They are so giddy, there's no knowing
what they might be after. Besides,--they've got their work to mind."

All this was very terrible to poor Dorothy, who had not as yet quite
recovered from the original fear with which her aunt had inspired
her,--so terrible that she was almost sorry that her mother and
sister were coming to her. When the knock was heard at the door,
precisely as the cathedral clock was striking half-past ten,--to
secure which punctuality, and thereby not to offend the owner of the
mansion, Mrs. Stanbury and Priscilla had been walking about the Close
for the last ten minutes,--Miss Stanbury was still in the parlour.

"There they are!" she exclaimed, jumping up. "They haven't given
a body much time to run away, have they, my dear? Half a minute,
Martha,--just half a minute!" Then she gathered up her things as
though she had been ill-treated in being driven to make so sudden a
retreat, and Martha, as soon as the last hem of her mistress's dress
had become invisible on the stairs, opened the front door for the
visitors.

"Do you mean to say you like it?" said Priscilla, when they had been
there about a quarter of an hour.

"H--u--sh," whispered Mrs. Stanbury.

"I don't suppose she's listening at the door," said Priscilla.

"Indeed, she's not," said Dorothy. "There can't be a truer, honester
woman, than Aunt Stanbury."

"But is she kind to you, Dolly?" asked the mother.

"Very kind; too kind. Only I don't understand her quite, and then
she gets angry with me. I know she thinks I'm a fool, and that's the
worst of it."

"Then, if I were you, I would come home," said Priscilla.

"She'll never forgive you if you do," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"And who need care about her forgiveness?" said Priscilla.

"I don't mean to go home yet, at any rate," said Dorothy. Then there
was a knock at the door, and Martha entered with the cake and wine.
"Miss Stanbury's compliments, ladies, and she hopes you'll take a
glass of sherry." Whereupon she filled out the glasses and carried
them round.

"Pray give my compliments and thanks to my sister Stanbury," said
Dorothy's mother. But Priscilla put down the glass of wine without
touching it, and looked her sternest at the maid.

Altogether, the visit was not very successful, and poor Dorothy
almost felt that if she chose to remain in the Close she must lose
her mother and sister, and that without really making a friend of
her aunt. There had as yet been no quarrel,--nothing that had been
plainly recognised as disagreeable; but there had not as yet come to
be any sympathy, or assured signs of comfortable love. Miss Stanbury
had declared more than once that it would do, but had not succeeded
in showing in what the success consisted. When she was told that the
two ladies were gone, she desired that Dorothy might be sent to her,
and immediately began to make anxious inquiries.

"Well, my dear, and what do they think of it?"

"I don't know, aunt, that they think very much."

"And what do they say about it?"

"They didn't say very much, aunt. I was very glad to see mamma and
Priscilla. Perhaps I ought to tell you that mamma gave me back the
money I sent her."

"What did she do that for?" asked Miss Stanbury very sharply.

"Because she says that Hugh sends her now what she wants." Miss
Stanbury, when she heard this, looked very sour. "I thought it best
to tell you, you know."

"It will never come to any good, got in that way,--never."

"But, Aunt Stanbury, isn't it good of him to send it?"

"I don't know. I suppose it's better than drinking, and smoking, and
gambling. But I dare say he gets enough for that too. When a man,
born and bred like a gentleman, condescends to let out his talents
and education for such purposes, I dare say they are willing enough
to pay him. The devil always does pay high wages. But that only makes
it so much the worse. One almost comes to doubt whether any one ought
to learn to write at all, when it is used for such vile purposes.
I've said what I've got to say, and I don't mean to say anything
more. What's the use? But it has been hard upon me,--very. It was my
money did it, and I feel I've misused it. It's a disgrace to me which
I don't deserve."

For a couple of minutes Dorothy remained quite silent, and Miss
Stanbury did not herself say anything further. Nor during that time
did she observe her niece, or she would probably have seen that the
subject was not to be dropped. Dorothy, though she was silent, was
not calm, and was preparing herself for a crusade in her brother's
defence.

"Aunt Stanbury, he's my brother, you know."

"Of course he's your brother. I wish he were not."

"I think him the best brother in the world,--and the best son."

"Why does he sell himself to write sedition?"

"He doesn't sell himself to write sedition. I don't see why it should
be sedition, or anything wicked, because it's sold for a penny."

"If you are going to cram him down my throat, Dorothy, you and I had
better part."

"I don't want to say anything about him, only you ought--not--to
abuse him--before me." By this time Dorothy was beginning to sob,
but Miss Stanbury's countenance was still very grim and very stern.
"He's coming home to Nuncombe Putney, and I want to--see--see him,"
continued Dorothy.

"Hugh Stanbury coming to Exeter! He won't come here."

"Then I'd rather go home, Aunt Stanbury."

"Very well, very well," said Miss Stanbury, and she got up and left
the room.

Dorothy was in dismay, and began to think that there was nothing for
her to do but to pack up her clothes and prepare for her departure.
She was very sorry for what had occurred, being fully alive to the
importance of the aid not only to herself, but to her mother and
sister, which was afforded by the present arrangement, and she felt
very angry with herself, in that she had already driven her aunt to
quarrel with her. But she had found it to be impossible to hear her
own brother abused without saying a word on his behalf. She did not
see her aunt again till dinner-time, and then there was hardly a word
uttered. Once or twice Dorothy made a little effort to speak, but
these attempts failed utterly. The old woman would hardly reply even
by a monosyllable, but simply muttered something, or shook her head
when she was addressed. Jane, who waited at table, was very demure
and silent, and Martha, who once came into the room during the meal,
merely whispered a word into Miss Stanbury's ear. When the cloth
was removed, and two glasses of port had been poured out by Miss
Stanbury herself, Dorothy felt that she could endure this treatment
no longer. How was it possible that she could drink wine under such
circumstances?


   [Illustration: Aunt Stanbury at dinner will not speak.]


"Not for me, Aunt Stanbury," said she, with a deploring tone.

"Why not?"

"I couldn't drink it to-day."

"Why didn't you say so before it was poured out? And why not to-day?
Come, drink it. Do as I bid you." And she stood over her niece, as a
tragedy queen in a play with a bowl of poison. Dorothy took it and
sipped it from mere force of obedience. "You make as many bones about
a glass of port wine as though it were senna and salts," said Miss
Stanbury. "Now I've got something to say to you." By this time the
servant was gone, and the two were seated alone together in the
parlour. Dorothy, who had not as yet swallowed above half her wine,
at once put the glass down. There was an importance in her aunt's
tone which frightened her, and made her feel that some evil was
coming. And yet, as she had made up her mind that she must return
home, there was no further evil that she need dread. "You didn't
write any of those horrid articles?" said Miss Stanbury.

"No, aunt; I didn't write them. I shouldn't know how."

"And I hope you'll never learn. They say women are to vote, and
become doctors, and if so, there's no knowing what devil's tricks
they mayn't do. But it isn't your fault about that filthy newspaper.
How he can let himself down to write stuff that is to be printed on
straw is what I can't understand."

"I don't see how it can make a difference as he writes it."

"It would make a great deal of difference to me. And I'm told that
what they call ink comes off on your fingers like lamp-black. I never
touched one, thank God; but they tell me so. All the same; it isn't
your fault."

"I've nothing to do with it, Aunt Stanbury."

"Of course you've not. And as he is your brother it wouldn't be
natural that you should like to throw him off. And, my dear, I like
you for taking his part. Only you needn't have been so fierce with an
old woman."

"Indeed--indeed I didn't mean to be--fierce, Aunt Stanbury."

"I never was taken up so short in my life. But we won't mind that.
There; he shall come and see you. I suppose he won't insist on
leaving any of his nastiness about."

"But is he to come here, Aunt Stanbury?"

"He may if he pleases."

"Oh, Aunt Stanbury!"

"When he was here last he generally had a pipe in his mouth, and I
dare say he never puts it down at all now. Those things grow upon
young people so fast. But if he could leave it on the door-step just
while he's here I should be obliged to him."

"But, dear aunt, couldn't I see him in the street?"

"Out in the street! No, my dear. All the world is not to know that
he's your brother; and he is dressed in such a rapscallion manner
that the people would think you were talking to a house-breaker."
Dorothy's face became again red as she heard this, and the angry
words were very nearly spoken. "The last time I saw him," continued
Miss Stanbury, "he had on a short, rough jacket, with enormous
buttons, and one of those flipperty-flopperty things on his head,
that the butcher-boys wear. And, oh, the smell of tobacco! As he had
been up in London I suppose he thought Exeter was no better than a
village, and he might do just as he pleased. But he knew that if
I'm particular about anything, it is about a gentleman's hat in
the streets. And he wanted me--me!--to walk with him across to Mrs.
MacHugh's! We should have been hooted about the Close like a pair of
mad dogs;--and so I told him."

"All the young men seem to dress like that now, Aunt Stanbury."

"No, they don't. Mr. Gibson doesn't dress like that."

"But he's a clergyman, Aunt Stanbury."

"Perhaps I'm an old fool. I dare say I am, and of course that's what
you mean. At any rate I'm too old to change, and I don't mean to try.
I like to see a difference between a gentleman and a house-breaker.
For the matter of that I'm told that there is a difference, and that
the house-breakers all look like gentlemen now. It may be proper to
make us all stand on our heads, with our legs sticking up in the air;
but I for one don't like being topsy-turvey, and I won't try it. When
is he to reach Exeter?"

"He is coming on Tuesday next, by the last train."

"Then you can't see him that night. That's out of the question. No
doubt he'll sleep at the Nag's Head, as that's the lowest radical
public-house in the city. Martha shall try to find him. She knows
more about his doings than I do. If he chooses to come here the
following morning before he goes down to Nuncombe Putney, well and
good. I shall wait up till Martha comes back from the train on
Tuesday night, and hear." Dorothy was of course full of gratitude and
thanks; but yet she felt almost disappointed by the result of her
aunt's clemency on the matter. She had desired to take her brother's
part, and it had seemed to her as though she had done so in a very
lukewarm manner. She had listened to an immense number of accusations
against him, and had been unable to reply to them because she had
been conquered by the promise of a visit. And now it was out of the
question that she should speak of going. Her aunt had given way to
her, and of course had conquered her.

Late on the Tuesday evening, after ten o'clock, Hugh Stanbury was
walking round the Close with his aunt's old servant. He had not put
up at that dreadfully radical establishment of which Miss Stanbury
was so much afraid, but had taken a bed-room at the Railway Inn. From
there he had walked up to the Close with Martha, and now was having a
few last words with her before he would allow her to return to the
house.

"I suppose she'd as soon see the devil as see me," said Hugh.

"If you speak in that way, Mr. Hugh, I won't listen to you."

"And yet I did everything I could to please her; and I don't think
any boy ever loved an old woman better than I did her."

"That was while she used to send you cakes, and ham, and jam to
school, Mr. Hugh."

"Of course it was, and while she sent me flannel waistcoats to
Oxford. But when I didn't care any longer for cakes or flannel then
she got tired of me. It is much better as it is, if she'll only be
good to Dorothy."

"She never was bad to anybody, Mr. Hugh. But I don't think an old
lady like her ever takes to a young woman as she does to a young man,
if only he'll let her have a little more of her own way than you
would. It's my belief that you might have had it all for your own
some day, if you'd done as you ought."

"That's nonsense, Martha. She means to leave it all to the Burgesses.
I've heard her say so."

"Say so; yes. People don't always do what they say. If you'd managed
rightly you might have it all;--and so you might now."

"I'll tell you what, old girl; I shan't try. Live for the next twenty
years under her apron strings, that I may have the chance at the end
of it of cutting some poor devil out of his money! Do you know the
meaning of making a score off your own bat, Martha?"

"No, I don't; and if it's anything you're like to do, I don't think I
should be the better for learning,--by all accounts. And now if you
please, I'll go in."

"Good night, Martha. My love to them both, and say I'll be there
to-morrow exactly at half-past nine. You'd better take it. It won't
turn to slate-stone. It hasn't come from the old gentleman."

"I don't want anything of that kind, Mr. Hugh;--indeed I don't."

"Nonsense. If you don't take it you'll offend me. I believe you think
I'm not much better than a schoolboy still."

"I don't think you're half so good, Mr. Hugh," said the old servant,
sticking the sovereign which Hugh had given her in under her glove as
she spoke.

On the next morning that other visit was made at the brick house, and
Miss Stanbury was again in a fuss. On this occasion, however, she was
in a much better humour than before, and was full of little jokes as
to the nature of the visitation. Of course, she was not to see her
nephew herself, and no message was to be delivered from her, and none
was to be given to her from him. But an accurate report was to be
made to her as to his appearance, and Dorothy was to be enabled to
answer a variety of questions respecting him after he was gone. "Of
course, I don't want to know anything about his money," Miss Stanbury
said, "only I should like to know how much these people can afford
to pay for their penny trash." On this occasion she had left the
room and gone up-stairs before the knock came at the door, but she
managed, by peeping over the balcony, to catch a glimpse of the
"flipperty-flopperty" hat which her nephew certainly had with him on
this occasion.

Hugh Stanbury had great news for his sister. The cottage in which
Mrs. Stanbury lived at Nuncombe Putney, was the tiniest little
dwelling in which a lady and her two daughters ever sheltered
themselves. There was, indeed, a sitting-room, two bed-rooms, and a
kitchen; but they were all so diminutive in size that the cottage was
little more than a cabin. But there was a house in the village, not
large indeed, but eminently respectable, three stories high, covered
with ivy, having a garden behind it, and generally called the Clock
House, because there had once been a clock upon it. This house
had been lately vacated, and Hugh informed his sister that he was
thinking of taking it for his mother's accommodation. Now, the
late occupants of the Clock House, at Nuncombe Putney, had been
people with five or six hundred a year. Had other matters been in
accordance, the house would almost have entitled them to consider
themselves as county people. A gardener had always been kept
there,--and a cow!

"The Clock House for mamma!"

"Well, yes. Don't say a word about it as yet to Aunt Stanbury, as
she'll think that I've sold myself altogether to the old gentleman."

"But, Hugh, how can mamma live there?"

"The fact is, Dorothy, there is a secret. I can't tell you quite
yet. Of course, you'll know it, and everybody will know it, if the
thing comes about. But as you won't talk, I will tell you what most
concerns ourselves."

"And am I to go back?"

"Certainly not,--if you will take my advice. Stick to your aunt. You
don't want to smoke pipes, and wear Tom-and-Jerry hats, and write for
the penny newspapers."

Now Hugh Stanbury's secret was this;--that Louis Trevelyan's wife and
sister-in-law were to leave the house in Curzon Street, and come and
live at Nuncombe Putney, with Mrs. Stanbury and Priscilla. Such, at
least, was the plan to be carried out, if Hugh Stanbury should be
successful in his present negotiations.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE HONOURABLE MR. GLASCOCK.


   [Illustration]

By the end of July Mrs. Trevelyan with her sister was established in
the Clock House, at Nuncombe Putney, under the protection of Hugh's
mother; but before the reader is made acquainted with any of the
circumstances of their life there, a few words must be said of an
occurrence which took place before those two ladies left Curzon
Street.

As to the quarrel between Trevelyan and his wife things went from bad
to worse. Lady Milborough continued to interfere, writing letters
to Emily which were full of good sense, but which, as Emily said
herself, never really touched the point of dispute. "Am I, who am
altogether unconscious of having done anything amiss, to confess that
I have been in the wrong? If it were about a small matter, I would
not mind, for the sake of peace. But when it concerns my conduct in
reference to another man I would rather die first." That had been
Mrs. Trevelyan's line of thought and argument in the matter; but
then old Lady Milborough in her letters spoke only of the duty of
obedience as promised at the altar. "But I didn't promise to tell a
lie," said Mrs. Trevelyan. And there were interviews between Lady
Milborough and Trevelyan, and interviews between Lady Milborough and
Nora Rowley. The poor dear old dowager was exceedingly busy and full
of groans, prescribing Naples, prescribing a course of extra prayers,
prescribing a general course of letting by-gones be by-gones,--to
which, however, Trevelyan would by no means assent without some
assurance, which he might regard as a guarantee,--prescribing
retirement to a small town in the west of France if Naples would not
suffice; but she could effect nothing.

Mrs. Trevelyan, indeed, did a thing which was sure of itself to
render any steps taken for a reconciliation ineffectual. In the midst
of all this turmoil,--while she and her husband were still living in
the same house, but apart because of their absurd quarrel respecting
Colonel Osborne, she wrote another letter to that gentleman. The
argument by which she justified this to herself, and to her sister
after it was done, was the real propriety of her own conduct
throughout her whole intimacy with Colonel Osborne. "But that is
just what Louis doesn't want you to do," Nora had said, filled with
anger and dismay. "Then let Louis give me an order to that effect,
and behave to me like a husband, and I will obey him," Emily had
answered. And she had gone on to plead that in her present condition
she was under no orders from her husband. She was left to judge for
herself, and,--judging for herself,--she knew, as she said, that it
was best that she should write to Colonel Osborne. Unfortunately
there was no ground for hoping that Colonel Osborne was ignorant
of this insane jealousy on the part of her husband. It was better,
therefore, she said, that she should write to him,--whom on the
occasion she took care to name to her sister as "papa's old
friend,"--and explain to him what she would wish him to do, and what
not to do. Colonel Osborne answered the letter very quickly, throwing
much more of demonstrative affection than he should have done into
his "Dear Emily," and his "Dearest Friend." Of course Mrs. Trevelyan
had burned this answer, and of course Mr. Trevelyan had been told of
the correspondence. His wife, indeed, had been especially careful
that there should be nothing secret about the matter,--that it should
be so known in the house that Mr. Trevelyan should be sure to hear
of it. And he had heard of it, and been driven almost mad by it. He
had flown off to Lady Milborough, and had reduced his old friend to
despair by declaring that, after all, he began to fear that his wife
was--was--was--infatuated by that d---- scoundrel. Lady Milborough
forgave the language, but protested that he was wrong in his
suspicion. "To continue to correspond with him after what I have said
to her!" exclaimed Trevelyan. "Take her to Naples at once,"--said
Lady Milborough;--"at once!" "And have him after me?" said Trevelyan.
Lady Milborough had no answer ready, and not having thought of
this looked very blank. "I should find it harder to deal with her
there even than here," continued Trevelyan. Then it was that Lady
Milborough spoke of the small town in the west of France, urging
as her reason that such a man as Colonel Osborne would certainly
not follow them there; but Trevelyan had become indignant at this,
declaring that if his wife's good name could be preserved in no other
manner than that, it would not be worth preserving at all. Then Lady
Milborough had begun to cry, and had continued crying for a very long
time. She was very unhappy,--as unhappy as her nature would allow
her to be. She would have made almost any sacrifice to bring the two
young people together;--would have willingly given her time, her
money, her labour in the cause;--would probably herself have gone
to the little town in the west of France, had her going been of any
service. But, nevertheless, after her own fashion, she extracted no
small enjoyment out of the circumstances of this miserable quarrel.
The Lady Milboroughs of the day hate the Colonel Osbornes from the
very bottoms of their warm hearts and pure souls; but they respect
the Colonel Osbornes almost as much as they hate them, and find it
to be an inestimable privilege to be brought into some contact with
these roaring lions.

But there arose to dear Lady Milborough a great trouble out of this
quarrel, irrespective of the absolute horror of the separation of a
young husband from his young wife. And the excess of her trouble on
this head was great proof of the real goodness of her heart. For, in
this matter, the welfare of Trevelyan himself was not concerned;--but
rather that of the Rowley family. Now the Rowleys had not given Lady
Milborough any special reason for loving them. When she had first
heard that her dear young friend Louis was going to marry a girl from
the Mandarins, she had been almost in despair. It was her opinion
that had he properly understood his own position, he would have
promoted his welfare by falling in love with the daughter of some
English country gentleman,--or some English peer, to which honour,
with his advantages, Lady Milborough thought that he might have
aspired. Nevertheless, when the girl from the Mandarins had been
brought home as Mrs. Trevelyan, Lady Milborough had received her with
open arms,--had received even the sister-in-law with arms partly
open. Had either of them shown any tendency to regard her as a
mother, she would have showered motherly cares upon them. For Lady
Milborough was like an old hen, in her capacity for taking many
under her wings. The two sisters had hardly done more than bear
with her,--Nora, indeed, bearing with her more graciously than Mrs.
Trevelyan; and in return, even for this, the old dowager was full of
motherly regard. Now she knew well that Mr. Glascock was over head
and ears in love with Nora Rowley. It only wanted the slightest
management and the easiest discretion to bring him on his knees, with
an offer of his hand. And, then, how much that hand contained!--how
much, indeed, as compared with that other hand, which was to be given
in return, and which was,--to speak the truth,--completely empty! Mr.
Glascock was the heir to a peer, was the heir to a rich peer, was the
heir to a very, very old peer. He was in Parliament. The world spoke
well of him. He was not, so to say, by any means an old man himself.
He was good-tempered, reasonable, easily led, and yet by no means
despicable. On all subjects connected with land, he held an opinion
that was very much respected, and was supposed to be a thoroughly
good specimen of an upper-class Englishman. Here was a suitor! But it
was not to be supposed that such a man as Mr. Glascock would be so
violently in love as to propose to a girl whose nearest known friend
and female relation was misbehaving herself.

Only they who have closely watched the natural uneasiness of human
hens can understand how great was Lady Milborough's anxiety on
this occasion. Marriage to her was a thing always delightful to
contemplate. Though she had never been sordidly a match-maker, the
course of the world around her had taught her to regard men as fish
to be caught, and girls as the anglers who ought to catch them. Or,
rather, could her mind have been accurately analysed, it would have
been found that the girl was regarded as half-angler and half-bait.
Any girl that angled visibly with her own hook, with a manifestly
expressed desire to catch a fish, was odious to her. And she was very
gentle-hearted in regard to the fishes, thinking that every fish
in the river should have the hook and bait presented to him in the
mildest, pleasantest form. But still, when the trout was well in
the basket, her joy was great; and then came across her unlaborious
mind some half-formed idea that a great ordinance of nature was
being accomplished in the teeth of difficulties. For,--as she well
knew,--there is a difficulty in the catching of fish.

Lady Milborough, in her kind anxiety on Nora's behalf,--that the fish
should be landed before Nora might be swept away in her sister's
ruin,--hardly knew what step she might safely take. Mrs. Trevelyan
would not see her again,--having already declared that any further
interview would be painful and useless. She had spoken to Trevelyan,
but Trevelyan had declared that he could do nothing. What was there
that he could have done? He could not, as he said, overlook the gross
improprieties of his wife's conduct, because his wife's sister had,
or might possibly have, a lover. And then as to speaking to Mr.
Glascock himself,--nobody knew better than Lady Milborough how very
apt fish are to be frightened.

But at last Lady Milborough did speak to Mr. Glascock,--making no
allusion whatever to the hook prepared for himself, but saying a word
or two as to the affairs of that other fish, whose circumstances, as
he floundered about in the bucket of matrimony, were not as happy as
they might have been. The care, the discretion, nay, the wisdom with
which she did this were most excellent. She had become aware that
Mr. Glascock had already heard of the unfortunate affair in Curzon
Street. Indeed, every one who knew the Trevelyans had heard of it,
and a great many who did not know them. No harm, therefore, could
be done by mentioning the circumstance. Lady Milborough did mention
it, explaining that the only person really in fault was that odious
destroyer of the peace of families, Colonel Osborne, of whom
Lady Milborough, on that occasion, said some very severe things
indeed. Poor dear Mrs. Trevelyan was foolish, obstinate, and
self-reliant;--but as innocent as the babe unborn. That things would
come right before long no one who knew the affair,--and she knew it
from beginning to end,--could for a moment doubt. The real victim
would be that sweetest of all girls, Nora Rowley. Mr. Glascock
innocently asked why Nora Rowley should be a victim. "Don't you
understand, Mr. Glascock, how the most remote connection with a
thing of that kind tarnishes a young woman's standing in the world?"
Mr. Glascock was almost angry with the well-pleased Countess as he
declared that he could not see that Miss Rowley's standing was at all
tarnished; and old Lady Milborough, when he got up and left her, felt
that she had done a good morning's work. If Nora could have known it
all, Nora ought to have been very grateful, for Mr. Glascock got into
a cab in Eccleston Square and had himself driven direct to Curzon
Street. He himself believed that he was at that moment only doing the
thing which he had for some time past resolved that he would do; but
we perhaps may be justified in thinking that the actual resolution
was first fixed by the discretion of Lady Milborough's communication.
At any rate he arrived in Curzon Street with his mind fully resolved,
and had spent the minutes in the cab considering how he had better
perform the business in hand.

He was at once shown into the drawing-room, where he found the two
sisters, and Mrs. Trevelyan, as soon as she saw him, understood the
purpose of his coming. There was an air of determination about him, a
manifest intention of doing something, an absence of that vagueness
which almost always flavours a morning visit. This was so strongly
marked that Mrs. Trevelyan felt that she would have been almost
justified in getting up and declaring that, as this visit was paid
to her sister, she would retire. But any such declaration on her
part was unnecessary, as Mr. Glascock had not been in the room three
minutes before he asked her to go. By some clever device of his own,
he got her into the back room and whispered to her that he wanted to
say a few words in private to her sister.

"Oh, certainly," said Mrs. Trevelyan, smiling.

"I dare say you may guess what they are," said he. "I don't know what
chance I may have."

"I can tell you nothing about that," she replied, "as I know nothing.
But you have my good wishes."

And then she went.

It may be presumed that gradually some idea of Mr. Glascock's
intention had made its way into Nora's mind by the time that she
found herself alone with that gentleman. Why else had he brought into
the room with him that manifest air of a purpose? Why else had he
taken the very strong step of sending the lady of the house out of
her own drawing-room? Nora, beginning to understand this, put herself
into an attitude of defence. She had never told herself that she
would refuse Mr. Glascock. She had never acknowledged to herself
that there was another man whom she liked better than she liked Mr.
Glascock. But had she ever encouraged any wish for such an interview,
her feelings at this moment would have been very different from what
they were. As it was, she would have given much to postpone it, so
that she might have asked herself questions, and have discovered
whether she could reconcile herself to do that which, no doubt, all
her friends would commend her for doing. Of course, it was clear
enough to the mind of the girl that she had her fortune to make, and
that her beauty and youth were the capital on which she had to found
it. She had not lived so far from all taint of corruption as to feel
any actual horror at the idea of a girl giving herself to a man,--not
because the man had already, by his own capacities in that direction,
forced her heart from her,--but because he was one likely to be at
all points a good husband. Had all this affair concerned any other
girl, any friend of her own, and had she known all the circumstances
of the case, she would have had no hesitation in recommending that
other girl to marry Mr. Glascock. A girl thrown out upon the world
without a shilling must make her hay while the sun shines. But,
nevertheless, there was something within her bosom which made her
long for a better thing than this. She had dreamed, if she had not
thought, of being able to worship a man; but she could hardly worship
Mr. Glascock. She had dreamed, if she had not thought, of leaning
upon a man all through life with her whole weight, as though that
man had been specially made to be her staff, her prop, her support,
her wall of comfort and protection. She knew that if she were to
marry Mr. Glascock and become Lady Peterborough, in due course she
must stand a good deal by her own strength, and live without that
comfortable leaning. Nevertheless, when she found herself alone with
the man, she by no means knew whether she would refuse him or not.
But she knew that she must pluck up courage for an important moment,
and she collected herself, braced her muscles, as it were, for a
fight, and threw her mind into an attitude of contest.

Mr. Glascock, as soon as the door was shut behind Mrs. Trevelyan's
back, took a chair and placed it close beside the head of the sofa on
which Nora was sitting. "Miss Rowley," he said, "you and I have known
each other now for some months, and I hope you have learned to regard
me as a friend."

"Oh, yes, indeed," said Nora, with some spirit.

"It has seemed to me that we have met as friends, and I can most
truly say for myself, that I have taken the greatest possible
pleasure in your acquaintance. It is not only that I admire you very
much,"--he looked straight before him as he said this, and moved
about the point of the stick which he was holding in both his
hands,--"it is not only that,--perhaps not chiefly that, though I do
admire you very much; but the truth is, that I like everything about
you."

Nora smiled, but she said nothing. It was better, she thought, to let
him tell his story; but his mode of telling it was not without its
efficacy. It was not the simple praise which made its way with her
but a certain tone in the words which seemed to convince her that
they were true. If he had really found her, or fancied her to be what
he said, there was a manliness in his telling her so in the plainest
words that pleased her much.

"I know," continued he, "that this is a very bald way of telling--of
pleading--my cause; but I don't know whether a bald way may not
be the best, if it can only make itself understood to be true. Of
course, Miss Rowley, you know what I mean. As I said before, you have
all those things which not only make me love you, but which make me
like you also. If you think that you can love me, say so; and, as
long as I live, I will do my best to make you happy as my wife."

There was a clearness of expression in this, and a downright
surrender of himself, which so flattered her and so fluttered her
that she was almost reduced to the giving of herself up because she
could not reply to such an appeal in language less courteous than
that of agreement. After a moment or two she found herself remaining
silent, with a growing feeling that silence would be taken as
conveying consent. There floated quickly across her brain an idea of
the hardness of a woman's lot, in that she should be called upon to
decide her future fate for life in half a minute. He had had weeks to
think of this,--weeks in which it would have been almost unmaidenly
in her so to think of it as to have made up her mind to accept the
man. Had she so made up her mind, and had he not come to her, where
would she have been then? But he had come to her. There he was, still
poking about with his stick, waiting for her, and she must answer
him. And he was the eldest son of a peer,--an enormous match for her,
very proper in all respects; such a man, that if she should accept
him, everybody around her would regard her fortune in life as
miraculously successful. He was not such a man that any one would
point at her and say,--"There; see another of them who has sold
herself for money and a title!" Mr. Glascock was not an Apollo, not
an admirable Crichton; but he was a man whom any girl might have
learned to love. Now he had asked her to be his wife, and it was
necessary that she should answer him. He sat there waiting for her
very patiently, still poking about the point of his stick.

Did she really love him? Though she was so pressed by consideration
of time, she did find a moment in which to ask herself the question.
With a quick turn of an eye she glanced at him, to see what he was
like. Up to this moment, though she knew him well, she could have
given no details of his personal appearance. He was a better-looking
man than Hugh Stanbury,--so she told herself with a passing thought;
but he lacked--he lacked; what was it that he lacked? Was it youth,
or spirit, or strength; or was it some outward sign of an inward gift
of mind? Was it that he was heavy while Hugh was light? Was it that
she could find no fire in his eye, while Hugh's eyes were full of
flashing? Or was it that for her, especially for her, Hugh was the
appointed staff and appropriate wall of protection? Be all that as it
might, she knew at the moment that she did love, not this man, but
that other who was writing articles for the Daily Record. She must
refuse the offer that was so brilliant, and give up the idea of
reigning as queen at Monkhams.

"Oh, Mr. Glascock," she said, "I ought to answer you more quickly."

"No, dearest; not more quickly than suits you. Nothing ever in this
world can be more important both to you and to me. If you want more
time to think of it, take more time."

"No, Mr. Glascock; I do not. I don't know why I should have paused.
Is not the truth best?"

"Yes,--certainly the truth is best."

"I do not--love you. Pray, pray understand me."

"I understand it too well, Miss Rowley." The stick was still going,
and the eyes more intently fixed than ever on something opposite.

"I do like you; I like you very much. And I am so grateful! I cannot
understand why such a man as you should want to make me your wife."

"Because I love you better than all the others; simply that. That
reason, and that only, justifies a man in wanting to marry a girl."
What a good fellow he was, and how flattering were his words! Did he
not deserve what he wanted, even though it could not be given without
a sacrifice? But yet she did not love him. As she looked at him again
she could not there recognise her staff. As she looked at him she was
more than ever convinced that that other staff ought to be her staff.
"May I come again,--after a month, say?" he asked, when there had
been another short period of silence.

"No, no. Why should you trouble yourself? I am not worth it."

"It is for me to judge of that, Miss Rowley."

"All the same, I know that I am not worth it. And I could not tell
you to do that."

"Then I will wait, and come again without your telling me."

"Oh, Mr. Glascock, I did not mean that; indeed I did not. Pray do not
think that. Take what I say as final. I like you more than I can say;
and I feel a gratitude to you that I cannot express,--which I shall
never forget. I have never known any one who has seemed to be so good
as you. But-- It is just what I said before." And then she fairly
burst into tears.

"Miss Rowley," he said, very slowly, "pray do not think that I want
to ask any question which it might embarrass you to answer. But my
happiness is so greatly at stake; and, if you will allow me to say
so, your happiness, too, is so greatly concerned, that it is most
important that we should not come to a conclusion too quickly. If I
thought that your heart were vacant I would wait patiently. I have
been thinking of you as my possible wife for weeks past,--for months
past. Of course you have not had such thoughts about me." As he said
this she almost loved him for his considerate goodness. "It has
sometimes seemed to me odd that girls should love men in such a
hurry. If your heart be free, I will wait. And if you esteem me, you
can see, and try whether you cannot learn to love me."

"I do esteem you."

"It depends on that question, then?" he said, slowly.

She sat silent for fully a minute, with her hands clasped; and then
she answered him in a whisper. "I do not know," she said.

He also was silent for a while before he spoke again. He ceased to
poke with his stick, and got up from his chair, and stood a little
apart from her, not looking at her even yet.

"I see," he said at last. "I understand. Well, Miss Rowley, I quite
perceive that I cannot press my suit any further now. But I shall not
despair altogether. I know this, that if I might possibly succeed, I
should be a very happy man. Good-bye, Miss Rowley."

She took his offered hand and pressed it so warmly, that had he not
been manly and big-hearted, he would have taken such pressure as a
sign that she wished him to ask her again. But such was his nature.

"God bless you," he said, "and make you happy, whatever you may
choose to do."

Then he left her, and she heard him walk down the stairs with heavy
slow steps, and she thought that she could perceive from the sound
that he was sad at heart, but that he was resolved not to show his
sadness outwardly.

When she was alone she began to think in earnest of what she had
done. If the reader were told that she regretted the decision which
she had been forced to make so rapidly, a wrong impression would
be given of the condition of her thoughts. But there came upon her
suddenly a strange capacity for counting up and making a mental
inventory of all that might have been hers. She knew,--and where is
the girl so placed that does not know?--that it is a great thing to
be an English peeress. Now, as she stood there thinking of it all,
she was Nora Rowley without a shilling in the world, and without a
prospect of a shilling. She had often heard her mother speak fearful
words of future possible days, when colonial governing should no
longer be within the capacity of Sir Marmaduke. She had been taught
from a very early age that all the material prosperity of her life
must depend on matrimony. She could never be comfortably disposed of
in the world, unless some fitting man who possessed those things of
which she was so bare, should wish to make her his wife. Now there
had come a man so thoroughly fitting, so marvellously endowed, that
no worldly blessing would have been wanting. Mr. Glascock had more
than once spoken to her of the glories of Monkhams. She thought of
Monkhams now more than she had ever thought of the place before.
It would have been a great privilege to be the mistress of an old
time-honoured mansion, to call oaks and elms her own, to know that
acres of gardens were submitted to her caprices, to look at herds
of cows and oxen, and be aware that they lowed on her own pastures.
And to have been the mother of a future peer of England, to
have the nursing, and sweet custody and very making of a future
senator,--would not that have been much? And the man himself who
would have been her husband was such a one that any woman might have
trusted herself to him with perfect confidence. Now that he was
gone she almost fancied that she did love him. Then she thought of
Hugh Stanbury, sitting as he had described himself, in a little
dark closet at the office of the "D. R.," in a very old inky
shooting-coat, with a tarnished square-cut cloth cap upon his head,
with a short pipe in his mouth, writing at midnight for the next
morning's impression, this or that article according to the order
of his master, "the tallow-chandler;"--for the editor of the Daily
Record was a gentleman whose father happened to be a grocer in the
City, and Hugh had been accustomed thus to describe the family
trade. And she might certainly have had the peer, and the acres of
garden, and the big house, and the senatorial honours; whereas the
tallow-chandler's journeyman had never been so out-spoken. She told
herself from moment to moment that she had done right; that she would
do the same a dozen times, if a dozen times the experiment could
be repeated; but still, still, there was the remembrance of all
that she had lost. How would her mother look at her, her anxious,
heavily-laden mother, when the story should be told of all that had
been offered to her and all that had been refused?


   [Illustration: To have been the mother of a future peer!]


As she was thinking of this Mrs. Trevelyan came into the room. Nora
felt that though she might dread to meet her mother, she could be
bold enough on such an occasion before her sister. Emily had not
done so well with her own affairs, as to enable her to preach with
advantage about marriage.

"He has gone?" said Mrs. Trevelyan, as she opened the door.

"Yes, he has gone."

"Well? Do not pretend, Nora, that you will not tell me."

"There is nothing worth the telling, Emily."

"What do you mean? I am sure he has proposed. He told me in so many
words that it was his intention."

"Whatever has happened, dear, you may be quite sure that I shall
never be Mrs. Glascock."

"Then you have refused him,--because of Hugh Stanbury!"

"I have refused him, Emily, because I did not love him. Pray let that
be enough."

Then she walked out of the room with something of stateliness in her
gait,--as might become a girl who had had it in her power to be the
future Lady Peterborough; but as soon as she reached the sacredness
of her own chamber, she gave way to an agony of tears. It would,
indeed, be much to be a Lady Peterborough. And she had, in truth,
refused it all because of Hugh Stanbury! Was Hugh Stanbury worth so
great a sacrifice?



CHAPTER XIV.

THE CLOCK HOUSE AT NUNCOMBE PUTNEY.


It was not till a fortnight had passed after the transaction recorded
in the last chapter, that Mrs. Trevelyan and Nora Rowley first heard
the proposition that they should go to live at Nuncombe Putney. From
bad to worse the quarrel between the husband and the wife had gone
on, till Trevelyan had at last told his friend Lady Milborough
that he had made up his mind that they must live apart. "She is so
self-willed,--and perhaps I am the same," he had said, "that it
is impossible that we should live together." Lady Milborough had
implored and called to witness all testimonies, profane and sacred,
against such a step,--had almost gone down on her knees. Go to
Naples,--why not Naples? Or to the quiet town in the west of France,
which was so dull that a wicked roaring lion, fond of cities and
gambling, and eating and drinking, could not live in such a place!
Oh, why not go to the quiet town in the west of France? Was not
anything better than this flying in the face of God and man? Perhaps
Trevelyan did not himself like the idea of the quiet dull French
town. Perhaps he thought that the flying in the face of God and man
was all done by his wife, not by him; and that it was right that his
wife should feel the consequences. After many such entreaties, many
such arguments, it was at last decided that the house in Curzon
Street should be given up, and that he and his wife live apart.

"And what about Nora Rowley?" asked Lady Milborough, who had become
aware by this time of Nora's insane folly in having refused Mr.
Glascock.

"She will go with her sister, I suppose."

"And who will maintain her? Dear, dear, dear! It does seem as though
some young people were bent upon cutting their own throats, and all
their family's."

Poor Lady Milborough just at this time went as near to disliking the
Rowleys as was compatible with her nature. It was not possible to her
to hate anybody. She thought that she hated the Colonel Osbornes; but
even that was a mistake. She was very angry, however, with both Mrs.
Trevelyan and her sister, and was disposed to speak of them as though
they had been born to create trouble and vexation.

Trevelyan had not given any direct answer to that question about Nora
Rowley's maintenance, but he was quite prepared to bear all necessary
expense in that direction, at any rate till Sir Marmaduke should have
arrived. At first there had been an idea that the two sisters should
go to the house of their aunt, Mrs. Outhouse. Mrs. Outhouse was the
wife,--as the reader may perhaps remember,--of a clergyman living
in the east of London. St. Diddulph's-in-the-East was very much in
the east indeed. It was a parish outside the City, lying near the
river, very populous, very poor, very low in character, and very
uncomfortable. There was a rectory-house, queerly situated at the
end of a little blind lane, with a gate of its own, and a so-called
garden about twenty yards square. But the rectory of St. Diddulph's
cannot be said to have been a comfortable abode. The neighbourhood
was certainly not alluring. Of visiting society within a distance
of three or four miles there was none but what was afforded by the
families of other East-end clergymen. And then Mr. Outhouse himself
was a somewhat singular man. He was very religious, devoted to
his work, most kind to the poor; but he was unfortunately a
strongly-biased man, and at the same time very obstinate withal. He
had never allied himself very cordially with his wife's brother,
Sir Marmaduke, allowing himself to be carried away by a prejudice
that people living at the West-end, who frequented clubs, and
were connected in any way with fashion, could not be appropriate
companions for himself. The very title which Sir Marmaduke had
acquired was repulsive to him, and had induced him to tell his
wife more than once that Sir this or Sir that could not be fitting
associates for a poor East-end clergyman. Then his wife's niece had
married a man of fashion,--a man supposed at St. Diddulph's to be
very closely allied to fashion; and Mr. Outhouse had never been
induced even to dine in the house in Curzon Street. When, therefore,
he heard that Mr. and Mrs. Trevelyan were to be separated within two
years of their marriage, it could not be expected that he should be
very eager to lend to the two sisters the use of his rectory.

There had been interviews between Mr. Outhouse and Trevelyan, and
between Mrs. Outhouse and her niece; and then there was an interview
between Mr. Outhouse and Emily, in which it was decided that Mrs.
Trevelyan would not go to the parsonage of St. Diddulph's. She had
been very outspoken to her uncle, declaring that she by no means
intended to carry herself as a disgraced woman. Mr. Outhouse had
quoted St. Paul to her; "Wives, obey your husbands." Then she had
got up and had spoken very angrily. "I look for support from you,"
she said, "as the man who is the nearest to me, till my father
shall come." "But I cannot support you in what is wrong," said the
clergyman. Then Mrs. Trevelyan had left the room, and would not see
her uncle again.

She carried things altogether with a high hand at this time. When old
Mr. Bideawhile called upon her, her husband's ancient family lawyer,
she told that gentleman that if it was her husband's will that they
should live apart, it must be so. She could not force him to remain
with her. She could not compel him to keep up the house in Curzon
Street. She had certain rights, she believed. She spoke then, she
said, of pecuniary rights,--not of those other rights which her
husband was determined, and was no doubt able, to ignore. She did not
really know what those pecuniary rights might be, nor was she careful
to learn their exact extent. She would thank Mr. Bideawhile to see
that things were properly arranged. But of this her husband, and Mr.
Bideawhile, might be quite sure;--she would take nothing as a favour.
She would not go to her uncle's house. She declined to tell Mr.
Bideawhile why she had so decided; but she had decided. She was ready
to listen to any suggestion that her husband might make as to her
residence, but she must claim to have some choice in the matter. As
to her sister, of course she intended to give Nora a home as long as
such a home might be wanted. It would be very sad for Nora, but in
existing circumstances such an arrangement would be expedient. She
would not go into details as to expense. Her husband was driving
her away from him, and it was for him to say what proportion of his
income he would choose to give for her maintenance,--for hers and
for that of their child. She was not desirous of anything beyond the
means of decent living, but of course she must for the present find
a home for her sister as well as for herself. When speaking of her
baby she had striven hard so to speak that Mr. Bideawhile should find
no trace of doubt in the tones of her voice. And yet she had been
full of doubt,--full of fear. As Mr. Bideawhile had uttered nothing
antagonistic to her wishes in this matter,--had seemed to agree
that wherever the mother went thither the child would go also,--Mrs.
Trevelyan had considered herself to be successful in this interview.

The idea of a residence at Nuncombe Putney had occurred first to
Trevelyan himself, and he had spoken of it to Hugh Stanbury. There
had been some difficulty in this, because he had snubbed Stanbury
grievously when his friend had attempted to do some work of gentle
interference between him and his wife; and when he began the
conversation, he took the trouble of stating, in the first instance,
that the separation was a thing fixed,--so that nothing might be
urged on that subject. "It is to be. You will understand that,"
he said; "and if you think that your mother would agree to the
arrangement, it would be satisfactory to me, and might, I think,
be made pleasant to her. Of course, your mother would be made to
understand that the only fault with which my wife is charged is that
of indomitable disobedience to my wishes."

"Incompatibility of temper," suggested Stanbury.

"You may call it that if you please;--though I must say for myself
that I do not think that I have displayed any temper to which a
woman has a right to object." Then he had gone on to explain what
he was prepared to do about money. He would pay, through Stanbury's
hands, so much for maintenance and so much for house rent, on the
understanding that the money was not to go into his wife's hands.
"I shall prefer," he said, "to make myself, on her behalf, what
disbursements may be necessary. I will take care that she receives a
proper sum quarterly through Mr. Bideawhile for her own clothes,--and
for those of our poor boy." Then Stanbury had told him of the Clock
House, and there had been an agreement made between them;--an
agreement which was then, of course, subject to the approval of
the ladies at Nuncombe Putney. When the suggestion was made to Mrs.
Trevelyan,--with a proposition that the Clock House should be taken
for one year, and that for that year, at least, her boy should remain
with her,--she assented to it. She did so with all the calmness that
she was able to assume; but, in truth, almost everything seemed to
have been gained, when she found that she was not to be separated
from her baby. "I have no objection to living in Devonshire if Mr.
Trevelyan wishes it," she said, in her most stately manner; "and
certainly no objection to living with Mr. Stanbury's mother." Then
Mr. Bideawhile explained to her that Nuncombe Putney was not a large
town,--was, in fact, a very small and a very remote village. "That
will make no difference whatsoever as far as I am concerned," she
answered; "and as for my sister, she must put up with it till my
father and my mother are here. I believe the scenery at Nuncombe
Putney is very pretty." "Lovely!" said Mr. Bideawhile, who had a
general idea that Devonshire is supposed to be a picturesque
county. "With such a life before me as I must lead," continued Mrs.
Trevelyan, "an ugly neighbourhood, one that would itself have had
no interest for a stranger, would certainly have been an additional
sorrow." So it had been settled, and by the end of July, Mrs.
Trevelyan, with her sister and baby, was established at the Clock
House, under the protection of Mrs. Stanbury. Mrs. Trevelyan had
brought down her own maid and her own nurse, and had found that the
arrangements made by her husband had, in truth, been liberal. The
house in Curzon Street had been given up, the furniture had been sent
to a warehouse, and Mr. Trevelyan had gone into lodgings. "There
never were two young people so insane since the world began," said
Lady Milborough to her old friend, Mrs. Fairfax, when the thing was
done.

"They will be together again before next April," Mrs. Fairfax had
replied. But Mrs. Fairfax was a jolly dame who made the best of
everything. Lady Milborough raised her hands in despair, and shook
her head. "I don't suppose, though, that Mr. Glascock will go to
Devonshire after his lady love," said Mrs. Fairfax. Lady Milborough
again raised her hands, and again shook her head.

Mrs. Stanbury had given an easy assent when her son proposed to her
this new mode of life, but Priscilla had had her doubts. Like all
women, she thought that when a man was to be separated from his wife,
the woman must be in the wrong. And though it must be doubtless
comfortable to go from the cottage to the Clock House, it
would, she said, with much prudence, be very uncomfortable
to go back from the Clock House to the cottage. Hugh replied
very cavalierly,--generously, that is, rashly, and somewhat
impetuously,--that he would guarantee them against any such
degradation.

"We don't want to be a burden upon you, my dear," said the mother.

"You would be a great burden on me," he replied, "if you were living
uncomfortably while I am able to make you comfortable."

Mrs. Stanbury was soon won over by Mrs. Trevelyan, by Nora, and
especially by the baby; and even Priscilla, after a week or two,
began to feel that she liked their company. Priscilla was a young
woman who read a great deal, and even had some gifts of understanding
what she read. She borrowed books from the clergyman, and paid a
penny a week to the landlady of the Stag and Antlers for the hire
during half a day of the weekly newspaper. But now there came a box
of books from Exeter, and a daily paper from London, and,--to improve
all this,--both the new comers were able to talk with her about the
things she read. She soon declared to her mother that she liked
Miss Rowley much the best of the two. Mrs. Trevelyan was too fond
of having her own way. She began to understand, she would say to
her mother, that a man might find it difficult to live with Mrs.
Trevelyan. "She hardly ever yields about anything," said Priscilla.
As Miss Priscilla Stanbury was also very fond of having her own way,
it was not surprising that she should object to that quality in this
lady, who had come to live under the same roof with her.

The country about Nuncombe Putney is perhaps as pretty as any in
England. It is beyond the river Teign, between that and Dartmoor,
and is so lovely in all its variations of rivers, rivulets, broken
ground, hills and dales, old broken, battered, time-worn timber,
green knolls, rich pastures, and heathy common, that the wonder is
that English lovers of scenery know so little of it. At the Stag and
Antlers old Mrs. Crocket, than whom no old woman in the public line
was ever more generous, more peppery, or more kind, kept two clean
bed-rooms, and could cook a leg of Dartmoor mutton and make an apple
pie against any woman in Devonshire. "Drat your fish!" she would say,
when some self-indulgent and exacting traveller would wish for more
than these accustomed viands. "Cock you up with dainties! If you
can't eat your victuals without fish, you must go to Exeter. And
then you'll get it stinking mayhap." Now Priscilla Stanbury and Mrs.
Crocket were great friends, and there had been times of deep want,
in which Mrs. Crocket's friendship had been very serviceable to the
ladies at the cottage. The three young women had been to the inn one
morning to ask after a conveyance from Nuncombe Putney to Princetown,
and had found that a four-wheeled open carriage with an old horse
and a very young driver could be hired there. "We have never dreamed
of such a thing," Priscilla Stanbury had said, "and the only time
I was at Princetown I walked there and back." So they had called at
the Stag and Antlers, and Mrs. Crocket had told them her mind upon
several matters.

"What a dear old woman!" said Nora, as they came away, having made
their bargain for the open carriage.

"I think she takes quite enough upon herself, you know," said Mrs.
Trevelyan.

"She is a dear old woman," said Priscilla, not attending at all to
the last words that had been spoken. "She is one of the best friends
I have in the world. If I were to say the best out of my own family,
perhaps I should not be wrong."

"But she uses such very odd language for a woman," said Mrs.
Trevelyan. Now Mrs. Crocket had certainly "dratted" and "darned" the
boy, who wouldn't come as fast as she had wished, and had laughed
at Mrs. Trevelyan very contemptuously, when that lady had suggested
that the urchin, who was at last brought forth, might not be a safe
charioteer down some of the hills.

"I suppose I'm used to it," said Priscilla. "At any rate I know I
like it. And I like her."

"I dare say she's a good sort of woman," said Mrs. Trevelyan,
"only--"

"I am not saying anything about her being a good woman now," said
Priscilla, interrupting the other with some vehemence, "but only that
she is my friend."

"I liked her of all things," said Nora. "Has she lived here always?"

"Yes; all her life. The house belonged to her father and to her
grandfather before her, and I think she says she has never slept
out of it a dozen times in her life. Her husband is dead, and her
daughters are married away, and she has the great grief and trouble
of a ne'er-do-well son. He's away now, and she's all alone." Then
after a pause, she continued; "I dare say it seems odd to you, Mrs.
Trevelyan, that we should speak of the innkeeper as a dear friend;
but you must remember that we have been poor among the poorest--and
are so indeed now. We only came into our present house to receive
you. That is where we used to live," and she pointed to the tiny
cottage, which now that it was dismantled and desolate, looked to be
doubly poor. "There have been times when we should have gone to bed
very hungry if it had not been for Mrs. Crocket."

Later in the day Mrs. Trevelyan, finding Priscilla alone, had
apologized for what she had said about the old woman. "I was very
thoughtless and forgetful, but I hope you will not be angry with me.
I will be ever so fond of her if you will forgive me."

"Very well," said Priscilla, smiling; "on those conditions I will
forgive you." And from that time there sprang up something like
a feeling of friendship between Priscilla and Mrs. Trevelyan.
Nevertheless Priscilla was still of opinion that the Clock House
arrangement was dangerous, and should never have been made; and Mrs.
Stanbury, always timid of her own nature, began to fear that it must
be so, as soon as she was removed from the influence of her son. She
did not see much even of the few neighbours who lived around her, but
she fancied that people looked at her in church as though she had
done that which she ought not to have done, in taking herself to a
big and comfortable house for the sake of lending her protection to a
lady who was separated from her husband. It was not that she believed
that Mrs. Trevelyan had been wrong; but that, knowing herself to be
weak, she fancied that she and her daughter would be enveloped in the
danger and suspicion which could not but attach themselves to the
lady's condition, instead of raising the lady out of the cloud,--as
would have been the case had she herself been strong. Mrs. Trevelyan,
who was sharpsighted and clear-witted, soon saw that it was so, and
spoke to Priscilla on the subject before she had been a fortnight in
the house. "I am afraid your mother does not like our being here,"
she said.

"How am I to answer that?" Priscilla replied.

"Just tell the truth."

"The truth is so uncivil. At first I did not like it. I disliked it
very much."

"Why did you give way?"

"I didn't give way. Hugh talked my mother over. Mamma does what I
tell her, except when Hugh tells her something else. I was afraid,
because, down here, knowing nothing of the world, I didn't wish
that we, little people, should be mixed up in the quarrels and
disagreements of those who are so much bigger."

"I don't know who it is that is big in this matter."

"You are big,--at any rate by comparison. But now it must go on. The
house has been taken, and my fears are over as regards you. What you
observe in mamma is only the effect, not yet quite worn out, of what
I said before you came. You may be quite sure of this,--that we
neither of us believe a word against you. Your position is a very
unfortunate one; but if it can be remedied by your staying here with
us, pray stay with us."

"It cannot be remedied," said Emily; "but we could not be anywhere
more comfortable than we are here."



CHAPTER XV.

WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT IT IN THE CLOSE.


When Miss Stanbury, in the Close at Exeter, was first told of the
arrangement that had been made at Nuncombe Putney, she said some very
hard words as to the thing that had been done. She was quite sure
that Mrs. Trevelyan was no better than she should be. Ladies who were
separated from their husbands never were any better than they should
be. And what was to be thought of any woman, who, when separated from
her husband, would put herself under the protection of such a Paladin
as Hugh Stanbury? She heard the tidings of course from Dorothy, and
spoke her mind even to Dorothy plainly enough; but it was to Martha
that she expressed herself with her fullest vehemence.

"We always knew," she said, "that my brother had married an
addle-pated, silly woman, one of the most unsuited to be the mistress
of a clergyman's house that ever a man set eyes on; but I didn't
think she'd allow herself to be led into such a stupid thing as
this."

"I don't suppose the lady has done anything amiss,--any more than
combing her husband's hair, and the like of that," said Martha.

"Don't tell me! Why, by their own story, she has got a lover."

"But he ain't to come after her down here, I suppose. And as for
lovers, ma'am, I'm told that the most of 'em have 'em up in London.
But it don't mean much, only just idle talking and gallivanting."

"When women can't keep themselves from idle talking with strange
gentlemen, they are very far gone on the road to the devil. That's
my notion. And that was everybody's notion a few years ago. But now,
what with divorce bills, and women's rights, and penny papers, and
false hair, and married women being just like giggling girls, and
giggling girls knowing just as much as married women, when a woman
has been married a year or two she begins to think whether she mayn't
have more fun for her money by living apart from her husband."

"Miss Dorothy says--"

"Oh, bother what Miss Dorothy says! Miss Dorothy only knows what
it has suited that scamp, her brother, to tell her. I understand
this woman has come away because of a lover; and if that's so, my
sister-in-law is very wrong to receive her. The temptation of the
Clock House has been too much for her. It's not my doing; that's
all."

That evening Miss Stanbury and Dorothy went out to tea at the house
of Mrs. MacHugh, and there the matter was very much discussed. The
family of the Trevelyans was known by name in these parts, and the
fact of Mrs. Trevelyan having been sent to live in a Devonshire
village, with Devonshire ladies who had a relation in Exeter so
well esteemed as Miss Stanbury of the Close, were circumstances of
themselves sufficient to ensure a considerable amount of prestige
at the city tea-table for the tidings of this unfortunate family
quarrel. Some reticence was of course necessary because of the
presence of Miss Stanbury and of Dorothy. To Miss Stanbury herself
Mrs. MacHugh and Mrs. Crumbie, of Cronstadt House, did not scruple
to express themselves very plainly, and to whisper a question as to
what was to be done should the lover make his appearance at Nuncombe
Putney; but they who spoke of the matter before Dorothy, were at
first more charitable, or, at least, more forbearing. Mr. Gibson,
who was one of the minor canons, and the two Miss Frenches from
Heavitree, who had the reputation of hunting unmarried clergymen in
couples, seemed to have heard all about it. When Mrs. MacHugh and
Miss Stanbury, with Mr. and Mrs. Crumbie, had seated themselves at
their whist-table, the younger people were able to express their
opinions without danger of interruption or of rebuke. It was known
to all Exeter by this time, that Dorothy Stanbury's mother had gone
to the Clock House, and that she had done so in order that Mrs.
Trevelyan might have a home. But it was not yet known whether anybody
had called upon them. There was Mrs. Merton, the wife of the present
parson of Nuncombe, who had known the Stanburys for the last twenty
years; and there was Mrs. Ellison of Lessboro', who lived only four
miles from Nuncombe, and who kept a pony-carriage. It would be a
great thing to know how these ladies had behaved in so difficult and
embarrassing a position. Mrs. Trevelyan and her sister had now been
at Nuncombe Putney for more than a fortnight, and something in that
matter of calling must have been done,--or have been left undone. In
answer to an ingeniously-framed question asked by Camilla French,
Dorothy at once set the matter at rest. "Mrs. Merton," said Camilla
French, "must find it a great thing to have two new ladies come to
the village, especially now that she has lost you, Miss Stanbury?"

"Mamma tells me," said Dorothy, "that Mrs. Trevelyan and Miss Rowley
do not mean to know anybody. They have given it out quite plainly, so
that there should be no mistake."

"Dear, dear," said Camilla French.

"I dare say it's for the best," said Arabella French, who was the
elder, and who looked very meek and soft. Miss French almost always
looked meek and soft.

"I'm afraid it will make it very dull for your mother,--not seeing
her old friends," said Mr. Gibson.

"Mamma won't feel that at all," said Dorothy.

"Mrs. Stanbury, I suppose, will see her own friends at her own house
just the same," said Camilla.

"There would be great difficulty in that, when there is a lady who is
to remain unknown," said Arabella. "Don't you think so, Mr. Gibson?"
Mr. Gibson replied that perhaps there might be a difficulty, but he
wasn't sure. The difficulty, he thought, might be got over if the
ladies did not always occupy the same room.

"You have never seen Mrs. Trevelyan, have you, Miss Stanbury?" asked
Camilla.

"Never."

"She is not an old family friend, then,--or anything of that sort?"

"Oh, dear, no."

"Because," said Arabella, "it is so odd how different people get
together sometimes." Then Dorothy explained that Mr. Trevelyan and
her brother Hugh had long been friends.

"Oh!--of Mr. Trevelyan," said Camilla. "Then it is he that has sent
his wife to Nuncombe, not she that has come there?"

"I suppose there has been some agreement," said Dorothy.

"Just so; just so," said Arabella, the meek. "I should like to see
her. They say that she is very beautiful; don't they?"

"My brother says that she is handsome."

"Exceedingly lovely, I'm told," said Camilla. "I should like to see
her,--shouldn't you, Mr. Gibson?"

"I always like to see a pretty woman," said Mr. Gibson, with a polite
bow, which the sisters shared between them.

"I suppose she'll go to church," said Camilla.

"Very likely not," said Arabella. "Ladies of that sort very often
don't go to church. I dare say you'll find that she'll never stir
out of the place at all, and that not a soul in Nuncombe will ever
see her except the gardener. It is such a thing for a woman to be
separated from her husband! Don't you think so, Mr. Gibson?"

"Of course it is," said he, with a shake of his head, which was
intended to imply that the censure of the church must of course
attend any sundering of those whom the church had bound together; but
which implied also by the absence from it of any intense clerical
severity, that as the separated wife was allowed to live with so very
respectable a lady as Mrs. Stanbury, there must probably be some
mitigating circumstances attending this special separation.

"I wonder what he is like?" said Camilla, after a pause.

"Who?" asked Arabella.

"The gentleman," said Camilla.

"What gentleman?" demanded Arabella.

"I don't mean Mr. Trevelyan," said Camilla.

"I don't believe there really is,--eh,--is there?" said Mr. Gibson,
very timidly.

"Oh, dear, yes," said Arabella.

"I'm afraid there's something of the kind," said Camilla. "I've heard
that there is, and I've heard his name." Then she whispered very
closely into the ear of Mr. Gibson the words, "Colonel Osborne," as
though her lips were by far too pure to mention aloud any sound so
full of iniquity.

"Indeed!" said Mr. Gibson.

"But he's quite an old man," said Dorothy, "and knew her father
intimately before she was born. And, as far as I can understand, her
husband does not suspect her in the least. And it's only because
there's a misunderstanding between them, and not at all because of
the gentleman."

"Oh!" exclaimed Camilla.

"Ah!" exclaimed Arabella.

"That would make a difference," said Mr. Gibson.

"But for a married woman to have her name mentioned at all with a
gentleman,--it is so bad; is it not, Mr. Gibson?" And then Arabella
also had her whisper into the clergyman's ear,--very closely. "I'm
afraid there's not a doubt about the Colonel. I'm afraid not. I am
indeed."

"Two by honours and the odd, and it's my deal," said Miss Stanbury,
briskly, and the sharp click with which she put the markers down
upon the table was heard all through the room. "I don't want anybody
to tell me," she said, "that when a young woman is parted from her
husband, the chances are ten to one that she has been very foolish."

"But what's a woman to do, if her husband beats her?" said Mrs.
Crumbie.

"Beat him again," said Mrs. MacHugh.

"And the husband will be sure to have the worst of it," said Mr.
Crumbie. "Well, I declare, if you haven't turned up an honour again,
Miss Stanbury!"

"It was your wife that cut it to me, Mr. Crumbie." Then they were
again at once immersed in the play, and the name neither of Trevelyan
nor Osborne was heard till Miss Stanbury was marking her double under
the candlestick; but during all pauses in the game the conversation
went back to the same topic, and when the rubber was over they
who had been playing it lost themselves for ten minutes in the
allurements of the interesting subject. It was so singular a
coincidence that the lady should have gone to Nuncombe Putney of
all villages in England, and to the house of Mrs. Stanbury of all
ladies in England. And then was she innocent, or was she guilty; and
if guilty, in what degree? That she had been allowed to bring her
baby with her was considered to be a great point in her favour. Mr.
Crumbie's opinion was that it was "only a few words." Mrs. Crumbie
was afraid that she had been a little light. Mrs. MacHugh said that
there was never fire without smoke. And Miss Stanbury, as she took
her departure, declared that the young women of the present day
didn't know what they were after. "They think that the world should
be all frolic and dancing, and they have no more idea of doing their
duty and earning their bread than a boy home for the holidays has of
doing lessons."

Then, as she went home with Dorothy across the Close, she spoke a
word which she intended to be very serious. "I don't mean to say
anything against your mother for what she has done as yet. Somebody
must take the woman in, and perhaps it was natural. But if that
Colonel What's-his-name makes his way down to Nuncombe Putney, your
mother must send her packing, if she has any respect either for
herself or for Priscilla."



CHAPTER XVI.

DARTMOOR.


   [Illustration]

The well-weighed decision of Miss Stanbury respecting the
Stanbury-Trevelyan arrangement at Nuncombe Putney had been
communicated to Dorothy as the two walked home at night across the
Close from Mrs. MacHugh's house, and it was accepted by Dorothy
as being wise and proper. It amounted to this. If Mrs. Trevelyan
should behave herself with propriety in her retirement at the Clock
House, no further blame in the matter should be attributed to Mrs.
Stanbury for receiving her,--at any rate in Dorothy's hearing. The
existing scheme, whether wise or foolish, should be regarded as an
accepted scheme. But if Mrs. Trevelyan should be indiscreet,--if,
for instance, Colonel Osborne should show himself at Nuncombe
Putney,--then, for the sake of the family, Miss Stanbury would speak
out, and would speak out very loudly. All this Dorothy understood,
and she could perceive that her aunt had strong suspicion that there
would be indiscretion.

"I never knew one like her," said Miss Stanbury, "who, when she'd got
away from one man, didn't want to have another dangling after her."

A week had hardly passed after the party at Mrs. MacHugh's, and Mrs.
Trevelyan had hardly been three weeks at Nuncombe Putney, before the
tidings which Miss Stanbury almost expected reached her ears.

"The Colonel's been at the Clock House, ma'am," said Martha.

Now, it was quite understood in the Close by this time that "the
Colonel" meant Colonel Osborne.

"No!"

"I'm told he has though, ma'am, for sure and certain."

"Who says so?"

"Giles Hickbody was down at Lessboro', and see'd him hisself,--a
portly, middle-aged man,--not one of your young scampish-like
lovers."

"That's the man."

"Oh, yes. He went over to Nuncombe Putney, as sure as
anything;--hired Mrs. Clegg's chaise and pair, and asked for Mrs.
Trevelyan's house as open as anything. When Giles asked in the yard,
they told him as how that was the married lady's young man."

"I'd like to be at his tail,--so I would,--with a mop-handle," said
Miss Stanbury, whose hatred for those sins by which the comfort and
respectability of the world are destroyed, was not only sincere, but
intense. "Well; and what then?"

"He came back and slept at Mrs. Clegg's that night,--at least, that
was what he said he should do."

Miss Stanbury, however, was not so precipitate or uncharitable as
to act strongly upon information such as this. Before she even said
a word to Dorothy, she made further inquiry. She made very minute
inquiry, writing even to her very old and intimate friend Mrs.
Ellison, of Lessboro',--writing to that lady a most cautious and
guarded letter. At last it became a fact proved to her mind that
Colonel Osborne had been at the Clock House, had been received there,
and had remained there for hours,--had been allowed access to Mrs.
Trevelyan, and had slept the night at the inn at Lessboro'. The thing
was so terrible to Miss Stanbury's mind, that even false hair, Dr.
Colenso, and penny newspapers did not account for it.

"I shall begin to believe that the Evil One has been allowed to come
among us in person because of our sins," she said to Martha;--and she
meant it.

In the meantime, Mrs. Trevelyan, as may be remembered, had hired Mrs.
Crocket's open carriage, and the three young women, Mrs. Trevelyan,
Nora, and Priscilla, made a little excursion to Princetown, somewhat
after the fashion of a picnic. At Princetown, in the middle of
Dartmoor, about nine miles from Nuncombe Putney, is the prison
establishment at which are kept convicts undergoing penal servitude.
It is regarded by all the country round with great interest, chiefly
because the prisoners now and again escape, and then there comes a
period of interesting excitement until the escaped felon shall have
been again taken. How can you tell where he may be, or whether it may
not suit him to find his rest in your own cupboard, or under your own
bed? And then, as escape without notice will of course be the felon's
object, to attain that he will probably cut your throat, and the
throat of everybody belonging to you. All which considerations give
an interest to Princetown, and excite in the hearts of the Devonians
of these parts a strong affection for the Dartmoor prison. Of those
who visit Princetown comparatively few effect an entrance within the
walls of the gaol. They look at the gloomy place with a mysterious
interest, feeling something akin to envy for the prisoners who have
enjoyed the privilege of solving the mysteries of prison life, and
who know how men feel when they have their hair cut short, and are
free from moral responsibility for their own conduct, and are moved
about in gangs, and treated like wild beasts.

But the journey to Princetown, from whatever side it is approached,
has the charm of wild and beautiful scenery. The spot itself is ugly
enough; but you can go not thither without breathing the sweetest,
freshest air, and encountering that delightful sense of romance which
moorland scenery always produces. The idea of our three friends was
to see the Moor rather than the prison, to learn something of the
country around, and to enjoy the excitement of eating a sandwich
sitting on a hillock, in exchange for the ordinary comforts of a good
dinner with chairs and tables. A bottle of sherry and water and a
paper of sandwiches contained their whole banquet; for ladies, though
they like good things at picnics, and, indeed, at other times, almost
as well as men like them, very seldom prepare dainties for themselves
alone. Men are wiser and more thoughtful, and are careful to have the
good things, even if they are to be enjoyed without companionship.

Mrs. Crocket's boy, though he was only about three feet high, was a
miracle of skill and discretion. He used the machine, as the patent
drag is called, in going down the hills with the utmost care. He
never forced the beast beyond a walk if there was the slightest rise
in the ground; and as there was always a rise, the journey was slow.
But the three ladies enjoyed it thoroughly, and Mrs. Trevelyan was in
better spirits than she herself had thought to be possible for her
in her present condition. Most of us have recognised the fact that
a dram of spirits will create,--that a so-called nip of brandy will
create hilarity, or, at least, alacrity, and that a glass of sherry
will often "pick up" and set in order the prostrate animal and mental
faculties of the drinker. But we are not sufficiently alive to
the fact that copious draughts of fresh air,--of air fresh and
unaccustomed,--will have precisely the same effect. We do know that
now and again it is very essential to "change the air;" but we
generally consider that to do that with any chance of advantage, it
is necessary to go far afield; and we think also that such change of
the air is only needful when sickness of the body has come upon us,
or when it threatens to come. We are seldom aware that we may imbibe
long potations of pleasure and healthy excitement without perhaps
going out of our own county; that such potations are within a day's
journey of most of us; and that they are to be had for half-a-crown
a head, all expenses told. Mrs. Trevelyan probably did not know that
the cloud was lifted off her mind, and the load of her sorrow made
light to her, by the special vigour of the air of the Moor; but
she did know that she was enjoying herself, and that the world was
pleasanter to her than it had been for months past.

When they had sat upon their hillocks, and eaten their
sandwiches,--regretting that the basket of provisions had not been
bigger,--and had drunk their sherry and water out of the little horn
mug which Mrs. Crocket had lent them, Nora started off across the
moorland alone. The horse had been left to be fed in Princetown, and
they had walked back to a bush under which they had rashly left their
basket of provender concealed. It happened, however, that on that day
there was no escaped felon about to watch what they had done, and
the food and the drink had been found secure. Nora had gone off, and
as her sister and Priscilla sat leaning against their hillocks with
their backs to the road, she could be seen standing now on one little
eminence and now on another, thinking, doubtless, as she stood on the
one how good it would be to be Lady Peterborough, and, as she stood
on the other, how much better to be Mrs. Hugh Stanbury. Only,--before
she could be Mrs. Hugh Stanbury it would be necessary that Mr. Hugh
Stanbury should share her opinion,--and necessary also that he should
be able to maintain a wife. "I should never do to be a very poor
man's wife," she said to herself; and remembered as she said it, that
in reference to the prospect of her being Lady Peterborough, the man
who was to be Lord Peterborough was at any rate ready to make her his
wife, and on that side there were none of those difficulties about
house, and money, and position which stood in the way of the Hugh
Stanbury side of the question. She was not, she thought, fit to be
the wife of a very poor man; but she conceived of herself that she
would do very well as a future Lady Peterborough in the drawing-rooms
of Monkhams. She was so far vain as to fancy that she could look,
and speak, and move, and have her being after the fashion which is
approved for the Lady Peterboroughs of the world. It was not clear
to her that Nature had not expressly intended her to be a Lady
Peterborough; whereas, as far as she could see, Nature had not
intended her to be a Mrs. Hugh Stanbury, with a precarious income of
perhaps ten guineas a week when journalism was doing well. So she
moved on to another little eminence to think of it there. It was
clear to her that if she should accept Mr. Glascock she would sell
herself, and not give herself away; and she had told herself scores
of times before this, that a young woman should give herself away,
and not sell herself;--should either give herself away, or keep
herself to herself as circumstances might go. She had been quite sure
that she would never sell herself. But this was a lesson which she
had taught herself when she was very young, before she had come to
understand the world and its hard necessities. Nothing, she now told
herself, could be worse than to hang like a mill-stone round the neck
of a poor man. It might be a very good thing to give herself away for
love,--but it would not be a good thing to be the means of ruining
the man she loved, even if that man were willing to be so ruined.
And then she thought that she could also love that other man a
little,--could love him sufficiently for comfortable domestic
purposes. And it would undoubtedly be very pleasant to have all the
troubles of her life settled for her. If she were Mrs. Glascock,
known to the world as the future Lady Peterborough, would it not be
within her power to bring her sister and her sister's husband again
together? The tribute of the Monkhams' authority and influence to her
sister's side of the question would be most salutary. She tried to
make herself believe that in this way she would be doing a good deed.
Upon the whole, she thought that if Mr. Glascock should give her
another chance she would accept him. And he had distinctly promised
that he would give her another chance. It might be that this
unfortunate quarrel in the Trevelyan family would deter him. People
do not wish to ally themselves with family quarrels. But if the
chance came in her way she would accept it. She had made up her mind
to that, when she turned round from off the last knoll on which she
had stood, to return to her sister and Priscilla Stanbury.


   [Illustration: Nora tries to make herself believe.]


They two had sat still under the shade of a thorn bush, looking at
Nora as she was wandering about, and talking together more freely
than they had ever done before on the circumstances that had brought
them together. "How pretty she looks," Priscilla had said, as Nora
was standing with her figure clearly marked by the light.

"Yes; she is very pretty, and has been much admired. This terrible
affair of mine is a cruel blow to her."

"You mean that it is bad for her to come and live here--without
society."

"Not exactly that,--though of course it would be better for her to go
out. And I don't know how a girl is ever to get settled in the world
unless she goes out. But it is always an injury to be connected in
any way with a woman who is separated from her husband. It must be
bad for you."

"It won't hurt me," said Priscilla. "Nothing of that kind can hurt
me."

"I mean that people say such ill-natured things."

"I stand alone, and can take care of myself," said Priscilla. "I defy
the evil tongues of all the world to hurt me. My personal cares are
limited to an old gown and bread and cheese. I like a pair of gloves
to go to church with, but that is only the remnant of a prejudice.
The world has so very little to give me, that I am pretty nearly sure
that it will take nothing away."

"And you are contented?"

"Well, no; I can't say that I am contented. I hardly think that
anybody ought to be contented. Should my mother die and Dorothy
remain with my aunt, or get married, I should be utterly alone in the
world. Providence, or whatever you call it, has made me a lady after
a fashion, so that I can't live with the ploughmen's wives, and at
the same time has so used me in other respects, that I can't live
with anybody else."

"Why should not you get married, as well as Dorothy?"

"Who would have me? And if I had a husband I should want a good
one,--a man with a head on his shoulders, and a heart. Even if I
were young and good-looking, or rich, I doubt whether I could please
myself. As it is I am as likely to be taken bodily to heaven, as to
become any man's wife."

"I suppose most women think so of themselves at some time, and yet
they are married."

"I am not fit to marry. I am often cross, and I like my own way, and
I have a distaste for men. I never in my life saw a man whom I wished
even to make my intimate friend. I should think any man an idiot who
began to make soft speeches to me, and I should tell him so."

"Ah; you might find it different when he went on with it."

"But I think," said Priscilla, "that when a woman is married there is
nothing to which she should not submit on behalf of her husband."

"You mean that for me."

"Of course I mean it for you. How should I not be thinking of you,
living as you are under the same roof with us? And I am thinking of
Louey." Louey was the baby. "What are you to do when after a year or
two his father shall send for him to have him under his own care?"

"Nothing shall separate me from my child," said Mrs. Trevelyan
eagerly.

"That is easily said; but I suppose the power of doing as he pleased
would be with him."

"Why should it be with him? I do not at all know that it would be
with him. I have not left his house. It is he that has turned me
out."

"There can, I think, be very little doubt what you should do," said
Priscilla, after a pause, during which she had got up from her seat
under the thorn bush.

"What should I do?" asked Mrs. Trevelyan.

"Go back to him."

"I will to-morrow if he will write and ask me. Nay; how could I help
myself? I am his creature, and must go or come as he bids me. I am
here only because he has sent me."

"You should write and ask him to take you."

"Ask him to forgive me because he has ill-treated me?"

"Never mind about that," said Priscilla, standing over her companion,
who was still lying under the bush. "All that is twopenny-halfpenny
pride, which should be thrown to the winds. The more right you have
been hitherto the better you can afford to go on being right. What is
it that we all live upon but self-esteem? When we want praise it is
only because praise enables us to think well of ourselves. Every one
to himself is the centre and pivot of all the world."

"It's a very poor world that goes round upon my pivot," said Mrs.
Trevelyan.

"I don't know how this quarrel came up," exclaimed Priscilla, "and
I don't care to know. But it seems a trumpery quarrel,--as to who
should beg each other's pardon first, and all that kind of thing.
Sheer and simple nonsense! Ask him to let it all be forgotten. I
suppose he loves you?"

"How can I know? He did once."

"And you love him?"

"Yes. I love him certainly."

"I don't see how you can have a doubt. Here is Jack with the
carriage, and if we don't mind he'll pass us by without seeing us."

Then Mrs. Trevelyan got up, and when they had succeeded in diverting
Jack's attention for a moment from the horse, they called to Nora,
who was still moving about from one knoll to another, and who showed
no desire to abandon the contemplations in which she had been
engaged.

It had been mid-day before they left home in the morning, and they
were due to be at home in time for tea,--which is an epoch in the
day generally allowed to be more elastic than some others. When Mrs.
Stanbury lived in the cottage her hour for tea had been six; this had
been stretched to half-past seven when she received Mrs. Trevelyan at
the Clock House; and it was half-past eight before Jack landed them
at their door. It was manifest to them all as they entered the house
that there was an air of mystery in the face of the girl who had
opened the door for them. She did not speak, however, till they were
all within the passage. Then she uttered a few words very solemnly.
"There be a gentleman come," she said.

"A gentleman!" said Mrs. Trevelyan, thinking in the first moment of
her husband, and in the second of Colonel Osborne.

"He be for you, miss," said the girl, bobbing her head at Nora.

Upon hearing this Nora sank speechless into the chair which stood in
the passage.



CHAPTER XVII.

A GENTLEMAN COMES TO NUNCOMBE PUTNEY.


It soon became known to them all as they remained clustered in the
hall that Mr. Glascock was in the house. Mrs. Stanbury came out to
them and informed them that he had been at Nuncombe Putney for the
last five hours, and that he had asked for Mrs. Trevelyan when he
called. It became evident as the affairs of the evening went on, that
Mrs. Stanbury had for a few minutes been thrown into a terrible state
of amazement, thinking that "the Colonel" had appeared. The strange
gentleman, however, having obtained admittance, explained who he was,
saying that he was very desirous of seeing Mrs. Trevelyan,--and Miss
Rowley. It may be presumed that a glimmer of light did make its way
into Mrs. Stanbury's mind on the subject; but up to the moment at
which the three travellers arrived, she had been in doubt on the
subject. Mr. Glascock had declared that he would take a walk, and
in the course of the afternoon had expressed high approval of Mrs.
Crocket's culinary skill. When Mrs. Crocket heard that she had
entertained the son of a lord, she was very loud in her praise of the
manner in which he had eaten two mutton chops and called for a third.
He had thought it no disgrace to apply himself to the second half
of an apple pie, and had professed himself to be an ardent admirer
of Devonshire cream. "It's them counter-skippers as turns up their
little noses at the victuals as is set before them," said Mrs.
Crocket.

After his dinner Mr. Glascock had returned to the Clock House, and
had been sitting there for an hour with Mrs. Stanbury, not much to
her delight or to his, when the carriage was driven up to the door.

"He is to go back to Lessboro' to-night," said Mrs. Stanbury in a
whisper.

"Of course you must see him before he goes," said Mrs. Trevelyan to
her sister. There had, as was natural, been very much said between
the two sisters about Mr. Glascock. Nora had abstained from asserting
in any decided way that she disliked the man, and had always
absolutely refused to allow Hugh Stanbury's name to be mixed up with
the question. Whatever might be her own thoughts about Hugh Stanbury
she had kept them even from her sister. When her sister had told her
that she had refused Mr. Glascock because of Hugh, she had shown
herself to be indignant, and had since that said one or two fine
things as to her capacity to refuse a brilliant offer simply because
the man who had made it was indifferent to her. Mrs. Trevelyan had
learned from her that her suitor had declared his intention to
persevere; and here was perseverance with a vengeance! "Of course you
must see him,--at once," said Mrs. Trevelyan. Nora for a few seconds
had remained silent, and then had run up to her room. Her sister
followed her instantly.

"What is the meaning of it all?" said Priscilla to her mother.

"I suppose he is in love with Miss Rowley," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"But who is he?"

Then Mrs. Stanbury told all that she knew. She had seen from his
card that he was an Honourable Mr. Glascock. She had collected from
what he had said that he was an old friend of the two ladies. Her
conviction was strong in Mr. Glascock's favour,--thinking, as she
expressed herself, that everything was right and proper,--but she
could hardly explain why she thought so.

"I do wish that they had never come," said Priscilla, who could not
rid herself of an idea that there must be danger in having to do with
women who had men running after them.

"Of course I'll see him," said Nora to her sister. "I have not
refused to see him. Why do you scold me?"

"I have not scolded you, Nora; but I do want you to think how
immensely important this is."

"Of course it is important."

"And so much the more so because of my misfortunes! Think how good he
must be, how strong must be his attachment, when he comes down here
after you in this way."

"But I have to think of my own feelings."

"You know you like him. You have told me so. And only fancy what
mamma will feel! Such a position! And the man so excellent! Everybody
says that he hasn't a fault in any way."

"I hate people without faults."

"Oh, Nora, Nora, that is foolish! There, there; you must go down.
Pray,--pray do not let any absurd fancy stand in your way, and
destroy everything. It will never come again, Nora. And, only think;
it is all now your own, if you will only whisper one word."

"Ah!--one word,--and that a falsehood!"

"No,--no. Say you will try to love him, and that will be enough. And
you do love him?"

"Do I?"

"Yes, you do. It is only the opposition of your nature that makes you
fight against him. Will you go now?"

"Let me be for two minutes by myself," said Nora, "and then I'll come
down. Tell him that I'm coming." Mrs. Trevelyan stooped over her,
kissed her, and then left her.

Nora, as soon as she was alone, stood upright in the middle of the
room and held her hands up to her forehead. She had been far from
thinking, when she was considering the matter easily among the
hillocks, that the necessity for an absolute decision would come upon
her so instantaneously. She had told herself only this morning that
it would be wise to accept the man, if he should ever ask a second
time;--and he had come already. He had been waiting for her in the
village while she had been thinking whether he would ever come across
her path again. She thought that it would have been easier for her
now to have gone down with a "yes" in her mouth, if her sister had
not pressed her so hard to say that "yes." The very pressure from her
sister seemed to imply that such pressure ought to be resisted. Why
should there have been pressure, unless there were reasons against
her marrying him? And yet, if she chose to take him, who would have
a right to complain of her? Hugh Stanbury had never spoken to her a
word that would justify her in even supposing that he would consider
himself to be ill-used. All others of her friends would certainly
rejoice, would applaud her, pat her on the back, cover her with
caresses, and tell her that she had been born under a happy star. And
she did like the man. Nay;--she thought she loved him. She withdrew
her hands from her brow, assured herself that her lot in life was
cast, and with hurrying fingers attempted to smooth her hair and to
arrange her ribbons before the glass. She would go to the encounter
boldly and accept him honestly. It was her duty to do so. What might
she not do for brothers and sisters as the wife of Lord Peterborough
of Monkhams? She saw that that arrangement before the glass could be
of no service, and she stepped quickly to the door. If he did not
like her as she was, he need not ask her. Her mind was made up, and
she would do it. But as she went down the stairs to the room in which
she knew that he was waiting for her, there came over her a cold
feeling of self-accusation,--almost of disgrace. "I do not care,"
she said. "I know that I'm right." She opened the door quickly, that
there might be no further doubt, and found that she was alone with
him.

"Miss Rowley," he said, "I am afraid you will think that I am
persecuting you."

"I have no right to think that," she answered.

"I'll tell you why I have come. My dear father, who has always been
my best friend, is very ill. He is at Naples, and I must go to him.
He is very old, you know,--over eighty; and will never live to come
back to England. From what I hear, I think it probable that I may
remain with him till everything is over."

"I did not know that he was so old as that."

"They say that he can hardly live above a month or two. He will never
see my wife,--if I can have a wife; but I should like to tell him, if
it were possible,--that,--that--"

"I understand you, Mr. Glascock."

"I told you that I should come to you again, and as I may possibly
linger at Naples all the winter, I could not go without seeing you.
Miss Rowley, may I hope that you can love me?"

She did not answer him a word, but stood looking away from him with
her hands clasped together. Had he asked her whether she would be his
wife, it is possible that the answer which she had prepared would
have been spoken. But he had put the question in another form. Did
she love him? If she could only bring herself to say that she could
love him, she might be lady of Monkhams before the next summer had
come round.

"Nora," he said, "do you think that you can love me?"

"No," she said, and there was something almost of fierceness in the
tone of her voice as she answered him.

"And must that be your final answer to me?"

"Mr. Glascock, what can I say?" she replied. "I will tell you the
honest truth:--I will tell you everything. I came into this room
determined to accept you. But you are so good, and so kind, and so
upright, that I cannot tell you a falsehood. I do not love you. I
ought not to take what you offer me. If I did, it would be because
you are rich, and a lord; and not because I love you. I love some one
else. There;--pray, pray do not tell of me; but I do." Then she flung
away from him and hid her face in a corner of the sofa out of the
light.

Her lover stood silent, not knowing how to go on with the
conversation, not knowing how to bring it to an end. After what
she had now said to him it was impossible that he should press her
further. It was almost impossible that he should wish to do so. When
a lady is frank enough to declare that her heart is not her own to
give, a man can hardly wish to make further prayer for the gift. "If
so," he said, "of course I have nothing to hope."

She was sobbing, and could not answer him. She was half repentant,
partly proud of what she had done,--half repentant in that she had
lost what had seemed to her to be so good, and full of remorse in
that she had so unnecessarily told her secret.

"Perhaps," said he, "I ought to assure you that what you have told me
shall never be repeated by my lips."

She thanked him for this by a motion of her head and hand, not by
words;--and then he was gone. How he managed to bid adieu to Mrs.
Stanbury and her sister, or whether he saw them as he left the house,
she never knew. In her corner of the sofa, weeping in the dark,
partly proud and partly repentant, she remained till her sister came
to her. "Emily," she said, jumping up, "say nothing about it; not
a word. It is of no use. The thing is done and over, and let it
altogether be forgotten."

"It is done and over, certainly," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"Exactly;--and I suppose a girl may do what she likes with herself in
that way. If I choose to decline to take anything that is pleasant,
and nice, and comfortable, nobody has a right to scold me. And I
won't be scolded."

"But, my child, who is scolding you?"

"You mean to scold me. But it is of no use. The man has gone, and
there is an end of it. Nothing that you can say or I can think will
bring him back again. I don't want anybody to tell me that it would
be better to be Lady Peterborough, with everything that the world has
to give, than to live here without a soul to speak to, and to have to
go back to those horrible islands next year. You can't think that I
am very comfortable."

"But what did you say to him, Nora?"

"What did I say to him? What could I say to him? Why didn't he ask me
to be his wife without saying anything about love? He asked me if I
loved him. Of course I don't love him. I would have said I did, but
it stuck in my throat. I am willing enough, I believe, to sell myself
to the devil, but I don't know how to do it. Never mind. It's done,
and now I'll go to bed."

She did go to bed, and Mrs. Trevelyan explained to the two ladies as
much as was necessary of what had occurred. When Mrs. Stanbury came
to understand that the gentleman who had been closeted with her
would, probably, in a few months be a lord himself, that he was a
very rich man, a member of Parliament, and one of those who are
decidedly born with gold spoons in their mouths, and understood also
that Nora Rowley had refused him, she was lost in amazement. Mr.
Glascock was about forty years of age, and appeared to Nora Rowley,
who was nearly twenty years his junior, to be almost an old man.
But to Mrs. Stanbury, who was over sixty, Mr. Glascock seemed to be
quite in the flower of his age. The bald place at the top of his head
simply showed that he had passed his boyhood, and the grey hairs at
the back of his whiskers were no more than outward signs of manly
discretion. She could not understand why any girl should refuse such
an offer, unless the man were himself bad in morals, or in temper.
But Mrs. Trevelyan had told her while Nora and Mr. Glascock were
closeted together, that he was believed by them all to be good and
gentle. Nevertheless she felt a considerable increase of respect for
a young lady who had refused the eldest son of a lord. Priscilla,
when she heard what had occurred, expressed to her mother a moderated
approval. According to her views a girl would much more often be
right to refuse an offer of marriage than to accept it, let him who
made the offer be who he might. And the fact of the man having been
sent away with a refusal somewhat softened Priscilla's anger at his
coming there at all.

"I suppose he is a goose," said she to her mother, "and I hope there
won't be any more of this kind running after them while they are with
us."

Nora, when she was alone, wept till her heart was almost broken. It
was done, and the man was gone, and the thing was over. She had quite
sufficient knowledge of the world to realise perfectly the difference
between such a position as that which had been offered to her, and
the position which in all probability she would now be called upon to
fill. She had had her chance, and Fortune had placed great things at
her disposal. It must be said of her also that the great things which
Fortune had offered to her were treasures very valuable in her eyes.
Whether it be right and wise to covet or to despise wealth and rank,
there was no doubt but that she coveted them. She had been instructed
to believe in them, and she did believe in them. In some mysterious
manner of which she herself knew nothing, taught by some preceptor
the nobility of whose lessons she had not recognised though she had
accepted them, she had learned other things also,--to revere truth
and love, and to be ambitious as regarded herself of conferring the
gift of her whole heart upon some one whom she could worship as a
hero. She had spoken the simple truth when she had told her sister
that she had been willing to sell herself to the devil, but that
she had failed in her attempt to execute the contract. But now as
she lay weeping on her bed, tearing herself with remorse, picturing
to herself in the most vivid colours all that she had thrown away,
telling herself of all that she might have done and all that she
might have been, had she not allowed the insane folly of a moment
to get the better of her, she received little or no comfort from
the reflection that she had been true to her better instincts. She
had told the man that she had refused him because she loved Hugh
Stanbury;--at least, as far as she could remember what had passed,
she had so told him. And how mean it was of her to allow herself to
be actuated by an insane passion for a man who had never spoken to
her of love, and how silly of her afterwards to confess it! Of what
service could such a passion be to her life? Even were it returned,
she could not marry such a one as Hugh Stanbury. She knew enough of
herself to be quite sure that were he to ask her to do so to-morrow,
she would refuse him. Better go and be scorched, and bored to
death, and buried at the Mandarins, than attempt to regulate a poor
household which, as soon as she made one of its number, would be on
the sure road to ruin!

For a moment there came upon her, not a thought, hardly an
idea,--something of a waking dream that she would write to Mr.
Glascock and withdraw all that she had said. Were she to do so he
would probably despise her, and tell her that he despised her;--but
there might be a chance. It was possible that such a declaration
would bring him back to her;--and did it not bring him back to her
she would only be where she was, a poor lost, shipwrecked creature,
who had flung herself upon the rocks and thrown away her only chance
of a prosperous voyage across the ocean of life; her only chance, for
she was not like other girls, who at any rate remain on the scene
of action, and may refit their spars and still win their way. For
there were to be no more seasons in London, no more living in Curzon
Street, no renewed power of entering the ball-rooms and crowded
staircases in which high-born wealthy lovers can be conquered. A
great prospect had been given to her, and she had flung it aside!
That letter of retractation was, however, quite out of the question.
The reader must not suppose that she had ever thought that she could
write it. She thought of nothing but of coming misery and remorse. In
her wretchedness she fancied that she had absolutely disclosed to the
man who loved her the name of him whom she had been mad enough to say
that she loved. But what did it matter? Let it be as it might, she
was destroyed.

The next morning she came down to breakfast pale as a ghost; and they
who saw her knew at once that she had done that which had made her a
wretched woman.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE STANBURY CORRESPONDENCE.


Half an hour after the proper time, when the others had finished
their tea and bread and butter, Nora Rowley came down among them pale
as a ghost. Her sister had gone to her while she was dressing, but
she had declared that she would prefer to be alone. She would be down
directly, she had said, and had completed her toilet without even the
assistance of her maid. She drank her cup of tea and pretended to eat
her toast; and then sat herself down, very wretchedly, to think of
it all again. It had been all within her grasp,--all of which she
had ever dreamed! And now it was gone! Each of her three companions
strove from time to time to draw her into conversation, but she
seemed to be resolute in her refusal. At first, till her utter
prostration had become a fact plainly recognised by them all, she
made some little attempt at an answer when a direct question was
asked of her; but after a while she only shook her head, and was
silent, giving way to absolute despair.

Late in the evening she went out into the garden, and Priscilla
followed her. It was now the end of July, and the summer was in its
glory. The ladies, during the day, would remain in the drawing-room
with the windows open and the blinds down, and would sit in the
evening reading and working, or perhaps pretending to read and work,
under the shade of a cedar which stood upon the lawn. No retirement
could possibly be more secluded than was that of the garden of the
Clock House. No stranger could see into it, or hear sounds from out
of it. Though it was not extensive, it was so well furnished with
those charming garden shrubs which, in congenial soils, become large
trees, that one party of wanderers might seem to be lost from another
amidst its walls. On this evening Mrs. Stanbury and Mrs. Trevelyan
had gone out as usual, but Priscilla had remained with Nora Rowley.
After a while Nora also got up and went through the window all alone.
Priscilla, having waited for a few minutes, followed her; and caught
her in a long green walk that led round the bottom of the orchard.

"What makes you so wretched?" she said.

"Why do you say I am wretched?"

"Because it's so visible. How is one to go on living with you all day
and not notice it?"

"I wish you wouldn't notice it. I don't think it kind of you to
notice it. If I wanted to talk of it, I would say so."

"It is better generally to speak of a trouble than to keep it to
oneself," said Priscilla.

"All the same, I would prefer not to speak of mine," said Nora.

Then they parted, one going one way and one the other, and Priscilla
was certainly angry at the reception which had been given to the
sympathy which she had proffered. The next day passed almost without
a word spoken between the two. Mrs. Stanbury had not ventured as yet
to mention to her guest the subject of the rejected lover, and had
not even said much on the subject to Mrs. Trevelyan. Between the two
sisters there had been, of course, some discussion on the matter. It
was impossible that it should be allowed to pass without it; but such
discussions always resulted in an assertion on the part of Nora that
she would not be scolded. Mrs. Trevelyan was very tender with her,
and made no attempt to scold her,--tried, at last, simply to console
her; but Nora was so continually at work scolding herself, that every
word spoken to her on the subject of Mr. Glascock's visit seemed to
her to carry with it a rebuke.

But on the second day she herself accosted Priscilla Stanbury. "Come
into the garden," she said, when they two were for a moment alone
together; "I want to speak to you." Priscilla, without answering,
folded up her work and put on her hat. "Come down to the green walk,"
said Nora. "I was savage to you last night, and I want to beg your
pardon."

"You were savage," said Priscilla, smiling, "and you shall have my
pardon. Who would not pardon you any offence, if you asked it?"

"I am so miserable!" she said.

"But why?"

"I don't know. I can't tell. And it is of no use talking about it
now, for it is all over. But I ought not to have been cross to you,
and I am very sorry."

"That does not signify a straw; only so far, that when I have been
cross, and have begged a person's pardon,--which I don't do as often
as I ought,--I always feel that it begets kindness. If I could help
you in your trouble I would."

"You can't fetch him back again."

"You mean Mr. Glascock. Shall I go and try?"

Nora smiled and shook her head. "I wonder what he would say if you
asked him. But if he came I should do the same thing."

"I do not in the least know what you have done, my dear. I only see
that you mope about, and are more down in the mouth than any one
ought to be, unless some great trouble has come."

"A great trouble has come."

"I suppose you have had your choice,--either to accept your lover or
to reject him."

"No; I have not had my choice."

"It seems to me that no one has dictated to you; or, at least, that
you have obeyed no dictation."

"Of course, I can't explain it to you. It is impossible that I
should."

"If you mean that you regret what you have done because you have been
false to the man, I can sympathise with you. No one has ever a right
to be false, and if you are repenting a falsehood, I will willingly
help you to eat your ashes and to wear your sackcloth. But if you are
repenting a truth--"

"I am."

"Then you must eat your ashes by yourself, for me; and I do not think
that you will ever be able to digest them."

"I do not want anybody to help me," said Nora proudly.

"Nobody can help you, if I understand the matter rightly. You have
got to get the better of your own covetousness and evil desires, and
you are in the fair way to get the better of them if you have already
refused to be this man's wife because you could not bring yourself to
commit the sin of marrying him when you did not love him. I suppose
that is about the truth of it; and indeed, indeed, I do sympathise
with you. If you have done that, though it is no more than the
plainest duty, I will love you for it. One finds so few people that
will do any duty that taxes their self-indulgence."

"But he did not ask me to marry him."

"Then I do not understand anything about it."

"He asked me to love him."

"But he meant you to be his wife?"

"Oh yes;--he meant that of course."

"And what did you say?" asked Priscilla.

"That I didn't love him," replied Nora.

"And that was the truth?"

"Yes;--it was the truth."

"And what do you regret?--that you didn't tell him a lie?"

"No;--not that," said Nora slowly.

"What then? You cannot regret that you have not basely deceived a man
who has treated you with a loving generosity?" They walked on silent
for a few yards, and then Priscilla repeated her question. "You
cannot mean that you are sorry that you did not persuade yourself to
do evil?"

"I don't want to go back to the islands, and to lose myself there,
and to be nobody;--that is what I mean. And I might have been so
much! Could one step from the very highest rung of the ladder to the
very lowest and not feel it?"

"But you have gone up the ladder,--if you only knew it," said
Priscilla. "There was a choice given to you between the foulest mire
of the clay of the world, and the sun-light of the very God. You have
chosen the sun-light, and you are crying after the clay! I cannot
pity you; but I can esteem you, and love you, and believe in you. And
I do. You'll get yourself right at last, and there's my hand on it,
if you'll take it." Nora took the hand that was offered to her, held
it in her own for some seconds, and then walked back to the house and
up to her own room in silence.

The post used to come into Nuncombe Putney at about eight in the
morning, carried thither by a wooden-legged man who rode a donkey.
There is a general understanding that the wooden-legged men in
country parishes should be employed as postmen, owing to the great
steadiness of demeanour which a wooden leg is generally found to
produce. It may be that such men are slower in their operations than
would be biped postmen; but as all private employers of labour demand
labourers with two legs, it is well that the lame and halt should
find a refuge in the less exacting service of the government. The
one-legged man who rode his donkey into Nuncombe Putney would reach
his post-office not above half an hour after his proper time; but he
was very slow in stumping round the village, and seldom reached the
Clock House much before ten. On a certain morning two or three days
after the conversation just recorded it was past ten when he brought
two letters to the door, one for Mrs. Trevelyan, and one for Mrs.
Stanbury. The ladies had finished their breakfast, and were seated
together at an open window. As was usual, the letters were given into
Priscilla's hands, and the newspaper which accompanied them into
those of Mrs. Trevelyan, its undoubted owner. When her letter was
handed to her, she looked at the address closely and then walked away
with it into her own room.

"I think it's from Louis," said Nora, as soon as the door was closed.
"If so, he is telling her to come back."

"Mamma, this is for you," said Priscilla. "It is from Aunt Stanbury.
I know her handwriting."

"From your aunt? What can she be writing about? There is something
wrong with Dorothy." Mrs. Stanbury held the letter but did not open
it. "You had better read it, my dear. If she is ill, pray let her
come home."

But the letter spoke of nothing amiss as regarded Dorothy, and did
not indeed even mention Dorothy's name. Luckily Priscilla read
the letter in silence, for it was an angry letter. "What is it,
Priscilla? Why don't you tell me? Is anything wrong?" said Mrs.
Stanbury.

"Nothing is wrong, mamma,--except that my aunt is a silly woman."

"Goodness me! what is it?"

"It is a family matter," said Nora smiling, "and I will go."

"What can it be?" demanded Mrs. Stanbury again as soon as Nora had
left the room.

"You shall hear what it can be. I will read it you," said Priscilla.
"It seems to me that of all the women that ever lived my Aunt
Stanbury is the most prejudiced, the most unjust, and the most given
to evil thinking of her neighbours. This is what she has thought fit
to write to you, mamma." Then Priscilla read her aunt's letter, which
was as follows:--


   The Close, Exeter, July 31, 186--.

   DEAR SISTER STANBURY,

   I am informed that the lady who is living with you because
   she could not continue to live under the same roof with
   her lawful husband, has received a visit at your house
   from a gentleman who was named as her lover before she
   left her own. I am given to understand that it was because
   of this gentleman's visits to her in London, and because
   she would not give up seeing him, that her husband would
   not live with her any longer.


"But the man has never been here at all," said Mrs. Stanbury, in
dismay.

"Of course he has not been here. But let me go on."


   I have got nothing to do with your visitors, [continued
   the letter] and I should not interfere but for the credit
   of the family. There ought to be somebody to explain to
   you that much of the abominable disgrace of the whole
   proceeding will rest upon you, if you permit such goings
   on in your house. I suppose it is your house. At any rate
   you are regarded as the mistress of the establishment, and
   it is for you to tell the lady that she must go elsewhere.
   I do hope that you have done so, or at least that you
   will do so now. It is intolerable that the widow of my
   brother,--a clergyman,--should harbour a lady who is
   separated from her husband and who receives visits from
   a gentleman who is reputed to be her lover. I wonder
   much that your eldest daughter should countenance such a
   proceeding.

   Yours truly,

   JEMIMA STANBURY.


Mrs. Stanbury, when the letter had been read to her, held up both her
hands in despair. "Dear, dear," she exclaimed. "Oh, dear!"

"She had such pleasure in writing it," said Priscilla, "that one
ought hardly to begrudge it her." The blackest spot in the character
of Priscilla Stanbury was her hatred for her aunt in Exeter. She knew
that her aunt had high qualities, and yet she hated her aunt. She was
well aware that her aunt was regarded as a shining light by very many
good people in the county, and yet she hated her aunt. She could not
but acknowledge that her aunt had been generous to her brother, and
was now very generous to her sister, and yet she hated her aunt. It
was now a triumph to her that her aunt had fallen into so terrible
a quagmire, and she was by no means disposed to let the sinning old
woman easily out of it.

"It is as pretty a specimen," she said, "as I ever knew of malice and
eaves-dropping combined."

"Don't use such hard words, my dear."

"Look at her words to us," said Priscilla. "What business has she to
talk to you about the credit of the family and abominable disgrace?
You have held your head up in poverty, while she has been rolling in
money."

"She has been very good to Hugh,--and now to Dorothy."

"If I were Dorothy I would have none of her goodness. She likes some
one to trample on,--some one of the name to patronise. She shan't
trample on you and me, mamma."

Then there was a discussion as to what should be done; or rather
a discourse in which Priscilla explained what she thought fit to
do. Nothing, she decided, should be said to Mrs. Trevelyan on the
subject; but an answer should be sent to Aunt Stanbury. Priscilla
herself would write this answer, and herself would sign it. There was
some difference of opinion on this point, as Mrs. Stanbury thought
that if she might be allowed to put her name to it, even though
Priscilla should write it, the wording of it would be made, in some
degree, mild,--to suit her own character. But her daughter was
imperative, and she gave way.

"It shall be mild enough in words," said Priscilla, "and very short."

Then she wrote her letter as follows:--


   Nuncombe Putney, August 1, 186--.

   DEAR AUNT STANBURY,

   You have found a mare's nest. The gentleman you speak of
   has never been here at all, and the people who bring you
   news have probably hoaxed you. I don't think that mamma
   has ever disgraced the family, and you can have no reason
   for thinking that she ever will. You should, at any rate,
   be sure of what you are saying before you make such cruel
   accusations.

   Yours truly,

   PRISCILLA STANBURY.

   P.S.--Another gentleman did call here,--not to see Mrs.
   Trevelyan; but I suppose mamma's house need not be closed
   against all visitors.


Poor Dorothy had passed evil hours from the moment in which her
aunt had so far certified herself as to Colonel Osborne's visit to
Nuncombe as to make her feel it to be incumbent on her to interfere.
After much consideration Miss Stanbury had told her niece the
dreadful news, and had told also what she intended to do. Dorothy,
who was in truth horrified at the iniquity of the fact which was
related, and who never dreamed of doubting the truth of her aunt's
information, hardly knew how to interpose. "I am sure mamma won't let
there be anything wrong," she had said.

"And you don't call this wrong?" said Miss Stanbury, in a tone of
indignation.

"But perhaps mamma will tell them to go."

"I hope she will. I hope she has. But he was allowed to be there
for hours. And now three days have passed and there is no sign of
anything being done. He came and went and may come again when he
pleases." Still Dorothy pleaded. "I shall do my duty," said Miss
Stanbury.

"I am quite sure mamma will do nothing wrong," said Dorothy. But the
letter was written and sent, and the answer to the letter reached the
house in the Close in due time.

When Miss Stanbury had read and re-read the very short reply which
her niece had written, she became at first pale with dismay, and
then red with renewed vigour and obstinacy. She had made herself, as
she thought, quite certain of her facts before she had acted on her
information. There was some equivocation, some most unworthy deceit
in Priscilla's letter. Or could it be possible that she herself had
been mistaken? Another gentleman had been there;--not, however, with
the object of seeing Mrs. Trevelyan! So said Priscilla. But she had
made herself sure that the man in question was a man from London,
a middle-aged man from London, who had specially asked for Mrs.
Trevelyan, and who had at once been known to Mrs. Clegg, at the
Lessboro' inn, to be Mrs. Trevelyan's lover. Miss Stanbury was
very unhappy, and at last sent for Giles Hickbody. Giles Hickbody
had never pretended to know the name. He had seen the man and had
described him, "Quite a swell, ma'am; and a Lon'oner, and one as'd
be up to anything; but not a young 'un; no, not just a young 'un,
zartainly." He was cross-examined again now, and said that all he
knew about the man's name was that there was a handle to it. This was
ended by Miss Stanbury sending him down to Lessboro' to learn the
very name of the gentleman, and by his coming back with that of the
Honourable George Glascock written on a piece of paper. "They says
now as he was arter the other young 'ooman," said Giles Hickbody.
Then was the confusion of Miss Stanbury complete.

It was late when Giles returned from Lessboro', and nothing could
be done that night. It was too late to write a letter for the
next morning's post. Miss Stanbury, who was as proud of her own
discrimination as she was just and true, felt that a day of
humiliation had indeed come for her. She hated Priscilla almost as
vigorously as Priscilla hated her. To Priscilla she would not write
to own her fault; but it was incumbent on her to confess it to Mrs.
Stanbury. It was incumbent on her also to confess it to Dorothy. All
that night she did not sleep, and the next morning she went about
abashed, wretched, hardly mistress of her own maids. She must confess
it also to Martha, and Martha would be very stern to her. Martha had
pooh-poohed the whole story of the lover, seeming to think that there
could be no reasonable objection to a lover past fifty.

"Dorothy," she said at last, about noon, "I have been over
hasty about your mother and this man. I am sorry for it, and
must--beg--everybody's--pardon."

"I knew mamma would do nothing wrong," said Dorothy.

"To do wrong is human, and she, I suppose, is not more free than
others; but in this matter I was misinformed. I shall write and beg
her pardon; and now I beg your pardon."

"Not mine, Aunt Stanbury."

"Yes, yours and your mother's, and the lady's also,--for against her
has the fault been most grievous. I shall write to your mother and
express my contrition." She put off the evil hour of writing as long
as she could, but before dinner the painful letter had been written,
and carried by herself to the post. It was as follows:--


   The Close, August 3, 186--.

   DEAR SISTER STANBURY,

   I have now learned that the information was false on which
   my former letter was based. I am heartily sorry for any
   annoyance I may have given you. I can only inform you
   that my intentions were good and upright. Nevertheless, I
   humbly beg your pardon.

   Yours truly,

   JEMIMA STANBURY.


Mrs. Stanbury, when she received this, was inclined to let the matter
drop. That her sister-in-law should express such abject contrition
was to her such a lowering of the great ones of the earth, that the
apology conveyed to her more pain than pleasure. She could not hinder
herself from sympathising with all that her sister-in-law had felt
when she had found herself called upon to humiliate herself. But
it was not so with Priscilla. Mrs. Stanbury did not observe that
her daughter's name was scrupulously avoided in the apology; but
Priscilla observed it. She would not let the matter drop, without
an attempt at the last word. She therefore wrote back again as
follows;--


   Nuncombe Putney, August 4, 186--.

   DEAR AUNT STANBURY,

   I am glad you have satisfied yourself about the gentleman
   who has so much disquieted you. I do not know that the
   whole affair would be worth a moment's consideration, were
   it not that mamma and I, living as we do so secluded a
   life, are peculiarly apt to feel any attack upon our good
   name,--which is pretty nearly all that is left to us. If
   ever there were women who should be free from attack,
   at any rate from those of their own family, we are such
   women. We never interfere with you, or with anybody; and I
   think you might abstain from harassing us by accusations.

   Pray do not write to mamma in such a strain again, unless
   you are quite sure of your ground.

   Yours truly,

   PRISCILLA STANBURY.


"Impudent!" said Miss Stanbury to Martha, when she had read the
letter. "Ill-conditioned, impudent vixen!"

"She was provoked, miss," said Martha.

"Well; yes; yes;--and I suppose it is right that you should tell me
of it. I dare say it is part of what I ought to bear for being an old
fool, and too cautious about my own flesh and blood. I will bear it.
There. I was wrong, and I will say that I have been justly punished.
There,--there!"

How very much would Miss Stanbury's tone have been changed had
she known that at that very moment Colonel Osborne was eating his
breakfast at Mrs. Crocket's inn, in Nuncombe Putney!



CHAPTER XIX.

BOZZLE, THE EX-POLICEMAN.


   [Illustration]

When Mr. Trevelyan had gone through the miserable task of breaking up
his establishment in Curzon Street, and had seen all his furniture
packed, including his books, his pictures, and his pet Italian
ornaments, it was necessary that he should go and live somewhere. He
was very wretched at this time,--so wretched that life was a burden
to him. He was a man who loved his wife;--to whom his child was very
dear; and he was one too to whom the ordinary comforts of domestic
life were attractive and necessary. There are men to whom release
from the constraint imposed by family ties will be, at any rate for
a time, felt as a release. But he was not such a man. There was no
delight to him in being able to dine at his club, and being free to
go whither he pleased in the evening. As it was, it pleased him to
go no whither in the evenings; and his mornings were equally blank
to him. He went so often to Mr. Bideawhile, that the poor old lawyer
became quite tired of the Trevelyan family quarrel. Even Lady
Milborough, with all her power of sympathising, began to feel that
she would almost prefer on any morning that her dear young friend,
Louis Trevelyan, should not be announced. Nevertheless, she always
saw him when he came, and administered comfort according to her
light. Of course he would have his wife back before long. That was
the only consolation she was able to offer; and she offered it so
often that he began gradually to feel that something might be done
towards bringing about so desirable an event. After what had occurred
they could not live again in Curzon Street,--nor even in London for
awhile; but Naples was open to them. Lady Milborough said so much to
him of the advantages which always came in such circumstances from
going to Naples, that he began to regard such a trip as almost the
natural conclusion of his adventure. But then there came that very
difficult question;--what step should be first taken? Lady Milborough
proposed that he should go boldly down to Nuncombe Putney, and make
the arrangement. "She will only be too glad to jump into your arms,"
said Lady Milborough. Trevelyan thought that if he went to Nuncombe
Putney, his wife might perhaps jump into his arms; but what would
come after that? How would he stand then in reference to his
authority? Would she own that she had been wrong? Would she promise
to behave better in future? He did not believe that she was yet
sufficiently broken in spirit to make any such promise. And he told
himself again and again that it would be absurd in him to allow her
to return to him without such subjection, after all that he had gone
through in defence of his marital rights. If he were to write to her
a long letter, argumentative, affectionate, exhaustive, it might be
better. He was inclined to believe of himself that he was good at
writing long, affectionate, argumentative, and exhaustive letters.
But he would not do even this as yet. He had broken up his house, and
scattered all his domestic gods to the winds, because she had behaved
badly to him; and the thing done was too important to allow of
redress being found so easily.

So he lived on a wretched life in London. He could hardly endure to
show himself at his club, fearing that every one would be talking of
him as the man who was separated from his wife,--perhaps as the man
of whose wife Colonel Osborne was the dear friend. No doubt for a day
or two there had been much of such conversation; but it had died away
from the club long before his consciousness had become callous. At
first he had gone into a lodging in Mayfair; but this had been but
for a day or two. After that he had taken a set of furnished chambers
in Lincoln's Inn, immediately under those in which Stanbury lived;
and thus it came to pass that he and Stanbury were very much thrown
together. As Trevelyan would always talk of his wife this was rather
a bore; but our friend bore with it, and would even continue to
instruct the world through the columns of the D. R. while Trevelyan
was descanting on the peculiar cruelty of his own position.

"I wish to be just, and even generous; and I do love her with all my
heart," he said one afternoon, when Hugh was very hard at work.

"'It is all very well for gentlemen to call themselves reformers,'"
Hugh was writing, "'but have these gentlemen ever realised to
themselves the meaning of that word? We think that they have never
done so as long as--' Of course you love her," said Hugh, with his
eyes still on the paper, still leaning on his pen, but finding by the
cessation of sound that Trevelyan had paused, and therefore knowing
that it was necessary that he should speak.

"As much as ever," said Trevelyan, with energy.

"'As long as they follow such a leader, in such a cause, into
whichever lobby he may choose to take them--' Exactly so,--exactly,"
said Stanbury; "just as much as ever."

"You are not listening to a word," said Trevelyan.

"I haven't missed a single expression you have used," said Stanbury.
"But a fellow has to do two things at a time when he's on the daily
press."

"I beg your pardon for interrupting you," said Trevelyan, angrily,
getting up, taking his hat, and stalking off to the house of Lady
Milborough. In this way he became rather a bore to his friends. He
could not divest his mind of the injury which had accrued to him from
his wife's conduct, nor could he help talking of the grief with which
his mind was laden. And he was troubled with sore suspicions, which,
as far as they concerned his wife, had certainly not been merited. It
had seemed to him that she had persisted in her intimacy with Colonel
Osborne in a manner that was not compatible with that wife-like
indifference which he regarded as her duty. Why had she written to
him and received letters from him when her husband had plainly told
her that any such communication was objectionable? She had done
so, and as far as Trevelyan could remember her words, had plainly
declared that she would continue to do so. He had sent her away into
the most remote retirement he could find for her; but the post was
open to her. He had heard much of Mrs. Stanbury, and of Priscilla,
from his friend Hugh, and thoroughly believed that his wife was in
respectable hands. But what was to prevent Colonel Osborne from
going after her, if he chose to do so? And if he did so choose,
Mrs. Stanbury could not prevent their meeting. He was racked with
jealousy, and yet he did not cease to declare to himself that he knew
his wife too well to believe that she would sin. He could not rid
himself of his jealousy, but he tried with all his might to make the
man whom he hated the object of it, rather than the woman whom he
loved.

He hated Colonel Osborne with all his heart. It was a regret to him
that the days of duelling were over, so that he could not shoot the
man. And yet, had duelling been possible to him, Colonel Osborne had
done nothing that would have justified him in calling his enemy out,
or would even have enabled him to do so with any chance of inducing
his enemy to fight. Circumstances, he thought, were cruel to him
beyond compare, in that he should have been made to suffer so great
torment without having any of the satisfaction of revenge. Even Lady
Milborough, with all her horror as to the Colonel, could not tell
him that the Colonel was amenable to any punishment. He was advised
that he must take his wife away and live at Naples because of this
man,--that he must banish himself entirely if he chose to repossess
himself of his wife and child;--and yet nothing could be done to
the unprincipled rascal by whom all his wrongs and sufferings were
occasioned! Thinking it very possible that Colonel Osborne would
follow his wife, he had a watch set upon the Colonel. He had found a
retired policeman,--a most discreet man, as he was assured,--who, for
a consideration, undertook the management of interesting jobs of this
kind. The man was one Bozzle, who had not lived without a certain
reputation in the police courts. In these days of his madness,
therefore, he took Mr. Bozzle into his pay; and after a while he got
a letter from Bozzle with the Exeter post-mark. Colonel Osborne had
left London with a ticket for Lessboro'. Bozzle also had taken a
place by the same train for that small town. The letter was written
in the railway carriage, and, as Bozzle explained, would be posted by
him as he passed through Exeter. A further communication should be
made by the next day's post, in a letter which Mr. Bozzle proposed to
address to Z. A., Post-office, Waterloo Place.

On receiving this first letter, Trevelyan was in an agony of
doubt, as well as misery. What should he do? Should he go to Lady
Milborough, or to Stanbury; or should he at once follow Colonel
Osborne and Mr. Bozzle to Lessboro'? It ended in his resolving at
last to wait for the letter which was to be addressed to Z. A. But he
spent an interval of horrible suspense, and of insane rage. Let the
laws say what they might, he would have the man's blood, if he found
that the man had even attempted to wrong him. Then, at last, the
second letter reached him. Colonel Osborne and Mr. Bozzle had each of
them spent the day in the neighbourhood of Lessboro', not exactly in
each other's company, but very near to each other. "The Colonel" had
ordered a gig, on the day after his arrival at Lessboro', for the
village of Cockchaffington; and, for all Mr. Bozzle knew, the Colonel
had gone to Cockchaffington. Mr. Bozzle was ultimately inclined
to think that the Colonel had really spent his day in going to
Cockchaffington. Mr. Bozzle himself, knowing the wiles of such
men as Colonel Osborne, and thinking at first that that journey
to Cockchaffington might only be a deep ruse, had walked over to
Nuncombe Putney. There he had had a pint of beer and some bread and
cheese at Mrs. Crocket's house, and had asked various questions, to
which he did not receive very satisfactory answers. But he inspected
the Clock House very minutely, and came to a decided opinion as to
the point at which it would be attacked, if burglary were the object
of the assailants. And he observed the iron gates, and the steps,
and the shape of the trees, and the old pigeon-house-looking fabric
in which the clock used to be placed. There was no knowing when
information might be wanted, or what information might not be of use.
But he made himself tolerably sure that Colonel Osborne did not visit
Nuncombe Putney on that day; and then he walked back to Lessboro'.
Having done this, he applied himself to the little memorandum book in
which he kept the records of these interesting duties, and entered a
claim against his employer for a conveyance to Nuncombe Putney and
back, including driver and ostler; and then he wrote his letter.
After that he had a hot supper, with three glasses of brandy and
water, and went to bed with a thorough conviction that he had earned
his bread on that day.

The letter to Z. A. did not give all these particulars, but it
did explain that Colonel Osborne had gone off, apparently, to
Cockchaffington, and that he,--Bozzle,--had himself visited Nuncombe
Putney. "The hawk hasn't been nigh the dovecot as yet," said Mr.
Bozzle in his letter, meaning to be both mysterious and facetious.

It would be difficult to say whether the wit or the mystery disgusted
Trevelyan the most. He had felt that he was defiling himself with
dirt when he first went to Mr. Bozzle. He knew that he was having
recourse to means that were base and low,--which could not be other
than base or low, let the circumstances be what they might. But Mr.
Bozzle's conversation had not been quite so bad as Mr. Bozzle's
letters; as it may have been that Mr. Bozzle's successful activity
was more insupportable than his futile attempts. But, nevertheless,
something must be done. It could not be that Colonel Osborne should
have gone down to the close neighbourhood of Nuncombe Putney without
the intention of seeing the lady whom his obtrusive pertinacity had
driven to that seclusion. It was terrible to Trevelyan that Colonel
Osborne should be there, and not the less terrible because such a one
as Mr. Bozzle was watching the Colonel on his behalf. Should he go to
Nuncombe Putney himself? And if so, when he got to Nuncombe Putney
what should he do there? At last, in his suspense and his grief, he
resolved that he would tell the whole to Hugh Stanbury.

"Do you mean," said Hugh, "that you have put a policeman on his
track?"

"The man was a policeman once."

"What we call a private detective. I can't say I think you were
right."

"But you see that it was necessary," said Trevelyan.

"I can't say that it was necessary. To speak out, I can't understand
that a wife should be worth watching who requires watching."

"Is a man to do nothing then? And even now it is not my wife whom I
doubt."

"As for Colonel Osborne, if he chooses to go to Lessboro', why
shouldn't he? Nothing that you can do, or that Bozzle can do, can
prevent him. He has a perfect right to go to Lessboro'."

"But he has not a right to go to my wife."

"And if your wife refuses to see him; or having seen him,--for a man
may force his way in anywhere with a little trouble,--if she sends
him away with a flea in his ear, as I believe she would--"

"She is so frightfully indiscreet."

"I don't see what Bozzle can do."

"He has found out at any rate that Osborne is there," said Trevelyan.
"I am not more fond of dealing with such fellows than you are
yourself. But I think it is my duty to know what is going on. What
ought I to do now?"

"I should do nothing,--except dismiss Bozzle."

"You know that that is nonsense, Stanbury."

"Whatever I did I should dismiss Bozzle." Stanbury was now quite in
earnest, and, as he repeated his suggestion for the dismissal of the
policeman, pushed his writing things away from him. "If you ask my
opinion, you know, I must tell you what I think. I should get rid of
Bozzle as a beginning. If you will only think of it, how can your
wife come back to you if she learns that you have set a detective to
watch her?"

"But I haven't set the man to watch her."

"Colonel Osborne is nothing to you, except as he is concerned with
her. This man is now down in her neighbourhood; and, if she learns
that, how can she help feeling it as a deep insult? Of course the man
watches her as a cat watches a mouse."

"But what am I to do? I can't write to the man and tell him to come
away. Osborne is down there, and I must do something. Will you go
down to Nuncombe Putney yourself, and let me know the truth?"

After much debating of the subject, Hugh Stanbury said that he would
himself go down to Nuncombe Putney alone. There were difficulties
about the D. R.; but he would go to the office of the newspaper and
overcome them. How far the presence of Nora Rowley at his mother's
house may have assisted in bringing him to undertake the journey,
perhaps need not be accurately stated. He acknowledged to himself
that the claims of friendship were strong upon him; and that as he
had loudly disapproved of the Bozzle arrangement, he ought to lend a
hand to some other scheme of action. Moreover, having professed his
conviction that no improper visiting could possibly take place under
his mother's roof, he felt bound to shew that he was not afraid to
trust to that conviction himself. He declared that he would be ready
to proceed to Nuncombe Putney to-morrow;--but only on condition that
he might have plenary power to dismiss Bozzle.

"There can be no reason why you should take any notice of the man,"
said Trevelyan.

"How can I help noticing him when I find him prowling about the
place? Of course I shall know who he is."

"I don't see that you need know anything about him."

"My dear Trevelyan, you cannot have two ambassadors engaged in
the same service without communication with each other. And any
communication with Mr. Bozzle, except that of sending him back to
London, I will not have." The controversy was ended by the writing of
a letter from Trevelyan to Bozzle, which was confided to Stanbury, in
which the ex-policeman was thanked for his activity and requested to
return to London for the present. "As we are now aware that Colonel
Osborne is in the neighbourhood," said the letter, "my friend Mr.
Stanbury will know what to do."

As soon as this was settled, Stanbury went to the office of the D. R.
and made arrangement as to his work for three days. Jones could do
the article on the Irish Church upon a pinch like this, although he
had not given much study to the subject as yet; and Puddlethwaite,
who was great in City matters, would try his hand on the present
state of society in Rome, a subject on which it was essential that
the D. R. should express itself at once. Having settled these little
troubles Stanbury returned to his friend, and in the evening they
dined together at a tavern.

"And now, Trevelyan, let me know fairly what it is that you wish,"
said Stanbury.

"I wish to have my wife back again."

"Simply that. If she will agree to come back, you will make no
difficulty."

"No; not quite simply that. I shall desire that she shall be guided
by my wishes as to any intimacies she may form."

"That is all very well; but is she to give any undertaking? Do you
intend to exact any promise from her? It is my opinion that she will
be willing enough to come back, and that when she is with you there
will be no further cause for quarrelling. But I don't think she will
bind herself by any exacted promise; and certainly not through a
third person."

"Then say nothing about it. Let her write a letter to me proposing to
come,--and she shall come."

"Very well. So far I understand. And now what about Colonel Osborne?
You don't want me to quarrel with him I suppose?"

"I should like to keep that for myself," said Trevelyan, grimly.

"If you will take my advice you will not trouble yourself about him,"
said Stanbury. "But as far as I am concerned, I am not to meddle or
make with him? Of course," continued Stanbury, after a pause, "if I
find that he is intruding himself in my mother's house, I shall tell
him that he must not come there."

"But if you find him installed in your mother's house as a
visitor,--how then?"

"I do not regard that as possible."

"I don't mean living there," said Trevelyan, "but coming backwards
and forwards;--going on in habits of intimacy with,--with--?" His
voice trembled so as he asked these questions, that he could not
pronounce the word which was to complete them.

"With Mrs. Trevelyan, you mean."

"Yes; with my wife. I don't say that it is so; but it may be so. You
will be bound to tell me the truth."

"I will certainly tell you the truth."

"And the whole truth."

"Yes; the whole truth."

"Should it be so I will never see her again,--never. And as for
him;--but never mind." Then there was another short period of
silence, during which Stanbury smoked his pipe and sipped his whisky
toddy. "You must see," continued Trevelyan, "that it is absolutely
necessary that I should do something. It is all very well for you to
say that you do not like detectives. Neither do I like them. But what
was I to do? When you condemn me you hardly realise the difficulties
of my position."

"It is the deuce of a nuisance certainly," said Stanbury, through the
cloud of smoke,--thinking now not at all of Mrs. Trevelyan, but of
Mrs. Trevelyan's sister.

"It makes a man almost feel that he had better not marry at all,"
said Trevelyan.

"I don't see that. Of course there may come troubles. The tiles may
fall on your head, you know, as you walk through the streets. As far
as I can see, women go straight enough nineteen times out of twenty.
But they don't like being,--what I call looked after."

"And did I look after my wife more than I ought?"

"I don't mean that; but if I were married,--which I never shall be,
for I shall never attain to the respectability of a fixed income,--I
fancy I shouldn't look after my wife at all. It seems to me that
women hate to be told about their duties."

"But if you saw your wife, quite innocently, falling into an improper
intimacy,--taking up with people she ought not to know,--doing that
in ignorance, which could not but compromise yourself;--wouldn't you
speak a word then?"

"Oh! I might just say, in an off-hand way, that Jones was a rascal,
or a liar, or a fool, or anything of that sort. But I would never
caution her against Jones. By George, I believe a woman can stand
anything better than that."

"You have never tried it, my friend."

"And I don't suppose I ever shall. As for me, I believe Aunt Stanbury
was right when she said that I was a radical vagabond. I dare say I
shall never try the thing myself, and therefore it's very easy to
have a theory. But I must be off. Good night, old fellow. I'll do the
best I can; and, at any rate, I'll let you know the truth."

There had been a question during the day as to whether Stanbury
should let his sister know by letter that he was expected; but it had
been decided that he should appear at Nuncombe without any previous
notification of his arrival. Trevelyan had thought that this was very
necessary, and when Stanbury had urged that such a measure seemed
to imply suspicion, he had declared that in no other way could the
truth be obtained. He, Trevelyan, simply wanted to know the facts
as they were occurring. It was a fact that Colonel Osborne was down
in the neighbourhood of Nuncombe Putney. That, at least, had been
ascertained. It might very possibly be the case that he would be
refused admittance to the Clock House,--that all the ladies there
would combine to keep him out. But,--so Trevelyan urged,--the truth
on this point was desired. It was essentially necessary to his
happiness that he should know what was being done.

"Your mother and sister," said he, "cannot be afraid of your coming
suddenly among them."

Stanbury, so urged, had found it necessary to yield, but yet he had
felt that he himself was almost acting like a detective policeman, in
purposely falling down upon them without a word of announcement. Had
chance circumstances made it necessary that he should go in such a
manner he would have thought nothing of it. It would simply have been
a pleasant joke to him.

As he went down by the train on the following day, he almost felt
ashamed of the part which he had been called upon to perform.



CHAPTER XX.

SHEWING HOW COLONEL OSBORNE WENT TO COCKCHAFFINGTON.


Together with Miss Stanbury's first letter to her sister-in-law a
letter had also been delivered to Mrs. Trevelyan. Nora Rowley, as her
sister had left the room with this in her hand, had expressed her
opinion that it had come from Trevelyan; but it had in truth been
written by Colonel Osborne. And when that second letter from Miss
Stanbury had been received at the Clock House,--that in which she in
plain terms begged pardon for the accusation conveyed in her first
letter,--Colonel Osborne had started on his deceitful little journey
to Cockchaffington, and Mr. Bozzle, the ex-policeman who had him in
hand, had already asked his way to Nuncombe Putney.

When Colonel Osborne learned that Louis Trevelyan had broken up his
establishment in Curzon Street, and had sent his wife away into a
barbarous retirement in Dartmoor,--for such was the nature of the
information on the subject which was spread among Trevelyan's friends
in London;--and when he was made aware also that all this was done
on his account,--because he was so closely intimate with Trevelyan's
wife, and because Trevelyan's wife was, and persisted in continuing
to be, so closely intimate with him,--his vanity was gratified.
Although it might be true,--and no doubt was true,--that he said much
to his friends and to himself of the deep sorrow which he felt that
such a trouble should befall his old friend and his old friend's
daughter; nevertheless, as he curled his grey whiskers before the
glass, and made the most of such remnant of hair as was left on
the top of his head, as he looked to the padding of his coat, and
completed a study of the wrinkles beneath his eyes, so that in
conversation they might be as little apparent as possible, he felt
more of pleasure than of pain in regard to the whole affair. It was
very sad that it should be so, but it was human. Had it been in his
power to set the whole matter right by a word, he would probably have
spoken that word; but as this was not possible, as Trevelyan had in
his opinion made a gross fool of himself, as Emily Trevelyan was
very nice, and not the less nice in that she certainly was fond
of himself, as great tyranny had been used towards her, and as he
himself had still the plea of old family friendship to protect his
conscience,--to protect his conscience unless he went so far as to
make that plea an additional sting to his conscience,--he thought
that, as a man, he must follow up the matter. Here was a young, and
fashionable, and very pretty woman banished to the wilds of Dartmoor
for his sake. And, as far as he could understand, she would not have
been so banished had she consented to say that she would give up
her acquaintance with him. In such circumstances as these was it
possible that he should do nothing? Various ideas ran through his
head. He began to think that if Trevelyan were out of the way, he
might,--might perhaps be almost tempted to make this woman his wife.
She was so nice that he almost thought that he might be rash enough
for that, although he knew well the satisfaction of being a bachelor;
but as the thought suggested itself to him, he was well aware that
he was thinking of a thing quite distant from him. The reader is not
to suppose that Colonel Osborne meditated any making-away with the
husband. Our Colonel was certainly not the man for a murder. Nor did
he even think of running away with his friend's daughter. Though he
told himself that he could dispose of his wrinkles satisfactorily,
still he knew himself and his powers sufficiently to be aware that
he was no longer fit to be the hero of such a romance as that. He
acknowledged to himself that there was much labour to be gone through
in running away with another man's wife; and that the results, in
respect to personal comfort, are not always happy. But what if Mrs.
Trevelyan were to divorce herself from her husband on the score of
her husband's cruelty? Various horrors were related as to the man's
treatment of his wife. By some it was said that she was in the prison
on Dartmoor,--or, if not actually in the prison, an arrangement which
the prison discipline might perhaps make difficult,--that she was in
the custody of one of the prison warders who possessed a prim cottage
and a grim wife, just outside the prison walls. Colonel Osborne did
not himself believe even so much as this, but he did believe that
Mrs. Trevelyan had been banished to some inhospitable region, to some
dreary comfortless abode, of which, as the wife of a man of fortune,
she would have great ground to complain. So thinking, he did not
probably declare to himself that a divorce should be obtained,
and that, in such event, he would marry the lady,--but ideas came
across his mind in that direction. Trevelyan was a cruel Bluebeard;
Emily,--as he was studious to call Mrs. Trevelyan,--was a dear
injured saint. And as for himself, though he acknowledged to himself
that the lumbago pinched him now and again, so that he could not rise
from his chair with all the alacrity of youth, yet, when he walked
along Pall Mall with his coat properly buttoned, he could not but
observe that a great many young women looked at him with admiring
eyes.

It was thus with no settled scheme that the Colonel went to work,
and made inquiries, and ascertained Mrs. Trevelyan's address in
Devonshire. When he learned it, he thought that he had done much;
though, in truth, there had been no secrecy in the matter. Scores
of people knew Mrs. Trevelyan's address besides the newsvendor who
supplied her paper, from whose boy Colonel Osborne's servant obtained
the information. But when the information had been obtained, it was
expedient that it should be used; and therefore Colonel Osborne wrote
the following letter:--


   Acrobats Club, July 31, 186--.

   DEAR EMILY,


Twice the Colonel wrote Dearest Emily, and twice he tore the sheet on
which the words were written. He longed to be ardent, but still it
was so necessary to be prudent! He was not quite sure of the lady.
Women sometimes tell their husbands, even when they have quarrelled
with them. And, although ardent expressions in writing to pretty
women are pleasant to male writers, it is not pleasant for a
gentleman to be asked what on earth he means by that sort of thing at
his time of life. The Colonel gave half an hour to the consideration,
and then began the letter, Dear Emily. If prudence be the soul
of valour, may it not be considered also the very mainspring, or,
perhaps, the pivot of love?


   DEAR EMILY,

   I need hardly tell you with what dismay I have heard of
   all that has taken place in Curzon Street. I fear that you
   must have suffered much, and that you are suffering now.
   It is an inexpressible relief to me to hear that you have
   your child with you, and Nora. But, nevertheless, to
   have your home taken away from you, to be sent out of
   London, to be banished from all society! And for what?
   The manner in which the minds of some men work is quite
   incomprehensible.

   As for myself, I feel that I have lost the company of
   a friend, whom indeed I can very ill spare. I have a
   thousand things to say to you, and among them one or
   two which I feel that I must say,--that I ought to say.
   As it happens, an old schoolfellow of mine is Vicar of
   Cockchaffington, a village which I find by the map is
   very near to Nuncombe Putney. I saw him in town last
   spring, and he then asked me to pay him a visit. There is
   something in his church which people go to see, and though
   I don't understand churches much, I shall go and see it.
   I shall run down on Wednesday, and shall sleep at the inn
   at Lessboro'. I see that Lessboro' is a market town, and
   I suppose there is an inn. I shall go over to my friend on
   the Thursday, but shall return to Lessboro'. Though a man
   be ever so eager to see a church door-way, he need not
   sleep at the parsonage. On the following day, I will get
   over to Nuncombe Putney, and I hope that you will see me.
   Considering my long friendship with you, and my great
   attachment to your father and mother, I do not think
   that the strictest martinet would tell you that you need
   hesitate in the matter.

   I have seen Mr. Trevelyan twice at the club, but he has
   not spoken to me. Under such circumstances I could not of
   course speak to him. Indeed, I may say that my feelings
   towards him just at present are of such a nature as
   to preclude me from doing so with any appearance of
   cordiality.

   Dear Emily,
   Believe me now, as always, your affectionate friend,

   FREDERIC OSBORNE.


When he read that letter over to himself a second time he felt quite
sure that he had not committed himself. Even if his friend were to
send the letter to her husband, it could not do him any harm. He was
aware that he might have dilated more on the old friendship between
himself and Sir Marmaduke, but he experienced a certain distaste to
the mention of things appertaining to years long past. It did not
quite suit him in his present frame of mind to speak of his regard in
those quasi-paternal terms which he would have used had it satisfied
him to represent himself simply as her father's friend. His language
therefore had been a little doubtful, so that the lady might, if
she were so minded, look upon him in that tender light in which her
husband had certainly chosen to regard him.

When the letter was handed to Mrs. Trevelyan, she at once took it
with her up to her own room, so that she might be alone when she read
it. The handwriting was quite familiar to her, and she did not choose
that even her sister should see it. She had told herself twenty times
over that, while living at Nuncombe Putney, she was not living under
the guardianship of Mrs. Stanbury. She would consent to live under
the guardianship of no one, as her husband did not choose to remain
with her and protect her. She had done no wrong, and she would submit
to no other authority, than that of her legal lord and master. Nor,
according to her views of her own position, was it in his power to
depute that authority to others. He had caused the separation, and
now she must be the sole judge of her own actions. In itself, a
correspondence between her and her father's old friend was in no
degree criminal or even faulty. There was no reason, moral, social,
or religious, why an old man, over fifty, who had known her all her
life, should not write to her. But yet she could not say aloud before
Mrs. Stanbury, and Priscilla, and her sister, that she had received a
letter from Colonel Osborne. She felt that the colour had come to her
cheek, and that she could not even walk out of the room as though the
letter had been a matter of indifference to her.

And would it have been a matter of indifference had there been nobody
there to see her? Mrs. Trevelyan was certainly not in love with
Colonel Osborne. She was not more so now than she had been when her
father's friend, purposely dressed for the occasion, had kissed her
in the vestry of the church in which she was married, and had given
her a blessing, which was then intended to be semi-paternal,--as from
an old man to a young woman. She was not in love with him,--never
would be, never could be in love with him. Reader, you may believe
in her so far as that. But where is the woman, who, when she is
neglected, thrown over, and suspected by the man that she loves, will
not feel the desire of some sympathy, some solicitude, some show of
regard from another man? This woman's life, too, had not hitherto
been of such a nature that the tranquillity of the Clock House at
Nuncombe Putney afforded to her all that she desired. She had been
there now a month, and was almost sick from the want of excitement.
And she was full of wrath against her husband. Why had he sent her
there to break her heart in a disgraceful retirement, when she had
never wronged him? From morning to night she had no employment, no
amusement, nothing to satisfy her cravings. Why was she to be doomed
to such an existence? She had declared that as long as she could
have her boy with her, she would be happy. She was allowed to have
her boy; but she was anything but happy. When she received Colonel
Osborne's letter,--while she held it in her hand still unopened, she
never for a moment thought that that could make her happy. But there
was in it something of excitement. And she painted the man to herself
in brighter colours now than she had ever given to him in her former
portraits. He cared for her. He was gracious to her. He appreciated
her talents, her beauty, and her conduct. He knew that she deserved
a treatment very different from that accorded to her by her husband.
Why should she reject the sympathy of her father's oldest friend,
because her husband was madly jealous about an old man? Her husband
had chosen to send her away, and to leave her, so that she must act
on her own judgment. Acting on her own judgment, she read Colonel
Osborne's letter from first to last. She knew that he was wrong to
speak of coming to Nuncombe Putney; but yet she thought that she
would see him. She had a dim perception that she was standing on the
edge of a precipice, on broken ground which might fall under her
without a moment's warning, and yet she would not retreat from the
danger. Though Colonel Osborne was wrong, very wrong in coming to see
her, yet she liked him for coming. Though she would be half afraid
to tell her news to Mrs. Stanbury, and more than half afraid to tell
Priscilla, yet she liked the excitement of the fear. Nora would scold
her; but Nora's scolding she thought she could answer. And then it
was not the fact that Colonel Osborne was coming down to Devonshire
to see her. He was coming as far as Lessboro' to see his friend at
Cockchaffington. And when at Lessboro', was it likely that he should
leave the neighbourhood without seeing the daughter of his old ally?
And why should he do so? Was he to be unnatural in his conduct,
uncivil and unfriendly, because Mr. Trevelyan had been foolish,
suspicious, and insane?

So arguing with herself, she answered Colonel Osborne's letter before
she had spoken on the subject to any one in the house,--and this was
her answer:--


   MY DEAR COLONEL OSBORNE,

   I must leave it to your own judgment to decide whether you
   will come to Nuncombe Putney or not. There are reasons
   which would seem to make it expedient that you should stay
   away,--even though circumstances are bringing you into
   the immediate neighbourhood. But of these reasons I will
   leave you to be the judge. I will never let it be said
   that I myself have had cause to dread the visit of any old
   friend. Nevertheless, if you stay away, I shall understand
   why you do so.

   Personally, I shall be glad to see you,--as I have always
   been. It seems odd to me that I cannot write in warmer
   tones to my father's and mother's oldest friend. Of
   course, you will understand that though I shall readily
   see you if you call, I cannot ask you to stay. In the
   first place, I am not now living in my own house. I am
   staying with Mrs. Stanbury, and the place is called the
   Clock House.

   Yours very sincerely,

   EMILY TREVELYAN.

   The Clock House, Nuncombe Putney, Monday.


Soon after she had written it, Nora came into her room, and at once
asked concerning the letter which she had seen delivered to her
sister that morning.

"It was from Colonel Osborne," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"From Colonel Osborne! How very wrong!"

"I don't see that it is wrong at all. Because Louis is foolish and
mad, that cannot make another man wrong for doing the most ordinary
thing in the world."

"I had hoped it had been from Louis," said Nora.

"Oh dear, no. He is by no means so considerate. I do not suppose I
shall hear from him, till he chooses to give some fresh order about
myself or my child. He will hardly trouble himself to write to me,
unless he takes up some new freak to show me that he is my master."

"And what does Colonel Osborne say?"

"He is coming here."

"Coming here?" almost shouted Nora.

"Yes; absolutely here. Does it sound to you as if Lucifer himself
were about to show his face? The fact is, he happens to have a friend
in the neighbourhood whom he has long promised to visit; and as he
must be at Lessboro', he does not choose to go away without the
compliment of a call. It will be as much to you as to me."

"I don't want to see him in the least," said Nora.

"There is his letter. As you seem to be so suspicious, you had better
read it."

Then Nora read it.

"And there is a copy of my answer," said Mrs. Trevelyan. "I shall
keep both, because I know so well what ill-natured things people will
say."

"Dear Emily, do not send it," said Nora.

"Indeed I shall. I will not be frightened by bugbears. And I will
not be driven to confess to any man on earth that I am afraid to see
him. Why should I be afraid of Colonel Osborne? I will not submit to
acknowledge that there can be any danger in Colonel Osborne. Were
I to do so I should be repeating the insult against myself. If my
husband wished to guide me in such matters, why did he not stay with
me?"

Then she went out into the village and posted the letter. Nora
meanwhile was thinking whether she would call in the assistance of
Priscilla Stanbury; but she did not like to take any such a step in
opposition to her sister.



CHAPTER XXI.

SHEWING HOW COLONEL OSBORNE WENT TO NUNCOMBE PUTNEY.


Colonel Osborne was expected at Nuncombe Putney on the Friday, and
it was Thursday evening before either Mrs. Stanbury or Priscilla was
told of his coming. Emily had argued the matter with Nora, declaring
that she would make the communication herself, and that she would
make it when she pleased and how she pleased. "If Mrs. Stanbury
thinks," said she, "that I am going to be treated as a prisoner, or
that I will not judge myself as to whom I may see, or whom I may not
see, she is very much mistaken." Nora felt that were she to give
information to those ladies in opposition to her sister's wishes,
she would express suspicion on her own part by doing so; and she was
silent. On that same Thursday Priscilla had written her last defiant
letter to her aunt,--that letter in which she had cautioned her aunt
to make no further accusations without being sure of her facts. To
Priscilla's imagination that coming of Lucifer in person, of which
Mrs. Trevelyan had spoken, would hardly have been worse than the
coming of Colonel Osborne. When, therefore, Mrs. Trevelyan declared
the fact on the Thursday evening, vainly endeavouring to speak of
the threatened visit in an ordinary voice, and as of an ordinary
circumstance, it was as though a thunderbolt had fallen upon them.

"Colonel Osborne coming here!" said Priscilla, mindful of the
Stanbury correspondence,--mindful of the evil tongues of the world.

"And why not?" demanded Mrs. Trevelyan, who had heard nothing of the
Stanbury correspondence.

"Oh dear, oh dear!" ejaculated Mrs. Stanbury, who, of course, was
aware of all that had passed between the Clock House and the house in
the Close, though the letters had been written by her daughter.

Nora was determined to stand up for her sister, whatever might be the
circumstances of the case. "I wish Colonel Osborne were not coming,"
said she, "because it makes a foolish fuss; but I cannot understand
how anybody can suppose it to be wrong that Emily should see papa's
very oldest friend in the world."

"But why is he coming?" demanded Priscilla.

"Because he wants to see an acquaintance at Cockchaffington," said
Mrs. Trevelyan; "and there is a wonderful church-door there."

"A church-fiddlestick!" said Priscilla.

The matter was debated throughout all the evening. At one time
there was a great quarrel between the ladies, and then there was a
reconciliation. The point on which Mrs. Trevelyan stood with the
greatest firmness was this,--that it did not become her, as a married
woman whose conduct had always been good and who was more careful as
to that than she was even of her name, to be ashamed to meet any man.
"Why should I not see Colonel Osborne, or Colonel anybody else who
might call here with the same justification for calling which his old
friendship gives him?" Priscilla endeavoured to explain to her that
her husband's known wishes ought to hinder her from doing so. "My
husband should have remained with me to express his wishes," Mrs.
Trevelyan replied.

Neither could Mrs. Stanbury nor could Priscilla bring herself to say
that the man should not be admitted into the house. In the course of
the debate, in the heat of her anger, Mrs. Trevelyan declared that
were any such threat held out to her, she would leave the house and
see Colonel Osborne in the street, or at the inn.

"No, Emily; no," said Nora.

"But I will. I will not submit to be treated as a guilty woman, or as
a prisoner. They may say what they like; but I won't be shut up."

"No one has tried to shut you up," said Priscilla.

"You are afraid of that old woman at Exeter," said Mrs. Trevelyan;
for by this time the facts of the Stanbury correspondence had
all been elicited in general conversation; "and yet you know how
uncharitable and malicious she is."

"We are not afraid of her," said Priscilla. "We are afraid of nothing
but of doing wrong."

"And will it be wrong to let an old gentleman come into the house,"
said Nora, "who is nearly sixty, and who has known us ever since we
were born?"

"If he is nearly sixty, Priscilla," said Mrs. Stanbury, "that does
seem to make a difference." Mrs. Stanbury herself was only just
sixty, and she felt herself to be quite an old woman.

"They may be devils at eighty," said Priscilla.

"Colonel Osborne is not a devil at all," said Nora.

"But mamma is so foolish," said Priscilla. "The man's age does not
matter in the least."

"I beg your pardon, my dear," said Mrs. Stanbury, very humbly.

At that time the quarrel was raging, but afterwards came the
reconciliation. Had it not been for the Stanbury correspondence the
fact of Colonel Osborne's threatened visit would have been admitted
as a thing necessary--as a disagreeable necessity; but how was
the visit to be admitted and passed over in the teeth of that
correspondence? Priscilla felt very keenly the peculiar cruelty
of her position. Of course Aunt Stanbury would hear of the visit.
Indeed, any secrecy in the matter was not compatible with Priscilla's
ideas of honesty. Her aunt had apologised humbly for having said
that Colonel Osborne had been at Nuncombe. That apology, doubtless,
had been due. Colonel Osborne had not been at Nuncombe when the
accusation had been made, and the accusation had been unjust and
false. But his coming had been spoken of by Priscilla in her own
letters as an occurrence which was quite out of the question. Her
anger against her aunt had been for saying that the man had come,
not for objecting to such a visit. And now the man was coming, and
Aunt Stanbury would know all about it. How great, how terrible, how
crushing would be Aunt Stanbury's triumph!

"I must write and tell her," said Priscilla.

"I am sure I shall not object," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"And Hugh must be told," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"You may tell all the world, if you like," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

In this way it was settled among them that Colonel Osborne was to
be received. On the next morning, Friday morning, Colonel Osborne,
doubtless having heard something of Mrs. Crocket from his friend
at Cockchaffington, was up early, and had himself driven over to
Nuncombe Putney before breakfast. The ever-watchful Bozzle was, of
course, at his heels,--or rather, not at his heels on the first two
miles of the journey; for Bozzle, with painful zeal, had made himself
aware of all the facts, and had started on the Nuncombe Putney road
half an hour before the Colonel's fly was in motion. And when the
fly passed him he was lying discreetly hidden behind an old oak. The
driver, however, had caught a glimpse of him as he was topping a
hill, and having seen him about on the previous day, and perceiving
that he was dressed in a decent coat and trousers, and that,
nevertheless, he was not a gentleman, began to suspect that he
was--somebody. There was a great deal said afterwards about Bozzle in
Mrs. Clegg's yard at Lessboro'; but the Lessboro' mind was never able
to satisfy itself altogether respecting Bozzle and his mission. As
to Colonel Osborne and his mission, the Lessboro' mind did satisfy
itself with much certainty. The horse was hardly taken from out of
Colonel Osborne's fly in Mrs. Crocket's yard when Bozzle stepped
into the village by a path which he had already discovered, and soon
busied himself among the tombs in the churchyard. Now, one corner of
the churchyard was immediately opposite to the iron gate leading into
the Clock House. "Drat 'un," said the wooden-legged postman, still
sitting on his donkey, to Mrs. Crocket's ostler, "if there be'ant the
chap as was here yesterday when I was a starting, and I zeed 'un in
Lezbro' street thick very morning." "He be'ant arter no good, that
'un," said the ostler. After that a close watch was kept upon the
watcher.


   [Illustration: The wooden-legged postman of Nuncombe Putney.]


In the meantime, Colonel Osborne had ordered his breakfast at the
Stag and Antlers, and had asked questions as to the position of the
Clock House. He was altogether ignorant of Mr. Bozzle, although Mr.
Bozzle had been on his track now for two days and two nights. He had
determined, as he came on to Nuncombe Putney, that he would not be
shame-faced about his visit to Mrs. Trevelyan. It is possible that
he was not so keen in the matter as he had been when he planned his
journey in London; and, it may be, that he really tried to make
himself believe that he had come all the way to the confines of
Dartmoor to see the porch of Cockchaffington Church. The session
in London was over, and it was necessary for such a man as Colonel
Osborne that he should do something with himself before he went down
to the Scotch grouse. He had long desired to see something of the
most picturesque county in England; and now, as he sat eating his
breakfast in Mrs. Crocket's parlour, he almost looked upon his dear
Emily as a subsidiary attraction. "Oh, that's the Clock House,"
he said to Mrs. Crocket. "No, I have not the pleasure of knowing
Mrs. Stanbury; very respectable lady, so I have heard; widow of a
clergyman; ah, yes; son up in London; I know him;--always writing
books is he? Very clever, I dare say. But there's a lady,--indeed two
ladies,--whom I do know. Mrs. Trevelyan is there, I think,--and Miss
Rowley."

"You be'ant Muster Trevelyan, be you?" said Mrs. Crocket, looking at
him very hard.

"No, I'm not Mr. Trevelyan."

"Nor yet 'the Colonel' they doo be talking about?"

"Well, yes, I am a colonel. I don't know why anybody should talk
about me. I'll just step out now, however, and see my friends."

"It's madam's lover," said Mrs. Crocket to herself, "as sure as eggs
is eggs." As she said so, Colonel Osborne boldly walked across the
village and pulled the bell at the iron gate, while Bozzle, crouching
among the tombs, saw the handle in his hand. "There he is," said
Priscilla. Everybody in the Clock House had known that the fly,
which they had seen, had brought "the Colonel" into Nuncombe Putney.
Everybody had known that he had breakfasted at the Stag and Antlers.
And everybody now knew that he was at the gate ringing the bell.
"Into the drawing-room," said Mrs. Stanbury, with a fearful,
tremulous whisper, to the girl who went across the little garden
in front to open the iron gate. The girl felt as though Apollyon
were there, and as though she were called upon to admit Apollyon.
Mrs. Stanbury having uttered her whisper, hurried away up-stairs.
Priscilla held her ground in the parlour, determined to be near the
scene of action if there might be need. And it must be acknowledged
that she peeped from behind the curtain, anxious to catch a glimpse
of the terrible man, whose coming to Nuncombe Putney she regarded as
so severe a misfortune.

The plan of the campaign had all been arranged. Mrs. Trevelyan and
Nora together received Colonel Osborne in the drawing-room. It was
understood that Nora was to remain there during the whole visit. "It
is horrible to think that such a precaution should be necessary,"
Mrs. Trevelyan had said, "but perhaps it may be best. There is no
knowing what the malice of people may not invent."

"My dear girls," said the Colonel, "I am delighted to see you," and
he gave a hand to each.

"We are not very cheerful here," said Mrs. Trevelyan, "as you may
imagine."

"But the scenery is beautiful," said Nora, "and the people we are
living with are kind and nice."

"I am very glad of that," said the Colonel. Then there was a pause,
and it seemed, for a moment or two, that none of them knew how to
begin a general conversation. Colonel Osborne was quite sure, by this
time, that he had come down to Devonshire with the express object of
seeing the door of the church at Cockchaffington, and Mrs. Trevelyan
was beginning to think that he certainly had not come to see her.
"Have you heard from your father since you have been here?" asked the
Colonel.

Then there was an explanation about Sir Marmaduke and Lady Rowley.
Mr. Trevelyan's name was not mentioned; but Mrs. Trevelyan stated
that she had explained to her mother all the painful circumstances of
her present life. Sir Marmaduke, as Colonel Osborne was aware, was
expected to be in England in the spring, and Lady Rowley would, of
course, come with him. Nora thought that they might probably now come
before that time; but Mrs. Trevelyan declared that it was out of the
question that they should do so. She was sure that her father could
not leave the islands except when he did so in obedience to official
orders. The expense of doing so would be ruinous to him. And what
good would he do? In this way there was a great deal of family
conversation, in which Colonel Osborne was able to take a part; but
not a word was said about Mr. Trevelyan.

Nor did "the Colonel" find an opportunity of expressing a spark of
that sentiment, for the purpose of expressing which he had made
this journey to Devonshire. It is not pleasant to make love in the
presence of a third person, even when that love is all fair and above
board; but it is quite impracticable to do so to a married lady, when
that married lady's sister is present. No more futile visit than
this of Colonel Osborne's to the Clock House was ever made. And yet,
though not a word was spoken to which Mr. Trevelyan himself could
have taken the slightest exception, the visit, futile as it was,
could not but do an enormous deal of harm. Mrs. Crocket had already
guessed that the fine gentleman down from London was the lover of the
married lady at the Clock House, who was separated from her husband.
The wooden-legged postman and the ostler were not long in connecting
the man among the tombstones with the visitor to the house.
Trevelyan, as we are aware, already knew that Colonel Osborne was in
the neighbourhood. And poor Priscilla Stanbury was now exposed to the
terrible necessity of owning the truth to her aunt. "The Colonel,"
when he had sat an hour with his young friends, took his leave; and,
as he walked back to Mrs. Crocket's, and ordered that his fly might
be got ready for him, his mind was heavy with the disagreeable
feeling that he had made an ass of himself. The whole affair had
been a failure; and though he might be able to pass off the porch at
Cockchaffington among his friends, he could not but be aware himself
that he had spent his time, his trouble, and his money for nothing.
He became aware, as he returned to Lessboro', that had he intended to
make any pleasant use whatever of his position in reference to Mrs.
Trevelyan, the tone of his letter and his whole mode of proceeding
should have been less patriarchal. And he should have contrived a
meeting without the presence of Nora Rowley.

As soon as he had left them, Mrs. Trevelyan went to her own room, and
Nora at once rejoined Priscilla.

"Is he gone?" asked Priscilla.

"Oh, yes;--he has gone."

"What would I have given that he had never come!"

"And yet," said Nora, "what harm has he done? I wish he had not come,
because, of course, people will talk! But nothing was more natural
than that he should come over to see us when he was so near us."

"Nora!"

"What do you mean?"

"You don't believe all that? In the neighbourhood! I believe he came
on purpose to see your sister, and I think that it was a dastardly
and most ungentleman-like thing to do."

"I am quite sure you are wrong, then,--altogether wrong," said Nora.

"Very well. We must have our own opinions. I am glad you can be so
charitable. But he should not have come here,--to this house, even
though imperative business had brought him into the very village.
But men in their vanity never think of the injury they may do to a
woman's name. Now I must go and write to my aunt. I am not going to
have it said hereafter that I deceived her. And then I shall write to
Hugh. Oh dear; oh dear!"

"I am afraid we are a great trouble to you."

"I will not deceive you, because I like you. This is a great trouble
to me. I have meant to be so prudent, and with all my prudence I have
not been able to keep clear of rocks. And I have been so indignant
with Aunt Stanbury! Now I must go and eat humble-pie."

Then she eat humble-pie,--after the following fashion:--


   DEAR AUNT STANBURY,

   After what has passed between us, I think it right to tell
   you that Colonel Osborne has been at Nuncombe Putney, and
   that he called at the Clock House this morning. We did not
   see him. But Mrs. Trevelyan and Miss Rowley, together, did
   see him. He remained here perhaps an hour.

   I should not have thought it necessary to mention this to
   you, the matter being one in which you are not concerned,
   were it not for our former correspondence. When I last
   wrote, I had no idea that he was coming,--nor had mamma.
   And when you first wrote, he was not even expected by
   Mrs. Trevelyan. The man you wrote about was another
   gentleman;--as I told you before. All this is most
   disagreeable and tiresome;--and would be quite
   nonsensical, but that circumstances seem to make it
   necessary.

   As for Colonel Osborne, I wish he had not been here; but
   his coming would do no harm,--only that it will be talked
   about.

   I think you will understand how it is that I feel myself
   constrained to write to you. I do hope that you will spare
   mamma, who is disturbed and harassed when she gets angry
   letters. If you have anything to say to myself, I don't
   mind it.

   Yours truly,

   PRISCILLA STANBURY.

   The Clock House, Friday, August 5.


She wrote also to her brother Hugh; but Hugh himself reached Nuncombe
Putney before the letter reached him.

Mr. Bozzle watched the Colonel out of the house, and watched him
out of the village. When the Colonel was fairly started, Mr. Bozzle
walked back to Lessboro'.



CHAPTER XXII.

SHEWING HOW MISS STANBURY BEHAVED TO HER TWO NIECES.


   [Illustration]

The triumph of Miss Stanbury when she received her niece's letter was
certainly very great,--so great that in its first flush she could not
restrain herself from exhibiting it to Dorothy. "Well,--well,--what
do you think, Dolly?"

"About what, aunt? I don't know who the letter is from."

"Nobody writes to me now so constant as your sister Priscilla. The
letter is from Priscilla. Colonel Osborne has been at the Clock
House, after all. I knew that he would be there. I knew it! I knew
it!"

Dorothy, when she heard this, was dumbfounded. She had rested her
defence of her mother and sister on the impossibility of any such
visit being admitted. According to her lights the coming of Colonel
Osborne, after all that had been said, would be like the coming of
Lucifer himself. The Colonel was, to her imagination, a horrible
roaring lion. She had no idea that the erratic manoeuvres of such
a beast might be milder and more innocent than the wooing of any
turtle-dove. She would have asked whether the roaring lion had gone
away again, and, if so, whether he had taken his prey with him,
were it not that she was too much frightened at the moment to ask
any question. That her mother and sister should have been wilfully
concerned in such iniquity was quite incredible to her, but yet she
did not know how to defend them. "But are you quite sure of it, Aunt
Stanbury? May there not be another mistake?"

"No mistake this time, I think, my dear. Any way, Priscilla says that
he is there." Now in this there was a mistake. Priscilla had said
nothing of the kind.

"You don't mean that he is staying at the Clock House, Aunt
Stanbury?"

"I don't know where he is now. I'm not his keeper. And, I'm glad to
say, I'm not the lady's keeper either. Ah, me! It's a bad business.
You can't touch pitch and not be defiled, my dear. If your mother
wanted the Clock House, I would sooner have taken it for her myself
than that all this should have happened,--for the family's sake."

But Miss Stanbury, when she was alone, and when she had read her
niece's three letters again and again, began to understand something
of Priscilla's honesty, and began also to perceive that there might
have been a great difficulty respecting the Colonel, for which
neither her niece nor her sister-in-law could fairly be held to
be responsible. It was perhaps the plainest characteristic of all
the Stanburys that they were never wilfully dishonest. Ignorant,
prejudiced, and passionate they might be. In her anger Miss Stanbury,
of Exeter, could be almost malicious; and her niece at Nuncombe
Putney was very like her aunt. Each could say most cruel things, most
unjust things, when actuated by a mistaken consciousness of perfect
right on her own side. But neither of them could lie,--even by
silence. Let an error be brought home to either of them,--so as to
be acknowledged at home,--and the error would be assuredly confessed
aloud. And, indeed, with differences in the shades, Hugh and Dorothy
were of the same nature. They were possessed of sweeter tempers than
their aunt and sister, but they were filled with the same eager
readiness to believe themselves to be right,--and to own themselves
to others to be wrong, when they had been constrained to make such
confession to themselves. The chances of life, and something probably
of inner nature, had made Dorothy mild and obedient; whereas, in
regard to Hugh, the circumstances of his life and disposition had
made him obstinate and self-reliant. But in all was to be found the
same belief in self,--which amounted almost to conceit,--the same
warmth of affection, and the same love of justice.

When Miss Stanbury had again perused the correspondence, and had come
to see, dimly, how things had gone at Nuncombe Putney,--when the
conviction came upon her mind that Priscilla had entertained a horror
as to the coming of this Colonel equal to that which she herself
had felt,--when her imagination painted to her all that her niece
had suffered, her heart was softened somewhat. She had declared to
Dorothy that pitch, if touched, would certainly defile; and she had,
at first, intended to send the same opinion, couched in very forcible
words, to her correspondents at the Clock House. They should not
continue to go astray for want of being told that they were going
astray. It must be acknowledged, too, that there was a certain
amount of ignoble wrath in the bosom of Miss Stanbury because her
sister-in-law had taken the Clock House. She had never been told, and
had not even condescended to ask Dorothy, whether the house was taken
and paid for by her nephew on behalf of his mother, or whether it
was paid for by Mr. Trevelyan on behalf of his wife. In the latter
case, Mrs. Stanbury would, she thought, be little more than an
upper servant, or keeper,--as she expressed it to herself. Such an
arrangement appeared to her to be quite disgraceful in a Stanbury;
but yet she believed that such must be the existing arrangement, as
she could not bring herself to conceive that Hugh Stanbury could keep
such an establishment over his mother's head out of money earned by
writing for a penny newspaper. There would be a triumph of democracy
in this which would vanquish her altogether. She had, therefore, been
anxious enough to trample on Priscilla and upon all the affairs of
the Clock House; but yet she had been unable to ignore the nobility
of Priscilla's truth, and having acknowledged it to herself she found
herself compelled to acknowledge it aloud. She sat down to think in
silence, and it was not till she had fortified herself by her first
draught of beer, and till she had finished her first portion of bread
and cheese, that she spoke. "I have written to your sister herself,
this time," she said. "I don't know that I ever wrote a line to her
before in my life."

"Poor Priscilla!" Dorothy did not mean to be severe on her aunt,
either in regard to the letters which had not been written, or to the
one letter which now had been written. But Dorothy pitied her sister,
whom she felt to be in trouble.

"Well; I don't know about her being so poor. Priscilla, I'll be
bound, thinks as well of herself as any of us do."

"She'd cut her fingers off before she'd mean to do wrong," said
Dorothy.

"But what does that come to? What's the good of that? It isn't
meaning to do right that will save us. For aught I know, the Radicals
may mean to do right. Mr. Beales means to do right--perhaps."

"But, aunt,--if everybody did the best they could?"

"Tush, my dear! you are getting beyond your depth. There are such
things still, thank God! as spiritual pastors and masters. Entrust
yourself to them. Do what they think right." Now if aught were known
in Exeter of Miss Stanbury, this was known,--that if any clergyman
volunteered to give to her, unasked and uninvited, counsel, either
ghostly or bodily, that clergyman would be sent from her presence
with a wigging which he would not soon forget. The thing had been
tried more than once, and the wigging had been complete. There was no
more attentive listener in church than Miss Stanbury; and she would,
now and again, appeal to a clergyman on some knotty point. But for
the ordinary authority of spiritual pastors and masters she shewed
more of abstract reverence than of practical obedience.

"I'm sure Priscilla does the best she can," said Dorothy, going back
to the old subject.

"Ah,--well,--yes. What I want to say about Priscilla is this. It is a
thousand pities she is so obstinate, so pig-headed, so certain that
she can manage everything for herself better than anybody else can
for her." Miss Stanbury was striving to say something good of her
niece, but found the task to be difficult and distasteful to her.

"She has managed for mamma ever so many years; and since she took it
we have hardly ever been in debt," said Dorothy.

"She'll do all that, I don't doubt. I don't suppose she cares much
for ribbons and false hair for herself."

"Who? Priscilla! The idea of Priscilla with false hair!"

"I dare say not;--I dare say not. I do not think she'd spend her
mother's money on things of that kind."

"Aunt Stanbury, you don't know her."

"Ah; very well. Perhaps I don't. But, come, my dear, you are very
hard upon me, and very anxious to take your sister's part. And
what is it all about? I've just written to her as civil a letter
as one woman ever wrote to another. And if I had chosen, I could
have,--could have,--h--m--m." Miss Stanbury, as she hesitated for
words in which to complete her sentence, revelled in the strength of
the vituperation which she could have poured upon her niece's head,
had she chosen to write her last letter about Colonel Osborne in her
severe strain.

"If you have written kindly to her, I am so much obliged to you,"
said Dorothy.

"The truth is, Priscilla has meant to be right. Meaning won't go
for much when the account is taken, unless the meaning comes from a
proper source. But the poor girl has done as well as she has known
how. I believe it is Hugh's fault more than anybody else's." This
accusation was not pleasant to Dorothy, but she was too intent just
now on Priscilla's case to defend her brother. "That man never ought
to have been there; and that woman never ought to have been there.
There cannot be a doubt about that. If Priscilla were sitting there
opposite to me, she would own as much. I am sure she would." Miss
Stanbury was quite right if she meant to assert that Priscilla had
owned as much to herself. "And because I think so, I am willing to
forgive her part in the matter. To me, personally, she has always
been rude,--most uncourteous,--and,--and,--and unlike a younger woman
to an older one, and an aunt, and all that. I suppose it is because
she hates me."

"Oh, no, Aunt Stanbury!"

"My dear, I suppose it is. Why else should she treat me in such a
way? But I do believe of her that she would rather eat an honest, dry
crust, than dishonest cake and ale."

"She would rather starve than pick up a crumb that was dishonest,"
said Dorothy, fairly bursting out into tears.

"I believe it. I do believe it. There; what more can I say? Clock
House, indeed! What matter what house you live in, so that you can
pay the rent of it honestly?"

"But the rent is paid--honestly," said Dorothy, amidst her sobs.

"It's paid, I don't doubt. I dare say the woman's husband and your
brother see to that among them. Oh, that my boy, Hugh, as he used
to be, should have brought us all to this! But there's no knowing
what they won't do among them. Reform, indeed! Murder, sacrilege,
adultery, treason, atheism;--that's what Reform means; besides every
kind of nastiness under the sun." In which latter category Miss
Stanbury intended especially to include bad printer's ink, and paper
made of straw.

The reader may as well see the letter which was as civil a letter
as ever one woman wrote to another, so that the collection of the
Stanbury correspondence may be made perfect.


   The Close, August 6, 186--.

   MY DEAR NIECE,

   Your letter has not astonished me nearly as much as you
   expected it would. I am an older woman than you, and,
   though you will not believe it, I have seen more of the
   world. I knew that the gentleman would come after the
   lady. Such gentlemen always do go after their ladies.
   As for yourself, I can see all that you have done, and
   pretty nearly hear all that you have said, as plain as a
   pike-staff. I do you the credit of believing that the plan
   is none of your making. I know who made the plan, and a
   very bad plan it is.

   As to my former letters and the other man, I understand
   all about it. You were very angry that I should accuse you
   of having this man at the house; and you were right to be
   angry. I respect you for having been angry. But what does
   all that say as to his coming,--now that he has come?

   If you will consent to take an old woman's advice, get rid
   of the whole boiling of them. I say it in firm love and
   friendship, for I am,--

   Your affectionate aunt,

   JEMIMA STANBURY.


The special vaunted courtesy of this letter consisted, no doubt, in
the expression of respect which it contained, and in that declaration
of affection with which it terminated. The epithet was one which
Miss Stanbury would by no means use promiscuously in writing to her
nearest relatives. She had not intended to use it when she commenced
her letter to Priscilla. But the respect of which she had spoken
had glowed, and had warmed itself into something of temporary love;
and feeling at the moment that she was an affectionate aunt, Miss
Stanbury had so put herself down in her letter. Having done such a
deed she felt that Dorothy, though Dorothy knew nothing about it,
ought in her gratitude to listen patiently to anything that she might
now choose to say against Priscilla.

But Dorothy was in truth very miserable, and in her misery wrote a
long letter that afternoon to her mother,--which, however, it will
not be necessary to place entire among the Stanbury records,--begging
that she might be informed as to the true circumstances of the case.
She did not say a word of censure in regard either to her mother or
sister; but she expressed an opinion in the mildest words which she
could use, that if anything had happened which had compromised their
names since their residence at the Clock House, she, Dorothy, had
better go home and join them. The meaning of which was that it would
not become her to remain in the house in the Close, if the house in
the Close would be disgraced by her presence. Poor Dorothy had taught
herself to think that the iniquity of roaring lions spread itself
very widely.

In the afternoon she made some such proposition to her aunt in
ambiguous terms. "Go home!" said Miss Stanbury. "Now?"

"If you think it best, Aunt Stanbury."

"And put yourself in the middle of all this iniquity and abomination!
I don't suppose you want to know the woman?"

"No, indeed!"

"Or the man?"

"Oh, Aunt Stanbury!"

"It's my belief that no decent gentleman in Exeter would look at you
again if you were to go and live among them at Nuncombe Putney while
all this is going on. No, no. Let one of you be saved out of it, at
least."

Aunt Stanbury had more than once made use of expressions which
brought the faintest touch of gentle pink up to her niece's cheeks.
We must do Dorothy the justice of saying that she had never dreamed
of being looked at by any gentleman, whether decent or indecent. Her
life at Nuncombe Putney had been of such a nature, that though she
knew that other girls were looked at, and even made love to, and that
they got married and had children, no dim vision of such a career
for herself had ever presented itself to her eyes. She had known
very well that her mother and sister and herself were people
apart,--ladies, and yet so extremely poor, that they could only
maintain their rank by the most rigid seclusion. To live, and work
unseen, was what the world had ordained for her. Then her call
to Exeter had come upon her, and she had conceived that she was
henceforth to be the humble companion of a very imperious old aunt.
Her aunt, indeed, was imperious, but did not seem to require humility
in her companion. All the good things that were eaten and drunk were
divided between them with the strictest impartiality. Dorothy's
cushion and hassock in the church and in the cathedral were the same
as her aunt's. Her bed-room was made very comfortable for her. Her
aunt never gave her any orders before company, and always spoke of
her before the servants as one whom they were to obey and respect.
Gradually Dorothy came to understand the meaning of this;--but her
aunt would sometimes say things about young men which she did not
quite understand. Could it be that her aunt supposed that any young
man would come and wish to marry her,--her, Dorothy Stanbury? She
herself had not quite so strong an aversion to men in general as that
which Priscilla felt, but she had not as yet found that any of those
whom she had seen at Exeter were peculiarly agreeable to her. Before
she went to bed that night her aunt said a word to her which startled
her more than she had ever been startled before. On that evening Miss
Stanbury had a few friends to drink tea with her. There were Mr. and
Mrs. Crumbie, and Mrs. MacHugh of course, and the Cheritons from
Alphington, and the Miss Apjohns from Helion Villa, and old Mr. Powel
all the way from Haldon, and two of the Wrights from their house
in the Northernhay, and Mr. Gibson;--but the Miss Frenches from
Heavitree were not there. "Why don't you have the Miss Frenches,
aunt?" Dorothy had asked.

"Bother the Miss Frenches! I'm not bound to have them every time.
There's Camilla has been and got herself a band-box on the back of
her head a great deal bigger than the place inside where her brains
ought to be." But the band-box at the back of Camilla French's head
was not the sole cause of the omission of the two sisters from the
list of Miss Stanbury's visitors on this occasion.

The party went off very much as usual. There were two whist tables,
for Miss Stanbury could not bear to cut out. At other houses than her
own, when there was cutting out, it was quite understood that Miss
Stanbury was to be allowed to keep her place. "I'll go away, and sit
out there by myself, if you like," she would say. But she was never
thus banished; and at her own house she usually contrived that
there should be no system of banishment. She would play dummy whist,
preferring it to the four-handed game; and, when hard driven, and
with a meet opponent, would not even despise double-dummy. It was
told of her and of Mrs. MacHugh that they had played double-dummy
for a whole evening together; and they who were given to calumny
had declared that the candles on that evening had been lighted very
early. On the present occasion a great many sixpenny points were
scored, and much tea and cake were consumed. Mr. Gibson never played
whist,--nor did Dorothy. That young John Wright and Mary Cheriton
should do nothing but talk to each other was a thing of course,
as they were to be married in a month or two. Then there was Ida
Cheriton, who could not very well be left at home; and Mr. Gibson
made himself pleasant to Dorothy and Ida Cheriton, instead of making
himself pleasant to the two Miss Frenches. Gentlemen in provincial
towns quite understand that, from the nature of social circumstances
in the provinces, they should always be ready to be pleasant at least
to a pair at a time. At a few minutes before twelve they were all
gone, and then came the shock.

"Dolly, my dear, what do you think of Mr. Gibson?"

"Think of him, Aunt Stanbury?"

"Yes; think of him;--think of him. I suppose you know how to think?"

"He seems to me always to preach very drawling sermons."

"Oh, bother his sermons! I don't care anything about his sermons now.
He is a very good clergyman, and the Dean thinks very much about
him."

"I am glad of that, Aunt Stanbury."

Then came the shock. "Don't you think it would be a very good thing
if you were to become Mrs. Gibson?"

It may be presumed that Miss Stanbury had assured herself that she
could not make progress with Dorothy by "beating about the bush."
There was an inaptitude in her niece to comprehend the advantages
of the situations, which made some direct explanation absolutely
necessary. Dorothy stood half-smiling, half-crying, when she heard
the proposition, her cheeks suffused with that pink colour, and with
both her hands extended with surprise.

"I've been thinking about it ever since you've been here," said Miss
Stanbury.

"I think he likes Miss French," said Dorothy, in a whisper.

"Which of them? I don't believe he likes them at all. Maybe, if they
go on long enough, they may be able to toss up for him. But I don't
think it of him. Of course they're after him, but he'll be too wise
for them. And he's more of a fool than I take him to be if he don't
prefer you to them." Dorothy remained quite silent. To such an
address as this it was impossible that she should reply a word. It
was incredible to her that any man should prefer herself to either of
the young women in question; but she was too much confounded for the
expression even of her humility. "At any rate you're wholesome, and
pleasant and modest," said Miss Stanbury.

Dorothy did not quite like being told that she was wholesome; but,
nevertheless, she was thankful to her aunt.

"I'll tell you what it is," continued Miss Stanbury; "I hate all
mysteries, especially with those I love. I've saved two thousand
pounds, which I've put you down for in my will. Now, if you and he
can make it up together, I'll give you the money at once. There's no
knowing how often an old woman may alter her will; but when you've
got a thing, you've got it. Mr. Gibson would know the meaning of a
bird in the hand as well as anybody. Now those girls at Heavitree
will never have above a few hundreds each, and not that while
their mother lives." Dorothy made one little attempt at squeezing
her aunt's hand, wishing to thank her aunt for this affectionate
generosity; but she had hardly accomplished the squeeze, when she
desisted, feeling strangely averse to any acknowledgment of such a
boon as that which had been offered to her. "And now, good night, my
dear. If I did not think you a very sensible young woman, I should
not trust you by saying all this." Then they parted, and Dorothy soon
found herself alone in her bedroom.

To have a husband of her own, a perfect gentleman too, and a
clergyman;--and to go to him with a fortune! She believed that two
thousand pounds represented nearly a hundred a year. It was a large
fortune in those parts,--according to her understanding of ladies'
fortunes. And that she, the humblest of the humble, should be
selected for so honourable a position! She had never quite known,
quite understood as yet, whether she had made good her footing in
her aunt's house in a manner pleasant to her aunt. More than once or
twice she had spoken even of going back to her mother, and things
had been said which had almost made her think that her aunt had been
angry with her. But now, after a month or two of joint residence, her
aunt was offering to her--two thousand pounds and a husband!

But was it within her aunt's power to offer to her the husband? Mr.
Gibson had always been very civil to her. She had spoken more to Mr.
Gibson than to any other man in Exeter. But it had never occurred to
her for a moment that Mr. Gibson had any special liking for her. Was
it probable that he would ever entertain any feeling of that kind
for her? It certainly had occurred to her before now that Mr. Gibson
was sometimes bored by the Miss Frenches;--but then gentlemen do get
bored by ladies.

And at last she asked herself another question,--had she any special
liking for Mr. Gibson? As far as she understood such matters
everything was blank there. Thinking of that other question, she went
to sleep.



CHAPTER XXIII.

COLONEL OSBORNE AND MR. BOZZLE RETURN TO LONDON.


Hugh Stanbury went down on the Saturday, by the early express to
Exeter, on his road to Lessboro'. He took his ticket through to
Lessboro', not purposing to stay at Exeter; but, from the exigencies
of the various trains, it was necessary that he should remain for
half an hour at the Exeter Station. This took place on the Saturday,
and Colonel Osborne's visit to the Clock House had been made on the
Friday. Colonel Osborne had returned to Lessboro', had slept again
at Mrs. Clegg's house, and returned to London on the Saturday. It so
happened that he also was obliged to spend half an hour at the Exeter
Station, and that his half-hour, and Hugh Stanbury's half-hour, were
one and the same. They met, therefore, as a matter of course, upon
the platform. Stanbury was the first to see the other, and he found
that he must determine on the spur of the moment what he would say,
and what he would do. He had received no direct commission from
Trevelyan as to his meeting with Colonel Osborne. Trevelyan had
declared that, as to the matter of quarrelling, he meant to retain
the privilege of doing that for himself; but Stanbury had quite
understood that this was only the vague expression of an angry man.
The Colonel had taken a glass of sherry, and had lighted a cigar,
and was quite comfortable,--having thrown aside, for a time, that
consciousness of the futility of his journey which had perplexed
him,--when Stanbury accosted him.

"What! Mr. Stanbury,--how do you do? Fine day, isn't it? Are you
going up or down?"

"I'm going to see my own people at Nuncombe Putney, a village beyond
Lessboro'," said Hugh.

"Ah;--indeed." Colonel Osborne of course perceived at once that as
this man was going to the house at which he had just been visiting,
it would be better that he should himself explain what he had done.
If he were to allow this mention of Nuncombe Putney to pass without
saying that he himself had been there, he would be convicted of
at least some purpose of secrecy in what he had been doing. "Very
strange," said he; "I was at Nuncombe Putney myself yesterday."

"I know you were," said Stanbury.

"And how did you know it?" There had been a tone of anger in
Stanbury's voice which Colonel Osborne had at once appreciated, and
which made him assume a similar tone. As they spoke there was a man
standing in a corner close by the bookstall, with his eye upon them,
and that man was Bozzle, the ex-policeman,--who was doing his duty
with sedulous activity by seeing "the Colonel" back to London. Now
Bozzle did not know Hugh Stanbury, and was angry with himself that he
should be so ignorant. It is the pride of a detective ex-policeman to
know everybody that comes in his way.

"Well, I had been so informed. My friend Trevelyan knew that you were
there,--or that you were going there."

"I don't care who knew that I was going there," said the Colonel.

"I won't pretend to understand how that may be, Colonel Osborne; but
I think you must be aware, after what took place in Curzon Street,
that it would have been better that you should not have attempted to
see Mrs. Trevelyan. Whether you have seen her I do not know."

"What business is it of yours, Mr. Stanbury, whether I have seen that
lady or not?"

"Unhappily for me, her husband has made it my business."

"Very unhappily for you, I should say."

"And the lady is staying at my mother's house."

"I presume the lady is not a prisoner in your mother's house, and
that your mother's hospitality is not so restricted but that her
guest may see an old friend under her roof." This Colonel Osborne
said with an assumed look of almost righteous indignation, which
was not at all lost upon Bozzle. They had returned back towards the
bookstall, and Bozzle, with his eyes fixed on a copy of the "D. R."
which he had just bought, was straining his ears to the utmost to
catch what was being said.

"You best know whether you have seen her or not."

"I have seen her."

"Then I shall take leave to tell you, Colonel Osborne, that you have
acted in a most unfriendly way, and have done that which must tend to
keep an affectionate husband apart from his wife."

"Sir, I don't at all understand this kind of thing addressed to me.
The father of the lady you are speaking of has been my most intimate
friend for thirty years." After all, the Colonel was a mean man when
he could take pride in his youth, and defend himself on the score of
his age, in one and the same proceeding.

"I have nothing further to say," replied Stanbury.

"You have said too much already, Mr. Stanbury."

"I think not, Colonel Osborne. You have, I fear, done an incredible
deal of mischief by going to Nuncombe Putney; and, after all that
you have heard on the subject, you must have known that it would be
mischievous. I cannot understand how you can force yourself about a
man's wife against the man's expressed wish."

"Sir, I didn't force myself upon anybody. Sir, I went down to see an
old friend,--and a remarkable piece of antiquity. And, when another
old friend was in the neighbourhood, close by,--one of the oldest
friends I have in the world,--wasn't I to go and see her? God bless
my soul! What business is it of yours? I never heard such impudence
in my life!" Let the charitable reader suppose that Colonel Osborne
did not know that he was lying,--that he really thought, when he
spoke, that he had gone down to Lessboro' to see the remarkable piece
of antiquity.

"Good morning," said Hugh Stanbury, turning on his heels and walking
away. Colonel Osborne shook himself, inflated his cheeks, and blew
forth the breath out of his mouth, put his thumbs up to the armholes
of his waistcoat, and walked about the platform as though he thought
it to be incumbent on him to show that he was somebody,--somebody
that ought not to be insulted,--somebody, perhaps, whom a very pretty
woman might prefer to her own husband, in spite of a small difference
in age. He was angry, but not quite so much angry as proud. And he
was safe, too. He thought that he was safe. When he should come to
account for himself and his actions to his old friend, Sir Marmaduke,
he felt that he would be able to show that he had been, in all
respects, true to friendship. Sir Marmaduke had unfortunately given
his daughter to a jealous, disagreeable fellow, and the fault all
lay in that. As for Hugh Stanbury,--he would simply despise Hugh
Stanbury, and have done with it.

Mr. Bozzle, though he had worked hard in the cause, had heard but a
word or two. Eaves-droppers seldom do hear more than that. A porter
had already told him who was Hugh Stanbury,--that he was Mr. Hugh
Stanbury, and that his aunt lived at Exeter. And Bozzle, knowing that
the lady about whom he was concerned was living with a Mrs. Stanbury
at the house he had been watching, put two and two together with
his natural cleverness. "God bless my soul! what business is it of
yours?" Those words were nearly all that Bozzle had been able to
hear; but even those sufficiently indicated a quarrel. "The lady" was
living with Mrs. Stanbury, having been so placed by her husband; and
young Stanbury was taking the lady's part! Bozzle began to fear that
the husband had not confided in him with that perfect faith which he
felt to be essentially necessary to the adequate performance of the
duties of his great profession. A sudden thought, however, struck
him. Something might be done on the journey up to London. He at
once made his way back to the ticket-window and exchanged his
ticket,--second-class for first-class. It was a noble deed, the
expense falling all upon his own pocket; for, in the natural course
of things, he would have charged his employers with the full
first-class fare. He had seen Colonel Osborne seat himself in a
carriage, and within two minutes he was occupying the opposite place.
The Colonel was aware that he had noticed the man's face lately, but
did not know where.

"Very fine summer weather, sir," said Bozzle.

"Very fine," said the Colonel, burying himself behind a newspaper.

"They is getting up their wheat nicely in these parts, sir."

The answer to this was no more than a grunt. But Bozzle was not
offended. Not to be offended is the special duty of all policemen, in
and out of office; and the journey from Exeter to London was long,
and was all before him.

"A very nice little secluded village is Nuncombe Putney," said
Bozzle, as the train was leaving the Salisbury Station.

At Salisbury two ladies had left the carriage, no one else had got
in, and Bozzle was alone with the Colonel.

"I dare say," said the Colonel, who by this time had relinquished his
shield, and who had begun to compose himself for sleep, or to pretend
to compose himself, as soon as he heard Bozzle's voice. He had been
looking at Bozzle, and though he had not discovered the man's trade,
had told himself that his companion was a thing of dangers,--a thing
to be avoided, by one engaged, as had been he himself, on a special
and secret mission.

"Saw you there,--calling at the Clock House," said Bozzle.

"Very likely," said the Colonel, throwing his head well back into the
corner, shutting his eyes, and uttering a slight preliminary snore.

"Very nice family of ladies at the Clock House," said Bozzle. The
Colonel answered him by a more developed snore. "Particularly Mrs.
T----" said Bozzle.

The Colonel could not stand this. He was so closely implicated with
Mrs. Trevelyan at the present moment that he could not omit to notice
an address so made to him. "What the devil is that to you, sir?" said
he, jumping up and confronting Bozzle in his wrath.

But policemen have always this advantage in their difficulties, that
they know to a fraction what the wrath of men is worth, and what it
can do. Sometimes it can dismiss a policeman, and sometimes break
his head. Sometimes it can give him a long and troublesome job, and
sometimes it may be wrath to the death. But in nineteen out of twenty
cases it is not a fearful thing, and the policeman knows well when
he need not fear it. On the present occasion Bozzle was not at all
afraid of Colonel Osborne's wrath.

"Well, sir, not much, indeed, if you come to that. Only you was
there, sir."

"Of course I was there," said the Colonel.

"And a very nice young gentleman is Mr. Stanbury," said Bozzle.

To this Colonel Osborne made no reply, but again had resort to his
newspaper in the most formal manner.

"He's going down to his family, no doubt," continued Bozzle.

"He may be going to the devil for what I know," said the Colonel, who
could not restrain himself.

"I suppose they're all friends of Mrs. T.'s?" asked Bozzle.

"Sir," said the Colonel, "I believe that you're a spy."

"No, Colonel, no; no, no; I'm no spy. I wouldn't demean myself to be
such. A spy is a man as has no profession, and nothing to justify his
looking into things. Things must be looked into, Colonel; or how's a
man to know where he is? or how's a lady to know where she is? But
as for spies, except in the way of evidence, I don't think nothing
of 'em." Soon after this two more passengers entered the train, and
nothing more was said between Bozzle and the Colonel.

The Colonel, as soon as he reached London, went home to his lodgings,
and then to his club, and did his best to enjoy himself. On the
following Monday he intended to start for Scotland. But he could not
quite enjoy himself,--because of Bozzle. He felt that he was being
watched; and there is nothing that any man hates so much as that,
especially when a lady is concerned. Colonel Osborne knew that his
visit to Nuncombe Putney had been very innocent; but he did not like
the feeling that even his innocence had been made the subject of
observation.

Bozzle went away at once to Trevelyan, whom he found at his chambers.
He himself had had no very deep-laid scheme in his addresses to
Colonel Osborne. He had begun to think that very little would come of
the affair,--especially after Hugh Stanbury had appeared upon the
scene,--and had felt that there was nothing to be lost by presenting
himself before the eyes of the Colonel. It was necessary that he
should make a report to his employer, and the report might be made
a little more full after a few words with the man whom he had been
"looking into." "Well, Mr. Trewillian," he said, seating himself
on a chair close against the wall, and holding his hat between the
knees,--"I've seen the parties, and know pretty much all about it."

"All I want to know, Mr. Bozzle, is, whether Colonel Osborne has been
at the Clock House?"

"He has been there, Mr. Trewillian. There is no earthly doubt about
that. From hour to hour I can tell you pretty nearly where he's been
since he left London." Then Bozzle took out his memorandum-book.

"I don't care about all that," said Trevelyan.

"I dare say not, sir; but it may be wanted all the same. Any
gentleman acting in our way can't be too particular,--can't have
too many facts. The smallest little,--tiddly things,"--and Bozzle
as he said this seemed to enjoy immensely the flavour of his own
epithet,--"the smallest little 'tiddly' things do so often turn up
trumps when you get your evidence into court."

"I'm not going to get any evidence into court."

"Maybe not, sir. A gentleman and lady is always best out of court as
long as things can hang on any way;--but sometimes things won't hang
on no way."

Trevelyan, who was conscious that the employment of Bozzle was
discreditable, and whose affairs in Devonshire were now in the hands
of, at any rate, a more honourable ally, was at present mainly
anxious to get rid of the ex-policeman. "I have no doubt you've been
very careful, Mr. Bozzle," said he.

"There isn't no one in the business could be more so, Mr.
Trewillian."

"And you have found out what it was necessary that I should know.
Colonel Osborne did go to the Clock House?"

"Was let in at the front door on Friday the 5th, by Sarah French, the
housemaid, at 10.37 a.m., and was let out again by the same young
woman at 11.41 a.m. Perhaps you'd like to have a copy of the entry,
Mr. Trewillian?"

"No, no, no."

"It doesn't matter. Of course it'll be with me when it's wanted. Who
was with him, exactly, at that time, I can't say. There is things,
Mr. Trewillian, one can't see. But I don't think as he saw neither
Mrs. Stanbury, nor Miss Stanbury,--not to speak to. I did just have
one word, promiscuous, with Sarah French, after he was gone. Whether
the other young lady was with 'em or not, and if so for how long,
I--can't--say. There is things, Mr. Trewillian, which one can't see."

How Trevelyan hated the man as he went on with his odious
details,--details not one of which possessed the slightest
importance. "It's all right, I dare say, Mr. Bozzle. And now about
the account."

"Quite so, Mr. Trewillian. But there was one question;--just one
question."

"What question?" said Trevelyan, almost angrily.

"And there's another thing I must tell you, too, Mr. Trewillian. I
come back to town in the same carriage with the Colonel. I thought it
better."

"You did not tell him who you were?"

"No, Mr. Trewillian; I didn't tell him that. I don't think he'd say
if you was to ask him that I told him much of anything. No, Mr.
Trewillian, I didn't tell him nothing. I don't often tell folks much
till the time comes. But I thought it better, and I did have a word
or two with the gent,--just a word or two. He's not so very downy,
isn't the Colonel;--for one that's been at it so long, Mr.
Trewillian."

"I dare say not. But if you could just let me have the account, Mr.
Bozzle,--"

"The account? Oh, yes;--that is necessary; ain't it? These sort of
inquiries do come a little expensive, Mr. Trewillian; because time
goes for so much; and when one has to be down on a thing, sharp, you
know, and sure, so that counsel on the other side can't part you from
it, though he shakes you like a dog does a rat,--and one has to get
oneself up ready for all that, you know, Mr. Trewillian,--as I was
saying, one can't count one's shillings when one has such a job as
this in hand. Clench your nail;--that's what I say; be it even so.
Clench your nail;--that's what you've got to do."

"I dare say we shan't quarrel about the money, Mr. Bozzle."

"Oh dear no. I find I never has any words about the money. But
there's that one question. There's a young Mr. Stanbury has gone
down, as knows all about it. What's he up to?"

"He's my particular friend," said Trevelyan.

"Oh--h. He do know all about it, then?"

"We needn't talk about that, if you please, Mr. Bozzle."

"Because there was words between him and the Colonel upon the
platform;--and very angry words. The young man went at the Colonel
quite open-mouthed,--savage-like. It's not the way such things should
be done, Mr. Trewillian; and though of course it's not for me to
speak;--she's your lady,--still, when you has got a thing of this
kind in hand, one head is better than a dozen. As for myself,
Mr. Trewillian, I never wouldn't look at a case,--not if I knew
it,--unless I was to have it all to myself. But of course there was
no bargain, and so I says nothing."

After considerable delay the bill was made out on the spot, Mr.
Bozzle copying down the figures painfully from his memorandum-book,
with his head much inclined on one side. Trevelyan asked him, almost
in despair, to name the one sum; but this Bozzle declined to do,
saying that right was right. He had a scale of pilfering of his own,
to which he had easily reconciled his conscience; and beyond that
he prided himself on the honesty of his accounts. At last the bill
was made out, was paid, and Bozzle was gone. Trevelyan, when he was
alone, threw himself back on a sofa, and almost wept in despair. To
what a depth of degradation had he not been reduced!



CHAPTER XXIV.

NIDDON PARK.


As Hugh Stanbury went over to Lessboro', and from thence to Nuncombe
Putney, he thought more of himself and Nora Rowley than he did of Mr.
and Mrs. Trevelyan. As to Mrs. Trevelyan and Colonel Osborne, he felt
that he knew everything that it was necessary that he should know.
The man had been there, and had seen Mrs. Trevelyan. Of that there
could be no doubt. That Colonel Osborne had been wickedly indifferent
to the evil consequences of such a visit, and that all the women
concerned had been most foolish in permitting him to make it, was his
present conviction. But he did not for a moment doubt that the visit
had in itself been of all things the most innocent. Trevelyan had
sworn that if his wife received the man at Nuncombe Putney, he
would never see her again. She had seen him, and this oath would be
remembered, and there would be increased difficulties. But these
difficulties, whatever they might be, must be overcome. When he had
told himself this, then he allowed his mind to settle itself on Nora
Rowley.

Hitherto he had known Miss Rowley only as a fashionable girl living
with the wife of an intimate friend of his own in London. He had
never been staying in the same house with her. Circumstances had
never given to him the opportunity of assuming the manner of an
intimate friend, justifying him in giving advice, and authorising
him to assume that semi-paternal tone which is by far the easiest
preliminary to love-making. When a man can tell a young lady what
she ought to read, what she ought to do, and whom she ought to know,
nothing can be easier than to assure her that, of all her duties,
her first duty is to prefer himself to all the world. And any young
lady who has consented to receive lessons from such a teacher, will
generally be willing to receive this special lesson among others.
But Stanbury had hitherto had no such opportunities. In London Miss
Rowley had been a fashionable young lady, living in Mayfair, and he
had been,--well, anything but a fashionable young man. Nevertheless,
he had seen her often, had sat by her very frequently, was quite sure
that he loved her dearly, and had, perhaps, some self-flattering
idea in his mind that had he stuck to his honourable profession as a
barrister, and were he possessed of some comfortable little fortune
of his own, he might, perhaps, have been able, after due siege
operations, to make this charming young woman his own. Things were
quite changed now. For the present, Miss Rowley certainly could not
be regarded as a fashionable London young lady. The house in which he
would see her was, in some sort, his own. He would be sleeping under
the same roof with her, and would have all the advantages which such
a position could give him. He would have no difficulty now in asking,
if he should choose to ask; and he thought that she might be somewhat
softer, somewhat more likely to yield at Nuncombe Putney, than she
would have been in London. She was at Nuncombe in weak circumstances,
to a certain degree friendless; with none of the excitement of
society around her, with no elder sons buzzing about her and
filling her mind, if not her heart, with the glories of luxurious
primogeniture. Hugh Stanbury certainly did not dream that any
special elder son had as yet been so attracted as to have made a
journey to Nuncombe Putney on Nora's behalf. But should he on this
account,--because she would be, as it were, without means of defence
from his attack,--should he therefore take advantage of her weakness?
She would, of course, go back to her London life after some short
absence, and would again, if free, have her chance among the favoured
ones of the earth. What had he to offer to her? He had taken the
Clock House for his mother, and it would be quite as much as he could
do, when Mrs. Trevelyan should have left the village, to keep up that
establishment and maintain himself in London,--quite as much as he
could do, even though the favours of the "D. R." should flow upon
him with their fullest tides. In such circumstances, would it be
honourable in him to ask a girl to love him because he found her
defenceless in his mother's house?

"If there bain't another for Nuncombe," said Mrs. Clegg's Ostler to
Mrs. Clegg's Boots, as Stanbury was driven off in a gig.

"That be young Stanbury, a-going of whome."

"They be all a-going for the Clock House. Since the old 'ooman took
to thick there house, there be folk a-comin' and a-goin' every day
loike."

"It's along of the madam that they keeps there, Dick," said the
Boots.

"I didn't care if there'd be madams allays. They're the best as is
going for trade anyhow," said the ostler. What the ostler said was
true. When there comes to be a feeling that a woman's character is in
any way tarnished, there comes another feeling that everybody on the
one side may charge double, and that everybody on the other side must
pay double, for everything. Hugh Stanbury could not understand why he
was charged a shilling a mile, instead of ninepence, for the gig to
Nuncombe Putney. He got no satisfactory answer, and had to pay the
shilling. The truth was, that gigs to Nuncombe Putney had gone up,
since a lady, separated from her husband, with a colonel running
after her, had been taken in at the Clock House.

"Here's Hugh!" said Priscilla, hurrying to the front door. And Mrs.
Stanbury hurried after her. Her son Hugh was the apple of her eye,
the best son that ever lived, generous, noble, a thorough
man,--almost a god!

"Dear, dear, oh dear! Who'd have expected it? God bless you, my boy!
Why didn't you write? Priscilla, what is there in the house that he
can eat?"

"Plenty of bread and cheese," said Priscilla, laughing, with her hand
inside her brother's arm. For though Priscilla hated all other men,
she did not hate her brother Hugh. "If you wanted things nice to eat
directly you got here, you ought to have written."

"I shall want my dinner, like any other Christian,--in due time,"
said Hugh. "And how is Mrs. Trevelyan,--and how is Miss Rowley?"

He soon found himself in company with those two ladies, and
experienced some immediate difficulty in explaining the cause of his
sudden coming. But this was soon put aside by Mrs. Trevelyan.

"When did you see my husband?" she asked.

"I saw him yesterday. He was quite well."

"Colonel Osborne has been here," she said.

"I know that he has been here. I met him at the station at Exeter.
Perhaps I should not say so, but I wish he had remained away."

"We all wish it," said Priscilla.

Then Nora spoke. "But what could we do, Mr. Stanbury? It seemed so
natural that he should call when he was in the neighbourhood. We have
known him so long; and how could we refuse to see him?"

"I will not let any one think that I'm afraid to see any man on
earth," said Mrs. Trevelyan. "If he had ever in his life said a word
that he should not have said, a word that would have been an insult,
of course it would have been different. But the notion of it is
preposterous. Why should I not have seen him?"

"I think he was wrong to come," said Hugh.

"Of course he was wrong;--wickedly wrong," said Priscilla.

Stanbury, finding that the subject was openly discussed between
them, declared plainly the mission that had brought him to Nuncombe.
"Trevelyan heard that he was coming, and asked me to let him know the
truth."

"Now you can tell him the truth," said Mrs. Trevelyan, with something
of indignation in her tone, as though she thought that Stanbury had
taken upon himself a task of which he ought to be ashamed.

"But Colonel Osborne came specially to pay a visit to
Cockchaffington," said Nora, "and not to see us. Louis ought to know
that."

"Nora, how can you demean yourself to care about such trash?" said
Mrs. Trevelyan. "Who cares why he came here? His visit to me was a
thing of course. If Mr. Trevelyan disapproves of it, let him say so,
and not send secret messengers."

"Am I a secret messenger?" said Hugh Stanbury.

"There has been a man here, inquiring of the servants," said
Priscilla. So that odious Bozzle had made his foul mission known
to them! Stanbury, however, thought it best to say nothing of
Bozzle,--not to acknowledge that he had ever heard of Bozzle. "I am
sure Mrs. Trevelyan does not mean you," said Priscilla.

"I do not know what I mean," said Mrs. Trevelyan. "I am so harassed
and fevered by these suspicions that I am driven nearly mad." Then
she left the room for a minute and returned with two letters. "There,
Mr. Stanbury; I got that note from Colonel Osborne, and wrote to him
that reply. You know all about it now. Can you say that I was wrong
to see him?"

"I am sure that he was wrong to come," said Hugh.

"Wickedly wrong," said Priscilla, again.

"You can keep the letters, and show them to my husband," said Mrs.
Trevelyan; "then he will know all about it." But Stanbury declined to
keep the letters.

He was to remain the Sunday at Nuncombe Putney and return to London
on the Monday. There was, therefore, but one day on which he could
say what he had to say to Nora Rowley. When he came down to breakfast
on the Sunday morning he had almost made up his mind that he had
nothing to say to her. As for Nora, she was in a state of mind much
less near to any fixed purpose. She had told herself that she loved
this man,--had indeed done so in the clearest way, by acknowledging
the fact of her love to another suitor, by pleading to that other
suitor the fact of her love as an insuperable reason why he should
be rejected. There was no longer any doubt about it to her. When
Priscilla had declared that Hugh Stanbury was at the door, her heart
had gone into her mouth. Involuntarily she had pressed her hands to
her sides, and had held her breath. Why had he come there? Had he
come there for her? Oh! if he had come there for her, and if she
might dare to forget all the future, how sweet,--sweetest of all
things in heaven or earth,--might be an August evening with him among
the lanes! But she, too, had endeavoured to be very prudent. She
had told herself that she was quite unfit to be the wife of a poor
man,--that she would be only a burden round his neck, and not an aid
to him. And in so telling herself, she had told herself also that she
had been a fool not to accept Mr. Glascock. She should have dragged
out from her heart the image of this man who had never even whispered
a word of love in her ears, and should have constrained herself to
receive with affection a man in loving whom there ought to be no
difficulty. But when she had been repeating those lessons to herself,
Hugh Stanbury had not been in the house. Now he was there;--and what
must be her answer if he should whisper that word of love? She had an
idea that it would be treason in her to disown the love she felt, if
questioned concerning her heart by the man to whom it had been given.

They all went to church on the Sunday morning, and up to that time
Nora had not been a moment alone with the man. It had been decided
that they should dine early, and then ramble out, when the evening
would be less hot than the day had been, to a spot called Niddon
Park. This was nearly three miles from Nuncombe, and was a beautiful
wild slope of ground, full of ancient, blighted, blasted, but still
half-living oaks,--oaks that still brought forth leaves,--overlooking
a bend of the river Teign. Park, in the usual sense of the word,
there was none, nor did they who lived round Nuncombe Putney know
whether Niddon Park had ever been enclosed. But of all the spots in
that lovely neighbourhood, Priscilla Stanbury swore that it was the
loveliest; and, as it had never yet been seen by Mrs. Trevelyan or
her sister, it was determined that they would walk there on this
August afternoon. There were four of them,--and, as was natural, they
fell into parties of two and two. But Priscilla walked with Nora, and
Hugh Stanbury walked with his friend's wife. Nora was talkative, but
demure in her manner, and speaking now and again as though she were
giving words and not thoughts. She felt that there was something to
hide, and was suffering from disappointment that their party should
not have been otherwise divided. Had Hugh spoken to her and asked her
to be his wife, she could not have accepted him, because she knew
that they were both poor, and that she was not fit to keep a poor
man's house. She had declared to herself most plainly that that must
be her course;--but yet she was disappointed, and talked on with the
knowledge that she had something to conceal.


   [Illustration: Niddon Park.]


When they were seated beneath an old riven, withered oak, looking
down upon the river, they were still divided in the same way. In
seating herself she had been very anxious not to disarrange that
arrangement,--almost equally anxious not to seem to adhere to it
with any special purpose. She was very careful that there should be
nothing seen in her manner that was in any way special,--but in the
meantime she was suffering an agony of trouble. He did not care for
her in the least. She was becoming sure of that. She had given all
her love to a man who had none to give her in return. As she thought
of this she almost longed for the offer of that which she knew she
could not have accepted had it been offered to her. But she talked
on about the scenery, about the weather,--descanting on the pleasure
of living where such loveliness was within reach. Then there came a
pause for a moment. "Nora," said Priscilla, "I do not know what you
are thinking about, but it is not of the beauty of Niddon Park." Then
there came a faint sound as of an hysterical sob, and then a gurgle
in the throat, and then a pretence at laughter.

"I don't believe I am thinking of anything at all," said Nora.

After which Hugh insisted on descending to the bank of the river,
but, as the necessity of re-climbing the slope was quite manifest,
none of the girls would go with him. "Come, Miss Rowley," said he,
"will you not show them that a lady can go up and down a hill as well
as a man?"

"I had rather not go up and down the hill," said she.

Then he understood that she was angry with him; and in some sort
surmised the cause of her anger. Not that he believed that she loved
him; but it seemed possible to him that she resented the absence of
his attention. He went down, and scrambled out on the rocks into
the bed of the river, while the girls above looked down upon him,
watching the leaps that he made. Priscilla and Mrs. Trevelyan called
to him, bidding him beware; but Nora called not at all. He was
whistling as he made his jumps, but still he heard their voices, and
knew that he did not hear Nora's voice. He poised himself on the edge
of a rock in the middle of the stream, and looked up the river and
down the river, turning himself carefully on his narrow foothold; but
he was thinking only of Nora. Could there be anything nobler than to
struggle on with her, if she only would be willing? But then she was
young; and should she yield to such a request from him, she would not
know what she was yielding. He turned again, jumping from rock to
rock till he reached the bank, and then made his way again up to the
withered oak.

"You would not have repented it if you had come down with me," he
said to Nora.

"I am not so sure of that," she answered.

When they started to return she stepped on gallantly with Priscilla;
but Priscilla was stopped by some chance, having some word to say to
her brother, having some other word to say to Mrs. Trevelyan. Could
it be that her austerity had been softened, and that in kindness she
contrived that Nora should be left some yards behind them with her
brother? Whether it were kindness, or an unkind error, so it was.
Nora, when she perceived what destiny was doing for her, would not
interfere with destiny. If he chose to speak to her she would hear
him and would answer him. She knew very well what answer she would
give him. She had her answer quite ready at her fingers' ends. There
was no doubt about her answer.

They had walked half a mile together and he had spoken of nothing but
the scenery. She had endeavoured to appear to be excited. Oh, yes,
the scenery of Devonshire was delightful. She hardly wanted anything
more to make her happy. If only this misery respecting her sister
could be set right!

"And you, you yourself," said he, "do you mean that there is nothing
you want in leaving London?"

"Not much, indeed."

"It sometimes seemed to me that that kind of life was,--was very
pleasant to you."

"What kind of life, Mr. Stanbury?"

"The life that you were living,--going out, being admired, and having
the rich and dainty all around you."

"I don't dislike people because they are rich," she said.

"No; nor do I; and I despise those who affect to dislike them. But
all cannot be rich."

"Nor all dainty, as you choose to call them."

"But they who have once been dainty,--as I call them,--never like
to divest themselves of their daintiness. You have been one of the
dainty, Miss Rowley."

"Have I?"

"Certainly; I doubt whether you would be happy if you thought that
your daintiness had departed from you."

"I hope, Mr. Stanbury, that nothing nice and pleasant has departed
from me. If I have ever been dainty, dainty I hope I may remain. I
will never, at any rate, give it up of my own accord." Why she said
this, she could never explain to herself. She had certainly not
intended to rebuff him when she had been saying it. But he spoke not
a word to her further as they walked home, either of her mode of life
or of his own.



CHAPTER XXV.

HUGH STANBURY SMOKES HIS PIPE.


   [Illustration]

Nora Rowley, when she went to bed, after her walk to Niddon Park in
company with Hugh Stanbury, was full of wrath against him. But she
could not own her anger to herself, nor could she even confess to
herself,--though she was breaking her heart,--that there really
existed for her the slightest cause of grief. But why had he been so
stern to her? Why had he gone out of his way to be uncivil to her? He
had called her "dainty," meaning to imply by the epithet that she was
one of the butterflies of the day, caring for nothing but sunshine
and an opportunity of fluttering her silly wings. She had understood
well what he meant. Of course he was right to be cold to her if
his heart was cold, but he need not have insulted her by his
ill-concealed rebukes. Had he been kind to her, he might have rebuked
her as much as he liked. She quite appreciated the delightful
intimacy of a loving word of counsel from the man she loved,--how
nice it is, as it were, to play at marriage, and to hear beforehand
something of the pleasant weight of gentle marital authority. But
there had been nothing of that in his manner to her. He had told her
that she was dainty,--and had so told it her, as she thought, that
she might learn thereby, that under no circumstances would he have
any other tale to tell her. If he had no other tale, why had he not
been silent? Did he think that she was subject to his rebuke merely
because she lived under his mother's roof? She would soon shew him
that her residence at the Clock House gave him no such authority over
her. Then, amidst her wrath and despair, she cried herself asleep.

While she was sobbing in bed, he was sitting, with a short, black
pipe stuck into his mouth, on the corner of the churchyard wall
opposite. Before he had left the house he and Priscilla had spoken
together for some minutes about Mrs. Trevelyan. "Of course she was
wrong to see him," said Priscilla. "I hesitate to wound her by so
saying, because she has been ill-used,--though I did tell her so,
when she asked me. She could have lost nothing by declining his
visit."

"The worst of it is that Trevelyan swears that he will never receive
her again if she received him."

"He must unswear it," said Priscilla, "that is all. It is out of the
question that a man should take a girl from her home, and make her
his wife, and then throw her off for so little of an offence as this.
She might compel him by law to take her back."

"What would she get by that?"

"Little enough," said Priscilla; "and it was little enough she got by
marrying him. She would have had bread, and meat, and raiment without
being married, I suppose."

"But it was a love-match."

"Yes;--and now she is at Nuncombe Putney, and he is roaming about in
London. He has to pay ever so much a year for his love-match, and she
is crushed into nothing by it. How long will she have to remain here,
Hugh?"

"How can I say? I suppose there is no reason against her remaining as
far as you are concerned?"

"For me personally, none. Were she much worse than I think she is, I
should not care in the least for myself, if I thought that we were
doing her good,--helping to bring her back. She can't hurt me. I am
so fixed, and dry, and established, that nothing anybody says will
affect me. But mamma doesn't like it."

"What is it she dislikes?"

"The idea that she is harbouring a married woman, of whom people say,
at least, that she has a lover."

"Is she to be turned out because people are slanderers?"

"Why should mamma suffer because this woman, who is a stranger to
her, has been imprudent? If she were your wife, Hugh--"

"God forbid!"

"If we were in any way bound to her, of course we would do our duty.
But if it makes mamma unhappy I am sure you will not press it. I
think Mrs. Merton has spoken to her. And then Aunt Stanbury has
written such letters!"

"Who cares for Aunt Jemima?"

"Everybody cares for her,--except you and I. And now this man who has
been here asking the servant questions has upset her greatly. Even
your coming has done so, knowing, as she does, that you have come,
not to see us, but to make inquiries about Mrs. Trevelyan. She is so
annoyed by it, that she does not sleep."

"Do you wish her to be taken away at once?" asked Hugh, almost in an
angry tone.

"Certainly not. That would be impossible. We have agreed to take her,
and must bear with it. And I would not have her moved from this, if I
thought that if she stayed awhile it might be arranged that she might
return from us direct to her husband."

"I shall try that, of course;--now."

"But if he will not have her;--if he be so obstinate, so foolish, and
so wicked, do not leave her here longer than you can help." Then Hugh
explained that Sir Marmaduke and Lady Rowley were to be in England in
the spring, and that it would be very desirable that the poor woman
should not be sent abroad to look for a home before that. "If it must
be so, it must," said Priscilla. "But eight months is a long time."

Hugh went out to smoke his pipe on the church-wall in a moody,
unhappy state of mind. He had hoped to have done so well in regard
to Mrs. Trevelyan! Till he had met Colonel Osborne, he felt sure,
almost sure, that she would have refused to see that pernicious
troubler of the peace of families. In this he found that he had been
disappointed; but he had not expected that Priscilla would have been
so much opposed to the arrangement which he had made about the house,
and then he had been buoyed up by the anticipation of some delight in
meeting Nora Rowley. There was, at any rate, the excitement of seeing
her to keep his spirits from flagging. He had seen her, and had had
the opportunity of which he had so long been thinking. He had seen
her, and had had every possible advantage on his side. What could any
man desire better than the privilege of walking home with the girl
he loved through country lanes of a summer evening? They had been an
hour together,--or might have been, had he chosen to prolong the
interview. But the words which had been spoken between them had had
not the slightest interest,--unless it were that they had tended to
make the interval between him and her wider than ever. He had asked
her,--he thought that he had asked,--whether it would grieve her to
abandon that delicate, dainty mode of life to which she had been
accustomed; and she had replied, that she would never abandon it of
her own accord. Of course she had intended him to take her at her
word.

He blew forth quick clouds of heavy smoke, as he attempted to make
himself believe that this was all for the best. What would such a one
as he was do with a wife? Or, seeing as he did see, that marriage
itself was quite out of the question, how could it be good either for
him or her that they should be tied together by a long engagement?
Such a future would not at all suit the purpose of his life. In his
life absolute freedom would be needed;--freedom from unnecessary
ties, freedom from unnecessary burdens. His income was most
precarious, and he certainly would not make it less so by submission
to any closer literary thraldom. And he believed himself to be a
Bohemian,--too much of a Bohemian to enjoy a domestic fireside with
children and slippers. To be free to go where he liked, and when he
liked; to think as he pleased; to be driven nowhere by conventional
rules; to use his days, Sundays as well as Mondays, as he pleased
to use them; to turn Republican, if his mind should take him that
way,--or Quaker, or Mormon, or Red Indian, if he wished it, and in so
turning to do no damage to any one but himself;--that was the life
which he had planned for himself. His Aunt Stanbury had not read
his character altogether wrongly, as he thought, when she had once
declared that decency and godliness were both distasteful to him.
Would it not be destruction to such a one as he was, to fall into an
interminable engagement with any girl, let her be ever so sweet?

But yet, he felt as he sat there, filling pipe after pipe, smoking
away till past midnight, that though he could not bear the idea of
trammels, though he was totally unfit for matrimony, either present
or in prospect,--he felt that he had within his breast a double
identity, and that that other division of himself would be utterly
crushed if it were driven to divest itself of the idea of love.
Whence was to come his poetry, the romance of his life, the springs
of clear water in which his ignoble thoughts were to be dipped till
they should become pure, if love was to be banished altogether from
the list of delights that were possible to him? And then he began
to speculate on love,--that love of which poets wrote, and of which
he found that some sparkle was necessary to give light to his life.
Was it not the one particle of divine breath given to man, of which
he had heard since he was a boy? And how was this love to be come
at, and was it to be a thing of reality, or merely an idea? Was
it a pleasure to be attained, or a mystery that charmed by the
difficulties of the distance,--a distance that never could be so
passed that the thing should really be reached? Was love to be
ever a delight, vague as is that feeling of unattainable beauty
which far-off mountains give, when you know that you can never
place yourself amidst their unseen valleys? And if love could be
reached,--the love of which the poets sing, and of which his own
heart was ever singing,--what were to be its pleasures? To press a
hand, to kiss a lip, to clasp a waist, to hear even the low voice of
the vanquished, confessing loved one as she hides her blushing cheek
upon your shoulder,--what is it all but to have reached the once
mysterious valley of your far-off mountain, and to have found that it
is as other valleys,--rocks and stones, with a little grass, and a
thin stream of running water? But beyond that pressure of the hand,
and that kissing of the lips,--beyond that short-lived pressure of
the plumage which is common to birds and men,--what could love do
beyond that? There were children with dirty faces, and household
bills, and a wife who must, perhaps, always darn the stockings,--and
be sometimes cross. Was love to lead only to this,--a dull life, with
a woman who had lost the beauty from her cheeks, and the gloss from
her hair, and the music from her voice, and the fire from her eye,
and the grace from her step, and whose waist an arm should no longer
be able to span? Did the love of the poets lead to that, and that
only? Then, through the cloud of smoke, there came upon him some
dim idea of self-abnegation,--that the mysterious valley among
the mountains, the far-off prospect of which was so charming to
him,--which made the poetry of his life, was, in fact, the capacity
of caring more for other human beings than for himself. The beauty of
it all was not so much in the thing loved as in the loving. "Were she
a cripple, hunchbacked, eyeless," he said to himself, "it might be
the same. Only she must be a woman." Then he blew off a great cloud
of smoke, and went into bed lost amidst poetry, philosophy, love, and
tobacco.

It had been arranged over-night that he was to start the next morning
at half-past seven, and Priscilla had promised to give him his
breakfast before he went. Priscilla, of course, kept her word. She
was one of those women who would take a grim pleasure in coming
down to make the tea at any possible hour,--at five, at four, if it
were needed,--and who would never want to go to bed again when the
ceremony was performed. But when Nora made her appearance,--Nora, who
had been called dainty,--both Priscilla and Hugh were surprised. They
could not say why she was there,--nor could Nora tell herself. She
had not forgiven him. She had no thought of being gentle and loving
to him. She declared to herself that she had no wish of saying
good-bye to him once again. But yet she was in the room, waiting
for him, when he came down to his breakfast. She had been unable to
sleep, and had reasoned with herself as to the absurdity of lying in
bed awake, when she preferred to be up and out of the house. It was
true that she had not been out of her bed at seven any morning since
she had been at Nuncombe Putney; but that was no reason why she
should not be more active on this special morning. There was a noise
in the house, and she never could sleep when there was a noise. She
was quite sure that she was not going down because she wished to see
Hugh Stanbury, but she was equally sure that it would be a disgrace
to her to be deterred from going down, simply because the man was
there. So she descended to the parlour, and was standing near the
open window when Stanbury bustled into the room, some quarter of
an hour after the proper time. Priscilla was there also, guessing
something of the truth, and speculating whether these two young
people, should they love each other, would be the better or the worse
for such love. There must be marriages,--if only that the world
might go on in accordance with the Creator's purpose. But, as far
as Priscilla could see, blessed were they who were not called upon
to assist in the scheme. To her eyes all days seemed to be days of
wrath, and all times, times of tribulation. And it was all mere
vanity and vexation of spirit. To go on and bear it till one
was dead,--helping others to bear it, if such help might be of
avail,--that was her theory of life. To make it pleasant by eating,
and drinking, and dancing, or even by falling in love, was, to her
mind, a vain crunching of ashes between the teeth. Not to have ill
things said of her and of hers, not to be disgraced, not to be
rendered incapable of some human effort, not to have actually to
starve,--such was the extent of her ambition in this world. And for
the next,--she felt so assured of the goodness of God that she could
not bring herself to doubt of happiness in a world that was to be
eternal. Her doubt was this, whether it was really the next world
which would be eternal. Of eternity she did not doubt;--but might
there not be many worlds? These things, however, she kept almost
entirely to herself. "You down!" Priscilla had said.

"Well, yes; I could not sleep when I heard you all moving. And the
morning is so fine, and I thought that perhaps you would go out and
walk after your brother has gone." Priscilla promised that she would
walk, and then the tea was made.

"Your sister and I are going out for an early walk," said Nora, when
she was greeted by Stanbury. Priscilla said nothing, but thought she
understood it all.

"I wish I were going with you," said Hugh. Nora, remembering how very
little he had made of his opportunity on the evening before, did not
believe him.

The eggs and fried bacon were eaten in a hurry, and very little was
said. Then there came the moment for parting. The brother and sister
kissed each other, and Hugh took Nora by the hand. "I hope you make
yourself happy here," he said.

"Oh, yes;--if it were only for myself I should want nothing."

"I will do the best I can with Trevelyan."

"The best will be to make him, and every one, understand that the
fault is altogether his, and not Emily's."

"The best will be to make each think that there has been no real
fault," said Hugh.

"There should be no talking of faults," said Priscilla. "Let the
husband take his wife back,--as he is bound to do."

These words occupied hardly a minute in the saying, but during that
minute Hugh Stanbury held Nora by the hand. He held it fast. She
would not attempt to withdraw it, but neither would she return his
pressure by the muscle of a single finger. What right had he to press
her hand; or to make any sign of love, any pretence of loving, when
he had gone out of his way to tell her that she was not good enough
for him? Then he started, and Nora and Priscilla put on their hats
and left the house.

"Let us go to Niddon Park," said Nora.

"To Niddon Park again?"

"Yes; it is so beautiful! And I should like to see it by the morning
light. There is plenty of time."

So they walked to Niddon Park in the morning, as they had done on the
preceding evening. Their conversation at first regarded Trevelyan and
his wife, and the old trouble; but Nora could not keep herself from
speaking of Hugh Stanbury.

"He would not have come," she said, "unless Louis had sent him."

"He would not have come now, I think."

"Of course not;--why should he?--before Parliament was hardly over,
too? But he won't remain in town now,--will he?"

"He says somebody must remain,--and I think he will be in London till
near Christmas."

"How disagreeable! But I suppose he doesn't care. It's all the same
to a man like him. They don't shut the clubs up, I dare say. Will he
come here at Christmas?"

"Either then or for the New Year;--just for a day or two."

"We shall be gone then, I suppose?" said Nora.

"That must depend on Mr. Trevelyan," said Priscilla.

"What a life for two women to lead;--to depend upon the caprice of a
man who must be mad! Do you think that Mr. Trevelyan will care for
what your brother says to him?"

"I do not know Mr. Trevelyan."

"He is very fond of your brother, and I suppose men friends do listen
to each other. They never seem to listen to women. Don't you think
that, after all, they despise women? They look on them as dainty,
foolish things."

"Sometimes women despise men," said Priscilla.

"Not very often;--do they? And then women are so dependent on men. A
woman can get nothing without a man."

"I manage to get on somehow," said Priscilla.

"No, you don't, Miss Stanbury,--if you think of it. You want mutton.
And who kills the sheep?"

"But who cooks it?"

"But the men-cooks are the best," said Nora; "and the men-tailors,
and the men to wait at table, and the men-poets, and the
men-painters, and the men-nurses. All the things that women do, men
do better."

"There are two things they can't do," said Priscilla.

"What are they?"

"They can't suckle babies, and they can't forget themselves."

"About the babies, of course not. As for forgetting themselves,--I am
not quite so sure that I can forget myself.--That is just where your
brother went down last night."

They had at this moment reached the top of the steep slope below
which the river ran brawling among the rocks, and Nora seated herself
exactly where she had sat on the previous evening.

"I have been down scores of times," said Priscilla.

"Let us go now."

"You wouldn't go when Hugh asked you yesterday."

"I didn't care then. But do come now,--if you don't mind the climb."
Then they went down the slope and reached the spot from whence Hugh
Stanbury had jumped from rock to rock across the stream. "You have
never been out there, have you?" said Nora.

"On the rocks? Oh, dear, no! I should be sure to fall."

"But he went; just like a goat."

"That's one of the things that men can do, I suppose," said
Priscilla. "But I don't see any great glory in being like a goat."

"I do. I should like to be able to go, and I think I'll try. It is so
mean to be dainty and weak."

"I don't think it at all dainty to keep dry feet."

"But he didn't get his feet wet," said Nora. "Or if he did, he didn't
mind. I can see at once that I should be giddy and tumble down if I
tried it."

"Of course you would."

"But he didn't tumble down."

"He has been doing it all his life," said Priscilla.

"He can't do it up in London. When I think of myself, Miss Stanbury,
I am so ashamed. There is nothing that I can do. I couldn't write an
article for a newspaper."

"I think I could. But I fear no one would read it."

"They read his," said Nora, "or else he wouldn't be paid for writing
them." Then they climbed back again up the hill, and during the
climbing there were no words spoken. The slope was not much of a
hill,--was no more than the fall from the low ground of the valley to
the course which the river had cut for itself; but it was steep while
it lasted; and both the young women were forced to pause for a minute
before they could proceed upon their journey. As they walked home
Priscilla spoke of the scenery, and of the country, and of the
nature of the life which she and her mother and sister had passed at
Nuncombe Putney. Nora said but little till they were just entering
the village, and then she went back to the subject of her thoughts.
"I would sooner," said she, "write for a newspaper than do anything
else in the world."

"Why so?"

"Because it is so noble to teach people everything! And then a man
who writes for a newspaper must know so many things himself! I
believe there are women who do it, but very few. One or two have done
it, I know."

"Go and tell that to Aunt Stanbury, and hear what she will say about
such women."

"I suppose she is very,--prejudiced."

"Yes; she is; but she is a clever woman. I am inclined to think women
had better not write for newspapers."

"And why not?" Nora asked.

"My reasons would take me a week to explain, and I doubt whether I
have them very clear in my own head. In the first place there is that
difficulty about the babies. Most of them must get married you know."

"But not all," said Nora.

"No; thank God; not all."

"And if you are not married you might write for a newspaper. At any
rate, if I were you, I should be very proud of my brother."

"Aunt Stanbury is not at all proud of her nephew," said Priscilla, as
they entered the house.



CHAPTER XXVI.

A THIRD PARTY IS SO OBJECTIONABLE.


Hugh Stanbury went in search of Trevelyan immediately on his return
to London, and found his friend at his rooms in Lincoln's Inn.

"I have executed my commission," said Hugh, endeavouring to speak of
what he had done in a cheery voice.

"I am much obliged to you, Stanbury; very much;--but I do not know
that I need trouble you to tell me anything about it."

"And why not?"

"I have learned it all from that--man."

"What man?"

"From Bozzle. He has come back, and has been with me, and has learned
everything."

"Look here, Trevelyan;--when you asked me to go down to Devonshire,
you promised me that there should be nothing more about Bozzle. I
expect you to put that rascal, and all that he has told you, out of
your head altogether. You are bound to do so for my sake, and you
will be very wise to do so for your own."

"I was obliged to see him when he came."

"Yes, and to pay him, I do not doubt. But that is all done, and
should be forgotten."

"I can't forget it. Is it true or untrue that he found that man down
there? Is it true or untrue that my wife received Colonel Osborne at
your mother's house? Is it true or untrue that Colonel Osborne went
down there with the express object of seeing her? Is it true or
untrue that they had corresponded? It is nonsense to bid me to forget
all this. You might as well ask me to forget that I had desired her
neither to write to him, nor to see him."

"If I understand the matter," said Trevelyan, "you are incorrect in
one of your assertions."

"In which?"

"You must excuse me if I am wrong, Trevelyan; but I don't think you
ever did tell your wife not to see this man, or not to write to him?"

"I never told her! I don't understand what you mean."

"Not in so many words. It is my belief that she has endeavoured to
obey implicitly every clear instruction that you have given her."

"You are wrong;--absolutely and altogether wrong. Heaven and earth!
Do you mean to tell me now, after all that has taken place, that she
did not know my wishes?"

"I have not said that. But you have chosen to place her in such a
position, that though your word would go for much with her, she
cannot bring herself to respect your wishes."

"And you call that being dutiful and affectionate!"

"I call it human and reasonable; and I think that it is compatible
with duty and affection. Have you consulted her wishes?"

"Always!"

"Consult them now then, and bid her come back to you."

"No;--never! As far as I can see, I will never do so. The moment she
is away from me this man goes to her, and she receives him. She must
have known that she was wrong,--and you must know it."

"I do not think that she is half so wrong as you yourself," said
Stanbury. To this Trevelyan made no answer, and they both remained
silent some minutes. Stanbury had a communication to make before he
went, but it was one which he wished to delay as long as there was a
chance that his friend's heart might be softened;--one which he need
not make if Trevelyan would consent to receive his wife back to his
house. There was the day's paper lying on the table, and Stanbury had
taken it up and was reading it,--or pretending to read it.

"I will tell you what I propose to do," said Trevelyan.

"Well."

"It is best both for her and for me that we should be apart."

"I cannot understand how you can be so mad as to say so."

"You don't understand what I feel. Heaven and earth! To have a man
coming and going--. But, never mind. You do not see it, and nothing
will make you see it. And there is no reason why you should."

"I certainly do not see it. I do not believe that your wife cares
more for Colonel Osborne, except as an old friend of her father's,
than she does for the fellow that sweeps the crossing. It is a matter
in which I am bound to tell you what I think."

"Very well. Now, if you have freed your mind, I will tell you my
purpose. I am bound to do so, because your people are concerned in
it. I shall go abroad."

"And leave her in England?"

"Certainly. She will be safer here than she can be abroad,--unless
she should choose to go back with her father to the islands."

"And take the boy?"

"No;--I could not permit that. What I intend is this. I will give
her £800 a year, as long as I have reason to believe that she has no
communication whatever, either by word of mouth or by letter, with
that man. If she does, I will put the case immediately into the hands
of my lawyer, with instructions to him to ascertain from counsel what
severest steps I can take."

"How I hate that word severe, when applied to a woman."

"I dare say you do,--when applied to another man's wife. But there
will be no severity in my first proposition. As for the child,--if
I approve of the place in which she lives, as I do at present,--he
shall remain with her for nine months in the year till he is
six years old. Then he must come to me. And he shall come to me
altogether if she sees or hears from that man. I believe that £800
a year will enable her to live with all comfort under your mother's
roof."

"As to that," said Stanbury, slowly, "I suppose I had better tell you
at once, that the Nuncombe Putney arrangement cannot be considered as
permanent."

"Why not?"

"Because my mother is timid and nervous, and altogether unused to the
world."

"That unfortunate woman is to be sent away,--even from Nuncombe
Putney!"

"Understand me, Trevelyan."

"I understand you. I understand you most thoroughly. Nor do I wonder
at it in the least. Do not suppose that I am angry with your mother,
or with you, or with your sister. I have no right to expect that they
should keep her after that man has made his way into their house. I
can well conceive that no honest, high-minded lady would do so."

"It is not that at all."

"But it is that. How can you tell me that it isn't? And yet you would
have me believe that I am not disgraced!" As he said this Trevelyan
got up, and walked about the room, tearing his hair with his hands.
He was in truth a wretched man, from whose mind all expectation of
happiness was banished, who regarded his own position as one of
incurable ignominy, looking upon himself as one who had been made
unfit for society by no fault of his own. What was he to do with the
wretched woman who could be kept from the evil of her pernicious
vanity by no gentle custody, whom no most distant retirement
would make safe from the effects of her own ignorance, folly, and
obstinacy? "When is she to go?" he asked in a low, sepulchral
tone,--as though these new tidings that had come upon him had been
fatal--laden with doom, and finally subversive of all chance even of
tranquillity.

"When you and she may please."

"That is all very well;--but let me know the truth. I would not have
your mother's house--contaminated; but may she remain there for a
week?"

Stanbury jumped from his seat with an oath. "I tell you what it
is, Trevelyan;--if you speak of your wife in that way, I will not
listen to you. It is unmanly and untrue to say that her presence
can--contaminate any house."

"That is very fine. It may be chivalrous in you to tell me on her
behalf that I am a liar,--and that I am not a man."

"You drive me to it."

"But what am I to think when you are forced to declare that this
unfortunate woman can not be allowed to remain at your mother's
house,--a house which has been especially taken with reference to a
shelter for her? She has been received,--with the idea that she would
be discreet. She has been indiscreet, past belief, and she is to be
turned out,--most deservedly. Heaven and earth! Where shall I find
a roof for her head?" Trevelyan as he said this was walking about
the room with his hands stretched up towards the ceiling; and as
his friend was attempting to make him comprehend that there was no
intention on the part of any one to banish Mrs. Trevelyan from the
Clock House, at least for some months to come,--not even till after
Christmas unless some satisfactory arrangement could be sooner
made,--the door of the room was opened by the boy, who called himself
a clerk, and who acted as Trevelyan's servant in the chambers, and
a third person was shown into the room. That third person was Mr.
Bozzle. As no name was given, Stanbury did not at first know Mr.
Bozzle, but he had not had his eye on Mr. Bozzle for half a minute
before he recognised the ex-policeman by the outward attributes
and signs of his profession. "Oh, is that you, Mr. Bozzle?" said
Trevelyan, as soon as the great man had made his bow of salutation.
"Well;--what is it?"


   [Illustration: That third person was Mr. Bozzle.]


"Mr. Hugh Stanbury, I think," said Bozzle, making another bow to the
young barrister.

"That's my name," said Stanbury.

"Exactly so, Mr. S. The identity is one as I could prove on oath in
any court in England. You was on the railway platform at Exeter on
Saturday when we was waiting for the 12 express 'buss;--wasn't you
now, Mr. S.?"

"What's that to you?"

"Well;--as it do happen, it is something to me. And, Mr. S., if you
was asked that question in hany court in England or before even one
of the metropolitan bekes, you wouldn't deny it."

"Why the devil should I deny it? What's all this about, Trevelyan?"

"Of course you can't deny it, Mr. S. When I'm down on a fact, I am
down on it. Nothing else wouldn't do in my profession."

"Have you anything to say to me, Mr. Bozzle?" asked Trevelyan.

"Well;--I have; just a word."

"About your journey to Devonshire?"

"Well;--in a way it is about my journey to Devonshire. It's all along
of the same job, Mr. Trewillian."

"You can speak before my friend here," said Trevelyan. Bozzle had
taken a great dislike to Hugh Stanbury, regarding the barrister with
a correct instinct as one who was engaged for the time in the same
service with himself, and who was his rival in that service. When
thus instigated to make as it were a party of three in this delicate
and most confidential matter, and to take his rival into his
confidence, he shook his head slowly and looked Trevelyan hard in the
face,--"Mr. Stanbury is my particular friend," said Trevelyan, "and
knows well the circumstances of this unfortunate affair. You can say
anything before him."

Bozzle shook his head again. "I'd rayther not, Mr. Trewillian," said
he. "Indeed I'd rayther not. It's something very particular."

"If you take my advice," said Stanbury, "you will not hear him
yourself."

"That's your advice, Mr. S.?" asked Mr. Bozzle.

"Yes;--that's my advice. I'd never have anything to do with such a
fellow as you as long as I could help it."

"I dare say not, Mr. S.; I dare say not. We're hexpensive, and we're
haccurate;--neither of which is much in your line, Mr. S., if I
understand about it rightly."

"Mr. Bozzle, if you've got anything to tell, tell it," said Trevelyan
angrily.

"A third party is so objectionable," pleaded Bozzle.

"Never mind. That is my affair."

"It is your affair, Mr. Trewillian. There's not a doubt of that. The
lady is your wife."

"Damnation!" shouted Trevelyan.

"But the credit, sir," said Bozzle. "The credit is mine. And here
is Mr. S. has been down a interfering with me, and doing no 'varsal
good, as I'll undertake to prove by evidence before the affair is
over."

"The affair is over," said Stanbury.

"That's as you think, Mr. S. That's where your information goes to,
Mr. S. Mine goes a little beyond that, Mr. S. I've means as you can
know nothing about, Mr. S. I've irons in the fire, what you're as
ignorant on as the babe as isn't born."

"No doubt you have, Mr. Bozzle," said Stanbury.

"I has. And now if it be that I must speak before a third party, Mr.
Trewillian, I'm ready. It ain't that I'm no ways ashamed. I've done
my duty, and knows how to do it. And let a counsel be ever so sharp,
I never yet was so 'posed but what I could stand up and hold my own.
The Colonel, Mr. Trewillian, got,--a letter,--from your lady,--this
morning."

"I don't believe it," said Stanbury, sharply.

"Very likely not, Mr. S. It ain't in my power to say anything
whatever about you believing or not believing. But Mr. T.'s lady
has wrote the letter; and the Colonel,--he has received it. You
don't look after these things, Mr. S. You don't know the ways of
'em. But it's my business. The lady has wrote the letter, and the
Colonel,--why, he has received it." Trevelyan had become white with
rage when Bozzle first mentioned this continued correspondence
between his wife and Colonel Osborne. It never occurred to him to
doubt the correctness of the policeman's information, and he regarded
Stanbury's assertion of incredulity as being simply of a piece with
his general obstinacy in the matter. At this moment he began to
regret that he had called in the assistance of his friend, and that
he had not left the affair altogether in the hands of that much more
satisfactory, but still more painful, agent, Mr. Bozzle. He had again
seated himself, and for a moment or two remained silent on his chair.
"It ain't my fault, Mr. Trewillian," continued Bozzle, "if this
little matter oughtn't never to have been mentioned before a third
party."

"It is of no moment," said Trevelyan, in a low voice. "What does it
signify who knows it now?"

"Do not believe it, Trevelyan," said Stanbury.

"Very well, Mr. S. Very well. Just as you like. Don't believe it.
Only it's true, and it's my business to find them things out. It's
my business, and I finds 'em out. Mr. Trewillian can do as he likes
about it. If it's right, why, then it is right. It ain't for me to
say nothing about that. But there's the fact. The lady, she has wrote
another letter; and the Colonel,--why, he has received it. There
ain't nothing wrong about the post-office. If I was to say what was
inside of that billydou,--why, then I should be proving what I didn't
know; and when it came to standing up in court, I shouldn't be able
to hold my own. But as for the letter, the lady wrote it, and the
Colonel,--he received it."

"That will do, Mr. Bozzle," said Trevelyan.

"Shall I call again, Mr. Trewillian?"

"No;--yes. I'll send to you, when I want you. You shall hear from
me."

"I suppose I'd better be keeping my eyes open about the Colonel's
place, Mr. Trewillian?"

"For God's sake, Trevelyan, do not have anything more to do with this
man!"

"That's all very well for you, Mr. S.," said Bozzle. "The lady ain't
your wife."

"Can you imagine anything more disgraceful than all this?" said
Stanbury.

"Nothing; nothing; nothing!" answered Trevelyan.

"And I'm to keep stirring, and be on the move?" again suggested
Bozzle, who prudently required to be fortified by instructions before
he devoted his time and talents even to so agreeable a pursuit as
that in which he had been engaged.

"You shall hear from me," said Trevelyan.

"Very well;--very well. I wish you good-day, Mr. Trewillian. Mr. S.,
yours most obedient. There was one other point, Mr. Trewillian."

"What point?" asked Trevelyan, angrily.

"If the lady was to join the Colonel--"

"That will do, Mr. Bozzle," said Trevelyan, again jumping up from
his chair. "That will do." So saying, he opened the door, and Bozzle,
with a bow, took his departure. "What on earth am I to do? How am I
to save her?" said the wretched husband, appealing to his friend.

Stanbury endeavoured with all his eloquence to prove that this latter
piece of information from the spy must be incorrect. If such a letter
had been written by Mrs. Trevelyan to Colonel Osborne, it must have
been done while he, Stanbury, was staying at the Clock House. This
seemed to him to be impossible; but he could hardly explain why
it should be impossible. She had written to the man before, and
had received him when he came to Nuncombe Putney. Why was it even
improbable that she should have written to him again? Nevertheless,
Stanbury felt sure that she had sent no such letter. "I think I
understand her feelings and her mind," said he; "and if so, any such
correspondence would be incompatible with her previous conduct."
Trevelyan only smiled at this,--or pretended to smile. He would
not discuss the question; but believed implicitly what Bozzle had
told him in spite of all Stanbury's arguments. "I can say nothing
further," said Stanbury.

"No, my dear fellow. There is nothing further to be said, except
this, that I will have my unfortunate wife removed from the decent
protection of your mother's roof with the least possible delay. I
feel that I owe Mrs. Stanbury the deepest apology for having sent
such an inmate to trouble her repose."

"Nonsense!"

"That is what I feel."

"And I say that it is nonsense. If you had never sent that wretched
blackguard down to fabricate lies at Nuncombe Putney, my mother's
repose would have been all right. As it is, Mrs. Trevelyan can remain
where she is till after Christmas. There is not the least necessity
for removing her at once. I only meant to say that the arrangement
should not be regarded as altogether permanent. I must go to my work
now. Good-bye."

"Good-bye, Stanbury."

Stanbury paused at the door, and then once more turned round. "I
suppose it is of no use my saying anything further; but I wish you to
understand fully that I regard your wife as a woman much ill-used,
and I think you are punishing her, and yourself, too, with a cruel
severity for an indiscretion of the very slightest kind."



CHAPTER XXVII.

MR. TREVELYAN'S LETTER TO HIS WIFE.


Trevelyan, when he was left alone, sat for above a couple of hours
contemplating the misery of his position, and endeavouring to teach
himself by thinking what ought to be his future conduct. It never
occurred to him during these thoughts that it would be well that he
should at once take back his wife, either as a matter of duty, or of
welfare, for himself or for her. He had taught himself to believe
that she had disgraced him; and, though this feeling of disgrace
made him so wretched that he wished that he were dead, he would
allow himself to make no attempt at questioning the correctness of
his conviction. Though he were to be shipwrecked for ever, even
that seemed to be preferable to supposing that he had been wrong.
Nevertheless, he loved his wife dearly, and, in the white heat of his
anger endeavoured to be merciful to her. When Stanbury accused him
of severity, he would not condescend to defend himself; but he told
himself then of his great mercy. Was he not as fond of his own boy
as any other father, and had he not allowed her to take the child
because he had felt that a mother's love was more imperious, more
craving in its nature, than the love of a father? Had that been
severe? And had he not resolved to allow her every comfort which
her unfortunate position,--the self-imposed misfortune of her
position,--would allow her to enjoy? She had come to him without
a shilling; and yet, bad as her treatment of him had been, he was
willing to give enough not only to support her, but her sister also,
with every comfort. Severe! No; that, at least, was an undeserved
accusation. He had been anything but severe. Foolish he might have
been, in taking a wife from a home in which she had been unable to
learn the discretion of a matron; too trusting he had been, and too
generous,--but certainly not severe. But, of course, as he said to
himself, a young man like Stanbury would take the part of a woman
with whose sister he was in love. Then he turned his thoughts upon
Bozzle, and there came over him a crushing feeling of ignominy,
shame, moral dirt, and utter degradation, as he reconsidered his
dealings with that ingenious gentleman. He was paying a rogue to
watch the steps of a man whom he hated, to pry into the home secrets,
to read the letters, to bribe the servants, to record the movements
of this rival, this successful rival, in his wife's affections! It
was a filthy thing,--and yet what could he do? Gentlemen of old, his
own grandfather, or his father, would have taken such a fellow as
Colonel Osborne by the throat and have caned him, and afterwards
would have shot him, or have stood to be shot. All that was changed
now,--but it was not his fault that it was changed. He was willing
enough to risk his life, could any opportunity of risking it in this
cause be obtained for him. But were he to cudgel Colonel Osborne,
he would be simply arrested, and he would then be told that he had
disgraced himself foully by striking a man old enough to be his
father!

How was he to have avoided the employment of some such man as Bozzle?
He had also employed a gentleman, his friend, Stanbury; and what was
the result? The facts were not altered. Even Stanbury did not attempt
to deny that there had been a correspondence, and that there had been
a visit. But Stanbury was so blind to all impropriety, or pretended
such blindness, that he defended that which all the world agreed
in condemning. Of what use had Stanbury been to him? He had wanted
facts, not advice. Stanbury had found out no facts for him; but
Bozzle, either by fair means or foul, did get at the truth. He did
not doubt but that Bozzle was right about that letter written only
yesterday, and received on that very morning. His wife, who had
probably been complaining of her wrongs to Stanbury, must have
retired from that conversation to her chamber, and immediately have
written this letter to her lover! With such a woman as that what can
be done in these days otherwise than by the aid of such a one as
Bozzle? He could not confine his wife in a dungeon. He could not
save himself from the disgrace of her misconduct, by any rigours of
surveillance on his own part. As wives are managed now-a-days, he
could not forbid to her the use of the post-office,--could not hinder
her from seeing this hypocritical scoundrel, who carried on his
wickedness under the false guise of family friendship. He had given
her every chance to amend her conduct: but, if she were resolved
on disobedience, he had no means of enforcing obedience. The facts,
however, it was necessary that he should know.

And now, what should he do? How should he go to work to make her
understand that she could not write even a letter without his knowing
it; and that if she did either write to the man or see him he would
immediately take the child from her, and provide for her only in such
fashion as the law should demand from him? For himself, and for his
own life, he thought that he had determined what he would do. It was
impossible that he should continue to live in London. He was ashamed
to enter a club. He had hardly a friend to whom it was not an agony
to speak. They who knew him, knew also of his disgrace, and no longer
asked him to their houses. For days past he had eaten alone, and sat
alone, and walked alone. All study was impossible to him. No pursuit
was open to him. He spent his time in thinking of his wife, and of
the disgrace which she had brought upon him. Such a life as this, he
knew, was unmanly and shameful, and it was absolutely necessary for
him that he should in some way change it. He would go out of England,
and would travel,--if only he could so dispose of his wife that she
might be safe from any possible communication with Colonel Osborne.
If that could be effected, nothing that money could do should be
spared for her. If that could not be effected he would remain at
home,--and crush her.

That night before he went to bed he wrote a letter to his wife, which
was as follows;--


   DEAR EMILY,

   I have learned, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you
   have corresponded with Colonel Osborne since you have been
   at Nuncombe Putney, and also that you have seen him there.
   This has been done in direct opposition to my expressed
   wishes, and I feel myself compelled to tell you that such
   conduct is disgraceful to you, and disgracing to me. I am
   quite at a loss to understand how you can reconcile to
   yourself so flagrant a disobedience of my instructions,
   and so perverse a disregard to the opinion of the world at
   large.

   But I do not write now for the sake of finding fault with
   you. It is too late for me to have any hope that I can do
   so with good effect, either as regards your credit or my
   happiness. Nevertheless, it is my duty to protect both you
   and myself from further shame; and I wish to tell you what
   are my intentions with that view. In the first place, I
   warn you that I keep a watch on you. The doing so is very
   painful to me, but it is absolutely necessary. You cannot
   see Colonel Osborne, or write to him, without my knowing
   it. I pledge you my word that in either case,--that is, if
   you correspond with him or see him,--I will at once take
   our boy away from you. I will not allow him to remain,
   even with a mother, who shall so misconduct herself.
   Should Colonel Osborne address a letter to you, I desire
   that you will put it under an envelope addressed to me.

   If you obey my commands on this head I will leave our boy
   with you nine months out of every year till he shall be
   six years old. Such, at least, is my present idea, though
   I will not positively bind myself to adhere to it. And I
   will allow you £800 per year for your own maintenance and
   that of your sister. I am greatly grieved to find from
   my friend Mr. Stanbury that your conduct in reference to
   Colonel Osborne has been such as to make it necessary that
   you should leave Mrs. Stanbury's house. I do not wonder
   that it should be so. I shall immediately seek for a
   future home for you, and when I have found one that is
   suitable, I will have you conveyed to it.

   I must now further explain my purposes,--and I must beg
   you to remember that I am driven to do so by your direct
   disobedience to my expressed wishes. Should there be any
   further communication between you and Colonel Osborne,
   not only will I take your child away from you, but I will
   also limit the allowance to be made to you to a bare
   sustenance. In such case, I shall put the matter into the
   hands of a lawyer, and shall probably feel myself driven
   to take steps towards freeing myself from a connection
   which will be disgraceful to my name.

   For myself, I shall live abroad during the greater part of
   the year. London has become to me uninhabitable, and all
   English pleasures are distasteful.

   Yours affectionately,

   LOUIS TREVELYAN.


When he had finished this he read it twice, and believed that he had
written, if not an affectionate, at any rate a considerate letter.
He had no bounds to the pity which he felt for himself in reference
to the injury which was being done to him, and he thought that the
offers which he was making, both in respect to his child and the
money, were such as to entitle him to his wife's warmest gratitude.
He hardly recognised the force of the language which he used when he
told her that her conduct was disgraceful, and that she had disgraced
his name. He was quite unable to look at the whole question between
him and his wife from her point of view. He conceived it possible
that such a woman as his wife should be told that her conduct would
be watched, and that she should be threatened with the Divorce Court,
with an effect that should, upon the whole, be salutary. There
be men, and not bad men either, and men neither uneducated, or
unintelligent, or irrational in ordinary matters, who seem to be
absolutely unfitted by nature to have the custody or guardianship of
others. A woman in the hands of such a man can hardly save herself or
him from endless trouble. It may be that between such a one and his
wife, events shall flow on so evenly that no ruling, no constraint
is necessary,--that even the giving of advice is never called for
by the circumstances of the day. If the man be happily forced to
labour daily for his living till he be weary, and the wife be laden
with many ordinary cares, the routine of life may run on without
storms;--but for such a one, if he be without work, the management
of a wife will be a task full of peril. The lesson may be learned at
last; he may after years come to perceive how much and how little of
guidance the partner of his life requires at his hands; and he may be
taught how that guidance should be given;--but in the learning of the
lesson there will be sorrow and gnashing of teeth. It was so now with
this man. He loved his wife. To a certain extent he still trusted
her. He did not believe that she would be faithless to him after the
fashion of women who are faithless altogether. But he was jealous of
authority, fearful of slights, self-conscious, afraid of the world,
and utterly ignorant of the nature of a woman's mind.

He carried the letter with him in his pocket throughout the next
morning, and in the course of the day he called upon Lady Milborough.
Though he was obstinately bent on acting in accordance with his own
views, yet he was morbidly desirous of discussing the grievousness of
his position with his friends. He went to Lady Milborough, asking for
her advice, but desirous simply of being encouraged by her to do that
which he was resolved to do on his own judgment.

"Down,--after her,--to Nuncombe Putney!" said Lady Milborough,
holding up both her hands.

"Yes; he has been there. And she has been weak enough to see him."

"My dear Louis, take her to Naples at once,--at once."

"It is too late for that now, Lady Milborough."

"Too late! Oh, no. She has been foolish, indiscreet,
disobedient,--what you will of that kind. But, Louis, don't send her
away; don't send your young wife away from you. Those whom God has
joined together, let no man put asunder."

"I cannot consent to live with a wife with whom neither my wishes
nor my word have the slightest effect. I may believe of her what I
please, but, think what the world will believe! I cannot disgrace
myself by living with a woman who persists in holding intercourse
with a man whom the world speaks of as her lover."

"Take her to Naples," said Lady Milborough, with all the energy of
which she was capable.

"I can take her nowhere, nor will I see her, till she has given proof
that her whole conduct towards me has been altered. I have written a
letter to her, and I have brought it. Will you excuse me if I ask you
to take the trouble to read it?"

Then he handed Lady Milborough the letter, which she read very
slowly, and with much care.

"I don't think I would--would--would--"

"Would what?" demanded Trevelyan.

"Don't you think that what you say is a little,--just a little prone
to make,--to make the breach perhaps wider?"

"No, Lady Milborough. In the first place, how can it be wider?"

"You might take her back, you know; and then if you could only get to
Naples!"

"How can I take her back while she is corresponding with this man?"

"She wouldn't correspond with him at Naples."

Trevelyan shook his head and became cross. His old friend would not
at all do as old friends are expected to do when called upon for
advice.

"I think," said he, "that what I have proposed is both just and
generous."

"But, Louis, why should there be any separation?"

"She has forced it upon me. She is headstrong, and will not be
ruled."

"But this about disgracing you. Do you think that you must say that?"

"I think I must, because it is true. If I do not tell her the truth,
who is there that will do so? It may be bitter now, but I think that
it is for her welfare."

"Dear, dear, dear!"

"I want nothing for myself, Lady Milborough."

"I am sure of that, Louis."

"My whole happiness was in my home. No man cared less for going out
than I did. My child and my wife were everything to me. I don't
suppose that I was ever seen at a club in the evening once throughout
a season. And she might have had anything that she liked,--anything!
It is hard, Lady Milborough; is it not?"

Lady Milborough, who had seen the angry brow, did not dare to suggest
Naples again. But yet, if any word might be spoken to prevent this
utter wreck of a home, how good a thing it would be! He had got up to
leave her, but she stopped him by holding his hand. "For better, for
worse, Louis; remember that."

"Why has she forgotten it?"

"She is flesh of your flesh, bone of your bone. And for the boy's
sake! Think of your boy, Louis. Do not send that letter. Sleep on it,
Louis, and think of it."

"I have slept on it."

"There is no promise in it of forgiveness after a while. It is
written as though you intended that she should never come back to
you."

"That shall be as she behaves herself."

"But tell her so. Let there be some one bright spot in what you say
to her, on which her mind may fix itself. If she be not altogether
hardened, that letter will drive her to despair."

But Trevelyan would not give up the letter, nor indicate by a word
that he would reconsider the question of its propriety. He escaped as
soon as he could from Lady Milborough's room, and almost declared as
he did so, that he would never enter her doors again. She had utterly
failed to see the matter in the proper light. When she talked of
Naples she must surely have been unable to comprehend the extent
of the ill-usage to which he, the husband, had been subjected. How
was it possible that he should live under the same roof with a wife
who claimed to herself the right of receiving visitors of whom he
disapproved,--a visitor,--a gentleman,--one whom the world called her
lover? He gnashed his teeth and clenched his fist as he thought of
his old friend's ignorance of the very first law in a married man's
code of laws.

But yet when he was out in the streets he did not post his letter at
once; but thought of it throughout the whole day, trying to prove
the weight of every phrase that he had used. Once or twice his heart
almost relented. Once he had the letter in his hand, that he might
tear it. But he did not tear it. He put it back into his pocket, and
thought again of his grievance. Surely it was his first duty in such
an emergency to be firm!

It was certainly a wretched life that he was leading. In the evening
he went all alone to an eating-house for his dinner, and then,
sitting with a miserable glass of sherry before him, he again read
and re-read the epistle which he had written. Every harsh word that
it contained was, in some sort, pleasant to his ear. She had hit
him hard, and should he not hit her again? And then, was it not his
bounden duty to let her know the truth? Yes; it was his duty to be
firm.

So he went out and posted the letter.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

GREAT TRIBULATION.


   [Illustration]

Trevelyan's letter to his wife fell like a thunderbolt among them at
Nuncombe Putney. Mrs. Trevelyan was altogether unable to keep it to
herself;--indeed she made no attempt at doing so. Her husband had
told her that she was to be banished from the Clock House because her
present hostess was unable to endure her misconduct, and of course
she demanded the reasons of the charge that was thus brought against
her. When she first read the letter, which she did in the presence of
her sister, she towered in her passion.

"Disgraced him! I have never disgraced him. It is he that has
disgraced me. Correspondence! Yes;--he shall see it all. Unjust,
ignorant, foolish man! He does not remember that the last
instructions he really gave me, were to bid me see Colonel Osborne.
Take my boy away! Yes. Of course, I am a woman and must suffer. I
will write to Colonel Osborne, and will tell him the truth, and will
send my letter to Louis. He shall know how he has ill-treated me! I
will not take a penny of his money;--not a penny. Maintain you! I
believe he thinks that we are beggars. Leave this house because of my
conduct! What can Mrs. Stanbury have said? What can any of them have
said? I will demand to be told. Free himself from the connection!
Oh, Nora, Nora! that it should come to this!--that I should be thus
threatened, who have been as innocent as a baby! If it were not for
my child, I think that I should destroy myself!"

Nora said what she could to comfort her sister, insisting chiefly on
the promise that the child should not be taken away. There was no
doubt as to the husband's power in the mind of either of them; and
though, as regarded herself, Mrs. Trevelyan would have defied her
husband, let his power be what it might, yet she acknowledged to
herself that she was in some degree restrained by the fear that she
would find herself deprived of her only comfort.

"We must just go where he bids us,--till papa comes," said Nora.

"And when papa is here, what help will there be then? He will not let
me go back to the islands,--with my boy. For myself I might die, or
get out of his way anywhere. I can see that. Priscilla Stanbury is
right when she says that no woman should trust herself to any man.
Disgraced! That I should live to be told by my husband that I had
disgraced him,--by a lover!"

There was some sort of agreement made between the two sisters as to
the manner in which Priscilla should be interrogated respecting the
sentence of banishment which had been passed. They both agreed that
it would be useless to make inquiry of Mrs. Stanbury. If anything had
really been said to justify the statement made in Mr. Trevelyan's
letter, it must have come from Priscilla, and have reached Trevelyan
through Priscilla's brother. They, both of them, had sufficiently
learned the ways of the house to be sure that Mrs. Stanbury had not
been the person active in the matter. They went down, therefore,
together, and found Priscilla seated at her desk in the parlour.
Mrs. Stanbury was also in the room, and it had been presumed between
the sisters that the interrogations should be made in that lady's
absence; but Mrs. Trevelyan was too hot in the matter for restraint,
and she at once opened out her budget of grievance.

"I have a letter from my husband," she said,--and then paused. But
Priscilla, seeing from the fire in her eyes that she was much moved,
made no reply, but turned to listen to what might further be said. "I
do not know why I should trouble you with his suspicions," continued
Mrs. Trevelyan, "or read to you what he says about--Colonel Osborne."
As she spoke she was holding her husband's letter open in her
hands. "There is nothing in it that you do not know. He says
I have corresponded with him. So I have;--and he shall see the
correspondence. He says that Colonel Osborne visited me. He did come
to see me and Nora."

"As any other old man might have done," said Nora.

"It was not likely that I should openly confess myself to be afraid
to see my father's old friend. But the truth is, my husband does not
know what a woman is."

She had begun by declaring that she would not trouble her friend with
any statement of her husband's complaints against her; but now she
had made her way to the subject, and could hardly refrain herself.
Priscilla understood this, and thought that it would be wise to
interrupt her by a word that might bring her back to her original
purpose. "Is there anything," said she, "which we can do to help
you?"

"To help me? No;--God only can help me. But Louis informs me that I
am to be turned out of this house, because you demand that we should
go."

"Who says that?" exclaimed Mrs. Stanbury.

"My husband. Listen; this is what he says:--'I am greatly grieved to
hear from my friend Mr. Stanbury that your conduct in reference to
Colonel Osborne has been such as to make it necessary that you should
leave Mrs. Stanbury's house.' Is that true? Is that true?" In her
general mode of carrying herself, and of enduring the troubles of
her life, Mrs. Trevelyan was a strong woman; but now her grief was
too much for her, and she burst out into tears. "I am the most
unfortunate woman that ever was born!" she sobbed out through her
tears.

"I never said that you were to go," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"But your son has told Mr. Trevelyan that we must go," said Nora,
who felt that her sense of injury against Hugh Stanbury was greatly
increased by what had taken place. To her mind he was the person most
important in the matter. Why had he desired that they should be sent
away from the Clock House? She was very angry with him, and declared
to herself that she hated him with all her heart. For this man she
had sent away that other lover,--a lover who had really loved her!
And she had even confessed that it was so!

"There is a misunderstanding about this," said Priscilla.

"It must be with your brother, then," said Nora.

"I think not," said Priscilla. "I think that it has been with Mr.
Trevelyan." Then she went on to explain, with much difficulty,
but still with a slow distinctness that was peculiar to her, what
had really taken place. "We have endeavoured," she said, "to show
you,--my mother and I,--that we have not misjudged you; but it
is certainly true that I told my brother that I did not think
the arrangement a good one,--quite as a permanence." It was very
difficult, and her cheeks were red as she spoke, and her lips
faltered. It was an exquisite pain to her to have to give the pain
which her words would convey; but there was no help for it,--as she
said to herself more than once at the time,--there was nothing to be
done but to tell the truth.

"I never said so," blurted out Mrs. Stanbury, with her usual
weakness.

"No, mother. It was my saying. In discussing what was best for us
all, with Hugh, I told him,--what I have just now explained."

"Then of course we must go," said Mrs. Trevelyan, who had gulped down
her sobs and was resolved to be firm,--to give way to no more tears,
to bear all without sign of womanly weakness.

"You will stay with us till your father comes," said Priscilla.

"Of course you will," said Mrs. Stanbury,--"you and Nora. We have got
to be such friends, now."

"No," said Mrs. Trevelyan. "As to friendship for me, it is out of
the question. We must pack up, Nora, and go somewhere. Heaven knows
where!"

Nora was now sobbing. "Why your brother--should want to turn us
out,--after he has sent us here--!"

"My brother wants nothing of the kind," said Priscilla. "Your sister
has no better friend than my brother."

"It will be better, Nora, to discuss the matter no further," said
Mrs. Trevelyan. "We must go away,--somewhere; and the sooner the
better. To be an unwelcome guest is always bad; but to be unwelcome
for such a reason as this is terrible."

"There is no reason," said Mrs. Stanbury; "indeed there is none."

"Mrs. Trevelyan will understand us better when she is less excited,"
said Priscilla. "I am not surprised that she should be indignant now.
I can only say again that we hope you will stay with us till Sir
Marmaduke Rowley shall be in England."

"That is not what your brother means," said Nora.

"Nor is it what I mean," said Mrs. Trevelyan. "Nora, we had better
go to our own room. I suppose I must write to my husband; indeed,
of course I must, that I may send him--the correspondence. I fear
I cannot walk out into the street, Mrs. Stanbury, and make you quit
of me, till I hear from him. And if I were to go to an inn at once,
people would speak evil of me;--and I have no money."

"My dear, how can you think of such a thing!" said Mrs. Stanbury.

"But you may be quite sure that we shall be gone within three
days,--or four at the furthest. Indeed, I will pledge myself not to
remain longer than that,--even though I should have to go to the
poor-house. Neither I nor my sister will stay in any family,--to
contaminate it. Come, Nora." And so speaking she sailed out of the
room, and her sister followed her.

"Why did you say anything about it? Oh dear, oh dear! why did you
speak to Hugh? See what you have done!"

"I am sorry that I did speak," replied Priscilla slowly.

"Sorry! Of course you are sorry; but what good is that?"

"But, mother, I do not think that I was wrong. I feel sure that the
real fault in all this is with Mr. Trevelyan, as it has been all
through. He should not have written to her as he has done."

"I suppose Hugh did tell him."

"No doubt;--and I told Hugh; but not after the fashion in which he
has told her. I blame myself mostly for this,--that we ever consented
to come to this house. We had no business here. Who is to pay the
rent?"

"Hugh insisted upon taking it."

"Yes;--and he will pay the rent; and we shall be a drag upon him, as
though he had been fool enough to have a wife and a family of his
own. And what good have we done? We had not strength enough to say
that that wicked man should not see her when he came;--for he is a
wicked man."

"If we had done that she would have been as bad then as she is now."

"Mother, we had no business to meddle either with her badness or
her goodness. What had we to do with the wife of such a one as Mr.
Trevelyan, or with any woman who was separated from her husband?"

"It was Hugh who thought we should be of service to them."

"Yes;--and I do not blame him. He is in a position to be of service
to people. He can do work and earn money, and has a right to think
and to speak. We have a right to think only for ourselves, and we
should not have yielded to him. How are we to get back again out of
this house to our cottage?"

"They are pulling the cottage down, Priscilla."

"To some other cottage, mother. Do you not feel while we are living
here that we are pretending to be what we are not? After all, Aunt
Stanbury was right, though it was not her business to meddle with us.
We should never have come here. That poor woman now regards us as her
bitter enemies."

"I meant to do for the best," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"The fault was mine, mother."

"But you meant it for the best, my dear."

"Meaning for the best is trash. I don't know that I did mean it for
the best. While we were at the cottage we paid our way and were
honest. What is it people say of us now?"

"They can't say any harm."

"They say that we are paid by the husband to keep his wife, and paid
again by the lover to betray the husband."

"Priscilla!"

"Yes;--it is shocking enough. But that comes of people going out
of their proper course. We were too humble and low to have a right
to take any part in such a matter. How true it is that while one
crouches on the ground, one can never fall."

The matter was discussed in the Clock House all day, between Mrs.
Stanbury and Priscilla, and between Mrs. Trevelyan and Nora, in their
rooms and in the garden; but nothing could come of such discussions.
No change could be made till further instructions should have been
received from the angry husband; nor could any kind of argument be
even invented by Priscilla which might be efficacious in inducing the
two ladies to remain at the Clock House, even should Mr. Trevelyan
allow them to do so. They all felt the intolerable injustice, as
it appeared to them,--of their subjection to the caprice of an
unreasonable and ill-conditioned man; but to all of them it seemed
plain enough that in this matter the husband must exercise his own
will,--at any rate till Sir Marmaduke should be in England. There
were many difficulties throughout the day. Mrs. Trevelyan would not
go down to dinner, sending word that she was ill, and that she would,
if she were allowed, have some tea in her own room. And Nora said
that she would remain with her sister. Priscilla went to them more
than once; and late in the evening they all met in the parlour. But
any conversation seemed to be impossible; and Mrs. Trevelyan, as she
went up to her room at night, again declared that she would rid the
house of her presence as soon as possible.

One thing, however, was done on that melancholy day. Mrs. Trevelyan
wrote to her husband, and enclosed Colonel Osborne's letter to
herself, and a copy of her reply. The reader will hardly require to
be told that no such further letter had been written by her as that
of which Bozzle had given information to her husband. Men whose
business it is to detect hidden and secret things, are very apt to
detect things which have never been done. What excuse can a detective
make even to himself for his own existence if he can detect nothing?
Mr. Bozzle was an active-minded man, who gloried in detecting, and
who, in the special spirit of his trade, had taught himself to
believe that all around him were things secret and hidden, which
would be within his power of unravelling if only the slightest clue
were put in his hand. He lived by the crookednesses of people, and
therefore was convinced that straight doings in the world were quite
exceptional. Things dark and dishonest, fights fought and races run
that they might be lost, plants and crosses, women false to their
husbands, sons false to their fathers, daughters to their mothers,
servants to their masters, affairs always secret, dark, foul, and
fraudulent, were to him the normal condition of life. It was to be
presumed that Mrs. Trevelyan should continue to correspond with her
lover,--that old Mrs. Stanbury should betray her trust by conniving
at the lover's visit,--that everybody concerned should be steeped to
the hips in lies and iniquity. When, therefore, he found at Colonel
Osborne's rooms that the Colonel had received a letter with the
Lessboro' post-mark, addressed in the handwriting of a woman, he
did not scruple to declare that Colonel Osborne had received, on
that morning, a letter from Mr. Trevelyan's "lady." But in sending
to her husband what she called with so much bitterness, "the
correspondence," Mrs. Trevelyan had to enclose simply the copy of one
sheet note from herself.

But she now wrote again to Colonel Osborne, and enclosed to her
husband, not a copy of what she had written, but the note itself. It
was as follows:--


   Nuncombe Putney, Wednesday, August 10.

   MY DEAR COLONEL OSBORNE,

   My husband has desired me not to see you, or to write to
   you, or to hear from you again. I must therefore beg you
   to enable me to obey him,--at any rate till papa comes to
   England.

   Yours truly,

   EMILY TREVELYAN.


And then she wrote to her husband, and in the writing of this letter
there was much doubt, much labour, and many changes. We will give it
as it was written when completed:--


   I have received your letter, and will obey your commands
   to the best of my power. In order that you may not be
   displeased by any further unavoidable correspondence
   between me and Colonel Osborne, I have written to him a
   note, which I now send to you. I send it that you may
   forward it. If you do not choose to do so, I cannot be
   answerable either for his seeing me, or for his writing to
   me again.

   I send also copies of all the correspondence I have had
   with Colonel Osborne since you turned me out of your
   house. When he came to call on me, Nora remained with me
   while he was here. I blush while I write this;--not for
   myself, but that I should be so suspected as to make such
   a statement necessary.

   You say that I have disgraced you and myself. I have
   done neither. I am disgraced;--but it is you that have
   disgraced me. I have never spoken a word or done a thing,
   as regards you, of which I have cause to be ashamed.

   I have told Mrs. Stanbury that I and Nora will leave her
   house as soon as we can be made to know where we are to
   go. I beg that this may be decided instantly, as else we
   must walk out into the street without a shelter. After
   what has been said, I cannot remain here.

   My sister bids me say that she will relieve you of all
   burden respecting herself as soon as possible. She will
   probably be able to find a home with my aunt, Mrs.
   Outhouse, till papa comes to England. As for myself, I can
   only say that till he comes, I shall do exactly what you
   order.

   EMILY TREVELYAN.

   Nuncombe Putney, August 10.



CHAPTER XXIX.

MR. AND MRS. OUTHOUSE.


Both Mr. Outhouse and his wife were especially timid in taking upon
themselves the cares of other people. Not on that account is it to be
supposed that they were bad or selfish. They were both given much to
charity, and bestowed both in time and money more than is ordinarily
considered necessary, even from persons in their position. But what
they gave, they gave away from their own quiet hearth. Had money
been wanting to the daughters of his wife's brother, Mr. Outhouse
would have opened such small coffer as he had with a free hand. But
he would have much preferred that his benevolence should be used
in a way that would bring upon him no further responsibility and
no questionings from people whom he did not know and could not
understand.

The Rev. Oliphant Outhouse had been Rector of St.
Diddulph's-in-the-East for the last fifteen years, having married
the sister of Sir Marmaduke Rowley,--then simply Mr. Rowley, with a
colonial appointment in Jamaica of £120 per annum,--twelve years
before his promotion, while he was a curate in one of the populous
borough parishes. He had thus been a London clergyman all his life;
but he knew almost as little of London society as though he had held
a cure in a Westmoreland valley. He had worked hard, but his work had
been altogether among the poor. He had no gift of preaching, and had
acquired neither reputation nor popularity. But he could work;--and
having been transferred because of that capability to the temporary
curacy of St. Diddulph's,--out of one diocese into another,--he had
received the living from the bishop's hands when it became vacant.

A dreary place was the parsonage of St. Diddulph's-in-the-East for
the abode of a gentleman. Mr. Outhouse had not, in his whole parish,
a parishioner with whom he could consort. The greatest men around
him were the publicans, and the most numerous were men employed in
and around the docks. Dredgers of mud, navvies employed on suburban
canals, excavators, loaders and unloaders of cargo, cattle drivers,
whose driving, however, was done mostly on board ship,--such and
such like were the men who were the fathers of the families of St.
Diddulph's-in-the-East. And there was there, not far removed from the
muddy estuary of a little stream that makes its black way from the
Essex marshes among the houses of the poorest of the poor into the
Thames, a large commercial establishment for turning the carcasses of
horses into manure. Messrs. Flowsem and Blurt were in truth the great
people of St. Diddulph's-in-the-East; but the closeness of their
establishment was not an additional attraction to the parsonage.
They were liberal, however, with their money, and Mr. Outhouse was
disposed to think,--custom perhaps having made the establishment
less objectionable to him than it was at first,--that St.
Diddulph's-in-the-East would be more of a Pandemonium than it now
was, if by any sanitary law Messrs. Flowsem and Blurt were compelled
to close their doors. "Non olet," he would say with a grim smile when
the charitable cheque of the firm would come punctually to hand on
the first Saturday after Christmas.

But such a house as his would be, as he knew, but a poor residence
for his wife's nieces. Indeed, without positively saying that he
was unwilling to receive them, he had, when he first heard of the
breaking up of the house in Curzon Street, shewn that he would rather
not take upon his shoulders so great a responsibility. He and his
wife had discussed the matter between them, and had come to the
conclusion that they did not know what kind of things might have been
done in Curzon Street. They would think no evil, they said; but the
very idea of a married woman with a lover was dreadful to them. It
might be that their niece was free from blame. They hoped so. And
even though her sin had been of ever so deep a dye, they would take
her in,--if it were indeed necessary. But they hoped that such help
from them might not be needed. They both knew how to give counsel to
a poor woman, how to rebuke a poor man,--how to comfort, encourage,
or to upbraid the poor. Practice had told them how far they might go
with some hope of doing good;--and at what stage of demoralisation
no good from their hands was any longer within the scope of fair
expectation. But all this was among the poor. With what words to
encourage such a one as their niece Mrs. Trevelyan,--to encourage her
or to rebuke her, as her conduct might seem to make necessary,--they
both felt that they were altogether ignorant. To them Mrs. Trevelyan
was a fine lady. To Mr. Outhouse, Sir Marmaduke had ever been a fine
gentleman, given much to worldly things, who cared more for whist and
a glass of wine than for anything else, and who thought that he had
a good excuse for never going to church in England because he was
called upon, as he said, to show himself in the governor's pew always
once on Sundays, and frequently twice, when he was at the seat of his
government. Sir Marmaduke manifestly looked upon church as a thing
in itself notoriously disagreeable. To Mr. Outhouse it afforded the
great events of the week. And Mrs. Outhouse would declare that to
hear her husband preach was the greatest joy of her life. It may
be understood therefore that though the family connection between
the Rowleys and the Outhouses had been kept up with a semblance of
affection, it had never blossomed forth into cordial friendship.

When therefore the clergyman of St. Diddulph's received a letter from
his niece, Nora, begging him to take her into his parsonage till Sir
Marmaduke should arrive in the course of the spring, and hinting
also a wish that her uncle Oliphant should see Mr. Trevelyan and
if possible arrange that his other niece should also come to the
parsonage, he was very much perturbed in spirit. There was a long
consultation between him and his wife before anything could be
settled, and it may be doubted whether anything would have been
settled, had not Mr. Trevelyan himself made his way to the parsonage,
on the second day of the family conference. Mr. and Mrs. Outhouse had
both seen the necessity of sleeping upon the matter. They had slept
upon it, and the discourse between them on the second day was so
doubtful in its tone that more sleeping would probably have been
necessary had not Mr. Trevelyan appeared and compelled them to a
decision.

"You must remember that I make no charge against her," said
Trevelyan, after the matter had been discussed for about an hour.

"Then why should she not come back to you?" said Mr. Outhouse,
timidly.

"Some day she may,--if she will be obedient. But it cannot be now.
She has set me at defiance; and even yet it is too clear from the
tone of her letter to me that she thinks that she has been right to
do so. How could we live together in amity when she addresses me as a
cruel tyrant?"

"Why did she go away at first?" asked Mrs. Outhouse.

"Because she would compromise my name by an intimacy which I did not
approve. But I do not come here to defend myself, Mrs. Outhouse. You
probably think that I have been wrong. You are her friend; and to
you, I will not even say that I have been right. What I want you to
understand is this. She cannot come back to me now. It would not be
for my honour that she should do so."

"But, sir,--would it not be for your welfare, as a Christian?" asked
Mr. Outhouse.

"You must not be angry with me, if I say that I will not discuss that
just now. I did not come here to discuss it."

"It is very sad for our poor niece," said Mrs. Outhouse.

"It is very sad for me," said Trevelyan, gloomily;--"very sad,
indeed. My home is destroyed; my life is made solitary; I do not even
see my own child. She has her boy with her, and her sister. I have
nobody."

"I can't understand, for the life of me, why you should not live
together just like any other people," said Mrs. Outhouse, whose
woman's spirit was arising in her bosom. "When people are married,
they must put up with something;--at least, most always." This she
added, lest it might be for a moment imagined that she had had any
cause for complaint with her Mr. Outhouse.

"Pray excuse me, Mrs. Outhouse; but I cannot discuss that. The
question between us is this,--can you consent to receive your two
nieces till their father's return;--and if so, in what way shall I
defray the expense of their living? You will of course understand
that I willingly undertake the expense not only of my wife's
maintenance and of her sister's also, but that I will cheerfully
allow anything that may be required either for their comfort or
recreation."

"I cannot take my nieces into my house as lodgers," said Mr.
Outhouse.

"No, not as lodgers; but of course you can understand that it is for
me to pay for my own wife. I know I owe you an apology for mentioning
it;--but how else could I make my request to you?"

"If Emily and Nora come here they must come as our guests," said Mrs.
Outhouse.

"Certainly," said the clergyman. "And if I am told they are in want
of a home they shall find one here till their father comes. But I am
bound to say that as regards the elder I think her home should be
elsewhere."

"Of course it should," said Mrs. Outhouse. "I don't know anything
about the law, but it seems to me very odd that a young woman should
be turned out in this way. You say she has done nothing?"

"I will not argue the matter," said Trevelyan.

"That's all very well, Mr. Trevelyan," said the lady, "but she's my
own niece, and if I don't stand up for her I don't know who will. I
never heard such a thing in my life as a wife being sent away after
such a fashion as that. We wouldn't treat a cookmaid so; that we
wouldn't. As for coming here, she shall come if she pleases, but I
shall always say that it's the greatest shame I ever heard of."

Nothing came of this visit at last. The lady grew in her anger; and
Mr. Trevelyan, in his own defence, was driven to declare that his
wife's obstinate intimacy with Colonel Osborne had almost driven
him out of his senses. Before he left the parsonage he was brought
even to tears by his own narration of his own misery;--whereby Mr.
Outhouse was considerably softened, although Mrs. Outhouse became
more and more stout in the defence of her own sex. But nothing at
last came of it. Trevelyan insisted on paying for his wife, wherever
she might be placed; and when he found that this would not be
permitted to him at the parsonage, he was very anxious to take some
small furnished house in the neighbourhood, in which the two sisters
might live for the next six months under the wings of their uncle
and aunt. But even Mr. Outhouse was moved to pleasantry by this
suggestion, as he explained the nature of the tenements which were
common at St. Diddulph's. Two rooms, front and back, they might
have for about five-and-sixpence a week in a house with three other
families. "But perhaps that is not exactly what you'd like," said Mr.
Outhouse. The interview ended with no result, and Mr. Trevelyan took
his leave, declaring to himself that he was worse off than the foxes,
who have holes in which to lay their heads;--but it must be presumed
that his sufferings in this respect were to be by attorney; as it was
for his wife, and not for himself, that the necessary hole was now
required.

As soon as he was gone Mrs. Outhouse answered Nora's letter, and
without meaning to be explicit, explained pretty closely what had
taken place. The spare bedroom at the parsonage was ready to receive
either one or both of the sisters till Sir Marmaduke should be in
London, if one or both of them should choose to come. And though
there was no nursery at the parsonage,--for Mr. and Mrs. Outhouse had
been blessed with no children,--still room should be made for the
little boy. But they must come as visitors,--"as our own nieces,"
said Mrs. Outhouse. And she went on to say that she would have
nothing to do with the quarrel between Mr. Trevelyan and his wife.
All such quarrels were very bad,--but as to this quarrel she could
take no part either one side or the other. Then she stated that Mr.
Trevelyan had been at the parsonage, but that no arrangement had been
made, because Mr. Trevelyan had insisted on paying for their board
and lodging.

This letter reached Nuncombe Putney before any reply was received by
Mrs. Trevelyan from her husband. This was on the Saturday morning,
and Mrs. Trevelyan had pledged herself to Mrs. Stanbury that she
would leave the Clock House on the Monday. Of course, there was no
need that she should do so. Both Mrs. Stanbury and Priscilla would
now have willingly consented to their remaining till Sir Marmaduke
should be in England. But Mrs. Trevelyan's high spirit revolted
against this after all that had been said. She thought that she
should hear from her husband on the morrow, but the post on Sunday
brought no letter from Trevelyan. On the Saturday they had finished
packing up,--so certain was Mrs. Trevelyan that some instructions as
to her future destiny would be sent to her by her lord.

At last they decided on the Sunday that they would both go at once
to St. Diddulph's; or perhaps it would be more correct to say that
this was the decision of the elder sister. Nora would willingly have
yielded to Priscilla's entreaties, and have remained. But Emily
declared that she could not, and would not, stay in the house. She
had a few pounds,--what would suffice for her journey; and as Mr.
Trevelyan had not thought proper to send his orders to her, she would
go without them. Mrs. Outhouse was her aunt, and her nearest relative
in England. Upon whom else could she lean in this time of her great
affliction? A letter, therefore, was written to Mrs. Outhouse, saying
that the whole party, including the boy and nurse, would be at St.
Diddulph's on the Monday evening, and the last cord was put to the
boxes.

"I suppose that he is very angry," Mrs. Trevelyan said to her sister,
"but I do not feel that I care about that now. He shall have nothing
to complain of in reference to any gaiety on my part. I will see no
one. I will have no--correspondence. But I will not remain here after
what he has said to me, let him be ever so angry. I declare, as I
think of it, it seems to me that no woman was ever so cruelly treated
as I have been." Then she wrote one further line to her husband.


   Not having received any orders from you, and having
   promised Mrs. Stanbury that I would leave this house
   on Monday, I go with Nora to my aunt, Mrs. Outhouse,
   to-morrow.

   E. T.


On the Sunday evening the four ladies drank tea together, and they
all made an effort to be civil, and even affectionate, to each other.
Mrs. Trevelyan had at last allowed Priscilla to explain how it had
come to pass that she had told her brother that it would be better
both for her mother and for herself that the existing arrangements
should be brought to an end, and there had come to be an agreement
between them that they should all part in amity. But the conversation
on the Sunday evening was very difficult.

"I am sure we shall always think of you both with the greatest
kindness," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"As for me," said Priscilla, "your being with us has been a delight
that I cannot describe;--only it has been wrong."

"I know too well," said Mrs. Trevelyan, "that in our present
circumstances we are unable to carry delight with us anywhere."

"You hardly understand what our life has been," said Priscilla; "but
the truth is that we had no right to receive you in such a house as
this. It has not been our way of living, and it cannot continue to be
so. It is not wonderful that people should talk of us. Had it been
called your house, it might have been better."

"And what will you do now?" asked Nora.

"Get out of this place as soon as we can. It is often hard to go
back to the right path; but it may always be done,--or at least
attempted."

"It seems to me that I take misery with me wherever I go," said Mrs.
Trevelyan.

"My dear, it has not been your fault," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"I do not like to blame my brother," said Priscilla, "because he has
done his best to be good to us all;--and the punishment will fall
heaviest upon him, because he must pay for it."

"He should not be allowed to pay a shilling," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

Then the morning came, and at seven o'clock the two sisters, with the
nurse and child, started for Lessboro' Station in Mrs. Crocket's open
carriage, the luggage having been sent on in a cart. There were many
tears shed, and any one looking at the party would have thought that
very dear friends were being torn asunder.

"Mother," said Priscilla, as soon as the parlour door was shut, and
the two were alone together, "we must take care that we never are
brought again into such a mistake as that. They who protect the
injured should be strong themselves."



CHAPTER XXX.

DOROTHY MAKES UP HER MIND.


It was true that most ill-natured things had been said at Lessboro'
and at Nuncombe Putney about Mrs. Stanbury and the visitors at the
Clock House, and that these ill-natured things had spread themselves
to Exeter. Mrs. Ellison of Lessboro', who was not the most
good-natured woman in the world, had told Mrs. Merton of Nuncombe
that she had been told that the Colonel's visit to the lady had been
made by express arrangement between the Colonel and Mrs. Stanbury.
Mrs. Merton, who was very good-natured, but not the wisest woman
in the world, had declared that any such conduct on the part of
Mrs. Stanbury was quite impossible. "What does it matter which it
is,--Priscilla or her mother?" Mrs. Ellison had said. "These are the
facts. Mrs. Trevelyan has been sent there to be out of the way of
this Colonel; and the Colonel immediately comes down and sees her at
the Clock House. But when people are very poor they do get driven to
do almost anything."

Mrs. Merton, not being very wise, had conceived it to be her duty
to repeat this to Priscilla; and Mrs. Ellison, not being very
good-natured, had conceived it to be hers to repeat it to Mrs.
MacHugh at Exeter. And then Bozzle's coming had become known.

"Yes, Mrs. MacHugh, a policeman in mufti down at Nuncombe! I wonder
what our friend in the Close here will think about it! I have always
said, you know, that if she wanted to keep things straight at
Nuncombe, she should have opened her purse-strings."

From all which it may be understood, that Priscilla Stanbury's desire
to go back to their old way of living had not been without reason.

It may be imagined that Miss Stanbury of the Close did not receive
with equanimity the reports which reached her. And, of course, when
she discussed the matter either with Martha or with Dorothy, she fell
back upon her own early appreciation of the folly of the Clock House
arrangement. Nevertheless, she had called Mrs. Ellison very bad
names, when she learned from her friend Mrs. MacHugh what reports
were being spread by the lady from Lessboro'.

"Mrs. Ellison! Yes; we all know Mrs. Ellison. The bitterest tongue in
Devonshire, and the falsest! There are some people at Lessboro' who
would be well pleased if she paid her way there as well as those poor
women do at Nuncombe. I don't think much of what Mrs. Ellison says."

"But it is bad about the policeman," said Mrs. MacHugh.

"Of course it's bad. It's all bad. I'm not saying that it's not bad.
I'm glad I've got this other young woman out of it. It's all that
young man's doing. If I had a son of my own, I'd sooner follow him to
the grave than hear him call himself a Radical."

Then, on a sudden, there came to the Close news that Mrs. Trevelyan
and her sister were gone. On the very Monday on which they went,
Priscilla sent a note on to her sister, in which no special allusion
was made to Aunt Stanbury, but which was no doubt written with the
intention that the news should be communicated.

"Gone; are they? As it is past wishing that they hadn't come, it's
the best thing they could do now. And who is to pay the rent of the
house, now they have gone?" As this was a point on which Dorothy was
not prepared to trouble herself at present, she made no answer to the
question.

Dorothy at this time was in a state of very great perturbation on her
own account. The reader may perhaps remember that she had been much
startled by a proposition that had been made to her in reference
to her future life. Her aunt had suggested to her that she should
become--Mrs. Gibson. She had not as yet given any answer to that
proposition, and had indeed found it to be quite impossible to speak
about it at all. But there can be no doubt that the suggestion had
opened out to her altogether new views of life. Up to the moment
of her aunt's speech to her, the idea of her becoming a married
woman had never presented itself to her. In her humility it had
not occurred to her that she should be counted as one among the
candidates for matrimony. Priscilla had taught her to regard
herself,--indeed, they had both so regarded themselves,--as born to
eat and drink, as little as might be, and then to die. Now, when she
was told that she could, if she pleased, become Mrs. Gibson, she was
almost lost in a whirl of new and confused ideas. Since her aunt had
spoken, Mr. Gibson himself had dropped a hint or two which seemed to
her to indicate that he also must be in the secret. There had been
a party, with a supper, at Mrs. Crumbie's, at which both the Miss
Frenches had been present. But Mr. Gibson had taken her, Dorothy
Stanbury, out to supper, leaving both Camilla and Arabella behind
him in the drawing-room! During the quarter of an hour afterwards
in which the ladies were alone while the gentlemen were eating
and drinking, both Camilla and Arabella continued to wreak their
vengeance. They asked questions about Mrs. Trevelyan, and suggested
that Mr. Gibson might be sent over to put things right. But Miss
Stanbury had heard them, and had fallen upon them with a heavy hand.

"There's a good deal expected of Mr. Gibson, my dears," she said,
"which it seems to me Mr. Gibson is not inclined to perform."

"It is quite indifferent to us what Mr. Gibson may be inclined to
perform," said Arabella. "I'm sure we shan't interfere with Miss
Dorothy."

As this was said quite out loud before all the other ladies, Dorothy
was overcome with shame. But her aunt comforted her when they were
again at home.

"Laws, my dear; what does it matter? When you're Mrs. Gibson, you'll
be proud of it all."

Was it then really written in the book of the Fates that she, Dorothy
Stanbury, was to become Mrs. Gibson? Poor Dorothy began to feel
that she was called upon to exercise an amount of thought and
personal decision to which she had not been accustomed. Hitherto,
in the things which she had done, or left undone, she had received
instructions which she could obey. Had her mother and Priscilla
told her positively not to go to her aunt's house, she would have
remained at Nuncombe without complaint. Had her aunt since her coming
given her orders as to her mode of life,--enjoined, for instance,
additional church attendances, or desired her to perform menial
services in the house,--she would have obeyed, from custom, without a
word. But when she was told that she was to marry Mr. Gibson, it did
seem to her to be necessary to do something more than obey. Did she
love Mr. Gibson? She tried hard to teach herself to think that she
might learn to love him. He was a nice-looking man enough, with sandy
hair, and a head rather bald, with thin lips, and a narrow nose, who
certainly did preach drawling sermons; but of whom everybody said
that he was a very excellent clergyman. He had a house and an income,
and all Exeter had long since decided that he was a man who would
certainly marry. He was one of those men of whom it may be said that
they have no possible claim to remain unmarried. He was fair game,
and unless he surrendered himself to be bagged before long, would
subject himself to just and loud complaint. The Miss Frenches had
been aware of this, and had thought to make sure of him among them.
It was a little hard upon them that the old maid of the Close, as
they always called Miss Stanbury, should interfere with them when
their booty was almost won. And they felt it to be the harder because
Dorothy Stanbury was, as they thought, so poor a creature. That
Dorothy herself should have any doubt as to accepting Mr. Gibson, was
an idea that never occurred to them. But Dorothy had her doubts. When
she came to think of it, she remembered that she had never as yet
spoken a word to Mr. Gibson, beyond such little trifling remarks as
are made over a tea-table. She might learn to love him, but she did
not think that she loved him as yet.

"I don't suppose all this will make any difference to Mr. Gibson,"
said Miss Stanbury to her niece, on the morning after the receipt of
Priscilla's note stating that the Trevelyans had left Nuncombe.

Dorothy always blushed when Mr. Gibson's name was mentioned, and she
blushed now. But she did not at all understand her aunt's allusion.
"I don't know what you mean, aunt," she said.

"Well, you know, my dear, what they say about Mrs. Trevelyan and the
Clock House is not very nice. If Mr. Gibson were to turn round and
say that the connection wasn't pleasant, no one would have a right to
complain."

The faint customary blush on Dorothy's cheeks which Mr. Gibson's name
had produced now covered her whole face even up to the roots of her
hair. "If he believes bad of mamma, I'm sure, Aunt Stanbury, I don't
want to see him again."

"That's all very fine, my dear, but a man has to think of himself,
you know."

"Of course he thinks of himself. Why shouldn't he? I dare say he
thinks of himself more than I do."

"Dorothy, don't be a fool. A good husband isn't to be caught every
day."

"Aunt Stanbury, I don't want to catch any man."

"Dorothy, don't be a fool."

"I must say it. I don't suppose Mr. Gibson thinks of me the least in
the world."

"Psha! I tell you he does."

"But as for mamma and Priscilla, I never could like anybody for a
moment who would be ashamed of them."

She was most anxious to declare that, as far as she knew herself
and her own wishes at present, she entertained no partiality for Mr.
Gibson,--no feeling which could become partiality even if Mr. Gibson
was to declare himself willing to accept her mother and her sister
with herself. But she did not dare to say so. There was an instinct
within her which made it almost impossible to her to express an
objection to a suitor before the suitor had declared himself to be
one. She could speak out as touching her mother and her sister,--but
as to her own feelings she could express neither assent nor dissent.

"I should like to have it settled soon," said Miss Stanbury, in a
melancholy voice. Even to this Dorothy could make no reply. What did
soon mean? Perhaps in the course of a year or two. "If it could be
arranged by the end of this week, it would be a great comfort to me."
Dorothy almost fell off her chair, and was stricken altogether dumb.
"I told you, I think, that Brooke Burgess is coming here?"

"You said he was to come some day."

"He is to be here on Monday. I haven't seen him for more than twelve
years; and now he's to be here next week? Dear, dear! When I think
sometimes of all the hard words that have been spoken, and the harder
thoughts that have been in people's minds, I often regret that the
money ever came to me at all. I could have done without it, very
well,--very well."

"But all the unpleasantness is over now, aunt."

"I don't know about that. Unpleasantness of that kind is apt to
rankle long. But I wasn't going to give up my rights. Nobody but a
coward does that. They talked of going to law and trying the will,
but they wouldn't have got much by that. And then they abused me for
two years. When they had done and got sick of it, I told them they
should have it all back again as soon as I am dead. It won't be long
now. This Burgess is the elder nephew, and he shall have it all."

"Is not he grateful?"

"No. Why should he be grateful? I don't do it for special love of
him. I don't want his gratitude; nor anybody's gratitude. Look at
Hugh. I did love him."

"I am grateful, Aunt Stanbury."

"Are you, my dear? Then show it by being a good wife to Mr. Gibson,
and a happy wife. I want to get everything settled while Burgess is
here. If he is to have it, why should I keep him out of it whilst I
live? I wonder whether Mr. Gibson would mind coming and living here,
Dolly?"

The thing was coming so near to her that Dorothy began to feel that
she must, in truth, make up her mind, and let her aunt know also how
it had been made up. She was sensible enough to perceive that if
she did not prepare herself for the occasion she would find herself
hampered by an engagement simply because her aunt had presumed that
it was out of the question that she should not acquiesce. She would
drift into marriage with Mr. Gibson against her will. Her greatest
difficulty was the fact that her aunt clearly had no doubt on the
subject. And as for herself, hitherto her feelings did not, on either
side, go beyond doubts. Assuredly it would be a very good thing for
her to become Mrs. Gibson, if only she could create for herself some
attachment for the man. At the present moment her aunt said nothing
more about Mr. Gibson, having her mind much occupied with the coming
of Mr. Brooke Burgess.

"I remember him twenty years ago and more; as nice a boy as you would
wish to see. His father was the fourth of the brothers. Dear, dear!
Three of them are gone; and the only one remaining is old Barty, whom
no one ever loved."

The Burgesses had been great people in Exeter, having been both
bankers and brewers there, but the light of the family had paled;
and though Bartholomew Burgess, of whom Miss Stanbury declared that
no one had ever loved him, still had a share in the bank, it was
well understood in the city that the real wealth in the firm of
Cropper and Burgess belonged to the Cropper family. Indeed the most
considerable portion of the fortune that had been realised by old
Mr. Burgess had come into the possession of Miss Stanbury herself.
Bartholomew Burgess had never forgiven his brother's will, and
between him and Jemima Stanbury the feud was irreconcileable. The
next brother, Tom Burgess, had been a solicitor at Liverpool, and had
done well there. But Miss Stanbury knew nothing of the Tom Burgesses
as she called them. The fourth brother, Harry Burgess, had been a
clergyman, and this Brooke Burgess, Junior, who was now coming to
the Close, had been left with a widowed mother, the eldest of a
large family. It need not now be told at length how there had been
ill-blood also between this clergyman and the heiress. There had been
attempts at friendship, and at one time Miss Stanbury had received
the Rev. Harry Burgess and all his family at the Close;--but the
attempts had not been successful; and though our old friend had never
wavered in her determination to leave the money all back to some one
of the Burgess family, and with this view had made a pilgrimage to
London some twelve years since, and had renewed her acquaintance
with the widow and the children, still there had been no comfortable
relations between her and any of the Burgess family. Old Barty
Burgess, whom she met in the Close, or saw in the High Street every
day of her life, was her great enemy. He had tried his best,--so at
least she was convinced,--to drive her out of the pale of society,
years upon years ago, by saying evil things of her. She had conquered
in that combat. Her victory had been complete, and she had triumphed
after a most signal fashion. But this triumph did not silence Barty's
tongue, nor soften his heart. When she prayed to be forgiven, as she
herself forgave others, she always exempted Barty Burgess from her
prayers. There are things which flesh and blood cannot do. She had
not liked Harry Burgess' widow, nor for the matter of that, Harry
Burgess himself. When she had last seen the children she had not
liked any of them much, and had had her doubts even as to Brooke. But
with that branch of the family she was willing to try again. Brooke
was now coming to the Close, having received, however, an intimation,
that if, during his visit to Exeter, he chose to see his Uncle Barty,
any such intercourse must be kept quite in the background. While he
remained in Miss Stanbury's house he was to remain there as though
there were no such person as Mr. Bartholomew Burgess in Exeter.

At this time Brooke Burgess was a man just turned thirty, and was
a clerk in the Ecclesiastical Record Office, in Somerset House. No
doubt the peculiar nature and name of the public department to which
he was attached had done something to recommend him to Miss Stanbury.
Ecclesiastical records were things greatly to be reverenced in her
eyes, and she felt that a gentleman who handled them and dealt with
them would probably be sedate, gentlemanlike, and conservative.
Brooke Burgess, when she had last seen him, was just about to enter
upon the duties of the office. Then there had come offence, and she
had in truth known nothing of him from that day to this. The visitor
was to be at Exeter on the following Monday, and very much was done
in preparation of his coming. There was to be a dinner party on that
very day, and dinner parties were not common with Miss Stanbury. She
had, however, explained to Martha that she intended to put her best
foot forward. Martha understood perfectly that Mr. Brooke Burgess
was to be received as the heir of property. Sir Peter Mancrudy, the
great Devonshire chemist, was coming to dinner, and Mr. and Mrs.
Powel from Haldon,--people of great distinction in that part of the
county,--Mrs. MacHugh of course; and, equally of course, Mr. Gibson.
There was a deep discussion between Miss Stanbury and Martha
as to asking two of the Cliffords, and Mr. and Mrs. Noel from
Doddiscombeleigh. Martha had been very much in favour of having
twelve. Miss Stanbury had declared that with twelve she must have two
waiters from the greengrocer's, and that two waiters would overpower
her own domesticities below stairs. Martha had declared that she
didn't care about them any more than if they were puppy dogs. But
Miss Stanbury had been quite firm against twelve. She had consented
to have ten,--for the sake of artistic arrangement at the table;
"They should be pantaloons and petticoats alternate, you know," she
had said to Martha,--and had therefore asked the Cliffords. But the
Cliffords could not come, and then she had declined to make any
further attempt. Indeed, a new idea had struck her. Brooke Burgess,
her guest, should sit at one end of the table, and Mr. Gibson, the
clergyman, at the other. In this way the proper alternation would be
effected. When Martha heard this, Martha quite understood the extent
of the good fortune that was in store for Dorothy. If Mr. Gibson was
to be welcomed in that way, it could only be in preparation of his
becoming one of the family.

And Dorothy herself became aware that she must make up her mind. It
was not so declared to her, but she came to understand that it was
very probable that something would occur on the coming Monday which
would require her to be ready with her answer on that day. And she
was greatly tormented by feeling that if she could not bring herself
to accept Mr. Gibson,--should Mr. Gibson propose to her, as to which
she continued to tell herself that the chance of such a thing must
be very remote indeed,--but that if he should propose to her, and if
she could not accept him, her aunt ought to know that it would be so
before the moment came. But yet she could not bring herself to speak
to her aunt as though any such proposition were possible.

It happened that during the week, on the Saturday, Priscilla came
into Exeter. Dorothy met her sister at the railway station, and then
the two walked together two miles and back along the Crediton Road.
Aunt Stanbury had consented to Priscilla coming to the Close, even
though it was not the day appointed for such visits; but the walk
had been preferred, and Dorothy felt that she would be able to ask
for counsel from the only human being to whom she could have brought
herself to confide the fact that a gentleman was expected to ask her
to marry him. But it was not till they had turned upon their walk,
that she was able to open her mouth on the subject even to her
sister. Priscilla had been very full of their own cares at Nuncombe,
and had said much of her determination to leave the Clock House and
to return to the retirement of some small cottage. She had already
written to Hugh to this effect, and during their walk had said much
of her own folly in having consented to so great a change in their
mode of life. At last Dorothy struck in with her story.

"Aunt Stanbury wants me to make a change too."

"What change?" asked Priscilla anxiously.

"It is not my idea, Priscilla, and I don't think that there can be
anything in it. Indeed, I'm sure there isn't. I don't see how it's
possible that there should be."

"But what is it, Dolly?"

"I suppose there can't be any harm in my telling you."

"If it's anything concerning yourself, I should say not. If it
concerns Aunt Stanbury, I dare say she'd rather you held your
tongue."

"It concerns me most," said Dorothy.

"She doesn't want you to leave her, does she?"

"Well; yes; no. By what she said last,--I shouldn't leave her at all
in that way. Only I'm sure it's not possible."

"I am the worst hand in the world, Dolly, at guessing a riddle."

"You've heard of that Mr. Gibson, the clergyman;--haven't you?"

"Of course I have."

"Well--. Mind, you know, it's only what Aunt Stanbury says. He has
never so much as opened his lips to me himself, except to say, 'How
do you do?' and that kind of thing."

"Aunt Stanbury wants you to marry him?"

"Yes!"

"Well?"

"Of course it's out of the question," said Dorothy, sadly.

"I don't see why it should be out of the question," said Priscilla
proudly. "Indeed, if Aunt Stanbury has said much about it, I should
say that Mr. Gibson himself must have spoken to her."

"Do you think he has?"

"I do not believe that my aunt would raise false hopes," said
Priscilla.

"But I haven't any hopes. That is to say, I had never thought about
such a thing."

"But you think about it now, Dolly?"

"I should never have dreamed about it, only for Aunt Stanbury."

"But, dearest, you are dreaming of it now, are you not?"

"Only because she says that it is to be so. You don't know how
generous she is. She says that if it should be so, she will give me
ever so much money;--two thousand pounds!"

"Then I am quite sure that she and Mr. Gibson must understand each
other."

"Of course," said Dorothy, sadly, "if he were to think of such a
thing at all, it would only be because the money would be
convenient."

"Not at all," said Priscilla, sternly,--with a sternness that was
very comfortable to her listener. "Not at all. Why should not Mr.
Gibson love you as well as any man ever loved any woman? You are
nice-looking,"--Dorothy blushed beneath her hat even at her sister's
praise,--"and good-tempered, and lovable in every way. And I think
you are just fitted to make a good wife. And you must not suppose,
Dolly, that because Mr. Gibson wouldn't perhaps have asked you
without the money, that therefore he is mercenary. It so often
happens that a gentleman can't marry unless the lady has some money!"

"But he hasn't asked me at all."

"I suppose he will, dear."

"I only know what Aunt Stanbury says."

"You may be sure that he will ask you."

"And what must I say, Priscilla?"

"What must you say? Nobody can tell you that, dear, but yourself. Do
you like him?"

"I don't dislike him."

"Is that all?"

"I know him so very little, Priscilla. Everybody says he is very
good;--and then it's a great thing, isn't it, that he should be a
clergyman?"

"I don't know about that."

"I think it is. If it were possible that I should ever marry any one,
I should like a clergyman so much the best."

"Then you do know what to say to him."

"No, I don't, Priscilla. I don't know at all."

"Look here, dearest. What my aunt offers to you is a very great
step in life. If you can accept this gentleman I think you would be
happy;--and I think, also, which should be of more importance for
your consideration, that you would make him happy. It is a brighter
prospect, dear Dolly, than to live either with us at Nuncombe, or
even with Aunt Stanbury as her niece."

"But if I don't love him, Priscilla?"

"Then give it up, and be as you are, my own own, dearest sister."

"So I will," said Dorothy, and at that time her mind was made up.


   [Illustration: Dorothy makes up her mind.]



CHAPTER XXXI.

MR. BROOKE BURGESS.


   [Illustration]

The hour at which Mr. Brooke Burgess was to arrive had come round,
and Miss Stanbury was in a twitter, partly of expectation, and
partly, it must be confessed, of fear. Why there should be any fear
she did not herself know, as she had much to give and nothing to
expect. But she was afraid, and was conscious of it, and was out
of temper because she was ashamed of herself. Although it would be
necessary that she should again dress for dinner at six, she had put
on a clean cap at four, and appeared at that early hour in one of
her gowns which was not customarily in use for home purposes at that
early hour. She felt that she was "an old fool" for her pains, and
was consequently cross to poor Dorothy. And there were other reasons
for some display of harshness to her niece. Mr. Gibson had been at
the house that very morning, and Dorothy had given herself airs. At
least, so Miss Stanbury thought. And during the last three or four
days, whenever Mr. Gibson's name had been mentioned, Dorothy had
become silent, glum, and almost obstructive. Miss Stanbury had been
at the trouble of explaining that she was specially anxious to have
that little matter of the engagement settled at once. She knew that
she was going to behave with great generosity;--that she was going to
sacrifice, not her money only, of which she did not think much, but a
considerable portion of her authority, of which she did think a great
deal; and that she was about to behave in a manner which demanded
much gratitude. But it seemed to her that Dorothy was not in
the least grateful. Hugh had proved himself to be "a mass of
ingratitude," as she was in the habit of saying. None of the
Burgesses had ever shown to her any gratitude for promises made to
them, or, indeed, for any substantial favours conferred upon them.
And now Dorothy, to whom a very seventh heaven of happiness had been
opened,--a seventh heaven, as it must be computed in comparison with
her low expectations,--now Dorothy was already shewing how thankless
she could become. Mr. Gibson had not yet declared his passion, but he
had freely admitted to Miss Stanbury that he was prepared to do so.
Priscilla had been quite right in her suggestion that there was a
clear understanding between the clergyman and her aunt.

"I don't think he is come after all," said Miss Stanbury, looking
at her watch. Had the train arrived at the moment that it was due,
had the expectant visitor jumped out of the railway carriage into
a fly, and had the driver galloped up to the Close, it might have
been possible that the wheels should have been at the door as Miss
Stanbury spoke.

"It's hardly time yet, aunt."

"Nonsense; it is time. The train comes in at four. I dare say he
won't come at all."

"He is sure to come, aunt."

"I've no doubt you know all about it better than any one else. You
usually do." Then five minutes were passed in silence. "Heaven and
earth! what shall I do with these people that are coming? And I told
them especially that it was to meet this young man! It's the way I am
always treated by everybody that I have about me."

"The train might be ten minutes late, Aunt Stanbury."

"Yes;--and monkeys might chew tobacco. There;--there's the omnibus at
the Cock and Bottle; the omnibus up from the train. Now, of course,
he won't come."

"Perhaps he's walking, Aunt Stanbury."

"Walking,--with his luggage on his shoulders? Is that your idea of
the way in which a London gentleman goes about? And there are two
flies,--coming up from the train, of course." Miss Stanbury was
obliged to fix the side of her chair very close to the window in
order that she might see that part of the Close in which the vehicles
of which she had spoken were able to pass.

"Perhaps they are not coming from the train, Aunt Stanbury."

"Perhaps a fiddlestick! You have lived here so much longer than
I have done that, of course, you must know all about it." Then
there was an interval of another ten minutes, and even Dorothy was
beginning to think that Mr. Burgess was not coming. "I've given him
up now," said Miss Stanbury. "I think I'll send and put them all
off." Just at that moment there came a knock at the door. But there
was no cab. Dorothy's conjecture had been right. The London gentleman
had walked, and his portmanteau had been carried behind him by a boy.
"How did he get here?" exclaimed Miss Stanbury, as she heard the
strange voice speaking to Martha down-stairs. But Dorothy knew better
than to answer the question.

"Miss Stanbury, I am very glad to see you," said Mr. Brooke Burgess,
as he entered the room. Miss Stanbury courtesied, and then took
him by both hands. "You wouldn't have known me, I dare say," he
continued. "A black beard and a bald head do make a difference."

"You are not bald at all," said Miss Stanbury.

"I am beginning to be thin enough at the top. I am so glad to come to
you, and so much obliged to you for having me! How well I remember
the old room!"

"This is my niece, Miss Dorothy Stanbury, from Nuncombe Putney."
Dorothy was about to make some formal acknowledgment of the
introduction, when Brooke Burgess came up to her, and shook her hand
heartily. "She lives with me," continued the aunt.

"And what has become of Hugh?" said Brooke.

"We never talk of him," said Miss Stanbury gravely.

"I hope there's nothing wrong? I hear of him very often in London."

"My aunt and he don't agree;--that's all," said Dorothy.

"He has given up his profession as a barrister,--in which he might
have lived like a gentleman," said Miss Stanbury, "and has taken to
writing for a--penny newspaper."

"Everybody does that now, Miss Stanbury."

"I hope you don't, Mr. Burgess."

"I! Nobody would print anything that I wrote. I don't write for
anything, certainly."

"I'm very glad to hear it," said Miss Stanbury.

Brooke Burgess, or Mr. Brooke, as he came to be called very shortly
by the servants in the house, was a good-looking man, with black
whiskers and black hair, which, as he said, was beginning to be thin
on the top of his head, and pleasant small bright eyes. Dorothy
thought that next to her brother Hugh he was the most good-natured
looking man she had ever seen. He was rather below the middle height,
and somewhat inclined to be stout. But he would boast that he could
still walk his twelve miles in three hours, and would add that as
long as he could do that he would never recognise the necessity of
putting himself on short commons. He had a well-cut nose, not quite
aquiline, but tending that way, a chin with a dimple on it, and as
sweet a mouth as ever declared the excellence of a man's temper.
Dorothy immediately began to compare him with her brother Hugh, who
was to her, of all men, the most godlike. It never occurred to her to
make any comparison between Mr. Gibson and Mr. Burgess. Her brother
Hugh was the most godlike of men; but there was something godlike
also about the new comer. Mr. Gibson, to Dorothy's eyes, was by no
means divine.

"I used to call you Aunt Stanbury," said Brooke Burgess to the old
lady; "am I to go on doing it now?"

"You may call me what you like," said Miss Stanbury. "Only,--dear
me;--I never did see anybody so much altered." Before she went up to
dress herself for dinner, Miss Stanbury was quite restored to her
good humour, as Dorothy could perceive.

The dinner passed off well enough. Mr. Gibson, at the head of the
table, did, indeed, look very much out of his element, as though he
conceived that his position revealed to the outer world those ideas
of his in regard to Dorothy, which ought to have been secret for a
while longer. There are few men who do not feel ashamed of being
paraded before the world as acknowledged suitors, whereas ladies
accept the position with something almost of triumph. The lady
perhaps regards herself as the successful angler, whereas the
gentleman is conscious of some similitude to the unsuccessful fish.
Mr. Gibson, though he was not yet gasping in the basket, had some
presentiment of this feeling, which made his present seat of honour
unpleasant to him. Brooke Burgess, at the other end of the table,
was as gay as a lark. Mrs. MacHugh sat on one side of him, and
Miss Stanbury on the other, and he laughed at the two old ladies,
reminding them of his former doings in Exeter,--how he had hunted
Mrs. MacHugh's cat, and had stolen Aunt Stanbury's best apricot jam,
till everybody began to perceive that he was quite a success. Even
Sir Peter Mancrudy laughed at his jokes, and Mrs. Powel, from the
other side of Sir Peter, stretched her head forward so that she might
become one of the gay party.

"There isn't a word of it true," said Miss Stanbury. "It's all pure
invention, and a great scandal. I never did such a thing in my life."

"Didn't you though?" said Brooke Burgess. "I remember it as well
as if it was yesterday, and old Dr. Ball, the prebendary, with the
carbuncles on his nose, saw it too."

"Dr. Ball had no carbuncles on his nose," said Mrs. MacHugh. "You'll
say next that I have carbuncles on my nose."

"He had three. I remember each of them quite well, and so does Sir
Peter."

Then everybody laughed; and Martha, who was in the room, knew that
Brooke Burgess was a complete success.

In the meantime Mr. Gibson was talking to Dorothy; but Dorothy was
endeavouring to listen to the conversation at the other end of the
table. "I found it very dirty on the roads to-day outside the city,"
said Mr. Gibson.

"Very dirty," said Dorothy, looking round at Mr. Burgess as she
spoke.

"But the pavement in the High Street was dry enough."

"Quite dry," said Dorothy. Then there came a peal of laughter from
Mrs. MacHugh and Sir Peter, and Dorothy wondered whether anybody
before had ever made those two steady old people laugh after that
fashion.

"I should so like to get a drive with you up to the top of Haldon
Hill," said Mr. Gibson. "When the weather gets fine, that is. Mrs.
Powel was talking about it."

"It would be very nice," said Dorothy.

"You have never seen the view from Haldon Hill yet?" asked Mr.
Gibson. But to this question Dorothy could make no answer. Miss
Stanbury had lifted one of the table-spoons, as though she was going
to strike Mr. Brooke Burgess with the bowl of it. And this during
a dinner party! From that moment Dorothy turned herself round, and
became one of the listeners to the fun at the other end of the table.
Poor Mr. Gibson soon found himself "nowhere."

"I never saw a man so much altered in my life," said Mrs. MacHugh, up
in the drawing-room. "I don't remember that he used to be clever."

"He was a bright boy," said Miss Stanbury.

"But the Burgesses all used to be such serious, strait-laced people,"
said Mrs. MacHugh. "Excellent people," she added, remembering the
source of her friend's wealth; "but none of them like that."

"I call him a very handsome man," said Mrs. Powel. "I suppose he's
not married yet?"

"Oh, dear, no," said Miss Stanbury. "There's time enough for him
yet."

"He'll find plenty here to set their caps at him," said Mrs. MacHugh.

"He's a little old for my girls," said Mrs. Powel, laughing. Mrs.
Powel was the happy mother of four daughters, of whom the eldest was
only twelve.

"There are others who are more forward," said Mrs. MacHugh. "What a
chance it would be for dear Arabella French!"

"Heaven forbid!" said Miss Stanbury.

"And then poor Mr. Gibson wouldn't be any longer like the donkey
between two bundles of hay," said Mrs. Powel. Dorothy was quite
determined that she would never marry a man who was like a donkey
between two bundles of hay.

When the gentlemen came up into the drawing-room, Dorothy was seated
behind the urn and tea-things at a large table, in such a position as
to be approached only at one side. There was one chair at her left
hand, but at her right hand there was no room for a seat,--only room
for some civil gentleman to take away full cups and bring them back
empty. Dorothy was not sufficiently ready-witted to see the danger of
this position till Mr. Gibson had seated himself in the chair. Then
it did seem cruel to her that she should be thus besieged for the
rest of the evening as she had been also at dinner. While the tea
was being consumed Mr. Gibson assisted at the service, asking ladies
whether they would have cake or bread and butter; but when all that
was over Dorothy was still in her prison, and Mr. Gibson was still
the jailer at the gate. She soon perceived that everybody else was
chatting and laughing, and that Brooke Burgess was the centre of a
little circle which had formed itself quite at a distance from her
seat. Once, twice, thrice she meditated an escape, but she had not
the courage to make the attempt. She did not know how to manage it.
She was conscious that her aunt's eye was upon her, and that her aunt
would expect her to listen to Mr. Gibson. At last she gave up all
hope of moving, and was anxious simply that Mr. Gibson should confine
himself to the dirt of the paths and the noble prospect from Haldon
Hill.

"I think we shall have more rain before we are done with it," he
said. Twice before during the evening he had been very eloquent about
the rain.

"I dare say we shall," said Dorothy. And then there came the sound
of loud laughter from Sir Peter, and Dorothy could see that he was
poking Brooke Burgess in the ribs. There had never been anything so
gay before since she had been in Exeter, and now she was hemmed up in
that corner, away from it all, by Mr. Gibson!

"This Mr. Burgess seems to be different from the other Burgesses,"
said Mr. Gibson.

"I think he must be very clever," said Dorothy.

"Well;--yes; in a sort of a way. What people call a Merry Andrew."

"I like people who make me laugh and laugh themselves," said Dorothy.

"I quite agree with you that laughter is a very good thing,--in
its place. I am not at all one of those who would make the world
altogether grave. There are serious things, and there must be serious
moments."

"Of course," said Dorothy.

"And I think that serious conversation upon the whole has more
allurements than conversation which when you come to examine it is
found to mean nothing. Don't you?"

"I suppose everybody should mean something when he talks."

"Just so. That is exactly my idea," said Mr. Gibson. "On all such
subjects as that I should be so sorry if you and I did not agree. I
really should." Then he paused, and Dorothy was so confounded by what
she conceived to be the dangers of the coming moment that she was
unable even to think what she ought to say. She heard Mrs. MacHugh's
clear, sharp, merry voice, and she heard her aunt's tone of pretended
anger, and she heard Sir Peter's continued laughter, and Brooke
Burgess as he continued the telling of some story; but her own
trouble was too great to allow of her attending to what was going on
at the other end of the room. "There is nothing as to which I am so
anxious as that you and I should agree about serious things," said
Mr. Gibson.

"I suppose we do agree about going to church," said Dorothy. She knew
that she could have made no speech more stupid, more senseless, more
inefficacious;--but what was she to say in answer to such an
assurance?

"I hope so," said Mr. Gibson; "and I think so. Your aunt is a most
excellent woman, and her opinion has very great weight with me on all
subjects,--even as to matters of church discipline and doctrine, in
which, as a clergyman, I am of course presumed to be more at home.
But your aunt is a woman among a thousand."

"Of course I think she is very good."

"And she is so right about this young man and her property. Don't you
think so?"

"Quite right, Mr. Gibson."

"Because you know, to you, of course, being her near relative, and
the one she has singled out as the recipient of her kindness, it
might have been cause for some discontent."

"Discontent to me, Mr. Gibson!"

"I am quite sure your feelings are what they ought to be. And for
myself, if I ever were,--that is to say, supposing I could be in any
way interested--. But perhaps it is premature to make any suggestion
on that head at present."

"I don't at all understand what you mean, Mr. Gibson."

"I thought that perhaps I might take this opportunity of
expressing--. But, after all, the levity of the moment is hardly in
accordance with the sentiments which I should wish to express."

"I think that I ought to go to my aunt now, Mr. Gibson, as perhaps
she might want something." Then she did push back her chair, and
stand upon her legs,--and Mr. Gibson, after pausing for a moment,
allowed her to escape. Soon after that the visitors went, and Brooke
Burgess was left in the drawing-room with Miss Stanbury and Dorothy.

"How well I recollect all the people," said Brooke; "Sir Peter, and
old Mrs. MacHugh, and Mrs. Powel, who then used to be called the
beautiful Miss Noel. And I remember every bit of furniture in the
room."

"Nothing changed except the old woman, Brooke," said Miss Stanbury.

"Upon my word, you are the least changed of all,--except that you
don't seem to be so terrible as you were then."

"Was I very terrible, Brooke?"

"My mother had told me, I fancy, that I was never to make a noise,
and be sure not to break any of the china. You were always very
good-natured, and when you gave me a silver watch I could hardly
believe the extent of my own bliss."

"You wouldn't care about a watch from an old woman now, Brooke?"

"You try me. But what rakes you are here! It's past eleven o'clock,
and I must go and have a smoke."

"Have a what?" said Miss Stanbury, with a startled air.

"A smoke. You needn't be frightened; I don't mean in the house."

"No;--I hope you don't mean that."

"But I may take a turn round the Close with a pipe;--mayn't I?"

"I suppose all young men do smoke now," said Miss Stanbury,
sorrowfully.

"Every one of them; and they tell me that the young women mean to
take to it before long."

"If I saw a young woman smoking, I should blush for my sex; and
though she were the nearest and dearest that I had, I would never
speak to her;--never. Dorothy, I don't think Mr. Gibson smokes."

"I'm sure I don't know, aunt."

"I hope he doesn't. I do hope that he does not. I cannot understand
what pleasure it is that men take in making chimneys of themselves,
and going about smelling so that no one can bear to come near them."

Brooke merely laughed at this, and went his way, and smoked his pipe
out in the Close, while Martha sat up to let him in when he had
finished it. Then Dorothy escaped at once to her room, fearful of
being questioned by her aunt about Mr. Gibson. She had, she thought
now, quite made up her mind. There was nothing in Mr. Gibson that
she liked. She was by no means so sure as she had been when she was
talking to her sister, that she would prefer a clergyman to any one
else. She had formed no strong ideas on the subject of love-making,
but she did think that any man who really cared for her, would find
some other way of expressing his love than that which Mr. Gibson had
adopted. And then Mr. Gibson had spoken to her about her aunt's money
in a way that was distasteful to her. She thought that she was quite
sure that if he should ask her, she would not accept him.

She was nearly undressed, nearly safe for the night, when there came
a knock at the door, and her aunt entered the room. "He has come in,"
said Miss Stanbury.

"I suppose he has had his pipe, then."

"I wish he didn't smoke. I do wish he didn't smoke. But I suppose an
old woman like me is only making herself a fool to care about such
things. If they all do it I can't prevent them. He seems to be a very
nice young man--in other things; does he not, Dolly?"

"Very nice indeed, Aunt Stanbury."

"And he has done very well in his office. And as for his saying that
he must smoke, I like that a great deal better than doing it on the
sly."

"I don't think Mr. Burgess would do anything on the sly, aunt."

"No, no; I don't think he would. Dear me; he's not at all like what I
fancied."

"Everybody seemed to like him very much."

"Didn't they? I never saw Sir Peter so much taken. And there was
quite a flirtation between him and Mrs. MacHugh. And now, my dear,
tell me about Mr. Gibson."

"There is nothing to tell, Aunt Stanbury."

"Isn't there? From what I saw going on, I thought there would be
something to tell. He was talking to you the whole evening."

"As it happened he was sitting next to me,--of course."

"Indeed he was sitting next to you;--so much so that I thought
everything would be settled."

"If I tell you something, Aunt Stanbury, you mustn't be angry with
me."

"Tell me what? What is it you have to tell me?"

"I don't think I shall ever care for Mr. Gibson;--not in that way."

"Why not, Dorothy?"

"I'm sure he doesn't care for me. And I don't think he means it."

"I tell you he does mean it. Mean it! Why, I tell you it has all been
settled between us. Since I first spoke to you I have explained to
him exactly what I intend to do. He knows that he can give up his
house and come and live here. I am sure he must have said something
about it to you to-night."

"Not a word, Aunt Stanbury."

"Then he will."

"Dear aunt, I do so wish you would prevent it. I don't like him. I
don't indeed."

"Not like him!"

"No;--I don't care for him a bit, and I never shall. I can't help
it, Aunt Stanbury. I thought I would try, but I find it would be
impossible. You can't want me to marry a man if I don't love him."

"I never heard of such a thing in my life. Not love him! And why
shouldn't you love him? He's a gentleman. Everybody respects him.
He'll have plenty to make you comfortable all your life! And then why
didn't you tell me before?"

"I didn't know, Aunt Stanbury. I thought that perhaps--"

"Perhaps what?"

"I could not say all at once that I didn't care for him, when I had
never so much as thought about it for a moment before."

"You haven't told him this?"

"No, I have not told him. I couldn't begin by telling him, you know."

"Then I must pray that you will think about it again. Have you
imagined what a great thing for you it would be to be established for
life,--so that you should never have any more trouble again about a
home, or about money, or anything? Don't answer me now, Dorothy, but
think of it. It seemed to me that I was doing such an excellent thing
for both of you." So saying Miss Stanbury left the room, and Dorothy
was enabled to obey her, at any rate, in one matter. She did think of
it. She laid awake thinking of it almost all the night. But the more
she thought of it, the less able was she to realise to herself any
future comfort or happiness in the idea of becoming Mrs. Gibson.



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE "FULL MOON" AT ST. DIDDULPH'S.


The receipt of Mrs. Trevelyan's letter on that Monday morning was a
great surprise both to Mr. and Mrs. Outhouse. There was no time for
any consideration, no opportunity for delaying their arrival till
they should have again referred the matter to Mr. Trevelyan. Their
two nieces were to be with them on that evening, and even the
telegraph wires, if employed with such purpose, would not be quick
enough to stop their coming. The party, as they knew, would have left
Nuncombe Putney before the arrival of the letter at the parsonage of
St. Diddulph's. There would have been nothing in this to have caused
vexation, had it not been decided between Trevelyan and Mr. Outhouse
that Mrs. Trevelyan was not to find a home at the parsonage. Mr.
Outhouse was greatly afraid of being so entangled in the matter as to
be driven to take the part of the wife against the husband; and Mrs.
Outhouse, though she was full of indignation against Trevelyan, was
at the same time not free from anger in regard to her own niece.
She more than once repeated that most unjust of all proverbs, which
declares that there is never smoke without fire, and asserted broadly
that she did not like to be with people who could not live at
home, husbands with wives, and wives with husbands, in a decent,
respectable manner. Nevertheless the preparations went on busily, and
when the party arrived at seven o'clock in the evening, two rooms had
been prepared close to each other, one for the two sisters, and the
other for the child and nurse, although poor Mr. Outhouse himself was
turned out of his own little chamber in order that the accommodation
might be given. They were all very hot, very tired, and very dusty,
when the cab reached the parsonage. There had been the preliminary
drive from Nuncombe Putney to Lessboro'. Then the railway journey
from thence to the Waterloo Bridge Station had been long. And it had
seemed to them that the distance from the station to St. Diddulph's
had been endless. When the cabman was told whither he was to go, he
looked doubtingly at his poor old horse, and then at the luggage
which he was required to pack on the top of his cab, and laid himself
out for his work with a full understanding that it would not be
accomplished without considerable difficulty. The cabman made it
twelve miles from Waterloo Bridge to St. Diddulph's, and suggested
that extra passengers and parcels would make the fare up to ten and
six. Had he named double as much Mrs. Trevelyan would have assented.
So great was the fatigue, and so wretched the occasion, that there
was sobbing and crying in the cab, and when at last the parsonage was
reached, even the nurse was hardly able to turn her hand to anything.
The poor wanderers were made welcome on that evening without a word
of discussion as to the cause of their coming. "I hope you are not
angry with us, Uncle Oliphant," Emily Trevelyan had said, with tears
in her eyes. "Angry with you, my dear;--for coming to our house!
How could I be angry with you?" Then the travellers were hurried
up-stairs by Mrs. Outhouse, and the master of the parsonage was left
alone for a while. He certainly was not angry, but he was ill at
ease, and unhappy. His guests would probably remain with him for
six or seven months. He had resolutely refused all payment from Mr.
Trevelyan, but, nevertheless, he was a poor man. It is impossible
to conceive that a clergyman in such a parish as St. Diddulph's,
without a private income, should not be a poor man. It was but a
hand-to-mouth existence which he lived, paying his way as his money
came to him, and sharing the proceeds of his parish with the poor.
He was always more or less in debt. That was quite understood among
the tradesmen. And the butcher who trusted him, though he was a
bad churchman, did not look upon the parson's account as he did on
other debts. He would often hint to Mr. Outhouse that a little money
ought to be paid, and then a little money would be paid. But it was
never expected that the parsonage bill should be settled. In such a
household the arrival of four guests, who were expected to remain for
an almost indefinite number of months, could not be regarded without
dismay. On that first evening, Emily and Nora did come down to tea,
but they went up again to their rooms almost immediately afterwards;
and Mr. Outhouse found that many hours of solitary meditation were
allowed to him on the occasion. "I suppose your brother has been told
all about it," he said to his wife, as soon as they were together on
that evening.

"Yes;--he has been told. She did not write to her mother till after
she had got to Nuncombe Putney. She did not like to speak about her
troubles while there was a hope that things might be made smooth."

"You can't blame her for that, my dear."

"But there was a month lost, or nearly. Letters go only once a month.
And now they can't hear from Marmaduke or Bessy,"--Lady Rowley's name
was Bessy,--"till the beginning of September."

"That will be in a fortnight."

"But what can my brother say to them? He will suppose that they are
still down in Devonshire."

"You don't think he will come at once?"

"How can he, my dear? He can't come without leave, and the expense
would be ruinous. They would stop his pay, and there would be all
manner of evils. He is to come in the spring, and they must stay
here till he comes." The parson of St. Diddulph's sighed and groaned.
Would it not have been almost better that he should have put his
pride in his pocket, and have consented to take Mr. Trevelyan's
money?

On the second morning Hugh Stanbury called at the parsonage, and was
closeted for a while with the parson. Nora had heard his voice in the
passage, and every one in the house knew who it was that was talking
to Mr. Outhouse, in the little back parlour that was called a study.
Nora was full of anxiety. Would he ask to see them,--to see her? And
why was he there so long? "No doubt he has brought a message from Mr.
Trevelyan," said her sister. "I dare say he will send word that I
ought not to have come to my uncle's house." Then, at last, both Mr.
Outhouse and Hugh Stanbury came into the room in which they were all
sitting. The greetings were cold and unsatisfactory, and Nora barely
allowed Hugh to touch the tip of her fingers. She was very angry with
him, and yet she knew that her anger was altogether unreasonable.
That he had caused her to refuse a marriage that had so much to
attract her was not his sin;--not that; but that, having thus
overpowered her by his influence, he should then have stopped. And
yet Nora had told herself twenty times that it was quite impossible
that she should become Hugh Stanbury's wife;--and that, were Hugh
Stanbury to ask her, it would become her to be indignant with him,
for daring to make a proposition so outrageous. And now she was sick
at heart, because he did not speak to her!

He had, of course, come to St. Diddulph's with a message from
Trevelyan, and his secret was soon told to them all. Trevelyan
himself was up-stairs in the sanded parlour of the Full Moon
public-house, round the corner. Mrs. Trevelyan, when she heard this,
clasped her hands and bit her lips. What was he there for? If he
wanted to see her, why did he not come boldly to the parsonage? But
it soon appeared that he had no desire to see his wife. "I am to take
Louey to him," said Hugh Stanbury, "if you will allow me."

"What;--to be taken away from me!" exclaimed the mother. But Hugh
assured her that no such idea had been formed; that he would have
concerned himself in no such stratagem, and that he would himself
undertake to bring the boy back again within an hour. Emily was, of
course, anxious to be informed what other message was to be conveyed
to her; but there was no other message--no message either of love or
of instruction.

"Mr. Stanbury," said the parson, "has left something in my hands for
you." This "something" was given over to her as soon as Stanbury
had left the house, and consisted of cheques for various small sums,
amounting in all to £200. "And he hasn't said what I am to do with
it?" Emily asked of her uncle. Mr. Outhouse declared that the cheques
had been given to him without any instructions on that head. Mr.
Trevelyan had simply expressed his satisfaction that his wife should
be with her uncle and aunt, had sent the money, and had desired to
see the child.

The boy was got ready, and Hugh walked with him in his arms round the
corner, to the Full Moon. He had to pass by the bar, and the barmaid
and the potboy looked at him very hard. "There's a young 'ooman has
to do with that ere little game," said the potboy. "And it's two to
one the young 'ooman has the worst of it," said the barmaid. "They
mostly does," said the potboy, not without some feeling of pride in
the immunities of his sex. "Here he is," said Hugh, as he entered
the parlour. "My boy, there's papa." The child at this time was more
than a year old, and could crawl about and use his own legs with the
assistance of a finger to his little hand, and could utter a sound
which the fond mother interpreted to mean papa; for with all her hot
anger against her husband, the mother was above all things anxious
that her child should be taught to love his father's name. She
would talk of her separation from her husband as though it must be
permanent; she would declare to her sister how impossible it was that
they should ever again live together; she would repeat to herself
over and over the tale of the injustice that had been done to her,
assuring herself that it was out of the question that she should ever
pardon the man; but yet, at the bottom of her heart, there was a hope
that the quarrel should be healed before her boy would be old enough
to understand the nature of quarrelling. Trevelyan took the child on
to his knee, and kissed him; but the poor little fellow, startled by
his transference from one male set of arms to another, confused by
the strangeness of the room, and by the absence of things familiar
to his sight, burst out into loud tears. He had stood the journey
round the corner in Hugh's arms manfully, and, though he had looked
about him with very serious eyes, as he passed through the bar,
he had borne that, and his carriage up the stairs; but when he
was transferred to his father, whose air, as he took the boy, was
melancholy and lugubrious in the extreme, the poor little fellow
could endure no longer a mode of treatment so unusual, and, with a
grimace which for a moment or two threatened the coming storm, burst
out with an infantine howl. "That's how he has been taught," said
Trevelyan.


   [Illustration: The "Full Moon" at St. Diddulph's.]


"Nonsense," said Stanbury. "He's not been taught at all. It's
Nature."

"Nature that he should be afraid of his own father! He did not cry
when he was with you."

"No;--as it happened, he did not. I played with him when I was at
Nuncombe; but, of course, one can't tell when a child will cry, and
when it won't."

"My darling, my dearest, my own son!" said Trevelyan, caressing the
child, and trying to comfort him; but the poor little fellow only
cried the louder. It was now nearly two months since he had seen his
father, and, when age is counted by months only, almost everything
may be forgotten in six weeks. "I suppose you must take him back
again," said Trevelyan, sadly.

"Of course I must take him back again. Come along, Louey, my boy."

"It is cruel;--very cruel," said Trevelyan. "No man living could love
his child better than I love mine;--or, for the matter of that, his
wife. It is very cruel."

"The remedy is in your own hands, Trevelyan," said Stanbury, as he
marched off with the boy in his arms.

Trevelyan had now become so accustomed to being told by everybody
that he was wrong, and was at the same time so convinced that he was
right, that he regarded the perversity of his friends as a part of
the persecution to which he was subjected. Even Lady Milborough,
who objected to Colonel Osborne quite as strongly as did Trevelyan
himself, even she blamed him now, telling him that he had done
wrong to separate himself from his wife. Mr. Bideawhile, the old
family lawyer, was of the same opinion. Trevelyan had spoken to Mr.
Bideawhile as to the expediency of making some lasting arrangement
for a permanent maintenance for his wife; but the attorney had told
him that nothing of the kind could be held to be lasting. It was
clearly the husband's duty to look forward to a reconciliation, and
Mr. Bideawhile became quite severe in the tone of rebuke which he
assumed. Stanbury treated him almost as though he were a madman. And
as for his wife herself--when she wrote to him she would not even
pretend to express any feeling of affection. And yet, as he thought,
no man had ever done more for a wife. When Stanbury had gone with the
child, he sat waiting for him in the parlour of the public-house, as
miserable a man as one could find. He had promised himself something
that should be akin to pleasure in seeing his boy;--but it had been
all disappointment and pain. What was it that they expected him to
do? What was it that they desired? His wife had behaved with such
indiscretion as almost to have compromised his honour; and in return
for that he was to beg her pardon, confess himself to have done
wrong, and allow her to return in triumph! That was the light in
which he regarded his own position; but he promised to himself that
let his own misery be what it might he would never so degrade him.
The only person who had been true to him was Bozzle. Let them all
look to it. If there were any further intercourse between his wife
and Colonel Osborne, he would take the matter into open court, and
put her away publicly, let Mr. Bideawhile say what he might. Bozzle
should see to that;--and as to himself, he would take himself out of
England and hide himself abroad. Bozzle should know his address, but
he would give it to no one else. Nothing on earth should make him
yield to a woman who had ill-treated him,--nothing but confession
and promise of amendment on her part. If she would acknowledge and
promise, then he would forgive all, and the events of the last four
months should never again be mentioned by him. So resolving he sat
and waited till Stanbury should return to him.

When Stanbury got back to the parsonage with the boy he had nothing
to do but to take his leave. He would fain have asked permission to
come again, could he have invented any reason for doing so. But the
child was taken from him at once by its mother, and he was left alone
with Mr. Outhouse. Nora Rowley did not even show herself, and he
hardly knew how to express sympathy and friendship for the guests at
the parsonage, without seeming to be untrue to his friend Trevelyan.
"I hope all this may come to an end soon," he said.

"I hope it may, Mr. Stanbury," said the clergyman; "but to tell you
the truth, it seems to me that Mr. Trevelyan is so unreasonable a
man, so much like a madman indeed, that I hardly know how to look
forward to any future happiness for my niece." This was spoken with
the utmost severity that Mr. Outhouse could assume.

"And yet no man loves his wife more tenderly."

"Tender love should show itself by tender conduct, Mr. Stanbury. What
has he done to his wife? He has blackened her name among all his
friends and hers, he has turned her out of his house, he has reviled
her,--and then thinks to prove how good he is by sending her money.
The only possible excuse is that he must be mad."

Stanbury went back to the Full Moon, and retraced his steps with his
friend towards Lincoln's Inn. Two minutes took him from the parsonage
to the public-house, but during these two minutes he resolved that
he would speak his mind roundly to Trevelyan as they returned home.
Trevelyan should either take his wife back again at once, or else he,
Stanbury, would have no more to do with him. He said nothing till
they had threaded together the maze of streets which led them from
the neighbourhood of the Church of St. Diddulph's into the straight
way of the Commercial Road. Then he began. "Trevelyan," said he, "you
are wrong in all this from beginning to end."

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I say. If there was anything in what your wife did to
offend you, a soft word from you would have put it all right."

"A soft word! How do you know what soft words I used?"

"A soft word now would do it. You have only to bid her come back to
you, and let bygones be bygones, and all would be right. Can't you be
man enough to remember that you are a man?"

"Stanbury, I believe you want to quarrel with me."

"I tell you fairly that I think that you are wrong."

"They have talked you over to their side."

"I know nothing about sides. I only know that you are wrong."

"And what would you have me do?"

"Go and travel together for six months." Here was Lady Milborough's
receipt again! "Travel together for a year if you will. Then come
back and live where you please. People will have forgotten it;--or if
they remember it, what matters? No sane person can advise you to go
on as you are doing now."

But it was of no avail. Before they had reached the Bank the two
friends had quarrelled and had parted. Then Trevelyan felt that there
was indeed no one left to him but Bozzle. On the following morning he
saw Bozzle, and on the evening of the next day he was in Paris.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

HUGH STANBURY SMOKES ANOTHER PIPE.


Trevelyan was gone, and Bozzle alone knew his address. During the
first fortnight of her residence at St. Diddulph's Mrs. Trevelyan
received two letters from Lady Milborough, in both of which she
was recommended, indeed tenderly implored, to be submissive to
her husband. "Anything," said Lady Milborough, "is better than
separation." In answer to the second letter Mrs. Trevelyan told the
old lady that she had no means by which she could shew any submission
to her husband, even if she were so minded. Her husband had gone
away, she did not know whither, and she had no means by which she
could communicate with him. And then came a packet to her from her
father and mother, despatched from the islands after the receipt by
Lady Rowley of the melancholy tidings of the journey to Nuncombe
Putney. Both Sir Marmaduke and Lady Rowley were full of anger against
Trevelyan, and wrote as though the husband could certainly be brought
back to a sense of his duty, if they only were present. This packet
had been at Nuncombe Putney, and contained a sealed note from Sir
Marmaduke addressed to Mr. Trevelyan. Lady Rowley explained that it
was impossible that they should get to England earlier than in the
spring. "I would come myself at once and leave papa to follow," said
Lady Rowley, "only for the children. If I were to bring them, I
must take a house for them, and the expense would ruin us. Papa has
written to Mr. Trevelyan in a way that he thinks will bring him to
reason."

But how was this letter, by which the husband was to be brought to
reason, to be put into the husband's hands? Mrs. Trevelyan applied
to Mr. Bideawhile and to Lady Milborough, and to Stanbury, for
Trevelyan's address; but was told by each of them that nothing was
known of his whereabouts. She did not apply to Mr. Bozzle, although
Mr. Bozzle was more than once in her neighbourhood; but as yet she
knew nothing of Mr. Bozzle. The replies from Mr. Bideawhile and from
Lady Milborough came by the post; but Hugh Stanbury thought that duty
required him to make another journey to St. Diddulph's and carry his
own answer with him.

And on this occasion Fortune was either very kind to him,--or very
unkind. Whichever it was, he found himself alone for a few seconds
in the parsonage parlour with Nora Rowley. Mr. Outhouse was away at
the time. Emily had gone up-stairs for the boy; and Mrs. Outhouse,
suspecting nothing, had followed her. "Miss Rowley," said he, getting
up from his seat, "if you think it will do any good I will follow
Trevelyan till I find him."

"How can you find him? Besides, why should you give up your own
business?"

"I would do anything--to serve your sister." This he said with
hesitation in his voice, as though he did not dare to speak all that
he desired to have spoken.

"I am sure that Emily is very grateful," said Nora; "but she would
not wish to give you such trouble as that."

"I would do anything for your sister," he repeated, "--for your sake,
Miss Rowley." This was the first time that he had ever spoken a word
to her in such a strain, and it would be hardly too much to say that
her heart was sick for some such expression. But now that it had
come, though there was a sweetness about it that was delicious to
her, she was absolutely silenced by it. And she was at once not only
silent, but stern, rigid, and apparently cold. Stanbury could not but
feel as he looked at her that he had offended her. "Perhaps I ought
not to say as much," said he; "but it is so."

"Mr. Stanbury," said she, "that is nonsense. It is of my sister, not
of me, that we are speaking."

Then the door was opened and Emily came in with her child, followed
by her aunt. There was no other opportunity, and perhaps it was well
for Nora and for Hugh that there should have been no other. Enough
had been said to give her comfort; and more might have led to his
discomposure. As to that matter on which he was presumed to have come
to St. Diddulph's, he could do nothing. He did not know Trevelyan's
address, but did know that Trevelyan had abandoned the chambers in
Lincoln's Inn. And then he found himself compelled to confess that he
had quarrelled with Trevelyan, and that they had parted in anger on
the day of their joint visit to the East. "Everybody who knows him
must quarrel with him," said Mrs. Outhouse. Hugh when he took his
leave was treated by them all as a friend who had been gained. Mrs.
Outhouse was gracious to him. Mrs. Trevelyan whispered a word to him
of her own trouble. "If I can hear anything of him, you may be sure
that I will let you know," he said. Then it was Nora's turn to bid
him adieu. There was nothing to be said. No word could be spoken
before others that should be of any avail. But as he took her hand
in his he remembered the reticence of her fingers on that former day,
and thought that he was sure there was a difference.

On this occasion he made his journey back to the end of Chancery Lane
on the top of an omnibus; and as he lit his little pipe, disregarding
altogether the scrutiny of the public, thoughts passed through his
mind similar to those in which he had indulged as he sat smoking on
the corner of the churchyard wall at Nuncombe Putney. He declared to
himself that he did love this girl; and as it was so, would it not be
better, at any rate more manly, that he should tell her so honestly,
than go on groping about with half-expressed words when he saw her,
thinking of her and yet hardly daring to go near her, bidding himself
to forget her although he knew that such forgetting was impossible,
hankering after the sound of her voice and the touch of her hand, and
something of the tenderness of returned affection,--and yet regarding
her as a prize altogether out of his reach! Why should she be out
of his reach? She had no money, and he had not a couple of hundred
pounds in the world. But he was earning an income which would give
them both shelter and clothes and bread and cheese.

What reader is there, male or female, of such stories as is this, who
has not often discussed in his or her own mind the different sides of
this question of love and marriage? On either side enough may be said
by any arguer to convince at any rate himself. It must be wrong for a
man, whose income is both insufficient and precarious also, not only
to double his own cares and burdens, but to place the weight of that
doubled burden on other shoulders besides his own,--on shoulders that
are tender and soft, and ill adapted to the carriage of any crushing
weight. And then that doubled burden,--that burden of two mouths to
be fed, of two backs to be covered, of two minds to be satisfied, is
so apt to double itself again and again. The two so speedily become
four, and six! And then there is the feeling that that kind of
semi-poverty, which has in itself something of the pleasantness of
independence, when it is borne by a man alone, entails the miseries
of a draggle-tailed and querulous existence when it is imposed on a
woman who has in her own home enjoyed the comforts of affluence. As a
man thinks of all this, if he chooses to argue with himself on that
side, there is enough in the argument to make him feel that not only
as a wise man but as an honest man, he had better let the young lady
alone. She is well as she is, and he sees around him so many who have
tried the chances of marriage and who are not well! Look at Jones
with his wan, worn wife and his five children, Jones who is not yet
thirty, of whom he happens to know that the wretched man cannot look
his doctor in the face, and that the doctor is as necessary to the
man's house as is the butcher! What heart can Jones have for his work
with such a burden as this upon his shoulders? And so the thinker,
who argues on that side, resolves that the young lady shall go her
own way for him.

But the arguments on the other side are equally cogent, and so much
more alluring! And they are used by the same man with reference to
the same passion, and are intended by him to put himself right in his
conduct in reference to the same dear girl. Only the former line of
thoughts occurred to him on a Saturday, when he was ending his week
rather gloomily, and this other way of thinking on the same subject
has come upon him on a Monday, as he is beginning his week with
renewed hope. Does this young girl of his heart love him? And if so,
their affection for each other being thus reciprocal, is she not
entitled to an expression of her opinion and her wishes on this
difficult subject? And if she be willing to run the risk and to
encounter the dangers,--to do so on his behalf, because she is
willing to share everything with him,--is it becoming in him, a man,
to fear what she does not fear? If she be not willing let her say so.
If there be any speaking, he must speak first;--but she is entitled,
as much as he is, to her own ideas respecting their great outlook
into the affairs of the world. And then is it not manifestly God's
ordinance that a man should live together with a woman? How poor
a creature does the man become who has shirked his duty in this
respect, who has done nothing to keep the world going, who has been
willing to ignore all affection so that he might avoid all burdens,
and who has put into his own belly every good thing that has come to
him, either by the earning of his own hands or from the bounty and
industry of others! Of course there is a risk; but what excitement is
there in anything in which there is none? So on the Tuesday he speaks
his mind to the young lady, and tells her candidly that there will be
potatoes for the two of them,--sufficient, as he hopes, of potatoes,
but no more. As a matter of course the young lady replies that
she for her part will be quite content to take the parings for her
own eating. Then they rush deliciously into each other's arms and
the matter is settled. For, though the convictions arising from
the former line of argument may be set aside as often as need be,
those reached from the latter are generally conclusive. That such
a settlement will always be better for the young gentleman and the
young lady concerned than one founded on a sterner prudence is more
than one may dare to say; but we do feel sure that that country will
be most prosperous in which such leaps in the dark are made with the
greatest freedom.

Our friend Hugh, as he sat smoking on the knife-board of the omnibus,
determined that he would risk everything. If it were ordained that
prudence should prevail, the prudence should be hers. Why should he
take upon himself to have prudence enough for two, seeing that she
was so very discreet in all her bearings? Then he remembered the
touch of her hand, which he still felt upon his palm as he sat
handling his pipe, and he told himself that after that he was bound
to say a word more. And moreover he confessed to himself that he was
compelled by a feeling that mastered him altogether. He could not get
through an hour's work without throwing down his pen and thinking of
Nora Rowley. It was his destiny to love her,--and there was, to his
mind, a mean, pettifogging secrecy, amounting almost to daily lying,
in his thus loving her and not telling her that he loved her. It
might well be that she should rebuke him; but he thought that he
could bear that. It might well be that he had altogether mistaken
that touch of her hand. After all it had been the slightest possible
motion of no more than one finger. But he would at any rate know the
truth. If she would tell him at once that she did not care for him,
he thought that he could get over it; but life was not worth having
while he lived in this shifty, dubious, and uncomfortable state. So
he made up his mind that he would go to St. Diddulph's with his heart
in his hand.

In the mean time, Mr. Bozzle had been twice to St. Diddulph's;--and
now he made a third journey there, two days after Stanbury's visit.
Trevelyan, who, in truth, hated the sight of the man, and who
suffered agonies in his presence, had, nevertheless, taught himself
to believe that he could not live without his assistance. That it
should be so was a part of the cruelty of his lot. Who else was there
that he could trust? His wife had renewed her intimacy with Colonel
Osborne the moment that she had left him. Mrs. Stanbury, who had been
represented to him as the most correct of matrons, had at once been
false to him and to her trust, in allowing Colonel Osborne to enter
her house. Mr. and Mrs. Outhouse, with whom his wife had now located
herself, not by his orders, were, of course, his enemies. His old
friend, Hugh Stanbury, had gone over to the other side, and had
quarrelled with him purposely, with malice prepense, because he would
not submit himself to the caprices of the wife who had injured him.
His own lawyer had refused to act for him; and his fast and oldest
ally, the very person who had sounded in his ear the earliest warning
note against that odious villain, whose daily work it was to destroy
the peace of families,--even Lady Milborough had turned against him!
Because he would not follow the stupid prescription which she, with
pig-headed obstinacy, persisted in giving,--because he would not
carry his wife off to Naples,--she was ill-judging and inconsistent
enough to tell him that he was wrong! Who was then left to him but
Bozzle? Bozzle was very disagreeable. Bozzle said things, and made
suggestions to him which were as bad as pins stuck into his flesh.
But Bozzle was true to his employer, and could find out facts. Had
it not been for Bozzle, he would have known nothing of the Colonel's
journey to Devonshire. Had it not been for Bozzle, he would never
have heard of the correspondence; and, therefore, when he left
London, he gave Bozzle a roving commission; and when he went to
Paris, and from Paris onwards, over the Alps into Italy, he furnished
Bozzle with his address. At this time, in the midst of all his
misery, it never occurred to him to inquire of himself whether
it might be possible that his old friends were right, and that
he himself was wrong. From morning to night he sang to himself
melancholy silent songs of inward wailing, as to the cruelty of his
own lot in life;--and, in the mean time, he employed Bozzle to find
out for him how far that cruelty was carried.

Mr. Bozzle was, of course, convinced that the lady whom he was
employed to watch was--no better than she ought to be. That is the
usual Bozzlian language for broken vows, secrecy, intrigue, dirt, and
adultery. It was his business to obtain evidence of her guilt. There
was no question to be solved as to her innocency. The Bozzlian mind
would have regarded any such suggestion as the product of a green
softness, the possession of which would have made him quite unfit for
his profession. He was aware that ladies who are no better than they
should be are often very clever,--so clever, as to make it necessary
that the Bozzles who shall at last confound them should be first-rate
Bozzles, Bozzles quite at the top of their profession,--and,
therefore, he went about his work with great industry and much
caution. Colonel Osborne was at the present moment in Scotland.
Bozzle was sure of that. He was quite in the north of Scotland.
Bozzle had examined his map, and had found that Wick, which was the
Colonel's post-town, was very far north indeed. He had half a mind to
run down to Wick, as he was possessed by a certain honest zeal, which
made him long to do something hard and laborious; but his experience
told him that it was very easy for the Colonel to come up to the
neighbourhood of St. Diddulph's, whereas the lady could not go down
to Wick, unless she were to decide upon throwing herself into her
lover's arms,--whereby Bozzle's work would be brought to an end. He,
therefore, confined his immediate operations to St. Diddulph's.

He made acquaintance with one or two important persons in and about
Mr. Outhouse's parsonage. He became very familiar with the postman.
He arranged terms of intimacy, I am sorry to say, with the housemaid;
and, on the third journey, he made an alliance with the potboy at the
Full Moon. The potboy remembered well the fact of the child being
brought to "our 'ouse," as he called the Full Moon; and he was
enabled to say, that the same "gent as had brought the boy backards
and forrards," had since that been at the parsonage. But Bozzle
was quite quick enough to perceive that all this had nothing to do
with the Colonel. He was led, indeed, to fear that his "governor,"
as he was in the habit of calling Trevelyan in his half-spoken
soliloquies,--that his governor was not as true to him as he was to
his governor. What business had that meddling fellow Stanbury at St.
Diddulph's?--for Trevelyan had not thought it necessary to tell his
satellite that he had quarrelled with his friend. Bozzle was grieved
in his mind when he learned that Stanbury's interference was still
to be dreaded; and wrote to his governor, rather severely, to
that effect; but, when so writing, he was able to give no further
information. Facts, in such cases, will not unravel themselves
without much patience on the part of the investigators.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

PRISCILLA'S WISDOM.


   [Illustration]

On the night after the dinner party in the Close, Dorothy was not the
only person in the house who laid awake thinking of what had taken
place. Miss Stanbury also was full of anxiety, and for hour after
hour could not sleep as she remembered the fruitlessness of her
efforts on behalf of her nephew and niece.

It had never occurred to her, when she had first proposed to herself
that Dorothy should become Mrs. Gibson that Dorothy herself would
have any objection to such a step in life. Her fear had been that
Dorothy would have become over-radiant with triumph at the idea of
having a husband, and going to that husband with a fortune of her
own. That Mr. Gibson might hesitate she had thought very likely.
It is thus in general that women regard the feelings, desires, and
aspirations of other women. You will hardly ever meet an elderly lady
who will not speak of her juniors as living in a state of breathless
anxiety to catch husbands. And the elder lady will speak of
the younger as though any kind of choice in such catching was
quite disregarded. The man must be a gentleman,--or, at least,
gentlemanlike,--and there must be bread. Let these things be given,
and what girl won't jump into what man's arms? Female reader, is it
not thus that the elders of your sex speak of the younger? When old
Mrs. Stanbury heard that Nora Rowley had refused Mr. Glascock, the
thing was to her unintelligible; and it was now quite unintelligible
to Miss Stanbury that Dorothy should prefer a single life to
matrimony with Mr. Gibson.

It must be acknowledged, on Aunt Stanbury's behalf, that Dorothy was
one of those yielding, hesitating, submissive young women, trusting
others, but doubting ever of themselves, as to whom it is natural
that their stronger friends should find it expedient to decide for
them. Miss Stanbury was almost justified in thinking that unless she
were to find a husband for her niece, her niece would never find
one for herself. Dorothy would drift into being an old maid, like
Priscilla, simply because she would never assert herself,--never
put her best foot foremost. Aunt Stanbury had therefore taken upon
herself to put out a foot; and having carefully found that Mr.
Gibson was "willing," had conceived that all difficulties were over.
She would be enabled to do her duty by her niece, and establish
comfortably in life, at any rate, one of her brother's children. And
now Dorothy was taking upon herself to say that she did not like
the gentleman! Such conduct was almost equal to writing for a penny
newspaper!

On the following morning, after breakfast, when Brooke Burgess was
gone out to call upon his uncle,--which he insisted upon doing
openly, and not under the rose, in spite of Miss Stanbury's great
gravity on the occasion,--there was a very serious conversation, and
poor Dorothy had found herself to be almost silenced. She did argue
for a time; but her arguments seemed, even to herself, to amount to
so little! Why shouldn't she love Mr. Gibson? That was a question
which she found it impossible to answer. And though she did not
actually yield, though she did not say that she would accept the man,
still, when she was told that three days were to be allowed to her
for consideration, and that then the offer would be made to her
in form, she felt that, as regarded the anti-Gibson interest, she
had not a leg to stand upon. Why should not such an insignificant
creature, as was she, love Mr. Gibson,--or any other man who had
bread to give her, and was in some degree like a gentleman? On that
night, she wrote the following letter to her sister:--


   The Close, Tuesday.

   DEAREST PRISCILLA,

   I do so wish that you could be with me, so that I could
   talk to you again. Aunt Stanbury is the most affectionate
   and kindest friend in the world; but she has always been
   so able to have her own way, because she is both clever
   and good, that I find myself almost like a baby with her.
   She has been talking to me again about Mr. Gibson; and it
   seems that Mr. Gibson really does mean it. It is certainly
   very strange; but I do think now that it is true. He is to
   come on Friday. It seems very odd that it should all be
   settled for him in that way; but then Aunt Stanbury is so
   clever at settling things!

   He sat next to me almost all the evening yesterday; but
   he didn't say anything about it, except that he hoped I
   agreed with him about going to church, and all that. I
   suppose I do; and I am quite sure that if I were to be a
   clergyman's wife, I should endeavour to do whatever my
   husband thought right about religion. One ought to try
   to do so, even if the clergyman is not one's husband.
   Mr. Burgess has come, and he was so very amusing all the
   evening, that perhaps that was the reason Mr. Gibson said
   so little. Mr. Burgess is a very nice man, and I think
   Aunt Stanbury is more fond of him than of anybody. He is
   not at all the sort of person that I expected.

   But if Mr. Gibson does come on Friday, and does really
   mean it, what am I to say to him? Aunt Stanbury will be
   very angry if I do not take her advice. I am quite sure
   that she intends it all for my happiness; and then, of
   course, she knows so much more about the world than I do.
   She asks me what it is that I expect. Of course, I do not
   expect anything. It is a great compliment from Mr. Gibson,
   who is a clergyman, and thought well of by everybody. And
   nothing could be more respectable. Aunt Stanbury says
   that with the money she would give us we should be quite
   comfortable; and she wants us to live in this house. She
   says that there are thirty girls round Exeter who would
   give their eyes for such a chance; and, looking at it
   in that light, of course, it is a very great thing for
   me. Only think how poor we have been! And then, dear
   Priscilla, perhaps he would let me be good to you and dear
   mamma!

   But of course he will ask me whether I--love him; and what
   am I to say? Aunt Stanbury says that I am to love him.
   "Begin to love him at once," she said this morning. I
   would if I could, partly for her sake, and because I do
   feel that it would be so respectable. When I think of it,
   it does seem such a pity that poor I should throw away
   such a chance. And I must say that Mr. Gibson is very
   good and most obliging; and everybody says that he has
   an excellent temper, and that he is a most prudent,
   well-dispositioned man. I declare, dear Priscilla, when I
   think of it, I cannot bring myself to believe that such a
   man should want me to be his wife.

   But what ought I to do? I suppose when a girl is in love
   she is very unhappy if the gentleman does not propose to
   her. I am sure it would not make me at all unhappy if I
   were told that Mr. Gibson had changed his mind.

   Dearest Priscilla, you must write at once, because he is
   to be here on Friday. Oh, dear; Friday does seem to be so
   near! And I shall never know what to say to him, either
   one way or the other.

   Your most affectionate sister,

   DOROTHY STANBURY.

   P.S.--Give my kindest love to mamma; but you need not tell
   her unless you think it best.


Priscilla received this letter on the Wednesday morning, and felt
herself bound to answer it on that same afternoon. Had she postponed
her reply for a day, it would still have been in Dorothy's hands
before Mr. Gibson could have come to her on the dreaded Friday
morning. But still that would hardly give her time enough to consider
the matter with any degree of deliberation after she should have been
armed with what wisdom Priscilla might be able to send her. The post
left Nuncombe Putney at three; and therefore the letter had to be
written before their early dinner.

So Priscilla went into the garden and sat herself down under an old
cedar that she might discuss the matter with herself in all its
bearings. She felt that no woman could be called upon to write a
letter that should be of more importance. The whole welfare in life
of the person who was dearest to her would probably depend upon it.
The weight upon her was so great that she thought for a while she
would take counsel with her mother; but she felt sure that her mother
would recommend the marriage; and that if she afterwards should find
herself bound to oppose it, then her mother would be a miserable
woman. There could be no use to her in taking counsel with her
mother, because her mother's mind was known to her beforehand. The
responsibility was thrown upon her, and she alone must bear it.

She tried hard to persuade herself to write at once and tell her
sister to marry the man. She knew her sister's heart so well as to be
sure that Dorothy would learn to love the man who was her husband. It
was almost impossible that Dorothy should not love those with whom
she lived. And then her sister was so well adapted to be a wife and
a mother. Her temper was so sweet, she was so pure, so unselfish, so
devoted, and so healthy withal! She was so happy when she was acting
for others; and so excellent in action when she had another one to
think for her! She was so trusting and trustworthy that any husband
would adore her! Then Priscilla walked slowly into the house, got
her prayer-book, and returning to her seat under the tree read the
marriage service. It was one o'clock when she went up-stairs to write
her letter, and it had not yet struck eleven when she first seated
herself beneath the tree. Her letter, when written, was as follows:--


   Nuncombe Putney, August 25, 186--.

   DEAREST DOROTHY,

   I got your letter this morning, and I think it is better
   to answer it at once, as the time is very short. I have
   been thinking about it with all my mind, and I feel almost
   awe-stricken lest I should advise you wrongly. After all,
   I believe that your own dear sweet truth and honesty would
   guide you better than anybody else can guide you. You may
   be sure of this, that whichever way it is, I shall think
   that you have done right. Dearest sister, I suppose there
   can be no doubt that for most women a married life is
   happier than a single one. It is always thought so, as we
   may see by the anxiety of others to get married; and when
   an opinion becomes general, I think that the world is most
   often right. And then, my own one, I feel sure that you
   are adapted both for the cares and for the joys of married
   life. You would do your duty as a married woman happily,
   and would be a comfort to your husband;--not a thorn in
   his side, as are so many women.

   But, my pet, do not let that reasoning of Aunt Stanbury's
   about the thirty young girls who would give their eyes for
   Mr. Gibson, have any weight with you. You should not take
   him because thirty other young girls would be glad to have
   him. And do not think too much of that respectability
   of which you speak. I would never advise my Dolly to
   marry any man unless she could be respectable in her new
   position; but that alone should go for nothing. Nor should
   our poverty. We shall not starve. And even if we did, that
   would be but a poor excuse.

   I can find no escape from this,--that you should love him
   before you say that you will take him. But honest, loyal
   love need not, I take it, be of that romantic kind which
   people write about in novels and poetry. You need not
   think him to be perfect, or the best or grandest of men.
   Your heart will tell you whether he is dear to you. And
   remember, Dolly, that I shall remember that love itself
   must begin at some precise time. Though you had not
   learned to love him when you wrote on Tuesday, you may
   have begun to do so when you get this on Thursday.

   If you find that you love him, then say that you will be
   his wife. If your heart revolts from such a declaration
   as being false;--if you cannot bring yourself to feel
   that you prefer him to others as the partner of your
   life,--then tell him, with thanks for his courtesy, that
   it cannot be as he would have it.

   Yours always and ever most affectionately,

   PRISCILLA.



CHAPTER XXXV.

MR. GIBSON'S GOOD FORTUNE.


"I'll bet you half-a-crown, my lad, you're thrown over at last, like
the rest of them. There's nothing she likes so much as taking some
one up in order that she may throw him over afterwards." It was thus
that Mr. Bartholomew Burgess cautioned his nephew Brooke.

"I'll take care that she shan't break my heart, Uncle Barty. I will
go my way and she may go hers, and she may give her money to the
hospital if she pleases."

On the morning after his arrival Brooke Burgess had declared aloud
in Miss Stanbury's parlour that he was going over to the bank to see
his uncle. Now there was in this almost a breach of contract. Miss
Stanbury, when she invited the young man to Exeter, had stipulated
that there should be no intercourse between her house and the bank.
"Of course, I shall not need to know where you go or where you don't
go," she had written; "but after all that has passed there must not
be any positive intercourse between my house and the bank." And now
he had spoken of going over to C and B, as he called them, with the
utmost indifference. Miss Stanbury had looked very grave, but had
said nothing. She had determined to be on her guard, so that she
should not be driven to quarrel with Brooke if she could avoid it.

Bartholomew Burgess was a tall, thin, ill-tempered old man, as
well-known in Exeter as the cathedral, and respected after a fashion.
No one liked him. He said ill-natured things of all his neighbours,
and had never earned any reputation for doing good-natured acts. But
he had lived in Exeter for nearly seventy years, and had achieved
that sort of esteem which comes from long tenure. And he had
committed no great iniquities in the course of his fifty years of
business. The bank had never stopped payment, and he had robbed no
one. He had not swallowed up widows and orphans, and had done his
work in the firm of Cropper and Burgess after the old-fashioned safe
manner, which leads neither to riches nor to ruin. Therefore he was
respected. But he was a discontented, sour old man, who believed
himself to have been injured by all his own friends, who disliked
his own partners because they had bought that which had, at any rate,
never belonged to him;--and whose strongest passion it was to hate
Miss Stanbury of the Close.

"She's got a parson by the hand, now," said the uncle, as he
continued his caution to the nephew.

"There was a clergyman there last night."

"No doubt, and she'll play him off against you, and you against him;
and then she'll throw you both over. I know her."

"She has got a right to do what she likes with her own, Uncle Barty."

"And how did she get it? Never mind. I'm not going to set you against
her, if you're her favourite for the moment. She has a niece with her
there,--hasn't she?"

"One of her brother's daughters."

"They say she's going to make that clergyman marry her."

"What;--Mr. Gibson?"

"Yes. They tell me he was as good as engaged to another girl,--one of
the Frenches of Heavitree. And therefore dear Jemima could do nothing
better than interfere. When she has succeeded in breaking the girl's
heart--"

"Which girl's heart, Uncle Barty?"

"The girl the man was to have married; when that's done she'll throw
Gibson over. You'll see. She'll refuse to give the girl a shilling.
She took the girl's brother by the hand ever so long, and then she
threw him over. And she'll throw the girl over too, and send her back
to the place she came from. And then she'll throw you over."

"According to you, she must be the most malicious old woman that ever
was allowed to live!"

"I don't think there are many to beat her, as far as malice goes. But
you'll find out for yourself. I shouldn't be surprised if she were to
tell you before long that you were to marry the niece."

"I shouldn't think that such very hard lines either," said Brooke
Burgess.

"I've no doubt you may have her if you like," said Barty, "in spite
of Mr. Gibson. Only I should recommend you to take care and get the
money first."

When Brooke went back to the house in the Close, Miss Stanbury was
quite fussy in her silence. She would have given much to have been
told something about Barty, and, above all, to have learned what
Barty had said about herself. But she was far too proud even to
mention the old man's name of her own accord. She was quite sure that
she had been abused. She guessed, probably with tolerable accuracy,
the kind of things that had been said of her, and suggested to
herself what answer Brooke would make to such accusations. But she
had resolved to cloak it all in silence, and pretended for a while
not to remember the young man's declared intention when he left the
house. "It seems odd to me," said Brooke, "that Uncle Barty should
always live alone as he does. He must have a dreary time of it."

"I don't know anything about your Uncle Barty's manner of living."

"No;--I suppose not. You and he are not friends."

"By no means, Brooke."

"He lives there all alone in that poky bank-house, and nobody ever
goes near him. I wonder whether he has any friends in the city?"

"I really cannot tell you anything about his friends. And, to tell
you the truth, Brooke, I don't want to talk about your uncle. Of
course, you can go to see him when you please, but I'd rather you
didn't tell me of your visits afterwards."

"There is nothing in the world I hate so much as a secret," said he.
He had no intention in this of animadverting upon Miss Stanbury's
secret enmity, nor had he purposed to ask any question as to her
relations with the old man. He had alluded to his dislike of having
secrets of his own. But she misunderstood him.

"If you are anxious to know--" she said, becoming very red in the
face.

"I am not at all curious to know. You quite mistake me."

"He has chosen to believe,--or to say that he believed,--that I
wronged him in regard to his brother's will. I nursed his brother
when he was dying,--as I considered it to be my duty to do. I cannot
tell you all that story. It is too long, and too sad. Romance is very
pretty in novels, but the romance of a life is always a melancholy
matter. They are most happy who have no story to tell."

"I quite believe that."

"But your Uncle Barty chose to think,--indeed, I hardly know what
he thought. He said that the will was a will of my making. When it
was made I and his brother were apart; we were not even on speaking
terms. There had been a quarrel, and all manner of folly. I am not
very proud when I look back upon it. It is not that I think myself
better than others; but your Uncle Brooke's will was made before we
had come together again. When he was ill it was natural that I should
go to him,--after all that had passed between us. Eh, Brooke?"

"It was womanly."

"But it made no difference about the will. Mr. Bartholomew Burgess
might have known that at once, and must have known it afterwards. But
he has never acknowledged that he was wrong;--never even yet."

"He could not bring himself to do that, I should say."

"The will was no great triumph to me. I could have done without it.
As God is my judge, I would not have lifted up my little finger to
get either a part or the whole of poor Brooke's money. If I had known
that a word would have done it, I would have bitten my tongue out
before it should have been spoken." She had risen from her seat, and
was speaking with a solemnity that almost filled her listener with
awe. She was a woman short of stature; but now, as she stood over
him, she seemed to be tall and majestic. "But when the man was dead,"
she continued, "and the will was there,--the property was mine,
and I was bound in duty to exercise the privileges and bear the
responsibilities which the dead man had conferred upon me. It was
Barty, then, who sent a low attorney to me, offering me a compromise.
What had I to compromise? Compromise! No. If it was not mine by all
the right the law could give, I would sooner have starved than have
had a crust of bread out of the money." She had now clenched both her
fists, and was shaking them rapidly as she stood over him, looking
down upon him.

"Of course it was your own."

"Yes. Though they asked me to compromise, and sent messages to me to
frighten me;--both Barty and your Uncle Tom; ay, and your father too,
Brooke; they did not dare to go to law. To law, indeed! If ever there
was a good will in the world, the will of your Uncle Brooke was good.
They could talk, and malign me, and tell lies as to dates, and strive
to make my name odious in the county; but they knew that the will was
good. They did not succeed very well in what they did attempt."

"I would try to forget it all now, Aunt Stanbury."

"Forget it! How is that to be done? How can the mind forget the
history of its own life? No,--I cannot forget it. I can forgive it."

"Then why not forgive it?"

"I do. I have. Why else are you here?"

"But forgive old Uncle Barty also!"

"Has he forgiven me? Come now. If I wished to forgive him, how should
I begin? Would he be gracious if I went to him? Does he love me,
do you think,--or hate me? Uncle Barty is a good hater. It is the
best point about him. No, Brooke, we won't try the farce of a
reconciliation after a long life of enmity. Nobody would believe us,
and we should not believe each other."

"Then I certainly would not try."

"I do not mean to do so. The truth is, Brooke, you shall have it
all when I'm gone, if you don't turn against me. You won't take to
writing for penny newspapers, will you, Brooke?" As she asked the
question she put one of her hands softly on his shoulder.

"I certainly shan't offend in that way."

"And you won't be a Radical?"

"No, not a Radical."

"I mean a man to follow Beales and Bright, a republican, a
putter-down of the Church, a hater of the Throne. You won't take up
that line, will you, Brooke?"

"It isn't my way at present, Aunt Stanbury. But a man shouldn't
promise."

"Ah me! It makes me sad when I think what the country is coming
to. I'm told there are scores of members of Parliament who don't
pronounce their h's. When I was young, a member of Parliament used to
be a gentleman;--and they've taken to ordaining all manner of people.
It used to be the case that when you met a clergyman you met a
gentleman. By-the-bye, Brooke, what do you think of Mr. Gibson?"

"Mr. Gibson! To tell the truth, I haven't thought much about him."

"But you must think about him. Perhaps you haven't thought about my
niece, Dolly Stanbury?"

"I think that she's an uncommonly nice girl."

"She's not to be nice for you, young man. She's to be married to Mr.
Gibson."

"Are they engaged?"

"Well, no; but I intend that they shall be. You won't begrudge that I
should give my little savings to one of my own name?"

"You don't know me, Aunt Stanbury, if you think that I should
begrudge anything that you might do with your money."

"Dolly has been here a month or two. I think it's three months since
she came, and I do like her. She's soft and womanly, and hasn't taken
up those vile, filthy habits which almost all the girls have adopted.
Have you seen those Frenches with the things they have on their
heads?"

"I was speaking to them yesterday."

"Nasty sluts! You can see the grease on their foreheads when they try
to make their hair go back in the dirty French fashion. Dolly is not
like that;--is she?"

"She is not in the least like either of the Miss Frenches."

"And now I want her to become Mrs. Gibson. He is quite taken."

"Is he?"

"Oh dear, yes. Didn't you see him the other night at dinner and
afterwards? Of course he knows that I can give her a little bit of
money, which always goes for something, Brooke. And I do think it
would be such a nice thing for Dolly."

"And what does Dolly think about it?"

"There's the difficulty. She likes him well enough; I'm sure of that.
And she has no stuck-up ideas about herself. She isn't one of those
who think that almost nothing is good enough for them. But--"

"She has an objection."

"I don't know what it is. I sometimes think she is so bashful and
modest she doesn't like to talk of being married,--even to an old
woman like me."

"Dear me! That's not the way of the age;--is it, Aunt Stanbury?"

"It's coming to that, Brooke, that the girls will ask the men soon.
Yes,--and that they won't take a refusal either. I do believe that
Camilla French did ask Mr. Gibson."

"And what did Mr. Gibson say?"

"Ah;--I can't tell you that. He knows too well what he's about to
take her. He's to come here on Friday at eleven, and you must be out
of the way. I shall be out of the way too. But if Dolly says a word
to you before that, mind you make her understand that she ought to
accept Gibson."

"She's too good for him, according to my thinking."

"Don't you be a fool. How can any young woman be too good for
a gentleman and a clergyman? Mr. Gibson is a gentleman. Do you
know,--only you must not mention this,--that I have a kind of idea
that we could get Nuncombe Putney for him. My father had the living,
and my brother; and I should like it to go on in the family."

No opportunity came in the way of Brooke Burgess to say anything in
favour of Mr. Gibson to Dorothy Stanbury. There did come to be very
quickly a sort of intimacy between her and her aunt's favourite; but
she was one not prone to talk about her own affairs. And as to such
an affair as this,--a question as to whether she should or should not
give herself in marriage to her suitor,--she, who could not speak
of it even to her own sister without a blush, who felt confused
and almost confounded when receiving her aunt's admonitions and
instigations on the subject, would not have endured to hear Brooke
Burgess speak on the matter. Dorothy did feel that a person easier to
know than Brooke had never come in her way. She had already said as
much to him as she had spoken to Mr. Gibson in the three months that
she had made his acquaintance. They had talked about Exeter, and
about Mrs. MacHugh, and the cathedral, and Tennyson's poems, and the
London theatres, and Uncle Barty, and the family quarrel. They had
become quite confidential with each other on some matters. But on
this heavy subject of Mr. Gibson and his proposal of marriage not
a word had been said. When Brooke once mentioned Mr. Gibson on the
Thursday morning, Dorothy within a minute had taken an opportunity of
escaping from the room.

But circumstances did give him an opportunity of speaking to Mr.
Gibson. On the Wednesday afternoon both he and Mr. Gibson were
invited to drink tea at Mrs. French's house on that evening. Such
invitations at Exeter were wont to be given at short dates, and both
the gentlemen had said that they would go. Then Arabella French had
called in the Close and had asked Miss Stanbury and Dorothy. It was
well understood by Arabella that Miss Stanbury herself would not
drink tea at Heavitree. And it may be that Dorothy's company was not
in truth desired. The ladies both declined. "Don't you stay at home
for me, my dear," Miss Stanbury said to her niece. But Dorothy had
not been out without her aunt since she had been at Exeter, and
understood perfectly that it would not be wise to commence the
practice at the house of the Frenches. "Mr. Brooke is coming, Miss
Stanbury; and Mr. Gibson," Miss French said. And Miss Stanbury had
thought that there was some triumph in her tone. "Mr. Brooke can go
where he pleases, my dear," Miss Stanbury replied. "And as for Mr.
Gibson, I am not his keeper." The tone in which Miss Stanbury
spoke would have implied great imprudence, had not the two ladies
understood each other so thoroughly, and had not each known that it
was so.

There was the accustomed set of people in Mrs. French's
drawing-room;--the Crumbies, and the Wrights, and the Apjohns. And
Mrs. MacHugh came also,--knowing that there would be a rubber. "Their
naked shoulders don't hurt me," Mrs. MacHugh said, when her friend
almost scolded her for going to the house. "I'm not a young man. I
don't care what they do to themselves." "You might say as much if
they went naked altogether," Miss Stanbury had replied in anger. "If
nobody else complained, I shouldn't," said Mrs. MacHugh. Mrs. MacHugh
got her rubber; and as she had gone for her rubber, on a distinct
promise that there should be a rubber, and as there was a rubber, she
felt that she had no right to say ill-natured things. "What does it
matter to me," said Mrs. MacHugh, "how nasty she is? She's not going
to be my wife." "Ugh!" exclaimed Miss Stanbury, shaking her head both
in anger and disgust.

Camilla French was by no means so bad as she was painted by Miss
Stanbury, and Brooke Burgess rather liked her than otherwise. And it
seemed to him that Mr. Gibson did not at all dislike Arabella, and
felt no repugnance at either the lady's noddle or shoulders now that
he was removed from Miss Stanbury's influence. It was clear enough
also that Arabella had not given up the attempt, although she must
have admitted to herself that the claims of Dorothy Stanbury were
very strong. On this evening it seemed to have been specially
permitted to Arabella, who was the elder sister, to take into her own
hands the management of the case. Beholders of the game had hitherto
declared that Mr. Gibson's safety was secured by the constant
coupling of the sisters. Neither would allow the other to hunt
alone. But a common sense of the common danger had made some special
strategy necessary, and Camilla hardly spoke a word to Mr. Gibson
during the evening. Let us hope that she found some temporary
consolation in the presence of the stranger.

"I hope you are going to stay with us ever so long, Mr. Burgess?"
said Camilla.

"A month. That is ever so long;--isn't it? Why I mean to see all
Devonshire within that time. I feel already that I know Exeter
thoroughly and everybody in it."

"I'm sure we are very much flattered."

"As for you, Miss French, I've heard so much about you all my life,
that I felt that I knew you before I came here."

"Who can have spoken to you about me?"

"You forget how many relatives I have in the city. Do you think my
Uncle Barty never writes to me?"

"Not about me."

"Does he not? And do you suppose I don't hear from Miss Stanbury?"

"But she hates me. I know that."

"And do you hate her?"

"No, indeed. I've the greatest respect for her. But she is a little
odd; isn't she, now, Mr. Burgess? We all like her ever so much; and
we've known her ever so long, six or seven years,--since we were
quite young things. But she has such queer notions about girls."

"What sort of notions?"

"She'd like them all to dress just like herself; and she thinks that
they should never talk to young men. If she was here she'd say I was
flirting with you, because we're sitting together."

"But you are not; are you?"

"Of course I am not."

"I wish you would," said Brooke.

"I shouldn't know how to begin. I shouldn't indeed. I don't know what
flirting means, and I don't know who does know. When young ladies and
gentlemen go out, I suppose they are intended to talk to each other."

"But very often they don't, you know."

"I call that stupid," said Camilla. "And yet, when they do, all the
old maids say that the girls are flirting. I'll tell you one thing,
Mr. Burgess. I don't care what any old maid says about me. I always
talk to people that I like, and if they choose to call me a flirt,
they may. It's my opinion that still waters run the deepest."

"No doubt the noisy streams are very shallow," said Brooke.

"You may call me a shallow stream if you like, Mr. Burgess."

"I meant nothing of the kind."

"But what do you call Dorothy Stanbury? That's what I call still
water. She runs deep enough."

"The quietest young lady I ever saw in my life."

"Exactly. So quiet, but so--clever. What do you think of Mr. Gibson?"

"Everybody is asking me what I think of Mr. Gibson."

"You know what they say. They say he is to marry Dorothy Stanbury.
Poor man! I don't think his own consent has ever been asked
yet;--but, nevertheless, it's settled."

"Just at present he seems to me to be,--what shall I say?--I oughtn't
to say flirting with your sister; ought I?"

"Miss Stanbury would say so if she were here, no doubt. But the fact
is, Mr. Burgess, we've known him almost since we were infants, and
of course we take an interest in his welfare. There has never been
anything more than that. Arabella is nothing more to him than I am.
Once, indeed--; but, however--; that does not signify. It would be
nothing to us, if he really liked Dorothy Stanbury. But as far as we
can see,--and we do see a good deal of him,--there is no such feeling
on his part. Of course we haven't asked. We should not think of such
a thing. Mr. Gibson may do just as he likes for us. But I am not
quite sure that Dorothy Stanbury is just the girl that would make
him a good wife. Of course when you've known a person seven or eight
years you do get anxious about his happiness. Do you know, we think
her,--perhaps a little,--sly."

In the meantime, Mr. Gibson was completely subject to the individual
charms of Arabella. Camilla had been quite correct in a part of
her description of their intimacy. She and her sister had known Mr.
Gibson for seven or eight years; but nevertheless the intimacy could
not with truth be said to have commenced during the infancy of the
young ladies, even if the word were used in its legal sense. Seven or
eight years, however, is a long acquaintance; and there was, perhaps,
something of a real grievance in this Stanbury intervention. If it
be a recognised fact in society that young ladies are in want of
husbands, and that an effort on their part towards matrimony is not
altogether impossible, it must be recognised also that failure will
be disagreeable, and interference regarded with animosity. Miss
Stanbury the elder was undoubtedly interfering between Mr. Gibson
and the Frenches; and it is neither manly nor womanly to submit
to interference with one's dearest prospects. It may, perhaps, be
admitted that the Miss Frenches had shown too much open ardour in
their pursuit of Mr. Gibson. Perhaps there should have been no ardour
and no pursuit. It may be that the theory of womanhood is right which
forbids to women any such attempts,--which teaches them that they
must ever be pursued, never the pursuers. As to that there shall be
no discourse at present. But it must be granted that whenever the
pursuit has been attempted, it is not in human nature to abandon it
without an effort. That the French girls should be very angry with
Miss Stanbury, that they should put their heads together with the
intention of thwarting her, that they should think evil things of
poor Dorothy, that they should half despise Mr. Gibson, and yet
resolve to keep their hold upon him as a chattel and a thing of value
that was almost their own, was not perhaps much to their discredit.

"You are a good deal at the house in the Close now," said Arabella,
in her lowest voice,--in a voice so low that it was almost
melancholy.

"Well; yes. Miss Stanbury, you know, has always been a staunch friend
of mine. And she takes an interest in my little church." People say
that girls are sly; but men can be sly, too, sometimes.

"It seems that she has taken you so much away from us, Mr. Gibson."

"I don't know why you should say that, Miss French."

"Perhaps I am wrong. One is apt to be sensitive about one's friends.
We seem to have known you so well. There is nobody else in Exeter
that mamma regards as she does you. But, of course, if you are happy
with Miss Stanbury that is everything."

"I am speaking of the old lady," said Mr. Gibson, who, in spite of
his slyness, was here thrown a little off his guard.

"And I am speaking of the old lady too," said Arabella. "Of whom else
should I be speaking?"

"No;--of course not."

"Of course," continued Arabella, "I hear what people say about the
niece. One cannot help what one hears, you know, Mr. Gibson; but I
don't believe that, I can assure you." As she said this, she looked
into his face, as though waiting for an answer; but Mr. Gibson had no
answer ready. Then Arabella told herself that if anything was to be
done it must be done at once. What use was there in beating round
the bush, when the only chance of getting the game was to be had by
dashing at once into the thicket. "I own I should be glad," she said,
turning her eyes away from him, "if I could hear from your own mouth
that it is not true."

Mr. Gibson's position was one not to be envied. Were he willing to
tell the very secrets of his soul to Miss French with the utmost
candour, he could not answer her question either one way or the
other, and he was not willing to tell her any of his secrets. It was
certainly the fact, too, that there had been tender passages between
him and Arabella. Now, when there have been such passages, and the
gentleman is cross-examined by the lady, as Mr. Gibson was being
cross-examined at the present moment,--the gentleman usually teaches
himself to think that a little falsehood is permissible. A gentleman
can hardly tell a lady that he has become tired of her, and has
changed his mind. He feels the matter, perhaps, more keenly even than
she does; and though, at all other times he may be a very Paladin in
the cause of truth, in such strait as this he does allow himself some
latitude.

"You are only joking, of course," he said.

"Indeed, I am not joking. I can assure you, Mr. Gibson, that the
welfare of the friends whom I really love can never be a matter of
joke to me. Mrs. Crumbie says that you positively are engaged to
marry Dorothy Stanbury."

"What does Mrs. Crumbie know about it?"

"I dare say, nothing. It is not so;--is it?"

"Certainly not."

"And there is nothing in it;--is there?"

"I wonder why people make these reports," said Mr. Gibson,
prevaricating.


   [Illustration: "I wonder why people make these reports."]


"It is a fabrication from beginning to end then," said Arabella,
pressing the matter quite home. At this time she was very close to
him, and though her words were severe, the glance from her eyes was
soft. And the scent from her hair was not objectionable to him, as
it would have been to Miss Stanbury. And the mode of her head-dress
was not displeasing to him. And the folds of her dress, as they fell
across his knee, were welcome to his feelings. He knew that he was as
one under temptation, but he was not strong enough to bid the tempter
avaunt. "Say that it is so, Mr. Gibson!"

"Of course, it is not so," said Mr. Gibson--lying.

"I am so glad. For of course, Mr. Gibson, when we heard it we thought
a great deal about it. A man's happiness depends so much on whom he
marries;--doesn't it? And a clergyman's more than anybody else's. And
we didn't think she was quite the sort of woman that you would like.
You see, she has had no advantages, poor thing. She has been shut up
in a little country cottage all her life;--just a labourer's hovel,
no more;--and though it wasn't her fault, of course, and we all
pitied her, and were so glad when Miss Stanbury brought her to
the Close;--still, you know, though one was very glad of her as
an acquaintance, yet, you know, as a wife,--and for such a dear,
dear friend--" She went on, and said many other things with equal
enthusiasm, and then wiped her eyes, and then smiled and laughed.
After that she declared that she was quite happy,--so happy; and so
she left him. The poor man, after the falsehood had been extracted
from him, said nothing more; but sat, in patience, listening to the
raptures and enthusiasm of his friend. He knew that he had disgraced
himself, and he knew also that his disgrace would be known, if
Dorothy Stanbury should accept his offer on the morrow. And yet how
hardly he had been used! What answer could he have given compatible
both with the truth and with his own personal dignity?

About half an hour afterwards he was walking back to Exeter with
Brooke Burgess, and then Brooke did ask him a question or two.

"Nice girls those Frenches, I think," said Brooke.

"Very nice," said Mr. Gibson.

"How Miss Stanbury does hate them," says Brooke.

"Not hate them, I hope," said Mr. Gibson.

"She doesn't love them;--does she?"

"Well, as for love;--yes; in one sense,--I hope she does. Miss
Stanbury, you know, is a woman who expresses herself strongly."

"What would she say, if she were told that you and I were going to
marry those two girls? We are both favourites, you know."

"Dear me! What a very odd supposition," said Mr. Gibson.

"For my part, I don't think I shall," said Brooke.

"I don't suppose I shall either," said Mr. Gibson, with a gravity
which was intended to convey some smattering of rebuke.

"A fellow might do worse, you know," said Brooke. "For my part, I
rather like girls with chignons, and all that sort of get-up. But the
worst of it is, one can't marry two at a time."

"That would be bigamy," said Mr. Gibson.

"Just so," said Brooke.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

MISS STANBURY'S WRATH.


Punctually at eleven o'clock on the Friday morning Mr. Gibson
knocked at the door of the house in the Close. The reader must not
imagine that he had ever wavered in his intention with regard to
Dorothy Stanbury, because he had been driven into a corner by the
pertinacious ingenuity of Miss French. He never for a moment thought
of being false to Miss Stanbury the elder. Falseness of that nature
would have been ruinous to him,--would have made him a marked man in
the city all his days, and would probably have reached even to the
bishop's ears. He was neither bad enough, nor audacious enough, nor
foolish enough, for such perjury as that. And, moreover, though the
wiles of Arabella had been potent with him, he very much preferred
Dorothy Stanbury. Seven years of flirtation with a young lady is more
trying to the affection than any duration of matrimony. Arabella had
managed to awaken something of the old glow, but Mr. Gibson, as soon
as he was alone, turned from her mentally in disgust. No! Whatever
little trouble there might be in his way, it was clearly his duty
to marry Dorothy Stanbury. She had the sweetest temper in the world,
and blushed with the prettiest blush! She would have, moreover, two
thousand pounds on the day she married, and there was no saying what
other and greater pecuniary advantages might follow. His mind was
quite made up; and during the whole morning he had been endeavouring
to drive all disagreeable reminiscences of Miss French from his
memory, and to arrange the words with which he would make his offer
to Dorothy. He was aware that he need not be very particular about
his words, as Dorothy, from the bashfulness of her nature, would be
no judge of eloquence at such a time. But still, for his own sake,
there should be some form of expression, some propriety of diction.
Before eleven o'clock he had it all by heart, and had nearly freed
himself from the uneasiness of his falsehood to Arabella. He had
given much serious thought to the matter, and had quite resolved that
he was right in his purpose, and that he could marry Dorothy with a
pure conscience, and with a true promise of a husband's love. "Dear
Dolly!" he said to himself, with something of enthusiasm as he walked
across the Close. And he looked up to the house as he came to it.
There was to be his future home. There was not one of the prebends
who had a better house. And there was a dove-like softness about
Dorothy's eyes, and a winning obedience in her manner, that were
charming. His lines had fallen to him in very pleasant places.
Yes;--he would go up to her, and take her at once by the hand, and
ask her whether she would be his, now and for ever. He would not
let go her hand till he had brought her so close to him that she
could hide her blushes on his shoulder. The whole thing had been so
well conceived, had become so clear to his mind, that he felt no
hesitation or embarrassment as he knocked at the door. Arabella
French would, no doubt, hear of it soon. Well;--she must hear of it.
After all she could do him no injury.

He was shown up at once into the drawing-room, and there he
found--Miss Stanbury the elder. "Oh, Mr. Gibson!" she said at once.

"Is anything the matter with--dear Dorothy?"

"She is the most obstinate, pig-headed young woman I ever came across
since the world began."

"You don't say so! But what is it, Miss Stanbury?"

"What is it? Why just this. Nothing on earth that I can say to her
will induce her to come down and speak to you."

"Have I offended her?"

"Offended a fiddlestick! Offence indeed! An offer from an honest man,
with her friends' approval, and a fortune at her back, as though she
had been born with a gold spoon in her mouth! And she tells me that
she can't, and won't, and wouldn't, and shouldn't, as though I were
asking her to walk the streets. I declare I don't know what has come
to the young women;--or what it is they want. One would have thought
that butter wouldn't melt in her mouth."

"But what is the reason, Miss Stanbury?"

"Oh, reason! You don't suppose people give reasons in these days.
What reason have they when they dress themselves up with bandboxes on
their sconces? Just simply the old reason--'I do not like thee, Dr.
Fell;--why I cannot tell.'"

"May I not see her myself, Miss Stanbury?"

"I can't make her come down-stairs to you. I've been at her the whole
morning, Mr. Gibson. Ever since daylight, pretty nearly. She came
into my room before I was up, and told me she had made up her mind.
I've coaxed, and scolded, and threatened, and cried;--but if she'd
been a milestone it couldn't have been of less use. I told her she
might go back to Nuncombe, and she just went off to pack up."

"But she's not to go?"

"How can I say what such a young woman will do? I'm never allowed a
way of my own for a moment. There's Brooke Burgess been scolding me
at that rate I didn't know whether I stood on my head or my heels.
And I don't know now."

Then there was a pause, while Mr. Gibson was endeavouring to decide
what would now be his best course of action. "Don't you think she'll
ever come round, Miss Stanbury?"

"I don't think she'll ever come any way that anybody wants her to
come, Mr. Gibson."

"I didn't think she was at all like that," said Mr. Gibson, almost in
tears.

"No,--nor anybody else. I've been seeing it come all the same. It's
just the Stanbury perversity. If I'd wanted to keep her by herself,
to take care of me, and had set my back up at her if she spoke to
a man, and made her understand that she wasn't to think of getting
married, she'd have been making eyes at every man that came into the
house. It's just what one gets for going out of one's way. I did
think she'd be so happy, Mr. Gibson, living here as your wife. She
and I between us could have managed for you so nicely."

Mr. Gibson was silent for a minute or two, during which he walked up
and down the room,--contemplating, no doubt, the picture of married
life which Miss Stanbury had painted for him,--a picture which, as
it seemed, was not to be realised. "And what had I better do, Miss
Stanbury?" he asked at last.

"Do! I don't know what you're to do. I'm groom enough to bring a mare
to water, but I can't make her drink."

"Will waiting be any good?"

"How can I say? I'll tell you one thing not to do. Don't go and
philander with those girls at Heavitree. It's my belief that Dorothy
has been thinking of them. People talk to her, of course."

"I wish people would hold their tongues. People are so indiscreet.
People don't know how much harm they may do."

"You've given them some excuse, you know, Mr. Gibson."

This was very ill-natured, and was felt by Mr. Gibson to be so rude,
that he almost turned upon his patroness in anger. He had known Dolly
for not more than three months, and had devoted himself to her, to
the great anger of his older friends. He had come this morning true
to his appointment, expecting that others would keep their promises
to him, as he was ready to keep those which he had made;--and now he
was told that it was his fault! "I do think that's rather hard, Miss
Stanbury," he said.

"So you have," said she;--"nasty, slatternly girls, without an idea
inside their noddles. But it's no use your scolding me."

"I didn't mean to scold, Miss Stanbury."

"I've done all that I could."

"And you think she won't see me for a minute?"

"She says she won't. I can't bid Martha carry her down."

"Then, perhaps, I had better leave you for the present," said Mr.
Gibson, after another pause. So he went, a melancholy, blighted man.
Leaving the Close, he passed through into Southernhay, and walked
across by the new streets towards the Heavitree road. He had no
design in taking this route, but he went on till he came in sight
of the house in which Mrs. French lived. As he walked slowly by it,
he looked up at the windows, and something of a feeling of romance
came across his heart. Were his young affections buried there, or
were they not? And, if so, with which of those fair girls were
they buried? For the last two years, up to last night, Camilla had
certainly been in the ascendant. But Arabella was a sweet young
woman; and there had been a time,--when those tender passages were
going on,--in which he had thought that no young woman ever was so
sweet. A period of romance, an era of enthusiasm, a short-lived,
delicious holiday of hot-tongued insanity had been permitted to him
in his youth;--but all that was now over. And yet here he was, with
three strings to his bow,--so he told himself,--and he had not as yet
settled for himself the great business of matrimony. He was inclined
to think, as he walked on, that he would walk his life alone, an
active, useful, but a melancholy man. After such experiences as
his, how should he ever again speak of his heart to a woman? During
this walk, his mind recurred frequently to Dorothy Stanbury; and,
doubtless, he thought that he had often spoken of his heart to her.
He was back at his lodgings before three, at which hour he ate an
early dinner, and then took the afternoon cathedral service at four.
The evening he spent at home, thinking of the romance of his early
days. What would Miss Stanbury have said, had she seen him in his
easy chair behind the "Exeter Argus,"--with a pipe in his mouth?

In the meantime, there was an uncomfortable scene in progress between
Dorothy and her aunt. Brooke Burgess, as desired, had left the house
before eleven, having taken upon himself, when consulted, to say in
the mildest terms, that he thought that, in general, young women
should not be asked to marry if they did not like to;--which opinion
had been so galling to Miss Stanbury that she had declared that he
had so scolded her, that she did not know whether she was standing
on her head or her heels. As soon as Mr. Gibson left her, she sat
herself down, and fairly cried. She had ardently desired this thing,
and had allowed herself to think of her desire as of one that would
certainly be accomplished. Dorothy would have been so happy as the
wife of a clergyman! Miss Stanbury's standard for men and women was
not high. She did not expect others to be as self-sacrificing, as
charitable, and as good as herself. It was not that she gave to
herself credit for such virtues; but she thought of herself as one
who, from the peculiar circumstances of life, was bound to do much
for others. There was no end to her doing good for others,--if only
the others would allow themselves to be governed by her. She did not
think that Mr. Gibson was a great divine; but she perceived that he
was a clergyman, living decently,--of that secret pipe Miss Stanbury
knew nothing,--doing his duty punctually, and, as she thought, very
much in want of a wife. Then there was her niece, Dolly,--soft,
pretty, feminine, without a shilling, and much in want of some one
to comfort and take care of her. What could be better than such a
marriage! And the overthrow to the girls with the big chignons would
be so complete! She had set her mind upon it, and now Dorothy said
that it couldn't, and it wouldn't, and it shouldn't be accomplished!
She was to be thrown over by this chit of a girl, as she had been
thrown over by the girl's brother! And, when she complained, the girl
simply offered to go away!

At about twelve Dorothy came creeping down into the room in which her
aunt was sitting, and pretended to occupy herself on some piece of
work. For a considerable time,--for three minutes perhaps,--Miss
Stanbury did not speak. She had resolved that she would not speak
to her niece again,--at least, not for that day. She would let the
ungrateful girl know how miserable she had been made. But at the
close of the three minutes her patience was exhausted. "What are you
doing there?" she said.

"I am quilting your cap, Aunt Stanbury."

"Put it down. You shan't do anything for me. I won't have you touch
my things any more. I don't like pretended service."

"It is not pretended, Aunt Stanbury."

"I say it is pretended. Why did you pretend to me that you would have
him when you had made up your mind against it all the time?"

"But I hadn't--made up my mind."

"If you had so much doubt about it, you might have done what I wanted
you."

"I couldn't, Aunt Stanbury."

"You mean you wouldn't. I wonder what it is you do expect."

"I don't expect anything, Aunt Stanbury."

"No; and I don't expect anything. What an old fool I am ever to look
for any comfort. Why should I think that anybody would care for me?"

"Indeed, I do care for you."

"In what sort of way do you show it? You're just like your brother
Hugh. I've disgraced myself to that man,--promising what I could not
perform. I declare it makes me sick when I think of it. Why did you
not tell me at once?" Dorothy said nothing further, but sat with the
cap on her lap. She did not dare to resume her needle, and she did
not like to put the cap aside, as by doing so it would seem as though
she had accepted her aunt's prohibition against her work. For half
an hour she sat thus, during which time Miss Stanbury dropped asleep.
She woke with a start, and began to scold again. "What's the good of
sitting there all the day, with your hands before you, doing
nothing?"

But Dorothy had been very busy. She had been making up her mind,
and had determined to communicate her resolution to her aunt. "Dear
aunt," she said, "I have been thinking of something."

"It's too late now," said Miss Stanbury.

"I see I've made you very unhappy."

"Of course you have."

"And you think that I'm ungrateful. I'm not ungrateful, and I don't
think that Hugh is."

"Never mind Hugh."

"Only because it seems so hard that you should take so much trouble
about us, and that then there should be so much vexation."

"I find it very hard."

"So I think that I'd better go back to Nuncombe."

"That's what you call gratitude."

"I don't like to stay here and make you unhappy. I can't think that I
ought to have done what you asked me, because I did not feel at all
in that way about Mr. Gibson. But as I have only disappointed you,
it will be better that I should go home. I have been very happy
here,--very."

"Bother!" exclaimed Miss Stanbury.

"I have,--and I do love you, though you won't believe it. But I am
sure I oughtn't to remain to make you unhappy. I shall never forget
all that you have done for me; and though you call me ungrateful, I
am not. But I know that I ought not to stay, as I cannot do what you
wish. So, if you please, I will go back to Nuncombe."

"You'll not do anything of the kind," said Miss Stanbury.

"But it will be better."

"Yes, of course; no doubt. I suppose you're tired of us all."

"It is not that I'm tired, Aunt Stanbury. It isn't that at all."
Dorothy had now become red up to the roots of her hair, and her eyes
were full of tears. "But I cannot stay where people think that I
am ungrateful. If you please, Aunt Stanbury, I will go." Then, of
course, there was a compromise. Dorothy did at last consent to remain
in the Close, but only on condition that she should be forgiven for
her sin in reference to Mr. Gibson, and be permitted to go on with
her aunt's cap.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

MONT CENIS.


   [Illustration]

The night had been fine and warm, and it was now noon on a fine
September day when the train from Paris reached St. Michael, on the
route to Italy by Mont Cenis,--as all the world knows St. Michael
is, or was a year or two back, the end of railway travelling in
that direction. At the time Mr. Fell's grand project of carrying a
line of rails over the top of the mountain was only in preparation,
and the journey from St. Michael to Susa was still made by the
diligences,--those dear old continental coaches which are now nearly
as extinct as our own, but which did not deserve death so fully as
did our abominable vehicles. The coupé of a diligence, or better
still, the banquette, was a luxurious mode of travelling as compared
with anything that our coaches offered. There used indeed to be a
certain halo of glory round the occupant of the box of a mail-coach.
The man who had secured that seat was supposed to know something
about the world, and to be such a one that the passengers sitting
behind him would be proud to be allowed to talk to him. But the
prestige of the position was greater than the comfort. A night on
the box of a mail-coach was but a bad time, and a night inside a
mail-coach was a night in purgatory. Whereas a seat up above, on the
banquette of a diligence passing over the Alps, with room for the
feet, and support for the back, with plenty of rugs and plenty of
tobacco, used to be on the Mont Cenis, and still is on some other
mountain passes, a very comfortable mode of seeing a mountain route.
For those desirous of occupying the coupé, or the three front seats
of the body of the vehicle, it must be admitted that difficulties
frequently arose; and that such difficulties were very common at
St. Michael. There would be two or three of those enormous vehicles
preparing to start for the mountain, whereas it would appear that
twelve or fifteen passengers had come down from Paris armed with
tickets assuring them that this preferable mode of travelling should
be theirs. And then assertions would be made, somewhat recklessly,
by the officials, to the effect that all the diligence was coupé.
It would generally be the case that some middle-aged Englishman who
could not speak French would go to the wall, together with his wife.
Middle-aged Englishmen with their wives, who can't speak French, can
nevertheless be very angry, and threaten loudly, when they suppose
themselves to be ill-treated. A middle-aged Englishman, though he
can't speak a word of French, won't believe a French official who
tells him that the diligence is all coupé, when he finds himself
with his unfortunate partner in a roundabout place behind with two
priests, a dirty man who looks like a brigand, a sick maid-servant,
and three agricultural labourers. The attempt, however, was
frequently made, and thus there used to be occasionally a little
noise round the bureau at St. Michael.

On the morning of which we are speaking two Englishmen had just made
good their claim, each independently of the other, each without
having heard or seen the other, when two American ladies, coming up
very tardily, endeavoured to prove their rights. The ladies were
without other companions, and were not fluent with their French,
but were clearly entitled to their seats. They were told that the
conveyance was all coupé, but perversely would not believe the
statement. The official shrugged his shoulders and signified that
his ultimatum had been pronounced. What can an official do in such
circumstances, when more coupé passengers are sent to him than the
coupés at his command will hold? "But we have paid for the coupé,"
said the elder American lady, with considerable indignation, though
her French was imperfect;--for American ladies understand their
rights. "Bah; yes; you have paid and you shall go. What would you
have?" "We would have what we have paid for," said the American lady.
Then the official rose from his stool and shrugged his shoulders
again, and made a motion with both his hands, intended to shew that
the thing was finished. "It is a robbery," said the elder American
lady to the younger. "I should not mind, only you are so unwell."
"It will not kill me, I dare say," said the younger. Then one of
the English gentlemen declared that his place was very much at the
service of the invalid,--and the other Englishman declared that his
also was at the service of the invalid's companion. Then, and not
till then, the two men recognised each other. One was Mr. Glascock,
on his way to Naples, and the other was Mr. Trevelyan, on his
way,--he knew not whither.

Upon this, of course, they spoke to each other. In London they had
been well acquainted, each having been an intimate guest at the house
of old Lady Milborough. And each knew something of the other's recent
history. Mr. Glascock was aware, as was all the world, that Trevelyan
had quarrelled with his wife; and Trevelyan was aware that Mr.
Glascock had been spoken of as a suitor to his own sister-in-law. Of
that visit which Mr. Glascock had made to Nuncombe Putney, and of
the manner in which Nora had behaved to her lover, Trevelyan knew
nothing. Their greetings spoken, their first topic of conversation
was, of course, the injury proposed to be done to the American
ladies, and which would now fall upon them. They went into the
waiting-room together, and during such toilet as they could make
there, grumbled furiously. They would take post horses over the
mountain, not from any love of solitary grandeur, but in order that
they might make the company pay for its iniquity. But it was soon
apparent to them that they themselves had no ground of complaint, and
as everybody was very civil, and as a seat in the banquette over the
heads of the American ladies was provided for them, and as the man
from the bureau came and apologised, they consented to be pacified,
and ended, of course, by tipping half-a-dozen of the servants about
the yard. Mr. Glascock had a man of his own with him, who was very
nearly being put on to the same seat with his master as an extra
civility; but this inconvenience was at last avoided. Having settled
these little difficulties, they went into breakfast in the buffet.

There could be no better breakfast than used to be given in the
buffet at the railway terminus at St. Michael. The company might
occasionally be led into errors about that question of coupé seats,
but in reference to their provisions, they set an example which might
be of great use to us here in England. It is probably the case that
breakfasts for travellers are not so frequently needed here as they
are on the Continent; but, still, there is often to be found a crowd
of people ready to eat if only the wherewithal were there. We are
often told in our newspapers that England is disgraced by this and
by that; by the unreadiness of our army, by the unfitness of our
navy, by the irrationality of our laws, by the immobility of our
prejudices, and what not; but the real disgrace of England is the
railway sandwich,--that whited sepulchre, fair enough outside, but
so meagre, poor, and spiritless within, such a thing of shreds and
parings, such a dab of food, telling us that the poor bone whence it
was scraped had been made utterly bare before it was sent into the
kitchen for the soup pot. In France one does get food at the railway
stations, and at St. Michael the breakfast was unexceptional.

Our two friends seated themselves near to the American ladies, and
were, of course, thanked for their politeness. American women are
taught by the habits of their country to think that men should give
way to them more absolutely than is in accordance with the practices
of life in Europe. A seat in a public conveyance in the States, when
merely occupied by a man, used to be regarded by any woman as being
at her service as completely as though it were vacant. One woman
indicating a place to another would point with equal freedom to a man
or a space. It is said that this is a little altered now, and that
European views on this subject are spreading themselves. Our two
ladies, however, who were pretty, clever-looking, and attractive even
after the night's journey, were manifestly more impressed with the
villainy of the French officials than they were with the kindness of
their English neighbours.

"And nothing can be done to punish them?" said the younger of them to
Mr. Glascock.

"Nothing, I should think," said he. "Nothing will, at any rate."

"And you will not get back your money?" said the elder,--who, though
the elder, was probably not much above twenty.

"Well;--no. Time is money, they say. It would take thrice the value
of the time in money, and then one would probably fail. They have
done very well for us, and I suppose there are difficulties."

"It couldn't have taken place in our country," said the younger lady.
"All the same, we are very much obliged to you. It would not have
been nice for us to have to go up into the banquette."

"They would have put you into the interior."

"And that would have been worse. I hate being put anywhere,--as if I
were a sheep. It seems so odd to us, that you here should be all so
tame."

"Do you mean the English or the French, or the world in general on
this side of the Atlantic?"

"We mean Europeans," said the younger lady, who was better after
her breakfast. "But then we think that the French have something
of compensation, in their manners, and their ways of life, their
climate, the beauty of their cities, and their general management of
things."

"They are very great in many ways, no doubt," said Mr. Glascock.

"They do understand living better than you do," said the elder.

"Everything is so much brighter with them," said the younger.

"They contrive to give a grace to every-day existence," said the
elder.

"There is such a welcome among them for strangers," said the younger.

"Particularly in reference to places taken in the coupé," said
Trevelyan, who had hardly spoken before.

"Ah, that is an affair of honesty," said the elder. "If we want
honesty, I believe we must go back to the stars and stripes."

Mr. Glascock looked up from his plate almost aghast. He said nothing,
however, but called for the waiter, and paid for his breakfast.
Nevertheless, there was a considerable amount of travelling
friendship engendered between the ladies and our two friends
before the diligence had left the railway yard. They were two Miss
Spaldings, going on to Florence, at which place they had an uncle,
who was minister from the States to the kingdom of Italy; and they
were not at all unwilling to receive such little civilities as
gentlemen can give to ladies when travelling. The whole party
intended to sleep at Turin that night, and they were altogether on
good terms with each other when they started on the journey from St.
Michael.

"Clever women those," said Mr. Glascock, as soon as they had arranged
their legs and arms in the banquette.

"Yes, indeed."

"American women always are clever,--and are almost always pretty."

"I do not like them," said Trevelyan,--who in these days was in a
mood to like nothing. "They are exigeant;--and then they are so hard.
They want the weakness that a woman ought to have."

"That comes from what they would call your insular prejudice. We
are accustomed to less self-assertion on the part of women than is
customary with them. We prefer women to rule us by seeming to yield.
In the States, as I take it, the women never yield, and the men have
to fight their own battles with other tactics."

"I don't know what their tactics are."

"They keep their distance. The men live much by themselves, as though
they knew they would not have a chance in the presence of their wives
and daughters. Nevertheless they don't manage these things badly. You
very rarely hear of an American being separated from his wife."

The words were no sooner out of his mouth, than Mr. Glascock knew,
and remembered, and felt what he had said. There are occasions in
which a man sins so deeply against fitness and the circumstances
of the hour, that it becomes impossible for him to slur over his
sin as though it had not been committed. There are certain little
peccadilloes in society which one can manage to throw behind
one,--perhaps with some difficulty, and awkwardness; but still they
are put aside, and conversation goes on, though with a hitch. But
there are graver offences, the gravity of which strikes the offender
so seriously that it becomes impossible for him to seem even to
ignore his own iniquity. Ashes must be eaten publicly, and sackcloth
worn before the eyes of men. It was so now with poor Mr. Glascock. He
thought about it for a moment,--whether or no it was possible that
he should continue his remarks about the American ladies, without
betraying his own consciousness of the thing that he had done; and
he found that it was quite impossible. He knew that he was red up to
his hairs, and hot, and that his blood tingled. His blushes, indeed,
would not be seen in the seclusion of the banquette; but he could not
overcome the heat and the tingling. There was silence for about three
minutes, and then he felt that it would be best for him to confess
his own fault. "Trevelyan," he said, "I am very sorry for the
allusion that I made. I ought to have been less awkward, and I beg
your pardon."

"It does not matter," said Trevelyan. "Of course I know that
everybody is talking of it behind my back. I am not to expect that
people will be silent because I am unhappy."

"Nevertheless I beg your pardon," said the other.

There was but little further conversation between them till they
reached Lanslebourg, at the foot of the mountain, at which place they
occupied themselves with getting coffee for the two American ladies.
The Miss Spaldings took their coffee almost with as much grace as
though it had been handed to them by Frenchmen. And indeed they were
very gracious,--as is the nature of American ladies in spite of that
hardness of which Trevelyan had complained. They assume an intimacy
readily, with no appearance of impropriety, and are at their ease
easily. When, therefore, they were handed out of their carriage by
Mr. Glascock, the bystanders at Lanslebourg might have thought that
the whole party had been travelling together from New York. "What
should we have done if you hadn't taken pity on us?" said the elder
lady. "I don't think we could have climbed up into that high place;
and look at the crowd that have come out of the interior. A man has
some advantages after all."

"I am quite in the dark as to what they are," said Mr. Glascock.

"He can give up his place to a lady, and can climb up into a
banquette."

"And he can be a member of Congress," said the younger. "I'd sooner
be senator from Massachusetts than be the Queen of England."

"So would I," said Mr. Glascock. "I'm glad we can agree about one
thing."

The two gentlemen agreed to walk up the mountain together, and with
some trouble induced the conductor to permit them to do so. Why
conductors of diligences should object to such relief to their horses
the ordinary Englishman can hardly understand. But in truth they
feel so deeply the responsibility which attaches itself to their
shepherding of their sheep, that they are always fearing lest some
poor lamb should go astray on the mountain side. And though the road
be broad and very plainly marked, the conductor never feels secure
that his passenger will find his way safely to the summit. He likes
to know that each of his flock is in his right place, and disapproves
altogether of an erratic spirit. But Mr. Glascock at last prevailed,
and the two men started together up the mountain. When the permission
has been once obtained the walker may be sure that his guide and
shepherd will not desert him.

"Of course I know," said Trevelyan, when the third twist up the
mountain had been overcome, "that people talk about me and my wife.
It is a part of the punishment for the mistake that one makes."

"It is a sad affair altogether."

"The saddest in the world. Lady Milborough has no doubt spoken to you
about it."

"Well;--yes; she has."

"How could she help it? I am not such a fool as to suppose that
people are to hold their tongues about me more than they do about
others. Intimate as she is with you, of course she has spoken to
you."

"I was in hopes that something might have been done by this time."

"Nothing has been done. Sometimes I think I shall put an end to
myself, it makes me so wretched."

"Then why don't you agree to forget and forgive and have done with
it?"

"That is so easily said;--so easily said." After this they walked on
in silence for a considerable distance. Mr. Glascock was not anxious
to talk about Trevelyan's wife, but he did wish to ask a question or
two about Mrs. Trevelyan's sister, if only this could be done without
telling too much of his own secret. "There's nothing I think so
grand, as walking up a mountain," he said after a while.

"It's all very well," said Trevelyan, in a tone which seemed to
imply that to him in his present miserable condition all recreations,
exercises, and occupations were mere leather and prunella.

"I don't mean, you know, in the Alpine Club way," said Glascock. "I'm
too old and too stiff for that. But when the path is good, and the
air not too cold, and when it is neither snowing, nor thawing, nor
raining, and when the sun isn't hot, and you've got plenty of time,
and know that you can stop any moment you like and be pushed up by a
carriage, I do think walking up a mountain is very fine,--if you've
got proper shoes, and a good stick, and it isn't too soon after
dinner. There's nothing like the air of Alps." And Mr. Glascock
renewed his pace, and stretched himself against the hill at the rate
of three miles an hour.

"I used to be very fond of Switzerland," said Trevelyan, "but I don't
care about it now. My eye has lost all its taste."

"It isn't the eye," said Glascock.

"Well; no. The truth is that when one is absolutely unhappy one
cannot revel in the imagination. I don't believe in the miseries of
poets."

"I think myself," said Glascock, "that a poet should have a good
digestion. By-the-bye, Mrs. Trevelyan and her sister went down to
Nuncombe Putney, in Devonshire."

"They did go there."

"Have they moved since? A very pretty place is Nuncombe Putney."

"You have been there then?"

Mr. Glascock blushed again. He was certainly an awkward man, saying
things that he ought not to say, and telling secrets which ought not
to have been told. "Well;--yes. I have been there,--as it happens."

"Just lately do you mean?"

Mr. Glascock paused, hoping to find his way out of the scrape, but
soon perceived that there was no way out. He could not lie, even
in an affair of love, and was altogether destitute of those honest
subterfuges,--subterfuges honest in such position,--of which a dozen
would have been at once at the command of any woman, and with one
of which, sufficient for the moment, most men would have been able
to arm themselves. "Indeed, yes," he said, almost stammering as
he spoke. "It was lately;--since your wife went there." Trevelyan,
though he had been told of the possibility of Mr. Glascock's
courtship, felt himself almost aggrieved by this man's intrusion
on his wife's retreat. Had he not sent her there that she might
be private; and what right had any one to invade such privacy? "I
suppose I had better tell the truth at once," said Mr. Glascock. "I
went to see Miss Rowley."

"Oh, indeed."

"My secret will be safe with you, I know."

"I did not know that there was a secret," said Trevelyan. "I should
have thought that they would have told me."

"I don't see that. However, it doesn't matter much. I got nothing by
my journey. Are the ladies still at Nuncombe Putney?"

"No, they have moved from there to London."

"Not back to Curzon Street?"

"Oh dear, no. There is no house in Curzon Street for them now." This
was said in a tone so sad that it almost made Mr. Glascock weep.
"They are staying with an aunt of theirs,--out to the east of the
city."

"At St. Diddulph's?"

"Yes;--with Mr. Outhouse, the clergyman there. You can't conceive
what it is not to be able to see your own child; and yet, how can I
take the boy from her?"

"Of course not. He's only a baby."

"And yet all this is brought on me solely by her obstinacy. God
knows, however, I don't want to say a word against her. People choose
to say that I am to blame, and they may say so for me. Nothing that
any one may say can add anything to the weight that I have to bear."
Then they walked to the top of the mountain in silence, and in due
time were picked up by their proper shepherd and carried down to Susa
at a pace that would give an English coachman a concussion of the
brain.

Why passengers for Turin, who reach Susa dusty, tired, and sleepy,
should be detained at that place for an hour and a half instead of
being forwarded to their beds in the great city, is never made very
apparent. All travelling officials on the continent of Europe are
very slow in their manipulation of luggage; but as they are equally
correct we will find the excuse for their tardiness in the latter
quality. The hour and a half, however, is a necessity, and it is very
grievous. On this occasion the two Miss Spaldings ate their supper,
and the two gentlemen waited on them. The ladies had learned to
regard at any rate Mr. Glascock as their own property, and received
his services, graciously indeed, but quite as a matter of course.
When he was sent from their peculiar corner of the big, dirty
refreshment room to the supper-table to fetch an apple, and then
desired to change it because the one which he had brought was
spotted, he rather liked it. And when he sat down with his knees
near to theirs, actually trying to eat a large Italian apple himself
simply because they had eaten one, and discussed with them the
passage over the Mont Cenis, he began to think that Susa was, after
all, a place in which an hour and a half might be whiled away without
much cause for complaint.

"We only stay one night at Turin," said Caroline Spalding, the elder.

"And we shall have to start at ten,--to get through to Florence
to-morrow," said Olivia, the younger. "Isn't it cruel, wasting all
this time when we might be in bed?"

"It is not for me to complain of the cruelty," said Mr. Glascock.

"We should have fared infinitely worse if we hadn't met you," said
Caroline Spalding.

"But our republican simplicity won't allow us to assert that even
your society is better than going to bed, after a journey of thirty
hours," said Olivia.

In the meantime Trevelyan was roaming about the station moodily by
himself, and the place is one not apt to restore cheerfulness to a
moody man by any resources of its own. When the time for departure
came Mr. Glascock sought him and found him; but Trevelyan had chosen
a corner for himself in a carriage, and declared that he would rather
avoid the ladies for the present. "Don't think me uncivil to leave
you," he said, "but the truth is, I don't like American ladies."

"I do rather," said Mr. Glascock.

"You can say that I've got a headache," said Trevelyan. So Mr.
Glascock returned to his friends, and did say that Mr. Trevelyan had
a headache. It was the first time that a name had been mentioned
between them.

"Mr. Trevelyan! What a pretty name. It sounds like a novel," said
Olivia.

"A very clever man," said Mr. Glascock, "and much liked by his own
circle. But he has had trouble, and is unhappy."

"He looks unhappy," said Caroline.

"The most miserable looking man I ever saw in my life," said Olivia.
Then it was agreed between them as they went up to Trompetta's hotel,
that they would go on together by the ten o'clock train to Florence.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

VERDICT OF THE JURY--"MAD, MY LORD."


Trevelyan was left alone at Turin when Mr. Glascock went on to
Florence with his fair American friends. It was imperatively
necessary that he should remain at Turin, though he had no business
there of any kind whatever, and did not know a single person in the
city. And of all towns in Italy Turin has perhaps less of attraction
to offer to the solitary visitor than any other. It is new and
parallelogrammatic as an American town, is very cold in cold weather,
very hot in hot weather, and now that it has been robbed of its life
as a capital, is as dull and uninteresting as though it were German
or English. There is the Armoury, and the river Po, and a good hotel.
But what are these things to a man who is forced to live alone in a
place for four days, or perhaps a week? Trevelyan was bound to remain
at Turin till he should hear from Bozzle. No one but Bozzle knew his
address; and he could do nothing till Bozzle should have communicated
to him tidings of what was being done at St. Diddulph's.

There is perhaps no great social question so imperfectly understood
among us at the present day as that which refers to the line which
divides sanity from insanity. That this man is sane and that other
unfortunately mad we do know well enough; and we know also that one
man may be subject to various hallucinations,--may fancy himself to
be a teapot, or what not,--and yet be in such a condition of mind as
to call for no intervention either on behalf of his friends, or of
the law; while another may be in possession of intellectual faculties
capable of lucid exertion for the highest purposes, and yet be so mad
that bodily restraint upon him is indispensable. We know that the
sane man is responsible for what he does, and that the insane man
is irresponsible; but we do not know,--we only guess wildly, at the
state of mind of those, who now and again act like madmen, though no
court or council of experts has declared them to be mad. The bias of
the public mind is to press heavily on such men till the law attempts
to touch them, as though they were thoroughly responsible; and
then, when the law interferes, to screen them as though they were
altogether irresponsible. The same juryman who would find a man mad
who has murdered a young woman, would in private life express a
desire that the same young man should be hung, crucified, or skinned
alive, if he had moodily and without reason broken his faith to the
young woman in lieu of killing her. Now Trevelyan was, in truth, mad
on the subject of his wife's alleged infidelity. He had abandoned
everything that he valued in the world, and had made himself wretched
in every affair of life, because he could not submit to acknowledge
to himself the possibility of error on his own part. For that, in
truth, was the condition of his mind. He had never hitherto believed
that she had been false to her vow, and had sinned against him
irredeemably; but he had thought that in her regard for another man
she had slighted him; and, so thinking, he had subjected her to a
severity of rebuke which no high-spirited woman could have borne. His
wife had not tried to bear it,--in her indignation had not striven to
cure the evil. Then had come his resolution that she should submit,
or part from him; and, having so resolved, nothing could shake him.
Though every friend he possessed was now against him,--including
even Lady Milborough,--he was certain that he was right. Had not his
wife sworn to obey him, and was not her whole conduct one tissue of
disobedience? Would not the man who submitted to this find himself
driven to submit to things worse? Let her own her fault, let her
submit, and then she should come back to him.

He had not considered, when his resolutions to this effect were first
forming themselves, that a separation between a man and his wife once
effected cannot be annulled, and as it were cured, so as to leave no
cicatrice behind. Gradually, as he spent day after day in thinking on
this one subject, he came to feel that even were his wife to submit,
to own her fault humbly, and to come back to him, this very coming
back would in itself be a new wound. Could he go out again with
his wife on his arm to the houses of those who knew that he had
repudiated her because of her friendship with another man? Could
he open again that house in Curzon Street, and let things go on
quietly as they had gone before? He told himself that it was
impossible;--that he and she were ineffably disgraced;--that, if
reunited, they must live buried out of sight in some remote distance.
And he told himself, also, that he could never be with her again
night or day without thinking of the separation. His happiness had
been shipwrecked.

Then he had put himself into the hands of Mr. Bozzle, and Mr. Bozzle
had taught him that women very often do go astray. Mr. Bozzle's idea
of female virtue was not high, and he had opportunities of implanting
his idea on his client's mind. Trevelyan hated the man. He was filled
with disgust by Bozzle's words, and was made miserable by Bozzle's
presence. Yet he came gradually to believe in Bozzle. Bozzle alone
believed in him. There were none but Bozzle who did not bid him to
submit himself to his disobedient wife. And then, as he came to
believe in Bozzle, he grew to be more and more assured that no one
but Bozzle could tell him facts. His chivalry, and love, and sense of
woman's honour, with something of manly pride on his own part,--so
he told himself,--had taught him to believe it to be impossible that
his wife should have sinned. Bozzle, who knew the world, thought
otherwise. Bozzle, who had no interest in the matter, one way or the
other, would find out facts. What if his chivalry, and love, and
manly pride had deceived him? There were women who sinned. Then he
prayed that his wife might not be such a woman; and got up from his
prayers almost convinced that she was a sinner.

His mind was at work upon it always. Could it be that she was so base
as this--so vile a thing, so abject, such dirt, pollution, filth? But
there were such cases. Nay, were they not almost numberless? He found
himself reading in the papers records of such things from day to
day, and thought that in doing so he was simply acquiring experience
necessary for himself. If it were so, he had indeed done well to
separate himself from a thing so infamous. And if it were not so,
how could it be that that man had gone to her in Devonshire? He had
received from his wife's hands a short note addressed to the man, in
which the man was desired by her not to go to her, or to write to
her again, because of her husband's commands. He had shown this to
Bozzle, and Bozzle had smiled. "It's just the sort of thing they
does," Bozzle had said. "Then they writes another by post." He had
consulted Bozzle as to the sending on of that letter, and Bozzle had
been strongly of opinion that it should be forwarded, a copy having
been duly taken and attested by himself. It might be very pretty
evidence by-and-by. If the letter were not forwarded, Bozzle thought
that the omission to do so might be given in evidence against his
employer. Bozzle was very careful, and full of "evidence." The letter
therefore was sent on to Colonel Osborne. "If there's billy-dous
going between 'em we shall nobble 'em," said Bozzle. Trevelyan tore
his hair in despair, but believed that there would be billy-dous.

He came to believe everything; and, though he prayed fervently that
his wife might not be led astray, that she might be saved at any
rate from utter vice, yet he almost came to hope that it might be
otherwise;--not, indeed, with the hope of the sane man, who desires
that which he tells himself to be for his advantage; but with the
hope of the insane man, who loves to feed his grievance, even though
the grief should be his death. They who do not understand that a man
may be brought to hope that which of all things is the most grievous
to him, have not observed with sufficient closeness the perversity of
the human mind. Trevelyan would have given all that he had to save
his wife; would, even now, have cut his tongue out before he would
have expressed to anyone,--save to Bozzle,--a suspicion that she
could in truth have been guilty; was continually telling himself that
further life would be impossible to him, if he, and she, and that
child of theirs, should be thus disgraced;--and yet he expected it,
believed it, and, after a fashion, he almost hoped it.

He was to wait at Turin till tidings should come from Bozzle, and
after that he would go on to Venice; but he would not move from Turin
till he should have received his first communication from England.
When he had been three days at Turin they came to him, and, among
other letters in Bozzle's packet, there was a letter addressed in his
wife's handwriting. The letter was simply directed to Bozzle's house.
In what possible way could his wife have found out ought of his
dealings with Bozzle,--where Bozzle lived, or could have learned that
letters intended for him should be sent to the man's own residence?
Before, however, we inspect the contents of Mr. Bozzle's dispatch, we
will go back and see how Mrs. Trevelyan had discovered the manner of
forwarding a letter to her husband.

The matter of the address was, indeed, very simple. All letters for
Trevelyan were to be redirected from the house in Curzon Street, and
from the chambers in Lincoln's Inn, to the Acrobats' Club; to the
porter of the Acrobats' Club had been confided the secret, not of
Bozzle's name, but of Bozzle's private address, No. 55, Stony Walk,
Union Street, Borough. Thus all letters reaching the Acrobats' were
duly sent to Mr. Bozzle's house. It may be remembered that Hugh
Stanbury, on the occasion of his last visit to the parsonage of St.
Diddulph's, was informed that Mrs. Trevelyan had a letter from her
father for her husband, and that she knew not whither to send it.
It may well be that, had the matter assumed no other interest in
Stanbury's eyes than that given to it by Mrs. Trevelyan's very
moderate anxiety to have the letter forwarded, he would have thought
nothing about it; but having resolved, as he sat upon the knife-board
of the omnibus,--the reader will, at any rate, remember those
resolutions made on the top of the omnibus while Hugh was smoking his
pipe,--having resolved that a deed should be done at St. Diddulph's,
he resolved also that it should be done at once. He would not allow
the heat of his purpose to be cooled by delay. He would go to St.
Diddulph's at once, with his heart in his hand. But it might, he
thought, be as well that he should have an excuse for his visit.
So he called upon the porter at the Acrobats', and was successful
in learning Mr. Trevelyan's address. "Stony Walk, Union Street,
Borough," he said to himself, wondering; then it occurred to him
that Bozzle, and Bozzle only among Trevelyan's friends, could
live at Stony Walk in the Borough. Thus armed, he set out for St.
Diddulph's;--and, as one of the effects of his visit to the East, Sir
Marmaduke's note was forwarded to Louis Trevelyan at Turin.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

MISS NORA ROWLEY IS MALTREATED.


Hugh Stanbury, when he reached the parsonage, found no difficulty
in making his way into the joint presence of Mrs. Outhouse, Mrs.
Trevelyan, and Nora. He was recognised by the St. Diddulph's party
as one who had come over to their side, as a friend of Trevelyan
who had found himself constrained to condemn his friend in spite of
his friendship, and was consequently very welcome. And there was
no difficulty about giving the address. The ladies wondered how it
came to pass that Mr. Trevelyan's letters should be sent to such
a locality, and Hugh expressed his surprise also. He thought it
discreet to withhold his suspicions about Mr. Bozzle, and simply
expressed his conviction that letters sent in accordance with the
directions given by the club-porter would reach their destination.
Then the boy was brought down, and they were all very confidential
and very unhappy together. Mrs. Trevelyan could see no end to the
cruelty of her position, and declared that her father's anger against
her husband was so great that she anticipated his coming with almost
more of fear than of hope. Mrs. Outhouse expressed an opinion that
Mr. Trevelyan must surely be mad; and Nora suggested that the
possibility of such perversity on the part of a man made it almost
unwise in any woman to trust herself to the power of a husband. "But
there are not many like him, thank God," said Mrs. Outhouse, bridling
in her wrath. Thus they were very friendly together, and Hugh
was allowed to feel that he stood upon comfortable terms in the
parsonage;--but he did not as yet see how he was to carry out his
project for the present day.

At last Mrs. Trevelyan went away with the child. Hugh felt that he
ought to go, but stayed courageously. He thought he could perceive
that Nora suspected the cause of his assiduity; but it was quite
evident that Mrs. Outhouse did not do so. Mrs. Outhouse, having
reconciled herself to the young man, was by no means averse to his
presence. She went on talking about the wickedness of Trevelyan, and
her brother's anger, and the fate of the little boy, till at last the
little boy's mother came back into the room. Then Mrs. Outhouse went.
They must excuse her for a few minutes, she said. If only she would
have gone a few minutes sooner, how well her absence might have been
excused. Nora understood it all now; and though she became almost
breathless, she was not surprised, when Hugh got up from his chair
and asked her sister to go away. "Mrs. Trevelyan," he said, "I want
to speak a few words to your sister. I hope you will give me the
opportunity."

"Nora!" exclaimed Mrs. Trevelyan.

"She knows nothing about it," said Hugh.

"Am I to go?" said Mrs. Trevelyan to her sister. But Nora said never
a word. She sat perfectly fixed, not turning her eyes from the object
on which she was gazing.


   [Illustration: "Am I to go?"]


"Pray,--pray do," said Hugh.

"I cannot think that it will be for any good," said Mrs. Trevelyan;
"but I know that she may be trusted. And I suppose it ought to be so,
if you wish it."

"I do wish it, of all things," said Hugh, still standing up, and
almost turning the elder sister out of the room by the force of his
look and voice. Then, with another pause of a moment, Mrs. Trevelyan
rose from her chair and left the room, closing the door after her.

Hugh, when he found that the coast was clear for him, immediately
began his task with a conviction that not a moment was to be lost.
He had told himself a dozen times that the matter was hopeless,
that Nora had shown him by every means in her power that she was
indifferent to him, that she with all her friends would know that
such a marriage was out of the question; and he had in truth come
to believe that the mission which he had in hand was one in which
success was not possible. But he thought that it was his duty to go
on with it. "If a man love a woman, even though it be the king and
the beggar-woman reversed,--though it be a beggar and a queen, he
should tell her of it. If it be so, she has a right to know it and to
take her choice. And he has a right to tell her, and to say what he
can for himself." Such was Hugh's doctrine in the matter; and, acting
upon it, he found himself alone with his mistress.

"Nora," he said, speaking perhaps with more energy than the words
required, "I have come here to tell you that I love you, and to ask
you to be my wife."

Nora, for the last ten minutes, had been thinking that this would
come,--that it would come at once; and yet she was not at all
prepared with an answer. It was now weeks since she had confessed to
herself frankly that nothing else but this,--this one thing which was
now happening, this one thing which had now happened,--that nothing
else could make her happy, or could touch her happiness. She had
refused a man whom she otherwise would have taken, because her heart
had been given to Hugh Stanbury. She had been bold enough to tell
that other suitor that it was so, though she had not mentioned the
rival's name. She had longed for some expression of love from this
man when they had been at Nuncombe together, and had been fiercely
angry with him because no such expression had come from him. Day
after day, since she had been with her aunt, she had told herself
that she was a broken-hearted woman, because she had given away all
that she had to give and had received nothing in return. Had he said
a word that might have given her hope, how happy could she have been
in hoping. Now he had come to her with a plain-spoken offer, telling
her that he loved her, and asking her to be his wife,--and she was
altogether unable to answer. How could she consent to be his wife,
knowing as she did that there was no certainty of an income on which
they could live? How could she tell her father and mother that she
had engaged herself to marry a man who might or might not make £400 a
year, and who already had a mother and sister depending on him?

In truth, had he come more gently to her, his chance of a happy
answer,--of an answer which might be found to have in it something
of happiness,--would have been greater. He might have said a word
which she could not but have answered softly;--and then from that
constrained softness other gentleness would have followed, and so
he would have won her in spite of her discretion. She would have
surrendered gradually, accepting on the score of her great love all
the penalties of a long and precarious engagement. But when she
was asked to come and be his wife, now and at once, she felt that
in spite of her love it was impossible that she could accede to a
request so sudden, so violent, so monstrous. He stood over her as
though expecting an instant answer; and then, when she had sat dumb
before him for a minute, he repeated his demand. "Tell me, Nora, can
you love me? If you knew how thoroughly I have loved you, you would
at least feel something for me."

To tell him that she did not love him was impossible to her. But how
was she to refuse him without telling him either a lie, or the truth?
Some answer she must give him; and as to that matter of marrying him,
the answer must be a negative. Her education had been of that nature
which teaches girls to believe that it is a crime to marry a man
without an assured income. Assured morality in a husband is a great
thing. Assured good temper is very excellent. Assured talent,
religion, amiability, truth, honesty, are all desirable. But an
assured income is indispensable. Whereas, in truth, the income may
come hereafter; but the other things, unless they be there already,
will hardly be forthcoming. "Mr. Stanbury," she said, "your
suddenness has quite astounded me."

"Ah, yes; but how should I not be sudden? I have come here on purpose
to say this to you. If I do not say it now--"

"You heard what Emily said."

"No;--what did she say?"

"She said that it would not be for good that you should speak to me
thus."

"Why not for good? But she is unhappy, and looks gloomily at things."

"Yes, indeed."

"But all the world need not be sad for ever because she has been
unfortunate."

"Not all the world, Mr. Stanbury;--but you must not be surprised if
it affects me."

"But would that prevent your loving me,--if you did love me? But,
Nora, I do not expect you to love me,--not yet. I do not say that I
expect it,--ever. But if you would--. Nora, I can do no more than
tell you the simple truth. Just listen to me for a minute. You know
how I came to be intimate with you all in Curzon Street. The first
day I saw you I loved you; and there has come no change yet. It is
months now since I first knew that I loved you. Well; I told myself
more than once,--when I was down at Nuncombe for instance,--that I
had no right to speak to you. What right can a poor devil like me
have, who lives from hand to mouth, to ask such a girl as you to be
his wife? And so I said nothing,--though it was on my lips every
moment that I was there." Nora remembered at the moment how she had
looked to his lips, and had not seen the words there. "But I think
there is something unmanly in this. If you cannot give me a grain
of hope;--if you tell me that there never can be hope, it is my
misfortune. It will be very grievous, but I will bear it. But that
will be better than puling and moping about without daring to tell my
tale. I am not ashamed of it. I have fallen in love with you, Nora,
and I think it best to come for an answer."

He held out his arms as though he thought that she might perhaps come
to him. Indeed he had no idea of any such coming on her part; but
she, as she looked at him, almost thought that it was her duty to go.
Had she a right to withhold herself from him, she who loved him so
dearly? Had he stepped forward and taken her in his arms it might be
that all power of refusal would soon have been beyond her power.

"Mr. Stanbury," she said, "you have confessed yourself that it is
impossible."

"But do you love me;--do you think that it is possible that you
should ever love me?"

"You know, Mr. Stanbury, that you should not say anything further.
You know that it cannot be."

"But do you love me?"

"You are ungenerous not to take an answer without driving me to be
uncourteous."

"I do not care for courtesy. Tell me the truth. Can you ever love me?
With one word of hope I will wait, and work, and feel myself to be a
hero. I will not go till you tell me that you cannot love me."

"Then I must tell you so."

"What is it you will tell me, Nora? Speak it. Say it. If I knew that
a girl disliked me, nothing should make me press myself upon her. Am
I odious to you, Nora?"

"No; not odious,--but very, very unfair."

"I will have the truth if I be ever so unfair," he said. And by this
time probably some inkling of the truth had reached his intelligence.
There was already a tear in Nora's eye, but he did not pity her. She
owed it to him to tell him the truth, and he would have it from her
if it was to be reached. "Nora," he said, "listen to me again. All my
heart and soul are in this. It is everything to me. If you can love
me you are bound to say so. By Jove, I will believe you do unless you
swear to me that it is not so!" He was now holding her by the hand
and looking closely into her face.

"Mr. Stanbury," she said, "let me go; pray, pray let me go."

"Not till you say that you love me. Oh, Nora, I believe that you love
me. You do; yes; you do love me. Dearest, dearest Nora, would you not
say a word to make me the happiest man in the world?" And now he had
his arm round her waist.

"Let me go," she said, struggling through her tears and covering her
face with her hands. "You are very, very wicked. I will never speak
to you again. Nay, but you shall let me go!" And then she was out of
his arms and had escaped from the room before he had managed to touch
her face with his lips.

As he was thinking how he also might escape now,--might escape
and comfort himself with his triumph,--Mrs. Outhouse returned to
the chamber. She was very demure, and her manner towards him was
considerably changed since she had left the chamber. "Mr. Stanbury,"
she said, "this kind of thing mustn't go any further indeed;--at
least not in my house."

"What kind of thing, Mrs. Outhouse?"

"Well;--what my elder niece has told me. I have not seen Miss Rowley
since she left you. I am quite sure she has behaved with discretion."

"Indeed she has, Mrs. Outhouse."

"The fact is my nieces are in grief and trouble, and this is no time
or place for love-making. I am sorry to be uncivil, but I must ask
you not to come here any more."

"I will stay away from this house, certainly, if you bid me."

"I am very sorry; but I must bid you. Sir Marmaduke will be home in
the spring, and if you have anything to say to him of course you can
see him."

Then Hugh Stanbury took his leave of Mrs. Outhouse; but as he went
home, again on the knifeboard of an omnibus, he smoked the pipe of
triumph rather than the pipe of contemplation.



CHAPTER XL.

"C. G."


The Miss Spaldings were met at the station at Florence by their
uncle, the American Minister, by their cousin, the American Secretary
of Legation, and by three or four other dear friends and relations,
who were there to welcome the newcomers to sunny Italy. Mr. Glascock,
therefore, who ten minutes since had been, and had felt himself to
be, quite indispensable to their comfort, suddenly became as though
he were nothing and nobody. Who is there that has not felt these
sudden disruptions to the intimacies and friendships of a long
journey? He bowed to them, and they to him, and then they were
whirled away in their grandeur. He put himself into a small, open
hackney-carriage, and had himself driven to the York Hotel, feeling
himself to be deserted and desolate. The two Miss Spaldings were
the daughters of a very respectable lawyer at Boston, whereas Mr.
Glascock was heir to a peerage, to an enormous fortune, and to one of
the finest places in England. But he thought nothing of this at the
time. As he went he was meditating which young woman was the most
attractive, Nora Rowley or Caroline Spalding. He had no doubt but
that Nora was the prettier, the pleasanter in manner, the better
dressed, the more engaging in all that concerned the outer woman;
but he thought that he had never met any lady who talked better than
Caroline Spalding. And what was Nora Rowley's beauty to him? Had she
not told him that she was the property of some one else; or, for the
matter of that, what was Miss Spalding to him? They had parted, and
he was going on to Naples in two days. He had said some half-defined
word as to calling at the American Embassy, but it had not been taken
up by either of the ladies. He had not pressed it, and so they had
parted without an understanding as to a future meeting.

The double journey, from Turin to Bologna and from Bologna to
Florence, is very long, and forms ample time for a considerable
intimacy. There had, too, been a long day's journeying together
before that; and with no women is a speedy intimacy so possible, or
indeed so profitable, as with Americans. They fear nothing,--neither
you nor themselves; and talk with as much freedom as though they
were men. It may, perhaps, be assumed to be true as a rule that
women's society is always more agreeable to men than that of other
men,--except for the lack of ease. It undoubtedly is so when the
women be young and pretty. There is a feeling, however, among pretty
women in Europe that such freedom is dangerous, and it is withheld.
There is such danger, and more or less of such withholding is
expedient: but the American woman does not recognise the danger; and,
if she withhold the grace of her countenance and the pearls of her
speech, it is because she is not desirous of the society which is
proffered to her. These two American sisters had not withholden their
pearls from Mr. Glascock. He was much their senior in age; he was
gentle in his manners, and they probably recognised him to be a safe
companion. They had no idea who he was, and had not heard his name
when they parted from him. But it was not probable that they should
have been with him so long, and that they should leave him without
further thought of him, without curiosity or a desire to know more
of him. They had seen "C. G." in large letters on his dressing-bag,
and that was all they had learned as to his identity. He had known
their names well, and had once called Olivia by hers, in the
hurry of speaking to her sister. He had apologised, and there had
been a little laugh, and a discussion about the use of Christian
names,--such as is very conducive to intimacy between gentlemen and
ladies. When you can talk to a young lady about her own Christian
name, you are almost entitled for the nonce to use it.

Mr. Glascock went to his hotel, and was very moody and desolate. His
name was very soon known there, and he received the honours due to
his rank and station. "I should like to travel in America," he said
to himself, "if I could be sure that no one would find out who I
was." He had received letters at Turin, stating that his father was
better, and, therefore, he intended to remain two days at Florence.
The weather was still very hot, and Florence in the middle of
September is much preferable to Naples.

That night, when the two Miss Spaldings were alone together, they
discussed their fellow-traveller thoroughly. Something, of course,
had been said about him to their uncle the minister, to their aunt
the minister's wife, and to their cousin the secretary of legation.
But travellers will always observe that the dear new friends they
have made on their journey are not interesting to the dear old
friends whom they meet afterwards. There may be some touch of
jealousy in this; and then, though you, the traveller, are fully
aware that there has been something special in the case which has
made this new friendship more peculiar than others that have sprung
up in similar circumstances, fathers and brothers and wives and
sisters do not see it in that light. They suspect, perhaps, that
the new friend was a bagman, or an opera dancer, and think that the
affair need not be made of importance. The American Minister had
cast his eye on Mr. Glascock during that momentary parting, and had
not thought much of Mr. Glascock. "He was certainly a gentleman,"
Caroline had said. "There are a great many English gentlemen," the
minister had replied.

"I thought you would have asked him to call," Olivia said to her
sister. "He did offer."

"I know he did. I heard it."

"Why didn't you tell him he might come?"

"Because we are not in Boston, Livy. It might be the most horrible
thing in the world to do here in Florence; and it may make a
difference, because Uncle Jonas is minister."

"Why should that make a difference? Do you mean that one isn't to see
one's own friends? That must be nonsense."

"But he isn't a friend, Livy."

"It seems to me as if I'd known him for ever. That soft, monotonous
voice, which never became excited and never disagreeable, is as
familiar to me as though I had lived with it all my life."

"I thought him very pleasant."

"Indeed you did, Carry. And he thought you pleasant too. Doesn't it
seem odd? You were mending his glove for him this very afternoon,
just as if he were your brother."

"Why shouldn't I mend his glove?"

"Why not, indeed? He was entitled to have everything mended after
getting us such a good dinner at Bologna. By-the-bye, you never paid
him."

"Yes, I did,--when you were not by."

"I wonder who he is! C. G.! That fine man in the brown coat was his
servant, you know. I thought at first that C. G. must have been
cracked, and that the tall man was his keeper."

"I never knew any one less like a madman."

"No;--but the man was so queer. He did nothing, you know. We hardly
saw him, if you remember, at Turin. All he did was to tie the shawls
at Bologna. What can any man want with another man about with him
like that, unless he is cracked either in body or mind?"

"You'd better ask C. G. yourself."

"I shall never see C. G. again, I suppose. I should like to see him
again. I guess you would too, Carry. Eh?"

"Of course, I should;--why not?"

"I never knew a man so imperturbable, and who had yet so much to say
for himself. I wonder what he is! Perhaps he's on business, and that
man was a kind of a clerk."

"He had livery buttons on," said Carry.

"And does that make a difference?"

"I don't think they put clerks into livery, even in England."

"Nor yet mad doctors," said Olivia. "Well, I like him very much; and
the only thing against him is that he should have a man, six feet
high, going about with him doing nothing."

"You'll make me angry, Livy, if you talk in that way. It's
uncharitable."

"In what way?"

"About a mad doctor."

"It's my belief," said Olivia, "that he's an English swell, a lord,
or a duke;--and it's my belief, too, that he's in love with you."

"It's my belief, Livy, that you're a regular ass;"--and so the
conversation was ended on that occasion.

On the next day, about noon, the American Minister, as a part of the
duty which he owed to his country, read in a publication of that day,
issued for the purpose, the names of the new arrivals at Florence.
First and foremost was that of the Honourable Charles Glascock, with
his suite, at the York Hotel, en route to join his father, Lord
Peterborough, at Naples. Having read the news first to himself, the
minister read it out loud in the presence of his nieces.

"That's our friend C. G.," said Livy.

"I should think not," said the minister, who had his own ideas about
an English lord.

"I'm sure it is, because of the tall man with the buttons," said
Olivia.

"It's very unlikely," said the secretary of legation. "Lord
Peterborough is a man of immense wealth, very old, indeed. They say
he is dying at Naples. This man is his eldest son."

"Is that any reason why he shouldn't have been civil to us?" asked
Olivia.

"I don't think he is the sort of man likely to sit up in the
banquette; and he would have posted over the Alps. Moreover, he had
his suite with him."

"His suite was Buttons," said Olivia. "Only fancy, Carry, we've been
waited on for two days by a lord as is to be, and didn't know it! And
you have mended the tips of his lordship's glove!" But Carry said
nothing at all.

Late on that same evening, they met Mr. Glascock close to the Duomo,
under the shade of the Campanile. He had come out as they had done,
to see by moonlight that loveliest of all works made by man's hands.
They were with the minister, but Mr. Glascock came up and shook hands
with them.

"I would introduce you to my uncle, Mr. Spalding," said
Olivia,--"only,--as it happens,--we have never yet heard your name."

"My name is Mr. Glascock," said he, smiling. Then the introduction
was made; and the American Minister took off his hat, and was very
affable.

"Only think, Carry," said Olivia, when they were alone that evening,
"if you were to become the wife of an English lord!"



CHAPTER XLI.

SHEWING WHAT TOOK PLACE AT ST. DIDDULPH'S.


   [Illustration]

Nora Rowley, when she escaped from the violence of her lover, at once
rushed up to her own room, and managed to fasten herself in before
she had been seen by any one. Her elder sister had at once gone to
her aunt when, at Hugh's request, she had left the room, thinking it
right that Mrs. Outhouse should know what was being done in her own
house. Mrs. Outhouse had considered the matter patiently for awhile,
giving the lovers the benefit of her hesitation, and had then spoken
her mind to Stanbury, as we have already heard. He had, upon the
whole, been so well pleased with what had occurred, that he was not
in the least angry with the parson's wife when he left the parsonage.
As soon as he was gone Mrs. Outhouse was at once joined by her elder
niece, but Nora remained for a while alone in her room.

Had she committed herself; and if so, did she regret it? He had
behaved very badly to her, certainly, taking her by the hand and
putting his arm round her waist. And then had he not even attempted
to kiss her? He had done all this, although she had been resolute in
refusing to speak to him one word of kindness,--though she had told
him with all the energy and certainty of which she was mistress, that
she would never be his wife. If a girl were to be subjected to such
treatment as this when she herself had been so firm, so discreet,
so decided, then indeed it would be unfit that a girl should trust
herself with a man. She had never thought that he had been such a one
as that, to ill-use her, to lay a hand on her in violence, to refuse
to take an answer. She threw herself on the bed and sobbed, and
then hid her face,--and was conscious that in spite of this acting
before herself she was the happiest girl alive. He had behaved very
badly;--of course, he had behaved most wickedly, and she would tell
him so some day. But was he not the dearest fellow living? Did ever
man speak with more absolute conviction of love in every tone of
his voice? Was it not the finest, noblest heart that ever throbbed
beneath a waistcoat? Had not his very wickedness come from the
overpowering truth of his affection for her? She would never quite
forgive him because it had been so very wrong; but she would be
true to him for ever and ever. Of course they could not marry.
What!--would she go to him and be a clog round his neck, and a weight
upon him for ever, bringing him down to the gutter by the burden of
her own useless and unworthy self? No. She would never so injure
him. She would not even hamper him by an engagement. But yet she
would be true to him. She had an idea that in spite of all her
protestations,--which, as she looked back upon them, appeared to her
to have been louder than they had been,--that through the teeth of
her denials, something of the truth had escaped from her. Well,--let
it be so. It was the truth, and why should he not know it? Then
she pictured to herself a long romance, in which the heroine lived
happily on the simple knowledge that she had been beloved. And
the reader may be sure that in this romance Mr. Glascock with his
splendid prospects filled one of the characters.

She had been so wretched at Nuncombe Putney when she had felt herself
constrained to admit to herself that this man for whom she had
sacrificed herself did not care for her, that she could not now but
enjoy her triumph. After she had sobbed upon the bed, she got up and
walked about the room smiling; and she would now press her hands to
her forehead, and then shake her tresses, and then clasp her own left
hand with her right, as though he were still holding it. Wicked man!
Why had he been so wicked and so violent? And why, why, why had she
not once felt his lips upon her brow?

And she was pleased with herself. Her sister had rebuked her because
she had refused to make her fortune by marrying Mr. Glascock; and,
to own the truth, she had rebuked herself on the same score when she
found that Hugh Stanbury had not had a word of love to say to her. It
was not that she regretted the grandeur which she had lost, but that
she should, even within her own thoughts, with the consciousness of
her own bosom, have declared herself unable to receive another man's
devotion because of her love for this man who neglected her. Now
she was proud of herself. Whether it might be accounted as good or
ill-fortune that she had ever seen Hugh Stanbury, it must at any rate
be right that she should be true to him now that she had seen him
and had loved him. To know that she loved and that she was not loved
again had nearly killed her. But such was not her lot. She too had
been successful with her quarry, and had struck her game, and brought
down her dear. He had been very violent with her, but his violence
had at least made the matter clear. He did love her. She would
be satisfied with that, and would endeavour so to live that that
alone should make life happy for her. How should she get his
photograph,--and a lock of his hair?--and when again might she have
the pleasure of placing her own hand within his great, rough, violent
grasp? Then she kissed the hand which he had held, and opened the
door of her room, at which her sister was now knocking.

"Nora, dear, will you not come down?"

"Not yet, Emily. Very soon I will."

"And what has happened, dearest?"

"There is nothing to tell, Emily."

"There must be something to tell. What did he say to you?"

"Of course you know what he said."

"And what answer did you make?"

"I told him that it could not be."

"And did he take that,--as final, Nora?"

"Of course not. What man ever takes a No as final?"

"When you said No to Mr. Glascock he took it."

"That was different, Emily."

"But how different? I don't see the difference, except that if you
could have brought yourself to like Mr. Glascock, it would have been
the greatest thing in the world for you, and for all of them."

"Would you have me take a man, Emily, that I didn't care one straw
for, merely because he was a lord? You can't mean that."

"I'm not talking about Mr. Glascock now, Nora."

"Yes, you are. And what's the use? He is gone, and there's an end of
it."

"And is Mr. Stanbury gone?"

"Of course."

"In the same way?" asked Mrs. Trevelyan.

"How can I tell about his ways? No; it is not in the same way. There!
He went in a very different way."

"How was it different, Nora?"

"Oh, so different. I can't tell you how. Mr. Glascock will never come
back again."

"And Mr. Stanbury will?" said the elder sister. Nora made no reply,
but after a while nodded her head. "And you want him to come back?"
She paused again, and again nodded her head. "Then you have accepted
him?"

"I have not accepted him. I have refused him. I have told him that it
was impossible."

"And yet you wish him back again!" Nora again nodded her head.
"That is a state of things I cannot at all understand," said Mrs.
Trevelyan, "and would not believe unless you told me so yourself."

"And you think me very wrong, of course. I will endeavour to do
nothing wrong, but it is so. I have not said a word of encouragement
to Mr. Stanbury; but I love him with all my heart. Ought I to tell
you a lie when you question me? Or is it natural that I should never
wish to see again a person whom I love better than all the world? It
seems to me that a girl can hardly be right if she have any choice of
her own. Here are two men, one rich and the other poor. I shall fall
to the ground between them. I know that. I have fallen to the ground
already. I like the one I can't marry. I don't care a straw for the
one who could give me a grand house. That is falling to the ground.
But I don't see that it is hard to understand, or that I have
disgraced myself."

"I said nothing of disgrace, Nora."

"But you looked it."

"I did not intend to look it, dearest."

"And remember this, Emily, I have told you everything because you
asked me. I do not mean to tell anybody else, at all. Mamma would not
understand me. I have not told him, and I shall not."

"You mean Mr. Stanbury?"

"Yes; I mean Mr. Stanbury. As to Mr. Glascock, of course I shall tell
mamma that. I have no secret there. That is his secret, and I suppose
mamma should know it. But I will have nothing told about the other.
Had I accepted him, or even hinted to him that I cared for him, I
would tell mamma at once."

After that there came something of a lecture, or something, rather,
of admonition, from Mrs. Outhouse. That lady did not attempt to
upbraid, or to find any fault; but observed that as she understood
that Mr. Stanbury had no means whatever, and as Nora herself had
none, there had better be no further intercourse between them, till,
at any rate, Sir Marmaduke and Lady Rowley should be in London. "So
I told him that he must not come here any more, my dear," said Mrs.
Outhouse.

"You are quite right, aunt. He ought not to come here."

"I am so glad that you agree with me."

"I agree with you altogether. I think I was bound to see him when he
asked to see me; but the thing is altogether out of the question. I
don't think he'll come any more, aunt." Then Mrs. Outhouse was quite
satisfied that no harm had been done.

A month had now passed since anything had been heard at St.
Diddulph's from Mr. Trevelyan, and it seemed that many months might
go on in the same dull way. When Mrs. Trevelyan first found herself
in her uncle's house, a sum of two hundred pounds had been sent to
her; and since that she had received a letter from her husband's
lawyer saying that a similar amount would be sent to her every three
months, as long as she was separated from her husband. A portion
of this she had given over to Mr. Outhouse; but this pecuniary
assistance by no means comforted that unfortunate gentleman in his
trouble. "I don't want to get into debt," he said, "by keeping a lot
of people whom I haven't the means to feed. And I don't want to board
and lodge my nieces and their family at so much a head. It's very
hard upon me either way." And so it was. All the comfort of his home
was destroyed, and he was driven to sacrifice his independence by
paying his tradesmen with a portion of Mrs. Trevelyan's money. The
more he thought of it all, and the more he discussed the matter with
his wife, the more indignant they became with the truant husband. "I
can't believe," he said, "but what Mr. Bideawhile could make him come
back, if he chose to do his duty."

"But they say that Mr. Trevelyan is in Italy, my dear."

"And if I went to Italy, might I leave you to starve, and take my
income with me?"

"He doesn't leave her quite to starve, my dear."

"But isn't a man bound to stay with his wife? I never heard of such a
thing,--never. And I'm sure that there must be something wrong. A man
can't go away and leave his wife to live with her uncle and aunt. It
isn't right."

"But what can we do?"

Mr. Outhouse was forced to acknowledge that nothing could be done. He
was a man to whom the quiescence of his own childless house was the
one pleasure of his existence. And of that he was robbed because this
wicked madman chose to neglect all his duties, and leave his wife
without a house to shelter her. "Supposing that she couldn't have
come here, what then?" said Mr. Outhouse. "I did tell him, as plain
as words could speak, that we couldn't receive them." "But here they
are," said Mrs. Outhouse, "and here they must remain till my brother
comes to England." "It's the most monstrous thing that I ever heard
of in all my life," said Mr. Outhouse. "He ought to be locked
up;--that's what he ought."

It was hard, and it became harder, when a gentleman, whom Mr.
Outhouse certainly did not wish to see, called upon him about the
latter end of September. Mr. Outhouse was sitting alone, in the
gloomy parlour of his parsonage,--for his own study had been given
up to other things, since this great inroad had been made upon his
family;--he was sitting alone on one Saturday morning, preparing for
the duties of the next day, with various manuscript sermons lying on
the table around him, when he was told that a gentleman had called
to see him. Had Mr. Outhouse been an incumbent at the West-end of
London, or had his maid been a West-end servant, in all probability
the gentleman's name would have been demanded; but Mr. Outhouse was a
man who was not very ready in foreseeing and preventing misfortunes,
and the girl who opened the door was not trained to discreet
usages in such matters. As she announced the fact that there was a
gentleman, she pointed to the door, to show that the gentleman was
there; and before Mr. Outhouse had been able to think whether it
would be prudent for him to make some preliminary inquiry, Colonel
Osborne was in the room. Now, as it happened, these two men had never
hitherto met each other, though one was the brother-in-law of Sir
Marmaduke Rowley, and the other had been his very old friend. "My
name, Mr. Outhouse, is Colonel Osborne," said the visitor, coming
forward, with his hand out. The clergyman, of course, took his hand,
and asked him to be seated. "We have known each other's names very
long," continued the Colonel, "though I do not think we have ever yet
had an opportunity of becoming acquainted."


   [Illustration: At St. Diddulph's.]


"No," said Mr. Outhouse; "we have never been acquainted, I believe."
He might have added, that he had no desire whatever to make such
acquaintance; and his manner, over which he himself had no control,
did almost say as much. Indeed, this coming to his house of the
suspected lover of his niece appeared to him to be a heavy addition
to his troubles; for, although he was disposed to take his niece's
part against her husband to any possible length,--even to the locking
up of the husband as a madman, if it were possible,--nevertheless, he
had almost as great a horror of the Colonel, as though the husband's
allegation as to the lover had been true as gospel. Because Trevelyan
had been wrong altogether, Colonel Osborne was not the less wrong.
Because Trevelyan's suspicions were to Mr. Outhouse wicked and
groundless, he did not the less regard the presumed lover to be an
iniquitous roaring lion, going about seeking whom he might devour.
Elderly unmarried men of fashion generally, and especially colonels,
and majors, and members of parliament, and such like, were to him
as black sheep or roaring lions. They were "fruges consumere nati;"
men who stood on club doorsteps talking naughtily and doing nothing,
wearing sleek clothing, for which they very often did not pay, and
never going to church. It seemed to him,--in his ignorance,--that
such men had none of the burdens of this world upon their shoulders,
and that, therefore, they stood in great peril of the burdens of the
next. It was, doubtless, his special duty to deal with men in such
peril;--but those wicked ones with whom he was concerned were those
whom he could reach. Now, the Colonel Osbornes of the earth were
not to be got at by any clergyman, or, as far as Mr. Outhouse could
see, by any means of grace. That story of the rich man and the camel
seemed to him to be specially applicable to such people. How was such
a one as Colonel Osborne to be shewn the way through the eye of a
needle? To Mr. Outhouse, his own brother-in-law, Sir Marmaduke, was
almost of the same class,--for he frequented clubs when in London,
and played whist, and talked of the things of the world,--such as the
Derby, and the levées, and West-end dinner parties,--as though they
were all in all to him. He, to be sure, was weighted with so large
a family that there might be hope for him. The eye of the needle
could not be closed against him as a rich man; but he savoured of
the West-end, and was worldly, and consorted with such men as this
Colonel Osborne. When Colonel Osborne introduced himself to Mr.
Outhouse, it was almost as though Apollyon had made his way into the
parsonage of St. Diddulph's.

"Mr. Outhouse," said the Colonel, "I have thought it best to come
to you the very moment that I got back to town from Scotland." Mr.
Outhouse bowed, and was bethinking himself slowly what manner of
speech he would adopt. "I leave town again to-morrow for Dorsetshire.
I am going down to my friends, the Brambers, for partridge shooting."
Mr. Outhouse knitted his thick brows, in further inward condemnation.
Partridge shooting! yes;--this was September, and partridge shooting
would be the probable care and occupation of such a man at such a
time. A man without a duty in the world! Perhaps, added to this there
was a feeling that, whereas Colonel Osborne could shoot Scotch grouse
in August, and Dorsetshire partridges in September, and go about
throughout the whole year like a roaring lion, he, Mr. Outhouse,
was forced to remain at St. Diddulph's-in-the-East, from January to
December, with the exception of one small parson's week spent at
Margate, for the benefit of his wife's health. If there was such a
thought, or rather, such a feeling, who will say that it was not
natural? "But I could not go through London without seeing you,"
continued the Colonel. "This is a most frightful infatuation of
Trevelyan!"

"Very frightful, indeed," said Mr. Outhouse.

"And, on my honour as a gentleman, not the slightest cause in the
world."

"You are old enough to be the lady's father," said Mr. Outhouse,
managing in that to get one blow at the gallant Colonel.

"Just so. God bless my soul!" Mr. Outhouse shrunk visibly at this
profane allusion to the Colonel's soul. "Why, I've known her father
ever so many years. As you say, I might almost be her father myself."
As far as age went, such certainly might have been the case, for the
Colonel was older than Sir Marmaduke. "Look here, Mr. Outhouse, here
is a letter I got from Emily--"

"From Mrs. Trevelyan?"

"Yes, from Mrs. Trevelyan; and as well as I can understand, it must
have been sent to me by Trevelyan himself. Did you ever hear of such
a thing? And now I'm told he has gone away, nobody knows where, and
has left her here."

"He has gone away,--nobody knows where."

"Of course, I don't ask to see her."

"It would be imprudent, Colonel Osborne; and could not be permitted
in this house."

"I don't ask it. I have known Emily Trevelyan since she was an
infant, and have always loved her. I'm her godfather, for aught I
know,--though one forgets things of that sort." Mr. Outhouse again
knit his eyebrows and shuddered visibly. "She and I have been fast
friends,--and why not? But, of course, I can't interfere."

"If you ask me, Colonel Osborne, I should say that you can do nothing
in the matter;--except to remain away from her. When Sir Marmaduke is
in England, you can see him, if you please."

"See him;--of course, I shall see him. And, by George, Louis
Trevelyan will have to see him, too! I shouldn't like to have to
stand up before Rowley if I had treated a daughter of his in such a
fashion. You know Rowley, of course?"

"Oh, yes; I know him."

"He's not the sort of man to bear this sort of thing. He'll about
tear Trevelyan in pieces if he gets hold of him. God bless my soul--"
the eyebrows went to work again,--"I never heard of such a thing in
all my life! Does he pay anything for them, Mr. Outhouse?"

This was dreadful to the poor clergyman. "That is a subject which
we surely need not discuss," said he. Then he remembered that
such speech on his part was like to a subterfuge, and he found it
necessary to put himself right. "I am repaid for the maintenance here
of my nieces, and the little boy, and their attendants. I do not know
why the question should be asked, but such is the fact."

"Then they are here by agreement between you and him?"

"No, sir; they are not. There is no such agreement. But I do not like
these interrogatives from a stranger as to matters which should be
private."

"You cannot wonder at my interest, Mr. Outhouse."

"You had better restrain it, sir, till Sir Marmaduke arrives. I shall
then wash my hands of the affair."

"And she is pretty well;--Emily, I mean?"

"Mrs. Trevelyan's health is good."

"Pray tell her though I could not--might not ask to see her, I came
to inquire after her the first moment that I was in London. Pray
tell her how much I feel for her;--but she will know that. When Sir
Marmaduke is here, of course, we shall meet. When she is once more
under her father's wing, she need not be restrained by any absurd
commands from a husband who has deserted her. At present, of course,
I do not ask to see her."

"Of course, you do not, Colonel Osborne."

"And give my love to Nora;--dear little Nora! There can be no reason
why she and I should not shake hands."

"I should prefer that it should not be so in this house," said the
clergyman, who was now standing,--in expectation that his unwelcome
guest would go.

"Very well;--so be it. But you will understand I could not be in
London without coming and asking after them." Then the Colonel at
last took his leave, and Mr. Outhouse was left to his solitude and
his sermons.

Mrs. Outhouse was very angry when she heard of the visit. "Men of
that sort," she said, "think it a fine thing, and talk about it. I
believe the poor girl is as innocent as I am, but he isn't innocent.
He likes it."

"'It is easier,'" said Mr. Outhouse solemnly, "'for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom
of God.'"

"I don't know that he is a rich man," said Mrs. Outhouse; "but he
wouldn't have come here if he had been honest."

Mrs. Trevelyan was told of the visit, and simply said that of course
it was out of the question that she should have seen Colonel Osborne.
Nevertheless she seemed to think it quite natural that he should have
called, and defended him with some energy when her aunt declared that
he had been much to blame. "He is not bound to obey Mr. Trevelyan
because I am," said Emily.

"He is bound to abstain from evil doing," said Mrs. Outhouse; "and he
oughtn't to have come. There; let that be enough, my dear. Your uncle
doesn't wish to have it talked about." Nevertheless it was talked
about between the two sisters. Nora was of opinion that Colonel
Osborne had been wrong, whereas Emily defended him. "It seems to me
to have been the most natural thing in life," said she.

Had Colonel Osborne made the visit as Sir Marmaduke's friend, feeling
himself to be an old man, it might have been natural. When a man has
come to regard himself as being, on the score of age, about as fit to
be a young lady's lover as though he were an old woman instead of an
old man,--which some men will do when they are younger even than was
Colonel Osborne,--he is justified in throwing behind him as utterly
absurd the suspicions of other people. But Colonel Osborne cannot be
defended altogether on that plea.



CHAPTER XLII.

MISS STANBURY AND MR. GIBSON BECOME TWO.


There came to be a very gloomy fortnight at Miss Stanbury's house
in the Close. For two or three days after Mr. Gibson's dismissal at
the hands of Miss Stanbury herself, Brooke Burgess was still in the
house, and his presence saved Dorothy from the full weight of her
aunt's displeasure. There was the necessity of looking after Brooke,
and scolding him, and of praising him to Martha, and of dispraising
him, and of seeing that he had enough to eat, and of watching whether
he smoked in the house, and of quarrelling with him about everything
under the sun, which together so employed Miss Stanbury that she
satisfied herself with glances at Dorothy which were felt to be full
of charges of ingratitude. Dorothy was thankful that it should be so,
and bore the glances with abject submission. And then there was a
great comfort to her in Brooke's friendship. On the second day after
Mr. Gibson had gone she found herself talking to Brooke quite openly
upon the subject. "The fact was, Mr. Burgess, that I didn't really
care for him. I know he's very good and all that, and of course Aunt
Stanbury meant it all for the best. And I would have done it if I
could, but I couldn't." Brooke patted her on the back,--not in the
flesh but in the spirit,--and told her that she was quite right. And
he expressed an opinion too that it was not expedient to yield too
much to Aunt Stanbury. "I would yield to her in anything that was
possible to me," said Dorothy. "I won't," said he; "and I don't think
I should do any good if I did. I like her, and I like her money. But
I don't like either well enough to sell myself for a price."

A great part too of the quarrelling which went on from day to day
between Brooke and Miss Stanbury was due to the difference of their
opinions respecting Dorothy and her suitor. "I believe you put her up
to it," said Aunt Stanbury.

"I neither put her up nor down, but I think that she was quite
right."

"You've robbed her of a husband, and she'll never have another
chance. After what you've done, you ought to take her yourself."

"I shall be ready to-morrow," said Brooke.

"How can you tell such a lie?" said Aunt Stanbury.

But after two or three days Brooke was gone to make a journey through
the distant part of the county, and see the beauties of Devonshire.
He was to be away for a fortnight, and then come back for a day or
two before he returned to London. During that fortnight things did
not go well with poor Dorothy at Exeter.

"I suppose you know your own business best," her aunt said to her
one morning. Dorothy uttered no word of reply. She felt it to be
equally impossible to suggest either that she did or that she did
not know her own business best. "There may be reasons which I don't
understand," exclaimed Aunt Stanbury; "but I should like to know what
it is you expect."

"Why should I expect anything, Aunt Stanbury?"

"That's nonsense. Everybody expects something. You expect to have
your dinner by-and-by,--don't you?"

"I suppose I shall," said Dorothy, to whom it occurred at the moment
that such expectation was justified by the fact that on every day of
her life hitherto some sort of a dinner had come in her way.

"Yes,--and you think it comes from heaven, I suppose."

"It comes by God's goodness and your bounty, Aunt Stanbury."

"And how will it come when I'm dead? Or how will it come if things
should go in such a way that I can't stay here any longer? You don't
ever think of that."

"I should go back to mamma, and Priscilla."

"Psha! As if two mouths were not enough to eat all the meal there is
in that tub. If there was a word to say against the man, I wouldn't
ask you to have him; if he drank, or smoked, or wasn't a gentleman,
or was too poor, or anything you like. But there's nothing. It's all
very well to tell me you don't love him, but why don't you love him?
I don't like a girl to go and throw herself at a man's head, as those
Frenches have done; but when everything has been prepared for you
and made proper, it seems to me to be like turning away from good
victuals." Dorothy could only offer to go home if she had offended
her aunt, and then Miss Stanbury scolded her for making the offer. As
this kind of thing went on at the house in the Close for a fortnight,
during which there was no going out, and no society at home, Dorothy
began to be rather tired of it.

At the end of the fortnight, on the morning of the day on which
Brooke Burgess was expected back, Dorothy, slowly moving into the
sitting room with her usual melancholy air, found Mr. Gibson talking
to her aunt. "There she is herself," said Miss Stanbury, jumping
up briskly, "and now you can speak to her. Of course I have no
authority,--none in the least. But she knows what my wishes are."
And, having so spoken, Miss Stanbury left the room.

It will be remembered that hitherto no word of affection had been
whispered by Mr. Gibson into Dorothy's ears. When he came before to
press his suit, she had been made aware of his coming, and had fled,
leaving her answer with her aunt. Mr. Gibson had then expressed
himself as somewhat injured, in that no opportunity of pouring forth
his own eloquence had been permitted to him. On that occasion Miss
Stanbury, being in a snubbing humour, had snubbed him. She had in
truth scolded him almost as much as she had scolded Dorothy, telling
him that he went about the business in hand as though butter wouldn't
melt in his mouth. "You're stiff as a chair-back," she had said to
him, with a few other compliments, and these amenities had for a
while made him regard the establishment at Heavitree as being, at
any rate, pleasanter than that in the Close. But since that cool
reflection had come. The proposal was not that he should marry Miss
Stanbury, senior, who certainly could be severe on occasions, but
Miss Stanbury, junior, whose temper was as sweet as primroses in
March. That which he would have to take from Miss Stanbury, senior,
was a certain sum of money, as to which her promise was as good as
any bond in the world. Things had come to such a pass with him in
Exeter,--from the hints of his friend the Prebend, from a word or two
which had come to him from the Dean, from certain family arrangements
proposed to him by his mother and sisters,--things had come to such
a pass that he was of a mind that he had better marry some one. He
had, as it were, three strings to his bow. There were the two French
strings, and there was Dorothy. He had not breadth of genius enough
to suggest to himself that yet another woman might be found. There
was a difficulty on the French score even about Miss Stanbury; but
it was clear to him that, failing her, he was due to one of the
two Miss Frenches. Now it was not only that the Miss Frenches were
empty-handed, but he was beginning to think himself that they were
not as nice as they might have been in reference to the arrangement
of their head-gear. Therefore, having given much thought to the
matter, and remembering that he had never yet had play for his own
eloquence with Dorothy, he had come to Miss Stanbury asking that he
might have another chance. It had been borne in upon him that he had
perhaps hitherto regarded Dorothy as too certainly his own since she
had been offered to him by her aunt,--as being a prize that required
no eloquence in the winning; and he thought that if he could have an
opportunity of amending that fault, it might even yet be well with
his suit. So he prepared himself, and asked permission, and now found
himself alone with the young lady.

"When last I was in this house, Miss Stanbury," he began, "I was not
fortunate enough to be allowed an opportunity of pleading my cause to
yourself." Then he paused, and Dorothy was left to consider how best
she might answer him. All that her aunt had said to her had not been
thrown away upon her. The calls upon that slender meal-tub at home
she knew were quite sufficient. And Mr. Gibson was, she believed, a
good man. And how better could she dispose of herself in life? And
what was she that she should scorn the love of an honest gentleman?
She would take him, she thought,--if she could. But then there came
upon her, unconsciously, without work of thought, by instinct rather
than by intelligence, a feeling of the closeness of a wife to her
husband. Looking at it in general she could not deny that it would
be very proper that she should become Mrs. Gibson. But when there
came upon her a remembrance that she would be called upon for
demonstration of her love,--that he would embrace her, and hold her
to his heart, and kiss her,--she revolted and shuddered. She believed
that she did not want to marry any man, and that such a state of
things would not be good for her. "Dear young lady," continued Mr.
Gibson, "you will let me now make up for the loss which I then
experienced?"

"I thought it was better not to give you trouble," said Dorothy.

"Trouble, Miss Stanbury! How could it be trouble? The labour we
delight in physics pain. But to go back to the subject-matter. I hope
you do not doubt that my affection for you is true and honest, and
genuine."

"I don't want to doubt anything, Mr. Gibson; but--"

"You needn't, dearest Miss Stanbury; indeed you needn't. If you
could read my heart you would see written there true love very
plainly;--very plainly. And do you not think it a duty that people
should marry?" It may be surmised that he had here forgotten some
connecting link which should have joined without abruptness the
declaration of his own love, and his social view as to the general
expediency of matrimony. But Dorothy did not discover the hiatus.

"Certainly,--when they like each other, and if their friends think it
proper."

"Our friends think it proper, Miss Stanbury,--may I say Dorothy?--all
of them. I can assure you that on my side you will be welcomed by a
mother and sisters only too anxious to receive you with open arms.
And as regards your own relations, I need hardly allude to your
revered aunt. As to your own mother and sister,--and your brother,
who, I believe, gives his mind chiefly to other things,--I am assured
by Miss Stanbury that no opposition need be feared from them. Is that
true, dearest Dorothy?"

"It is true."

"Does not all that plead in my behalf? Tell me, Dorothy."

"Of course it does."

"And you will be mine?" As far as eloquence could be of service, Mr.
Gibson was sufficiently eloquent. To Dorothy his words appeared good,
and true, and affecting. All their friends did wish it. There were
many reasons why it should be done. If talking could have done it,
his talking was good enough. Though his words were in truth cold,
and affected, and learned by rote, they did not offend her; but his
face offended her; and the feeling was strong within her that if she
yielded, it would soon be close to her own. She couldn't do it. She
didn't love him, and she wouldn't do it. Priscilla would not grudge
her her share out of that meagre meal-tub. Had not Priscilla told her
not to marry the man if she did not love him? She found that she was
further than ever from loving him. She would not do it. "Say that you
will be mine," pleaded Mr. Gibson, coming to her with both his hands
outstretched.

"Mr. Gibson, I can't," she said. She was sobbing now, and was half
choked by tears.

"And why not, Dorothy?"

"I don't know, but I can't. I don't feel that I want to be married at
all."

"But it is honourable."

"It's no use, Mr. Gibson; I can't, and you oughtn't to ask me any
more."

"Must this be your very last answer?"

"What's the good of going over it all again and again? I can't do
it."

"Never, Miss Stanbury?"

"No;--never."

"That is cruel, very cruel. I fear that you doubt my love."

"It isn't cruel, Mr. Gibson. I have a right to have my own feelings,
and I can't. If you please, I'll go away now." Then she went, and
he was left standing alone in the room. His first feeling was one
of anger. Then there came to be mixed with that a good deal of
wonder,--and then a certain amount of doubt. He had during the last
fortnight discussed the matter at great length with a friend, a
gentleman who knew the world, and who took upon himself to say that
he specially understood female nature. It was by advice from this
friend that he had been instigated to plead his own cause. "Of course
she means to accept you," the friend had said. "Why the mischief
shouldn't she? But she has some flimsy, old-fashioned country idea
that it isn't maidenly to give in at first. You tell her roundly that
she must marry you." Mr. Gibson was just reaching that roundness
which his friend had recommended when the lady left him and he was
alone.

Mr. Gibson was no doubt very much in love with Dorothy Stanbury. So
much, we may take for granted. He, at least, believed that he was in
love with her. He would have thought it wicked to propose to her had
he not been in love with her. But with his love was mingled a certain
amount of contempt which had induced him to look upon her as an easy
conquest. He had been perhaps a little ashamed of himself for being
in love with Dorothy, and had almost believed the Frenches when they
had spoken of her as a poor creature, a dependant, one born to be
snubbed,--as a young woman almost without an identity of her own.
When, therefore, she so pertinaciously refused him, he could not but
be angry. And it was natural that he should be surprised. Though he
was to have received a fortune with Dorothy, the money was not hers.
It was to be hers,--or rather theirs,--only if she would accept him.
Mr. Gibson thoroughly understood this point. He knew that Dorothy had
nothing of her own. The proposal made to her was as rich as though
he had sought her down at Nuncombe Putney, with his preferment, plus
the £2,000, in his own pocket. And his other advantages were not
hidden from his own eyes. He was a clergyman, well thought of, not
bad-looking certainly, considerably under forty,--a man, indeed, who
ought to have been, in the eyes of Dorothy, such an Orlando as she
would have most desired. He could not therefore but wonder. And then
came the doubt. Could it be possible that all those refusals were
simply the early pulses of hesitating compliance produced by maidenly
reserve? Mr. Gibson's friend had expressed a strong opinion that
almost any young woman would accept any young man if he put his
"com 'ether" upon her strong enough. For Mr. Gibson's friend was an
Irishman. As to Dorothy the friend had not a doubt in the world. Mr.
Gibson, as he stood alone in the room after Dorothy's departure,
could not share his friend's certainty; but he thought it just
possible that the pulsations of maidenly reserve were yet at work. As
he was revolving these points in his mind, Miss Stanbury entered the
room.

"It's all over now," she said.

"As how, Miss Stanbury?"

"As how! She's given you an answer; hasn't she?"

"Yes, Miss Stanbury, she has given me an answer. But it has occurred
to me that young ladies are sometimes,--perhaps a little--"

"She means it, Mr. Gibson; you may take my word for that. She is
quite in earnest. She can take the bit between her teeth as well as
another, though she does look so mild and gentle. She's a Stanbury
all over."

"And must this be the last of it, Miss Stanbury?"

"Upon my word, I don't know what else you can do,--unless you send
the Dean and Chapter to talk her over. She's a pig-headed, foolish
young woman;--but I can't help that. The truth is, you didn't make
enough of her at first, Mr. Gibson. You thought the plum would tumble
into your mouth."

This did seem cruel to the poor man. From the first day in which
the project had been opened to him by Miss Stanbury, he had yielded
a ready acquiescence,--in spite of those ties which he had at
Heavitree,--and had done his very best to fall into her views. "I
don't think that is at all fair, Miss Stanbury," he said, with some
tone of wrath in his voice.

"It's true,--quite true. You always treated her as though she were
something beneath you." Mr. Gibson stood speechless, with his mouth
open. "So you did. I saw it all. And now she's had spirit enough to
resent it. I don't wonder at it; I don't, indeed. It's no good your
standing there any longer. The thing is done."

Such intolerable ill-usage Mr. Gibson had never suffered in his life.
Had he been untrue, or very nearly untrue, to those dear girls at
Heavitree for this? "I never treated her as anything beneath me," he
said at last.

"Yes, you did. Do you think that I don't understand? Haven't I eyes
in my head, and ears? I'm not deaf yet, nor blind. But there's an
end of it. If any young woman ever meant anything, she means it. The
truth is, she don't like you."

Was ever a lover despatched in so uncourteous a way! Then, too, he
had been summoned thither as a lover, had been specially encouraged
to come there as a lover, had been assured of success in a peculiar
way, had had the plum actually offered to him! He had done all that
this old woman had bidden him,--something, indeed, to the prejudice
of his own heart; he had been told that the wife was ready for
him; and now, because this foolish young woman didn't know her own
mind,--this was Mr. Gibson's view of the matter,--he was reviled
and abused, and told that he had behaved badly to the lady. "Miss
Stanbury," he said, "I think that you are forgetting yourself."

"Highty, tighty!" said Miss Stanbury. "Forgetting myself! I shan't
forget you in a hurry, Mr. Gibson."

"Nor I you, Miss Stanbury. Good morning, Miss Stanbury." Mr. Gibson,
as he went from the hall-door into the street, shook the dust off his
feet, and resolved that for the future he and Miss Stanbury should be
two. There would arise great trouble in Exeter, but, nevertheless, he
and Miss Stanbury must be two. He could justify himself in no other
purpose after such conduct as he had received.



CHAPTER XLIII.

LABURNUM COTTAGE.


There had been various letters passing, during the last six weeks,
between Priscilla Stanbury and her brother, respecting the Clock
House at Nuncombe Putney. The ladies at Nuncombe had, certainly, gone
into the Clock House on the clear understanding that the expenses of
the establishment were to be incurred on behalf of Mrs. Trevelyan.
Priscilla had assented to the movement most doubtingly. She had
disliked the idea of taking the charge of a young married woman who
was separated from her husband, and she had felt that a going down
after such an uprising,--a fall from the Clock House back to a
cottage,--would be very disagreeable. She had, however, allowed her
brother's arguments to prevail, and there they were. The annoyance
which she had anticipated from the position of their late guest had
fallen upon them: it had been felt grievously, from the moment in
which Colonel Osborne called at the house; and now that going back
to the cottage must be endured. Priscilla understood that there had
been a settlement between Trevelyan and Stanbury as to the cost of
the establishment so far;--but that must now be at an end. In their
present circumstances she would not continue to live there, and had
already made inquiries as to some humble roof for their shelter. For
herself she would not have cared had it been necessary for her to
hide herself in a hut,--for herself, as regarded any feeling as to
her own standing in the village. For herself, she was ashamed of
nothing. But her mother would suffer, and she knew what Aunt Stanbury
would say to Dorothy. To Dorothy at the present moment, if Dorothy
should think of accepting her suitor, the change might be very
deleterious; but still it should be made. She could not endure
to live there on the very hard-earned proceeds of her brother's
pen,--proceeds which were not only hard-earned, but precarious. She
gave warning to the two servants who had been hired, and consulted
with Mrs. Crocket as to a cottage, and was careful to let it be known
throughout Nuncombe Putney that the Clock House was to be abandoned.
The Clock House had been taken furnished for six months, of which
half were not yet over; but there were other expenses of living there
much greater than the rent, and go she would. Her mother sighed and
assented; and Mrs. Crocket, having strongly but fruitlessly advised
that the Clock House should be inhabited at any rate for the six
months, promised her assistance. "It has been a bad business, Mrs.
Crocket," said Priscilla; "and all we can do now is to get out of
it as well as we can. Every mouthful I eat chokes me while I stay
there." "It ain't good, certainly, miss, not to know as you're all
straight the first thing as you wakes in the morning," said Mrs.
Crocket,--who was always able to feel when she woke that everything
was straight with her.

Then there came the correspondence between Priscilla and Hugh.
Priscilla was at first decided, indeed, but mild in the expression
of her decision. To this, and to one or two other missives
couched in terms of increasing decision, Hugh answered with manly,
self-asserting, overbearing arguments. The house was theirs till
Christmas; between this and then he would think about it. He could
very well afford to keep the house on till next Midsummer, and then
they might see what had best be done. There was plenty of money, and
Priscilla need not put herself into a flutter. In answer to that word
flutter, Priscilla wrote as follows:--


   Clock House, September 16, 186--.

   DEAR HUGH,

   I know very well how good you are, and how generous, but
   you must allow me to have feelings as well as yourself. I
   will not consent to have myself regarded as a grand lady
   out of your earnings. How should I feel when some day I
   heard that you had run yourself into debt? Neither mamma
   nor I could endure it. Dorothy is provided for now, at any
   rate for a time, and what we have is enough for us. You
   know I am not too proud to take anything you can spare to
   us, when we are ourselves placed in a proper position: but
   I could not live in this great house, while you are paying
   for everything,--and I will not. Mamma quite agrees with
   me, and we shall go out of it on Michaelmas-day. Mrs.
   Crocket says she thinks she can get you a tenant for the
   three months, out of Exeter,--if not for the whole rent,
   at least for part of it. I think we have already got a
   small place for eight shillings a week, a little out of
   the village, on the road to Cockchaffington. You will
   remember it. Old Soames used to live there. Our old
   furniture will be just enough. There is a mite of a
   garden, and Mrs. Crocket says she thinks we can get it for
   seven shillings, or perhaps for six and sixpence, if we
   stay there. We shall go in on the 29th. Mrs. Crocket will
   see about having somebody to take care of the house.

   Your most affectionate sister,

   PRISCILLA.


On the receipt of this letter, Hugh proceeded to Nuncombe. At this
time he was making about ten guineas a week, and thought that
he saw his way to further work. No doubt the ten guineas were
precarious;--that is, the "Daily Record" might discontinue his
services to-morrow, if the "Daily Record" thought fit to do so. The
greater part of his earnings came from the "D. R.," and the editor
had only to say that things did not suit any longer, and there would
be an end of it. He was not as a lawyer or a doctor with many clients
who could not all be supposed to withdraw their custom at once; but
leading articles were things wanted with at least as much regularity
as physic or law, and Hugh Stanbury, believing in himself, did not
think it probable that an editor, who knew what he was about, would
withdraw his patronage. He was proud of his weekly ten guineas,
feeling sure that a weekly ten guineas would not as yet have been
his had he stuck to the Bar as a profession. He had calculated, when
Mrs. Trevelyan left the Clock House, that two hundred a year would
enable his mother to continue to reside there, the rent of the place
furnished, or half-furnished, being only eighty; and he thought
that he could pay the two hundred easily. He thought so still, when
he received Priscilla's last letter; but he knew something of the
stubbornness of his dear sister, and he, therefore, went down to
Nuncombe Putney, in order that he might use the violence of his logic
on his mother.

He had heard of Mr. Gibson from both Priscilla and from Dorothy,
and was certainly desirous that "dear old Dolly," as he called her,
should be settled comfortably. But when dear old Dolly wrote to him
declaring that it could not be so, that Mr. Gibson was a very nice
gentleman, of whom she could not say that she was particularly
fond,--"though I really do think that he is an excellent man, and if
it was any other girl in the world, I should recommend her to take
him,"--and that she thought that she would rather not get married, he
wrote to her the kindest brotherly letter in the world, telling her
that she was "a brick," and suggesting to her that there might come
some day some one who would suit her taste better than Mr. Gibson.
"I'm not very fond of parsons myself," said Hugh, "but you must not
tell that to Aunt Stanbury." Then he suggested that as he was going
down to Nuncombe, Dorothy should get leave of absence and come over
and meet him at the Clock House. Dorothy demanded the leave of
absence somewhat imperiously, and was at home at the Clock House when
Hugh arrived.

"And so that little affair couldn't come off?" said Hugh at their
first family meeting.

"It was a pity," said Mrs. Stanbury, plaintively. She had been very
plaintive on the subject. What a thing it would have been for her,
could she have seen Dorothy so well established!

"There's no help for spilt milk, mother," said Hugh. Mrs. Stanbury
shook her head.

"Dorothy was quite right," said Priscilla.

"Of course she was right," said Hugh. "Who doubts her being right?
Bless my soul! What's any girl to do if she don't like a man except
to tell him so? I honour you, Dolly,--not that I ever should have
doubted you. You're too much of a chip of the old block to say you
liked a man when you didn't."

"He is a very excellent young man," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"An excellent fiddlestick, mother. Loving and liking don't go by
excellence. Besides, I don't know about his being any better than
anybody else, just because he's a clergyman."

"A clergyman is more likely to be steady than other men," said the
mother.

"Steady, yes; and as selfish as you please."

"Your father was a clergyman, Hugh."

"I don't mean to say that they are not as good as others; but I won't
have it that they are better. They are always dealing with the Bible,
till they think themselves apostles. But when money comes up, or
comfort, or, for the matter of that either, a pretty woman with a
little money, then they are as human as the rest of us."

If the truth had been told on that occasion, Hugh Stanbury would have
had to own that he had written lately two or three rather stinging
articles in the "Daily Record," as "to the assumed merits and actual
demerits of the clergy of the Church of England." It is astonishing
how fluent a man is on a subject when he has lately delivered himself
respecting it in this fashion.

Nothing on that evening was said about the Clock House, or about
Priscilla's intentions. Priscilla was up early on the next morning,
intending to discuss it in the garden with Hugh before breakfast; but
Hugh was aware of her purpose and avoided her. It was his intention
to speak first to his mother; and though his mother was, as he knew,
very much in awe of her daughter, he thought that he might carry his
point, at any rate for the next three months, by forcing an assent
from the elder lady. So he managed to waylay Mrs. Stanbury before she
descended to the parlour.

"We can't afford it, my dear;--indeed we can't," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"That's not the question, mother. The rent must be paid up to
Christmas, and you can live here as cheap as you can anywhere."

"But Priscilla--"

"Oh, Priscilla! Of course we know what Priscilla says. Priscilla has
been writing to me about it in the most sensible manner in the world;
but what does it all come to? If you are ashamed of taking assistance
from me, I don't know who is to do anything for anybody. You are
comfortable here?"

"Very comfortable; only Priscilla feels--"

"Priscilla is a tyrant, mother; and a very stern one. Just make up
your mind to stay here till Christmas. If I tell you that I can
afford it, surely that ought to be enough." Then Dorothy entered the
room, and Hugh appealed to her. Dorothy had come to Nuncombe only on
the day before, and had not been consulted on the subject. She had
been told that the Clock House was to be abandoned, and had been
taken down to inspect the cottage in which old Soames had lived;--but
her opinion had not been asked. Priscilla had quite made up her mind,
and why should she ask an opinion of any one? But now Dorothy's
opinion was demanded. "It's what I call the rhodomontade of
independence," said Hugh.

"I suppose it is very expensive," suggested Dorothy.

"The house must be paid for," said Hugh;--"and if I say that I've got
the money, is not that enough? A miserable, dirty little place, where
you'll catch your death of lumbago, mother."

"Of course it's not a comfortable house," said Mrs. Stanbury,--who,
of herself, was not at all indifferent to the comforts of her present
residence.

"And it is very dirty," said Dorothy.

"The nastiest place I ever saw in my life. Come, mother; if I say
that I can afford it, ought not that to be enough for you? If you
think you can't trust me, there's an end of everything, you know."
And Hugh, as he thus expressed himself, assumed an air of injured
virtue.

Mrs. Stanbury had very nearly yielded, when Priscilla came in among
them. It was impossible not to continue the conversation, though Hugh
would much have preferred to have forced an assent from his mother
before he opened his mouth on the subject to his sister. "My mother
agrees with me," said he abruptly, "and so does Dolly, that it will
be absurd to move away from this house at present."

"Mamma!" exclaimed Priscilla.

"I don't think I said that, Hugh," murmured Dorothy, softly.

"I'm sure I don't want anything for myself," said Mrs. Stanbury.

"It's I that want it," said Hugh. "And I think that I've a right to
have my wishes respected, so far as that goes."

"My dear Hugh," said Priscilla, "the cottage is already taken, and we
shall certainly go into it. I spoke to Mrs. Crocket yesterday about
a cart for moving the things. I'm sure mamma agrees with me. What
possible business can people have to live in such a house as this
with about twenty-four shillings a week for everything? I won't do
it. And as the thing is settled, it is only making trouble to disturb
it."

"I suppose, Priscilla," said Hugh, "you'll do as your mother
chooses?"

"Mamma chooses to go. She has told me so already."

"You have talked her into it."

"We had better go, Hugh," said Mrs. Stanbury. "I'm sure we had better
go."

"Of course we shall go," said Priscilla. "Hugh is very kind and very
generous, but he is only giving trouble for nothing about this. Had
we not better go down to breakfast?"

And so Priscilla carried the day. They went down to breakfast, and
during the meal Hugh would speak to nobody. When the gloomy meal
was over he took his pipe and walked out to the cottage. It was an
untidy-looking, rickety place, small and desolate, with a pretension
about it of the lowest order, a pretension that was evidently ashamed
of itself. There was a porch. And the one sitting-room had what the
late Mr. Soames had always called his bow window. But the porch
looked as though it were tumbling down, and the bow window looked
as though it were tumbling out. The parlour and the bedroom over it
had been papered;--but the paper was torn and soiled, and in sundry
places was hanging loose. There was a miserable little room called a
kitchen to the right as you entered the door, in which the grate was
worn out, and behind this was a shed with a copper. In the garden
there remained the stumps and stalks of Mr. Soames's cabbages, and
there were weeds in plenty, and a damp hole among some elder bushes
called an arbour. It was named Laburnum Cottage, from a shrub that
grew at the end of the house. Hugh Stanbury shuddered as he stood
smoking among the cabbage-stalks. How could a man ask such a girl
as Nora Rowley to be his wife, whose mother lived in a place like
this? While he was still standing in the garden, and thinking of
Priscilla's obstinacy and his own ten guineas a week, and the sort of
life which he lived in London,--where he dined usually at his club,
and denied himself nothing in the way of pipes, beer, and beefsteaks,
he heard a step behind him, and turning round, saw his elder sister.

"Hugh," she said, "you must not be angry with me."

"But I am angry with you."

"I know you are; but you are unjust. I am doing what I am sure is
right."

"I never saw such a beastly hole as this in all my life."

"I don't think it beastly at all. You'll find that I'll make it nice.
Whatever we want here you shall give us. You are not to think that I
am too proud to take anything at your hands. It is not that."

"It's very like it."

"I have never refused anything that is reasonable, but it is quite
unreasonable that we should go on living in such a place as that, as
though we had three or four hundred a year of our own. If mamma got
used to the comfort of it, it would be hard then upon her to move.
You shall give her what you can afford, and what is reasonable; but
it is madness to think of living there. I couldn't do it."

"You're to have your way at any rate, it seems."

"But you must not quarrel with me, Hugh. Give me a kiss. I don't have
you often with me; and yet you are the only man in the world that I
ever speak to, or even know. I sometimes half think that the bread is
so hard and the water so bitter, that life will become impossible. I
try to get over it; but if you were to go away from me in anger, I
should be so beaten for a week or two that I could do nothing."

"Why won't you let me do anything?"

"I will;--whatever you please. But kiss me." Then he kissed her, as
he stood among Mr. Soames's cabbage-stalks. "Dear Hugh; you are such
a god to me!"

"You don't treat me like a divinity."

"But I think of you as one when you are absent. The gods were never
obeyed when they showed themselves. Let us go and have a walk.
Come;--shall we get as far as Ridleigh Mill?" Then they started
together, and all unpleasantness was over between them when they
returned to the Clock House.



CHAPTER XLIV.

BROOKE BURGESS TAKES LEAVE OF EXETER.


   [Illustration]

The time had arrived at which Brooke Burgess was to leave Exeter. He
had made his tour through the county, and returned to spend his two
last nights at Miss Stanbury's house. When he came back Dorothy was
still at Nuncombe, but she arrived in the Close the day before his
departure. Her mother and sister had wished her to stay at Nuncombe.
"There is a bed for you now, and a place to be comfortable in,"
Priscilla had said, laughing, "and you may as well see the last of
us." But Dorothy declared that she had named a day to her aunt, and
that she would not break her engagement. "I suppose you can stay if
you like," Priscilla had urged. But Dorothy was of opinion that she
ought not to stay. She said not a word about Brooke Burgess; but it
may be that it would have been matter of regret to her not to shake
hands with him once more. Brooke declared to her that had she not
come back he would have gone over to Nuncombe to see her; but Dorothy
did not consider herself entitled to believe that.

On the morning of the last day Brooke went over to his uncle's
office. "I've come to say good-bye, Uncle Barty," he said.

"Good-bye, my boy. Take care of yourself."

"I mean to try."

"You haven't quarrelled with the old woman,--have you?" said Uncle
Barty.

"Not yet;--that is to say, not to the knife."

"And you still believe that you are to have her money?"

"I believe nothing one way or the other. You may be sure of this,--I
shall never count it mine till I've got it; and I shall never make
myself so sure of it as to break my heart because I don't get it. I
suppose I've got as good a right to it as anybody else, and I don't
see why I shouldn't take it if it come in my way."

"I don't think it ever will," said the old man, after a pause.

"I shall be none the worse," said Brooke.

"Yes, you will. You'll be a broken-hearted man. And she means to
break your heart. She does it on purpose. She has no more idea of
leaving you her money than I have. Why should she?"

"Simply because she takes the fancy."

"Fancy! Believe me, there is very little fancy about it. There isn't
one of the name she wouldn't ruin if she could. She'd break all our
hearts if she could get at them. Look at me and my position. I'm
little more than a clerk in the concern. By God;--I'm not so well off
as a senior clerk in many a bank. If there came a bad time, I must
lose as the others would lose;--but a clerk never loses. And my share
in the business is almost a nothing. It's just nothing,--compared to
what it would have been, only for her."

Brooke had known that his uncle was a disappointed, or at least
a discontented man; but he had never known much of the old man's
circumstances, and certainly had not expected to hear him speak in
the strain that he had now used. He had heard often that his Uncle
Barty disliked Miss Stanbury, and had not been surprised at former
sharp, biting little words spoken in reference to that lady's
character. But he had not expected such a tirade of abuse as the
banker had now poured out. "Of course I know nothing about the bank,"
said he; "but I did not suppose that she had had anything to do with
it."

"Where do you think the money came from that she has got? Did
you ever hear that she had anything of her own? She never had a
penny,--never a penny. It came out of this house. It is the capital
on which this business was founded, and on which it ought to be
carried on to this day. My brother had thrown her off; by heavens,
yes;--had thrown her off. He had found out what she was, and had got
rid of her."

"But he left her his money."

"Yes;--she got near him when he was dying, and he did leave her his
money;--his money, and my money, and your father's money."

"He could have given her nothing, Uncle Barty, that wasn't his own."

"Of course that's true;--it's true in one way. You might say the same
of a man who was cozened into leaving every shilling away from his
own children. I wasn't in Exeter when the will was made. We none
of us were here. But she was here; and when we came to see him die,
there we found her. She had had her revenge upon him, and she means
to have it on all of us. I don't believe she'll ever leave you a
shilling, Brooke. You'll find her out yet, and you'll talk of her to
your nephews as I do to you."

Brooke made some ordinary answer to this, and bade his uncle adieu.
He had allowed himself to entertain a half chivalrous idea that he
could produce a reconciliation between Miss Stanbury and his uncle
Barty; and since he had been at Exeter he had said a word, first to
the one and then to the other, hinting at the subject; but his hints
had certainly not been successful. As he walked from the bank into
the High Street he could not fail to ask himself whether there were
any grounds for the terrible accusations which he had just heard from
his uncle's lips. Something of the same kind, though in form much
less violent, had been repeated to him very often by others of the
family. Though he had as a boy known Miss Stanbury well, he had been
taught to regard her as an ogress. All the Burgesses had regarded
Miss Stanbury as an ogress since that unfortunate will had come
to light. But she was an ogress from whom something might be
gained,--and the ogress had still persisted in saying that a Burgess
should be her heir. It had therefore come to pass that Brooke had
been brought up half to revere her and half to abhor her. "She is a
dreadful woman," said his branch of the family, "who will not scruple
at anything evil. But as it seems that you may probably reap the
advantage of the evil that she does, it will become you to put up
with her iniquity." As he had become old enough to understand the
nature of her position, he had determined to judge for himself;--but
his judgment hitherto simply amounted to this,--that Miss Stanbury
was a very singular old woman, with a kind heart and good instincts,
but so capricious withal that no sensible man would risk his
happiness on expectations formed on her promises. Guided by this
opinion, he had resolved to be attentive to her and, after a certain
fashion, submissive; but certainly not to become her slave. She had
thrown over her nephew. She was constantly complaining to him of her
niece. Now and again she would say a very bitter word to him about
himself. When he had left Exeter on his little excursion, no one was
so much in favour with her as Mr. Gibson. On his return he found that
Mr. Gibson had been altogether discarded, and was spoken of in terms
of almost insolent abuse. "If I were ever so humble to her," he had
said to himself, "it would do no good; and there is nothing I hate so
much as humility." He had thus determined to take the goods the gods
provided, should it ever come to pass that such godlike provision was
laid before him out of Miss Stanbury's coffers;--but not to alter
his mode of life or put himself out of his way in obedience to her
behests, as a man might be expected to do who was destined to receive
so rich a legacy. Upon this idea he had acted, still believing the
old woman to be good, but believing at the same time that she was
very capricious. Now he had heard what his Uncle Bartholomew Burgess
had had to say upon the matter, and he could not refrain from asking
himself whether his uncle's accusations were true.

In a narrow passage between the High Street and the Close he met Mr.
Gibson. There had come to be that sort of intimacy between the two
men which grows from closeness of position rather than from any
social desire on either side, and it was natural that Burgess should
say a word of farewell. On the previous evening Miss Stanbury
had relieved her mind by turning Mr. Gibson into ridicule in her
description to Brooke of the manner in which the clergyman had
carried on his love affair; and she had at the same time declared
that Mr. Gibson had been most violently impertinent to herself. He
knew, therefore, that Miss Stanbury and Mr. Gibson had become two,
and would on this occasion have passed on without a word relative
to the old lady had Mr. Gibson allowed him to do so. But Mr. Gibson
spoke his mind freely.

"Off to-morrow, are you?" he said. "Good-bye. I hope we may meet
again; but not in the same house, Mr. Burgess."

"There or anywhere I shall be very happy," said Brooke.

"Not there, certainly. While you were absent Miss Stanbury treated me
in such a way that I shall certainly never put my foot in her house
again."

"Dear me! I thought that you and she were such great friends."

"I knew her very well, of course;--and respected her. She is a good
churchwoman, and is charitable in the city; but she has got such a
tongue in her head that there is no bearing it when she does what she
calls giving you a bit of her mind."

"She has been indulgent to me, and has not given me much of it."

"Your time will come, I've no doubt," continued Mr. Gibson.
"Everybody has always told me that it would be so. Even her oldest
friends knew it. You ask Mrs. MacHugh, or Mrs. French, at Heavitree."

"Mrs. French!" said Brooke, laughing. "That would hardly be fair
evidence."

"Why not? I don't know a better judge of character in all Exeter than
Mrs. French. And she and Miss Stanbury have been intimate all their
lives. Ask your uncle at the bank."

"My uncle and Miss Stanbury never were friends," said Brooke.

"Ask Hugh Stanbury what he thinks of her. But don't suppose I want
to say a word against her. I wouldn't for the world do such a thing.
Only, as we've met there and all that, I thought it best to let you
know that she had treated me in such a way, and has been altogether
so violent, that I never will go there again." So saying, Mr.
Gibson passed on, and was of opinion that he had spoken with great
generosity of the old woman who had treated him so badly.

In the afternoon Brooke Burgess went over to the further end of the
Close, and called on Mrs. MacHugh; and from thence he walked across
to Heavitree, and called on the Frenches. It may be doubted whether
he would have been so well behaved to these ladies had they not been
appealed to by Mr. Gibson as witnesses to the character of Miss
Stanbury. He got very little from Mrs. MacHugh. That lady was kind
and cordial, and expressed many wishes that she might see him again
in Exeter. When he said a few words about Mr. Gibson, Mrs. MacHugh
only laughed, and declared that the gentleman would soon find a
plaister for that sore. "There are more fishes than one in the sea,"
she said.

"But I'm afraid they've quarrelled, Mrs. MacHugh."

"So they tell me. What should we have to talk about here if somebody
didn't quarrel sometimes? She and I ought to get up a quarrel for the
good of the public;--only they know that I never can quarrel with
anybody. I never see anybody interesting enough to quarrel with." But
Mrs. MacHugh said nothing about Miss Stanbury, except that she sent
over a message with reference to a rubber of whist for the next night
but one.

He found the two French girls sitting with their mother, and they all
expressed their great gratitude to him for coming to say good-bye
before he went. "It's so very nice of you, Mr. Burgess," said
Camilla, "and particularly just at present."

"Yes, indeed," said Arabella, "because you know things have been so
unpleasant."

"My dears, never mind about that," said Mrs. French. "Miss Stanbury
has meant everything for the best, and it is all over now."

"I don't know what you mean by its being all over, mamma," said
Camilla. "As far as I can understand, it has never been begun."

"My dear, the least said the soonest mended," said Mrs. French.

"That's of course, mamma," said Camilla; "but yet one can't hold
one's tongue altogether. All the city is talking about it, and I dare
say Mr. Burgess has heard as much as anybody else."

"I've heard nothing at all," said Brooke.

"Oh yes, you have," continued Camilla. Arabella conceived herself
at this moment to be situated in so delicate a position, that it
was best that her sister should talk about it, and that she herself
should hold her tongue,--with the exception, perhaps, of a hint here
and there which might be of assistance; for Arabella completely
understood that the prize was now to be hers, if the prize could be
rescued out of the Stanbury clutches. She was aware,--no one better
aware,--how her sister had interfered with her early hopes, and was
sure, in her own mind, that all her disappointment had come from
fratricidal rivalry on the part of Camilla. It had never, however,
been open to her to quarrel with Camilla. There they were, linked
together, and together they must fight their battles. As two pigs may
be seen at the same trough, each striving to take the delicacies of
the banquet from the other, and yet enjoying always the warmth of
the same dunghill in amicable contiguity, so had these young ladies
lived in sisterly friendship, while each was striving to take a
husband from the other. They had understood the position, and,
though for years back they had talked about Mr. Gibson, they had
never quarrelled; but now, in these latter days of the Stanbury
interference, there had come tacitly to be something of an
understanding between them that, if any fighting were still possible
on the subject, one must be put forward and the other must yield.
There had been no spoken agreement, but Arabella quite understood
that she was to be put forward. It was for her to take up the
running, and to win, if possible, against the Stanbury filly. That
was her view, and she was inclined to give Camilla credit for acting
in accordance with it with honesty and zeal. She felt, therefore,
that her words on the present occasion ought to be few. She sat back
in her corner of the sofa, and was intent on her work, and shewed by
the pensiveness of her brow that there were thoughts within her bosom
of which she was not disposed to speak. "You must have heard a great
deal," said Camilla, laughing. "You must know how poor Mr. Gibson has
been abused, because he wouldn't--"

"Camilla, don't be foolish," said Mrs. French.

"Because he wouldn't what?" asked Brooke. "What ought he to have done
that he didn't do?"

"I don't know anything about ought," said Camilla. "That's a matter
of taste altogether."

"I'm the worst hand in the world at a riddle," said Brooke.

"How sly you are," continued Camilla, laughing; "as if dear Aunt
Stanbury hadn't confided all her hopes to you."

"Camilla, dear,--don't," said Arabella.

"But when a gentleman is hunted, and can't be caught, I don't think
he ought to be abused to his face."

"But who hunted him, and who abused him?" asked Brooke.

"Mind, I don't mean to say a word against Miss Stanbury, Mr. Burgess.
We've known her and loved her all our lives;--haven't we, mamma?"

"And respected her," said Arabella.

"Quite so," continued Camilla. "But you know, Mr. Burgess, that she
likes her own way."

"I don't know anybody that does not," said Brooke.

"And when she's disappointed, she shows it. There's no doubt she is
disappointed now, Mr. Burgess."

"What's the good of going on, Camilla?" said Mrs. French. Arabella
sat silent in her corner, with a conscious glow of satisfaction, as
she reflected that the joint disappointment of the elder and the
younger Miss Stanbury had been caused by a tender remembrance of her
own charms. Had not dear Mr. Gibson told her, in the glowing language
of truth, that there was nothing further from his thoughts than the
idea of taking Dorothy Stanbury for his wife?

"Well, you know," continued Camilla, "I think that when a person
makes an attempt, and comes by the worst of it, that person should
put up with the defeat, and not say all manner of ill-natured things.
Everybody knows that a certain gentleman is very intimate in this
house."

"Don't, dear," said Arabella, in a whisper.

"Yes, I shall," said Camilla. "I don't know why people should hold
their tongues, when other people talk so loudly. I don't care a bit
what anybody says about the gentleman and us. We have known him for
ever so many years, and mamma is very fond of him."

"Indeed I am, Camilla," said Mrs. French.

"And for the matter of that, so am I,--very," said Camilla, laughing
bravely. "I don't care who knows it."

"Don't be so silly, child," said Arabella. Camilla was certainly
doing her best, and Arabella was grateful.

"We don't care what people may say," continued Camilla again.
"Of course we heard, as everybody else heard too, that a certain
gentleman was to be married to a certain lady. It was nothing to us
whether he was married or not."

"Nothing at all," said Arabella.

"We never spoke ill of the young lady. We did not interfere. If the
gentleman liked the young lady, he was quite at liberty to marry
her, as far as we were concerned. We had been in the habit of seeing
him here, almost as a brother, and perhaps we might feel that a
connection with that particular young lady would take him from us;
but we never hinted so much even as that,--to him or to anyone else.
Why should we? It was nothing to us. Now it turns out that the
gentleman never meant anything of the kind, whereupon he is pretty
nearly kicked out of the house, and all manner of ill-natured things
are said about us everywhere." By this time Camilla had become quite
excited, and was speaking with much animation.

"How can you be so foolish, Camilla?" said Arabella.

"Perhaps I am foolish," said Camilla, "to care what anybody says."

"What can it all be to Mr. Burgess?" said Mrs. French.

"Only this, that as we all like Mr. Burgess, and as he is almost one
of the family in the Close, I think he ought to know why we are not
quite so cordial as we used to be. Now that the matter is over I have
no doubt things will get right again. And as for the young lady, I'm
sure we feel for her. We think it was the aunt who was indiscreet."

"And then she has such a tongue," said Arabella.

Our friend Brooke, of course, knew the whole truth;--knew the nature
of Mr. Gibson's failure, and knew also how Dorothy had acted in the
affair. He was inclined, moreover, to believe that the ladies who
were now talking to him were as well instructed on the subject as
was he himself. He had heard, too, of the ambition of the two young
ladies now before him, and believed that that ambition was not yet
dead. But he did not think it incumbent on him to fight a battle even
on behalf of Dorothy. He might have declared that Dorothy, at least,
had not been disappointed, but he thought it better to be silent
about Dorothy. "Yes," he said, "Miss Stanbury has a tongue; but I
think it speaks as much good as it does evil, and perhaps that is a
great deal to say for any lady's tongue."

"We never speak evil of anybody," said Camilla; "never. It is a rule
with us." Then Brooke took his leave, and the three ladies were
cordial and almost affectionate in their farewell greetings.

Brooke was to start on the following morning before anybody would
be up except Martha, and Miss Stanbury was very melancholy during
the evening. "We shall miss him very much; shall we not?" she said,
appealing to Dorothy. "I am sure you will miss him very much," said
Dorothy. "We are so stupid here alone," said Miss Stanbury. When they
had drank their tea, she sat nearly silent for half an hour, and then
summoned him up into her own room. "So you are going, Brooke?" she
said.

"Yes; I must go now. They would dismiss me if I stayed an hour
longer."

"It was good of you to come to the old woman; and you must let me
hear of you from time to time."

"Of course I'll write."

"And, Brooke,--"

"What is it, Aunt Stanbury?"

"Do you want any money, Brooke?"

"No;--none, thank you. I've plenty for a bachelor."

"When you think of marrying, Brooke, mind you tell me."

"I'll be sure to tell you;--but I can't promise yet when that will
be." She said nothing more to him, though she paused once more as
though she were going to speak. She kissed him and bade him good-bye,
saying that she would not go down-stairs again that evening. He was
to tell Dorothy to go to bed. And so they parted.

But Dorothy did not go to bed for an hour after that. When Brooke
came down into the parlour with his message she intended to go at
once, and put up her work, and lit her candle, and put out her hand
to him, and said good-bye to him. But, for all that, she remained
there for an hour with him. At first she said very little, but by
degrees her tongue was loosened, and she found herself talking with a
freedom which she could hardly herself understand. She told him how
thoroughly she believed her aunt to be a good woman,--how sure she
was that her aunt was at any rate honest. "As for me," said Dorothy,
"I know that I have displeased her about Mr. Gibson;--and I would go
away, only that I think she would be so desolate." Then Brooke begged
her never to allow the idea of leaving Miss Stanbury to enter her
head. Because Miss Stanbury was capricious, he said, not on that
account should her caprices either be indulged or permitted. That
was his doctrine respecting Miss Stanbury, and he declared that, as
regarded himself, he would never be either disrespectful to her or
submissive. "It is a great mistake," he said, "to think that anybody
is either an angel or a devil." When Dorothy expressed an opinion
that with some people angelic tendencies were predominant, and with
others diabolic tendencies, he assented; but declared that it was not
always easy to tell the one tendency from the other. At last, when
Dorothy had made about five attempts to go, Mr. Gibson's name was
mentioned. "I am very glad that you are not going to be Mrs. Gibson,"
said he.


   [Illustration: Brooke Burgess takes his leave.]


"I don't know why you should be glad."

"Because I should not have liked your husband,--not as your husband."

"He is an excellent man, I'm sure," said Dorothy.

"Nevertheless I am very glad. But I did not think you would accept
him, and I congratulate you on your escape. You would have been
nothing to me as Mrs. Gibson."

"Shouldn't I?" said Dorothy, not knowing what else to say.

"But now I think we shall always be friends."

"I'm sure I hope so, Mr. Burgess. But indeed I must go now. It is
ever so late, and you will hardly get any sleep. Good night." Then he
took her hand, and pressed it very warmly, and referring to a promise
before made to her, he assured her that he would certainly make
acquaintance with her brother as soon as he was back in London.
Dorothy, as she went up to bed, was more than ever satisfied with
herself, in that she had not yielded in reference to Mr. Gibson.



CHAPTER XLV.

TREVELYAN AT VENICE.


Trevelyan passed on moodily and alone from Turin to Venice, always
expecting letters from Bozzle, and receiving from time to time the
dispatches which that functionary forwarded to him, as must be
acknowledged, with great punctuality. For Mr. Bozzle did his work,
not only with a conscience, but with a will. He was now, as he had
declared more than once, altogether devoted to Mr. Trevelyan's
interest; and as he was an active, enterprising man, always on the
alert to be doing something, and as he loved the work of writing
dispatches, Trevelyan received a great many letters from Bozzle. It
is not exaggeration to say that every letter made him for the time
a very wretched man. This ex-policeman wrote of the wife of his
bosom,--of her who had been the wife of his bosom, and who was the
mother of his child, who was at this very time the only woman whom he
loved,--with an entire absence of delicacy. Bozzle would have thought
reticence on his part to be dishonest. We remember Othello's demand
of Iago. That was the demand which Bozzle understood that Trevelyan
had made of him, and he was minded to obey that order. But Trevelyan,
though he had in truth given the order, was like Othello also in
this,--that he would have preferred before all the prizes of the
world to have had proof brought home to him exactly opposite to that
which he demanded. But there was nothing so terrible to him as the
grinding suspicion that he was to be kept in the dark. Bozzle could
find out facts. Therefore he gave, in effect, the same order that
Othello gave;--and Bozzle went to work determined to obey it. There
came many dispatches to Venice, and at last there came one, which
created a correspondence which shall be given here at length. The
first is a letter from Mr. Bozzle to his employer:--


   55, Stony Walk, Union Street, Borough,
   September 29, 186--, 4.30 P.M.

   HOND. SIR,

   Since I wrote yesterday morning, something has occurred
   which, it may be, and I think it will, will help to bring
   this melancholy affair to a satisfactory termination and
   conclusion. I had better explain, Mr. Trewilyan, how I
   have been at work from the beginning about watching the
   Colonel. I couldn't do nothing with the porter at the
   Albany, which he is always mostly muzzled with beer, and
   he wouldn't have taken my money, not on the square. So,
   when it was tellegrammed to me as the Colonel was on the
   move in the North, I put on two boys as knows the Colonel,
   at eighteenpence a day, at each end, one Piccadilly end,
   and the other Saville Row end, and yesterday morning,
   as quick as ever could be, after the Limited Express
   Edinburgh Male Up was in, there comes the Saville Row End
   Boy here to say as the Colonel was lodged safe in his
   downey. Then I was off immediate myself to St. Diddulph's,
   because I knows what it is to trust to Inferiors when
   matters gets delicate. Now, there hadn't been no letters
   from the Colonel, nor none to him as I could make out,
   though that mightn't be so sure. She might have had 'em
   addressed to A. Z., or the like of that, at any of the
   Post-offices as was distant, as nobody could give the
   notice to 'em all. Barring the money, which I know ain't
   an object when the end is so desirable, it don't do to be
   too ubiketous, because things will go astray. But I've
   kept my eye uncommon open, and I don't think there have
   been no letters since that last which was sent, Mr.
   Trewilyan, let any of 'em, parsons, or what not, say what
   they will. And I don't see as parsons are better than
   other folk when they has to do with a lady as likes her
   fancy-man.


Trevelyan, when he had read as far as this, threw down the letter and
tore his hair in despair. "My wife," he exclaimed, "Oh, my wife!" But
it was essential that he should read Bozzle's letter, and he
persevered.


   Well; I took to the ground myself as soon as ever I heard
   that the Colonel was among us, and I hung out at the Full
   Moon. They had been quite on the square with me at the
   Full Moon, which I mention, because, of course, it has
   to be remembered, and it do come up as a hitem. And I'm
   proud, Mr. Trewilyan, as I did take to the ground myself;
   for what should happen but I see the Colonel as large as
   life ringing at the parson's bell at 1.47 p.m. He was let
   in at 1.49, and he was let out at 2.17. He went away in a
   cab which it was kept, and I followed him till he was put
   down at the Arcade, and I left him having his 'ed washed
   and greased at Trufitt's rooms, half-way up. It was a
   wonder to me when I see this, Mr. Trewilyan, as he didn't
   have his 'ed done first, as they most of 'em does when
   they're going to see their ladies; but I couldn't make
   nothing of that, though I did try to put too and too
   together, as I always does.

   What he did at the parson's, Mr. Trewilyan, I won't
   say I saw, and I won't say I know. It's my opinion the
   young woman there isn't on the square, though she's
   been remembered too, and is a hitem of course. And, Mr.
   Trewilyan, it do go against the grain with me when they're
   remembered and ain't on the square. I doesn't expect too
   much of Human Nature, which is poor, as the saying goes;
   but when they're remembered and ain't on the square after
   that, it's too bad for Human Nature. It's more than poor.
   It's what I calls beggarly.

   He ain't been there since, Mr. Trewilyan, and he goes out
   of town to-morrow by the 1.15 p.m. express to Bridport. So
   he lets on; but of course I shall see to that. That he's
   been at St. Diddulph's, in the house from 1.47 to 2.17,
   you may take as a fact. There won't be no shaking of that,
   because I have it in my mem. book, and no Counsel can get
   the better of it. Of course he went there to see her, and
   it's my belief he did. The young woman as was remembered
   says he didn't, but she isn't on the square. They never is
   when a lady wants to see her gentleman, though they comes
   round afterwards, and tells up everything when it comes
   before his ordinary lordship.

   If you ask me, Mr. Trewilyan, I don't think it's ripe yet
   for the court, but we'll have it ripe before long. I'll
   keep a look-out, because it's just possible she may leave
   town. If she do, I'll be down upon them together, and no
   mistake.

   Yours most respectful,

   S. BOZZLE.


Every word in the letter had been a dagger to Trevelyan, and yet he
felt himself to be under an obligation to the man who had written
it. No one else would or could make facts known to him. If she were
innocent, let him know that she were innocent, and he would proclaim
her innocence, and believe in her innocence,--and sacrifice himself
to her innocence, if such sacrifice were necessary. But if she were
guilty, let him also know that. He knew how bad it was, all that
bribing of postmen and maidservants, who took his money, and her
money also, very likely. It was dirt, all of it. But who had put him
into the dirt? His wife had, at least, deceived him,--had deceived
him and disobeyed him, and it was necessary that he should know the
facts. Life without a Bozzle would now have been to him a perfect
blank.

The Colonel had been to the parsonage at St. Diddulph's, and had
been admitted! As to that he had no doubt. Nor did he really doubt
that his wife had seen the visitor. He had sent his wife first
into a remote village on Dartmoor, and there she had been visited
by her--lover! How was he to use any other word? Iago;--oh, Iago!
The pity of it, Iago! Then, when she had learned that this was
discovered, she had left the retreat in which he had placed
her,--without permission from him,--and had taken herself to
the house of a relative of hers. Here she was visited again by
her--lover! Oh, Iago; the pity of it, Iago! And then there had been
between them an almost constant correspondence. So much he had
ascertained as fact; but he did not for a moment believe that Bozzle
had learned all the facts. There might be correspondence, or even
visits, of which Bozzle could learn nothing. How could Bozzle know
where Mrs. Trevelyan was during all those hours which Colonel Osborne
passed in London? That which he knew, he knew absolutely, and on
that he could act; but there was, of course, much of which he knew
nothing. Gradually the truth would unveil itself, and then he would
act. He would tear that Colonel into fragments, and throw his wife
from him with all the ignominy which the law made possible to him.

But in the meantime he wrote a letter to Mr. Outhouse. Colonel
Osborne, after all that had been said, had been admitted at the
parsonage, and Trevelyan was determined to let the clergyman know
what he thought about it. The oftener he turned the matter in his
mind, as he walked slowly up and down the piazza of St. Mark, the
more absurd it appeared to him to doubt that his wife had seen the
man. Of course she had seen him. He walked there nearly the whole
night, thinking of it, and as he dragged himself off at last to his
inn, had almost come to have but one desire,--namely, that he should
find her out, that the evidence should be conclusive, that it should
be proved, and so brought to an end. Then he would destroy her, and
destroy that man,--and afterwards destroy himself, so bitter to him
would be his ignominy. He almost revelled in the idea of the tragedy
he would make. It was three o'clock before he was in his bedroom, and
then he wrote his letter to Mr. Outhouse before he took himself to
his bed. It was as follows:--


   Venice, Oct. 4, 186--.

   SIR,

   Information of a certain kind, on which I can place a
   firm reliance, has reached me, to the effect that Colonel
   Osborne has been allowed to visit at your house during
   the sojourn of my wife under your roof. I will thank you
   to inform me whether this be true; as, although I am
   confident of my facts, it is necessary, in reference to my
   ulterior conduct, that I should have from you either an
   admission or a denial of my assertion. It is of course
   open to you to leave my letter unanswered. Should you
   think proper to do so, I shall know also how to deal with
   that fact.

   As to your conduct in admitting Colonel Osborne into your
   house while my wife is there,--after all that has passed,
   and all that you know that has passed,--I am quite unable
   to speak with anything like moderation of feeling. Had the
   man succeeded in forcing himself into your residence, you
   should have been the first to give me notice of it. As it
   is, I have been driven to ascertain the fact from other
   sources. I think that you have betrayed the trust that a
   husband has placed in you, and that you will find from the
   public voice that you will be regarded as having disgraced
   yourself as a clergyman.

   In reference to my wife herself, I would wish her to know,
   that after what has now taken place, I shall not feel
   myself justified in leaving our child longer in her hands,
   even tender as are his years. I shall take steps for
   having him removed. What further I shall do to vindicate
   myself, and extricate myself as far as may be possible
   from the slough of despond in which I have been submerged,
   she and you will learn in due time.

   Your obedient servant,

   L. TREVELYAN.

   A letter addressed "poste restante, Venice," will reach me
   here.


If Trevelyan was mad when he wrote this letter, Mr. Outhouse was
very nearly as mad when he read it. He had most strongly desired
to have nothing to do with his wife's niece when she was separated
from her husband. He was a man honest, charitable, and sufficiently
affectionate; but he was timid, and disposed to think ill of those
whose modes of life were strange to him. Actuated by these feelings,
he would have declined to offer the hospitality of his roof to Mrs.
Trevelyan, had any choice been left to him. But there had been no
choice. She had come thither unasked, with her boy and baggage, and
he could not send her away. His wife had told him that it was his
duty to protect these women till their father came, and he recognised
the truth of what his wife said. There they were, and there they must
remain throughout the winter. It was hard upon him,--especially as
the difficulties and embarrassments as to money were so disagreeable
to him;--but there was no help for it. His duty must be done though
it were ever so painful. Then that horrid Colonel had come. And now
had come this letter, in which he was not only accused of being an
accomplice between his married niece and her lover, but was also
assured that he should be held up to public ignominy and disgrace.
Though he had often declared that Trevelyan was mad, he would not
remember that now. Such a letter as he had received should have been
treated by him as the production of a madman. But he was not sane
enough himself to see the matter in that light. He gnashed his teeth,
and clenched his fist, and was almost beside himself as he read the
letter a second time.

There had been a method in Trevelyan's madness; for though he had
declared to himself that without doubt Bozzle had been right in
saying that as the Colonel had been at the parsonage, therefore, as a
certainty, Mrs. Trevelyan had met the Colonel there, yet he had not
so stated in his letter. He had merely asserted that Colonel Osborne
had been at the house, and had founded his accusation upon that
alleged fact. The alleged fact had been in truth a fact. So far
Bozzle had been right. The Colonel had been at the parsonage; and the
reader knows how far Mr. Outhouse had been to blame for his share
in the matter! He rushed off to his wife with the letter, declaring
at first that Mrs. Trevelyan, Nora, and the child, and the servant,
should be sent out of the house at once. But at last Mrs. Outhouse
succeeded in showing him that he would not be justified in ill-using
them because Trevelyan had ill-used him. "But I will write to him,"
said Mr. Outhouse. "He shall know what I think about it." And he did
write his letter that day, in spite of his wife's entreaties that
he would allow the sun to set upon his wrath. And his letter was as
follows:--


   St. Diddulph's, October 8, 186--.

   SIR,

   I have received your letter of the 4th, which is more
   iniquitous, unjust, and ungrateful, than anything I ever
   before saw written. I have been surprised from the first
   at your gross cruelty to your unoffending wife; but even
   that seems to me more intelligible than your conduct in
   writing such words as those which you have dared to send
   to me.

   For your wife's sake, knowing that she is in a great
   degree still in your power, I will condescend to tell
   you what has happened. When Mrs. Trevelyan found herself
   constrained to leave Nuncombe Putney by your aspersions
   on her character, she came here, to the protection of her
   nearest relatives within reach, till her father and mother
   should be in England. Sorely against my will I received
   them into my home, because they had been deprived of other
   shelter by the cruelty or madness of him who should have
   been their guardian. Here they are, and here they shall
   remain till Sir Marmaduke Rowley arrives. The other day,
   on the 29th of September, Colonel Osborne, who is their
   father's old friend, called, not on them, but on me. I may
   truly say that I did not wish to see Colonel Osborne. They
   did not see him, nor did he ask to see them. If his coming
   was a fault,--and I think it was a fault,--they were
   not implicated in it. He came, remained a few minutes,
   and went without seeing any one but myself. That is the
   history of Colonel Osborne's visit to my house.

   I have not thought fit to show your letter to your wife,
   or to make her acquainted with this further proof of your
   want of reason. As to the threats which you hold out
   of removing her child from her, you can of course do
   nothing except by law. I do not think that even you will
   be sufficiently audacious to take any steps of that
   description. Whatever protection the law may give her
   and her child from your tyranny and misconduct cannot be
   obtained till her father shall be here.

   I have only further to request that you will not address
   any further communication to me. Should you do so, it will
   be refused.

   Yours in deep indignation,

   OLIPHANT OUTHOUSE.


Trevelyan had also written two other letters to England, one to Mr.
Bideawhile and the other to Bozzle. In the former he acquainted the
lawyer that he had discovered that his wife still maintained her
intercourse with Colonel Osborne, and that he must therefore remove
his child from her custody. He then inquired what steps would be
necessary to enable him to obtain possession of his little boy.
In the letter to Bozzle he sent a cheque, and his thanks for the
ex-policeman's watchful care. He desired Bozzle to continue his
precautions, and explained his intentions about his son. Being
somewhat afraid that Mr. Bideawhile might not be zealous on his
behalf, and not himself understanding accurately the extent of his
power with regard to his own child, or the means whereby he might
exercise it, he was anxious to obtain assistance from Bozzle also on
this point. He had no doubt that Bozzle knew all about it. He had
great confidence in Bozzle. But still he did not like to consult the
ex-policeman. He knew that it became him to have some regard for his
own dignity. He therefore put the matter very astutely to Bozzle,
asking no questions, but alluding to his difficulty in a way that
would enable Bozzle to offer advice.

And where was he to get a woman to take charge of his child? If Lady
Milborough would do it, how great would be the comfort! But he was
almost sure that Lady Milborough would not do it. All his friends had
turned against him, and Lady Milborough among the number. There was
nobody left to him, but Bozzle. Could he entrust Bozzle to find some
woman for him who would take adequate charge of the little fellow,
till he himself could see to the child's education? He did not put
this question to Bozzle in plain terms; but he was very astute, and
wrote in such a fashion that Bozzle could make a proposal, if any
proposal were within his power.

The answer from Mr. Outhouse came first. To this Mr. Trevelyan paid
very little attention. It was just what he expected. Of course Mr.
Outhouse's assurance about Colonel Osborne went for nothing. A man
who would permit intercourse in his house between a married lady and
her lover would not scruple to deny that he had permitted it. Then
came Mr. Bideawhile's answer, which was very short. Mr. Bideawhile
said that nothing could be done about the child till Mr. Trevelyan
should return to England;--and that he could give no opinion as to
what should be done then till he knew more of the circumstances. It
was quite clear to Trevelyan that he must employ some other lawyer.
Mr. Bideawhile had probably been corrupted by Colonel Osborne. Could
Bozzle recommend a lawyer?

From Bozzle himself there came no other immediate reply than, "his
duty, and that he would make further inquiries."



CHAPTER XLVI.

THE AMERICAN MINISTER.


In the second week in October, Mr. Glascock returned to Florence,
intending to remain there till the weather should have become
bearable at Naples. His father was said to be better, but was in
such a condition as hardly to receive much comfort from his son's
presence. His mind was gone, and he knew no one but his nurse; and,
though Mr. Glascock was unwilling to put himself altogether out of
the reach of returning at a day's notice, he did not find himself
obliged to remain in Naples during the heat of the autumn. So Mr.
Glascock returned to the hotel at Florence, accompanied by the tall
man who wore the buttons. The hotel-keeper did not allow such a light
to remain long hidden under a bushel, and it was soon spread far and
wide that the Honourable Charles Glascock and his suite were again in
the beautiful city.

And the fact was soon known to the American Minister and his family.
Mr. Spalding was a man who at home had been very hostile to English
interests. Many American gentlemen are known for such hostility. They
make anti-English speeches about the country, as though they thought
that war with England would produce certain triumph to the States,
certain increase to American trade, and certain downfall to a tyranny
which no Anglo-Saxon nation ought to endure. But such is hardly their
real opinion. There, in the States, as also here in England, you
shall from day to day hear men propounding, in very loud language,
advanced theories of political action, the assertion of which
is supposed to be necessary to the end which they have in view.
Men whom we know to have been as mild as sucking doves in the
political aspiration of their whole lives, suddenly jump up,
and with infuriated gestures declare themselves the enemies
of everything existing. When they have attained their little
purpose,--or have failed to do so,--they revert naturally into their
sucking-dove elements. It is so with Americans as frequently as
with ourselves,--and there is no political subject on which it is
considered more expedient to express pseudo-enthusiasm than on that
of the sins of England. It is understood that we do not resent it.
It is presumed that we regard it as the Irishman regarded his wife's
cuffs. In the States a large party, which consists chiefly of those
who have lately left English rule, and who are keen to prove to
themselves how wise they have been in doing so, is pleased by this
strong language against England; and, therefore, the strong language
is spoken. But the speakers, who are, probably, men knowing something
of the world, mean it not at all; they have no more idea of war with
England than they have of war with all Europe; and their respect for
England and for English opinion is unbounded. In their political
tones of speech and modes of action they strive to be as English as
possible. Mr. Spalding's aspirations were of this nature. He had
uttered speeches against England which would make the hair stand on
end on the head of an uninitiated English reader. He had told his
countrymen that Englishmen hugged their chains, and would do so until
American hammers had knocked those chains from off their wounded
wrists and bleeding ankles. He had declared that, if certain American
claims were not satisfied, there was nothing left for Americans to do
but to cross the ferry with such a sheriff's officer as would be able
to make distraint on the great English household. He had declared
that the sheriff's officer would have very little trouble. He had
spoken of Canada as an outlying American territory, not yet quite
sufficiently redeemed from savage life to be received into the Union
as a State. There is a multiplicity of subjects of this kind ready
to the hand of the American orator. Mr. Spalding had been quite
successful, and was now Minister at Florence; but, perhaps, one of
the greatest pleasures coming to him from his prosperity was the
enjoyment of the society of well-bred Englishmen, in the capital to
which he had been sent. When, therefore, his wife and nieces pointed
out to him the fact that it was manifestly his duty to call upon Mr.
Glascock after what had passed between them on that night under the
Campanile, he did not rebel for an instant against the order given
to him. His mind never reverted for a moment to that opinion which
had gained for him such a round of applause, when expressed on the
platform of the Temperance Hall at Nubbly Creek, State of Illinois,
to the effect that the English aristocrat, thorough-born and
thorough-bred, who inherited acres and titles from his father, could
never be fitting company for a thoughtful Christian American citizen.
He at once had his hat brushed, and took up his best gloves and
umbrella, and went off to Mr. Glascock's hotel. He was strictly
enjoined by the ladies to fix a day on which Mr. Glascock would come
and dine at the American embassy.

"'C. G.' has come back to see you," said Olivia to her elder sister.
They had always called him "C. G." since the initials had been seen
on the travelling bag.

"Probably," said Carry. "There is so very little else to bring people
to Florence, that there can hardly be any other reason for his
coming. They do say it's terribly hot at Naples just now; but that
can have had nothing to do with it."

"We shall see," said Livy. "I'm sure he's in love with you. He looked
to me just like a proper sort of lover for you, when I saw his long
legs creeping up over our heads into the banquette."

"You ought to have been very much obliged to his long legs;--so sick
as you were at the time."

"I like him amazingly," said Livy, "legs and all. I only hope Uncle
Jonas won't bore him, so as to prevent his coming."

"His father is very ill," said Carry, "and I don't suppose we shall
see him at all."

But the American Minister was successful. He found Mr. Glascock
sitting in his dressing-gown, smoking a cigar, and reading a
newspaper. The English aristocrat seemed very glad to see his
visitor, and assumed no airs at all. The American altogether forgot
his speech at Nubbly Creek, and found the aristocrat's society to
be very pleasant. He lit a cigar, and they talked about Naples,
Rome, and Florence. Mr. Spalding, when the marbles of old Rome were
mentioned, was a little too keen in insisting on the merits of Story,
Miss Hosmer, and Hiram Powers, and hardly carried his listener with
him in the parallel which he drew between Greenough and Phidias; and
he was somewhat repressed by the apathetic curtness of Mr. Glascock's
reply, when he suggested that the victory gained by the gunboats at
Vicksburg, on the Mississippi, was vividly brought to his mind by
an account which he had just been reading of the battle of Actium;
but he succeeded in inducing Mr. Glascock to accept an invitation to
dinner for the next day but one, and the two gentlemen parted on the
most amicable terms.

Everybody meets everybody in Florence every day. Carry and Livy
Spalding had met Mr. Glascock twice before the dinner at their
uncle's house, so that they met at dinner quite as intimate friends.
Mrs. Spalding had very large rooms, up three flights of stairs, on
the Lungarno. The height of her abode was attributed by Mrs. Spalding
to her dread of mosquitoes. She had not yet learned that people in
Florence require no excuse for being asked to walk up three flights
of stairs. The rooms, when they were reached, were very lofty,
floored with what seemed to be marble, and were of a nature almost to
warrant Mrs. Spalding in feeling that nature had made her more akin
to an Italian countess than to a matron of Nubbly Creek, State of
Illinois, where Mr. Spalding had found her and made her his own.
There was one other Englishman present, Mr. Harris Hyde Granville
Gore, from the Foreign Office, now serving temporarily at the English
Legation in Florence; and an American, Mr. Jackson Unthank, a man of
wealth and taste, who was resolved on having such a collection of
pictures at his house in Baltimore that no English private collection
should in any way come near to it; and a Tuscan, from the Italian
Foreign Office, to whom nobody could speak except Mr. Harris Hyde
Granville Gore,--who did not indeed seem to enjoy the efforts of
conversation which were expected of him. The Italian, who had a
handle to his name,--he was a Count Buonarosci,--took Mrs. Spalding
in to dinner. Mrs. Spalding had been at great trouble to ascertain
whether this was proper, or whether she should not entrust herself
to Mr. Glascock. There were different points to be considered in
the matter. She did not quite know whether she was in Italy or in
America. She had glimmerings on the subject of her privilege to carry
her own nationality into her own drawing-room. And then she was
called upon to deal between an Italian Count with an elder brother,
and an English Honourable, who had no such incumbrance. Which of the
two was possessed of the higher rank? "I've found it all out, Aunt
Mary," said Livy. "You must take the Count." For Livy wanted to give
her sister every chance. "How have you found it out?" said the aunt.
"You may be sure it is so," said Livy. And the lady in her doubt
yielded the point. Mrs. Spalding, as she walked along the passage on
the Count's arm, determined that she would learn Italian. She would
have given all Nubbly Creek to have been able to speak a word to
Count Buonarosci. To do her justice, it must be admitted that she had
studied a few words. But her courage failed her, and she could not
speak them. She was very careful, however, that Mr. H. H. G. Gore was
placed in the chair next to the Count.

"We are very glad to see you here," said Mr. Spalding, addressing
himself especially to Mr. Glascock, as he stood up at his own seat at
the round table. "In leaving my own country, sir, there is nothing
that I value more than the privilege of becoming acquainted with
those whose historic names and existing positions are of such
inestimable value to the world at large." In saying this, Mr.
Spalding was not in the least insincere, nor did his conscience at
all prick him in reference to that speech at Nubbly Creek. On both
occasions he half thought as he spoke,--or thought that he thought
so. Unless it be on subjects especially endeared to us the thoughts
of but few of us go much beyond this.

Mr. Glascock, who sat between Mrs. Spalding and her niece, was soon
asked by the elder lady whether he had been in the States. No; he
had not been in the States. "Then you must come, Mr. Glascock," said
Mrs. Spalding, "though I will not say, dwelling as we now are in the
metropolis of the world of art, that we in our own homes have as much
of the outer beauty of form to charm the stranger as is to be found
in other lands. Yet I think that the busy lives of men, and the
varied institutions of a free country, must always have an interest
peculiarly their own." Mr. Glascock declared that he quite agreed
with her, and expressed a hope that he might some day find himself in
New York.

"You wouldn't like it at all," said Carry; "because you are an
aristocrat. I don't mean that it would be your fault."

"Why should that prevent my liking it,--even if I were an
aristocrat?"

"One half of the people would run after you, and the other half would
run away from you," said Carry.

"Then I'd take to the people who ran after me, and would not regard
the others."

"That's all very well,--but you wouldn't like it. And then you would
become unfair to what you saw. When some of our speechifying people
talked to you about our institutions through their noses, you would
think that the institutions themselves must be bad. And we have
nothing to show except our institutions."

"What are American institutions?" asked Mr. Glascock.

"Everything is an institution. Having iced water to drink in every
room of the house is an institution. Having hospitals in every town
is an institution. Travelling altogether in one class of railway
cars is an institution. Saying sir, is an institution. Teaching all
the children mathematics is an institution. Plenty of food is an
institution. Getting drunk is an institution in a great many towns.
Lecturing is an institution. There are plenty of them, and some are
very good;--but you wouldn't like it."

"At any rate, I'll go and see," said Mr. Glascock.

"If you do, I hope we may be at home," said Miss Spalding.

Mr. Spalding, in the mean time, with the assistance of his
countryman, the man of taste, was endeavouring to explain a certain
point in American politics to the Count. As, in doing this, they
called upon Mr. Gore to translate every speech they made into
Italian, and as Mr. Gore had never offered his services as an
interpreter, and as the Italian did not quite catch the subtle
meanings of the Americans in Mr. Gore's Tuscan version, and did not
in the least wish to understand the things that were explained to
him, Mr. Gore and the Italian began to think that the two Americans
were bores. "The truth is, Mr. Spalding," said Mr. Gore, "I've got
such a cold in my head, that I don't think I can explain it any
more." Then Livy Spalding laughed aloud, and the two American
gentlemen began to eat their dinner. "It sounds ridiculous, don't
it?" said Mr. Gore, in a whisper.

"I ought not to have laughed, I know," said Livy.

"The very best thing you could have done. I shan't be troubled any
more now. The fact is, I know just nine words of Italian. Now there
is a difficulty in having to explain the whole theory of American
politics to an Italian, who doesn't want to know anything about it,
with so very small a repertory of words at one's command."

"How well you did it!"

"Too well. I felt that. So well that, unless I had stopped it, I
shouldn't have been able to say a word to you all through dinner.
Your laughter clenched it, and Buonarosci and I will be grateful to
you for ever."

After the ladies went there was rather a bad half hour for Mr.
Glascock. He was button-holed by the minister, and found it
oppressive before he was enabled to escape into the drawing-room.
"Mr. Glascock," said the minister, "an English gentleman, sir,
like you, who has the privilege of an hereditary seat in your
parliament,"--Mr. Glascock was not quite sure whether he were being
accused of having an hereditary seat in the House of Commons, but he
would not stop to correct any possible error on that point,--"and who
has been born to all the gifts of fortune, rank, and social eminence,
should never think that his education is complete till he has visited
our great cities in the west." Mr. Glascock hinted that he by no
means conceived his education to be complete; but the minister went
on without attending to this. "Till you have seen, sir, what men
can do who are placed upon the earth with all God's gifts of free
intelligence, free air, and a free soil, but without any of those
other good things which we are accustomed to call the gifts of
fortune, you can never become aware of the infinite ingenuity of
man." There had been much said before, but just at this moment Mr.
Gore and the American left the room, and the Italian followed them
briskly. Mr. Glascock at once made a decided attempt to bolt; but the
minister was on the alert, and was too quick for him. And he was by
no means ashamed of what he was doing. He had got his guest by the
coat, and openly declared his intention of holding him. "Let me keep
you for a few minutes, sir," said he, "while I dilate on this point
in one direction. In the drawing-room female spells are too potent
for us male orators. In going among us, Mr. Glascock, you must not
look for luxury or refinement, for you will find them not. Nor must
you hope to encounter the highest order of erudition. The lofty
summits of acquired knowledge tower in your country with an altitude
we have not reached yet."

"It's very good of you to say so," said Mr. Glascock.

"No, sir. In our new country and in our new cities we still lack the
luxurious perfection of fastidious civilisation. But, sir, regard our
level. That is what I say to every unprejudiced Britisher that comes
among us; look at our level. And when you have looked at our level,
I think that you will confess that we live on the highest table-land
that the world has yet afforded to mankind. You follow my meaning,
Mr. Glascock?" Mr. Glascock was not sure that he did, but the
minister went on to make that meaning clear. "It is the multitude
that with us is educated. Go into their houses, sir, and see how they
thumb their books. Look at the domestic correspondence of our helps
and servants, and see how they write and spell. We haven't got the
mountains, sir, but our table-lands are the highest on which the
bright sun of our Almighty God has as yet shone with its illuminating
splendour in this improving world of ours! It is because we are a
young people, sir,--with nothing as yet near to us of the decrepitude
of age. The weakness of age, sir, is the penalty paid by the folly of
youth. We are not so wise, sir, but what we too shall suffer from its
effects as years roll over our heads." There was a great deal more,
but at last Mr. Glascock did escape into the drawing-room.

"My uncle has been saying a few words to you perhaps," said Carry
Spalding.

"Yes; he has," said Mr. Glascock.

"He usually does," said Carry Spalding.



CHAPTER XLVII.

ABOUT FISHING, AND NAVIGATION, AND HEAD-DRESSES.


   [Illustration]

The feud between Miss Stanbury and Mr. Gibson raged violently in
Exeter, and produced many complications which were very difficult
indeed of management. Each belligerent party felt that a special
injury had been inflicted upon it. Mr. Gibson was quite sure that he
had been grossly misused by Miss Stanbury the elder, and strongly
suspected that Miss Stanbury the younger had had a hand in this
misconduct. It had been positively asserted to him,--at least so he
thought, but in this was probably in error,--that the lady would
accept him if he proposed to her. All Exeter had been made aware of
the intended compact. He, indeed, had denied its existence to Miss
French, comforting himself, as best he might, with the reflection
that all is fair in love and war; but when he counted over his
injuries he did not think of this denial. All Exeter, so to say, had
known of it. And yet, when he had come with his proposal, he had been
refused without a moment's consideration, first by the aunt, and then
by the niece;--and, after that, had been violently abused, and at
last turned out of the house! Surely, no gentleman had ever before
been subjected to ill-usage so violent! But Miss Stanbury the elder
was quite as assured that the injury had been done to her. As to the
matter of the compact itself, she knew very well that she had been as
true as steel. She had done everything in her power to bring about
the marriage. She had been generous in her offers of money. She had
used all her powers of persuasion on Dorothy, and she had given
every opportunity to Mr. Gibson. It was not her fault if he had not
been able to avail himself of the good things which she had put in
his way. He had first been, as she thought, ignorant and arrogant,
fancying that the good things ought to be made his own without any
trouble on his part;--and then awkward, not knowing how to take the
trouble when trouble was necessary. And as to that matter of abusive
language and turning out of the house, Miss Stanbury was quite
convinced that she was sinned against, and not herself the sinner.
She declared to Martha, more than once, that Mr. Gibson had used such
language to her that, coming out of a clergyman's mouth, it had quite
dismayed her. Martha, who knew her mistress, probably felt that Mr.
Gibson had at least received as good as he gave; but she had made no
attempt to set her mistress right on that point.

But the cause of Miss Stanbury's sharpest anger was not to be found
in Mr. Gibson's conduct either before Dorothy's refusal of his offer,
or on the occasion of his being turned out of the house. A base
rumour was spread about the city that Dorothy Stanbury had been
offered to Mr. Gibson, that Mr. Gibson had civilly declined the
offer,--and that hence had arisen the wrath of the Juno of the Close.
Now this was not to be endured by Miss Stanbury. She had felt even
in the moment of her original anger against Mr. Gibson that she was
bound in honour not to tell the story against him. She had brought
him into the little difficulty, and she at least would hold her
tongue. She was quite sure that Dorothy would never boast of her
triumph. And Martha had been strictly cautioned,--as indeed, also,
had Brooke Burgess. The man had behaved like an idiot, Miss Stanbury
said; but he had been brought into a little dilemma, and nothing
should be said about it from the house in the Close. But when the
other rumour reached Miss Stanbury's ears, when Mrs. Crumbie condoled
with her on her niece's misfortune, when Mrs. MacHugh asked whether
Mr. Gibson had not behaved rather badly to the young lady, then our
Juno's celestial mind was filled with a divine anger. But even then
she did not declare the truth. She asked a question of Mrs. Crumbie,
and was enabled, as she thought, to trace the falsehood to the
Frenches. She did not think that Mr. Gibson could on a sudden have
become so base a liar. "Mr. Gibson fast and loose with my niece!" she
said to Mrs. MacHugh. "You have not got the story quite right, my
dear friend. Pray, believe me;--there has been nothing of that sort."
"I dare say not," said Mrs. MacHugh, "and I'm sure I don't care. Mr.
Gibson has been going to marry one of the French girls for the last
ten years, and I think he ought to make up his mind and do it at
last."

"I can assure you he is quite welcome as far as Dorothy is
concerned," said Miss Stanbury.

Without a doubt the opinion did prevail throughout Exeter that Mr.
Gibson, who had been regarded time out of mind as the property of
the Miss Frenches, had been angled for by the ladies in the Close,
that he had nearly been caught, but that he had slipped the hook
out of his mouth, and was now about to subside quietly into the net
which had been originally prepared for him. Arabella French had not
spoken loudly on the subject, but Camilla had declared in more than
one house that she had most direct authority for stating that the
gentleman had never dreamed of offering to the young lady. "Why he
should not do so if he pleases, I don't know," said Camilla. "Only
the fact is that he has not pleased. The rumour of course has reached
him, and, as we happen to be very old friends, we have authority for
denying it altogether." All this came round to Miss Stanbury, and she
was divine in her wrath.

"If they drive me to it," she said to Dorothy, "I'll have the whole
truth told by the bellman through the city, or I'll publish it in the
County Gazette."

"Pray don't say a word about it, Aunt Stanbury."

"It is those odious girls. He's there now every day."

"Why shouldn't he go there, Aunt Stanbury?"

"If he's fool enough, let him go. I don't care where he goes. But
I do care about these lies. They wouldn't dare to say it only they
think my mouth is closed. They've no honour themselves, but they
screen themselves behind mine."

"I'm sure they won't find themselves mistaken in what they trust to,"
said Dorothy, with a spirit that her aunt had not expected from her.
Miss Stanbury at this time had told nobody that the offer to her
niece had been made and repeated and finally rejected;--but she found
it very difficult to hold her tongue.

In the meantime Mr. Gibson spent a good deal of his time at
Heavitree. It should not perhaps be asserted broadly that he had made
up his mind that marriage would be good for him; but he had made up
his mind, at least, to this, that it was no longer to be postponed
without a balance of disadvantage. The Charybdis in the Close drove
him helpless into the whirlpool of the Heavitree Scylla. He had no
longer an escape from the perils of the latter shore. He had been so
mauled by the opposite waves, that he had neither spirit nor skill
left to him to keep in the middle track. He was almost daily at
Heavitree, and did not attempt to conceal from himself the approach
of his doom.

But still there were two of them. He knew that he must become a prey,
but was there any choice left to him as to which siren should have
him? He had been quite aware in his more gallant days, before he had
been knocked about on that Charybdis rock, that he might sip, and
taste, and choose between the sweets. He had come to think lately
that the younger young lady was the sweeter. Eight years ago indeed
the passages between him and the elder had been tender; but Camilla
had then been simply a romping girl, hardly more than a year or two
beyond her teens. Now, with her matured charms, Camilla was certainly
the more engaging as far as outward form went. Arabella's cheeks
were thin and long, and her front teeth had come to show themselves.
Her eyes were no doubt still bright, and what she had of hair was
soft and dark. But it was very thin in front, and what there was of
supplemental mass behind,--the bandbox by which Miss Stanbury was
so much aggrieved,--was worn with an indifference to the lines of
beauty, which Mr. Gibson himself found to be very depressing. A man
with a fair burden on his back is not a grievous sight; but when
we see a small human being attached to a bale of goods which he
can hardly manage to move, we feel that the poor fellow has been
cruelly overweighted. Mr. Gibson certainly had that sensation about
Arabella's chignon. And as he regarded it in a nearer and a dearer
light,--as a chignon that might possibly become his own, as a burden
which in one sense he might himself be called upon to bear, as a
domestic utensil which he himself might be called upon to inspect,
and perhaps to aid the shifting on and the shifting off, he did begin
to think that that side of the Scylla gulf ought to be avoided if
possible. And probably this propensity on his part, this feeling that
he would like to reconsider the matter dispassionately before he
gave himself up for good to his old love, may have been increased by
Camilla's apparent withdrawal of her claims. He felt mildly grateful
to the Heavitree household in general for accepting him in this time
of his affliction, but he could not admit to himself that they had a
right to decide upon him in private conclave, and allot him either to
the one or to the other nuptials without consultation with himself.
To be swallowed up by Scylla he now recognised as his doom; but he
thought he ought to be asked on which side of the gulf he would
prefer to go down. The way in which Camilla spoke of him as a thing
that wasn't hers, but another's; and the way in which Arabella looked
at him, as though he were hers and could never be another's, wounded
his manly pride. He had always understood that he might have his
choice, and he could not understand that the little mishap which had
befallen him in the Close was to rob him of that privilege.

He used to drink tea at Heavitree in those days. On one evening on
going in he found himself alone with Arabella. "Oh, Mr. Gibson," she
said, "we weren't sure whether you'd come. And mamma and Camilla have
gone out to Mrs. Camadge's." Mr. Gibson muttered some word to the
effect that he hoped he had kept nobody at home; and, as he did so,
he remembered that he had distinctly said that he would come on
this evening. "I don't know that I should have gone," said Arabella,
"because I am not quite,--not quite myself at present. No, not ill;
not at all. Don't you know what it is, Mr. Gibson, to be,--to be,--to
be,--not quite yourself?" Mr. Gibson said that he had very often felt
like that. "And one can't get over it;--can one?" continued Arabella.
"There comes a presentiment that something is going to happen, and
a kind of belief that something has happened, though you don't know
what; and the heart refuses to be light, and the spirit becomes
abashed, and the mind, though it creates new thoughts, will not
settle itself to its accustomed work. I suppose it's what the novels
have called Melancholy."

"I suppose it is," said Mr. Gibson. "But there's generally some cause
for it. Debt for instance--"

"It's nothing of that kind with me. It's no debt, at least, that can
be written down in the figures of ordinary arithmetic. Sit down, Mr.
Gibson, and we will have some tea." Then, as she stretched forward to
ring the bell, he thought that he never in his life had seen anything
so unshapely as that huge wen at the back of her head. "Monstrum
horrendum, informe, ingens!" He could not help quoting the words to
himself. She was dressed with some attempt at being smart, but her
ribbons were soiled, and her lace was tawdry, and the fabric of her
dress was old and dowdy. He was quite sure that he would feel no
pride in calling her Mrs. Gibson, no pleasure in having her all to
himself at his own hearth. "I hope we shall escape the bitterness of
Miss Stanbury's tongue if we drink tea tête-à-tête," she said, with
her sweetest smile.

"I don't suppose she'll know anything about it."

"She knows about everything, Mr. Gibson. It's astonishing what she
knows. She has eyes and ears everywhere. I shouldn't care, if she
didn't see and hear so very incorrectly. I'm told now that she
declares--; but it doesn't signify."

"Declares what?" asked Mr. Gibson.

"Never mind. But wasn't it odd how all Exeter believed that you were
going to be married in that house, and to live there all the rest of
your life, and be one of Miss Stanbury's slaves. I never believed
it, Mr. Gibson." This she said with a sad smile, that ought to have
brought him on his knees, in spite of the chignon.

"One can't help these things," said Mr. Gibson.

"I never could have believed it;--not even if you had not given me an
assurance so solemn, and so sweet, that there was nothing in it." The
poor man had given the assurance, and could not deny the solemnity
and the sweetness. "That was a happy moment for us, Mr. Gibson;
because, though we never believed it, when it was dinned into our
ears so frequently, when it was made such a triumph in the Close, it
was impossible not to fear that there might be something in it." He
felt that he ought to make some reply, but he did not know what to
say. He was thoroughly ashamed of the lie he had told, but he could
not untell it. "Camilla reproached me afterwards for asking you,"
whispered Arabella, in her softest, tenderest voice. "She said
that it was unmaidenly. I hope you did not think it unmaidenly, Mr.
Gibson?"

"Oh dear no;--not at all," said he.

Arabella French was painfully alive to the fact that she must do
something. She had her fish on the hook; but of what use is a fish
on your hook, if you cannot land him? When could she have a better
opportunity than this of landing the scaly darling out of the fresh
and free waters of his bachelor stream, and sousing him into the pool
of domestic life, to be ready there for her own household purposes?
"I had known you so long, Mr. Gibson," she said, "and had valued your
friendship so--so deeply." As he looked at her he could see nothing
but the shapeless excrescence to which his eyes had been so painfully
called by Miss Stanbury's satire. It is true that he had formerly
been very tender with her, but she had not then carried about with
her that distorted monster. He did not believe himself to be at all
bound by anything which had passed between them in circumstances
so very different. But yet he ought to say something. He ought to
have said something; but he said nothing. She was patient, however,
very patient; and she went on playing him with her hook. "I am so
glad that I did not go out to-night with mamma. It has been such a
pleasure to me to have this conversation with you. Camilla, perhaps,
would say that I am--unmaidenly."

"I don't think so."

"That is all that I care for, Mr. Gibson. If you acquit me, I do
not mind who accuses. I should not like to suppose that you thought
me unmaidenly. Anything would be better than that; but I can throw
all such considerations to the wind when true--true--friendship is
concerned. Don't you think that one ought, Mr. Gibson?"

If it had not been for the thing at the back of her head, he would
have done it now. Nothing but that gave him courage to abstain.
It grew bigger and bigger, more shapeless, monstrous, absurd, and
abominable, as he looked at it. Nothing should force upon him the
necessity of assisting to carry such an abortion through the world.
"One ought to sacrifice everything to friendship," said Mr. Gibson,
"except self-respect."

He meant nothing personal. Something special, in the way of an
opinion, was expected of him; and, therefore, he had striven to
say something special. But she was in tears in a moment. "Oh, Mr.
Gibson," she exclaimed; "oh, Mr. Gibson!"

"What is the matter, Miss French?"

"Have I lost your respect? Is it that that you mean?"

"Certainly not, Miss French."

"Do not call me Miss French, or I shall be sure that you condemn me.
Miss French sounds so very cold. You used to call me--Bella." That
was quite true; but it was long ago, thought Mr. Gibson,--before the
monster had been attached. "Will you not call me Bella now?"

He thought that he had rather not; and yet, how was he to avoid it?
On a sudden he became very crafty. Had it not been for the sharpness
of his mother wit, he would certainly have been landed at that
moment. "As you truly observed just now," he said, "the tongues
of people are so malignant. There are little birds that hear
everything."

"I don't care what the little birds hear," said Miss French, through
her tears. "I am a very unhappy girl;--I know that; and I don't care
what anybody says. It is nothing to me what anybody says. I know what
I feel." At this moment there was some dash of truth about her. The
fish was so very heavy on hand that, do what she would, she could
not land him. Her hopes before this had been very low,--hopes that
had once been high; but they had been depressed gradually; and, in
the slow, dull routine of her daily life, she had learned to bear
disappointment by degrees, without sign of outward suffering, without
consciousness of acute pain. The task of her life had been weary,
and the wished-for goal was ever becoming more and more distant;
but there had been still a chance, and she had fallen away into a
lethargy of lessening expectation, from which joy, indeed, had been
banished, but in which there had been nothing of agony. Then had
come upon the whole house at Heavitree the great Stanbury peril, and,
arising out of that, had sprung new hopes to Arabella, which made her
again capable of all the miseries of a foiled ambition. She could
again be patient, if patience might be of any service; but in such a
condition an eternity of patience is simply suicidal. She was willing
to work hard, but how could she work harder than she had worked. Poor
young woman,--perishing beneath an incubus which a false idea of
fashion had imposed on her!

"I hope I have said nothing that makes you unhappy," pleaded Mr.
Gibson. "I'm sure I haven't meant it."

"But you have," she said. "You make me very unhappy. You condemn me.
I see you do. And if I have done wrong it has been all because-- Oh
dear, oh dear, oh dear!"

"But who says you have done wrong?"

"You won't call me Bella,--because you say the little birds will hear
it. If I don't care for the little birds, why should you?"

There is no question more difficult than this for a gentleman to
answer. Circumstances do not often admit of its being asked by a lady
with that courageous simplicity which had come upon Miss French in
this moment of her agonising struggle; but nevertheless it is one
which, in a more complicated form, is often put, and to which some
reply, more or less complicated, is expected. "If I, a woman, can
dare, for your sake, to encounter the public tongue, will you, a man,
be afraid?" The true answer, if it could be given, would probably
be this; "I am afraid, though a man, because I have much to lose
and little to get. You are not afraid, though a woman, because you
have much to get and little to lose." But such an answer would be
uncivil, and is not often given. Therefore men shuffle and lie, and
tell themselves that in love,--love here being taken to mean all
antenuptial contests between man and woman,--everything is fair. Mr.
Gibson had the above answer in his mind, though he did not frame
it into words. He was neither sufficiently brave nor sufficiently
cruel to speak to her in such language. There was nothing for him,
therefore, but that he must shuffle and lie.

"I only meant," said he, "that I would not for worlds do anything to
make you uneasy."

She did not see how she could again revert to the subject of her own
Christian name. She had made her little tender, loving request, and
it had been refused. Of course she knew that it had been refused as a
matter of caution. She was not angry with him because of his caution,
as she had expected him to be cautious. The barriers over which
she had to climb were no more than she had expected to find in her
way;--but they were so very high and so very difficult! Of course she
was aware that he would escape if he could. She was not angry with
him on that account. Anger could not have helped her. Indeed, she did
not price herself highly enough to make her feel that she would be
justified in being angry. It was natural enough that he shouldn't
want her. She knew herself to be a poor, thin, vapid, tawdry
creature, with nothing to recommend her to any man except a sort
of second-rate, provincial-town fashion which,--infatuated as she
was,--she attributed in a great degree to the thing she carried on
her head. She knew nothing. She could do nothing. She possessed
nothing. She was not angry with him because he so evidently wished to
avoid her. But she thought that if she could only be successful she
would be good and loving and obedient,--and that it was fair for her
at any rate to try. Each created animal must live and get its food
by the gifts which the Creator has given to it, let those gifts be
as poor as they may,--let them be even as distasteful as they may to
other members of the great created family. The rat, the toad, the
slug, the flea, must each live according to its appointed mode of
existence. Animals which are parasites by nature can only live by
attaching themselves to life that is strong. To Arabella Mr. Gibson
would be strong enough, and it seemed to her that if she could fix
herself permanently upon his strength, that would be her proper
mode of living. She was not angry with him because he resisted
the attempt, but she had nothing of conscience to tell her that
she should spare him as long as there remained to her a chance of
success. And should not her plea of excuse, her justification be
admitted? There are tormentors as to which no man argues that they
are iniquitous, though they be very troublesome. He either rids
himself of them, or suffers as quiescently as he may.

"We used to be such--great--friends," she said, still crying, "and I
am afraid you don't like me a bit now."

"Indeed I do;--I have always liked you. But--"

"But what? Do tell me what the but means. I will do anything that you
bid me."

Then it occurred to him that if, after such a promise, he were to
confide to her his feeling that the chignon which she wore was ugly
and unbecoming, she would probably be induced to change her mode of
head-dress. It was a foolish idea, because, had he followed it out,
he would have seen that compliance on her part in such a matter could
only be given with the distinct understanding that a certain reward
should be the consequence. When an unmarried gentleman calls upon an
unmarried lady to change the fashion of her personal adornments, the
unmarried lady has a right to expect that the unmarried gentleman
means to make her his wife. But Mr. Gibson had no such meaning; and
was led into error by the necessity for sudden action. When she
offered to do anything that he might bid her do, he could not take up
his hat and go away. She looked up into his face, expecting that he
would give her some order;--and he fell into the temptation that was
spread for him.

"If I might say a word,--" he began.

"You may say anything," she exclaimed.

"If I were you I don't think--"

"You don't think what, Mr. Gibson?"

He found it to be a matter very difficult of approach. "Do you know,
I don't think the fashion that has come up about wearing your hair
quite suits you,--not so well as the way you used to do it." She
became on a sudden very red in the face, and he thought that she was
angry. Vexed she was, but still, accompanying her vexation, there
was a remembrance that she was achieving victory even by her own
humiliation. She loved her chignon; but she was ready to abandon even
that for him. Nevertheless she could not speak for a moment or two,
and he was forced to continue his criticism. "I have no doubt those
things are very becoming and all that, and I dare say they are
comfortable."

"Oh, very," she said.

"But there was a simplicity that I liked about the other."

Could it be then that for the last five years he had stood aloof from
her because she had arrayed herself in fashionable attire? She was
still very red in the face, still suffering from wounded vanity,
still conscious of that soreness which affects us all when we are
made to understand that we are considered to have failed there, where
we have most thought that we excelled. But her womanly art enabled
her quickly to conceal the pain. "I have made a promise," she said,
"and you will find that I will keep it."

"What promise?" asked Mr. Gibson.

"I said that I would do as you bade me, and so I will. I would have
done it sooner if I had known that you wished it. I would never have
worn it at all if I had thought that you disliked it."

"I think that a little of them is very nice," said Mr. Gibson. Mr.
Gibson was certainly an awkward man. But there are men so awkward
that it seems to be their especial province to say always the very
worst thing at the very worst moment.

She became redder than ever as she was thus told of the hugeness of
her favourite ornament. She was almost angry now. But she restrained
herself, thinking perhaps of how she might teach him taste in days to
come as he was teaching her now. "I will change it to-morrow," she
said with a smile. "You come and see to-morrow."

Upon this he got up and took his hat and made his escape, assuring
her that he would come and see her on the morrow. She let him go now
without any attempt at further tenderness. Certainly she had gained
much during the interview. He had as good as told her in what had
been her offence, and of course, when she had remedied that offence,
he could hardly refuse to return to her. She got up as soon as she
was alone, and looked at her head in the glass, and told herself that
the pity would be great. It was not that the chignon was in itself
a thing of beauty, but that it imparted so unmistakable an air of
fashion! It divested her of that dowdiness which she feared above
all things, and enabled her to hold her own among other young women,
without feeling that she was absolutely destitute of attraction.
There had been a certain homage paid to it, which she had recognised
and enjoyed. But it was her ambition to hold her own, not among
young women, but among clergymen's wives, and she would certainly
obey his orders. She could not make the attempt now because of the
complications; but she certainly would make it before she laid her
head on the pillow,--and would explain to Camilla that it was a
little joke between herself and Mr. Gibson.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

MR. GIBSON IS PUNISHED.


Miss Stanbury was divine in her wrath, and became more and more so
daily as new testimony reached her of dishonesty on the part of
the Frenches and of treachery on the part of Mr. Gibson. And these
people, so empty, so vain, so weak, were getting the better of her,
were conquering her, were robbing her of her prestige and her ancient
glory, simply because she herself was too generous to speak out and
tell the truth! There was a martyrdom to her in this which was almost
unendurable.

Now there came to her one day at luncheon time,--on the day
succeeding that on which Miss French had promised to sacrifice her
chignon,--a certain Mrs. Clifford from Budleigh Salterton, to whom
she was much attached. Perhaps the distance of Budleigh Salterton
from Exeter added somewhat to this affection, so that Mrs. Clifford
was almost closer to our friend's heart even than Mrs. MacHugh, who
lived just at the other end of the cathedral. And in truth Mrs.
Clifford was a woman more serious in her mode of thought than Mrs.
MacHugh, and one who had more in common with Miss Stanbury than that
other lady. Mrs. Clifford had been a Miss Noel of Doddiscombe Leigh,
and she and Miss Stanbury had been engaged to be married at the same
time,--each to a man of fortune. One match had been completed in the
ordinary course of matches. What had been the course of the other we
already know. But the friendship had been maintained on very close
terms. Mrs. MacHugh was a Gallio at heart, anxious chiefly to remove
from herself,--and from her friends also,--all the troubles of life,
and make things smooth and easy. She was one who disregarded great
questions; who cared little or nothing what people said of her; who
considered nothing worth the trouble of a fight;--Epicuri de grege
porca. But there was nothing swinish about Mrs. Clifford of Budleigh
Salterton. She took life thoroughly in earnest. She was a Tory who
sorrowed heartily for her country, believing that it was being
brought to ruin by the counsels of evil men. She prayed daily to
be delivered from dissenters, radicals, and wolves in sheep's
clothing,--by which latter bad name she meant especially a certain
leading politician of the day who had, with the cunning of the
devil, tempted and perverted the virtue of her own political friends.
And she was one who thought that the slightest breath of scandal
on a young woman's name should be stopped at once. An antique,
pure-minded, anxious, self-sacrificing matron was Mrs. Clifford, and
very dear to the heart of Miss Stanbury.

After lunch was over on the day in question Mrs. Clifford got Miss
Stanbury into some closet retirement, and there spoke her mind as
to the things which were being said. It had been asserted in her
presence by Camilla French that she, Camilla, was authorised by Mr.
Gibson to declare that he had never thought of proposing to Dorothy
Stanbury, and that Miss Stanbury had been "labouring under some
strange misapprehension in the matter." "Now, my dear, I don't care
very much for the young lady in question," said Mrs. Clifford,
alluding to Camilla French.

"Very little, indeed, I should think," said Miss Stanbury, with a
shake of her head.

"Quite true, my dear,--but that does not make the words out of her
mouth the less efficacious for evil. She clearly insinuated that you
had endeavoured to make up a match between this gentleman and your
niece, and that you had failed." So much was at least true. Miss
Stanbury felt this, and felt also that she could not explain the
truth, even to her dear old friend. In the midst of her divine wrath
she had acknowledged to herself that she had brought Mr. Gibson into
his difficulty, and that it would not become her to tell any one
of his failure. And in this matter she did not herself accuse Mr.
Gibson. She believed that the lie originated with Camilla French, and
it was against Camilla that her wrath raged the fiercest.

"She is a poor, mean, disappointed thing," said Miss Stanbury.

"Very probably;--but I think I should ask her to hold her tongue
about Miss Dorothy," said Mrs. Clifford.

The consultation in the closet was carried on for about half-an-hour,
and then Miss Stanbury put on her bonnet and shawl and descended into
Mrs. Clifford's carriage. The carriage took the Heavitree road, and
deposited Miss Stanbury at the door of Mrs. French's house. The walk
home from Heavitree would be nothing, and Mrs. Clifford proceeded on
her way, having given this little help in counsel and conveyance to
her friend. Mrs. French was at home, and Miss Stanbury was shown up
into the room in which the three ladies were sitting.


   [Illustration: Miss Stanbury visits the Frenches.]


The reader will doubtless remember the promise which Arabella had
made to Mr. Gibson. That promise she had already fulfilled,--to the
amazement of her mother and sister;--and when Miss Stanbury entered
the room the elder daughter of the family was seen without her
accustomed head-gear. If the truth is to be owned, Miss Stanbury gave
the poor young woman no credit for her new simplicity, but put down
the deficiency to the charge of domestic slatternliness. She was
unjust enough to declare afterwards that she had found Arabella
French only half dressed at between three and four o'clock in the
afternoon! From which this lesson may surely be learned,--that though
the way down Avernus may be, and customarily is, made with great
celerity, the return journey, if made at all, must be made slowly. A
young woman may commence in chignons by attaching any amount of an
edifice to her head; but the reduction should be made by degrees.
Arabella's edifice had, in Miss Stanbury's eyes, been the ugliest
thing in art that she had known; but, now, its absence offended her,
and she most untruly declared that she had come upon the young woman
in the middle of the day just out of her bed-room and almost in her
dressing-gown.

And the whole French family suffered a diminution of power from the
strange phantasy which had come upon Arabella. They all felt, in
sight of the enemy, that they had to a certain degree lowered their
flag. One of the ships, at least, had shown signs of striking,
and this element of weakness made itself felt through the whole
fleet. Arabella, herself, when she saw Miss Stanbury, was painfully
conscious of her head, and wished that she had postponed the
operation till the evening. She smiled with a faint watery smile, and
was aware that something ailed her.

The greetings at first were civil, but very formal, as are those
between nations which are nominally at peace, but which are waiting
for a sign at which each may spring at the other's throat. In this
instance the Juno from the Close had come quite prepared to declare
her casus belli as complete, and to fling down her gauntlet, unless
the enemy should at once yield to her everything demanded with an
abject submission. "Mrs. French," she said, "I have called to-day
for a particular purpose, and I must address myself chiefly to Miss
Camilla."

"Oh, certainly," said Mrs. French.

"I shall be delighted to hear anything from you, Miss Stanbury," said
Camilla,--not without an air of bravado. Arabella said nothing, but
she put her hand up almost convulsively to the back of her head.

"I have been told to-day by a friend of mine, Miss Camilla," began
Miss Stanbury, "that you declared yourself, in her presence,
authorised by Mr. Gibson to make a statement about my niece Dorothy."

"May I ask who was your friend?" demanded Mrs. French.

"It was Mrs. Clifford, of course," said Camilla. "There is nobody
else would try to make difficulties."

"There need be no difficulty at all, Miss Camilla," said Miss
Stanbury, "if you will promise me that you will not repeat the
statement. It can't be true."

"But it is true," said Camilla.

"What is true?" asked Miss Stanbury, surprised by the audacity of the
girl.

"It is true that Mr. Gibson authorised us to state what I did state
when Mrs. Clifford heard me."

"And what was that?"

"Only this,--that people had been saying all about Exeter that he
was going to be married to a young lady, and that as the report was
incorrect, and as he had never had the remotest idea in his mind of
making the young lady his wife,--" Camilla, as she said this, spoke
with a great deal of emphasis, putting forward her chin and shaking
her head,--"and as he thought it was uncomfortable both for the young
lady and for himself, and as there was nothing in it the least in the
world,--nothing at all, no glimmer of a foundation for the report, it
would be better to have it denied everywhere. That is what I said;
and we had authority from the gentleman himself. Arabella can say
the same, and so can mamma;--only mamma did not hear him." Nor had
Camilla heard him, but that incident she did not mention.

The circumstances were, in Miss Stanbury's judgment, becoming very
remarkable. She did not for a moment believe Camilla. She did not
believe that Mr. Gibson had given to either of the Frenches any
justification for the statement just made. But Camilla had been so
much more audacious than Miss Stanbury had expected, that that lady
was for a moment struck dumb. "I'm sure, Miss Stanbury," said Mrs.
French, "we don't want to give any offence to your niece,--very far
from it."

"My niece doesn't care about it two straws," said Miss Stanbury. "It
is I that care. And I care very much. The things that have been said
have been altogether false."

"How false, Miss Stanbury?" asked Camilla.

"Altogether false,--as false as they can be."

"Mr. Gibson must know his own mind," said Camilla.

"My dear, there's a little disappointment," said Miss French, "and it
don't signify."

"There's no disappointment at all," said Miss Stanbury, "and it does
signify very much. Now that I've begun, I'll go to the bottom of it.
If you say that Mr. Gibson told you to make these statements, I'll go
to Mr. Gibson. I'll have it out somehow."

"You may have what you like out for us, Miss Stanbury," said Camilla.

"I don't believe Mr. Gibson said anything of the kind."

"That's civil," said Camilla.

"But why shouldn't he?" asked Arabella.

"There were the reports, you know," said Mrs. French.

"And why shouldn't he deny them when there wasn't a word of truth
in them?" continued Camilla. "For my part I think the gentleman is
bound for the lady's sake to declare that there's nothing in it when
there is nothing in it." This was more than Miss Stanbury could bear.
Hitherto the enemy had seemed to have the best of it. Camilla was
firing broadside after broadside, as though she was assured of
victory. Even Mrs. French was becoming courageous; and Arabella was
forgetting the place where her chignon ought to have been. "I really
do not know what else there is for me to say," remarked Camilla, with
a toss of her head, and an air of impudence that almost drove poor
Miss Stanbury frantic.

It was on her tongue to declare the whole truth, but she refrained.
She had schooled herself on this subject vigorously. She would not
betray Mr. Gibson. Had she known all the truth,--or had she believed
Camilla French's version of the story,--there would have been no
betrayal. But looking at the matter with such knowledge as she had
at present, she did not even yet feel herself justified in declaring
that Mr. Gibson had offered his hand to her niece, and had been
refused. She was, however, sorely tempted. "Very well, ladies," she
said. "I shall now see Mr. Gibson, and ask him whether he did give
you authority to make such statements as you have been spreading
abroad everywhere." Then the door of the room was opened, and in a
moment Mr. Gibson was among them. He was true to his promise, and had
come to see Arabella with her altered head-dress;--but he had come
at this hour thinking that escape in the morning would be easier and
quicker than it might have been in the evening. His mind had been
full of Arabella and her head-dress even up to the moment of his
knocking at the door; but all that was driven out of his brain at
once when he saw Miss Stanbury.

"Here is Mr. Gibson himself," said Mrs. French.

"How do you do, Mr. Gibson?" said Miss Stanbury, with a very stately
courtesy. They had never met since the day on which he had been, as
he stated, turned out of Miss Stanbury's house. He now bowed to her;
but there was no friendly greeting, and the Frenches were able to
congratulate themselves on the apparent loyalty to themselves of
the gentleman who stood among them. "I have come here, Mr. Gibson,"
continued Miss Stanbury, "to put a small matter right in which you
are concerned."

"It seems to me to be the most insignificant thing in the world,"
said Camilla.

"Very likely," said Miss Stanbury. "But it is not insignificant
to me. Miss Camilla French has asserted publicly that you have
authorised her to make a statement about my niece Dorothy."

Mr. Gibson looked into Camilla's face doubtingly, inquisitively,
almost piteously. "You had better let her go on," said Camilla. "She
will make a great many mistakes, no doubt, but you had better let her
go on to the end."

"I have made no mistake as yet, Miss Camilla. She so asserted, Mr.
Gibson, in the hearing of a friend of mine, and she repeated the
assertion here in this room to me just before you came in. She says
that you have authorised her to declare that--that--that,--I had
better speak it out plainly at once."

"Much better," said Camilla.

"That you never entertained an idea of offering your hand to my
niece." Miss Stanbury paused, and Mr. Gibson's jaw fell visibly. But
he was not expected to speak as yet; and Miss Stanbury continued her
accusation. "Beyond that, I don't want to mention my niece's name, if
it can be avoided."

"But it can't be avoided," said Camilla.

"If you please, I will continue. Mr. Gibson will understand me.
I will not, if I can help it, mention my niece's name again, Mr.
Gibson. But I still have that confidence in you that I do not think
that you would have made such a statement in reference to yourself
and any young lady,--unless it were some young lady who had
absolutely thrown herself at your head." And in saying this she
paused, and looked very hard at Camilla.

"That's just what Dorothy Stanbury has been doing," said Camilla.

"She has been doing nothing of the kind, and you know she hasn't,"
said Miss Stanbury, raising her arm as though she were going to
strike her opponent. "But I am quite sure, Mr. Gibson, that you
never could have authorised these young ladies to make such an
assertion publicly on your behalf. Whatever there may have been of
misunderstanding between you and me, I can't believe that of you."
Then she paused for a reply. "If you will be good enough to set us
right on that point, I shall be obliged to you."

Mr. Gibson's position was one of great discomfort. He had given no
authority to any one to make such a statement. He had said nothing
about Dorothy Stanbury to Camilla; but he had told Arabella, when
hard pressed by that lady, that he did not mean to propose to
Dorothy. He could not satisfy Miss Stanbury because he feared
Arabella. He could not satisfy the Frenches because he feared Miss
Stanbury. "I really do not think," said he, "that we ought to talk
about a young lady in this way."

"That's my opinion, too," said Camilla; "but Miss Stanbury will."

"Exactly so. Miss Stanbury will," said that lady. "Mr. Gibson,
I insist upon it, that you tell me whether you did give any such
authority to Miss Camilla French, or to Miss French."

"I wouldn't answer her, if I were you," said Camilla.

"I really don't think this can do any good," said Mrs. French.

"And it is so very harassing to our nerves," said Arabella.

"Nerves! Pooh!" exclaimed Miss Stanbury. "Now, Mr. Gibson, I am
waiting for an answer."

"My dear Miss Stanbury, I really think it better,--the situation
is so peculiar, and, upon my word, I hardly know how not to give
offence, which I wouldn't do for the world."

"Do you mean to tell me that you won't answer my question?" demanded
Miss Stanbury.

"I really think that I had better hold my tongue," pleaded Mr.
Gibson.

"You are quite right, Mr. Gibson," said Camilla.

"Indeed, it is wisest," said Mrs. French.

"I don't see what else he can do," said Arabella.

Then was Miss Stanbury driven altogether beyond her powers of
endurance. "If that be so," said she, "I must speak out, though I
should have preferred to hold my tongue. Mr. Gibson did offer to my
niece the week before last,--twice, and was refused by her. My niece,
Dorothy, took it into her head that she did not like him; and, upon
my word, I think she was right. We should have said nothing about
this,--not a word; but when these false assertions are made on Mr.
Gibson's alleged authority, and Mr. Gibson won't deny it, I must
tell the truth." Then there was silence among them for a few seconds,
and Mr. Gibson struggled hard, but vainly, to clothe his face in
a pleasant smile. "Mr. Gibson, is that true?" said Miss Stanbury.
But Mr. Gibson made no reply. "It is as true as heaven," said Miss
Stanbury, striking her hand upon the table. "And now you had better,
all of you, hold your tongues about my niece, and she will hold her
tongue about you. And as for Mr. Gibson,--anybody who wants him
after this is welcome to him for us. Good-morning, Mrs. French;
good-morning, young ladies." And so she stalked out of the room, and
out of the house, and walked back to her house in the Close.

"Mamma," said Arabella, as soon as the enemy was gone, "I have got
such a headache that I think I will go up-stairs."

"And I will go with you, dear," said Camilla.

Mr. Gibson, before he left the house, confided his secret to the
maternal ears of Mrs. French. He certainly had been allured into
making an offer to Dorothy Stanbury, but was ready to atone for
this crime by marrying her daughter,--Camilla,--as soon as might
be convenient. He was certainly driven to make this declaration by
intense cowardice,--not to excuse himself, for in that there could
be no excuse;--but how else should he dare to suggest that he might
as well leave the house? "Shall I tell the dear girl?" asked Mrs.
French. But Mr. Gibson requested a fortnight, in which to consider
how the proposition had best be made.



CHAPTER XLIX.

MR. BROOKE BURGESS AFTER SUPPER.


Brooke Burgess was a clerk in the office of the Ecclesiastical
Commissioners in London, and as such had to do with things very
solemn, grave, and almost melancholy. He had to deal with the rents
of episcopal properties, to correspond with clerical claimants,
and to be at home with the circumstances of underpaid vicars and
perpetual curates with much less than £300 a-year; but yet he was
as jolly and pleasant at his desk as though he were busied about
the collection of the malt tax, or wrote his letters to admirals
and captains instead of to deans and prebendaries. Brooke Burgess
had risen to be a senior clerk, and was held in some respect in his
office; but it was not perhaps for the amount of work he did, nor yet
on account of the gravity of his demeanour, nor for the brilliancy of
his intellect. But if not clever, he was sensible; though he was not
a dragon of official virtue, he had a conscience;--and he possessed
those small but most valuable gifts by which a man becomes popular
among men. And thus it had come to pass in all those battles as to
competitive merit which had taken place in his as in other public
offices, that no one had ever dreamed of putting a junior over
the head of Brooke Burgess. He was tractable, easy, pleasant, and
therefore deservedly successful. All his brother clerks called him
Brooke,--except the young lads who, for the first year or two of
their service, still denominated him Mr. Burgess.

"Brooke," said one of his juniors, coming into his room and standing
before the fireplace with a cigar in his mouth, "have you heard who
is to be the new Commissioner?"

"Colenso, to be sure," said Brooke.

"What a lark that would be. And I don't see why he shouldn't. But it
isn't Colenso. The name has just come down."

"And who is it?"

"Old Proudie, from Barchester."

"Why, we had him here years ago, and he resigned."

"But he's to come on again now for a spell. It always seems to me
that the bishops ain't a bit of use here. They only get blown up, and
snubbed, and shoved into corners by the others."

"You young reprobate,--to talk of shoving an archbishop into a
corner."

"Well,--don't they? It's only for the name of it they have them.
There's the Bishop of Broomsgrove;--he's always sauntering about the
place, looking as though he'd be so much obliged if somebody would
give him something to do. He's always smiling, and so gracious,--just
as if he didn't feel above half sure that he had any right to be
where he is, and he thought that perhaps somebody was going to kick
him."

"And so old Proudie is coming up again," said Brooke. "It certainly
is very much the same to us whom they send. He'll get shoved into a
corner, as you call it,--only that he'll go into the corner without
any shoving." Then there came in a messenger with a card, and Brooke
learned that Hugh Stanbury was waiting for him in the strangers'
room. In performing the promise made to Dorothy, he had called upon
her brother as soon as he was back in London, but had not found him.
This now was the return visit.

"I thought I was sure to find you here," said Hugh.

"Pretty nearly sure from eleven till five," said Brooke. "A hard
stepmother like the Civil Service does not allow one much chance of
relief. I do get across to the club sometimes for a glass of sherry
and a biscuit,--but here I am now, at any rate; and I'm very glad
you have come." Then there was some talk between them about affairs
at Exeter; but as they were interrupted before half an hour was
over their heads by a summons brought for Burgess from one of
the secretaries, it was agreed that they should dine together at
Burgess's club on the following day. "We can manage a pretty good
beef-steak," said Brooke, "and have a fair glass of sherry. I don't
think you can get much more than that anywhere nowadays,--unless you
want a dinner for eight at three guineas a head. The magnificence of
men has become so intolerable now that one is driven to be humble in
one's self-defence." Stanbury assured his acquaintance that he was
anything but magnificent in his own ideas, that cold beef and beer
was his usual fare, and at last allowed the clerk to wait upon the
secretary.

"I wouldn't have any other fellow to meet you," said Brooke as they
sat at their dinners, "because in this way we can talk over the dear
old woman at Exeter. Yes, our fellow does make good soup, and it's
about all that he does do well. As for getting a potato properly
boiled, that's quite out of the question. Yes, it is a good glass
of sherry. I told you we'd a fairish tap of sherry on. Well, I was
there, backwards and forwards, for nearly six weeks."

"And how did you get on with the old woman?"

"Like a house on fire," said Brooke.

"She didn't quarrel with you?"

"No,--upon the whole she did not. I always felt that it was touch
and go. She might or she might not. Every now and then she looked at
me, and said a sharp word, as though it was about to come. But I had
determined when I went there altogether to disregard that kind of
thing."

"It's rather important to you,--is it not?"

"You mean about her money?"

"Of course, I mean about her money," said Stanbury.

"It is important;--and so it was to you."

"Not in the same degree, or nearly so. And as for me, it was not on
the cards that we shouldn't quarrel. I am so utterly a Bohemian in
all my ideas of life, and she is so absolutely the reverse, that not
to have quarrelled would have been hypocritical on my part or on
hers. She had got it into her head that she had a right to rule
my life; and, of course, she quarrelled with me when I made her
understand that she should do nothing of the kind. Now, she won't
want to rule you."

"I hope not."

"She has taken you up," continued Stanbury, "on altogether a
different understanding. You are to her the representative of a
family to whom she thinks she owes the restitution of the property
which she enjoys. I was simply a member of her own family, to which
she owes nothing. She thought it well to help one of us out of what
she regarded as her private purse, and she chose me. But the matter
is quite different with you."

"She might have given everything to you, as well as to me," said
Brooke.

"That's not her idea. She conceives herself bound to leave all she
has back to a Burgess, except anything she may save,--as she says,
off her own back, or out of her own belly. She has told me so a score
of times."

"And what did you say?"

"I always told her that, let her do as she would, I should never ask
any question about her will."

"But she hates us all like poison,--except me," said Brooke. "I never
knew people so absurdly hostile as are your aunt and my uncle Barty.
Each thinks the other the most wicked person in the world."

"I suppose your uncle was hard upon her once."

"Very likely. He is a hard man,--and has, very warmly, all the
feelings of an injured man. I suppose my uncle Brooke's will was a
cruel blow to him. He professes to believe that Miss Stanbury will
never leave me a shilling."

"He is wrong, then," said Stanbury.

"Oh yes;--he's wrong, because he thinks that that's her present
intention. I don't know that he's wrong as to the probable result."

"Who will have it, then?"

"There are ever so many horses in the race," said Brooke. "I'm one."

"You're the favourite," said Stanbury.

"For the moment I am. Then there's yourself."

"I've been scratched, and am altogether out of the betting."

"And your sister," continued Brooke.

"She's only entered to run for the second money; and, if she'll trot
over the course quietly, and not go the wrong side of the posts,
she'll win that."

"She may do more than that. Then there's Martha."

"My aunt will never leave her money to a servant. What she may give
to Martha would come from her own savings."

"The next is a dark horse, but one that wins a good many races of
this kind. He's apt to come in with a fatal rush at the end."

"Who is it?"

"The hospitals. When an old lady finds in her latter days that she
hates everybody, and fancies that the people around her are all
thinking of her money, she's uncommon likely to indulge herself in a
little bit of revenge, and solace herself with large-handed charity."

"But she's so good a woman at heart," said Hugh.

"And what can a good woman do better than promote hospitals?"

"She'll never do that. She's too strong. It's a maudlin sort of
thing, after all, for a person to leave everything to a hospital."

"But people are maudlin when they're dying," said Brooke,--"or even
when they think they're dying. How else did the Church get the
estates, of which we are now distributing so bountifully some of the
last remnants down at our office? Come into the next room, and we'll
have a smoke."

They had their smoke, and then they went at half-price to the play;
and, after the play was over, they eat three or four dozen of oysters
between them. Brooke Burgess was a little too old for oysters at
midnight in September; but he went through his work like a man. Hugh
Stanbury's powers were so great, that he could have got up and done
the same thing again, after he had been an hour in bed, without any
serious inconvenience.

But, in truth, Brooke Burgess had still another word or two to say
before he went to his rest. They supped somewhere near the Haymarket,
and then he offered to walk home with Stanbury, to his chambers in
Lincoln's Inn. "Do you know that Mr. Gibson at Exeter?" he asked, as
they passed through Leicester Square.

"Yes; I knew him. He was a sort of tame-cat parson at my aunt's
house, in my days."

"Exactly;--but I fancy that has come to an end now. Have you heard
anything about him lately?"

"Well;--yes I have," said Stanbury, feeling that dislike to speak
of his sister which is common to most brothers when in company with
other men.

"I suppose you've heard of it, and, as I was in the middle of it all,
of course I couldn't but know all about it too. Your aunt wanted him
to marry your sister."

"So I was told."

"But your sister didn't see it," said Brooke.

"So I understand," said Stanbury. "I believe my aunt was exceedingly
liberal, and meant to do the best she could for poor Dorothy; but, if
she didn't like him, I suppose she was right not to have him," said
Hugh.

"Of course she was right," said Brooke, with a good deal of
enthusiasm.

"I believe Gibson to be a very decent sort of fellow," said Stanbury.

"A mean, paltry dog," said Brooke. There had been a little
whisky-toddy after the oysters, and Mr. Burgess was perhaps moved to
a warmer expression of feeling than he might have displayed had he
discussed this branch of the subject before supper. "I knew from the
first that she would have nothing to say to him. He is such a poor
creature!"

"I always thought well of him," said Stanbury, "and was inclined to
think that Dolly might have done worse."

"It is hard to say what is the worst a girl might do; but I think she
might do, perhaps, a little better."

"What do you mean?" said Hugh.

"I think I shall go down, and ask her to take myself."

"Do you mean it in earnest?"

"I do," said Brooke. "Of course, I hadn't a chance when I was there.
She told me--"

"Who told you;--Dorothy?"

"No, your aunt;--she told me that Mr. Gibson was to marry your
sister. You know your aunt's way. She spoke of it as though the thing
were settled as soon as she had got it into her own head; and she was
as hot upon it as though Mr. Gibson had been an archbishop. I had
nothing to do then but to wait and see."

"I had no idea of Dolly being fought for by rivals."

"Brothers never think much of their sisters," said Brooke Burgess.

"I can assure you I think a great deal of Dorothy," said Hugh. "I
believe her to be as sweet a woman as God ever made. She hardly knows
that she has a self belonging to herself."

"I am sure she doesn't," said Brooke.

"She is a dear, loving, sweet-tempered creature, who is only too
ready to yield in all things."

"But she wouldn't yield about Gibson," said Brooke.

"How did she and my aunt manage?"

"Your sister simply said she couldn't,--and then that she wouldn't. I
never thought from the first moment that she'd take that fellow. In
the first place he can't say boo to a goose."

"But Dolly wouldn't want a man to say--boo."

"I'm not so sure of that, old fellow. At any rate I mean to try
myself. Now,--what'll the old woman say?"

"She'll be pleased as Punch, I should think," said Stanbury.

"Either that;--or else she'll swear that she'll never speak another
word to either of us. However, I shall go on with it."

"Does Dorothy know anything of this?" asked Stanbury.

"Not a word," said Brooke. "I came away a day or so after Gibson was
settled; and as I had been talked to all through the affair by both
of them, I couldn't turn round and offer myself the moment he was
gone. You won't object;--will you?"

"Who; I?" said Stanbury. "I shall have no objection as long as Dolly
pleases herself. Of course you know that we haven't as much as a
brass farthing among us?"

"That won't matter if the old lady takes it kindly," said Brooke.
Then they parted, at the corner of Lincoln's Inn Fields, and Hugh as
he went up to his own rooms, reflected with something of wonderment
on the success of Dorothy's charms. She had always been the poor one
of the family, the chick out of the nest which would most require
assistance from the stronger birds; but it now appeared that she
would become the first among all the Stanburys. Wealth had first
flowed down upon the Stanbury family from the will of old Brooke
Burgess; and it now seemed probable that poor Dolly would ultimately
have the enjoyment of it all.



CHAPTER L.

CAMILLA TRIUMPHANT.


   [Illustration]

It was now New Year's day, and there was some grief and perhaps more
excitement in Exeter,--for it was rumoured that Miss Stanbury lay
very ill at her house in the Close. But in order that our somewhat
uneven story may run as smoothly as it may be made to do, the little
history of the French family for the intervening months shall be told
in this chapter, in order that it may be understood how matters were
with them when the tidings of Miss Stanbury's severe illness first
reached their house at Heavitree.

After that terrible scene in which Miss Stanbury had so dreadfully
confounded Mr. Gibson by declaring the manner in which he had been
rebuffed by Dorothy, the unfortunate clergyman had endeavoured to
make his peace with the French family by assuring the mother that in
very truth it was the dearest wish of his heart to make her daughter
Camilla his wife. Mrs. French, who had ever been disposed to favour
Arabella's ambition, well knowing its priority and ancient right,
and who of late had been taught to consider that even Camilla had
consented to waive any claim that she might have once possessed,
could not refrain from the expression of some surprise. That he
should be recovered at all out of the Stanbury clutches was very
much to Mrs. French,--was so much that, had time been given her for
consideration, she would have acknowledged to herself readily that
the property had best be secured at once to the family, without
incurring that amount of risk which must unquestionably attend any
attempt on her part to direct Mr. Gibson's purpose hither or thither.
But the proposition came so suddenly that time was not allowed to her
to be altogether wise. "I thought it was poor Bella," she said, with
something of a piteous whine in her voice. At the moment Mr. Gibson
was so humble, that he was half inclined to give way even on that
head. He felt himself to have been brought so low in the market by
that terrible story of Miss Stanbury's,--which he had been unable
either to contradict or to explain,--that there was but little power
of fighting left in him. He was, however, just able to speak a word
for himself, and that sufficed. "I hope there has been no mistake,"
he said; "but really it is Camilla that has my heart." Mrs. French
made no rejoinder to this. It was so much to her to know that Mr.
Gibson's heart was among them at all after what had occurred in
the Close, that she acknowledged to herself after that moment of
reflection that Arabella must be sacrificed for the good of the
family interests. Poor, dear, loving, misguided, and spiritless
mother! She would have given the blood out of her bosom to get
husbands for her daughters, though it was not of her own experience
that she had learned that of all worldly goods a husband is the best.
But it was the possession which they had from their earliest years
thought of acquiring, which they first expected, for which they had
then hoped, and afterwards worked and schemed and striven with every
energy,--and as to which they had at last almost despaired. And now
Arabella's fire had been rekindled with a new spark, which, alas,
was to be quenched so suddenly! "And am I to tell them?" asked
Mrs. French, with a tremor in her voice. To this, however, Mr.
Gibson demurred. He said that for certain reasons he should like a
fortnight's grace; and that at the end of the fortnight he would
be prepared to speak. The interval was granted without further
questions, and Mr. Gibson was allowed to leave the house.

After that Mrs. French was not very comfortable at home. As soon as
Mr. Gibson had departed, Camilla at once returned to her mother and
desired to know what had taken place. Was it true that the perjured
man had proposed to that young woman in the Close? Mrs. French was
not clever at keeping a secret, and she could not keep this by her
own aid. She told all that happened to Camilla, and between them
they agreed that Arabella should be kept in ignorance till the fatal
fortnight should have passed. When Camilla was interrogated as to
her own purpose, she said she should like a day to think of it. She
took the twenty-four hours, and then made the following confession
of her passion to her mother. "You see, mamma, I always liked Mr.
Gibson,--always."

"So did Arabella, my dear,--before you thought of such things."

"I dare say that may be true, mamma; but that is not my fault. He
came here among us on such sweetly intimate terms that the feeling
grew up with me before I knew what it meant. As to any idea of
cutting out Arabella, my conscience is quite clear. If I thought
there had been anything really between them I would have gone
anywhere,--to the top of a mountain,--rather than rob my sister of a
heart that belonged to her."

"He has been so slow about it," said Mrs. French.

"I don't know about that," said Camilla. "Gentlemen have to be
slow, I suppose, when they think of their incomes. He only got St.
Peter's-cum-Pumpkin three years ago, and didn't know for the first
year whether he could hold that and the minor canonry together. Of
course a gentleman has to think of these things before he comes
forward."

"My dear, he has been very backward."

"If I'm to be Mrs. Gibson, mamma, I beg that I mayn't hear anything
said against him. Then there came all this about that young woman;
and when I saw that Arabella took on so,--which I must say was very
absurd,--I'm sure I put myself out of the way entirely. If I'd buried
myself under the ground I couldn't have done it more. And it's my
belief that what I've said, all for Arabella's sake, has put the old
woman into such a rage that it has made a quarrel between him and the
niece; otherwise that wouldn't be off. I don't believe a word of her
refusing him, and never shall. Is it in the course of things, mamma?"
Mrs. French shook her head. "Of course not. Then when you question
him,--very properly,--he says that he's devoted to--poor me. If I was
to refuse him, he wouldn't put up with Bella."

"I suppose not," said Mrs. French.

"He hates Bella. I've known it all along, though I wouldn't say
so. If I were to sacrifice myself ever so it wouldn't be of any
good,--and I shan't do it." In this way the matter was arranged.

At the end of the fortnight, however, Mr. Gibson did not come,--nor
at the end of three weeks. Inquiries had of course been made, and it
was ascertained that he had gone into Cornwall for a parson's holiday
of thirteen days. That might be all very well. A man might want the
recruiting vigour of some change of air after such scenes as those
Mr. Gibson had gone through with the Stanburys, and before his
proposed encounter with new perils. And he was a man so tied by the
leg that his escape could not be for any long time. He was back
on the appointed Sunday, and on the Wednesday Mrs. French, under
Camilla's instruction, wrote to him a pretty little note. He replied
that he would be with her on the Saturday. It would then be nearly
four weeks after the great day with Miss Stanbury, but no one would
be inclined to quarrel with so short a delay as that. Arabella in the
meantime had become fidgety and unhappy. She seemed to understand
that something was expected, being quite unable to guess what that
something might be. She was true throughout these days to the
simplicity of head-gear which Mr. Gibson had recommended to her,
and seemed in her questions to her mother and to Camilla to be more
fearful of Dorothy Stanbury than of any other enemy. "Mamma, I think
you ought to tell her," said Camilla more than once. But she had not
been told when Mr. Gibson came on the Saturday. It may truly be said
that the poor mother's pleasure in the prospects of one daughter was
altogether destroyed by the anticipation of the other daughter's
misery. Had Mr. Gibson made Dorothy Stanbury his wife they could
have all comforted themselves together by the heat of their joint
animosity.

He came on the Saturday, and it was so managed that he was closeted
with Camilla before Arabella knew that he was in the house. There
was a quarter of an hour during which his work was easy, and perhaps
pleasant. When he began to explain his intention, Camilla, with the
utmost frankness, informed him that her mother had told her all about
it. Then she turned her face on one side and put her hand in his; he
got his arm round her waist, gave her a kiss, and the thing was done.
Camilla was fully resolved that after such a betrothal it should not
be undone. She had behaved with sisterly forbearance, and would not
now lose the reward of virtue. Not a word was said of Arabella at
this interview till he was pressed to come and drink tea with them
all that night. He hesitated a moment; and then Camilla declared,
with something perhaps of imperious roughness in her manner, that he
had better face it all at once. "Mamma will tell her, and she will
understand," said Camilla. He hesitated again, but at last promised
that he would come.

Whilst he was yet in the house Mrs. French had told the whole story
to her poor elder daughter. "What is he doing with Camilla?" Arabella
had asked with feverish excitement.

"Bella, darling;--don't you know?" said the mother.

"I know nothing. Everybody keeps me in the dark, and I am badly used.
What is it that he is doing?" Then Mrs. French tried to take the
poor young woman in her arms, but Arabella would not submit to be
embraced. "Don't!" she exclaimed. "Leave me alone. Nobody likes me,
or cares a bit about me! Why is Cammy with him there, all alone?"

"I suppose he is asking her--to be--his wife." Then Arabella threw
herself in despair upon the bed, and wept without any further attempt
at control over her feelings. It was a death-blow to her last hope,
and all the world, as she looked upon the world then, was over for
her. "If I could have arranged it the other way, you know that I
would," said the mother.

"Mamma," said Arabella, jumping up, "he shan't do it. He hasn't a
right. And as for her,-- Oh, that she should treat me in this way!
Didn't he tell me the other night, when he drank tea here with me
alone--"

"What did he tell you, Bella?"

"Never mind. Nothing shall ever make me speak to him again;--not if
he married her three times over; nor to her. She is a nasty, sly,
good-for-nothing thing!"

"But, Bella--"

"Don't talk to me, mamma. There never was such a thing done before
since people--were--people at all. She has been doing it all the
time. I know she has."

Nevertheless Arabella did sit down to tea with the two lovers that
night. There was a terrible scene between her and Camilla; but
Camilla held her own; and Arabella, being the weaker of the two, was
vanquished by the expenditure of her own small energies. Camilla
argued that as her sister's chance was gone, and as the prize had
come in her own way, there was no good reason why it should be lost
to the family altogether, because Arabella could not win it. When
Arabella called her a treacherous vixen and a heartless, profligate
hussy, she spoke out freely, and said that she wasn't going to be
abused. A gentleman to whom she was attached had asked her for her
hand, and she had given it. If Arabella chose to make herself a fool
she might,--but what would be the effect? Simply that all the world
would know that she, Arabella, was disappointed. Poor Bella at last
gave way, put on her discarded chignon, and came down to tea. Mr.
Gibson was already in the room when she entered it. "Arabella," he
said, getting up to greet her, "I hope you will congratulate me."
He had planned his little speech and his manner of making it, and
had wisely decided that in this way might he best get over the
difficulty.

"Oh yes;--of course," she said, with a little giggle, and then a sob,
and then a flood of tears.

"Dear Bella feels these things so strongly," said Mrs. French.

"We have never been parted yet," said Camilla. Then Arabella tapped
the head of the sofa three or four times sharply with her knuckles.
It was the only protest against the reading of the scene which
Camilla had given of which she was capable at that moment. After that
Mrs. French gave out the tea, Arabella curled herself upon the sofa
as though she were asleep, and the two lovers settled down to proper
lover-like conversation.

The reader may be sure that Camilla was not slow in making the fact
of her engagement notorious through the city. It was not probably
true that the tidings of her success had anything to do with Miss
Stanbury's illness; but it was reported by many that such was the
case. It was in November that the arrangement was made, and it
certainly was true that Miss Stanbury was rather ill about the same
time. "You know, you naughty Lothario, that you did give her some
ground to hope that she might dispose of her unfortunate niece," said
Camilla playfully to her own one, when this illness was discussed
between them. "But you are caught now, and your wings are clipped,
and you are never to be a naughty Lothario again." The clerical
Don Juan bore it all, awkwardly indeed, but with good humour, and
declared that all his troubles of that sort were over, now and for
ever. Nevertheless he did not name the day, and Camilla began to feel
that there might be occasion for a little more of that imperious
roughness which she had at her command.

November was nearly over and nothing had been fixed about the day.
Arabella never condescended to speak to her sister on the subject;
but on more than one occasion made some inquiry of her mother. And
she came to perceive, or to think that she perceived, that her mother
was still anxious on the subject. "I shouldn't wonder if he wasn't
off some day now," she said at last to her mother.

"Don't say anything so dreadful, Bella."

"It would serve Cammy quite right, and it's just what he's likely to
do."

"It would kill me," said the mother.

"I don't know about killing," said Arabella; "it's nothing to what
I've had to go through. I shouldn't pretend to be sorry if he were to
go to Hong-Kong to-morrow."

But Mr. Gibson had no idea of going to Hong-Kong. He was simply
carrying out his little scheme for securing the advantages of a "long
day." He was fully resolved to be married, and was contented to think
that his engagement was the best thing for him. To one or two male
friends he spoke of Camilla as the perfection of female virtue, and
entertained no smallest idea of ultimate escape. But a "long day" is
often a convenience. A bill at three months sits easier on a man than
one at sixty days; and a bill at six months is almost as little of a
burden as no bill at all.

But Camilla was resolved that some day should be fixed. "Thomas," she
said to her lover one morning, as they were walking home together
after service at the cathedral, "isn't this rather a fool's Paradise
of ours?"

"How a fool's Paradise?" asked the happy Thomas.

"What I mean is, dearest, that we ought to fix something. Mamma is
getting uneasy about her own plans."

"In what way, dearest?"

"About a thousand things. She can't arrange anything till our plans
are made. Of course there are little troubles about money when people
ain't rich." Then it occurred to her that this might seem to be a
plea for postponing rather than for hurrying the marriage, and she
mended her argument. "The truth is, Thomas, she wants to know when
the day is to be fixed, and I've promised to ask. She said she'd ask
you herself, but I wouldn't let her do that."

"We must think about it, of course," said Thomas.

"But, my dear, there has been plenty of time for thinking. What do
you say to January?" This was on the last day of November.

"January!" exclaimed Thomas, in a tone that betrayed no triumph. "I
couldn't get my services arranged for in January."

"I thought a clergyman could always manage that for his marriage,"
said Camilla.

"Not in January. Besides, I was thinking you would like to be away in
warmer weather."

They were still in November, and he was thinking of postponing it
till the summer! Camilla immediately perceived how necessary it was
that she should be plain with him. "We shall not have warm weather,
as you call it, for a very long time, Thomas;--and I don't think that
it would be wise to wait for the weather at all. Indeed, I've begun
to get my things for doing it in the winter. Mamma said that she was
sure January would be the very latest. And it isn't as though we had
to get furniture or anything of that kind. Of course a lady shouldn't
be pressing." She smiled sweetly and leaned on his arm as she said
this. "But I hate all girlish nonsense and that kind of thing. It is
such a bore to be kept waiting. I'm sure there's nothing to prevent
it coming off in February."

The 31st of March was fixed before they reached Heavitree, and
Camilla went into her mother's house a happy woman. But Mr. Gibson,
as he went home, thought that he had been hardly used. Here was a
girl who hadn't a shilling of money,--not a shilling till her mother
died,--and who already talked about his house, and his furniture,
and his income, as if it were all her own! Circumstanced as she was,
what right had she to press for an early day? He was quite sure that
Arabella would have been more discreet and less exacting. He was very
angry with his dear Cammy as he went across the Close to his house.



CHAPTER LI.

SHEWING WHAT HAPPENED DURING MISS STANBURY'S ILLNESS.


It was on Christmas-day that Sir Peter Mancrudy, the highest
authority on such matters in the west of England, was sent for to see
Miss Stanbury; and Sir Peter had acknowledged that things were very
serious. He took Dorothy on one side, and told her that Mr. Martin,
the ordinary practitioner, had treated the case, no doubt, quite
wisely throughout; that there was not a word to be said against
Mr. Martin, whose experience was great, and whose discretion was
undeniable; but, nevertheless,--at least it seemed to Dorothy that
this was the only meaning to be attributed to Sir Peter's words,--Mr.
Martin had in this case taken one line of treatment, when he ought
to have taken another. The plan of action was undoubtedly changed,
and Mr. Martin became very fidgety, and ordered nothing without Sir
Peter's sanction. Miss Stanbury was suffering from bronchitis, and a
complication of diseases about her throat and chest. Barty Burgess
declared to more than one acquaintance in the little parlour behind
the bank, that she would go on drinking four or five glasses of
new port wine every day, in direct opposition to Martin's request.
Camilla French heard the report, and repeated it to her lover, and
perhaps another person or two, with an expression of her assured
conviction that it must be false,--at any rate, as regarded the
fifth glass. Mrs. MacHugh, who saw Martha daily, was much frightened.
The peril of such a friend disturbed equally the repose and the
pleasures of her life. Mrs. Clifford was often at Miss Stanbury's
bed-side,--and would have sat there reading for hours together,
had she not been made to understand by Martha that Miss Stanbury
preferred that Miss Dorothy should read to her. The sick woman
received the Sacrament weekly,--not from Mr. Gibson, but from the
hands of another minor canon; and, though she never would admit her
own danger, or allow others to talk to her of it, it was known to
them all that she admitted it to herself because she had, with much
personal annoyance, caused a codicil to be added to her will. "As
you didn't marry that man," she said to Dorothy, "I must change it
again." It was in vain that Dorothy begged her not to trouble herself
with such thoughts. "That's trash," said Miss Stanbury, angrily. "A
person who has it is bound to trouble himself about it. You don't
suppose I'm afraid of dying;--do you?" she added. Dorothy answered
her with some commonplace,--declaring how strongly they all expected
to see her as well as ever. "I'm not a bit afraid to die," said the
old woman, wheezing, struggling with such voice as she possessed;
"I'm not afraid of it, and I don't think I shall die this time; but
I'm not going to have mistakes when I'm gone." This was on the eve
of the new year, and on the same night she asked Dorothy to write to
Brooke Burgess, and request him to come to Exeter. This was Dorothy's
letter:--


   Exeter, 31st December, 186--.

   MY DEAR MR. BURGESS,

   Perhaps I ought to have written before, to say that Aunt
   Stanbury is not as well as we could wish her; but, as I
   know that you cannot very well leave your office, I have
   thought it best not to say anything to frighten you. But
   to-night Aunt herself has desired me to tell you that she
   thinks you ought to know that she is ill, and that she
   wishes you to come to Exeter for a day or two, if it is
   possible. Sir Peter Mancrudy has been here every day
   since Christmas-day, and I believe he thinks she may get
   over it. It is chiefly in the throat;--what they call
   bronchitis,--and she has got to be very weak with it, and
   at the same time very liable to inflammation. So I know
   that you will come if you can.

   Yours very truly,

   DOROTHY STANBURY.

   Perhaps I ought to tell you that she had her lawyer here
   with her the day before yesterday; but she does not seem
   to think that she herself is in danger. I read to her a
   good deal, and I think she is generally asleep; when I
   stop she wakes, and I don't believe she gets any other
   rest at all.


When it was known in Exeter that Brooke Burgess had been sent for,
then the opinion became general that Miss Stanbury's days were
numbered. Questions were asked of Sir Peter at every corner of the
street; but Sir Peter was a discreet man, who could answer such
questions without giving any information. If it so pleased God, his
patient would die; but it was quite possible that she might live.
That was the tenor of Sir Peter's replies,--and they were read in any
light, according to the idiosyncracies of the reader. Mrs. MacHugh
was quite sure that the danger was over, and had a little game of
cribbage on the sly with old Miss Wright;--for, during the severity
of Miss Stanbury's illness, whist was put on one side in the vicinity
of the Close. Barty Burgess was still obdurate, and shook his head.
He was of opinion that they might soon gratify their curiosity, and
see the last crowning iniquity of this wickedest of old women. Mrs.
Clifford declared that it was all in the hands of God; but that
she saw no reason why Miss Stanbury should not get about again. Mr.
Gibson thought that it was all up with his late friend; and Camilla
wished that at their last interview there had been more of charity
on the part of one whom she had regarded in past days with respect
and esteem. Mrs. French, despondent about everything, was quite
despondent in this case. Martha almost despaired, and already was
burdened with the cares of a whole wardrobe of solemn funereal
clothing. She was seen peering in for half-an-hour at the windows and
doorway of a large warehouse for the sale of mourning. Giles Hickbody
would not speak above his breath, and took his beer standing; but
Dorothy was hopeful, and really believed that her aunt would recover.
Perhaps Sir Peter had spoken to her in terms less oracular than those
which he used towards the public.

Brooke Burgess came, and had an interview with Sir Peter, and to
him Sir Peter was under some obligation to speak plainly, as being
the person whom Miss Stanbury recognised as her heir. So Sir Peter
declared that his patient might perhaps live, and perhaps might die.
"The truth is, Mr. Burgess," said Sir Peter, "a doctor doesn't know
so very much more about these things than other people." It was
understood that Brooke was to remain three days in Exeter, and then
return to London. He would, of course, come again if--if anything
should happen. Sir Peter had been quite clear in his opinion, that no
immediate result was to be anticipated,--either in the one direction
or the other. His patient was doomed to a long illness; she might get
over it, or she might succumb to it.

Dorothy and Brooke were thus thrown much together during these three
days. Dorothy, indeed, spent most of her hours beside her aunt's bed,
instigating sleep by the reading of a certain series of sermons in
which Miss Stanbury had great faith; but nevertheless, there were
some minutes in which she and Brooke were necessarily together. They
eat their meals in each other's company, and there was a period in
the evening, before Dorothy began her night-watch in her aunt's room,
at which she took her tea while Martha was nurse in the room above.
At this time of the day she would remain an hour or more with Brooke;
and a great deal may be said between a man and a woman in an hour
when the will to say it is there. Brooke Burgess had by no means
changed his mind since he had declared it to Hugh Stanbury under the
midnight lamps of Long Acre, when warmed by the influence of oysters
and whisky toddy. The whisky toddy had in that instance brought out
truth and not falsehood,--as is ever the nature of whisky toddy and
similar dangerous provocatives. There is no saying truer than that
which declares that there is truth in wine. Wine is a dangerous
thing, and should not be made the exponent of truth, let the truth
be good as it may; but it has the merit of forcing a man to show his
true colours. A man who is a gentleman in his cups may be trusted to
be a gentleman at all times. I trust that the severe censor will not
turn upon me, and tell me that no gentleman in these days is ever to
be seen in his cups. There are cups of different degrees of depth;
and cups do exist, even among gentlemen, and seem disposed to hold
their own let the censor be ever so severe. The gentleman in his cups
is a gentleman always; and the man who tells his friend in his cups
that he is in love, does so because the fact has been very present
to himself in his cooler and calmer moments. Brooke Burgess, who
had seen Hugh Stanbury on two or three occasions since that of the
oysters and toddy, had not spoken again of his regard for Hugh's
sister; but not the less was he determined to carry out his plan and
make Dorothy his wife if she would accept him. But could he ask her
while the old lady was, as it might be, dying in the house? He put
this question to himself as he travelled down to Exeter, and had told
himself that he must be guided for an answer by circumstances as
they might occur. Hugh had met him at the station as he started for
Exeter, and there had been a consultation between them as to the
propriety of bringing about, or of attempting to bring about, an
interview between Hugh and his aunt. "Do whatever you like," Hugh had
said. "I would go down to her at a moment's warning, if she should
express a desire to see me."

On the first night of Brooke's arrival this question had been
discussed between him and Dorothy. Dorothy had declared herself
unable to give advice. If any message were given to her she would
deliver it to her aunt, but she thought that anything said to her
aunt on the subject had better come from Brooke himself. "You
evidently are the person most important to her," Dorothy said, "and
she would listen to you when she would not let any one else say a
word." Brooke promised that he would think of it; and then Dorothy
tripped up to relieve Martha, dreaming nothing at all of that other
doubt to which the important personage downstairs was now subject.
Dorothy was, in truth, very fond of the new friend she had made; but
it had never occurred to her that he might be a possible suitor to
her. Her old conception of herself,--that she was beneath the notice
of any man,--had only been partly disturbed by the absolute fact of
Mr. Gibson's courtship. She had now heard of his engagement with
Camilla French, and saw in that complete proof that the foolish man
had been induced to offer his hand to her by the promise of her
aunt's money. If there had been a moment of exaltation,--a period in
which she had allowed herself to think that she was, as other women,
capable of making herself dear to a man,--it had been but a moment.
And now she rejoiced greatly that she had not acceded to the wishes
of one to whom it was so manifest that she had not made herself in
the least dear.

On the second day of his visit, Brooke was summoned to Miss
Stanbury's room at noon. She was forbidden to talk, and during a
great portion of the day could hardly speak without an effort; but
there would be half hours now and again in which she would become
stronger than usual, at which time nothing that Martha and Dorothy
could say would induce her to hold her tongue. When Brooke came to
her on this occasion he found her sitting up in bed with a great
shawl round her; and he at once perceived she was much more like her
own self than on the former day. She told him that she had been an
old fool for sending for him, that she had nothing special to say
to him, that she had made no alteration in her will in regard to
him,--"except that I have done something for Dolly that will have to
come out of your pocket, Brooke." Brooke declared that too much could
not be done for a person so good, and dear, and excellent as Dorothy
Stanbury, let it come out of whose pocket it might. "She is nothing
to you, you know," said Miss Stanbury.

"She is a great deal to me," said Brooke.

"What is she?" asked Miss Stanbury.

"Oh;--a friend; a great friend."

"Well; yes. I hope it may be so. But she won't have anything that
I haven't saved," said Miss Stanbury. "There are two houses at St.
Thomas's; but I bought them myself, Brooke;--out of the income."
Brooke could only declare that as the whole property was hers, to do
what she liked with it as completely as though she had inherited it
from her own father, no one could have any right to ask questions
as to when or how this or that portion of the property had accrued.
"But I don't think I'm going to die yet, Brooke," she said. "If it is
God's will, I am ready. Not that I'm fit, Brooke. God forbid that I
should ever think that. But I doubt whether I shall ever be fitter. I
can go without repining if He thinks best to take me." Then he stood
up by her bedside, with his hand upon hers, and after some hesitation
asked her whether she would wish to see her nephew Hugh. "No," said
she, sharply. Brooke went on to say how pleased Hugh would have been
to come to her. "I don't think much of death-bed reconciliations,"
said the old woman, grimly. "I loved him dearly, but he didn't love
me, and I don't know what good we should do each other." Brooke
declared that Hugh did love her; but he could not press the matter,
and it was dropped.

On that evening at eight Dorothy came down to her tea. She had dined
at the same table with Brooke that afternoon, but a servant had been
in the room all the time and nothing had been said between them. As
soon as Brooke had got his tea he began to tell the story of his
failure about Hugh. He was sorry, he said, that he had spoken on the
subject, as it had moved Miss Stanbury to an acrimony which he had
not expected.

"She always declares that he never loved her," said Dorothy. "She has
told me so twenty times."

"There are people who fancy that nobody cares for them," said Brooke.

"Indeed there are, Mr. Burgess; and it is so natural."

"Why natural?"

"Just as it is natural that there should be dogs and cats that are
petted and loved and made much of, and others that have to crawl
through life as they can, cuffed and kicked and starved."

"That depends on the accident of possession," said Brooke.

"So does the other. How many people there are that don't seem to
belong to anybody,--and if they do, they're no good to anybody.
They're not cuffed exactly, or starved; but--"

"You mean that they don't get their share of affection?"

"They get perhaps as much as they deserve," said Dorothy.

"Because they're cross-grained, or ill-tempered, or disagreeable?"

"Not exactly that."

"What then?" asked Brooke.

"Because they're just nobodies. They are not anything particular to
anybody, and so they go on living till they die. You know what I
mean, Mr. Burgess. A man who is a nobody can perhaps make himself
somebody,--or, at any rate, he can try; but a woman has no means of
trying. She is a nobody, and a nobody she must remain. She has her
clothes and her food, but she isn't wanted anywhere. People put up
with her, and that is about the best of her luck. If she were to die
somebody perhaps would be sorry for her, but nobody would be worse
off. She doesn't earn anything or do any good. She is just there and
that's all."

Brooke had never heard her speak after this fashion before, had never
known her to utter so many consecutive words, or to put forward any
opinion of her own with so much vigour. And Dorothy herself, when she
had concluded her speech, was frightened by her own energy and grew
red in the face, and showed very plainly that she was half ashamed
of herself. Brooke thought that he had never seen her look so pretty
before, and was pleased by her enthusiasm. He understood perfectly
that she was thinking of her own position, though she had entertained
no idea that he would so read her meaning; and he felt that it was
incumbent on him to undeceive her, and make her know that she was not
one of those women who are "just there and that's all." "One does see
such a woman as that now and again," he said.

"There are hundreds of them," said Dorothy. "And of course it can't
be helped."

"Such as Arabella French," said he, laughing.

"Well,--yes; if she is one. It is very easy to see the difference.
Some people are of use and are always doing things. There are others,
generally women, who have nothing to do, but who can't be got rid of.
It is a melancholy sort of feeling."

"You at least are not one of them."

"I didn't mean to complain about myself," she said. "I have got a
great deal to make me happy."

"I don't suppose you regard yourself as an Arabella French," said he.

"How angry Miss French would be if she heard you. She considers
herself to be one of the reigning beauties of Exeter."

"She has had a very long reign, and dominion of that sort to be
successful ought to be short."

"That is spiteful, Mr. Burgess."

"I don't feel spiteful against her, poor woman. I own I do not love
Camilla. Not that I begrudge Camilla her present prosperity."

"Nor I either, Mr. Burgess."

"She and Mr. Gibson will do very well together, I dare say."

"I hope they will," said Dorothy, "and I do not see any reason
against it. They have known each other a long time."

"A very long time," said Brooke. Then he paused for a minute,
thinking how he might best tell her that which he had now resolved
should be told on this occasion. Dorothy finished her tea and got up
as though she were about to go to her duty up-stairs. She had been as
yet hardly an hour in the room, and the period of her relief was not
fairly over. But there had come something of a personal flavour in
their conversation which prompted her, unconsciously, to leave him.
She had, without any special indication of herself, included herself
among that company of old maids who are born and live and die without
that vital interest in the affairs of life which nothing but family
duties, the care of children, or at least of a husband, will give to
a woman. If she had not meant this she had felt it. He had understood
her meaning, or at least her feeling, and had taken upon himself to
assure her that she was not one of the company whose privations she
had endeavoured to describe. Her instinct rather than her reason put
her at once upon her guard, and she prepared to leave the room. "You
are not going yet," he said.

"I think I might as well. Martha has so much to do, and she comes to
me again at five in the morning."

"Don't go quite yet," he said, pulling out his watch. "I know all
about the hours, and it wants twenty minutes to the proper time."

"There is no proper time, Mr. Burgess."

"Then you can remain a few minutes longer. The fact is, I've got
something I want to say to you."

He was now standing between her and the door, so that she could not
get away from him; but at this moment she was absolutely ignorant of
his purpose, expecting nothing of love from him more than she would
from Sir Peter Mancrudy. Her face had become flushed when she made
her long speech, but there was no blush on it as she answered him
now. "Of course, I can wait," she said, "if you have anything to say
to me."

"Well;--I have. I should have said it before, only that that other
man was here." He was blushing now,--up to the roots of his hair, and
felt that he was in a difficulty. There are men, to whom such moments
of their lives are pleasurable, but Brooke Burgess was not one of
them. He would have been glad to have had it done and over,--so that
then he might take pleasure in it.

"What man?" asked Dorothy, in perfect innocence.

"Mr. Gibson, to be sure. I don't know that there is anybody else."

"Oh, Mr. Gibson. He never comes here now, and I don't suppose he will
again. Aunt Stanbury is so very angry with him."

"I don't care whether he comes or not. What I mean is this. When I
was here before, I was told that you were going--to marry him."

"But I wasn't."

"How was I to know that, when you didn't tell me? I certainly did
know it after I came back from Dartmoor." He paused a moment, as
though she might have a word to say. She had no word to say, and
did not in the least know what was coming. She was so far from
anticipating the truth, that she was composed and easy in her mind.
"But all that is of no use at all," he continued. "When I was here
before Miss Stanbury wanted you to marry Mr. Gibson; and, of course,
I had nothing to say about it. Now I want you--to marry me."

"Mr. Burgess!"

"Dorothy, my darling, I love you better than all the world. I do,
indeed." As soon as he had commenced his protestations he became
profuse enough with them, and made a strong attempt to support them
by the action of his hands. But she retreated from him step by step,
till she had regained her chair by the tea-table, and there she
seated herself,--safely, as she thought; but he was close to her,
over her shoulder, still continuing his protestations, offering up
his vows, and imploring her to reply to him. She, as yet, had not
answered him by a word, save by that one half-terrified exclamation
of his name. "Tell me, at any rate, that you believe me, when I
assure you that I love you," he said. The room was going round with
Dorothy, and the world was going round, and there had come upon her
so strong a feeling of the disruption of things in general, that she
was at the moment anything but happy. Had it been possible for her to
find that the last ten minutes had been a dream, she would at this
moment have wished that it might become one. A trouble had come upon
her, out of which she did not see her way. To dive among the waters
in warm weather is very pleasant; there is nothing pleasanter. But
when the young swimmer first feels the thorough immersion of his
plunge, there comes upon him a strong desire to be quickly out again.
He will remember afterwards how joyous it was; but now, at this
moment, the dry land is everything to him. So it was with Dorothy.
She had thought of Brooke Burgess as one of those bright ones of the
world, with whom everything is happy and pleasant, whom everybody
loves, who may have whatever they please, whose lines have been laid
in pleasant places. She thought of him as a man who might some day
make some woman very happy as his wife. To be the wife of such a man
was, in Dorothy's estimation, one of those blessed chances which come
to some women, but which she never regarded as being within her own
reach. Though she had thought much about him, she had never thought
of him as a possible possession for herself; and now that he was
offering himself to her, she was not at once made happy by his love.
Her ideas of herself and of her life were all dislocated for the
moment, and she required to be alone, that she might set herself in
order, and try herself all over, and find whether her bones were
broken. "Say that you believe me," he repeated.


   [Illustration: The world was going round with Dorothy.]


"I don't know what to say," she whispered.

"I'll tell you what to say. Say at once that you will be my wife."

"I can't say that, Mr. Burgess."

"Why not? Do you mean that you cannot love me?"

"I think, if you please, I'll go up to Aunt Stanbury. It is time for
me; indeed it is; and she will be wondering, and Martha will be put
out. Indeed I must go up."

"And will you not answer me?"

"I don't know what to say. You must give me a little time to
consider. I don't quite think you're serious."

"Heaven and earth!" began Brooke.

"And I'm sure it would never do. At any rate, I must go now. I must,
indeed."

And so she escaped, and went up to her aunt's room, which she reached
at ten minutes after her usual time, and before Martha had begun
to be put out. She was very civil to Martha, as though Martha had
been injured; and she put her hand on her aunt's arm, with a soft,
caressing, apologetic touch, feeling conscious that she had given
cause for offence. "What has he been saying to you?" said her aunt,
as soon as Martha had closed the door. This was a question which
Dorothy, certainly, could not answer. Miss Stanbury meant nothing
by it,--nothing beyond a sick woman's desire that something of the
conversation of those who were not sick should be retailed to her;
but to Dorothy the question meant so much! How should her aunt have
known that he had said anything? She sat herself down and waited,
giving no answer to the question. "I hope he gets his meals
comfortably," said Miss Stanbury.

"I am sure he does," said Dorothy, infinitely relieved. Then, knowing
how important it was that her aunt should sleep, she took up the
volume of Jeremy Taylor, and, with so great a burden on her mind,
she went on painfully and distinctly with the second sermon on the
Marriage Ring. She strove valiantly to keep her mind to the godliness
of the discourse, so that it might be of some possible service to
herself; and to keep her voice to the tone that might be of service
to her aunt. Presently she heard the grateful sound which indicated
her aunt's repose, but she knew of experience that were she to stop,
the sound and the sleep would come to an end also. For a whole hour
she persevered, reading the sermon of the Marriage Ring with such
attention to the godly principles of the teaching as she could
give,--with that terrible burden upon her mind.

"Thank you;--thank you; that will do, my dear. Shut it up," said
the sick woman. "It's time now for the draught." Then Dorothy moved
quietly about the room, and did her nurse's work with soft hand, and
soft touch, and soft tread. After that her aunt kissed her, and bade
her sit down and sleep.

"I'll go on reading, aunt, if you'll let me," said Dorothy. But
Miss Stanbury, who was not a cruel woman, would have no more of the
reading, and Dorothy's mind was left at liberty to think of the
proposition that had been made to her. To one resolution she came
very quickly. The period of her aunt's illness could not be a proper
time for marriage vows, or the amenities of love-making. She did not
feel that he, being a man, had offended; but she was quite sure that
were she, a woman, the niece of so kind an aunt, the nurse at the
bed-side of such an invalid,--were she at such a time to consent to
talk of love, she would never deserve to have a lover. And from this
resolve she got great comfort. It would give her an excuse for making
no more assured answer at present, and would enable her to reflect
at leisure as to the reply she would give him, should he ever, by
any chance, renew his offer. If he did not,--and probably he would
not,--then it would have been very well that he should not have been
made the victim of a momentary generosity. She had complained of the
dulness of her life, and that complaint from her had produced his
noble, kind, generous, dear, enthusiastic benevolence towards her.
As she thought of it all,--and by degrees she took great pleasure in
thinking of it,--her mind bestowed upon him all manner of eulogies.
She could not persuade herself that he really loved her, and yet she
was full at heart of gratitude to him for the expression of his love.
And as for herself, could she love him? We who are looking on of
course know that she loved him;--that from this moment there was
nothing belonging to him, down to his shoe-tie, that would not be
dear to her heart and an emblem so tender as to force a tear from
her. He had already become her god, though she did not know it. She
made comparisons between him and Mr. Gibson, and tried to convince
herself that the judgment, which was always pronounced very clearly
in Brooke's favour, came from anything but her heart. And thus
through the long watches of the night she became very happy, feeling
but not knowing that the whole aspect of the world was changed to her
by those few words which her lover had spoken to her. She thought now
that it would be consolation enough to her in future to know that
such a man as Brooke Burgess had once asked her to be the partner of
his life, and that it would be almost ungenerous in her to push her
advantage further and attempt to take him at his word. Besides, there
would be obstacles. Her aunt would dislike such a marriage for him,
and he would be bound to obey her aunt in such a matter. She would
not allow herself to think that she could ever become Brooke's wife,
but nothing could rob her of the treasure of the offer which he had
made her. Then Martha came to her at five o'clock, and she went to
her bed to dream for an hour or two of Brooke Burgess and her future
life.

On the next morning she met him at breakfast. She went down stairs
later than usual, not till ten, having hung about her aunt's room,
thinking that thus she would escape him for the present. She would
wait till he was gone out, and then she would go down. She did wait;
but she could not hear the front door, and then her aunt murmured
something about Brooke's breakfast. She was told to go down, and she
went. But when on the stairs she slunk back to her own room, and
stood there for awhile, aimless, motionless, not knowing what to do.
Then one of the girls came to her, and told her that Mr. Burgess was
waiting breakfast for her. She knew not what excuse to make, and at
last descended slowly to the parlour. She was very happy, but had it
been possible for her to have run away she would have gone.

"Dear Dorothy," he said at once. "I may call you so,--may I not?"

"Oh, yes."

"And you will love me;--and be my own, own wife?"

"No, Mr. Burgess."

"No?"

"I mean;--that is to say--"

"Do you love me, Dorothy?"

"Only think how ill Aunt Stanbury is, Mr. Burgess;--perhaps dying!
How can I have any thought now except about her? It wouldn't be
right;--would it?"

"You may say that you love me."

"Mr. Burgess, pray, pray don't speak of it now. If you do I must go
away."

"But do you love me?"

"Pray, pray don't, Mr. Burgess!"

There was nothing more to be got from her during the whole day than
that. He told her in the evening that as soon as Miss Stanbury was
well, he would come again;--that in any case he would come again. She
sat quite still as he said this, with a solemn face,--but smiling at
heart, laughing at heart, so happy! When she got up to leave him, and
was forced to give him her hand, he seized her in his arms and kissed
her. "That is very, very wrong," she said, sobbing, and then ran to
her room,--the happiest girl in all Exeter. He was to start early on
the following morning, and she knew that she would not be forced to
see him again. Thinking of him was so much pleasanter than seeing
him!



CHAPTER LII.

MR. OUTHOUSE COMPLAINS THAT IT'S HARD.


Life had gone on during the winter at St. Diddulph's Parsonage in a
dull, weary, painful manner. There had come a letter in November from
Trevelyan to his wife, saying that as he could trust neither her nor
her uncle with the custody of his child, he should send a person
armed with due legal authority, addressed to Mr. Outhouse, for the
recovery of the boy, and desiring that little Louis might be at once
surrendered to the messenger. Then of course there had arisen great
trouble in the house. Both Mrs. Trevelyan and Nora Rowley had learned
by this time that, as regarded the master of the house, they were not
welcome guests at St. Diddulph's. When the threat was shewn to Mr.
Outhouse, he did not say a word to indicate that the child should be
given up. He muttered something, indeed, about impotent nonsense,
which seemed to imply that the threat could be of no avail; but there
was none of that reassurance to be obtained from him which a positive
promise on his part to hold the bairn against all comers would have
given. Mrs. Outhouse told her niece more than once that the child
would be given to no messenger whatever; but even she did not give
the assurance with that energy which the mother would have liked.
"They shall drag him away from me by force if they do take him!" said
the mother, gnashing her teeth. Oh, if her father would but come!
For some weeks she did not let the boy out of her sight; but when no
messenger had presented himself by Christmas time, they all began to
believe that the threat had in truth meant nothing,--that it had been
part of the ravings of a madman.

But the threat had meant something. Early on one morning in January
Mr. Outhouse was told that a person in the hall wanted to see him,
and Mrs. Trevelyan, who was sitting at breakfast, the child being at
the moment up-stairs, started from her seat. The maid described the
man as being "All as one as a gentleman," though she would not go so
far as to say that he was a gentleman in fact. Mr. Outhouse slowly
rose from his breakfast, went out to the man in the passage, and bade
him follow into the little closet that was now used as a study. It is
needless perhaps to say that the man was Bozzle.

"I dare say, Mr. Houthouse, you don't know me," said Bozzle. Mr.
Outhouse, disdaining all complimentary language, said that he
certainly did not. "My name, Mr. Houthouse, is Samuel Bozzle, and I
live at No. 55, Stony Walk, Union Street, Borough. I was in the Force
once, but I work on my own 'ook now."

"What do you want with me, Mr. Bozzle?"

"It isn't so much with you, sir, as it is with a lady as is under
your protection; and it isn't so much with the lady as it is with her
infant."

"Then you may go away, Mr. Bozzle," said Mr. Outhouse, impatiently.
"You may as well go away at once."

"Will you please read them few lines, sir," said Mr. Bozzle. "They
is in Mr. Trewilyan's handwriting, which will no doubt be familiar
characters,--leastways to Mrs. T., if you don't know the gent's
fist." Mr. Outhouse, after looking at the paper for a minute, and
considering deeply what in this emergency he had better do, did take
the paper and read it. The words ran as follows: "I hereby give full
authority to Mr. Samuel Bozzle, of 55, Stony Walk, Union Street,
Borough, to claim and to enforce possession of the body of my child,
Louis Trevelyan; and I require that any person whatsoever who may
now have the custody of the said child, whether it be my wife or any
of her friends, shall at once deliver him up to Mr. Bozzle, on the
production of this authority.--LOUIS TREVELYAN." It may be explained
that before this document had been written there had been much
correspondence on the subject between Bozzle and his employer. To
give the ex-policeman his due, he had not at first wished to meddle
in the matter of the child. He had a wife at home who expressed an
opinion with much vigour that the boy should be left with its mother,
and that he, Bozzle, should he succeed in getting hold of the child,
would not know what to do with it. Bozzle was aware, moreover, that
it was his business to find out facts, and not to perform actions.
But his employer had become very urgent with him. Mr. Bideawhile had
positively refused to move in the matter; and Trevelyan, mad as he
was, had felt a disinclination to throw his affairs into the hands of
a certain Mr. Skint, of Stamford Street, whom Bozzle had recommended
to him as a lawyer. Trevelyan had hinted, moreover, that if Bozzle
would make the application in person, that application, if not
obeyed, would act with usefulness as a preliminary step for further
personal measures to be taken by himself. He intended to return
to England for the purpose, but he desired that the order for the
child's rendition should be made at once. Therefore Bozzle had come.
He was an earnest man, and had now worked himself up to a certain
degree of energy in the matter. He was a man loving power, and
specially anxious to enforce obedience from those with whom he came
in contact by the production of the law's mysterious authority. In
his heart he was ever tapping people on the shoulder, and telling
them that they were wanted. Thus, when he displayed his document to
Mr. Outhouse, he had taught himself at least to desire that that
document should be obeyed.

Mr. Outhouse read the paper and turned up his nose at it. "You had
better go away," said he, as he thrust it back into Bozzle's hand.

"Of course I shall go away when I have the child."

"Psha!" said Mr. Outhouse.

"What does that mean, Mr. Houthouse? I presume you'll not dispute the
paternal parent's legal authority?"

"Go away, sir," said Mr. Outhouse.

"Go away!"

"Yes;--out of this house. It's my belief that you are a knave."

"A knave, Mr. Houthouse?"

"Yes;--a knave. No one who was not a knave would lend a hand towards
separating a little child from its mother. I think you are a knave,
but I don't think you are fool enough to suppose that the child will
be given up to you."

"It's my belief that knave is hactionable," said Bozzle,--whose
respect, however, for the clergyman was rising fast. "Would you mind
ringing the bell, Mr. Houthouse, and calling me a knave again before
the young woman?"

"Go away," said Mr. Outhouse.

"If you have no objection, sir, I should be glad to see the lady
before I goes."

"You won't see any lady here; and if you don't get out of my house
when I tell you, I'll send for a real policeman." Then was Bozzle
conquered; and, as he went, he admitted to himself that he had sinned
against all the rules of his life in attempting to go beyond the
legitimate line of his profession. As long as he confined himself
to the getting up of facts nobody could threaten him with a "real
policeman." But one fact he had learned to-day. The clergyman of St.
Diddulph's, who had been represented to him as a weak, foolish man,
was anything but that. Bozzle was much impressed in favour of Mr.
Outhouse, and would have been glad to have done that gentleman a
kindness had an opportunity come in his way.

"What does he want, Uncle Oliphant?" said Mrs. Trevelyan at the foot
of the stairs, guarding the way up to the nursery. At this moment the
front door had just been closed behind the back of Mr. Bozzle.

"You had better ask no questions," said Mr. Outhouse.

"But is it about Louis?"

"Yes, he came about him."

"Well? Of course you must tell me, Uncle Oliphant. Think of my
condition."

"He had some stupid paper in his hand from your husband, but it meant
nothing."

"He was the messenger, then?"

"Yes, he was the messenger. But I don't suppose he expected to get
anything. Never mind. Go up and look after the child." Then Mrs.
Trevelyan returned to her boy, and Mr. Outhouse went back to his
papers.

It was very hard upon him, Mr. Outhouse thought,--very hard. He
was threatened with an action now, and most probably would become
subject to one. Though he had been spirited enough in presence of the
enemy, he was very much out of spirits at this moment. Though he had
admitted to himself that his duty required him to protect his wife's
niece, he had never taken the poor woman to his heart with a loving,
generous feeling of true guardianship. Though he would not give up
the child to Bozzle, he thoroughly wished that the child was out of
his house. Though he called Bozzle a knave and Trevelyan a madman,
still he considered that Colonel Osborne was the chief sinner, and
that Emily Trevelyan had behaved badly. He constantly repeated to
himself the old adage, that there was no smoke without fire; and
lamented the misfortune that had brought him into close relation
with things and people that were so little to his taste. He sat for
awhile, with a pen in his hand, at the miserable little substitute
for a library table which had been provided for him, and strove to
collect his thoughts and go on with his work. But the effort was in
vain. Bozzle would be there, presenting his document, and begging
that the maid might be rung for, in order that she might hear him
called a knave. And then he knew that on this very day his niece
intended to hand him money, which he could not refuse. Of what use
would it be to refuse it now, after it had been once taken? As he
could not write a word, he rose and went away to his wife.

"If this goes on much longer," said he, "I shall be in Bedlam."

"My dear, don't speak of it in that way!"

"That's all very well. I suppose I ought to say that I like it. There
has been a policeman here who is going to bring an action against
me."

"A policeman!"

"Some one that her husband has sent for the child."

"The boy must not be given up, Oliphant."

"It's all very well to say that, but I suppose we must obey the law.
The parsonage of St. Diddulph's isn't a castle in the Apennines. When
it comes to this, that a policeman is sent here to fetch any man's
child, and threatens me with an action because I tell him to leave my
house, it is very hard upon me, seeing how very little I've had to do
with it. It's all over the parish now that my niece is kept here away
from her husband, and that a lover comes to see her. This about the
policeman will be known now, of course. I only say it is hard; that's
all." The wife did all that she could to comfort him, reminding him
that Sir Marmaduke would be home soon, and that then the burden would
be taken from his shoulders. But she was forced to admit that it was
very hard.



CHAPTER LIII.

HUGH STANBURY IS SHEWN TO BE NO CONJUROR.


   [Illustration]

Many weeks had now passed since Hugh Stanbury had paid his visit to
St. Diddulph's, and Nora Rowley was beginning to believe that her
rejection of her lover had been so firm and decided that she would
never see him or hear from him more; and she had long since confessed
to herself that if she did not see him or hear from him soon, life
would not be worth a straw to her. To all of us a single treasure
counts for much more when the outward circumstances of our life are
dull, unvaried, and melancholy, than it does when our days are full
of pleasure, or excitement, or even of business. With Nora Rowley at
St. Diddulph's life at present was very melancholy. There was little
or no society to enliven her. Her sister was sick at heart, and
becoming ill in health under the burden of her troubles. Mr. Outhouse
was moody and wretched; and Mrs. Outhouse, though she did her best
to make her house comfortable to her unwelcome inmates, could not
make it appear that their presence there was a pleasure to her.
Nora understood better than did her sister how distasteful the
present arrangement was to their uncle, and was consequently very
uncomfortable on that score. And in the midst of that unhappiness,
she of course told herself that she was a young woman miserable and
unfortunate altogether. It is always so with us. The heart when it is
burdened, though it may have ample strength to bear the burden, loses
its buoyancy and doubts its own power. It is like the springs of a
carriage which are pressed flat by the superincumbent weight. But,
because the springs are good, the weight is carried safely, and they
are the better afterwards for their required purposes because of the
trial to which they have been subjected.

Nora had sent her lover away, and now at the end of three months
from the day of his dismissal she had taught herself to believe that
he would never come again. Amidst the sadness of her life at St.
Diddulph's some confidence in a lover expected to come again would
have done much to cheer her. The more she thought of Hugh Stanbury,
the more fully she became convinced that he was the man who as a
lover, as a husband, and as a companion, would just suit all her
tastes. She endowed him liberally with a hundred good gifts in the
disposal of which Nature had been much more sparing. She made for
herself a mental portrait of him more gracious in its flattery than
ever was canvas coming from the hand of a Court limner. She gave
him all gifts of manliness, honesty, truth, and energy, and felt
regarding him that he was a Paladin,--such as Paladins are in this
age, that he was indomitable, sure of success, and fitted in all
respects to take the high position which he would certainly win
for himself. But she did not presume him to be endowed with such a
constancy as would make him come to seek her hand again. Had Nora at
this time of her life been living at the West-end of London, and
going out to parties three or four times a week, she would have been
quite easy about his coming. The springs would not have been weighted
so heavily, and her heart would have been elastic.

No doubt she had forgotten many of the circumstances of his visit
and of his departure. Immediately on his going she had told her
sister that he would certainly come again, but had said at the same
time that his coming could be of no use. He was so poor a man; and
she,--though poorer than he,--had been so little accustomed to
poverty of life, that she had then acknowledged to herself that she
was not fit to be his wife. Gradually, as the slow weeks went by her,
there had come a change in her ideas. She now thought that he never
would come again; but that if he did she would confess to him that
her own views about life were changed. "I would tell him frankly
that I could eat a crust with him in any garret in London." But this
was said to herself;--never to her sister. Emily and Mrs. Outhouse
had determined together that it would be wise to abstain from all
mention of Hugh Stanbury's name. Nora had felt that her sister had so
abstained, and this reticence had assisted in producing the despair
which had come upon her. Hugh, when he had left her, had certainly
given her encouragement to expect that he would return. She had been
sure then that he would return. She had been sure of it, though she
had told him that it would be useless. But now, when these sad weeks
had slowly crept over her head, when during the long hours of the
long days she had thought of him continually,--telling herself that
it was impossible that she should ever become the wife of any man if
she did not become his,--she assured herself that she had seen and
heard the last of him. She must surely have forgotten his hot words
and that daring embrace.

Then there came a letter to her. The question of the management of
letters for young ladies is handled very differently in different
houses. In some establishments the post is as free to young ladies
as it is to the reverend seniors of the household. In others it is
considered to be quite a matter of course that some experienced
discretion should sit in judgment on the correspondence of the
daughters of the family. When Nora Rowley was living with her sister
in Curzon Street, she would have been very indignant indeed had it
been suggested to her that there was any authority over her letters
vested in her sister. But now, circumstanced as she was at St.
Diddulph's, she did understand that no letter would reach her
without her aunt knowing that it had come. All this was distasteful
to her,--as were indeed all the details of her life at St.
Diddulph's;--but she could not help herself. Had her aunt told her
that she should never be allowed to receive a letter at all, she must
have submitted till her mother had come to her relief. The letter
which reached her now was put into her hands by her sister, but it
had been given to Mrs. Trevelyan by Mrs. Outhouse. "Nora," said
Mrs. Trevelyan, "here is a letter for you. I think it is from Mr.
Stanbury."

"Give it me," said Nora greedily.

"Of course I will give it you. But I hope you do not intend to
correspond with him."

"If he has written to me I shall answer him of course," said Nora,
holding her treasure.

"Aunt Mary thinks that you should not do so till papa and mamma have
arrived."

"If Aunt Mary is afraid of me let her tell me so, and I will contrive
to go somewhere else." Poor Nora knew that this threat was futile.
There was no house to which she could take herself.

"She is not afraid of you at all, Nora. She only says that she thinks
you should not write to Mr. Stanbury." Then Nora escaped to the cold
but solitary seclusion of her bed-room and there she read her letter.

The reader may remember that Hugh Stanbury when he last left St.
Diddulph's had not been oppressed by any of the gloomy reveries of a
despairing lover. He had spoken his mind freely to Nora, and had felt
himself justified in believing that he had not spoken in vain. He had
had her in his arms, and she had found it impossible to say that she
did not love him. But then she had been quite firm in her purpose to
give him no encouragement that she could avoid. She had said no word
that would justify him in considering that there was any engagement
between them; and, moreover, he had been warned not to come to the
house by its mistress. From day to day he thought of it all, now
telling himself that there was nothing to be done but to trust in
her fidelity till he should be in a position to offer her a fitting
home, and then reflecting that he could not expect such a girl as
Nora Rowley to wait for him, unless he could succeed in making her
understand that he at any rate intended to wait for her. On one day
he would think that good faith and proper consideration for Nora
herself required him to keep silent; on the next he would tell
himself that such maudlin chivalry as he was proposing to himself was
sure to go to the wall and be neither rewarded nor recognised. So at
last he sat down and wrote the following letter:--


   Lincoln's Inn Fields, January, 186--.

   DEAREST NORA,

   Ever since I last saw you at St. Diddulph's, I have been
   trying to teach myself what I ought to do in reference
   to you. Sometimes I think that because I am poor I ought
   to hold my tongue. At others I feel sure that I ought to
   speak out loud, because I love you so dearly. You may
   presume that just at this moment the latter opinion is in
   the ascendant.

   As I do write I mean to be very bold; so bold that if I am
   wrong you will be thoroughly disgusted with me and will
   never willingly see me again. But I think it best to be
   true, and to say what I think. I do believe that you love
   me. According to all precedent I ought not to say so;--but
   I do believe it. Ever since I was at St. Diddulph's that
   belief has made me happy,--though there have been moments
   of doubt. If I thought that you did not love me, I would
   trouble you no further. A man may win his way to love when
   social circumstances are such as to throw him and the girl
   together; but such is not the case with us; and unless you
   love me now, you never will love me.


"I do--I do!" said Nora, pressing the letter to her bosom.


   If you do, I think that you owe it me to say so, and
   to let me have all the joy and all the feeling of
   responsibility which such an assurance will give me.


"I will tell him so," said Nora; "I don't care what may come
afterwards, but I will tell him the truth."


   I know [continued Hugh] that an engagement with me now
   would be hazardous, because what I earn is both scanty and
   precarious; but it seems to me that nothing could ever
   be done without some risk. There are risks of different
   kinds,--


She wondered whether he was thinking when he wrote this of the rock
on which her sister's barque had been split to pieces;--


   and we may hardly hope to avoid them all. For myself,
   I own that life would be tame to me, if there were no
   dangers to be overcome.

   If you do love me, and will say so, I will not ask you
   to be my wife till I can give you a proper home; but the
   knowledge that I am the master of the treasure which I
   desire will give me a double energy, and will make me feel
   that when I have gained so much I cannot fail of adding to
   it all other smaller things that may be necessary.

   Pray,--pray, send me an answer. I cannot reach you except
   by writing, as I was told by your aunt not to come to the
   house again.

   Dearest Nora, pray believe
   That I shall always be truly yours only,

   HUGH STANBURY.


Write to him! Of course she would write to him. Of course she would
confess to him the truth. "He tells me that I owe it to him to say
so, and I acknowledge the debt," she said aloud to herself. "And as
for a proper home, he shall be the judge of that." She resolved that
she would not be a fine lady, not fastidious, not coy, not afraid
to take her full share of the risk of which he spoke in such manly
terms. "It is quite true. As he has been able to make me love him,
I have no right to stand aloof,--even if I wished it." As she was
walking up and down the room so resolving her sister came to her.

"Well, dear!" said Emily. "May I ask what it is he says?"

Nora paused a moment, holding the letter tight in her hand, and then
she held it out to her sister. "There it is. You may read it." Mrs.
Trevelyan took the letter and read it slowly, during which Nora
stood looking out of the window. She would not watch her sister's
face, as she did not wish to have to reply to any outward signs of
disapproval. "Give it me back," she said, when she heard by the
refolding of the paper that the perusal was finished.

"Of course I shall give it you back, dear."

"Yes;--thanks. I did not mean to doubt you."

"And what will you do, Nora?"

"Answer it of course."

"I would think a little before I answered it," said Mrs. Trevelyan.

"I have thought,--a great deal, already."

"And how will you answer it?"

Nora paused again before she replied. "As nearly as I know how to do
in such words as he would put into my mouth. I shall strive to write
just what I think he would wish me to write."

"Then you will engage yourself to him, Nora?"

"Certainly I shall. I am engaged to him already. I have been ever
since he came here."

"You told me that there was nothing of the kind."

"I told you that I loved him better than anybody in the world, and
that ought to have made you know what it must come to. When I am
thinking of him every day, and every hour, how can I not be glad to
have an engagement settled with him? I couldn't marry anybody else,
and I don't want to remain as I am." The tears came into the married
sister's eyes, and rolled down her cheeks, as this was said to her.
Would it not have been better for her had she remained as she was?
"Dear Emily," said Nora, "you have got Louey still."

"Yes;--and they mean to take him from me. But I do not wish to speak
of myself. Will you postpone your answer till mamma is here?"

"I cannot do that, Emily. What; receive such a letter as that, and
send no reply to it!"

"I would write a line for you, and explain--"

"No, indeed, Emily. I choose to answer my own letters. I have shewn
you that, because I trust you; but I have fully made up my mind as
to what I shall write. It will have been written and sent before
dinner."

"I think you will be wrong, Nora."

"Why wrong! When I came over here to stay with you, would mamma ever
have thought of directing me not to accept any offer till her consent
had been obtained all the way from the Mandarins? She would never
have dreamed of such a thing."

"Will you ask Aunt Mary?"

"Certainly not. What is Aunt Mary to me? We are here in her house for
a time, under the press of circumstances; but I owe her no obedience.
She told Mr. Stanbury not to come here; and he has not come; and I
shall not ask him to come. I would not willingly bring any one into
Uncle Oliphant's house that he and she do not wish to see. But I will
not admit that either of them have any authority over me."

"Then who has, dearest?"

"Nobody;--except papa and mamma; and they have chosen to leave me to
myself."

Mrs. Trevelyan found it impossible to shake her sister's firmness,
and could herself do nothing, except tell Mrs. Outhouse what was the
state of affairs. When she said that she should do this, there almost
came to be a flow of high words between the two sisters; but at last
Nora assented. "As for knowing, I don't care if all the world knows
it. I shall do nothing in a corner. I don't suppose Aunt Mary will
endeavour to prevent my posting my letter."

Emily at last went to seek Mrs. Outhouse, and Nora at once sat
down to her desk. Neither of the sisters felt at all sure that Mrs.
Outhouse would not attempt to stop the emission of the letter from
her house; but, as it happened, she was out, and did not return till
Nora had come back from her journey to the neighbouring post-office.
She would trust her letter, when written, to no hands but her
own; and as she herself dropped it into the safe custody of the
Postmaster-General, it also shall be revealed to the public:--


   Parsonage, St. Diddulph's, January, 186--.

   DEAR HUGH,

   For I suppose I may as well write to you in that way now.
   I have been made so happy by your affectionate letter. Is
   not that a candid confession for a young lady? But you
   tell me that I owe you the truth, and so I tell you the
   truth. Nobody will ever be anything to me, except you; and
   you are everything. I do love you; and should it ever be
   possible, I will become your wife.

   I have said so much, because I feel that I ought to obey
   the order you have given me; but pray do not try to see me
   or write to me till mamma has arrived. She and papa will
   be here in the spring,--quite early in the spring, we
   hope; and then you may come to us. What they may say, of
   course, I cannot tell; but I shall be true to you.

   Your own, with truest affection,

   NORA.

   Of course, you knew that I loved you, and I don't think
   that you are a conjuror at all.


   [Illustration: Nora's letter.]


As soon as ever the letter was written, she put on her bonnet, and
went forth with it herself to the post-office. Mrs. Trevelyan stopped
her on the stairs, and endeavoured to detain her, but Nora would not
be detained. "I must judge for myself about this," she said. "If
mamma were here, it would be different, but, as she is not here, I
must judge for myself."

What Mrs. Outhouse might have done had she been at home at the time,
it would be useless to surmise. She was told what had happened
when it occurred, and questioned Nora on the subject. "I thought I
understood from you," she said, with something of severity in her
countenance, "that there was to be nothing between you and Mr.
Stanbury--at any rate, till my brother came home?"

"I never pledged myself to anything of the kind, Aunt Mary," Nora
said. "I think he promised that he would not come here, and I don't
suppose that he means to come. If he should do so, I shall not see
him."

With this Mrs. Outhouse was obliged to be content. The letter was
gone, and could not be stopped. Nor, indeed, had any authority been
delegated to her by which she would have been justified in stopping
it. She could only join her husband in wishing that they both
might be relieved, as soon as possible, from the terrible burden
which had been thrown upon them. "I call it very hard," said Mr.
Outhouse;--"very hard, indeed. If we were to desire them to leave
the house, everybody would cry out upon us for our cruelty; and yet,
while they remain here, they will submit themselves to no authority.
As far as I can see, they may, both of them, do just what they
please, and we can't stop it."



CHAPTER LIV.

MR. GIBSON'S THREAT.


Miss Stanbury for a long time persisted in being neither better nor
worse. Sir Peter would not declare her state to be precarious, nor
would he say that she was out of danger; and Mr. Martin had been so
utterly prostrated by the nearly-fatal effects of his own mistake
that he was quite unable to rally himself and talk on the subject
with any spirit or confidence. When interrogated he would simply
reply that Sir Peter said this and Sir Peter said that, and thus
add to, rather than diminish, the doubt, and excitement, and varied
opinion which prevailed through the city. On one morning it was
absolutely asserted within the limits of the Close that Miss Stanbury
was dying,--and it was believed for half a day at the bank that she
was then lying in articulo mortis. There had got about, too, a report
that a portion of the property had only been left to Miss Stanbury
for her life, that the Burgesses would be able to reclaim the
houses in the city, and that a will had been made altogether in
favour of Dorothy, cutting out even Brooke from any share in the
inheritance;--and thus Exeter had a good deal to say respecting
the affairs and state of health of our old friend. Miss Stanbury's
illness, however, was true enough. She was much too ill to hear
anything of what was going on;--too ill to allow Martha to talk to
her at all about the outside public. When the invalid herself would
ask questions about the affairs of the world, Martha would be very
discreet and turn away from the subject. Miss Stanbury, for instance,
ill as she was, exhibited a most mundane interest, not exactly in
Camilla French's marriage, but in the delay which that marriage
seemed destined to encounter. "I dare say he'll slip out of it yet,"
said the sick lady to her confidential servant. Then Martha had
thought it right to change the subject, feeling it to be wrong
that an old lady on her death-bed should be taking joy in the
disappointment of her young neighbour. Martha changed the subject,
first to jelly, and then to the psalms of the day. Miss Stanbury
was too weak to resist; but the last verse of the last psalm of the
evening had hardly been finished before she remarked that she would
never believe it till she saw it. "It's all in the hands of Him as is
on high, mum," said Martha, turning her eyes up to the ceiling, and
closing the book at the same time, with a look strongly indicative of
displeasure.

Miss Stanbury understood it all as well as though she were in perfect
health. She knew her own failings, was conscious of her worldly
tendencies, and perceived that her old servant was thinking of it.
And then sundry odd thoughts, half-digested thoughts, ideas too
difficult for her present strength, crossed her brain. Had it been
wicked of her when she was well to hope that a scheming woman should
not succeed in betraying a man by her schemes into an ill-assorted
marriage; and if not wicked then, was it wicked now because she was
ill? And from that thought her mind travelled on to the ordinary
practices of death-bed piety. Could an assumed devotion be of use to
her now,--such a devotion as Martha was enjoining upon her from hour
to hour, in pure and affectionate solicitude for her soul? She had
spoken one evening of a game of cards, saying that a game of cribbage
would have consoled her. Then Martha, with a shudder, had suggested
a hymn, and had had recourse at once to a sleeping draught. Miss
Stanbury had submitted, but had understood it all. If cards were
wicked, she had indeed been a terrible sinner. What hope could there
be now, on her death-bed, for one so sinful? And she could not repent
of her cards, and would not try to repent of them, not seeing the
evil of them; and if they were innocent, why should she not have the
consolation now,--when she so much wanted it? Yet she knew that the
whole household, even Dorothy, would be in arms against her, were she
to suggest such a thing. She took the hymn and the sleeping draught,
telling herself that it would be best for her to banish such ideas
from her mind. Pastors and masters had laid down for her a mode of
living, which she had followed, but indifferently perhaps, but still
with an intention of obedience. They had also laid down a mode of
dying, and it would be well that she should follow that as closely
as possible. She would say nothing more about cards. She would
think nothing more of Camilla French. But, as she so resolved, with
intellect half asleep, with her mind wandering between fact and
dream, she was unconsciously comfortable with an assurance that if
Mr. Gibson did marry Camilla French, Camilla French would lead him
the very devil of a life.

During three days Dorothy went about the house as quiet as a mouse,
sitting nightly at her aunt's bedside, and tending the sick woman
with the closest care. She, too, had been now and again somewhat
startled by the seeming worldliness of her aunt in her illness. Her
aunt talked to her about rents, and gave her messages for Brooke
Burgess on subjects which seemed to Dorothy to be profane when spoken
of on what might perhaps be a death-bed. And this struck her the more
strongly, because she had a matter of her own on which she would have
much wished to ascertain her aunt's opinion, if she had not thought
that it would have been exceedingly wrong of her to trouble her
aunt's mind at such a time by any such matter. Hitherto she had said
not a word of Brooke's proposal to any living being. At present it
was a secret with herself, but a secret so big that it almost caused
her bosom to burst with the load that it bore. She could not, she
thought, write to Priscilla till she had told her aunt. If she were
to write a word on the subject to any one, she could not fail to make
manifest the extreme longing of her own heart. She could not have
written Brooke's name on paper, in reference to his words to herself,
without covering it with epithets of love. But all that must be known
to no one if her love was to be of no avail to her. And she had an
idea that her aunt would not wish Brooke to marry her,--would think
that Brooke should do better; and she was quite clear that in such a
matter as this her aunt's wishes must be law. Had not her aunt the
power of disinheriting Brooke altogether? And what then if her aunt
should die,--should die now,--leaving Brooke at liberty to do as he
pleased? There was something so distasteful to her in this view of
the matter that she would not look at it. She would not allow herself
to think of any success which might possibly accrue to herself by
reason of her aunt's death. Intense as was the longing in her heart
for permission from those in authority over her to give herself to
Brooke Burgess, perfect as was the earthly Paradise which appeared to
be open to her when she thought of the good thing which had befallen
her in that matter, she conceived that she would be guilty of the
grossest ingratitude were she in any degree to curtail even her own
estimate of her aunt's prohibitory powers because of her aunt's
illness. The remembrance of the words which Brooke had spoken to her
was with her quite perfect. She was entirely conscious of the joy
which would be hers, if she might accept those words as properly
sanctioned; but she was a creature in her aunt's hands,--according to
her own ideas of her own duties; and while her aunt was ill she could
not even learn what might be the behests which she would be called on
to obey.

She was sitting one evening alone, thinking of all this, having left
Martha with her aunt, and was trying to reconcile the circumstances
of her life as it now existed with the circumstances as they had been
with her in the old days at Nuncombe Putney, wondering at herself in
that she should have a lover, and trying to convince herself that for
her this little episode of romance could mean nothing serious, when
Martha crept down into the room to her. Of late days,--the alteration
might perhaps be dated from the rejection of Mr. Gibson,--Martha, who
had always been very kind, had become more respectful in her manner
to Dorothy than had heretofore been usual with her. Dorothy was quite
aware of it, and was not unconscious of a certain rise in the world
which was thereby indicated. "If you please, miss," said Martha, "who
do you think is here?"

"But there is nobody with my aunt?" said Dorothy.

"She is sleeping like a babby, and I came down just for a moment.
Mr. Gibson is here, miss,--in the house! He asked for your aunt, and
when, of course, he could not see her, he asked for you." Dorothy for
a few minutes was utterly disconcerted, but at last she consented to
see Mr. Gibson. "I think it is best," said Martha, "because it is bad
to be fighting, and missus so ill. 'Blessed are the peace-makers,'
miss, 'for they shall be called the children of God.'" Convinced by
this argument, or by the working of her own mind, Dorothy directed
that Mr. Gibson might be shewn into the room. When he came, she found
herself unable to address him. She remembered the last time in which
she had seen him, and was lost in wonder that he should be there. But
she shook hands with him, and went through some form of greeting in
which no word was uttered.

"I hope you will not think that I have done wrong," said he, "in
calling to ask after my old friend's state of health?"

"Oh dear, no," said Dorothy, quite bewildered.

"I have known her for so very long, Miss Dorothy, that now in the
hour of her distress, and perhaps mortal malady, I cannot stop to
remember the few harsh words that she spoke to me lately."

"She never means to be harsh, Mr. Gibson."

"Ah; well; no,--perhaps not. At any rate, I have learned to forgive
and forget. I am afraid your aunt is very ill, Miss Dorothy."

"She is ill, certainly, Mr. Gibson."

"Dear, dear! We are all as the grass of the field, Miss
Dorothy,--here to-day and gone to-morrow, as sparks fly upwards. Just
fit to be cut down and cast into the oven. Mr. Jennings has been with
her, I believe?" Mr. Jennings was the other minor canon.

"He comes three times a week, Mr. Gibson."

"He is an excellent young man,--a very good young man. It has been a
great comfort to me to have Jennings with me. But he's very young,
Miss Dorothy; isn't he?" Dorothy muttered something, purporting to
declare that she was not acquainted with the exact circumstances of
Mr. Jennings' age. "I should be so glad to come if my old friend
would allow me," said Mr. Gibson, almost with a sigh. Dorothy was
clearly of opinion that any change at the present would be bad for
her aunt, but she did not know how to express her opinion; so she
stood silent and looked at him. "There needn't be a word spoken, you
know, about the ladies at Heavitree," said Mr. Gibson.

"Oh dear, no," said Dorothy. And yet she knew well that there would
be such words spoken if Mr. Gibson were to make his way into her
aunt's room. Her aunt was constantly alluding to the ladies at
Heavitree, in spite of all the efforts of her old servant to restrain
her.

"There was some little misunderstanding," said Mr. Gibson; "but all
that should be over now. We both intended for the best, Miss Dorothy;
and I'm sure nobody here can say that I wasn't sincere." But Dorothy,
though she could not bring herself to answer Mr. Gibson plainly,
could not be induced to assent to his proposition. She muttered
something about her aunt's weakness, and the great attention which
Mr. Jennings shewed. Her aunt had become very fond of Mr. Jennings,
and she did at last express her opinion, with some clearness, that
her aunt should not be disturbed by any changes at present. "After
that I should not think of pressing it, Miss Dorothy," said Mr.
Gibson; "but, still, I do hope that I may have the privilege of
seeing her yet once again in the flesh. And touching my approaching
marriage, Miss Dorothy--" He paused, and Dorothy felt that she
was blushing up to the roots of her hair. "Touching my marriage,"
continued Mr. Gibson, "which however will not be solemnized till the
end of March;"--it was manifest that he regarded this as a point that
would in that household be regarded as an argument in his favour,--"I
do hope that you will look upon it in the most favourable light,--and
your excellent aunt also, if she be spared to us."

"I am sure we hope that you will be happy, Mr. Gibson."

"What was I to do, Miss Dorothy? I know that I have been very much
blamed;--but so unfairly! I have never meant to be untrue to a mouse,
Miss Dorothy." Dorothy did not at all understand whether she were the
mouse, or Camilla French, or Arabella. "And it is so hard to find
that one is ill-spoken of because things have gone a little amiss."
It was quite impossible that Dorothy should make any answer to this,
and at last Mr. Gibson left her, assuring her with his last word that
nothing would give him so much pleasure as to be called upon once
more to see his old friend in her last moments.

Though Miss Stanbury had been described as sleeping "like a babby,"
she had heard the footsteps of a strange man in the house, and had
made Martha tell her whose footsteps they were. As soon as Dorothy
went to her, she darted upon the subject with all her old keenness.
"What did he want here, Dolly?"

"He said he would like to see you, aunt,--when you are a little
better, you know. He spoke a good deal of his old friendship and
respect."

"He should have thought of that before. How am I to see people now?"

"But when you are better, aunt--?"

"How do I know that I shall ever be better? He isn't off with those
people at Heavitree,--is he?"

"I hope not, aunt."

"Psha! A poor, weak, insufficient creature;--that's what he is.
Mr. Jennings is worth twenty of him." Dorothy, though she put the
question again in its most alluring form of Christian charity and
forgiveness, could not induce her aunt to say that she would see
Mr. Gibson. "How can I see him, when you know that Sir Peter has
forbidden me to see anybody except Mrs. Clifford and Mr. Jennings?"

Two days afterwards there was an uncomfortable little scene at
Heavitree. It must, no doubt, have been the case, that the same train
of circumstances which had produced Mr. Gibson's visit to the Close,
produced also the scene in question. It was suggested by some who
were attending closely to the matter that Mr. Gibson had already come
to repent his engagement with Camilla French; and, indeed, there were
those who pretended to believe that he was induced, by the pros