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Title: The Caxtons: A Family Picture — Volume 16
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
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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.

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PART XVI.



CHAPTER I.


"Please, sir, be this note for you?" asked the waiter.

"For me,--yes; it is my name."

I did not recognize the handwriting, and yet the note was from one whose
writing I had often seen.  But formerly the writing was cramped, stiff,
perpendicular (a feigned hand, though I guessed not it was feigned); now
it was hasty, irregular, impatient, scarce a letter formed, scarce a
word that seemed finished, and yet strangely legible withal, as the hand
writing of a bold man almost always is.  I opened the note listlessly,
and read,--

"I have watched for you all the morning.  I saw her go.  Well! I did not
throw myself under the hoofs of the horses.  I write this in a public-
house, not far.  Will you follow the bearer, and see once again the
outcast whom all the rest of the world will shun?"

Though I did not recognize the hand, there could be no doubt who was the
writer.

"The boy wants to know if there's an answer," said the waiter.

I nodded, took up my hat, and left the room.  A ragged boy was standing
in the yard, and scarcely six words passed between us before I was
following him through a narrow lane that faced the inn and terminated in
a turnstile.  Here the boy paused, and making me a sign to go on, went
back his way whistling.  I passed the turnstile, and found myself in a
green field, with a row of stunted willows hanging over a narrow rill.
I looked round, and saw Vivian (as I intend still to call him) half
kneeling, and seemingly intent upon some object in the grass.

My eye followed his mechanically.  A young unfledged bird that had left
the nest too soon stood, all still and alone, on the bare short sward,
its beak open as for food, its gaze fixed on us with a wistful stare.
Methought there was something in the forlorn bird that softened me more
to the forlorner youth, of whom it seemed a type.

"Now," said Vivian, speaking half to himself, half to me, "did the bird
fall from the nest, or leave the nest at its own wild whim?  The parent
does not protect it.  Mind, I say not it is the parent's fault,--perhaps
the fault is all with the wanderer.  But, look you, though the parent is
not here, the foe is,--yonder, see!"

And the young man pointed to a large brindled cat that, kept back from
its prey by our unwelcome neighborhood, still remained watchful, a few
paces off, stirring its tail gently backwards and forwards, and with
that stealthy look in its round eyes, dulled by the sun,--half fierce,
half frightened,--which belongs to its tribe when man comes between the
devourer and the victim.

"I do see," said I; "but a passing footstep has saved the bird!"

"Stop!" said Vivian, laying my hand on his own, and with his old bitter
smile on his lip,--"stop!  Do you think it mercy to save the bird?  What
from; and what for?  From a natural enemy,--from a short pang and a
quick death?  Fie! is not that better than slow starvation,--or, if you
take more heed of it, than the prison-bars of a cage?  You cannot
restore the nest, you cannot recall the parent.  Be wiser in your
mercy,--leave the bird to its gentlest fate."

I looked hard on Vivian: the lip had lost the bitter smile.  He rose and
turned away.  I sought to take up the poor bird; but it did not know its
friends, and ran from me, chirping piteously,--ran towards the very jaws
of the grim enemy.  I was only just in time to scare away the beast,
which sprang up a tree and glared down through the hanging boughs.  Then
I followed the bird, and as I followed, I heard, not knowing at
first whence the sound came, a short, quick, tremulous note.  Was it
near, was it far?  From the earth, in the sky?  Poor parent bird, like
parent-love, it seemed now far and now near; now on earth, now in sky!

And at last, quick and sudden, as if born of the space, lo, the little
wings hovered over me!

The young bird halted, and I also.

"Come," said I, "ye have found each other at last,--settle it between
you!"

I went back to the outcast.



CHAPTER II.


Pisistratus.--"How came you to know we had stayed in the town?"

Vivian.--"Do you think I could remain where you left me?  I wandered
out, wandered hither.  Passing at dawn through yon streets, I saw the
hostlers loitering by the gates of the yard, overheard them talk, and so
knew you were all at the inn,--all!"  He sighed heavily.

Pisistratus.--"Your poor father is very ill.  Oh, cousin, how could you
fling from you so much love?"

Vivian.--"Love! his! my father's!"

Pisistratus.--"Do you really not believe, then, that your father loved
you?"

Vivian.--"If I had believed it, I had never left him.  All the gold of
the Indies had never bribed me to leave my mother."

Pisistratus.--"This is indeed a strange misconception of yours.  If we
can remove it, all may be well yet.  Need there now be any secrets
between us? [persuasively].  Sit down, and tell me all, cousin."

After some hesitation, Vivian complied; and by the clearing of his brow
and the very tone of his voice I felt sure that he was no longer seeking
to disguise the truth.  But as I afterwards learned the father's tale as
well as now the son's, so, instead of repeating Vivian's words, which--
not by design, but by the twist of a mind habitually wrong--distorted
the facts, I will state what appears to me the real case, as between the
parties so unhappily opposed.  Reader, pardon me if the recital be
tedious; and if thou thinkest that I bear not hard enough on the erring
hero of the story, remember that he who recites, judges as Austin's son
must judge of Roland's.



CHAPTER III.

Vivian.

At The Entrance of Life Sits--The Mother.

It was during the war in Spain that a severe wound, and the fever which
ensued, detained Roland at the house of a Spanish widow.  His hostess
had once been rich; but her fortune had been ruined in the general
calamities of the country.  She had an only daughter, who assisted to
nurse and tend the wounded Englishman; and when the time approached for
Roland's departure, the frank grief of the young Ramouna betrayed the
impression that the guest had made upon her affections.  Much of
gratitude, and something, it might be, of an exquisite sense of honor,
aided, in Roland's breast, the charm naturally produced by the beauty of
his young nurse, and the knightly compassion he felt for her ruined
fortunes and desolate condition.

In one of those hasty impulses common to a generous nature--and which
too often fatally vindicate the rank of Prudence amidst the tutelary
Powers of Life--Roland committed the error of marriage with a girl of
whose connections he knew nothing, and of whose nature little more than
its warm, spontaneous susceptibility.  In a few days subsequent to these
rash nuptials, Roland rejoined the march of the army; nor was he able to
return to Spain till after the crowning victory of Waterloo.

Maimed by the loss of a limb, and with the scars of many a noble wound
still fresh, Roland then hastened to a home, the dreams of which had
soothed the bed of pain, and now replaced the earlier visions of renown.
During his absence a son had been born to him,--a son whom he might rear
to take the place he had left in his country's service; to renew, in
some future fields, a career that had failed the romance of his own
antique and chivalrous ambition.  As soon as that news had reached him
his care had been to provide an English nurse for the infant, so that
with the first sounds of the mother's endearments, the child might yet
hear a voice from the father's land.  A female relation of Bolt had
settled in Spain, and was induced to undertake this duty.  Natural as
this appointment was to a man so devotedly English, it displeased his
wild and passionate Ramouna.  She had that mother's jealousy, strongest
in minds uneducated; she had also that peculiar pride which belongs to
her country-people of every rank and condition: the jealousy and the
pride were both wounded by the sight of the English nurse at the child's
cradle.

That Roland on regaining his Spanish hearth should be disappointed in
his expectations of the happiness awaiting him there, was the inevitable
condition of such a marriage, since, not the less for his military
bluntness, Roland had that refinement of feeling, perhaps over-
fastidious, which belongs to all natures essentially poetic; and as the
first illusions of love died away, there could have been little indeed
congenial to his stately temper in one divided from him by an utter
absence of education and by the strong, but nameless, distinctions of
national views and manners.  The disappointment probably, however, went
deeper than that which usually attends an ill-assorted union; for
instead of bringing his wife to his old Tower (an expatriation which she
would doubtless have resisted to the utmost), he accepted, maimed as he
was, not very long after his return to Spain, the offer of a military
post under Ferdinand.  The Cavalier doctrines and intense loyalty of
Roland attached him, without reflection, to the service of a throne
which the English arms had contributed to establish; while the extreme
unpopularity of the Constitutional Party in Spain, and the stigma of
irreligion fixed to it by the priests, aided to foster Roland's belief
that he was supporting a beloved king against the professors of those
revolutionary and Jacobinical doctrines which to him were the very
atheism of politics.  The experience of a few years in the service of a
bigot so contemptible as Ferdinand, whose highest object of patriotism
was the restoration of the Inquisition, added another disappointment to
those which had already embittered the life of a man who had seen in the
grand hero of Cervantes no follies to satirize, but high virtues to
imitate.  Poor Quixote himself,--he came mournfully back to his La
Mancha with no other reward for his knight-errantry than a decoration,
which he disdained to place beside his simple Waterloo medal, and a
grade for which he would have blushed to resign his more modest, but
more honorable, English dignity.

But still weaving hopes, the sanguine man returned to his Penates.  His
child now had grown from infancy into boyhood,--the child would pass
naturally into his care.  Delightful occupation!  At the thought, home
smiled again.

Now behold the most pernicious circumstance in this ill-omened
connection.

The father of Ramouna had been one of that strange and mysterious race
which presents in Spain so many features distinct from the
characteristics of its kindred tribes in more civilized lands.  The
Gitano, or gypsy of Spain, is not the mere vagrant we see on our commons
and road-sides.  Retaining, indeed, much of his lawless principles and
predatory inclinations, he lives often in towns, exercises various
callings, and not unfrequently becomes rich.  A wealthy Gitano had
married a Spanish woman; (1) Roland's wife had been the offspring of
this marriage.  The Gitano had died while Ramouna was yet extremely
young, and her childhood had been free from the influences of her
paternal kindred.  But though her mother, retaining her own religion,
had brought up Ramouna in the same faith, pure from the godless creed of
the Gitano, and at her husband's death had separated herself wholly from
his tribe, still she had lost caste with her own kin and people.  And
while struggling to regain it, the fortune, which made her sole chance
of success in that attempt, was swept away, so that she had remained
apart and solitary, and could bring no friends to cheer the solitude of
Ramouna during Roland's absence.  But while my uncle was still in the
service of Ferdinand, the widow died; and then the only relatives who
came round Ramouna were her father's kindred.  They had not ventured to
claim affinity while her mother lived, and they did so now by attentions
and caresses to her son.  This opened to them at once Ramouna's heart
and doors.  Meanwhile the English nurse--who, in spite of all that could
render her abode odious to her, had, from strong love to her charge,
stoutly maintained her post--died, a few weeks after Ramouna's mother;
and no healthful influence remained to counteract those baneful ones to
which the heir of the honest old Caxtons was subject.  But Roland
returned home in a humor to be pleased with all things.  Joyously he
clasped his wife to his breast, and thought, with self-reproach, that he
had forborne too little and exacted too much,--he would be wiser now.
Delightedly he acknowledged the beauty, the intelligence, and manly
bearing of the boy, who played with his sword-knot and ran off with his
pistols as a prize.

The news of the Englishman's arrival at first kept the lawless kinsfolk
from the house; but they were fond of the boy, and the boy of them, and
interviews between him and these wild comrades, if stolen, were not less
frequent.  Gradually Roland's eyes became opened.  As in habitual
intercourse the boy abandoned the reserve which awe and cunning at first
imposed, Roland was inexpressibly shocked at the bold principles his son
affected, and at his utter incapacity even to comprehend that plain
honesty and that frank honor which to the English soldier, seemed ideas
innate and heaven-planted.  Soon afterwards, Roland found that a system
of plunder was carried on in his household, and tracked it to the
connivance of the wife and the agency of his son for the benefit of lazy
bravos and dissolute vagrants.  A more patient man than Roland might
well have been exasperated, a more wary man confounded, by this
discovery.  He took the natural step,--perhaps insisting on it too
summarily; perhaps not allowing enough for the uncultured mind and
lively passions of his wife,--he ordered her instantly to prepare to
accompany him from the place, and to abandon all communication with her
kindred.

A vehement refusal ensued; but Roland was not a man to give up such a
point, and at length a false submission and a feigned repentance soothed
his resentment and obtained his pardon.  They moved several miles from
the place; but where they moved, there some at least, and those the
worst, of the baleful brood stealthily followed.  Whatever Ramouna's
earlier love for Roland had been, it had evidently long ceased, in the
thorough want of sympathy between them, and in that absence which, if it
renews a strong affection, destroys an affection already weakened.  But
the mother and son adored each other with all the strength of their
strong, wild natures.  Even under ordinary circumstances the father's
influence over a boy yet in childhood is exerted in vain if the mother
lend herself to baffle it.  And in this miserable position, what chance
had the blunt, stern, honest Poland (separated from his son during the
most ductile years of infancy) against the ascendancy of a mother who
humored all the faults and gratified all the wishes of her darling?

In his despair, Roland let fall the threat that if thus thwarted, it
would become his duty to withdraw his son from the mother.  This threat
instantly hardened both hearts against him.  The wife represented Roland
to the boy as a tyrant, as an enemy, as one who had destroyed all the
happiness they had before enjoyed in each other, as one whose severity
showed that he hated his own child; and the boy believed her.  In his
own house a firm union was formed against Roland, and protected by the
cunning which is the force of the weak against the strong.

In spite of all, Roland could never forget the tenderness with which the
young nurse had watched over the wounded man, nor the love--genuine for
the hour, though not drawn from the feelings which withstand the wear
and tear of life--that lips so beautiful had pledged him in the bygone
days.  These thoughts must have come perpetually between his feelings
and his judgment, to embitter still more his position, to harass still
more his heart.  And if, by the strength of that sense of duty which
made the force of his character, he could have strung himself to the
fulfilment of the threat, humanity, at all events, compelled him to
delay it,--his wife promised to be again a mother.  Blanche was born.
How could he take the infant from the mother's breast, or abandon the
daughter to the fatal influences from which only, by so violent an
effort, he could free the son?

No wonder, poor Roland, that those deep furrows contracted thy bold
front, and thy hair grew gray before its time!

Fortunately, perhaps, for all parties, Roland's wife died while Blanche
was still an infant.  She was taken ill of a fever; she died delirious,
clasping her boy to her breast, and praying the saints to protect him
from his cruel father.  How often that death-bed haunted the son, and
justified his belief that there was no parent's love in the heart which
was now his sole shelter from the world and the "pelting of its pitiless
rain!"  Again I say "poor Roland;" for I know that in that harsh,
unloving disrupture of such solemn ties thy large, generous heart forgot
its wrongs,--again didst thou see tender eyes bending over the wounded
stranger, again hear low murmurs breathe the warm weakness which the
women of the South deem it no shame to own.  And now did it all end in
those ravings of hate, and in that glazing gaze of terror?

(1)  A Spaniard very rarely indeed marries a Gitana, or female gypsy.
But occasionally (observes Mr. Borrow) a wealthy Gitano marries a
Spanish female.



CHAPTER IV.


The Preceptor.


Roland removed to France, and fixed his abode in the environs of Paris.
He placed Blanche at a convent in the immediate neighborhood, going to
see her daily, and gave himself up to the education of his son.  The boy
was apt to learn; but to unlearn was here the arduous task,--and for
that task it would have needed either the passionless experience, the
exquisite forbearance, of a practised teacher, or the love and
confidence and yielding heart of a believing pupil.  Roland felt that he
was not the man to be the teacher, and that his son's heart remained
obstinately closed to him.  He looked round, and found at the other side
of Paris what seemed a suitable preceptor,--a young Frenchman of some
distinction in letters, more especially in science, with all a
Frenchman's eloquence of talk, full of high-sounding sentiments that
pleased the romantic enthusiasm of the Captain; so Roland, with sanguine
hopes, confided his son to this man's care.  The boy's natural quickness
mastered readily all that pleased his taste; he learned to speak and
write French with rare felicity and precision.  His tenacious memory,
and those flexile organs in which the talent for languages is placed,
served, with the help of an English master, to revive his earlier
knowledge of his father's tongue and to enable him to speak it with
fluent correctness,--though there was always in his accent something
which had struck me as strange; but not suspecting it to be foreign, I
had thought it a theatrical affectation.  He did not go far into
science,--little further, perhaps, than a smattering of French
mathematics; but he acquired a remarkable facility and promptitude in
calculation.  He devoured eagerly the light reading thrown in his way,
and picked up thence that kind of knowledge which novels and plays
afford, for good or evil, according as the novel or the play elevates
the understanding and ennobles the passions, or merely corrupts the
fancy and lowers the standard of human nature.  But of all that Roland
desired him to be taught, the son remained as ignorant as before.  Among
the other misfortunes of this ominous marriage, Roland's wife had
possessed all the superstitions of a Roman Catholic Spaniard; and with
these the boy had unconsciously intermingled doctrines far more dreary,
imbibed from the dark paganism of the Gitanos.

Roland had sought a Protestant for his son's tutor.  The preceptor was
nominally a Protestant,--a biting derider of all superstitions, indeed!
He was such a Protestant as some defender of Voltaire's religion says
the Great Wit would have been had he lived in a Protestant country.  The
Frenchman laughed the boy out of his superstitions, to leave behind them
the sneering scepticism of the Encyclopedie, without those redeeming
ethics on which all sects of philosophy are agreed, but which,
unhappily, it requires a philosopher to comprehend.

This preceptor was doubtless not aware of the mischief he was doing; and
for the rest, he taught his pupil after his own system,--a mild and
plausible one, very much like the system we at home are recommended to
adopt: "Teach the understanding,--all else will follow;" "Learn to read
something, and it will all come right;" "Follow the bias of the pupil's
mind,--thus you develop genius, not thwart it."  Mind, understanding,
genius,--fine things!  But to educate the whole man you must educate
something more than these.  Not for want of mind, understanding, genius,
have Borgias and Neros left their names as monuments of horror to
mankind.  Where, in all this teaching, was one lesson to warm the heart
and guide the soul?

Oh, mother mine, that the boy had stood by thy knee and heard from thy
lips why life was given us, in what life shall end, and how heaven
stands open to us night and day!  Oh, father mine, that thou hadst been
his preceptor, not in book-learning, but the heart's simple wisdom!  Oh
that he had learned from thee, in parables closed with practice, the
happiness of self-sacrifice, and how "good deeds should repair the bad"!

It was the misfortune of this boy, with his daring and his beauty, that
there was in his exterior and his manner that which attracted indulgent
interest and a sort of compassionate admiration.  The Frenchman liked
him, believed his story, thought him ill-treated by that hard-visaged
English soldier.  All English people were so disagreeable, particularly
English soldiers; and the Captain once mortally offended the Frenchman
by calling Vilainton un grand homme, and denying, with brutal
indignation, that the English had poisoned Napoleon!  So, instead of
teaching the son to love and revere his father, the Frenchman shrugged
his shoulders when the boy broke into some unfilial complaint, and at
most said, "Mais, cher enfant, ton pere est Anglais,--c'est tout dire."
Meanwhile, as the child sprang rapidly into precocious youth, he was
permitted a liberty in his hours of leisure of which he availed himself
with all the zest of his earlier habits and adventurous temper.  He
formed acquaintances among the loose young haunters of cafes and
spendthrifts of that capital,--the wits!  He became an excellent
swordsman and pistol-shot, adroit in all games in which skill helps
fortune.  He learned betimes to furnish himself with money, by the cards
and the billiard-balls.

But delighted with the easy home he had obtained, he took care to school
his features and smooth his manner in his father's visits, to make the
most of what he had learned of less ignoble knowledge, and, with his
characteristic imitativeness, to cite the finest sentiments he had found
in his plays; and novels.  What father is not credulous?  Roland
believed, and wept tears of joy.  And now he thought the time was come
to take back the boy,--to return with a worthy heir to the old Tower.
He thanked and blessed the tutor; he took the son.  But under pretence
that he had yet some things to master, whether in book knowledge or
manly accomplishments, the youth begged his father at all events not yet
to return to England,--to let him attend his tutor daily for some
months.  Roland consented, moved from his old quarters, and took a
lodging for both in the same suburb as that in which the teacher
resided.  But soon, when they were under one roof, the boy's habitual
tastes, and his repugnance to all paternal authority, were betrayed.  To
do my unhappy cousin justice (such as that justice is), though he had
the cunning for a short disguise, he had not the hypocrisy to maintain
systematic deceit.  He could play a part for a while, from an exulting
joy in his own address; but he could not wear a mask with the patience
of cold-blooded dissimulation.  Why enter into painful details, so
easily divined by the intelligent reader?  The faults of the son were
precisely those to which Roland would be least indulgent.  To the
ordinary scrapes of high-spirited boyhood no father, I am sure, would
have been more lenient; but to anything that seemed low, petty,--that
grated on him as a gentleman and soldier,--there, not for worlds would I
have braved the darkness of his frown, and the woe that spoke like scorn
in his voice.  And when, after all warning and prohibition were in vain,
Roland found his son in the middle of the night in a resort of gamblers
and sharpers, carrying all before him with his cue, in the full flush of
triumph, and a great heap of five-franc pieces before him, you may
conceive with what wrath the proud, hasty, passionate man drove out,
cane in hand, the obscene associates, flinging after them the son's ill-
gotten gains; and with what resentful humiliation the son was compelled
to follow the father home.  Then Roland took the boy to England, but not
to the old Tower; that hearth of his ancestors was still too sacred for
the footsteps of the vagrant heir!



CHAPTER V.

The Hearts Without Trust, and The World Without a Guide.

And then, vainly grasping at every argument his blunt sense.  could
suggest, then talked Roland much and grandly of the duties men owed,--
even if they threw off all love to their father, still to their father's
name; and then his pride, always so lively, grew irritable and harsh,
and seemed, no doubt, to the perverted ears of the son, unlovely and
unloving.  And that pride, without serving one purpose of good, did yet
more mischief; for the youth caught the disease, but in a wrong way.
And he said to himself,--

"Ho, then, my father is a great man, with all these ancestors and big
words!  And he has lands and a castle; and yet how miserably we live,
and how he stints me!  But if he has cause for pride in all these dead
men, why, so have I.  And are these lodgings, these appurtenances, fit
for the 'gentleman' he says I am?"

Even in England the gypsy blood broke out as before, and the youth found
vagrant associates,--Heaven knows how or where; strange-looking forms,
gaudily shabby and disreputably smart, were seen lurking in the corner
of the street, or peering in at the window, slinking off if they saw
Roland: and Roland could not stoop to be a spy.  And the son's heart
grew harder and harder against his father, and his father's face now
never smiled on him.  Then bills came in, and duns knocked at the door,
--bills and duns to a man who shrank from the thought of a debt as an
ermine from a spot on its fur!  And the son's short answer to
remonstrance was: "Am I not a gentleman?  These are the things gentlemen
require."  Then perhaps Roland remembered the experiment of his French
friend, and left his bureau unlocked, and said, "Ruin me if you will,
but no debts.  There is money in those drawers,--they are unlocked."
That trust would forever have cured of extravagance a youth with a high
and delicate sense of honor: the pupil of the Gitanos did not understand
the trust; he thought it conveyed a natural, though ungracious,
permission to take out what he wanted,--and he took!  To Roland this
seemed a theft; and a theft of the coarsest kind; but when he so said,
the son started indignant, and saw in that which had been so touching an
appeal to his honor but a trap to decoy him into disgrace.  In short,
neither could understand the other.  Roland forbade his son to stir from
the house; and the young man the same night let himself out, and stole
forth into the wide world, to enjoy or defy it in his own wild way.

It would be tedious to follow him through his various adventures and
experiments on fortune (even if I knew them all, which I do not).  And
now putting altogether aside his right name, which he had voluntarily
abandoned, and not embarrassing the reader with the earlier aliases
assumed, I shall give to my unfortunate kinsman the name by which I
first knew him, and continue to do so until,--Heaven grant the time may
come!--having first redeemed, he may reclaim his own.  It was in joining
a set of strolling players that Vivian became acquainted with Peacock;
and that worthy, who had many strings to his bow, soon grew aware of
Vivian's extraordinary skill with the cue, and saw therein a better mode
of making their joint fortunes than the boards of an itinerant Thespis
furnished to either.  Vivian listened to him, and it was while their
intimacy was most fresh that I met them on the highroad.  That chance
meeting produced (if I may be allowed to believe his assurance) a
strong, and for the moment a salutary, effect upon Vivian.  The
comparative innocence and freshness of a boy's mind were new to him; the
elastic, healthful spirits with which those gifts were accompanied
startled him, by the contrast to his own forced gayety and secret gloom.
And this boy was his own cousin!

Coming afterwards to London, he adventured inquiry at the hotel in the
Strand at which I had given my address; learned where we were; and
passing one night in the street, saw my uncle at the window,--to
recognize and to fly from him.  Having then some money at his disposal,
he broke off abruptly from the set in which he had been thrown.  He had
resolved to return to France,--he would try for a more respectable mode
of existence.  He had not found happiness in that liberty he had won,
nor room for the ambition that began to gnaw him, in those pursuits from
which his father had vainly warned him.  His most reputable friend was
his old tutor; he would go to him.  He went; but the tutor was now
married, and was himself a father,--and that made a wonderful alteration
in his practical ethics.  It was no longer moral to aid the son in
rebellion to his father.  Vivian evinced his usual sarcastic haughtiness
at the reception he met, and was requested civilly to leave the house.
Then again he flung himself on his wits at Paris.  But there were plenty
of wits there sharper than his own.  He got into some quarrel with the
police,--not, indeed, for any dishonest practices of his own, but from
an unwary acquaintance with others less scrupulous,--and deemed it
prudent to quit France.  Thus had I met him again, forlorn and ragged,
in the streets of London.

Meanwhile Roland, after the first vain search, had yielded to the
indignation and disgust that had long rankled within him.  His son had
thrown off his authority because it preserved him from dishonor.  His
ideas of discipline were stern, and patience had been well-nigh crushed
out of his heart.  He thought he could bear to resign his son to his
fate,--to disown him, and to say, "I have no more a son."  It was in
this mood that he had first visited our house.  But when, on that
memorable night in which he had narrated to his thrilling listeners the
dark tale of a fellow-sufferer's woe and crime,--betraying in the tale,
to my father's quick sympathy, his own sorrow and passion,--it did not
need much of his gentler brother's subtle art to learn or guess the
whole, nor much of Austin's mild persuasion to convince Roland that he
had not yet exhausted all efforts to track the wanderer and reclaim the
erring child.  Then he had gone to London; then he had sought every spot
which the outcast would probably haunt; then had he saved and pinched
from his own necessities to have wherewithal to enter theatres and
gaming-houses, and fee the agencies of police; then had he seen the form
for which he had watched and pined, in the street below his window, and
cried, in a joyous delusion, "He repents!"  One day a letter reached my
uncle, through his bankers, from the French tutor (who knew of no other
means of tracing Roland but through the house by which his salary had
been paid), informing him of his son's visit.  Roland started instantly
for Paris.  Arriving there, he could only learn of his son through the
police, and from them only learn that he had been seen in the company of
accomplished swindlers, who were already in the hands of justice, but
that the youth himself, whole there was nothing to criminate, had been
suffered to quit Paris, and had taken, it was supposed, the road to
England.  Then at last the poor Captain's stout heart gave way.  His son
the companion of swindlers!  Could he be sure that he was not their
accomplice?  If not yet, how small the step between companionship and
participation!  He took the child left him still from the convent,
returned to England, and arrived there to be seized with fever and
delirium,--apparently on the same day or a day before that on which the
son had dropped, shelter-less and penniless, on the stones of London.



CHAPTER VI.


The Attempt to Build a Temple to Fortune Out of the Ruins of Home.

"But," said Vivian, pursuing his tale, "but when you came to my aid, not
knowing me; when you relieved me; when from your own lips, for the first
time, I heard words that praised me, and for qualities that implied I
might yet be 'worth much,'--ah!" he added mournfully, "I remember the
very words,--a new light broke upon me, struggling and dim, but light
still.  The ambition with which I had sought the truckling Frenchman
revived, and took worthier and more definite form.  I would lift myself
above the mire, make a name, rise in life!"

Vivian's head drooped; but he raised it quickly, and laughed his low,
mocking laugh.  What follows of this tale may be told succinctly.
Retaining his bitter feelings towards his father, he resolved to
continue his incognito: he gave himself a name likely to mislead
conjecture if I conversed of him to my family, since he knew that Roland
was aware that a Colonel Vivian had been afflicted by a runaway son,--
and indeed, the talk upon that subject had first put the notion of
flight into his own head.  He caught at the idea of becoming known to
Trevanion; but he saw reasons to forbid his being indebted to me for the
introduction, to forbid my knowing where he was: sooner or later that
knowledge could scarcely fail to end in the discovery of his real name.
Fortunately, as he deemed, for the plans he began to meditate, we were
all leaving London; he should have the stage to himself.  And then
boldly he resolved upon what he regarded as the masterscheme of life;
namely, to obtain a small pecuniary independence and to emancipate
himself formally and entirely from his father's control.  Aware of poor
Roland's chivalrous reverence for his name, firmly persuaded that Roland
had no love for the son, but only the dread that the son might disgrace
him, he determined to avail himself of his father's prejudices in order
to effect his purpose.

He wrote a short letter to Roland (that letter which had given the poor
man so sanguine a joy),--that letter after reading which he had said to
Blanche, "Pray for me", stating simply that he wished to see his father,
and naming a tavern in the City for the meeting.

The interview took place.  And when Roland--love and forgiveness in his
heart, but (who shall blame him?) dignity on his brow and rebuke in his
eye--approached, ready at a word to fling himself on the boy's breast,
Vivian, seeing only the outer signs, and interpreting them by his own
sentiments, recoiled, folded his arms on his bosom, and said, coldly,
"Spare me reproach, sir,--it is unavailing; I seek you only to propose
that you shall save your name and resign your son."

Then, intent perhaps but to gain his object, the unhappy youth declared
his fixed determination never to live with his father, never to
acquiesce in his authority, resolutely to pursue his own career,
whatever that career might be, explaining none of the circumstances that
appeared most in his disfavor,--rather, perhaps, thinking that, the
worse his father judged of him, the more chance he had to achieve his
purpose.  "All I ask of you," he said, "is this: Give me the least you
can afford to preserve me from the temptation to rob, or the necessity
to starve; and I, in my turn, promise never to molest you in life, never
to degrade you in my death; whatever my misdeeds, they will never
reflect on yourself, for you shall never recognize the misdoer!  The
name you prize so highly shall be spared."  Sickened and revolted,
Roland attempted no argument; there was that in the son's cold manner
which shut out hope, and against which his pride rose indignant.  A
meeker man might have remonstrated, implored, and wept; that was not in
Roland's nature.  He had but the choice of three evils: to say to his
son, "Fool, I command thee to follow me!" or say, "Wretch, since thou
wouldst cast me off as a stranger, as a stranger I say to thee,--Go,
starve or rob, as thou wilt!"  or lastly, to bow his proud head, stunned
by the blow, and say, "Thou refusest me the obedience of the son, thou
demandest to be as the dead to me.  I can control thee not from vice, I
can guide thee not to virtue.  Thou wouldst sell me the name I have
inherited stainless, and have as stainless borne.  Be it so!  Name thy
price!"

And something like this last was the father's choice.

He listened, and was long silent; and then he said slowly, "Pause before
you decide."

"I have paused long; my decision is made!  This is the last time we
meet.  I see before me now the way to fortune, fairly, honorably; you
can aid me in it only in the way I have said.  Reject me now, and the
option may never come again to either!"

And then Roland said to himself, "I have spared and saved for this son:
what care I for aught else than enough to live without debt, creep into
a corner, and await the grave?  And the more I can give, why, the better
chance that he will abjure the vile associate and the desperate course."
And so, out of his small income Roland surrendered to the rebel child
more than the half.

Vivian was not aware of his father's fortune,--he did not suppose the
sum of two hundred pounds a year was an allowance so disproportioned to
Roland's means; yet when it was named, even he was struck by the
generosity of one to whom he himself had given the right to say, "I take
thee at thy word: 'Just enough not to starve!'"

But then that hateful cynicism, which, caught from bad men and evil
books, he called "knowledge of the world," made him think, "It is not
for me, it is only for his name;" and he said aloud, "I accept these
terms, sir; here is the address of a solicitor with whom yours can
settle them.  Farewell forever."

At those last words Roland started, and stretched out his arms vaguely
like a blind man.  But Vivian had already thrown open the window (the
room was on the ground floor) and sprung upon the sill.  "Farewell," he
repeated; "tell the world I am dead."

He leaped into the street, and the father drew in the outstretched arms,
smote his heart, and said: "Well, then, my task in the world of man is
over!  I will back to the old ruin,--the wreck to the wrecks; and the
sight of tombs I have at least rescued from dishonor shall comfort me
for all!"



CHAPTER VII.


The Results.--Perverted Ambition.--Selfish Passion.--The Intellect
Distorted by the Crookedness of the Heart.

Vivian's schemes thus prospered.  He had an income that permitted him
the outward appearances of a gentleman,--an independence modest, indeed,
but independence still.  We were all gone from London.  One letter to me
with the postmark of the town near which Colonel Vivian lived, sufficed
to confirm my belief in his parentage and in his return to his friends.
He then presented himself to Trevanion as the young man whose pen I had
employed in the member's service; and knowing that I had never mentioned
his name to Trevanion,--for without Vivian's permission I should not,
considering his apparent trust in me, have deemed myself authorized to
do so,--he took that of Gower, which he selected, haphazard, from an old
Court Guide as having the advantage--in common with most names borne by
the higher nobility of England--of not being confined, as the ancient
names of untitled gentlemen usually are, to the members of a single
family.  And when, with his wonted adaptability and suppleness, he had
contrived to lay aside or smooth over whatever in his manners would be
calculated to displease Trevanion, and had succeeded in exciting the
interest which that generous statesman always conceived for ability, he
owned candidly one day, in the presence of Lady Ellinor,--for, his
experience had taught him the comparative ease with which the sympathy
of woman is enlisted in anything that appeals to the imagination, or
seems out of the ordinary beat of life,--that he had reasons for
concealing his connections for the present; that he had cause to believe
I suspected what they were, and, from mistaken regard for his
welfare, might acquaint his relations with his whereabout.  He therefore
begged Trevanion, if the latter had occasion to write to me, not to
mention him.  This promise Trevanion gave, though reluctantly,--for the
confidence volunteered to him seemed to exact the promise; but as he
detested mystery of all kinds, the avowal might have been fatal to any
further acquaintance, and under auspices so doubtful, there would have
been no chance of his obtaining that intimacy in Trevanion's house which
he desired to establish, but for an accident which at once opened that
house to him almost as a home.

Vivian had always treasured a lock of his mother's hair, cut off on her
death-bed; and when he was at his French tutor's, his first pocket-money
had been devoted to the purchase of a locket, on which he had caused to
be inscribed his own name and his mother's.  Through all his wanderings
he had worn this relic; and in the direst pangs of want, no hunger had
been keen enough to induce him to part with it.  Now, one morning, the
ribbon that suspended the locket gave way, and his eye resting on the
names inscribed on the gold, he thought, in his own vague sense of
right, imperfect as it was, that his compact with his father obliged him
to have the names erased.  He took it to a jeweller in Piccadilly for
that purpose, and gave the requisite order, not taking notice of a lady
in the farther part of the shop.  The locket was still on the counter
after Vivian had left, when the lady, coming forward, observed it, and
saw the names on the surface.  She had been struck by the peculiar tone
of the voice, which she had heard before; and that very day Mr. Gower
received a note from Lady Ellinor Trevanion, requesting to see him.
Much wondering, he went.  Presenting him with the locket, she said
smiling, "There is only one gentleman in the world who calls himself De
Caxton, unless it be his son.  Ah! I see now why you wished to conceal
yourself from my friend Pisistratus.  But how is this?  Can you have any
difference with your father?  Confide in me, or it is my duty to write
to him."

Even Vivian's powers of dissimulation abandoned him, thus taken by
surprise.  He saw no alternative but to trust Lady Ellinor with his
secret, and implore her to respect it.  And then he spoke bitterly
of his father's dislike to him, and his own resolution to prove the
injustice of that dislike by the position he would himself establish
in the world.  At present his father believed him dead, and perhaps
was not ill-pleased to think so.  He would not dispel that belief
till he could redeem any boyish errors, and force his family to be
proud to acknowledge him.

Though Lady Ellinor was slow to believe that Roland could dislike his
son, she could yet readily believe that he was harsh and choleric, with
a soldier's high notions of discipline; the young man's story moved her,
his determination pleased her own high spirit.  Always with a touch of
romance in her, and always sympathizing with each desire of ambition,
she entered into Vivian's aspirations with an alacrity that surprised
himself.  She was charmed with the idea of ministering to the son's
fortunes, and ultimately reconciling him to the father,--through her own
agency; it would atone for any fault of which Roland could accuse
herself in the old time.

She undertook to impart the secret to Trevanion, for she would have no
secrets from him, and to secure his acquiescence in its concealment from
all others.

And here I must a little digress from the chronological course of my
explanatory narrative to inform the reader that when Lady Ellinor had
her interview with Roland, she had been repelled by the sternness of his
manner from divulging Vivian's secret.  But on her first attempt to
sound or conciliate him, she had begun with some eulogies on Trevanion's
new friend and assistant, Mr. Gower, and had awakened Roland's
suspicions of that person's identity with his son,--suspicions which had
given him a terrible interest in our joint deliverance of bliss
Trevanion.  But so heroically had the poor soldier sought to resist his
own fears, that on the way he shrank to put to me the questions that
might paralyze the energies which, whatever the answer, were then so
much needed.  "For," said he to my father, "I felt the blood surging to
my temples; and if I had said to Pisistratus, 'Describe this man,' and
by his description I had recognized my son, and dreaded lest I might be
too late to arrest him from so treacherous a crime, my brain would have
given way,--and so I did not dare!"

I return to the thread of my story.  From the time that Vivian confided
in Lady Ellinor, the way was cleared to his most ambitious hopes; and
though his acquisitions were not sufficiently scholastic and various to
permit Trevanion to select him as a secretary, yet, short of sleeping at
the house, he was little less intimate there than I had been.

Among Vivian's schemes of advancement, that of winning the hand and
heart of the great heiress had not been one of the least sanguine.  This
hope was annulled when, not long after his intimacy at her father's
house, she became engaged to young Lord Castleton.  But he could not see
Miss Trevanion with impunity (alas! who, with a heart yet free, could be
insensible to attractions so winning?).  He permitted the love--such
love as his wild, half-educated, half-savage nature acknowledged--to
creep into his soul, to master it; but he felt no hope, cherished no
scheme while the young lord lived.  With the death of her betrothed,
Fanny was free; then he began to hope,--not yet to scheme.  Accidentally
he encountered Peacock.  Partly from the levity that accompanied a false
good-nature that was constitutional with him, partly from a vague idea
that the man might be useful, Vivian established his quondam associate
in the service of Trevanion.  Peacock soon gained the secret of Vivian's
love for Fanny, and dazzled by the advantages that a marriage with Miss
Trevanion would confer on his patron, and might reflect on himself, and
delighted at an occasion to exercise his dramatic accomplishments on the
stage of real life, he soon practised the lesson that the theatres had
taught him; namely, to make a sub-intrigue between maid and valet serve
the schemes and insure the success of the lover.  If Vivian had some
opportunities to imply his admiration, Miss Trevanion gave him none to
plead his cause.  But the softness of her nature, and that graceful
kindness which surrounded her like an atmosphere, emanating
unconsciously from a girl's harmless desire to please, tended to deceive
him.  His own personal gifts were so rare, and in his wandering life the
effect they had produced had so increased his reliance on them, that he
thought he wanted but the fair opportunity to woo in order to win.  In
this state of mental intoxication, Trevanion, having provided for his
Scotch secretary, took him to Lord N--s.  His hostess was one of those
middle-aged ladies of fashion who like to patronize and bring forward
young men, accepting gratitude for condescension as a homage to beauty.
She was struck by Vivian's exterior, and that "picturesque" in look and
in manner which belonged to him.  Naturally garrulous and indiscreet,
she was unreserved to a pupil whom she conceived the whim to make "au
fait to society."  Thus she talked to him, among other topics in
fashion, of Miss Trevanion, and expressed her belief that the present
Lord Castleton had always admired her; but it was only on his accession
to the marquisate that he had made up his mind to marry, or, from his
knowledge of Lady Ellinor's ambition, thought that the Marquis of
Castleton might achieve the prize which would have been refused to Sir
Sedley Beaudesert.  Then, to corroborate the predictions she hazarded,
she repeated, perhaps with exaggeration, some passages from Lord
Castleton's replies to her own suggestions on the subject.  Vivian's
alarm became fatally excited; unregulated passions easily obscured a
reason so long perverted, and a conscience so habitually dulled.  There
is an instinct in all intense affection (whether it be corrupt or pure)
that usually makes its jealousy prophetic.  Thus, from the first, out of
all the brilliant idlers round Fanny Trevanion, my jealousy had pre-
eminently fastened on Sir Sedley Beaudesert, though, to all seeming,
without a cause.  From the same instinct Vivian had conceived the same
vague jealousy,--a jealousy, in his instance, coupled with a deep
dislike to his supposed rival, who had wounded his self-love.  For the
marquis, though to be haughty or ill-bred was impossible to the
blandness of his nature, had never shown to Vivian the genial courtesies
he had lavished upon me, and kept politely aloof from his acquaintance;
while Vivian's personal vanity had been wounded by that drawing-room
effect which the proverbial winner of all hearts produced without an
effort,--an effect that threw into the shade the youth and the beauty
(more striking, but infinitely less prepossessing) of the adventurous
rival.  Thus animosity to Lord Castleton conspired with Vivian's passion
for Fanny to rouse all that was worst by nature and by rearing in this
audacious and turbulent spirit.

His confidant Peacock suggested, from his stage experience, the outlines
of a plot, to which Vivian's astuter intellect instantly gave
tangibility and coloring.  Peacock had already found Miss Trevanion's
waiting-woman ripe for any measure that might secure himself as her
husband and a provision for life as a reward.  Two or three letters
between them settled the preliminary engagements.  A friend of the ex-
comedian's had lately taken an inn on the north road, and might be
relied upon.  At that inn it was settled that Vivian should meet Miss
Trevanion, whom Peacock, by the aid of the abigail, engaged to lure
there.  The sole difficulty that then remained would, to most men, have
seemed the greatest; namely, the consent of Miss Trevanion to a Scotch
marriage.  But Vivian hoped all things from his own eloquence, art, and
passion; and by an inconsistency, however strange, still not unnatural
in the twists of so crooked an intellect, he thought that by insisting
on the intention of her parents to sacrifice her youth to the very man
of whose attractions he was most jealous,--by the picture of disparity
of years, by the caricature of his rival's foibles and frivolities, by
the commonplaces of "beauty bartered for ambition," etc.,--he might
enlist her fears of the alternative on the side of the choice urged upon
her.  The plan proceeded, the time came: Peacock pretended the excuse of
a sick relation to leave Trevanion; and Vivian a day before, on pretence
of visiting the picturesque scenes in the neighborhood, obtained leave
of absence.  Thus the plot went on to its catastrophe.

"And I need not ask," said I, trying in vain to conceal my indignation,
"how Miss Trevanion received your monstrous proposition!"

Vivian's pale cheek grew paler, but he made no reply.

"And if we had not arrived, what would you have done?  Oh, dare you look
into the gulf of infamy you have escaped!"

"I cannot and I will not bear this!" exclaimed Vivian, starting up.  "I
have laid my heart bare before you, and it is ungenerous and unmanly
thus to press upon its wounds.  You can moralize, you can speak coldly;
but--I--I loved!"

"And do you think," I burst forth, "do you think that I did not love
too,--love longer than you have done; better than you have done; gone
through sharper struggles, darker days, more sleepless nights than you;
and yet--"

Vivian caught hold of me.

"Hush!" he cried; "is this indeed true?  I thought you might have had
some faint and fleeting fancy for Miss Trevanion, but that you curbed
and conquered it at once.  Oh, no!  It was impossible to have loved
really, and to have surrendered all chance as you did,--have left the
house, have fled from her presence!  No, no; that was not love!"

"It was love!  And I pray Heaven to grant that, one day, you may know
how little your affection sprang from those feelings which make true
love sublime as honor, and meek as is religion!  Oh, cousin, cousin,
with those rare gifts, what you might have been; what, if you will pass
through repentance and cling to atonement, what, I dare hope, you may
yet be!  Talk not now of your love; I talk not of mine!  Love is a thing
gone from the lives of both.  Go back to earlier thoughts, to heavier
wrongs,--your father, that noble heart which you have so wantonly
lacerated, which you have so little comprehended!"

Then, with all the warmth of emotion, I hurried on,--showed him the true
nature of honor and of Roland (for the names were one!); showed him the
watch, the hope, the manly anguish I had witnessed, and wept--I, not his
son to see; showed him the poverty and privation to which the father,
even at the last, had condemned himself, so that the son might have no
excuse for the sins that Want whispers to the weak.  This and much more,
and I suppose with the pathos that belongs to all earnestness, I
enforced, sentence after sentence, yielding to no interruption,
overmastering all dissent, driving in the truth, nail after nail, as it
were, into the obdurate heart that I constrained and grappled to.  And
at last the dark, bitter, cynical nature gave way, and the young man
fell sobbing at my feet and cried aloud, "Spare me, spare me!  I see it
all now, wretch that I have been!"



CHAPTER VIII.


On leaving Vivian I did not presume to promise him Roland's immediate
pardon.  I did not urge him to attempt to see his father.  I felt the
time was not come for either pardon or interview.  I contented myself
with the victory I had already gained.  I judged it right that thought,
solitude, and suffering should imprint more deeply the lesson, and
prepare the way to the steadfast resolution of reform.  I left him
seated by the stream, and with the promise to inform him at the small
hostelry, where he took up his lodging, how Roland struggled through his
illness.

On returning to the inn I was uneasy to see how long a time had elapsed
since I had left my uncle.  But on coming into his room, to my surprise
and relief I found him up and dressed, and with a serene, though
fatigued, expression of countenance.  He asked me no questions where I
had been,--perhaps from sympathy with my feelings in parting with Miss
Trevanion; perhaps from conjecture that the indulgence of those feelings
had not wholly engrossed my time.

But he said simply, "I think I understood from you that you had sent for
Austin,--is it so?"

"Yes, sir; but I named --, as the nearest point to the Tower, for the
place of meeting."

"Then let us go hence forthwith,--nay, I shall be better for the change.
And here there must be curiosity, conjecture, torture!" said he, locking
his hands tightly together.  "Order the horses at once!"

I left the room accordingly; and while they were getting ready the
horses, I ran to the place where I had left Vivian.  He was still there,
in the same attitude, covering his face with his hands, as if to shut
out the sun.  I told him hastily of Roland's improvement, of our
approaching departure, and asked him an address in London at which I
could find him.  He gave me as his direction the same lodging at which I
had so often visited him.  "If there be no vacancy there for me," said
he, "I shall leave word where I am to be found.  But I would gladly be
where I was before--"  He did not finish the sentence.  I pressed his
hand, and left him.



CHAPTER IX.


Some days have elapsed: we are in London, my father with us; and Roland
has permitted Austin to tell me his tale, and received through Austin
all that Vivian's narrative to me suggested, whether in extenuation of
the past or in hope of redemption in the future.  And Austin has
inexpressibly soothed his brother.  And Roland's ordinary roughness has
gone, and his looks are meek and his voice low.  But he talks little,
and smiles never.  He asks me no questions, does not to me name his son,
nor recur to the voyage to Australia, nor ask why it is put off, nor
interest himself, as before, in preparations for it,--he has no heart
for anything.

The voyage is put off till the next vessel sails, and I have seen Vivian
twice or thrice, and the result of the interviews has disappointed and
depressed me.  It seems to me that much of the previous effect I had
produced is already obliterated.  At the very sight of the great Babel,
--the evidence of the ease, the luxury, the wealth, the pomp; the strife,
the penury, the famine, and the rags, which the focus of civilization,
in the disparities of old societies, inevitably gathers together,--the
fierce, combative disposition seemed to awaken again; the perverted
ambition, the hostility to the world; the wrath, the scorn; the war with
man, and the rebellious murmur against Heaven.  There was still the one
redeeming point of repentance for his wrongs to his father,--his heart
was still softened there; and, attendant on that softness, I hailed a
principle more like that of honor than I had yet recognized in Vivian.
He cancelled the agreement which had assured him of a provision at the
cost of his father's comforts.  "At least there," he said, "I will
injure him no more!"

But while on this point repentance seemed genuine, it was not so with
regard to his conduct towards Miss Trevanion.  His gypsy nurture, his
loose associates, his extravagant French romances, his theatrical anode
of looking upon love intrigues and stage plots, seemed all to rise
between his intelligence and the due sense of the fraud and treachery he
had practised.  He seemed to feel more shame at the exposure than at the
guilt, more despair at the failure of success than gratitude at escape
from crime.  In a word, the nature of a whole life was not to be
remodelled at once,--at least by an artificer so unskilled as I.

After one of these interviews I stole into the room where Austin sat
with Roland, and watching a seasonable moment when Roland, shaking off a
revery, opened his Bible and sat down to it, with each muscle in his
face set, as I had seen it before, into iron resolution, I beckoned my
father from the room.

Pisistratus.--"I have again seen my cousin.  I cannot make the way I
wished.  My dear father, you must see him."

Mr. Caxton.--"I?  Yes, assuredly, if I can be of any service.  But will
he listen to me?"

Pisistratus.--"I think so.  A young man will often respect in his elder
what he will resent as a presumption in his contemporary."

Mr. Caxton.--"It may be so.  [Then more thoughtfully] But you describe
this strange boy's mind as a wreck!  In what part of the mouldering
timbers can I fix the grappling-hook?  Here it seems that most of the
supports on which we can best rely, when we would save another, fail
us,--religion, honor, the associations of childhood, the bonds of home,
filial obedience, even the intelligence of self-interest, in the
philosophical sense of the word.  And I, too,--a mere bookman!  My dear
son, I despair!"

Pisistratus.--"No, you do not despair; no, you must succeed,--for if you
do not, what is to become of Uncle Roland?  Do you not see his heart is
fast breaking?"

Mr. Caxton.--"Get me my hat.  I will go; I will save this Ishmael,--I
will not leave him till he is saved!"

Pisistratus. (some minutes after, as they are walking towards Vivian's
lodging).--"You ask me what support you are to cling to: a strong and a
good one, sir."

Mr. Caxton. "Ah! what is that?"

Pisistratus.--"Affection!  There is a nature capable of strong affection
at the core of this wild heart.  He could love his mother,--tears gush
to his eyes at her name; he would have starved rather than part with the
memorial of that love.  It was his belief in his father's indifference
or dislike that hardened and imbruted him; it is only when he hears how
that father loved him that I now melt his pride and curb his passions.
You have affection to deal with!  Do you despair now?

"My father turned on me those eyes so inexpressibly benign and mild, and
replied softly, 'No!'

"We reached the house; and my father said, as we knocked at the door, 'If
he is at home, leave me.  This is a hard study to which you have set me;
I must work at it alone.'

"Vivian was at home, and the door closed on his visitor.  My father
stayed some hours.

"On returning home, to my great surprise I found Trevanion with my uncle.
He had found us out,--no easy matter, I should think.  But a good
impulse in Trevanion was not of that feeble kind which turns home at the
sight of a difficulty.  He had come to London on purpose to see and to
thank us.

"I did not think there had been so much of delicacy--of what I may call
the "beauty of kindness"--in a man whom incessant business had rendered
ordinarily blunt and abrupt.  I hardly recognized the impatient
Trevanion in the soothing, tender, subtle respect that rather implied
than spoke gratitude, and sought to insinuate what he owed to the
unhappy father, without touching on his wrongs from the son.  But of
this kindness--which showed how Trevanion's high nature of gentleman
raised him aloof from that coarseness of thought which those absorbed
wholly in practical affairs often contract--of this kindness, so noble
and so touching, Roland seemed scarcely aware.  He sat by the embers of
the neglected fire, his hands grasping the arms of his elbow-chair, his
bead drooping on his bosom; and only by a deep hectic flush on his dark
cheek could you have seen that he distinguished between an ordinary
visitor and the man whose child he had helped to save.  This minister of
state, this high member of the elect, at whose gift are places,
peerages, gold-sticks, and ribbons, has nothing at his command for the
bruised spirit of the half-pay soldier.  Before that poverty, that
grief, and that pride, the King's Counsellor was powerless.  Only when
Trevanion rose to depart, something like a sense of the soothing
intention which the visit implied seemed to rouse the repose of the old
man and to break the ice at its surface; for he followed Trevanion to
the door, took both his hands, pressed them, then turned away, and
resumed his seat.  Trevanion beckoned to me, and I followed him
downstairs and into a little parlor which was unoccupied.

"After some remarks upon Roland, full of deep and considerate feeling,
and one quick, hurried reference to the son,--to the effect that his
guilty attempt would never be known by the world,--Trevanion then
addressed himself to me with a warmth and urgency that took me by
surprise.  'After what has passed,' he exclaimed, 'I cannot suffer you
to leave England thus.  Let me not feel with you, as with your uncle,
that there is nothing by which I can repay--No, I will not so put it,--
stay, and serve your country at home; it is my prayer, it is Ellinor's.
Out of all at my disposal it will go hard but what I shall find
something to suit you.'  And then, hurrying on, Trevanion spoke
flatteringly of my pretensions, in right of birth and capabilities, to
honorable employment, and placed before me a picture of public life, its
prizes and distinctions, which for the moment, at least, made my heart
beat loud and my breath come quick.  But still, even then I felt (was it
an unreasonable pride?) that there was something that jarred, something
that humbled, in the thought of holding all my fortunes as a dependency
on the father of the woman I loved, but might not aspire to; something
even of personal degradation in the mere feeling that I was thus to be
repaid for a service, and recompensed for a loss.  But these were not
reasons I could advance; and, indeed, so for the time did Trevanion's
generosity and eloquence overpower me that I could only falter out my
thanks and my promise that I would consider and let him know.

"With that promise he was forced to content himself; he told me to direct
to him at his favorite country seat, whither he was going that day, and
so left me.  I looked round the humble parlor of the mean lodging-house,
and Trevanion's words came again before me like a flash of golden light.
I stole into the open air and wandered through the crowded streets,
agitated and disturbed."



CHAPTER X.


Several days elapsed, and of each day my father spent a considerable
part at Vivian's lodgings.  But he maintained a reserve as to his
success, begged me not to question him, and to refrain also for the
present from visiting my cousin.  My uncle guessed or knew his brother's
mission; for I observed that whenever Austin went noiseless away, his
eye brightened, and the color rose in a hectic flush to his cheek.  At
last my father came to me one morning, his carpet-bag in his hand, and
said, "I am going away for a week or two.  Keep Roland company till I
return."

"Going with him?"

"With him."

"That is a good sign."

"I hope so; that is all I can say now."

The week had not quite passed when I received from my father the letter
I am about to place before the reader; and you may judge how earnestly
his soul must have been in the task it had volunteered, if you observe
how little, comparatively speaking, the letter contains of the
subtleties and pedantries (may the last word be pardoned, for it is
scarcely a just one) which ordinarily left my father,--a scholar even in
the midst of his emotions.  He seemed here to have abandoned his books,
to have put the human heart before the eyes of his pupil, and said,
"Read and un-learn!"

To Pisistratus Caxton.

     My Dear Son,--It were needless to tell you all the earlier
     difficulties I have had to encounter with my charge, nor to repeat
     all the means which, acting on your suggestion (a correct one), I
     have employed to arouse feelings long dormant and confused, and
     allay others long prematurely active and terribly distinct.  The
     evil was simply this: here was the intelligence of a man in all
     that is evil, and the ignorance of an infant in all that is good.
     In matters merely worldly, what wonderful acumen; in the plain
     principles of right and wrong, what gross and stolid obtuseness!
     At one time I am straining all my poor wit to grapple in an
     encounter on the knottiest mysteries of social life; at another, I
     am guiding reluctant fingers over the horn-book of the most obvious
     morals.  Here hieroglyphics, and there pot-hooks!  But as long as
     there is affection in a man, why, there is Nature to begin with!
     To get rid of all the rubbish laid upon her, clear back the way to
     that Nature and start afresh,--that is one's only chance.

     Well, by degrees I won my way, waiting patiently till the bosom,
     pleased with the relief, disgorged itself of all "its perilous
     stuff,"--not chiding, not even remonstrating, seeming almost to
     sympathize, till I got him, Socratically, to disprove himself.
     When I saw that he no longer feared me, that my company had become
     a relief to him, I proposed an excursion, and did not tell him
     whither.

     Avoiding as much as possible the main north road (for I did not
     wish, as you may suppose, to set fire to a train of associations
     that might blow us up to the dog-star), and where that avoidance
     was not possible, travelling by night, I got him into the
     neighborhood of the old Tower.

     I would not admit him under its roof.  But you know the little inn,
     three miles off, near the trout stream?  We made our abode there.

     Well, I have taken him into the village, preserving his incognito.
     I have entered with him into cottages, and turned the talk upon
     Roland.  You know how your uncle is adored; you know what anecdotes
     of his bold, warm-hearted youth once, and now of his kind and
     charitable age, would spring up from the garrulous lips of
     gratitude!  I made him see with his own eyes, hear with his own
     ears, how all who knew Roland loved and honored him,--except his
     son.  Then I took him round the ruins (still not suffering him to
     enter the house); for those ruins are the key to Roland's
     character,--seeing them, one sees the pathos in his poor foible of
     family pride.  There, you distinguish it from the insolent boasts
     of the prosperous, and feel that it is little more than the pious
     reverence to the dead, "the tender culture of the tomb."  We sat
     down on heaps of mouldering stone, and it was there that I
     explained to him what Roland was in youth, and what he had dreamed
     that a son would be to him.  I showed him the graves of his
     ancestors, and explained to him why they were sacred in Roland's
     eyes.  I had gained a great way when he longed to enter the home
     that should have been his and I could make him pause of his own
     accord and say, "No, I must first be worthy of it."  Then you would
     have smiled--sly satirist that you are--to have heard me impressing
     upon this acute, sharp-witted youth all that we plain folk
     understand by the name of Home,--its perfect trust and truth, its
     simple holiness, its exquisite happiness, being to the world what
     conscience is to the human mind.  And after that I brought in his
     sister, whom till then he had scarcely named, for whom he scarcely
     seemed to care,--brought her in to aid the father and endear the
     home.  "And you know," said I, "that if Roland were to die, it
     would be a brother's duty to supply his place,--to shield her
     innocence, to protect her name!  A good name is something, then.
     Your father was not so wrong to prize it.  You would like yours to
     be that which your sister would be proud to own!"

     While we were talking, Blanche suddenly came to the spot, and
     rushed to my arms.  She looked on him as a stranger, but I saw his
     knees tremble.  And then she was about to put her hand in his, but
     I drew her back.  Was I cruel?  He thought so.  But when I
     dismissed her, I replied to his reproach: "Your sister is a part of
     Home.  If you think yourself worthy of either, go and claim both; I
     will not object."

     "She has my mother's eyes," said he, and walked away.  I left him
     to muse amidst the ruins, while I went in to see your poor mother
     and relieve her fears about Roland and make her understand why I
     could not yet return home.

     This brief sight of his sister has sunk deep into him.  But I now
     approach what seems to me the great difficulty of the whole.  He is
     fully anxious to redeem his name, to regain his home.  So far so
     well.  But he cannot yet see ambition, except with hard, worldly
     eyes.  He still fancies that all he has to do is to get money and
     power and some of those empty prizes in the Great Lottery which we
     often win more easily by our sins than our virtues.  [Here follows
     a long passage from Seneca, omitted as superfluous.]  He does not
     yet even understand me--or if he does, he fancies me a mere book-
     worm indeed--when I imply that he might be poor and obscure, at the
     bottom of fortune's wheel, and yet be one we should be proud of.
     He supposes that to redeem his name he has only got to lacker it.
     Don't think me merely the fond father when I add my hope that I
     shall use you to advantage here.  I mean to talk to him to-morrow,
     as we return to London, of you and of your ambition; you shall hear
     the result.

     At this moment (it is past midnight) I hear his step in the room
     above me.  The window-sash aloft opens, for the third time.  Would
     to Heaven he could read the true astrology of the stars!  There
     they are,--bright, luminous, benignant.  And I seeking to chain
     this wandering comet into the harmonies of heaven!  Better task
     than that of astrologers, and astronomers to boot!  Who among them
     can "loosen the band of Orion"?  But who amongst us may not be
     permitted by God to have sway over the action and orbit of the
     human soul?
                         Your ever-affectionate father,

                                                  A. C.

Two days after the receipt of this letter came the following; and though
I would fain suppress those references to myself which must be ascribed
to a father's partiality, yet it is so needful to retain them in
connection with Vivian that I have no choice but to leave the tender
flatteries to the indulgence of the kind.

     My Dear Son,--I was not too sanguine as to the effect that your
     simple story would produce upon your cousin.  Without implying any
     contrast to his own conduct, I described that scene in which you
     threw yourself upon our sympathy, in the struggle between love and
     duty, and asked for our counsel and support; when Roland gave you
     his blunt advice to tell all to Trevanion; and when, amidst such
     sorrow as the heart in youth seems scarcely large enough to hold,
     you caught at truth impulsively, and the truth bore you safe from
     the shipwreck.  I recounted your silent and manly struggles, your
     resolution not to suffer the egotism of passion to unfit you for
     the aims and ends of that spiritual probation which we call Life.
     I showed you as you were,--still thoughtful for us, interested in
     our interests, smiling on us, that we might not guess that you wept
     in secret!  Oh, my son, my son, do not think that in those times I
     did not feel and pray for you!  And while he was melted by my own
     emotion, I turned from your love to your ambition.  I made him see
     that you too had known the restlessness which belongs to young,
     ardent natures; that you too had had your dreams of fortune and
     aspirations for success.  But I painted that ambition in its true
     colors: it was not the desire of a selfish intellect.  to be in
     yourself a somebody, a something, raised a step or two in the
     social ladder, for the pleasure of looking down on those at the
     foot, but the warmer yearning of a generous heart; your ambition
     was to repair your father's losses, minister to your father's very
     foible in his idle desire of fame, supply to your uncle what he had
     lost in his natural heir, link your success to useful objects, your
     interests to those of your kind, your reward to the proud and
     grateful smiles of those you loved.  That was thine ambition, O my
     tender Anachronism!  And when, as I closed the sketch, I said,
     "Pardon me, you know not what delight a father feels when, while
     sending a son away from him into the world, he can speak and think
     thus of him.  But this, you see, is not your kind of ambition.  Let
     us talk of making money, and driving a coach-and-four through this
     villanous world,"--your cousin sank into a profound revery; and
     when he woke from it, it was like the waking of the earth after a
     night in spring,--the bare trees had put forth buds!

     And, some time after, he startled me by a prayer that I would
     permit him, with his father's consent, to accompany you to
     Australia.  The only answer I have given him as yet has been in the
     form of a question: "Ask yourself if I ought?  I cannot wish
     Pisistratus to be other than he is; and unless you agree with him
     in all his principles and objects, ought I to incur the risk that
     you should give him your knowledge of the world and inoculate him
     with your ambition?" he was struck, and had the candor to attempt
     no reply.

     Now, Pisistratus, the doubt I expressed to him is the doubt I feel.
     For, indeed, it is only by home-truths, not refining arguments,
     that I can deal with this unscholastic Scythian, who, fresh from
     the Steppes, comes to puzzle me in the Portico.

     On the one hand, what is to become of him in the Old World?  At his
     age and with his energies it would be impossible to cage him with
     us in the Cumberland ruins; weariness and discontent would undo all
     we could do.  He has no resource in books, and I fear never will
     have!  But to send him forth into one of the over-crowded
     professions; to place him amidst all those "disparities of social
     life," on the rough stones of which he is perpetually grinding his
     heart; turn him adrift amongst all the temptations to which he is
     most prone,--this is a trial which, I fear, will be too sharp for a
     conversion so incomplete.  In the New World, no doubt, his energies
     would find a safer field, and even the adventurous and desultory
     habits of his childhood might there be put to healthful account.
     Those complaints of the disparities of the civilized world find, I
     suspect, an easier, if a bluffer, reply from the political
     economist than the Stoic philosopher.  "You don't like them, you
     find it hard to submit to them," says the political economist; "but
     they are the laws of a civilized state, and you can't alter them.
     Wiser men than you have tried to alter them, and never succeeded,
     though they turned the earth topsy-turvy!  Very well; but the world
     is wide,--go into a state that is not so civilized.  The
     disparities of the Old World vanish amidst the New!  Emigration is
     the reply of Nature to the rebellious cry against Art."  Thus would
     say the political economist; and, alas, even in your case, my son,
     I found no reply to the reasonings!  I acknowledge, then, that
     Australia might open the best safety-valve to your cousin's
     discontent and desires; but I acknowledge also a counter-truth,
     which is this: "It is not permitted to an honest man to corrupt
     himself for the sake of others."  That is almost the only maxim of
     Jean Jacques to which I can cheerfully subscribe!  Do you feel
     quite strong enough to resist all the influences which a
     companionship of this kind may subject you to; strong enough to
     bear his burden as well as your own; strong enough, also,--ay, and
     alert and vigilant enough,--to prevent those influences harming the
     others whom you have undertaken to guide, and whose lots are
     confided to you?  Pause well and consider maturely, for this must
     not depend upon a generous impulse.  I think that your cousin would
     now pass under your charge with a sincere desire for reform; but
     between sincere desire and steadfast performance there is a long
     and dreary interval, even to the best of us.  Were it not for
     Roland, and had I one grain less confidence in you, I could not
     entertain the thought of laying on your young shoulders so great a
     responsibility.  But every new responsibility to an earnest nature
     is a new prop to virtue; and all I now ask of you is to remember
     that it is a solemn and serious charge, not to be undertaken
     without the most deliberate gauge and measure of the strength with
     which it is to be borne.

     In two days we shall be in London.
               Yours, my Anachronism, anxiously and fondly,
                                             A. C.

I was in my own room while I read this letter, and I had just finished
it when, as I looked up, I saw Roland standing opposite to me.  "It is
from Austin," said he; then he paused a moment, and added, in a tone
that seemed quite humble, "May I see it,--and dare I?"  I placed the
letter in his hands, and retired a few paces, that he might not think I
watched his countenance while he read it.  And I was only aware that he
had come to the end by a heavy, anxious, but not disappointed sigh.
Then I turned, and our eyes met; and there was something in Roland's
look, inquiring and, as it were, imploring.  I interpreted it at once.

"Oh, yes, uncle!" I said, smiling; "I have reflected, and I have no fear
of the result.  Before my father wrote, what he now suggests had become
my secret wish.  As for our other companions, their simple natures would
defy all such sophistries as--But he is already half-cured of those.
Let him come with me, and when he returns he shall be worthy of a place
in your heart beside his sister Blanche.  I feel, I promise it; do not
fear for me!  Such a charge will be a talisman to myself.  I will shun
every error that I might otherwise commit, so that he may have no
example to entice him to err."

I know that in youth, and the superstition of first love, we are
credulously inclined to believe that love and the possession of the
beloved are the only happiness.  But when my uncle folded me in his arms
and called me the hope of his age and stay of his house,--the music of
my father's praise still ringing on my heart,--I do affirm that I knew a
prouder bliss than if Trevanion had placed Fanny's hand in mine and
said, "She is yours."

And now the die was cast, the decision made.  It was with no regret that
I wrote to Trevanion to decline his offers.  Nor was the sacrifice so
great--even putting aside the natural pride which had before inclined to
it--as it may seem to some; for restless though I was, I had labored to
constrain myself to other views of life than those which close the
vistas of ambition with images of the terrestrial deities, Power and
Rank.  Had I not been behind the scenes, noted all of joy and of peace
that the pursuit of power had cost Trevanion, and seen how little of
happiness rank gave even to one of the polished habits and graceful
attributes of Lord Castleton?  Yet each nature seemed fitted so well,--
the first for power, the last for rank!  It is marvellous with what
liberality Providence atones for the partial dispensations of Fortune.
Independence, or the vigorous pursuit of it; affection, with its hopes
and its rewards; a life only rendered by Art more susceptible to Nature,
in which the physical enjoyments are pure and healthful, in which the
moral faculties expand harmoniously with the intellectual, and the heart
is at peace with the mind,--is this a mean lot for ambition to desire,
and is it so far out of human reach?  "Know thyself," said the old
philosophy.  "Improve thyself," saith the new.  The great object of the
Sojourner in Time is not to waste all his passions and gifts on the
things external that he must leave behind,--that which he cultivates
within is all that he can carry into the Eternal Progress.  We are here
but as schoolboys, whose life begins where school ends; and the battles
we fought with our rivals, and the toys that we shared with our
playmates, and the names that we carved, high or low, on the wall above
our desks,--will they so much bestead us hereafter?  As new fates crowd
upon us, can they more than pass through the memory with a smile or a
sigh?  Look back to thy schooldays and answer.



CHAPTER XI.


Two weeks since the date of the preceding chapter have passed; we have
slept our last, for long years to come, on the English soil.  It is
night, and Vivian has been admitted to an interview with his father.
They have been together alone an hour and more, and I and my father will
not disturb them.  But the clock strikes, the hour is late, the ship
sails to-night; we should be on board.  And as we two stand below, the
door opens in the room above, and a heavy step descends the stairs: the
father is leaning on the son's arm.  You should see how timidly the son
guides the halting step.  And now, as the light gleams on their faces,
there are tears on Vivian's cheek; but the face of Roland seems calm and
happy.  Happy, when about to be separated, perhaps forever, from his
son?  Yes, happy, because he has found a son for the first time, and is
not thinking of years and absence and the chance of death, but thankful
for the Divine Mercy, and cherishing celestial hope.  If ye wonder why
Roland is happy in such an hour, how vainly have I sought to make him
breathe and live and move before you!

We are on board; our luggage all went first.  I had had time, with the
help of a carpenter, to knock up cabins for Vivian, Guy Bolding, and
myself in the hold; for thinking we could not too soon lay aside the
pretensions of Europe,--"de-fine-gentlemanize" ourselves, as Trevanion
recommended,--we had engaged steerage passage, to the great humoring of
our finances.  We had, too, the luxury to be by ourselves, and our own
Cumberland folks were round us, as our friends and servants both.

We are on board, and have looked our last on those we are to leave, and
we stand on deck leaning on each other.  We are on board, and the
lights, near and far, shine from the vast City; and the stars are on
high, bright and clear, as for the first mariners of old.  Strange
noises, rough voices, and crackling cords, and here and there the sobs
of women, mingling with the oaths of men.  Now the swing and heave of
the vessel, the dreary sense of exile that comes when the ship fairly
moves over the waters.  And still we stood and looked and listened,
silent, and leaning on each other.

Night deepened, the City vanished: not a gleam from its myriad lights!
The river widened and widened.  How cold comes the wind,--is that a gale
from the sea?  The stars grow faint, the moon has sunk.  And now, how
desolate seem the waters in the comfortless gray of dawn!  Then we
shivered and looked at each other, and muttered something that was not
the thought deepest at our hearts, and crept into our berths, feeling
sure it was not for sleep.  And sleep came on us, soft and kind.  The
ocean lulled the exiles as on a mother's breast.





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