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Title: What Will He Do with It? — Volume 06
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What Will He Do with It? — Volume 06" ***

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BOOK VI.


CHAPTER I.

     Etchings of Hyde Park in the month of June, which, if this history
     escapes those villains the trunk-makers, may be of inestimable value
     to unborn antiquarians.--Characters, long absent, reappear and give
     some account of themselves.

Five years have passed away since this history opened.  It is the month
of June once more,--June, which clothes our London in all its glory,
fills its languid ballrooms with living flowers, and its stony causeways
with human butterflies.  It is about the hour of six P.M.  The lounge in
Hyde Park is crowded; along the road that skirts the Serpentine crawl the
carriages one after the other; congregate by the rails the lazy lookers-
on,--lazy in attitude, but with active eyes, and tongues sharpened on the
whetstone of scandal,--the Scaligers of club windows airing their
vocabulary in the Park.  Slowly saunter on foot idlers of all degrees in
the hierarchy of London idlesse: dandies of established-fame; youthful
tyros in their first season.  Yonder in the Ride, forms less inanimate
seem condemned to active exercise; young ladies doing penance in a
canter; old beaux at hard labour in a trot.  Sometimes, by a more
thoughtful brow, a still brisker pace, you recognize a busy member of
the Imperial Parliament, who, advised by physicians to be as much on
horseback as possible, snatches an hour or so in the interval between the
close of his Committee and the interest of the Debate, and shirks the
opening speech of a well-known bore.  Among such truant lawgivers (grief
it is to say it) may be seen that once model member, Sir Gregory
Stollhead.  Grim dyspepsia seizing on him at last, "relaxation from his
duties" becomes the adequate punishment for all his sins.  Solitary he
rides, and communing with himself, yawns at every second.  Upon chairs
beneficently located under the trees towards the north side of the walk
are interspersed small knots and coteries in repose.  There you might
see the Ladies Prymme, still the Ladies Prymme,--Janet and Wilhelmina;
Janet has grown fat, Wilhelmina thin.  But thin or fat, they are no
less Prymmes.  They do not lack male attendants; they are girls of high
fashion, with whom young inen think it a distinction to be seen talking;
of high principle, too, and high pretensions (unhappily for themselves,
they are co-heiresses), by whom young men under the rank of earls need
not fear to be artfully entrapped into "honourable intentions."  They
coquet majestically, but they never flirt; they exact devotion, but they
do not ask in each victim a sacrifice on the horns of the altar; they
will never give their hands where they do not give their hearts; and
being ever afraid that they are courted for their money, they will
never give their hearts save to wooers who have much more money than
themselves.  Many young men stop to do passing homage to the Ladies
Prymme: some linger to converse; safe young men,--they are all younger
sons.  Farther on, Lady Frost and Mr. Crampe, the wit, sit amicably side
by side, pecking at each other with sarcastic beaks; occasionally
desisting, in order to fasten nip and claw upon that common enemy, the
passing friend!  The Slowes, a numerous family, but taciturn, sit by
themselves; bowed to much, accosted rarely.

Note that man of good presence, somewhere about thirty, or a year or two
more, who, recognized by most of the loungers, seems not at home in the
lounge.  He has passed by the various coteries just described, made his
obeisance to the Ladies Prymme, received an icy epigram from Lady Frost,
and a laconic sneer from Mr. Crampe, and exchanged silent bows with seven
silent Slowes.  He has wandered on, looking high in the air, but still
looking for some one not in the air, and evidently disappointed in his
search, comes to a full stop at length, takes off his hat, wipes his
brow, utters a petulant "Prr--r--pshaw!" and seeing, a little in the
background, the chairless shade of a thin, emaciated, dusty tree, thither
he retires, and seats himself with as little care whether there to seat
himself be the right thing in the right place, as if in the honeysuckle
arbour of a village inn.  "It serves me right," said he to himself: "a
precocious villain bursts in upon me, breaks my day, makes an appointment
to meet me here, in these very walks, ten minutes before six; decoys me
with the promise of a dinner at Putney,--room looking on the river and
fried flounders.  I have the credulity to yield: I derange my habits;
I leave my cool studio; I put off my easy blouse; I imprison my freeborn
throat in a cravat invented by the Thugs; the dog-days are at hand, and I
walk rashly over scorching pavements in a black frock-coat and a brimless
hat; I annihilate 3s. 6d. in a pair of kid gloves; I arrive at this haunt
of spleen; I run the gauntlet of Frosts, Slowes, and Prymmes: and my
traitor fails me!  Half-past six,--not a sign of him! and the dinner at
Putney,--fried flounders?  Dreams!  Patience, five minutes more; if then
he comes not, breach for life between him and me!  Ah, voila! there he
comes, the laggard!  But how those fine folks are catching at him!  Has
he asked them also to dinner at Putney, and do they care for fried
flounders?"

The soliloquist's eye is on a young man, much younger than himself, who
is threading the motley crowd with a light quick step, but is compelled
to stop at each moment to interchange a word of welcome, a shake of the
hand.  Evidently he has already a large acquaintance; evidently he is
popular, on good terms with the world and himself.  What free grace in
his bearing!  what gay good-humour in his smile!  Powers above!  Lady
Wilhelmina surely blushes as she returns his bow.  He has passed Lady
Frost unblighted; the Slowes evince emotion, at least the female Slowes,
as he shoots by them with that sliding bow.  He looks from side to side,
with the rapid glance of an eye in which light seems all dance and
sparkle: he sees the soliloquist under the meagre tree; the pace
quickens, the lips part half laughing.

"Don't scold, Vance.  I am late, I know; but I did not make allowance for
interceptions."

"Body o' me, interceptions!  For an absentee just arrived in London, you
seem to have no lack of friends."

"Friends made in Paris and found again here at every corner, like
pleasant surprises,--but no friend so welcome and dear as Frank Vance."

"Sensible of the honour, O Lionello the Magnificent.  Verily you are /bon
prince!/  The Houses of Valois and of Medici were always kind to artists.
But whither would you lead me?  Back into that treadmill?  Thank you,
humbly; no."

"A crowd in fine clothes is of all mobs the dullest.  I can look
undismayed on the many-headed monster, wild and rampant; but when the
many-headed monster buys its hats in Bond Street, and has an eyeglass at
each of its inquisitive eyes, I confess I take fright.  Besides, it is
near seven o'clock; Putney not visible, and the flounders not fried!"

"My cab is waiting yonder; we must walk to it: we can keep on the turf,
and avoid the throng.  But tell me honestly, Vance, do you really dislike
to mix in crowds; you, with your fame, dislike the eyes that turn back to
look again, and the lips that respectfully murmur, 'Vance the Painter'?
Ah, I always said you would be a great painter,--and in five short years
you have soared high."

"Pooh!"  answered Vance, indifferently.  "Nothing is pure and
unadulterated in London use; not cream, nor cayenne pepper; least of all
Fame,--mixed up with the most deleterious ingredients.  Fame! did you
read the 'Times' critique on my pictures in the present Exhibition?  Fame
indeed Change the subject.  Nothing so good as flounders.  Ho! is that
your cab?  Superb!  Car fit for the 'Grecian youth of talents rare,' in
Mr. Enfield's 'Speaker;' horse that seems conjured out of the Elgin
Marbles.  Is he quiet?"

"Not very; but trust to my driving.  You may well admire the horse,--
present from Darrell, chosen by Colonel Morley."  When the young men had
settled themselves into the vehicle, Lionel dismissed his groom, and,
touching his horse, the animal trotted out briskly.

"Frank," said Lionel, shaking his dark curls with a petulant gravity,
"your cynical definitions are unworthy that masculine beard.  You despise
fame! what sheer affectation!

                         "'Pulverem Olympicum
               Collegisse juvat; metaque fervidis
                    Evitata rotis-----'"

"Take care," cried Vance; "we shall be over."  For Lionel, growing
excited, teased the horse with his whip; and the horse bolting, took the
cab within an inch of a water-cart.

"Fame, fame!" cried Lionel, unheeding the interruption.  "What would I
not give to have and to hold it for an hour?"  "Hold an eel, less
slippery; a scorpion, less stinging!  But--" added Vance, observing his
companion's heightened colour--"but," he added seriously, and with an
honest compunction, "I forgot, you are a soldier, you follow the career
of arms!  Never heed what is said on the subject by a querulous painter!
The desire of fame may be folly in civilians: in soldiers it is wisdom.
Twin-born with the martial sense of honour, it cheers the march; it warms
the bivouac; it gives music to the whir of the bullet, the roar of the
ball; it plants hope in the thick of peril; knits rivals with the bond
of brothers; comforts the survivor when the brother falls; takes from war
its grim aspect of carnage; and from homicide itself extracts lessons
that strengthen the safeguards to humanity, and perpetuate life to
nations.  Right: pant for fame; you are a soldier!"

This was one of those bursts of high sentiment from Vance, which, as they
were very rare with him, had the dramatic effect of surprise.  Lionel
listened to him with a thrilling delight.  He could not answer: he was
too moved.  The artist resumed, as the cabriolet now cleared the Park,
and rolled safely and rapidly along the road.  "I suppose, during the
five years you have spent abroad completing your general education, you
have made little study, or none, of what specially appertains to the
profession you have so recently chosen."

"You are mistaken there, my dear Vance.  If a man's heart be set on a
thing, he is always studying it.  The books I loved best, and most
pondered over, were such as, if they did not administer lessons,
suggested hints that might turn to lessons hereafter.  In social
intercourse, I never was so pleased as when I could fasten myself to some
practical veteran,--question and cross-examine him.  One picks up more
ideas in conversation than from books; at least I do.  Besides, my idea
of a soldier who is to succeed some day is not that of a mere mechanician
-at-arms.  See how accomplished most great captains have been.  What
observers of mankind! what diplomatists! what reasoners! what men of
action, because men to whom reflection had been habitual before they
acted!  How many stores of idea must have gone to the judgment which
hazards the sortie or decides on the retreat!"

"Gently, gently!" cried Vance.  "We shall be into that omnibus!  Give me
the whip,--do; there, a little more to the left,--so.  Yes; I am glad to
see such enthusiasm in your profession: 't is half the battle.  Hazlitt
said a capital thing, 'The 'prentice who does not consider the Lord Mayor
in his gilt coach the greatest man in the world will live to be hanged!'"

"Pish!" said Lionel, catching at the whip.

VANCE (holding it back).--"No.  I apologize.  I retract the Lord Mayor:
comparisons are odious.  I agree with you, nothing like leather.  I mean
nothing like a really great soldier,--Hannibal, and so forth.  Cherish
that conviction, my friend: meanwhile, respect human life; there is
another omnibus!"

The danger past, the artist thought it prudent to divert the conversation
into some channel less exciting.

"Mr. Darrell, of course, consents to your choice of a profession?"

"Consents!  approves, encourages.  Wrote me such a beautiful letter!
what a comprehensive intelligence that man has!"

"Necessarily; since he agrees with you.  Where is he now?"

"I have no notion: it is some months since I heard from him.  He was then
at Malta, on his return from Asia Minor."

"So! you have never seen him since he bade you farewell at his old Manor-
house?"

"Never.  He has not, I believe, been in England."

"Nor in Paris, where you seem to have chiefly resided."

"Nor in Paris.  Ah, Vance, could I but be of some comfort to him.  Now
that I am older, I think I understand in him much that perplexed me as a
boy when we parted.  Darrell is one of those men who require a home.
Between the great world and solitude, he needs the intermediate filling-
up which the life domestic alone supplies: a wife to realize the sweet
word helpmate; children, with whose future he could knit his own toils
and his ancestral remembrances.  That intermediate space annihilated,
the great world and the solitude are left, each frowning on the other."

"My dear Lionel, you must have lived with very clever people: you are
talking far above your years."

"Am I?  True; I have lived, if not with very clever people, with people
far above my years.  That is a secret I learned from Colonel Morley, to
whom I must present you,--the subtlest intellect under the quietest
manner.  Once he said to me, 'Would you throughout life be up to the
height of your century,--always in the prime of man's reason, without
crudeness and without decline,--live habitually while young with persons
older, and when old with persons younger, than yourself.'"

"Shrewdly said indeed.  I felicitate you on the evident result of the
maxim.  And so Darrell has no home,--no wife and no children?"

"He has long been a widower; he lost his only son in boyhood, and his
daughter--did you never hear?"

"No, what?"

"Married so ill--a runaway match--and died many years since, without
issue."

"Poor man!  It was these afflictions, then, that soured his life, and
made him the hermit or the wanderer?"

"There," said Lionel, "I am puzzled; for I find that, even after his
son's death and his daughter's unhappy marriage and estrangement from
him, he was still in Parliament and in full activity of career.  But
certainly he did not long keep it up.  It might have been an effort to
which, strong as he is, he felt himself unequal; or, might he have known
some fresh disappointment, some new sorrow, which the world never
guesses?  What I have said as to his family afflictions the world knows.
But I think he will marry again.  That idea seemed strong in his own mind
when we parted; he brought it out bluntly, roughly.  Colonel Morley is
convinced that he will marry, if but for the sake of an heir."

VANCE.--"And if so, my poor Lionel, you are ousted of--"

LIONEL (quickly interrupting).--"Hush!  Do not say, my dear Vance, do not
you say--you!--one of those low, mean things which, if said to me even by
men for whom I have no esteem, make my ears tingle and my cheek blush.
When I think of what Darrell has already done for me,--me who have no
claim on him,--it seems to me as if I must hate the man who insinuates,
'Fear lest your benefactor find a smile at his own hearth, a child of his
own blood; for you may be richer at his death in proportion as his life
is desolate.'"

VANCE.--"You are a fine young fellow, and I beg your pardon.  Take care
of that milestone: thank you.  But I suspect that at least two-thirds of
those friendly hands that detained you on the way to me were stretched
out less to Lionel Haughton, a subaltern in the Guards, than to Mr.
Darrell's heir presumptive."

LIONEL.--"That thought sometimes galls me, but it does me good; for it
goads on my desire to make myself some one whom the most worldly would
not disdain to know for his own sake.  Oh for active service!  Oh for a
sharp campaign!  Oh for fair trial how far a man in earnest can grapple
Fortune to his breast with his own strong hands!  You have done so,
Vance; you had but your genius and your painter's brush.  I have no
genius; but I have a resolve, and resolve is perhaps as sure of its ends
as genius.  Genius and Resolve have three grand elements in common,--
Patience, Hope, and Concentration."

Vance, more and more surprised, looked hard at Lionel without speaking.
Five years of that critical age, from seventeen to twenty-two, spent in
the great capital of Europe; kept from its more dangerous vices partly
by a proud sense of personal dignity, partly by a temperament which,
regarding love as an ideal for all tender and sublime emotion, recoiled
from low profligacy as being to love what the Yahoo of the mocking
satirist was to man; absorbed much by the brooding ambition that takes
youth out of the frivolous present into the serious future, and seeking
companionship, not with contemporary idlers, but with the highest and
maturest intellects that the free commonwealth of good society brought
within his reach: five years so spent had developed a boy, nursing noble
dreams, into a man fit for noble action,--retaining freshest youth in its
enthusiasm, its elevation of sentiment, its daring, its energy, and
divine credulity in its own unexhausted resources; but borrowing from
maturity compactness and solidity of idea,--the link between speculation
and practice, the power to impress on others a sense of the superiority
which has been self-elaborated by unconscious culture.

"So!" said Vance, after a prolonged pause, "I don't know whether I have
resolve or genius; but certainly if I have made my way to some small
reputation, patience, hope, and concentration of purpose must have the
credit of it; and prudence, too, which you have forgotten to name, and
certainly don't evince as a charioteer.  I hope, my dear fellow, you are
not extravagant?  No doubt, eh?--why do you laugh?"

"The question is so like you, Frank,--thrifty as ever."

"Do you think I could have painted with a calm mind if I knew that at my
door there was a dun whom I could not pay?  Art needs serenity; and if an
artist begin his career with as few shirts to his back as I had, he must
place economy amongst the rules of perspective."

Lionel laughed again, and made some comments on economy which were
certainly, if smart, rather flippant, and tended not only to lower the
favourable estimate of his intellectuai improvement which Vance had just
formed, but seriously disquieted the kindly artist.  Vance knew the
world,--knew the peculiar temptations to which a young man in Lionel's
position would be exposed,--knew that contempt for economy belongs to
that school of Peripatetics which reserves its last lessons for finished
disciples in the sacred walks of the Queen's Bench.

However, that was no auspicious moment for didactic warnings.

"Here we are!"  cried Lionel,--"Putney Bridge."

They reached the little inn by the river-side, and while dinner was
getting ready they hired a boat.  Vance took the oars.

VANCE.--"Not so pretty here as by those green quiet banks along which we
glided, at moonlight, five years ago."

LIONEL.--"Ah, no!  And that innocent, charming child, whose portrait you
took,--you have never heard of her since?"

VANCE.--"Never!  How should I?  Have you?"

LIONEL.--"Only what Darrell repeated to me.  His lawyer had ascertained
that she and her grandfather had gone to America.  Darrell gently implied
that, from what he learned of them, they scarcely merited the interest I
felt in their fate.  But we were not deceived, were we, Vance?"

VANCE--"No; the little girl--what was her name?  Sukey?  Sally?  Sophy,
true--Sophy had something about her extremely prepossessing, besides her
pretty face; and, in spite of that horrid cotton print, I shall never
forget it."

LIONEL--"Her face!  Nor I.  I see it still before me!"

VANCE--"Her cotton print!  I see it still before me!  But I must not be
ungrateful.  Would you believe it,--that little portrait, which cost me
three pounds, has made, I don't say my fortune, but my fashion?"

LIONEL--"How!  You had the heart to sell it?"

VANCE.--"No; I kept it as a study for young female heads--'with
variations,' as they say in music.  It was by my female heads that I
became the fashion; every order I have contains the condition, 'But be
sure, one of your sweet female heads, Mr. Vance.'  My female heads are as
necessary to my canvas as a white horse to Wouvermans'.  Well, that
child, who cost me three pounds, is the original of them all.  Commencing
as a Titania, she has been in turns a 'Psyche,' a 'Beatrice-Cenci,'
a 'Minna,' 'A Portrait of a Nobleman's Daughter,' 'Burns's Mary in
Heaven,' 'The Young Gleaner,' and 'Sabrina Fair,' in Milton's 'Comus.'
I have led that child through all history, sacred and profane.  I have
painted her in all costumes (her own cotton print excepted).  My female
heads are my glory; even the 'Times' critic allows that!  'Mr. Vance,
there, is inimitable! a type of childlike grace peculiarly his own,' etc.
I'll lend you the article."

LIONEL.--"And shall we never again see the original darling Sophy?  You
will laugh, Vance, but I have been heartproof against all young ladies.
If ever I marry, my wife must have Sophy's eyes!  In America!"

VANCE.--"Let us hope by this time happily married to a Yankee!  Yankees
marry girls in their teens, and don't ask for dowries.  Married to a
Yankee! not a doubt of it! a Yankee who thaws, whittles, and keeps a
'store'!"

LIONEL.--"Monster!  Hold your tongue. /A propos/ of marriage, why are you
still single?"

VANCE.--"Because I have no wish to be doubled up!  Moreover, man is like
a napkin, the more neatly the housewife doubles him, the more carefully
she lays him on the shelf.  Neither can a man once doubled know how often
he may be doubled.  Not only his wife folds him in two, but every child
quarters him into a new double, till what was a wide and handsome
substance, large enough for anything in reason, dwindles into a pitiful
square that will not cover one platter,--all puckers and creases, smaller
and smaller with every double, with every double a new crease.  Then, my
friend, comes the washing-bill! and, besides all the hurts one receives
in the mangle, consider the hourly wear and tear of the linen-press!  In
short, Shakspeare vindicates the single life, and depicts the double in
the famous line, which is no doubt intended to be allegorical of
marriage,

                    "'Double, double, toil and trouble.'

Besides, no single man can be fairly called poor.  What double man can
with certainty be called rich?  A single man can lodge in a garret, and
dine on a herring: nobody knows; nobody cares.  Let him marry, and he
invites the world to witness where he lodges, and how he dines.  The
first necessary a wife demands is the most ruinous, the most indefinite
superfluity; it is Gentility according to what her neighbours call
genteel.  Gentility commences with the honeymoon; it is its shadow, and
lengthens as the moon declines.  When the honey is all gone, your bride
says, 'We can have our tea without sugar when quite alone, love; but, in
case Gentility drop in, here's a bill for silver sugar-tongs!'  That's
why I'm single."

"Economy again, Vance."

"Prudence,--dignity," answered Vance, seriously; and sinking into a
revery that seemed gloomy, he shot back to shore.



CHAPTER II.

     Mr. Vance explains how he came to grind colours and save half-pence.
     --A sudden announcement.

The meal was over; the table had been spread by a window that looked upon
the river.  The moon was up: the young men asked for no other lights;
conversation between them--often shifting, often pausing--had gradually
become grave, as it usually does with two companions in youth; while yet
long vistas in the Future stretch before them deep in shadow, and they
fall into confiding talk on what they wish,--what they fear; making
visionary maps in that limitless Obscure.

"There is so much power in faith," said Lionel, "even when faith is
applied but to things human and earthly, that let a man be but firmly
persuaded that he is born to do, some day, what at the moment seems
impossible, and it is fifty to one but what he does it before he dies.
Surely, when you were a child at school, you felt convinced that there
was something in your fate distinct from that of the other boys, whom the
master might call quite as clever,--felt that faith in yourself which
made you sure that you would be one day what you are."

"Well, I suppose so; but vague aspirations and self-conceits must be
bound together by some practical necessity--perhaps a very homely and a
very vulgar one--or they scatter and evaporate.  One would think that
rich people in high life ought to do more than poor folks in humble life.
More pains are taken with their education; they have more leisure for
following the bent of their genius: yet it is the poor folks, often half
self-educated, and with pinched bellies, that do three-fourths of the
world's grand labour.  Poverty is the keenest stimulant; and poverty made
me say, not 'I will do,' but 'I must.'"

"You knew real poverty in childhood, Frank?"

"Real poverty, covered over with sham affluence.  My father was Genteel
Poverty, and my mother was Poor Gentility.  The sham affluence went when
my father died.  The real poverty then came out in all its ugliness.  I
was taken from a genteel school, at which, long afterwards, I genteelly
paid the bills; and I had to support my mother somehow or other,--somehow
or other I succeeded.  Alas, I fear not genteelly!  But before I lost
her, which I did in a few years, she had some comforts which were not
appearances; and she kindly allowed, dear soul, that gentility and shams
do not go well together.  Oh, beware of debt, Lionello mio; and never
call that economy meanness which is but the safeguard from mean
degradation."

"I understand you at last, Vance; shake hands: I know why you are
saving."

"Habit now," answered Vance, repressing praise of himself, as usual.
"But I remember so well when twopence was a sum to be respected that to
this day I would rather put it by than spend it.  All our ideas--like
orange-plants--spread out in proportion to the size of the box which
imprisons the roots.  Then I had a sister."  Vance paused a moment, as if
in pain, but went on with seeming carelessness, leaning over the window-
sill, and turning his face from his friend.  "I had a sister older than
myself, handsome, gentle."

"I was so proud of her!  Foolish girl! my love was not enough for her.
Foolish girl! she could not wait to see what I might live to do for her.
She married--oh! so genteelly!--a young man, very well born, who had
wooed her before my father died.  He had the villany to remain constant
when she had not a farthing, and he was dependent on distant relations,
and his own domains in Parnassus.  The wretch was a poet!  So they
married.  They spent their honeymoon genteelly, I dare say.  His
relations cut him.  Parnassus paid no rents.  He went abroad.  Such
heart-rending letters from her.  They were destitute.  How I worked! how
I raged!  But how could I maintain her and her husband too, mere child
that I was?  No matter.  They are dead now, both; all dead for whose sake
I first ground colours and saved halfpence.  And Frank Vance is a stingy,
selfish bachelor.  Never revive this dull subject again, or I shall
borrow a crown from you and cut you dead.  Waiter, ho!--the bill.  I'll
just go round to the stables, and see the horse put to."

As the friends re-entered London, Vance said, "Set me down anywhere in
Piccadilly; I will walk home.  You, I suppose, of course, are staying
with your mother in Gloucester Place?"

"No," said Lionel, rather embarrassed; "Colonel Morley, who acts for me
as if he were my guardian, took a lodging for me in Chesterfield Street,
Mayfair.  My hours, I fear, would ill suit my dear mother.  Only in town
two days; and, thanks to Morley, my table is already covered with
invitations."

"Yet you gave me one day, generous friend!"

"You the second day, my mother the first.  But there are three balls
before me to-night.  Come home with me, and smoke your cigar while I
dress."

"No; but I will at least light my cigar in your hall, prodigal!"

Lionel now stopped at his lodging.  The groom, who served him also as
valet, was in waiting at the door.  "A note for you, sir, from Colonel
Morley,--just come."  Lionel hastily opened it, and read,

     MY DEAR HAUGHTON,--Mr. Darrell has suddenly arrived in London.  Keep
     yourself free all to-morrow, when, no doubt, he will see you.  I am
     hurrying off to him.

     Yours in haste,  A.  V.  M.



CHAPTER III.

     Once more Guy Darrell.

Guy Darrell was alone: a lofty room in a large house on the first floor,
--his own house in Carlton Gardens, which he had occupied during his
brief and brilliant parliamentary career; since then, left contemptuously
to the care of a house agent, to be let by year or by season, it had
known various tenants of an opulence and station suitable to its space
and site.  Dinners and concerts, routs and balls, had assembled the
friends and jaded the spirits of many a gracious host and smiling
hostess.  The tenure of one of these temporary occupants had recently
expired; and, ere the agent had found another, the long absent owner
dropped down into its silenced halls as from the clouds, without other
establishment than his old servant Mills and the woman in charge of the
house.  There, as in a caravansery, the traveller took his rest, stately
and desolate.  Nothing so comfortless as one of those large London houses
all to one's self.  In long rows against the walls stood the empty
fauteuils.  Spectral from the gilded ceiling hung lightless chandeliers.
--The furniture, pompous, but worn by use and faded by time, seemed
mementos of departed revels.  When you return to your house in the
country--no matter how long the absence, no matter how decayed by neglect
the friendly chambers may be, if it has only been deserted in the
meanwhile (not let to new races, who, by their own shifting dynasties,
have supplanted the rightful lord, and half-effaced his memorials)--the
walls may still greet you forgivingly, the character of Home be still
there.  You take up again the thread of associations which had, been
suspended, not snapped.  But it is otherwise with a house in cities,
especially in our fast-living London, where few houses descend from
father to son,--where the title-deeds are rarely more than those of a
purchased lease for a term of years, after which your property quits you.
A house in London, which your father never entered, in which no elbow-
chair, no old-fashioned work-table, recall to you the kind smile of a
mother; a house that you have left as you leave an inn, let to people
whose names you scarce know, with as little respect for your family
records as you have for theirs,--when you return after a long interval
of years to a house like that, you stand, as stood Darrell, a forlorn
stranger under your own roof-tree.  What cared he for those who had last
gathered round those hearths with their chill steely grates, whose forms
had reclined on those formal couches, whose feet had worn away the gloss
from those costly carpets?  Histories in the lives of many might be
recorded within those walls.  "Lovers there had breathed their first
vows; bridal feasts had been held; babes had crowed in the arms of proud
young mothers; politicians there had been raised into ministers;
ministers there had fallen back into independent members;" through those
doors corpses had been borne forth to relentless vaults.  For these races
and their records what cared the owner?  Their writing was not on the
walls.  Sponged out, as from a slate, their reckonings with Time; leaving
dim, here and there, some chance scratch of his own, blurred and bygone.
Leaning against the mantelpiece, Darrell gazed round the room with a
vague wistful look, as if seeking to conjure up associations that might
link the present hour to that past life which had slipped away elsewhere;
and his profile, reflected on the mirror behind, pale and mournful,
seemed like that ghost of himself which his memory silently evoked.

The man is but little altered externally since we saw him last, however
inly changed since he last stood on those unwelcoming floors; the form
still retained the same vigour and symmetry,--the same unspeakable
dignity of mien and bearing; the same thoughtful bend of the proud neck,
--so distinct, in its elastic rebound, from the stoop of debility or age.
'thick as ever the rich mass of dark-brown hair, though, when in the
impatience of some painful thought his hand swept the loose curls from
his forehead, the silver threads might now be seen shooting here and
there,--vanishing almost as soon as seen.  No, whatever the baptismal
register may say to the contrary, that man is not old,--not even elderly;
in the deep of that clear gray eye light may be calm, but in calm it is
vivid; not a ray, sent from brain or from heart, is yet flickering down.
On the whole, however, there is less composure than of old in his mien
and bearing; less of that resignation which seemed to say, "I have done
with the substances of life."  Still there was gloom, but it was more
broken and restless.  Evidently that human breast was again admitting,
or forcing itself to court, human hopes, human objects.  Returning to the
substances of life, their movement was seen in the shadows which, when
they wrap us round at remoter distance, seem to lose their trouble as
they gain their width.  He broke from his musing attitude with an abrupt
angry movement, as if shaking off thoughts which displeased him, and
gathering his arms tightly to his breast, in a gesture peculiar to
himself, walked to and fro the room, murmuring inaudibly.  The door
opened; he turned quickly, and with an evident sense of relief, for his
face brightened.  "Alban, my dear Alban!"

"Darrell! old friend! old school-friend! dear, dear Guy Darrell!" The two
Englishmen stood, hands tightly clasped in each other, in true English
greeting, their eyes moistening with remembrances that carried them back
to boyhood.

Alban was the first to recover self-possession; and, when the friends had
seated themselves, he surveyed Darrell's countenance deliberately, and
said, "So little change!--wonderful!  What is your secret?"

"Suspense from life,--hibernating.  But you beat me; you have been
spending life, yet seem as rich in it as when we parted."

"No; I begin to decry the present and laud the past; to read with
glasses, to decide from prejudice, to recoil from change, to find sense
in twaddle, to know the value of health from the fear to lose it; to feel
an interest in rheumatism, an awe of bronchitis; to tell anecdotes, and
to wear flannel.  To you in strict confidence I disclose the truth: I am
no longer twenty-five.  You laugh; this is civilized talk: does it not
refresh you after the gibberish you must have chattered in Asia Minor?"

Darrell might have answered in the affirmative with truth.  What man,
after long years of solitude, is not refreshed by talk, however trivial,
that recalls to him the gay time of the world he remembered in his young
day,--and recalls it to him on the lips of a friend in youth!  But
Darrell said nothing; only he settled himself in his chair with a more
cheerful ease, and inclined his relaxing brows with a nod of
encouragement or assent.

Colonel Morley continued.  "But when did you arrive? whence?  How long do
you stay here?  What are your plans?"

DARRELL.--"Caesar could not be more laconic.  When arrived? this evening.
Whence?  Ouzelford.  How long do I stay? uncertain.  What are my plans?
let us discuss them."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"With all my heart.  You have plans, then?--a good sign.
Animals in hibernation form none."

DARRELL (putting aside the lights on the table, so as to leave, his face
in shade, and looking towards the floor as he speaks).--"For the last
five years I have struggled hard to renew interest in mankind, reconnect
myself with common life and its healthful objects.  Between Fawley and
London I desired to form a magnetic medium.  I took rather a vast one,
--nearly all the rest of the known world.  I have visited both Americas,
either end.  All Asia have I ransacked, and pierced as far into Africa as
traveller ever went in search of Timbuctoo.  But I have sojourned also,
at long intervals, at least they seemed long to me,--in the gay capitals
of Europe (Paris excepted); mixed, too, with the gayest; hired palaces,
filled them with guests; feasted and heard music.  'Guy Darrell,' said I,
'shake off the rust of years: thou hadst no youth while young,--be young
now.  A holiday may restore thee to wholesome work, as a holiday restores
the wearied school-boy.'"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"I  comprehend; the  experiment succeeded?"

DARRELL.--"I don't know: not yet; but it may.  I am here, and I intend to
stay.  I would not go to a hotel for a single day, lest my resolution
should fail me.  I have thrown myself into this castle of care without
even a garrison.  I hope to hold it.  Help me to man it.  In a word, and
without metaphor, I am here with the design of re-entering London life."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"I am so glad.  Hearty congratulations!  How rejoiced
all the Viponts will be!  Another 'CRISIS' is at hand.  You have seen the
newspapers regularly, of course: the state of the country interests you.
You say that you come from Ouzelford, the town you once represented.  I
guess you will re-enter Parliament; you have but to say the word."

DARRELL.--"Parliament!  No.  I received, while abroad, so earnest a
request from my old constituents to lay the foundation-stone of a new
Town-Hall, in which they are much interested; and my obligations to them
have been so great that I could not refuse.  I wrote to fix the day as
soon as I had resolved to return to England, making a condition that I
should be spared the infliction of a public dinner, and landed just in
time to keep my appointment; reached Ouzelford early this morning, went
through the ceremony, made a short speech, came on at once to London, not
venturing to diverge to Fawley (which is not very far from Ouzelford),
lest, once there again, I should not have strength to leave it; and here
I am."  Darrell paused, then repeated, in brisk emphatic tone,
"Parliament?  No.  Labour?  No.  Fellow-man, I am about to confess to
you: I would snatch back some days of youth,--a wintry likeness of youth,
better than none.  Old friend, let us amuse ourselves!  When I was
working hard, hard, hard! it was you who would say: 'Come forth, be
amused,'--you! happy butterfly that you were!  Now, I say to you, 'Show
me this flaunting town that you know so well; initiate me into the joys
of polite pleasures, social commune,

                    "'Dulce mihi furere est amico."

You have amusements,--let me share them.'"

"Faith," quoth the Colonel, crossing his legs, "you come late in the day!
Amusements cease to amuse at last.  I have tried all, and begin to be
tired.  I have had my holiday, exhausted its sports; and you, coming from
books and desk fresh into the playground, say, 'Football and leapfrog.'
Alas! my poor friend, why did not you come sooner?"

DARRELL.--"One word, one question.  You have made EASE a philosophy and a
system; no man ever did so with more felicitous grace: nor, in following
pleasure, have you parted company with conscience and shame.  A fine
gentleman ever, in honour as in elegance.  Well, are you satisfied with
your choice of life?  Are you happy?"

"Happy! who is?  Satisfied, perhaps."

"Is there any one you envy,--whose choice, other than your own, you would
prefer?"

"Certainly."

"Who?"

"You."

"I!" said Darrell, opening his eyes with unaffected amaze.  "I! envy me!
prefer my choice!"

COLONEL MORLEY (peevishly).--"Without doubt.  You have had gratified
ambition, a great career.  Envy you! who would not?  Your own objects in
life fulfilled: you coveted distinction,--you won it; fortune,--your
wealth is immense; the restoration of your name and lineage from
obscurity and humiliation,--are not name and lineage again written in the
/Libro d'oro/?  What king would not hail you as his counsellor?
What senate not open its ranks to admit you as a chief?  What house,
though the haughtiest in the land, would not accept your alliance?  And
withal, you stand before me stalwart and unbowed, young blood still in
your veins.  Ungrateful man, who would not change lots with Guy Darrell?
Fame, fortune, health, and, not to flatter you, a form and presence that
would be remarked, though you stood in that black frock by the side of a
monarch in his coronation robes."

DARRELL.--"You have turned my question against myself with a kindliness
of intention that makes me forgive your belief in my vanity.  Pass on,
--or rather pass back; you say you have tried all in life that distracts
or sweetens.  Not so, lone bachelor; you have not tried wedlock.  Has not
that been your mistake?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Answer for yourself.  You have tried it."  The words
were scarce out of his mouth ere he repented the retort; for Darrell
started as if stung to the quick; and his brow, before serene, his lip,
before playful, grew, the one darkly troubled, the other tightly
compressed.  "Pardon me," faltered out the friend.

DARRELL.--"Oh, yes!  I brought it on myself.  What stuff we have been
talking!  Tell me the news, not political, any other.  But first, your
report of young Haughton.  Cordial thanks for all your kindness to him.
You write me word that he is much improved,--most likeable; you add, that
at Paris he became the rage, that in London you are sure he will be
extremely popular.  Be it so, if for his own sake.  Are you quite sure
that it is not for the expectations which I come here to disperse?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Much for himself, I am certain; a little,  perhaps,
because--whatever he thinks, and I say to the  contrary--people  seeing
no other heir to your property--"

"I understand," interrupted Darrell, quickly.  "But he does not nurse
those expectations? he will not be disappointed?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Verily I believe that, apart from his love for you and
a delicacy of sentiment that would recoil from planting hopes of wealth
in the graves of benefactors, Lionel Haughton would prefer carving his
own fortunes to all the ingots hewed out of California by another's hand
and bequeathed by another's will."

DARRELL.--"I am heartily glad to hear and to trust you."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"I gather from what you say that you are here with the
intention to--to--"

"Marry again," said Darrell, firmly.  "Right.  I am."

"I always felt sure you would marry again.  Is the lady here too?"

"What lady?"

"The lady you have chosen."

"Tush!  I have chosen none.  I come here to choose; and in this I ask
advice from your experience.  I would marry again!  I! at my age!
Ridiculous!  But so it is.  You know all the mothers and marriageable
daughters that London--/arida nutrix/--rears for nuptial altars: where,
amongst them, shall I, Guy Darrell, the man whom you think so enviable,
find the safe helpmate, whose love he may reward with munificent
jointure, to whose child he may bequeath the name that has now no
successor, and the wealth he has no heart to spend?"

Colonel Morley--who, as we know, is by habit a matchmaker, and likes the
vocation--assumes a placid but cogitative mien, rubs his brow gently, and
says in his softest, best-bred accents, "You would not marry a mere girl?
some one of suitable age.  I know several most superior young women on
the other side of thirty, Wilhelmina Prymme, for instance, or Janet--"

DARRELL.--"Old maids.  No! decidedly no!"

COLONEL MORLEY (suspiciously).--"But you would not risk the peace of your
old age with a girl of eighteen, or else I do know a very accomplished,
well-brought-up girl; just eighteen, who--"

DARRELL.--"Re-enter life by the side of Eighteen! am I a madman?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Neither old maids nor young maids; the choice becomes
narrowed.  You would prefer a widow.  Ha!  I have thought of one;
a prize, indeed, could you but win her, the widow of--"

DARRELL.--"Ephesus!--Bah! suggest no widow to me.  A widow, with her
affections buried in the grave!"

MORLEY.--"Not necessarily.  And in this case--"

DARRELL (interrupting, and with warmth).--"In every case I tell you: no
widow shall doff her weeds for me.  Did she love the first man?  Fickle
is the woman who can love twice.  Did she not love him?  Why did she
marry him?  Perhaps she sold herself to a rent-roll?  Shall she sell
herself again to me for a jointure?  Heaven forbid!  Talk not of widows.
No dainty so flavourless as a heart warmed up again."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Neither maids, be they old or young, nor widows.
Possibly you want an angel.  London is not the place for angels."

DARRELL.--"I grant that the choice seems involved in perplexity.  How can
it be otherwise if one's self is perplexed?  And yet, Alban, I am
serious; and I do not presume to be so exacting as my words have implied.
I ask not fortune, nor rank beyond gentle blood, nor youth nor beauty nor
accomplishments nor fashion, but I do ask one thing, and one thing only."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"What is that? you have left nothing worth the having to
ask for."

DARRELL.--"Nothing!  I have left all!  I ask some one whom I can love;
love better than all the world,--not the /mariage de convenance/, not the
/mariage de raison/, but the /mariage d'amour/.  All other marriage, with
vows of love so solemn, with intimacy of commune so close,--all other
marriage, in my eyes, is an acted falsehood, a varnished sin.  Ah, if I
had thought so always!  But away regret and repentance!  The future alone
is now before me!  Alban Morley!  I would sign away all I have in the
world (save the old house at Fawley), ay, and after signing, cut off to
boot this right hand, could I but once fall in love; love, and be loved
again, as any two of Heaven's simplest human creatures may love each
other while life is fresh!  Strange! strange! look out into the world;
mark the man of our years who shall be most courted, most adulated, or
admired.  Give him all the attributes of power, wealth, royalty, genius,
fame.  See all the younger generation bow before him with hope or awe:
his word can make their fortune; at his smile a reputation dawns.  Well;
now let that man say to the young, 'Room amongst yourselves: all that
wins me this homage I would lay at the feet of Beauty.  I enter the lists
of love,' and straightway his power vanishes, the poorest booby of
twenty-four can jostle him aside; before, the object of reverence, he is
now the butt of ridicule.  The instant he asks right to win the heart of
a woman, a boy whom in all else he could rule as a lackey cries, 'Off,
Graybeard, that realm at least is mine!'"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"This were but eloquent extravagance, even if your beard
were gray.  Men older than you, and with half your pretensions, even of
outward form, have carried away hearts from boys like Adonis.  Only
choose well: that's the difficulty; if it was not difficult, who would be
a bachelor?"

DARRELL.--"Guide my choice.  Pilot me to the haven."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Accepted!  But you must remount a suitable
establishment; reopen your way to the great world, and penetrate those
sacred recesses where awaiting spinsters weave the fatal web.  Leave all
to me.  Let Mills (I see you have him still) call on me to-morrow about
your menage.  You will give dinners, of course?"

DARRELL.--"Oh, of course; must I dine at them myself?"

Morley laughed softly, and took up his hat.

"So soon!" cried Darrell.  "If I fatigue you already, what chance shall I
have with new friends?"

"So soon! it is past eleven.  And it is you who must be fatigued."

"No such good luck; were I fatigued, I might hope to sleep.  I will walk
back with you.  Leave me not alone in this room,--alone in the jaws of a
fish; swallowed up by a creature whose blood is cold."

"You have something still to say to me," said Alban, when they were in
the open air: "I detect it in your manner; what is it?"

"I know not.  But you have told me no news; these streets are grown
strange to me.  Who live now in yonder houses? once the dwellers were
my friends."

"In that house,--oh, new people!  I forget their names,--but rich; in a
year or two, with luck, they may be exclusives, and forget my name.  In
the other house, Carr Vipont still."

"Vipont; those dear Viponts! what of them all?  Crawl they, sting they,
bask they in the sun, or are they in anxious process of a change of
skin?"

"Hush! my dear friend: no satire on your own connections; nothing so
injudicious.  I am a Vipont, too, and all for the family maxim, 'Vipont
with Vipont, and come what may!'"

"I stand rebuked.  But I am no Vipont.  I married, it is true, into their
house, and they married, ages ago, into mine; but no drop in the blood of
time-servers flows through the veins of the last childless Darrell.
Pardon.  I allow the merit of the Vipont race; no family more excites my
respectful interest.  What of their births, deaths, and marriages?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"As to the births, Carr has just welcomed the birth of a
grandson; the first-born of his eldest son (who married last year a
daughter of the Duke of Halifax),--a promising young man, a Lord in the
Admiralty.  Carr has a second son in the Hussars; has just purchased his
step: the other boys are still at school.  He has three daughters too,
fine girls, admirably brought up; indeed, now I think of it, the eldest,
Honoria, might suit you, highly accomplished; well read; interests
herself in politics; a great admirer of intellect; of a very serious turn
of mind too."

DARRELL.--"A female politician with a serious turn of mind,--a farthing
rushlight in a London fog!  Hasten on to subjects less gloomy.  Whose
funeral achievement is that yonder?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"The late Lord Niton's, father to Lady Montfort."

DARRELL.--"Lady Montfort!  Her father was a Lyndsay, and died before the
Flood.  A deluge, at least, has gone over me and my world since I looked
on the face of his widow."

COLONEL  MORLEY.--"I  speak  of  the present  Lord Montfort's wife,--the
Earl's.  You of the poor Marquess's, the last Marquess; the marquisate is
extinct.  Surely, whatever your wanderings, you must have heard of the
death of the last Marquess of Montfort?"

"Yes, I heard of that," answered Darrell, in a somewhat husky and
muttered voice.  "So he is dead, the young man!  What killed him?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"A violent attack of croup,--quite sudden.  He was
staying at Carr's at the time.  I suspect that Carr made him talk!
a thing he was not accustomed to do.  Deranged his system altogether.
But don't let us revive painful subjects."

DARRELL.--"Was she with him at the time?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Lady Montfort?  No; they were very seldom together."

DARRELL.--"She is not married again yet?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"No, but still young and so beautiful she will have many
offers.  I know those who are waiting to propose.  Montfort has been only
dead eighteen months; died just before young Carr's marriage.  His widow
lives, in complete seclusion, at her jointure-house near Twickenham.  She
has only seen even me once since her loss."

DARRELL.--"When was that?"

MORLEY.--"About six or seven months ago; she asked after you with much
interest."

DARRELL.--"After me!"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"To be sure.  Don't I remember how constantly she and
her mother were at your house?  Is it strange that she should ask after
you?  You ought to know her better,--the most affectionate, grateful
character."

DARRELL.--"I dare say.  But at the time you refer to, I was too occupied
to acquire much accurate knowledge of a young lady's character.  I should
have known her mother's character better, yet I mistook even that."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Mrs. Lyndsay's character you might well mistake,--
charming but artificial: Lady Montfort is natural.  Indeed, if you had
not that illiberal prejudice against widows, she was the very person I
was about to suggest to you."

DARRELL.--"A fashionable beauty! and young enough to be my daughter.
Such is human friendship!  So the marquisate is extinct, and Sir James
Vipont, whom I remember in the House of Commons--respectable man, great
authority on cattle, timid, and always saying, 'Did you read that article
in to-day's paper?'--has the estates and the earldom?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Yes.  There was some fear of a disputed succession, but
Sir James made his claim very clear.  Between you and me, the change has
been a serious affliction to the Viponts.  The late lord was not wise,
but on state occasions he looked his part,--/tres grand seigneur/,--and
Carr managed the family influence with admirable tact.  The present lord
has the habits of a yeoman; his wife shares his tastes.  He has taken the
management not only of the property, but of its influence, out of Carr's
hands, and will make a sad mess of it, for he is an impracticable,
obsolete politician.  He will never keep the family together, impossible,
a sad thing.  I remember how our last muster, five years ago next
Christmas, struck terror into Lord's Cabinet; the mere report of it in
the newspapers set all people talking and thinking.  The result was that,
two weeks after, proper overtures were made to Carr: he consented to
assist the ministers; and the country was saved!  Now, thanks to this
stupid new earl, in eighteen months we have lost ground which it took at
least a century and a half to gain.  Our votes are divided; our influence
frittered away; Montfort House is shut up; and Carr, grown quite thin,
says that in the coming 'CRISIS' a Cabinet will not only be formed, but
will also last--last time enough for irreparable  mischief--without a
single Vipont in office."

Thus Colonel Morley continued in mournful strain, Darrell silent by his
side, till the Colonel reached his own door.  There, while applying his
latch-key to the lock, Alban's mind returned from the perils that
threatened the House of Vipont and the Star of Brunswick to the petty
claims of private friendship.  But even these last were now blended with
those grander interests, due care for which every true patriot of the
House of Vipont imbibed with his mother's milk.

"Your appearance in town, my dear Darrell, is most opportune.  It will be
an object with the whole family to make the most of you at this coming
'CRISIS;' I say coming, for I believe it must come.  Your name is still
freshly remembered; your position greater for having been out of all the
scrapes of the party the last sixteen or seventeen years: your house
should be the nucleus of new combinations.  Don't forget to send Mills to
me; I will engage your chef and your house-steward to-morrow.  I know
just the men to suit you.  Your intention to marry too, just at this
moment, is most seasonable; it will increase the family interest.  I may
give out that you intend to marry?"

"Oh, certainly cry it at Charing Cross."

"A club-room will do as well.  I beg ten thousand pardons; but people
will talk about money whenever they talk about marriage.  I should not
like to exaggerate your fortune: I know it must be very large, and all
at your own disposal, eh?"

"Every shilling."

"You must have saved a great deal since you retired into private life?"

"Take that for granted.  Dick Fairthorn receives my rents, and looks to
my various investments; and I accept him as an indisputable authority
when I say that, what with the rental of lands I purchased in my poor
boy's lifetime and the interest on my much more lucrative moneyed
capital, you may safely whisper to all ladies likely to feel interest in
that diffusion of knowledge, 'Thirty-five thousand a year, and an old
fool.'"

"I certainly shall not say an old fool, for I am the same age as
yourself; and if I had thirty-five thousand pounds a year, I would marry
too."

"You would!  Old fool!"  said Darrell, turning away.



CHAPTER IV.

     Revealing glimpses of Guy Darrell's past in his envied prime.  Dig
     but deep enough, and under all earth runs water, under all life runs
     grief.

Alone in the streets, the vivacity which had characterized Darrell's
countenance as well as his words, while with his old school friend,
changed as suddenly and as completely into pensive abstracted gloom
as if he had been acting a part, and with the exit the acting ceased.
Disinclined to return yet to the solitude of his home, he walked on at
first mechanically, in the restless desire of movement, he cared not
whither.  But as, thus chance-led, he found himself in the centre of that
long straight thoroughfare which connects what once were the separate
villages of Tyburn and Holborn, something in the desultory links of
revery suggested an object to his devious feet.  He had but to follow
that street to his right hand, to gain in a quarter of an hour a sight of
the humble dwelling-house in which he had first settled down, after his
early marriage, to the arid labours of the bar.  He would go, now that,
wealthy and renowned, he was revisiting the long-deserted focus of
English energies, and contemplate the obscure abode in which his powers
had been first concentrated on the pursuit of renown and wealth.  Who
among my readers that may have risen on the glittering steep ("Ah, who
can tell how hard it is to climb!"*) has not been similarly attracted
towards the roof at the craggy foot of the ascent, under which golden
dreams refreshed his straining sinews?

          *['Ah, who can tell how hard it is to climb
          The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar?  BEATTIE.]

Somewhat quickening his steps, now that a bourne was assigned to them,
the man growing old in years, but, unhappily for himself, too tenacious
of youth in its grand discontent and keen susceptibilities to pain,
strode noiselessly on, under the gaslights, under the stars; gaslights
primly marshalled at equidistance; stars that seem to the naked eye
dotted over space without symmetry or method: man's order, near and
finite, is so distinct; the Maker's order remote, infinite, is so beyond
man's comprehension even of what is order!

Darrell paused hesitating.  He had now gained a spot in which improvement
had altered the landmarks.  The superb broad thoroughfare continued where
once it had vanished abrupt in a labyrinth of courts and alleys.  But the
way was not hard to find.  He turned a little towards the left,
recognizing, with admiring interest, in the gay, white, would-be Grecian
edifice, with its French grille, bronzed, gilded, the transformed Museum,
in the still libraries of which he had sometimes snatched a brief and
ghostly respite from books of law.  Onwards yet through lifeless
Bloomsbury, not so far towards the last bounds of Atlas as the desolation
of Podden Place, but the solitude deepening as he passed.  There it is,
a quiet street indeed! not a soul on its gloomy pavements, not even a
policeman's soul.  Nought stirring save a stealthy, profligate, good-for-
nothing cat, flitting fine through yon area bars.  Down that street had
he come, I trove, with a livelier, quicker step the day when, by the
strange good-luck which had uniformly attended his worldly career of
honours, he had been suddenly called upon to supply the place of an
absent senior, and in almost his earliest brief the Courts of Westminster
had recognized a master, come, I trove, with a livelier step, knocked at
that very door whereat he is halting now; entered the room where the
young wife sat, and at sight of her querulous peevish face, and at sound
of her unsympathizing languid voice, fled into his cupboard-like back
parlour, and muttered "Courage! Courage!" to endure the home he had
entered longing for a voice which should invite and respond to a cry of
joy.

How closed up, dumb, and blind looked the small mean house, with its
small mean door, its small mean rayless windows!  Yet a FAME had been
born there!  Who are the residents now?  Buried in slumber, have they any
"golden dreams"?  Works therein any struggling brain, to which the
prosperous man might whisper "Courage!" or beats, there, any troubled
heart to which faithful woman should murmur "Joy"?  Who knows?  London is
a wondrous poem, but each page of it is written in a different language,
--no lexicon yet composed for any.

Back through the street, under the gaslights, under the stars, went Guy
Darrell, more slow and more thoughtful.  Did the comparison between what
he had been, what he was, the mean home just revisited, the stately home
to which he would return, suggest thoughts of natural pride?  It would
not seem so; no pride in those close-shut lips, in that melancholy stoop.

He came into a quiet square,--still Bloomsbury,--and right before him was
a large respectable mansion, almost as large as that one in courtlier
quarters to which he loiteringly delayed the lone return.  There, too,
had been for a time the dwelling which was called his home; there, when
gold was rolling in like a tide, distinction won, position assured;
there, not yet in Parliament, but foremost at the bar,--already pressed
by constituencies, already wooed by ministers; there, still young--
O luckiest of lawyers!--there had he moved his household gods.  Fit
residence for a Prince of the Gown!  Is it when living there that you
would envy the prosperous man?  Yes, the moment his step quits that door;
but envy him when he enters its threshold?--nay, envy rather that
roofless Savoyard who has crept under yonder portico, asleep with his
ragged arm round the cage of his stupid dormice!  There, in that great
barren drawing-room, sits a

                    "Pale and elegant Aspasia."

Well, but the wife's face is not querulous now.  Look again,--anxious,
fearful, secret, sly.  Oh! that fine lady, a Vipont Crooke, is not
contented to be wife to the wealthy, great Mr. Darrell.  What wants she?
that he should be spouse to the fashionable fine Mrs. Darrell?  Pride in
him! not a jot of it; such pride were unchristian.  Were he proud of her,
as a Christian husband ought to be of so elegant a wife, would he still
be in Bloomsbury?  Envy him! the high gentleman, so true to his blood,
all galled and blistered by the moral vulgarities of a tuft-hunting,
toad-eating mimic of the Lady Selinas.  Envy him!  Well, why not?  All
women have their foibles.  Wise husbands must bear and forbear.  Is that
all? wherefore, then, is her aspect so furtive, wherefore on his a wild,
vigilant sternness?  Tut, what so brings into coveted fashion a fair lady
exiled to Bloomsbury as the marked adoration of a lord, not her own, who
gives law to St. James's!  Untempted by passion, cold as ice to
affection; if thawed to the gush of a sentiment secretly preferring the
husband she chose, wooed, and won to idlers less gifted even in outward
attractions,--all this, yet seeking, coquetting for, the eclat of
dishonour!  To elope?  Oh, no, too wary for that, but to be gazed at and
talked of as the fair Mrs. Darrell, to whom the Lovelace of London was so
fondly devoted.  Walk in, haughty son of the Dare-all.  Darest thou ask
who has just left thy house?  Darest thou ask what and whence is the note
that sly hand has secreted?  Darest thou?--perhaps yes: what then?  canst
thou lock up thy wife? canst thou poniard the Lovelace?  Lock up the air!
poniard all whose light word in St. James's can bring into fashion the
matron of Bloomsbury!  Go, lawyer, go, study briefs, and be parchment.

Agonies, agonies, shot again through Guy Darrell's breast as he looked on
that large, most respectable house, and remembered his hourly campaign
against disgrace!  He has triumphed.  Death fights for him: on the very
brink of the last scandal, a cold, caught at some Vipont's ball, became
fever; and so from that door the Black Horses bore away the Bloomsbury
Dame, ere she was yet--the fashion!  Happy in grief the widower who may,
with confiding hand, ransack the lost wife's harmless desk, sure that no
thought concealed from him in life will rise accusing from the treasured
papers.  But that pale proud mourner, hurrying the eye over sweet-scented
billets; compelled, in very justice to the dead, to convince himself that
the mother of his children was corrupt only at heart,--that the Black
Horses had come to the door in time,--and, wretchedly consoled by that
niggardly conviction, flinging into the flames the last flimsy tatters on
which his honour (rock-like in his own keeping) had been fluttering to
and fro in the charge of a vain treacherous fool,--envy you that mourner?
No! not even in his release.  Memory is not nailed down in the velvet
coffin; and to great loyal natures less bitter is the memory of the lost
when hallowed by tender sadness than when coupled with scorn and shame.

The wife is dead.  Dead, too, long years ago, the Lothario!  The world
has forgotten them; they fade out of this very record when ye turn the
page; no influence, no bearing have they on such future events as may
mark what yet rests of life to Guy Darrell.  But as he there stands and
gazes into space, the two forms are before his eye as distinct as if
living still.  Slowly, slowly he gazes them down: the false smiles
flicker away from their feeble lineaments; woe and terror on their
aspects,--they sink, they shrivel, they dissolve!



CHAPTER V.

                    The wreck cast back from Charybdis.

                      /Souviens-toi de to Gabrielle/.

Guy Darrell turned hurriedly from the large house in the great square,
and, more and more absorbed in revery, he wandered out of his direct way
homeward, clear and broad though it was, and did not rouse himself till
he felt, as it were, that the air had grown darker; and looking vaguely
round, he saw that he had strayed into a dim maze of lanes and passages.
He paused under one of the rare lamp-posts, gathering up his
recollections of the London he had so long quitted, and doubtful for a
moment or two which turn to take.  Just then, up from an alley fronting
him at right angles, came suddenly, warily, a tall, sinewy, ill-boding
tatterdemalion figure, and, seeing Darrell's face under the lamp, halted
abrupt at the mouth of the narrow passage from which it had emerged,
--a dark form filling up the dark aperture.  Does that ragged wayfarer
recognize a foe by the imperfect ray of the lamplight? or is he a mere
vulgar footpad, who is doubting whether he should spring upon a prey?
Hostile his look, his gestures, the sudden cowering down of the strong
frame as if for a bound; but still he is irresolute.  What awes him?
What awes the tiger, who would obey his blood-instinct without fear,
in his rush on the Negro, the Hindoo; but who halts and hesitates at the
sight of the white man, the lordly son of Europe?  Darrell's eye was
turned towards the dark passage, towards the dark figure,--carelessly,
neither recognizing nor fearing nor defying,--carelessly, as at any
harmless object in crowded streets and at broad day.  But while that
eye was on him, the tatterdemalion halted; and indeed, whatever his
hostility, or whatever his daring, the sight of Darrell took him by so
sudden a surprise that he could not at once re-collect his thoughts, and
determine how to approach the quiet unconscious man, who, in reach of his
spring, fronted his overwhelming physical strength with the habitual air
of dignified command.  His first impulse was that of violence; his second
impulse curbed the first.  But Darrell now turns quickly, and walks
straight on; the figure quits the mouth of the passage, and follows with
a long and noiseless stride.  It has nearly gained Darrell.  With what
intent?  A fierce one, perhaps,--for the man's face is sinister, and his
state evidently desperate,--when there emerges unexpectedly from an ugly
looking court or cul-de-sac, just between Darrell and his pursuer, a
slim, long-backed, buttoned-up, weazel-faced policeman.  The policeman
eyes the tatterdemalion instinctively, then turns his glance towards the
solitary defenceless gentleman in advance, and walks on, keeping himself
between the two.  The tatterdemalion stifles an impatient curse.  Be his
purpose force, be it only supplication, be it colloquy of any kind,
impossible to fulfil it while that policeman is there.  True that in his
powerful hands he could have clutched that slim, long-backed officer, and
broken him in two as a willow-wand.  But that officer is the Personation
of Law, and can stalk through a legion of tatterdemalions as a ferret may
glide through a barn full of rats.  The prowler feels he is suspected.
Unknown as yet to the London police, he has no desire to invite their
scrutiny.  He crosses the way; he falls back; he follows from afar.  The
policeman may yet turn away before the safer streets of the metropolis be
gained.  No; the cursed Incarnation of Law, with eyes in its slim back,
continues its slow strides at the heels of the unsuspicious Darrell.  The
more solitary defiles are already passed,--now that dim lane, with its
dead wall on one side.  By the dead wall skulks the prowler; on the other
side still walks the Law.  Now--alas for the prowler!--shine out the
throughfares, no longer dim nor deserted,--Leicester Square, the
Haymarket, Pall Mall, Carlton Gardens; Darrell is at his door.  The
policeman turns sharply round.  There, at the corner near the learned
Club-house, halts the tatterdemalion.  Towards the tatterdemalion the
policeman now advances quickly.  The tatterdemalion is quicker still;
fled like a guilty thought.

Back, back, back into that maze of passages and courts, back to the mouth
of that black alley.  There he halts again.  Look at him.  He has arrived
in London but that very night, after an absence of more than four years.
He has arrived from the sea-side on foot; see, his shoes are worn into
holes.  He has not yet found a shelter for the night.  He has been
directed towards that quarter, thronged with adventurers, native and
foreign, for a shelter, safe, if squalid.  It is somewhere near that
court at the mouth of which he stands.  He looks round: the policeman is
baffled; the coast clear.  He steals forth, and pauses under the same
gaslight as that under which Guy Darrell had paused before,--under the
same gaslight, under the same stars.  From some recess in his rags he
draws forth a large, distained, distended pocket-book,--last relic of
sprucer days,--leather of dainty morocco, once elaborately tooled, patent
springs, fairy lock, fit receptacle for bank-notes, /billets-doux/,
memoranda of debts of honour, or pleasurable engagements.  Now how worn,
tarnished, greasy, rascallion-like, the costly bauble!  Filled with what
motley, unlovable contents: stale pawn-tickets of foreign /monts de
piete/, pledges never henceforth to be redeemed; scrawls by villanous
hands in thievish hierolgyphics; ugly implements replacing the malachite
penknife, the golden toothpick, the jewelled pencil-case, once so neatly
set within their satin lappets.  Ugly implements, indeed,--a file, a
gimlet, loaded dice.  Pell-mell, with such more hideous and recent
contents, dishonoured evidences of gaudier summer life,--locks of ladies'
hair, love-notes treasured mechanically, not from amorous sentiment, but
perhaps from some vague idea that they might be of use if those who gave
the locks or wrote the notes should be raised in fortune, and could buy
back the memorials of shame.  Diving amidst these miscellaneous documents
and treasures, the prowler's hand rested on some old letters, in clerk-
like fair calligraphy, tied round with a dirty string, and on them, in
another and fresher writing, a scrap that contained an address,--"Samuel
Adolphus Poole, Esq., Alhambra Villa, Regent's Park."  "To-morrow, Nix my
Dolly; to-morrow," muttered the tatterdemalion; "but to-night,--plague on
it, where is the other blackguard's direction?  Ah, here!"  And he
extracted from the thievish scrawls a peculiarly thievish-looking
hieroglyph.  Now, as he lifts it up to read by the gaslight, survey him
well.  Do you not know him?  Is it possible?  What! the brilliant
sharper!  The ruffian exquisite!  Jasper Losely!  Can it be?  Once
before, in the fields of Fawley, we beheld him out at elbows, seedy,
shabby, ragged.  But then it was the decay of a foppish spendthrift,
--clothes distained, ill-assorted, yet, still of fine cloth; shoes in
holes, yet still pearl-coloured brodequins.  But now it is the decay of
no foppish spendthrift: the rags are not of fine cloth; the tattered
shoes are not the brodequins.  The man has fallen far below the politer
grades of knavery, in which the sharper affects the beau.  And the
countenance, as we last saw it, if it had lost much of its earlier
beauty, was still incontestably handsome.  What with vigour and health
and animal spirits, then on the aspect still lingered light; now from
corruption the light itself was gone.  In that herculean constitution
excess of all kinds had at length forced its ravage, and the ravage was
visible in the ruined face.  The once sparkling eye was dull and
bloodshot.  The colours of the cheek, once clear and vivid, to which
fiery drink had only sent the blood in a warmer glow, were now of a
leaden dulness, relieved but by broken streaks of angry red, like gleams
of flame struggling through gathered smoke.  The profile, once sharp and
delicate like Apollo's, was now confused in its swollen outline; a few
years more, and it would be gross as that of Silenus,--the nostrils,
distended with incipient carbuncles, which betray the gnawing fang that
alcohol fastens into the liver.  Evil passions had destroyed the outlines
of the once beautiful lips, arched as a Cupid's bow.  The sidelong,
lowering, villanous expression which had formerly been but occasional was
now habitual and heightened.  It was the look of the bison before it
gores.  It is true, however, that even yet on the countenance there
lingered the trace of that lavish favour bestowed on it by nature.  An
artist would still have said, "How handsome that ragamuffin must have
been!"  And true is it, also, that there was yet that about the bearing
of the man which contrasted his squalor, and seemed to say that he had
not been born to wear rags and loiter at midnight amongst the haunts of
thieves.  Nay, I am not sure that you would have been as incredulous now,
if told that the wild outlaw before you had some claim by birth or by
nurture to the rank of gentleman, as you would had you seen the gay
spendthrift in his gaudy day.  For then he seemed below, and now he
seemed above, the grade in which he took place.  And all this made his
aspect yet more sinister, and the impression that he was dangerous yet
more profound.  Muscular strength often remains to a powerful frame long
after the constitution is undermined, and Jasper Losely's frame was still
that of a formidable athlete; nay, its strength was yet more apparent now
that the shoulders and limbs had increased in bulk than when it was half-
disguised in the lissome symmetry of exquisite proportion,--less active,
less supple, less capable of endurance, but with more crushing weight in
its rush or its blow.  It was the figure in which brute force seems so to
predominate that in a savage state it would have worn a crown,--the
figure which secures command and authority in all societies where force
alone gives the law.  Thus, under the gaslight and under the stars, stood
the terrible animal,--a strong man imbruted; SOUVIENS-TOI DE TA
GABRIELLE."  There, still uneffaced, though the gold threads are all
tarnished and ragged, are the ominous words on the silk of the she-
devil's love-token!  But Jasper has now inspected the direction on the
paper he held to the lamp-light, and, satisfying himself that he was in
the right quarter, restored the paper to the bulky distended pocket-book
and walked sullenly on towards the court from which had emerged the
policeman who had crossed his prowling chase.

"It is the most infernal shame," said Losely between his grinded teeth,
"that I should be driven to these wretched dens for a lodging, while that
man, who ought to feel bound to maintain me, should be rolling in wealth,
and cottoned up in a palace.  But he shall fork out.  Sophy must be
hunted up.  I will clothe her in rags like these.  She shall sit at his
street-door.  I will shame the miserly hunks.  But how track the girl?
Have I no other hold over him?  Can I send Dolly Poole to him?  How
addled my brains are!--want of food, want of sleep.  Is this the place?
Peuh!--"

Thus murmuring, he now reached the arch of the court, and was swallowed
up in its gloom.  A few strides and he came into a square open space only
lighted by the skies.  A house, larger than the rest, which were of the
meanest order, stood somewhat back, occupying nearly one side of the
quadrangle,--old, dingy, dilapidated.  At the door of this house stood
another man, applying his latch-key to the lock.  As Losely approached,
the man turned quickly, half in fear, half in menace,--a small, very
thin, impish-looking man, with peculiarly restless features that seemed
trying to run away from his face.  Thin as he was, he looked all skin and
no bones, a goblin of a man whom it would not astonish you to hear could
creep through a keyhole, seeming still more shadowy and impalpable by his
slight, thin, sable dress, not of cloth, but a sort of stuff like alpaca.
Nor was that dress ragged, nor, as seen but in starlight, did it look
worn or shabby; still you had but to glance at the creature to feel that
it was a child in the same Family of Night as the ragged felon that
towered by its side.  The two outlaws stared at each other.  "Cutts!"
said Losely, in the old rollicking voice, but in a hoarser, rougher key,
"Cutts, my boy, here I am; welcome me!

"What?  General Jas.!" returned Cutts, in a tone which was not without a
certain respectful awe, and then proceeded to pour out a series of
questions in a mysterious language, which may be thus translated and
abridged: "How long have you been in England?  How has it fared with you?
You seem very badly off; coming here to hide?  Nothing very bad, I hope?
What is it?"

Jasper answered in the same language, though with less practised mastery
of it, and with that constitutional levity which, whatever the time or
circumstances, occasionally gave a strange sort of wit, or queer,
uncanny, devil-me-care vein of drollery, to his modes of expression.

"Three months of the worst luck man ever had; a row with the gens-
d'armes,--long story: three of our pals seized; affair of the galleys for
them, I suspect (French frogs can't seize me!); fricasseed one or two of
them; broke away, crossed the country, reached the coast; found an honest
smuggler; landed off Sussex with a few other kegs of brandy; remembered
you, preserved the address you gave me, and condescend to this rat-hole
for a night or so.  Let me in; knock up somebody, break open the larder.
I want to eat, I am famished; I should have eaten you by this time, only
there's nothing on your bones."

The little man opened the door,--a passage black as Erebus.  "Give me
your hand, General."  Jasper was led through the pitchy gloom for a few
yards; then the guide found a gas-cock, and the place broke suddenly into
light: a dirty narrow staircase on one side; facing it a sort of lobby,
in which an open door showed a long sanded parlour, like that in public
houses; several tables, benches, the walls whitewashed, but adorned with
sundry ingenious designs made by charcoal or the smoked ends of clay-
pipes; a strong smell of stale tobacco and of gin and rum.  Another
gaslight, swinging from the centre of the ceiling, sprang into light as
Cutts touched the tap-cock.

"Wait here," said the guide.  "I will go and get you some supper."

"And some brandy," said Jasper.

"Of course."

The bravo threw himself at length on one of the tables, and, closing his
eyes, moaned.  His vast strength had become acquainted with physical
pain.  In its stout knots and fibres, aches and sharp twinges, the
dragon-teeth of which had been sown years ago in revels or brawls, which
then seemed to bring but innocuous joy and easy triumph, now began to
gnaw and grind.  But when Cutts reappeared with coarse viands and the
brandy bottle, Jasper shook off the sense of pain, as does a wounded wild
beast that can still devour; and after regaling fast and ravenously, he
emptied half the bottle at a draught, and felt himself restored and
fresh.

"Shall you fling yourself amongst the swell fellows who hold their club
here, General?"  asked Cutts; "'tis a bad trade; every year it gets
worse.  Or have you not some higher game in your eye?"

"I have higher game in my eye.  One bird I marked down this very night.
But that may be slow work, and uncertain.  I have in this pocket-book a
bank to draw upon meanwhile."

"How? forged French /billets de banque/? dangerous."

"Pooh!  better than that,--letters which prove theft against a
respectable rich man."

"Ah, you expect hush-money?"

"Exactly so.  I have good friends in London."

"Among them, I suppose, that affectionate 'adopted mother,' who would
have kept you in such order."

"Thousand thunders!  I hope not.  I am not a superstitious man, but I
fear that woman as if she were a witch, and I believe she is one.  You
remember black Jean, whom we call Sansculotte.  He would have filled a
churchyard with his own brats for a five-franc piece; but he would not
have crossed a churchyard alone at night for a thousand naps.  Well, that
woman to me is what a churchyard was to black Jean.  No: if she is in
London, I have but to go to her house and say, 'Food, shelter, money;'
and I would rather ask Jack Ketch for a rope."

"How do you account for it, General?  She does not beat you; she is not
your wife.  I have seen many a stout fellow, who would stand fire without
blinking, show the white feather at a scold's tongue.  But then he must
be spliced to her--"

"Cutts, that Griffin does not scold: she preaches.  She wants to make me
spoony, Cutts: she talks of my young days, Cutts; she wants to blight me
into what she calls an honest man, Cutts,--the virtuous dodge!  She snubs
and cows me, and frightens me out of my wits, Cutts; for I do believe
that the witch is determined to have me, body and soul, and to marry me
some day in spite of myself, Cutts; and if ever you see me about to be
clutched in those horrible paws, poison me with ratsbane, or knock me on
the head, Cutts."

The little man laughed a little laugh, sharp and eldrich, at the strange
cowardice of the stalwart dare-devil.  But Jasper did not echo the laugh.

"Hush!" he said timidly, "and let me have a bed, if you can; I have not
slept in one for a week, and my nerves are shaky."

The imp lighted a candle-end at the gas-lamp, and conducted Losely up the
stairs to his own sleeping-room, which was less comfortless than might be
supposed.  He resigned his bed to the wanderer, who flung himself on it,
rags and all.  But sleep was no more at his command than it is at a
king's.

"Why the ---- did you talk of that witch?"  he cried peevishly to Cutts,
who was composing himself to rest on the floor.  "I swear I fancy I feel
her sitting on my chest like a nightmare."

He turned with a vehemence which shook the walls, and wrapped the
coverlet round him, plunging his head into its folds.  Strange though it
seem to the novice in human nature, to Jasper Losely the woman who had so
long lived but for one object--namely, to save him from the gibbet--was
as his evil genius, his haunting fiend.  He had conceived a profound
terror of her from the moment he perceived that she was resolutely bent
upon making him honest.  He had broken from her years ago, fled, resumed
his evil courses, hid himself from her,--in vain.  Wherever he went,
there went she.  He might baffle the police, not her.  Hunger had often
forced him to accept her aid.  As soon as he received it, he hid from her
again, burying himself deeper and deeper in the mud, like a persecuted
tench.  He associated her idea with all the ill-luck that had befallen
him.  Several times some villanous scheme on which he had counted to make
his fortune had been baffled in the most mysterious way; and just when
baffled, and there seemed no choice but to cut his own throat or some one
else's, up turned grim Arabella Crane, in the iron-gray gown, and with
the iron-gray ringlets,--hatefully, awfully beneficent,--offering food,
shelter, gold,--and some demoniacal, honourable work.  Often had he been
in imminent peril from watchful law or treacherous accomplice.  She had
warned and saved him, as she had saved him from the fell Gabrielle
Desmarets, who, unable to bear the sentence of penal servitude, after a
long process, defended with astonishing skill and enlisting the romantic
sympathies of young France, had contrived to escape into another world by
means of a subtle poison concealed about her /distinguee/ person, and
which she had prepared years ago with her own bloodless hands, and no
doubt scientifically tested its effects on others.  The cobra di capella
is gone at last!  "/Souviens-toi de ta Gabrielle/," O Jasper Losely!  But
why Arabella Crane should thus continue to watch over him whom she no
longer professed to love, how she should thus have acquired the gift of
ubiquity and the power to save him, Jasper Losely could not conjecture.
The whole thing seemed to him weird and supernatural.  Most truly did he
say that she had cowed him.  He had often longed to strangle her; when
absent from her, had often resolved upon that act of gratitude.  The
moment he came in sight of her stern, haggard face, her piercing lurid
eyes; the moment he heard her slow, dry voice in some such sentences as
these: "Again you come to me in your trouble, and ever shall.  Am I not
still as your mother, but with a wife's fidelity, till death us do part?
There's the portrait of what you were: look at it, Jasper.  Now turn to
the glass: see what you are.  Think of the fate of Gabrielle Desmarets!
But for me, what, long since, had been your own?  But I will save you:
I have sworn it.  You shall be wax in these hands at last,"--the moment
that voice thus claimed and insisted on redeeming him, the ruffian felt
a cold shudder, his courage oozed, he could no more have nerved his arm
against her than a Thug would have lifted his against the dire goddess of
his murderous superstition.  Jasper could not resist a belief that the
life of this dreadful protectress was, somehow or other, made essential
to his; that, were she to die, he should perish in some ghastly and
preternatural expiation.  But for the last few months he had, at length,
escaped from her; diving so low, so deep into the mud, that even her net
could not mesh him.  Hence, perhaps, the imminence of the perils from
which he had so narrowly escaped, hence the utterness of his present
destitution.  But man, however vile, whatever his peril, whatever his
destitution, was born free, and loves liberty.  Liberty to go to Satan
in his own way was to Jasper Losely a supreme blessing compared to
that benignant compassionate espionage, with its relentless eye and
restraining hand.  Alas and alas! deem not this perversity unnatural
in that headstrong self-destroyer!  How many are there whom not a grim,
hard-featured Arabella Crane, but the long-suffering, divine, omniscient,
gentle Providence itself, seeks to warn, to aid, to save; and is shunned,
and loathed, and fled from, as if it were an evil genius!  How many are
there who fear nothing so much as the being made good in spite of
themselves?--how many? who can count them?



CHAPTER VI.

     The public man needs but one patron; namely, THE LUCKY MOMENT.

"At his house in Carlton Gardens, Guy Darrell, Esq., for the season."

Simple insertion in the pompous list of Fashionable Arrivals! the name
of a plain commoner embedded in the amber which glitters with so many
coronets and stars!  Yet such is England, with all its veneration for
titles, that the eyes of the public passed indifferently over the rest
of that chronicle of illustrious "whereabouts," to rest with interest,
curiosity, speculation, on the unemblazoned name which but a day before
had seemed slipped out of date,--obsolete as that of an actor who figures
no more in play-bills.  Unquestionably the sensation excited was due,
in much, to the "ambiguous voices" which Colonel Morley had disseminated
throughout the genial atmosphere of club-rooms.  "Arrived in London for
the season!"--he, the orator, once so famous, long so forgotten, who had
been out of the London world for the space of more than half a
generation.  "Why now?  why for the season?"  Quoth the Colonel, "He is
still in the prime of life as a public man, and--a CRISIS is at hand!"

But that which gave weight and significance to Alban Morley's hints
was the report in the newspapers of Guy Darrell's visit to his old
constituents, and of the short speech he had addressed to them, to which
he had so slightly referred in his conversation with Alban.  True, the
speech was short: true, it touched but little on passing topics of
political interest; rather alluding, with modesty and terseness, to the
contests and victories of a former day.  But still, in the few words
there was the swell of the old clarion, the wind of the Paladin's horn
which woke Fontarabian echoes.

It is astonishing how capricious, how sudden, are the changes in value of
a public man.  All depends upon whether the public want, or believe they
want, the man; and that is a question upon which the public do not know
their own minds a week before; nor do they always keep in the same mind,
when made up, for a week together.  If they do not want a man; if he do
not hit the taste, nor respond to the exigency of the time,--whatever his
eloquence, his abilities, his virtues, they push him aside or cry him
down.  Is he wanted? does the mirror of the moment reflect his image?--
that mirror is an intense magnifier--his proportions swell; they become
gigantic.  At that moment the public wanted some man; and the instant the
hint was given, "Why not Guy Darrell?"  Guy Darrell was seized upon as
the man wanted.  It was one of those times in our Parliamentary history
when the public are out of temper with all parties; when recognized
leaders have contrived to damage themselves; when a Cabinet is shaking,
and the public neither care to destroy nor to keep it,--a time too, when
the country seemed in some danger, and when, mere men of business held
unequal to the emergency, whatever name suggested associations of vigour,
eloquence, genius rose to a premium above its market price in times of
tranquillity and tape.  Without effort of his own, by the mere force of
the undercurrent, Guy Darrell was thrown up from oblivion into note.  He
could not form a Cabinet, certainly not; but he might help to bring a
Cabinet together, reconcile jarring elements, adjust disputed questions,
take in such government some high place, influence its councils, and
delight a public weary of the oratory of the day with the eloquence of
a former race.  For the public is ever a /laudator temporis acti/, and
whatever the authors or the orators immediately before it, were those
authors and orators Homers and Ciceros, would still shake a disparaging
head, and talk of these degenerate days as Homer himself talked ages
before Leonidas stood in the pass of Thermopylae, or Miltiades routed
Asian armaments at Marathon.  Guy Darrell belonged to a former race.  The
fathers of those young members rising now into fame had quoted to their
sons his pithy sentences, his vivid images; and added, as Fox added when
quoting Burke, "But you should have heard and seen the man!"

Heard and seen the man!  But there he was again! come up as from a
grave,--come up to the public just when such a man was wanted.  Wanted
how? wanted where?  Oh, somehow and somewhere!  There he is! make the
most of him.  The house in Carlton Gardens is prepared, the establishment
mounted.  Thither flock all the Viponts, nor they alone; all the chiefs
of all parties, nor they alone; all the notabilities of our grand
metropolis.  Guy Darrell might be startled at his own position; but he
comprehended its nature, and it did not discompose his nerves.  He knew
public life well enough to be aware how much the popular favour is the
creature of an accident.  By chance he had nicked the time; had he thus
come to town the season before, he might have continued obscure, a man
like Guy Darrell not being wanted then.  Whether with or without design,
his bearing confirmed and extended the effect produced by his
reappearance.  Gracious, but modestly reserved, he spoke little, listened
beautifully.  Many of the questions which agitated all around him had
grown up into importance since his day of action; nor in his retirement
had he traced their progressive development, with their changeful effects
upon men and parties.  But a man who has once gone deeply into practical
politics might sleep in the Cave of Trophonius for twenty years, and
find, on waking, very little to learn.  Darrell regained the level of
the day, and seized upon all the strong points on which men were divided,
with the rapidity of a prompt and comprehensive intellect, his judgment
perhaps the clearer from the freshness of long repose and the composure
of dispassionate survey.  When partisans wrangled as to what should have
been done, Darrell was silent; when they asked what should be done, out
came one of his terse sentences, and a knot was cut.  Meanwhile it is
true this man, round whom expectations grouped and rumour buzzed, was in
neither House of Parliament; but that was rather a delay to his energies
than a detriment to his consequence.

Important constituencies, anticipating a vacancy, were already on the
look-out for him; a smaller constituency, in the interim, Carr Vipont
undertook to procure him any day.  There was always a Vipont ready to
accept something, even the Chiltern Hundreds.  But Darrell, not without
reason, demurred at re-entering the House of Commons after an absence of
seventeen years.  He had left it with one of those rare reputations which
no wise man likes rashly to imperil.  The Viponts sighed.  He would
certainly be more useful in the Commons than the Lords, but still in the
Lords he would be of great use.  They would want a debating lord, perhaps
a lord acquainted with law in the coming CRISIS,--if he preferred the
peerage?  Darrell demurred still.  The man's modesty was insufferable;
his style of speaking might not suit that august assembly: and as to law,
he could never now be a law lord; he should be but a ci-devant advocate,
affecting the part of a judicial amateur.

In short, without declining to re-enter public life, seeming, on the
contrary, to resume all his interest in it, Darrell contrived with
admirable dexterity to elude for the present all overtures pressed upon
him, and even to convince his admirers, not only of his wisdom, but of
his patriotism in that reticence.  For certainly he thus managed to
exercise a very considerable influence: his advice was more sought, his
suggestions more heeded, and his power in reconciling certain rival
jealousies was perhaps greater than would have been the case if he had
actually entered either House of Parliament, and thrown himself
exclusively into the ranks, not only of one party, but of one section of
a party.  Nevertheless, such suspense could not last very long; he must
decide at all events before the next session.  Once he was seen in the
arena of his old triumphs, on the benches devoted to strangers
distinguished by the Speaker's order.  There, recognized by the older
members, eagerly gazed at by the younger, Guy Darrell listened calmly,
throughout a long field-night, to voices that must have roused from
forgotten graves kindling and glorious memories; voices of those veterans
now--by whose side he had once struggled for some cause which he had
then, in the necessary exaggeration of all honest enthusiasm, identified
with a nation's life-blood.  Voices, too of the old antagonists over
whose routed arguments he had marched triumphant amidst applauses that
the next day rang again through England from side to side.  Hark! the
very man with whom, in the old battle-days, he had been the most
habitually pitted, is speaking now!  His tones are embarrassed, his
argument confused.  Does he know who listens yonder?  Old members think
so,--smile; whisper each other, and glance significantly where Darrell
sits.

Sits, as became him, tranquil, respectful, intent, scemingly, perhaps
really, unconscious of the sensation he excites.  What an eye for an
orator! how like the eye in a portrait; it seems to fix on each other eye
that seeks it,--steady, fascinating.  Yon distant members, behind the
Speaker's chair, at the far distance, feel the light of that eye travel
towards them.  How lofty and massive, among all those rows of human
heads, seems that forehead, bending slightly down, with the dark strong
line of the weighty eyebrow!  But what is passing within that secret
mind?  Is there mournfulness in the retrospect?  Is there eagerness to
renew the strife?  Is that interest in the hour's debate feigned or real?
Impossible for him who gazed upon that face to say.  And that eye would
have seemed to the gazer to read himself through and through to the
heart's core, long ere the gazer could hazard a single guess as to the
thoughts beneath that marble forehead,--as to the emotions within the
heart over which, in old senatorial fashion, the arms were folded with so
conventional an ease.



CHAPTER VII.

     Darrell and Lionel.

Darrell had received Lionel with some evident embarrassment, which soon
yielded to affectionate warmth.  He took to the young man whose fortunes
he had so improved; he felt that with the improved fortunes the young
man's whole being was improved: assured position, early commune with the
best social circles, in which the equality of fashion smooths away all
disparities in rank, had softened in Lionel much of the wayward and
morbid irritability of his boyish pride; but the high spirit, the
generous love of independence, the scorn of mercenary calculation, were
strong as ever; these were in the grain of his nature.  In common with
all who in youth aspire to be one day noted from the "undistinguishable
many," Lionel had formed to himself a certain ideal standard, above the
ordinary level of what the world is contented to call honest, or esteem
clever.  He admitted into his estimate of life the heroic element, not
undesirable even in the most practical point of view, for the world is
so in the habit of decrying; of disbelieving in high motives and pure
emotions; of daguerreotyping itself with all its ugliest wrinkles,
stripped of the true bloom that brightens, of the true expression that
redeems, those defects which it invites the sun to limn, that we shall
never judge human nature aright, if we do not set out in life with our
gaze on its fairest beauties, and our belief in its latent good.  In a
word we should begin with the Heroic, if we would learn the Human.  But
though to himself Lionel thus secretly prescribed a certain superiority
of type, to be sedulously aimed at, even if never actually attained, he
was wholly without pedantry and arrogance towards his own contemporaries.
From this he was saved not only by good-nature, animal spirits, frank
hardihood, but by the very affluence of ideas which animated his tongue,
coloured his language, and whether to young or old, wise or dull, made
his conversation racy and original.  He was a delightful companion; and
if he had taken much instruction from those older and wiser than himself,
he so bathed that instruction in the fresh fountain of his own lively
intelligence, so warmed it at his own beating impulsive heart, that he
could make an old man's gleanings from experience seem a young man's
guesses into truth.  Faults he had, of course,--chiefly the faults common
at his age; amongst them, perhaps, the most dangerous were,--firstly,
carelessness in money matters; secondly, a distaste for advice in which
prudence was visibly predominant.  His tastes were not in reality
extravagant: but money slipped through his hands, leaving little to show
for it; and when his quarterly allowance became due, ample though it
was,--too ample, perhaps,--debts wholly forgotten started up to seize
hold of it.  And debts as yet being manageable were not regarded with
sufficient horror.  Paid or put aside, as the case might be, they were
merely looked upon as bores.  Youth is in danger till it learn to look
upon them as furies.  For advice, he took it with pleasure, when clothed
with elegance and art, when it addressed ambition, when it exalted the
loftier virtues.  But advice, practical and prosy, went in at one ear and
out at the other.  In fact, with many talents, he had yet no adequate
ballast of common-sense; and if ever he get enough to steady his bark
through life's trying voyage, the necessity of so much dull weight must
be forcibly stricken home less to his reason than his imagination or his
heart.  But if, somehow or other, he get it not, I will not insure his
vessel.

I know not if Lionel Haughton had genius; he never assumed that he had:
but he had something more like genius than that prototype, RESOLVE, of
which he boasted to the artist.  He had YOUTH,--real youth,--youth of
mind, youth of heart, youth of soul.  Lithe and supple as he moved before
you, with the eye to which light or dew sprang at once from a nature
vibrating to every lofty, every tender thought, he seemed more than
young,--the incarnation of youth.

Darrell took to him at once.  Amidst all the engagements crowded on the
important man, he contrived to see Lionel daily.  And what may seem
strange, Guy Darrell felt more at home with Lionel Haughton than with any
of his own contemporaries,--than even with Alban Morley.  To the last,
indeed, he opened speech with less reserve of certain portions of the
past, or of certain projects in the future.  But still, even there, he
adopted a tone of half-playful, half-mournful satire, which might be in
itself disguise.  Alban Morley, with all his good qualities, was a man of
the world; as a man of the world, Guy Darrell talked to him.  But it was
only a very small part of Guy Darrell the Man, of which the world could
say "mine."

To Lionel he let out, as if involuntarily, the more amiable, tender,
poetic attributes of his varying, complex, uncomprehended character; not
professedly confiding, but not taking pains to conceal.  Hearing what
worldlings would call "Sentiment" in Lionel, he seemed to glide softly
down to Lionel's own years and talk "sentiment" in return.  After all,
this skilled lawyer, this noted politician, had a great dash of the boy
still in him.  Reader, did you ever meet a really clever man who had not?



CHAPTER VIII.

     Saith a very homely proverb (pardon its vulgarity), "You cannot make
     a silk purse out of a sow's ear."  But a sow's ear is a much finer
     work of art than a silk purse; and grand, indeed, the mechanician
     who could make a sow's ear out of a silk purse, or conjure into
     creatures of flesh and blood the sarcenet and /tulle/ of a London
     drawing-room.

"Mamma," asked Honoria Carr Vipont, "what sort of a person was Mrs.
Darrell?"

"She was not in our set, my dear," answered Lady Selina.  "The Vipont
Crookes are just one of those connections with which, though of course
one is civil to all connections, one is more or less intimate according
as they take after the Viponts or after the Crookes.  Poor woman! she
died just before Mr. Darrell entered Parliament and appeared in society.
But I should say she was not an agreeable person.  Not nice," added Lady
Selina, after a pause, and conveying a world of meaning in that
conventional monosyllable.

"I suppose she was very accomplished, very clever?"

"Quite the reverse, my dear.  Mr. Darrell was exceedingly young when he
married, scarcely of age.  She was not the sort of woman to suit him."

"But at least she must have been very much attached to him, very proud of
him?"

Lady Selina glanced aside from her work, and observed her daughter's
face, which evinced an animation not usual to a young lady of a breeding
so lofty, and a mind so well disciplined.

"I don't think," said Lady Selina, "that she was proud of him.  She would
have been proud of his station, or rather of that to which his fame and
fortune would have raised her, had she lived to enjoy it.  But for a few
years after her marriage they were very poor; and though his rise at the
bar was sudden and brilliant, he was long wholly absorbed in his
profession, and lived in Bloomsbury.  Mrs. Darrell was not proud of that.
The Crookes are generally fine, give themselves airs, marry into great
houses if they can: but we can't naturalize them; they always remain
Crookes,--useful connections, very!  Carr says we have not a more
useful,--but third-rate, my dear.  All the Crookes are bad wives, because
they are never satisfied with their own homes, but are always trying to
get into great people's homes.  Not very long before she died, Mrs.
Darrell took her friend and relation, Mrs. Lyndsay, to live with her.
I suspect it was not from affection, or any great consideration for Mrs.
Lyndsay's circumstances (which were indeed those of actual destitution,
till--thanks to Mr. Darrell--she won her lawsuit), but simply because she
looked to Mrs. Lyndsay to get her into our set.  Mrs. Lyndsay was a great
favourite with all of us, charming manners,--perfectly correct, too,--
thorough Vipont, thorough gentlewoman, but artful!  Oh, so artful!  She
humoured poor Mrs. Darrell's absurd vanity; but she took care not to
injure herself.  Of course, Darrell's wife, and a Vipont--though only a
Vipont Crooke--had free passport into the outskirts of good society, the
great parties, and so forth.  But there it stopped; even I should have
been compromised if I had admitted into our set a woman who was bent on
compromising herself.  Handsome, in a bad style, not the Vipont
/tournure/; and not only silly and flirting, but (we are alone, keep the
secret) decidedly vulgar, my dear."

"You amaze me!  How such a man--" Honoria stopped, colouring up to the
temples.

"Clever men," said Lady Selina, "as a general rule, do choose the oddest
wives!  The cleverer a man is, the more easily, I do believe, a woman can
take him in.  However, to do Mr. Darrell justice, he has been taken in
only once.  After Mrs. Darrell's death, Mrs. Lyndsay, I suspect, tried
her chance, but failed.  Of course, she would not actually stay in the
same house with a widower who was then young, and who had only to get rid
of a wife to whom one was forced to be shy in order to be received into
our set with open arms, and, in short, to be of the very best monde.  Mr.
Darrell came into Parliament immensely rich (a legacy from an old East
Indian, besides his own professional savings); took the house he has now,
close by us.  Mrs. Lyndsay was obliged to retire to a cottage at Fulham.
But as she professed to be a second mother to poor Matilda Darrell, she
contrived to be very much at Carlton Gardens; her daughter Caroline was
nearly always there, profiting by Matilda's masters; and I did think that
Mrs. Lyndsay would have caught Darrell, but your papa said 'No,' and he
was right, as he always is.  Nevertheless, Mrs. Lyndsay would have been
an excellent wife to a public man: so popular; knew the world so well;
never made enemies till she made an enemy of poor dear Montfort, but that
was natural.  By the by, I must write to Caroline.  Sweet creature!  but
how absurd, shutting herself up as if she were fretting for Montfort!
That's so like her mother,--heartless, but full of propriety."

Here Carr Vipont and Colonel Morley entered the room.  "We have just left
Darrell," said Carr; "he will dine here to-day, to meet our cousin Alban.
I have asked his cousin, young Haughton, and--and, your cousins, Selina
(a small party of cousins); so lucky to find Darrell disengaged."

"I ventured to promise," said the Colonel, addressing Honoria in an under
voice, "that Darrell should hear you play Beethoven."

HONORIA.--"Is Mr. Darrell so fond of music, then?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"One would not have thought it.  He keeps a secretary at
Fawley who plays the flute.  There's something very interesting about
Darrell.  I wish you could hear his ideas on marriage and domestic life:
more freshness of heart than in the young men one meets nowadays.  It may
be prejudice; but it seems to me that the young fellows of the present
race, if more sober and staid than we were, are sadly wanting in
character and spirit,--no warm blood in their veins.  But I should not
talk thus to a demoiselle who has all those young fellows at her feet."

"Oh," said Lady Selina, overhearing, and with a half laugh, "Honoria
thinks much as you do: she finds the young men so insipid; all like one
another,--the same set phrases."

"The same stereotyped ideas," added Honoria, moving away with a gesture
of calm disdain.

"A very superior mind hers," whispered the Colonel to Carr Vipont.
"She'll never marry a fool."

Guy Darrell was very pleasant at "the small family dinnerparty."  Carr
was always popular in his manners; the true old House of Commons manner,
which was very like that of a gentleman-like public school.  Lady Selina,
as has been said before, in her own family circle was natural and genial.
Young Carr, there, without his wife, more pretentious than his father,--
being a Lord of the Admiralty,--felt a certain awe of Darrell, and spoke
little, which was much to his own credit and to the general conviviality.
The other members of the symposium, besides Lady Selina, Honoria, and a
younger sister, were but Darrell, Lionel, and Lady Selina's two cousins;
elderly peers,--one with the garter, the other in the Cabinet,--jovial
men who had been wild fellows once in the same mess-room, and still joked
at each other whenever they met as they met now.  Lionel, who remembered
Vance's description of Lady Selina, and who had since heard her spoken of
in society as a female despot who carried to perfection the arts by which
despots flourish, with majesty to impose, and caresses to deceive--an
Aurungzebe in petticoats--was sadly at a loss to reconcile such
portraiture with the good-humoured, motherly woman who talked to him of
her home, her husband, her children, with open fondness and becoming
pride, and who, far from being so formidably clever as the world cruelly
gave out, seemed to Lionel rather below par in her understanding; strike
from her talk its kindliness, and the residue was very like twaddle.
After dinner, various members of the Vipont family dropped in,--asked
impromptu by Carr or by Lady Selina, in hasty three-cornered notes, to
take that occasion of renewing their acquaintance with their
distinguished connection.  By some accident, amongst those invited there
were but few young single ladies; and, by some other accident, those few
were all plain.  Honoria Vipont was unequivocally the belle of the room.
It could not but be observed that Darrell seemed struck with her,--talked
with her more than with any other lady; and when she went to the piano,
and played that great air of Beethoven's, in which music seems to have
got into a knot that only fingers the most artful can unravel, Darrell
remained in his seat aloof and alone, listening no doubt with ravished
attention.  But just as the air ended, and Honoria turned round to look
for him, he was gone.

Lionel did not linger long after him.  The gay young man went thence to
one of those vast crowds which seemed convened for a practical parody of
Mr. Bentham's famous proposition,--contriving the smallest happiness for
the greatest number.

It was a very good house, belonging to a very great person.  Colonel
Morley had procured an invitation for Lionel, and said, "Go; you should
be seen there."  Colonel Morley had passed the age of growing into
society: no such cares for the morrow could add a cubit to his
conventional stature.  One amongst a group of other young men by the
doorway, Lionel beheld Darrell, who had arrived before him, listening to
a very handsome young lady, with an attention quite as earnest as that
which had gratified the superior mind of the well-educated Honoria,--a
very handsome young lady certainly, but not with a superior mind, nor
supposed hitherto to have found young gentlemen "insipid."  Doubtless she
would henceforth do so.  A few minutes after Darrell was listening again;
this time to another young lady, generally called "fast."  If his
attentions to her were not marked, hers to him were.  She rattled on to
him volubly, laughed, pretty hoyden, at her own sallies, and seemed at
last so to fascinate him by her gay spirits that he sat down by her side;
and the playful smile on his lips--lips that had learned to be so gravely
firm--showed that he could enter still into the mirth of childhood; for
surely to the time-worn man the fast young lady must have seemed but a
giddy child.  Lionel was amused.  Could this be the austere recluse whom
he had left in the shades of Fawley?  Guy Darrell, at his years, with his
dignified repute, the object of so many nods, and becks, and wreathed
smiles,--could he descend to be that most frivolous of characters, a male
coquet?  Was he in earnest?  Was his vanity duped?  Looking again, Lionel
saw in his kinsman's face a sudden return of the sad despondent
expression which had moved his own young pity in the solitudes of Fawley.
But in a moment the man roused himself: the sad expression was gone.  Had
the girl's merry laugh again chased it away?  But Lionel's attention was
now drawn from Darrell himself to the observations murmured round him, of
which Darrell was the theme.

"Yes, he is bent on marrying again!  I have it from Alban Morley: immense
fortune; and so young-looking, any girl might fall in love with such eyes
and forehead; besides, what a jointure he could settle!  .  .  .  Do look
at that girl, Flora Vyvyan, trying to make a fool of him.  She can't
appreciate that kind of man, and she would not be caught by his money;
does not want it.  .  .  .  I wonder she is not afraid of him.  He is
certainly quizzing her.  .  .  .  The men think her pretty; I don't.  .
.  .  They say he is to return to Parliament, and have a place in the
Cabinet.  .  .  .  No!  he has no children living: very natural he should
marry again.  .  .  .  A nephew!--you are quite mistaken.  Young Haughton
is no nephew: a very distant connection; could not expect to be the heir
.  .  .  .  It was given out, though, at Paris.  The Duchess thought so,
and so did Lady Jane.  They'll not be so civil to young Haughton now.  .
.  .  Hush--"

Lionel, wishing to hear no more, glided by, and penetrated farther into
the throng.  And then, as he proceeded, with those last words on his ear,
the consciousness came upon him that his position had undergone a change.
Difficult to define it; to an ordinary bystander people would have seemed
to welcome him cordially as ever.  The gradations of respect in polite
society are so exquisitely delicate, that it seems only by a sort of
magnetism that one knows from day to day whether one has risen or
declined.  A man has lost high office, patronage, power, never perhaps to
regain them.  People don't turn their backs on him; their smiles are as
gracious, their hands as flatteringly extended.  But that man would be
dull as a rhinoceros if he did not feel--as every one who accosts him
feels--that he has descended in the ladder.  So with all else.  Lose even
your fortune, it is not the next day in a London drawing-room that your
friends look as if you were going to ask them for five pounds.  Wait a
year or so for that.  But if they have just heard you are ruined, you
will feel that they have heard it, let them bow ever so courteously,
smile ever so kindly.  Lionel at Paris, in the last year or so, had been
more than fashionable: he had been the fashion,--courted, run after,
petted, quoted, imitated.  That evening he felt as an author may feel who
has been the rage, and without fault of his own is so no more.  The rays
that had gilded him had gone back to the orb that lent.  And they who
were most genial still to Lionel Haughton were those who still most
respected thirty-five thousand pounds a year--in Guy Darrell!

Lionel was angry with himself that he felt galled.  But in his wounded
pride there was no mercenary regret,--only that sort of sickness which
comes to youth when the hollowness of worldly life is first made clear to
it.  From the faces round him there fell that glamour by which the /amour
propre/ is held captive in large assemblies, where the /amour propre/ is
flattered.  "Magnificent, intelligent audience," thinks the applauded
actor.  "Delightful party," murmurs the worshipped beauty.  Glamour!
glamour!  Let the audience yawn while the actor mouths; let the party
neglect the beauty to adore another, and straightway the "magnificent
audience" is an "ignorant public," and the "delightful party" a
"heartless world."



CHAPTER IX.

     Escaped from a London drawing-room, flesh once more tingles and
     blood flows.--Guy Darrell explains to Lionel Haughton why he holds
     it a duty to be an old fool.

Lionel Haughton glided through the disenchanted rooms, and breathed a
long breath of relief when he found himself in the friendless streets.

As he walked slow and thoughtful on, he suddenly felt a hand upon his
shoulder, turned, and saw Darrell.

"Give me your arm, my dear Lionel; I am tired out.  What a lovely night!
What sweet scorn in the eyes of those stars that we have neglected for
yon flaring lights."

LIONEL.--"Is it scorn? is it pity? is it but serene indifference?"

DARRELL.--"As we ourselves interpret: if scorn be present in our own
hearts, it will be seen in the disc of Jupiter.  Man, egotist though he
be, exacts sympathy from all the universe.  Joyous, he says to the sun,
'Life-giver, rejoice with me.'  Grieving, he says to the moon, 'Pensive
one, thou sharest my sorrow.'  Hope for fame; a star is its promise!

"Mourn for the dead; a star is the land of reunion!  Say to earth, 'I have
done with thee;' to Time, 'Thou hast nought to bestow;' and all space
cries aloud, 'The earth is a speck, thine inheritance infinity.  Time
melts while thou sighest.  The discontent of a mortal is the instinct
that proves thee immortal.'  Thus construing Nature, Nature is our
companion, our consoler.  Benign as the playmate, she lends herself to
our shifting humours.  Serious as the teacher, she responds to the
steadier inquiries of reason.  Mystic and hallowed as the priestess, she
keeps alive by dim oracles that spiritual yearning within us, in which,
from savage to sage,--through all dreams, through all creeds,--thrills
the sense of a link with Divinity.  Never, therefore, while conferring
with Nature, is Man wholly alone, nor is she a single companion with
uniform shape.  Ever new, ever various, she can pass from gay to severe,
from fancy to science,--quick as thought passes from the dance of a leaf,
from the tint of a rainbow, to the theory of motion, the problem of
light.  But lose Nature, forget or dismiss her, make companions, by
hundreds, of men who ignore her, and I will not say with the poet, 'This
is solitude.'  But in the commune, what stale monotony, what weary
sameness!"

Thus Darrell continued to weave together sentence with sentence, the
intermediate connection of meaning often so subtle that when put down on
paper it requires effort to discern it.  But it was his peculiar gift to
make clear when spoken what in writing would seem obscure.  Look, manner,
each delicate accent in a voice wonderfully distinct in its unrivalled
melody, all so aided the sense of mere words that it is scarcely
extravagant to say he might have talked an unknown language, and a
listener would have understood.  But, understood or not, those sweet
intonations it was such delight to hear that any one with nerves alive to
music would have murmured, "Talk on forever."  And in this gift lay one
main secret of the man's strange influence over all who came familiarly
into his intercourse; so that if Darrell had ever bestowed confidential
intimacy on any one not by some antagonistic idiosyncrasy steeled against
its charm, and that intimacy had been withdrawn, a void never to be
refilled must have been left in the life thus robbed.

Stopping at his door, as Lionel, rapt by the music, had forgotten the
pain of the revery so bewitchingly broken, Darrell detained the hand held
out to him, and said, "No, not yet; I have something to say to you: come
in; let me say it now."

Lionel bowed his head, and in surprised conjecture followed his kinsman
up the lofty stairs into the same comfortless stately room that has been
already described.  When the servant closed the door, Darrell sank into a
chair.  Fixing his eye upon Lionel with almost parental kindness, and
motioning his young cousin to sit by his side, close, he thus began,

"Lionel, before I was your age I was married; I was a father.  I am
lonely and childless now.  My life has been moulded by a solemn
obligation which so few could comprehend that I scarce know a man living
beside yourself to whom I would frankly confide it.  Pride of family is a
common infirmity,--often petulant with the poor, often insolent with the
rich; but rarely, perhaps, out of that pride do men construct a positive
binding duty, which at all self-sacrifice should influence the practical
choice of life.  As a child, before my judgment could discern how much of
vain superstition may lurk in our reverence for the dead, my whole heart
was engaged in a passionate dream, which my waking existence became vowed
to realize.  My father!--my lip quivers, my eyes moisten as I recall him,
even now,--my father!--I loved him so intensely!--the love of childhood,
how fearfully strong it is!  All in him was so gentle, yet so sensitive,
--chivalry without its armour.  I was his constant companion: he spoke to
me unreservedly, as a poet to his muse.  I wept at his sorrows; I chafed
at his humiliations.  He talked of ancestors as he thought of them; to
him they were beings like the old Lares,--not dead in graves, but images
ever present on household hearths.  Doubtless he exaggerated their worth,
as their old importance.  Obscure, indeed, in the annals of empire, their
deeds and their power, their decline and fall.  Not so thought he; they
were to his eyes the moon-track in the ocean of history,--light on the
waves over which they had gleamed,--all the ocean elsewhere dark!  With
him thought I; as my father spoke, his child believed.  But what to the
eyes of the world was this inheritor of a vaunted name?--a threadbare,
slighted, rustic pedant; no station in the very province in which
mouldered away the last lowly dwelling-place of his line,--by lineage
high above most nobles, in position below most yeomen.  He had learning;
he had genius: but the studies to which they were devoted only served yet
more to impoverish his scanty means, and led rather to ridicule than to
honour.  Not a day but what I saw on his soft features the smart of a
fresh sting, the gnawing of a new care.  Thus, as a boy, feeling in
myself a strength inspired by affection, I came to him one day as he sat
grieving, and kneeling to him, said, 'Father, courage yet a little while;
I shall soon be a man, and I swear to devote myself as man to revive the
old fading race so prized by you; to rebuild the House that, by you so
loved, is loftier in my eyes than all the heraldry of kings.'  And my
father's face brightened, and his voice blessed me; and I rose up-
ambitious!"  Darrell paused, heaved a short, quick sigh, and then rapidly
continued,

"I was fortunate at the University.  That was a day when chiefs of party
looked for recruits amongst young men who had given the proofs and won
the first-fruits of emulation and assiduity; for statesmanship then was
deemed an art which, like that of war, needs early discipline.  I had
scarcely left college when I was offered a seat in Parliament by the head
of the Viponts, an old Lord Montfort.  I was dazzled but for one moment;
I declined the next.  The fallen House of Darrell needed wealth; and
Parliamentary success, in its higher honours, often requires wealth,--
never gives it.  It chanced that I had a college acquaintance with a
young man named Vipont Crooke.  His grandfather, one of the numberless
Viponts, had been compelled to add the name of Crooke to his own, on
succeeding to the property of some rich uncle, who was one of the
numberless Crookes.  I went with this college acquaintance to visit the
old Lord Montfort, at his villa near London, and thence to the country-
house of the Vipont Crookes.  I stayed at the last two or three weeks.
While there, I received a letter from the elder Fairthorn, my father's
bailiff, entreating me to come immediately to Fawley, hinting at some
great calamity.  On taking leave of my friend and his family, something
in the manner of his sister startled and pained me,--an evident
confusion, a burst of tears,--I know not what.  I had never sought to
win her affections.  I had an ideal of the woman I could love,--it did
not resemble her.  On reaching Fawley, conceive the shock that awaited
me.  My father was like one heart-stricken.  The principal mortgagee was
about to foreclose,--Fawley about to pass forever from the race of the
Darrells.  I saw that the day my father was driven from the old house
would be his last on earth.  What means to save him?--how raise the
pitiful sum--but a few thousands--by which to release from the spoiler's
gripe those barren acres which all the lands of the Seymour or the Gower
could never replace in my poor father's eyes?  My sole income was a
college fellowship, adequate to all my wants, but useless for sale or
loan.  I spent the night in vain consultation with Fairthorn.  There
seemed not a hope.  Next morning came a letter from young Vipont Crooke.
It was manly and frank, though somewhat coarse.  With the consent of his
parents he offered me his sister's hand, and a dowry of L10,000.  He
hinted, in excuse for his bluntness, that, perhaps from motives of
delicacy, if I felt a preference for his sister, I might not deem myself
rich enough to propose, and--but it matters not what else he said.  You
foresee the rest.  My father's life could be saved from despair; his
beloved home be his shelter to the last.  That dowry would more than
cover the paltry debt upon the lands.  I gave myself not an hour to
pause.  I hastened back to the house to which fate had led me.  But,"
said Darrell, proudly, "do not think I was base enough, even with such
excuses, to deceive the young lady.  I told her what was true; that I
could not profess to her the love painted by romance-writers and poets;
but that I loved no other, and that if she deigned to accept my hand,
I should studiously consult her happiness and gratefully confide to her
my own."

"I said also, what was true, that if she married me, ours must be for
some years a life of privation and struggle; that even the interest of
her fortune must be devoted to my father while he lived, though every
shilling of its capital would be settled on herself and her children.
How I blessed her when she accepted me, despite my candour!--how
earnestly I prayed that I might love and cherish and requite her!"
Darrell paused, in evident suffering.  "And, thank Heaven!  I have
nothing on that score wherewith to reproach myself; and the strength of
that memory enabled me to bear and forbear more than otherwise would have
been possible to my quick spirit and my man's heart.  My dear father!
his death was happy: his home was saved; he never knew at what sacrifice
to his son!  He was gladdened by the first honours my youth achieved.  He
was resigned to my choice of a profession, which, though contrary to his
antique prejudices, that allowed to the representative of the Darrells no
profession but the sword, still promised the wealth which would secure
his name from perishing.  He was credulous of my future, as if I had
uttered not a vow, but a prediction.  He had blessed my union, without
foreseeing its sorrows.  He had embraced my first-born,--true, it was a
girl, but it was one link onward from ancestors to posterity.  And almost
his last words were these: 'You will restore the race; you will revive
the name! and my son's children will visit the antiquary's grave, and
learn gratitude to him for all that his idle lessons taught to your
healthier vigour.'  And I answered, 'Father, your line shall not perish
from the land; and when I am rich and great, and lordships spread far
round the lowly hall that your life ennobled, I will say to your
grandchildren, 'Honour ye and your son's sons, while a Darrell yet treads
the earth, honour him to whom I owe every thought which nerved me to toil
for what you who come after me may enjoy.'

"And so the old man, whose life had been so smileless, died smiling."

By this time Lionel had stolen Darrell's hand into his own--his heart
swelling with childlike tenderness, and the tears rolling down his
cheeks.

Darrell gently kissed his young kinsman's forehead, and, extricating
himself from Lionel's clasp, paced the room, and spoke on while pacing
it.

"I made, then, a promise; it is not kept.  No child of mine survives to
be taught reverence to my father's grave.  My wedded life was not happy:
its record needs no words.  Of two children born to me, both are gone.
My son went first.  I had thrown my life's life into him,--a boy of
energy, of noble promise.  'T was for him I began to build that baffled
fabric, 'Sepulchri immemor.'  For him I bought, acre on acre, all the
land within reach of Fawley,-lands twelve miles distant.  I had meant to
fill up the intervening space, to buy out a mushroom earl whose woods and
cornfields lie between.  I was scheming the purchase, scrawling on the
county map, when they brought the news that the boy I had just taken back
to school was dead,--drowned bathing on a calm summer eve.  No, Lionel.
I must go on.  That grief I have wrestled with,--conquered.  I was
widowed then.  A daughter still left,--the first-born, whom my father had
blest on his death-bed.  I transferred all my love, all my hopes, to her.
I had no vain preference for male heirs.  Is a race less pure that runs
on through the female line?  Well, my son's death was merciful compared
to--"  Again Darrell stopped, again hurried on.  "Enough!  all is
forgiven in the grave!  I was then still in the noon of man's life, free
to form new ties.  Another grief that I cannot tell you; it is not all
conquered yet.  And by that grief the last verdure of existence was so
blighted that--that--in short, I had no heart for nuptial altars, for the
social world.  Years went by.  Each year I said, 'Next year the wound
will be healed; I have time yet.'  Now age is near, the grave not far;
now, if ever, I must fulfil the promise that cheered my father's death-
bed.  Nor does that duty comprise all my motives.  If I would regain
healthful thought, manly action, for my remaining years, I must feel that
one haunting memory is exorcised and forever laid at rest.  It can be so
only,--whatever my risk of new cares, whatever the folly of the hazard
at my age,--be so only by--by--"  Once more Darrell paused, fixed his
eyes steadily on Lionel, and, opening his arms, cried out, "Forgive me,
my noble Lionel, that I am not contented with an heir like you; and do
not you mock at the old man who dreams that woman may love him yet, and
that his own children may inherit his father's home."

Lionel sprang to the breast that opened to him; and if Darrell had
planned how best to remove from the young man's mind forever the
possibility of one selfish pang, no craft could have attained his object
like that touching confidence before which the disparities between youth
and age literally vanished.  And, both made equal, both elevated alike,
verily I know not which at the moment felt the elder or the younger!  Two
noble hearts, intermingled in one emotion, are set free from all time
save the present: par each with each, they meet as brothers twin-born.





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