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Title: "My Novel" — Volume 02
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book ""My Novel" — Volume 02" ***

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



BOOK SECOND.

INITIAL CHAPTER.

INFORMING THE READER HOW THIS WORK CAME TO HAVE INITIAL CHAPTERS.


"There can't be a doubt," said my father, "that to each of the main
divisions of your work--whether you call them Books or Parts--you should
prefix an Initial or Introductory Chapter."

PISISTRATUS.--"Can't be a doubt, sir?  Why so?"

MR. CAXTON.--"Fielding lays it down as an indispensable rule, which he
supports by his example; and Fielding was an artistical writer, and knew
what he was about."

PISISTRATUS.--"Do you remember any of his reasons, sir?"

MR. CAXTON.--"Why, indeed, Fielding says, very justly, that he is not
bound to assign any reason; but he does assign a good many, here and
there,--to find which I refer you to 'Tom Jones.'  I will only observe,
that one of his reasons, which is unanswerable, runs to the effect that
thus, in every Part or Book, the reader has the advantage of beginning at
the fourth or fifth page instead of the first,--'a matter by no means of
trivial consequence,' saith Fielding, 'to persons who read books with no
other view than to say they have read them,--a more general motive to
reading than is commonly imagined; and from which not only law books and
good books, but the pages of Homer and Virgil, Swift and Cervantes, have
been often turned Over.'  There," cried my father, triumphantly, "I will
lay a shilling to twopence that I have quoted the very words."

MRS. CANTON.--"Dear me, that only means skipping; I don't see any great
advantage in writing a chapter, merely for people to skip it."

PISISTRATUS.--"Neither do I!"

MR. CANTON (dogmatically).--"It is the repose in the picture,--Fielding
calls it 'contrast.'--(Still more dogmatically.)--I say there can't be a
doubt about it.  Besides" added my father after a pause,--"besides, this
usage gives you opportunities to explain what has gone before, or to
prepare for what's coming; or, since Fielding contends, with great truth,
that some learning is necessary for this kind of historical composition,
it allows you, naturally and easily, the introduction of light and
pleasant ornaments of that nature.  At each flight in the terrace you may
give the eye the relief of an urn or a statue.  Moreover, when so
inclined, you create proper pausing-places for reflection; and complete
by a separate, yet harmonious ethical department, the design of a work,
which is but a mere Mother Goose's tale if it does not embrace a general
view of the thoughts and actions of mankind."

PISISTRATUS.--"But then, in these initial chapters, the author thrusts
himself forward; and just when you want to get on with the /dramatis
personae/, you find yourself face to face with the poet himself."

MR. CANTON.--"Pooh!  you can contrive to prevent that!  Imitate the
chorus of the Greek stage, who fill up the intervals between the action
by saying what the author would otherwise say in his own person."

PISISTRATUS (slyly).--"That's a good idea, sir,--and I have a chorus, and
a choregus too, already in my eye."

MR. CANTON (unsuspectingly).--"Aha!  you are not so dull a fellow as you
would make yourself out to be; and, even if an author did thrust himself
forward, what objection is there to that?  It is a mere affectation to
suppose that a book can come into the world without an author.  Every
child has a father,--one father at least,--as the great Conde says very
well in his poem."

PISISTRATUS.--"The great Conde a poet!  I never heard that before."

MR. CANTON.--"I don't say he was a poet, but he sent a poem to Madame de
Montansier.  Envious critics think that he must have paid somebody else
to write it; but there is no reason why a great captain should not write
a poem,--I don't say a good poem, but a poem.  I wonder, Roland, if the
duke ever tried his hand at 'Stanzas to Mary,' or 'Lines to a Sleeping
Babe.'"

CAPTAIN ROLAND.--"Austin, I'm ashamed of you.  Of course the duke could
write poetry if he pleased,--something, I dare say, in the way of the
great Conde; that is, something warlike and heroic, I'll be bound.  Let's
hear!"

MR. CAXTON (reciting).--

                   "Telle est du Ciel la loi severe
                    Qu'il faut qu'un enfant ait un pere;
                    On dit meme quelquefois
                    Tel enfant en a jusqu'a trois."

                    ["That each child has a father
                    Is Nature's decree;
                    But, to judge by a rumour,
                    Some children have three."]


CAPTAIN ROLAND (greatly disgusted).--"Conde write such stuff!--I don't
believe it."

PISISTRATUS.--"I do, and accept the quotations; you and Roland shall be
joint fathers to my child as well as myself.

                   "'Tel enfant en a jusqu'a trois.'"

MR. CAXTON (solemnly).--"I refuse the proffered paternity; but so far as
administering a little wholesome castigation now and then, I have no
objection to join in the discharge of a father's duty."

PISISTRATUS.--"Agreed.  Have you anything to say against the infant
hitherto?"

MR. CAXTON.--"He is in long clothes at present; let us wait till he can
walk."

BLANCHE.--"But pray whom do you mean for a hero?  And is Miss Jemima your
heroine?"

CAPTAIN ROLAND.--"There is some mystery about the--"

PISISTRATUS (hastily).-"Hush, Uncle: no letting the cat out of the bag
yet.  Listen, all of you!  I left Frank Hazeldean on his way to the
Casino."



CHAPTER II.

"It is a sweet pretty place," thought Frank, as he opened the gate which
led across the fields to the Casino, that smiled down upon him with its
plaster pilasters.  "I wonder, though, that my father, who is so
particular in general, suffers the carriage-road to be so full of holes
and weeds.  Mounseer does not receive many visits, I take it."

But when Frank got into the ground immediately before the house, he saw
no cause of complaint as to want of order and repair.  Nothing could be
kept more neatly.  Frank was ashamed of the dint made by the pony's hoofs
on the smooth gravel: he dismounted, tied the animal to the wicket, and
went on foot towards the glass door in front.

He rang the bell once, twice, but nobody came, for the old woman-servant,
who was hard of hearing, was far away in the yard, searching for any eggs
which the hen might have scandalously hidden for culinary purposes; and
Jackeymo was fishing for the sticklebacks and minnows which were, when
caught, to assist the eggs, when found, in keeping together the bodies
and souls of himself and his master.  The old woman had been lately put
upon board wages.  Lucky old woman!  Frank rang a third time, and with
the impetuosity of his age.  A face peeped from the belvidere on the
terrace.  "Diavolo!" said Dr. Riccabocca to himself.  "Young cocks crow
hard on their own dunghill; it must be a cock of a high race to crow so
loud at another's."

Therewith he shambled out of the summer-house, and appeared suddenly
before Frank, in a very wizard-like dressing-robe of black serge, a red
cap on his head, and a cloud of smoke coming rapidly from his lips, as a
final consolatory whiff, before he removed the pipe from them.  Frank had
indeed seen the doctor before, but never in so scholastic a costume, and
he was a little startled by the apparition at his elbow, as he turned
round.

"Signorino," said the Italian, taking off his cap with his usual
urbanity, "pardon the negligence of my people; I am too happy to receive
your commands in person."

"Dr. Rickeybockey?" stammered Frank, much confused by this polite
address, and the low, yet stately, bow with which it was accompanied.
"I--I have a note from the Hall.  Mamma--that is, my mother--and aunt
Jemima beg their best compliments, and hope you will come, sir."

The doctor took the note with another bow, and, opening the glass door,
invited Frank to enter.

The young gentleman, with a schoolboy's usual bluntness, was about to say
that he was in a hurry, and had rather not; but Dr. Riccabocca's grand
manner awed him, while a glimpse of the hall excited his curiosity, so he
silently obeyed the invitation.

The hall, which was of an octagon shape, had been originally panelled off
into compartments, and in these the Italian had painted landscapes, rich
with the warm sunny light of his native climate.  Frank was no judge of
the art displayed; but he was greatly struck with the scenes depicted:
they were all views of some lake, real or imaginary; in all, dark-blue
shining waters reflected dark-blue placid skies.  In one, a flight of
steps ascended to the lake, and a gay group was seen feasting on the
margin; in another, sunset threw its rose-hues over a vast villa or
palace, backed by Alpine hills, and flanked by long arcades of vines,
while pleasure-boats skimmed over the waves below.  In short, throughout
all the eight compartments, the scene, though it differed in details,
preserved the same general character, as if illustrating some favourite
locality.  The Italian did not, however, evince any desire to do the
honours of his own art, but, preceding Frank across the hall, opened the
door of his usual sitting-room, and requested him to enter.  Frank did so
rather reluctantly, and seated himself with unwonted bashfulness on the
edge of a chair.  But here new specimens of the doctor's handicraft soon
riveted attention.  The room had been originally papered, but Riccabocca
had stretched canvas over the walls, and painted thereon sundry satirical
devices, each separated from the other by scroll-works of fantastic
arabesques.  Here a Cupid was trundling a wheelbarrow full of hearts,
which he appeared to be selling to an ugly old fellow, with a money-bag
in his hand--probably Plutus.  There Diogenes might be seen walking
through a market-place, with his lantern in his hand, in search of an
honest man, whilst the children jeered at him, and the curs snapped at
his heels.  In another place a lion was seen half dressed in a fox's
hide, while a wolf in a sheep's mask was conversing very amicably with
a young lamb.  Here again might be seen the geese stretching out their
necks from the Roman Capitol in full cackle, while the stout invaders
were beheld in the distance, running off as hard as they could.
In short, in all these quaint entablatures some pithy sarcasm was
symbolically conveyed; only over the mantel piece was the design graver
and more touching.  It was the figure of a man in a pilgrim's garb,
chained to the earth by small but innumerable ligaments, while a phantom
likeness of himself, his shadow, was seen hastening down what seemed an
interminable vista; and underneath were written the pathetic words of
Horace--

                         "Patriae quis exul
                         Se quoque fugit?"

          ["What exile from his country can also fly from himself?"]

The furniture of the room was extremely simple, and somewhat scanty; yet
it was arranged so as to impart an air of taste and elegance to the room.
Even a few plaster busts and statues, though bought but of some humble
itinerant, had their classical effect, glistening from out stands of
flowers that were grouped around them, or backed by graceful screen-works
formed from twisted osiers, which, by the simple contrivance of trays at
the bottom filled with earth, served for living parasitical plants, with
gay flowers contrasting thick ivy leaves, and gave to the whole room the
aspect of a bower.  "May I ask your permission?" said the Italian, with
his finger on the seal of the letter.

"Oh, yes," said Frank, with naivete.

Riccabocca broke the seal, and a slight smile stole over his countenance.
Then he turned a little aside from Frank, shaded his face with his hand,
and seemed to muse.  "Mrs. Hazeldean," said he, at last, "does me very
great honour.  I hardly recognize her handwriting, or I should have been
more impatient to open the letter."  The dark eyes were lifted over the
spectacles and went right into Frank's unprotected and undiplomatic
heart.  The doctor raised the note, and pointed to the characters with
his forefinger.

"Cousin Jemima's hand," said Frank, as directly as if the question had
been put to him.

The Italian smiled.  "Mr. Hazeldean has company staying with him?"

"No; that is, only Barney,--the captain.  There's seldom much company
before the shooting season," added Frank, with a slight sigh; "and then,
you know, the holidays are over.  For my part, I think we ought to break
up a month later."

The doctor seemed reassured by the first sentence in Frank's reply, and,
seating himself at the table, wrote his answer,--not hastily, as we
English write, but with care and precision, like one accustomed to weigh
the nature of words,--in that stiff Italian hand, which allows the writer
so much time to think while he forms his letters.  He did not, therefore,
reply at once to Frank's remark about the holidays, but was silent till
he had concluded his note, read it three times over, sealed it by the
taper he slowly lighted, and then, giving it to Frank, he said,

"For your sake, young gentleman, I regret that your holidays are so
early; for mine, I must rejoice, since I accept the kind invitation you
have rendered doubly gratifying by bringing it yourself."

"Deuce take the fellow and his fine speeches!  One don't know which way
to look," thought English Frank.

The Italian smiled again, as if this time he had read the boy's heart,
without need of those piercing black eyes, and said, less ceremoniously
than before, "You don't care much for compliments, young gentleman?"

"No, I don't indeed," said Frank, heartily.

"So much the better for you, since your way in the world is made: it
would be so much the worse if you had to make it!"

Frank looked puzzled: the thought was too deep for him, so he turned to
the pictures.

"Those are very funny," said he; "they seem capitally done.  Who did
'em?"

"Signoriuo Hazeldean, you are giving me what you refused yourself."

"Eh?" said Frank, inquiringly.

"Compliments!"

"Oh--I--no;  but  they are well  done:  are n't  they, sir?"--

"Not particularly: you speak to the artist."

"What! you painted them?"

"Yes."

"And the pictures in the hall?"

"Those too."

"Taken from nature, eh?"

"Nature," said the Italian, sententiously, perhaps evasively, "lets
nothing be taken from her."

"Oh!" said Frank, puzzled again.  "Well, I must wish you good morning,
sir; I am very glad you are coming."

"Without compliment?"

"Without compliment."

"A rivedersi--good-by for the present, my young signorino.  This way,"
observing Frank make a bolt towards the wrong door.  "Can I offer you a
glass of wine?--it is pure, of our own making."

"No, thank you, indeed, sir," cried Frank, suddenly recollecting his
father's admonition.  "Good-by, don't trouble yourself, sir; I know any
way now."

But the bland Italian followed his guest to the wicket, where Frank had
left the pony.  The young gentleman, afraid lest so courteous a host
should hold the stirrup for him, twitched off the bridle, and mounted in
haste, not even staying to ask if the Italian could put him in the way to
Rood Hall, of which way he was profoundly ignorant.  The Italian's eye
followed the boy as he rode up the ascent in the lane, and the doctor
sighed heavily.  "The wiser we grow," said he to himself, "the more we
regret the age of our follies: it is better to gallop with a light heart
up the stony hill than sit in the summer-house and cry 'How true!' to the
stony truths of Machiavelli!"

With that he turned back into the belvidere; but he could not resume his
studies.  He remained some minutes gazing on the prospect, till the
prospect reminded him of the fields which Jackeymo was bent on his
hiring, and the fields reminded him of Lenny Fairfield.  He returned to
the house, and in a few moments re-emerged in his out-of-door trim, with
cloak and umbrella, re-lighted his pipe, and strolled towards Hazeldean
village.

Meanwhile Frank, after cantering on for some distance, stopped at a
cottage, and there learned that there was a short cut across the fields
to Rood Hall, by which he could save nearly three miles.  Frank, however,
missed the short cut, and came out into the high road; a turnpike-keeper,
after first taking his toll, put him back again into the short cut; and
finally, he got into some green lanes, where a dilapidated finger-post
directed him to Rood.  Late at noon, having ridden fifteen miles in the
desire to reduce ten to seven, he came suddenly upon a wild and primitive
piece of ground, that seemed half chase, half common, with crazy
tumbledown cottages of villanous aspect scattered about in odd nooks and
corners.  Idle, dirty children were making mud-pies on the road;
slovenly-looking women were plaiting straw at the threshold; a large but
forlorn and decayed church, that seemed to say that the generation which
saw it built was more pious than the generation which now resorted to it,
stood boldly and nakedly out by the roadside.

"Is this the village of Rood?" asked Frank of a stout young man breaking
stones on the road--sad sign that no better labour could be found for
him!

The man sullenly nodded, and continued his work.  "And where's the Hall--
Mr. Leslie's?"

The man looked up in stolid surprise, and this time touched his hat.

"Be you going there?"

"Yes, if I can find out where it is."

"I'll show your honour," said the boor, alertly.

Frank reined in the pony, and the man walked by his side.  Frank was much
of his father's son, despite the difference of age, and that more
fastidious change of manner which characterizes each succeeding race in
the progress of civilization.  Despite all his Eton finery, he was
familiar with peasants, and had the quick eye of one country-born as to
country matters.

"You don't seem very well off in this village, my man?" said he,
knowingly.

"Noa; there be a deal of distress here in the winter time, and summer
too, for that matter; and the parish ben't much help to a single man."

"But surely the farmers want work here as well as elsewhere?"

"'Deed, and there ben't much farming work here,--most o' the parish be
all wild ground loike."

"The poor have a right of common, I suppose," said Frank, surveying a
large assortment of vagabond birds and quadrupeds.

"Yes; neighbour Timmins keeps his geese on the common, and some has a
cow, and them be neighbour Jowlas's pigs.  I don't know if there's a
right, loike; but the folks at the Hall does all they can to help us, and
that ben't much: they ben't as rich as some folks; but," added the
peasant, proudly, "they be as good blood as any in the shire."

"I 'm glad to see you like them, at all events."

"Oh, yes, I likes them well eno'; mayhap you are at school with the young
gentleman?"

"Yes," said Frank.

"Ah, I heard the clergyman say as how Master Randal was a mighty clever
lad, and would get rich some day.  I 'se sure I wish he would, for a poor
squire makes a poor parish.  There's the Hall, sir."



CHAPTER III.

Frank looked right ahead, and saw a square house that, in spite of modern
sash windows, was evidently of remote antiquity.  A high conical roof; a
stack of tall quaint chimney-pots of red-baked clay (like those at Sutton
Place in Surrey) dominating over isolated vulgar smoke-conductors, of the
ignoble fashion of present times; a dilapidated groin-work, encasing
within a Tudor arch a door of the comfortable date of George III., and
the peculiarly dingy and weather-stained appearance of the small finely-
finished bricks, of which the habitation was built,--all showed the abode
of former generations adapted with tasteless irreverence to the habits of
descendants unenlightened by Pugin, or indifferent to the poetry of the
past.  The house had emerged suddenly upon Frank out of the gloomy waste
land, for it was placed in a hollow, and sheltered from sight by a
disorderly group of ragged, dismal, valetudinarian fir-trees, until an
abrupt turn of the road cleared that screen, and left the desolate abode
bare to the discontented eye.  Frank dismounted; the man held his pony;
and after smoothing his cravat, the smart Etonian sauntered up to the
door, and startled the solitude of the place with a loud peal from the
modern brass knocker,--a knock which instantly brought forth an
astonished starling who had built under the eaves of the gable roof, and
called up a cloud of sparrows, tomtits, and yellow-hammers, who had been
regaling themselves amongst the litter of a slovenly farmyard that lay in
full sight to the right of the house, fenced off by a primitive paintless
wooden rail.  In process of time a sow, accompanied by a thriving and
inquisitive family, strolled up to the gate of the fence, and, leaning
her nose on the lower bar of the gate, contemplated the visitor with much
curiosity and some suspicion.

While Frank is still without, impatiently swingeing his white trousers
with his whip, we will steal a hurried glance towards the respective
members of the family within.  Mr. Leslie, the paterfamilias, is in a
little room called his "study," to which he regularly retires every
morning after breakfast, rarely reappearing till one o'clock, which is
his unfashionable hour for dinner.  In what mysterious occupations Mr.
Leslie passes those hours no one ever formed a conjecture.  At the
present moment he is seated before a little rickety bureau, one leg of
which being shorter than the other is propped up by sundry old letters
and scraps of newspapers; and the bureau is open, and reveals a great
number of pigeonholes and divisions, filled with various odds and ends,
the collection of many years.  In some of these compartments are bundles
of letters, very yellow, and tied in packets with faded tape; in another,
all by itself, is a fragment of plum-pudding stone, which Mr. Leslie has
picked up in his walks, and considered a rare mineral.  It is neatly
labelled, "Found in Hollow Lane, May 21st, 1804, by Maunder Slugge
Leslie, Esq."  The next division holds several bits of iron in the shape
of nails, fragments of horse-shoes, etc., which Mr. Leslie has also met
with in his rambles, and, according to a harmless popular superstition,
deemed it highly unlucky not to pick up, and, once picked up, no less
unlucky to throw away.  Item, in the adjoining pigeon-hole, a goodly
collection of pebbles with holes in them, preserved for the same reason,
in company with a crooked sixpence; item, neatly arranged in fanciful
mosaics, several periwinkles, Blackamoor's teeth (I mean the shell so
called), and other specimens of the conchiferous ingenuity of Nature,
partly inherited from some ancestral spinster, partly amassed by Mr.
Leslie himself in a youthful excursion to the seaside.  There were the
farm-bailiff's accounts, several files of bills, an old stirrup, three
sets of knee and shoe buckles which had belonged to Mr. Leslie's father,
a few seals tied together by a shoe-string, a shagreen toothpick case, a
tortoise shell magnifying-glass to read with, his eldest son's first
copybooks, his second son's ditto, his daughter's ditto, and a lock of
his wife's hair arranged in a true lover's knot, framed and glazed.
There were also a small mousetrap; a, patent corkscrew too good to be
used in common; fragments of a silver teaspoon, that had, by natural
decay, arrived at a dissolution of its parts; a small brown holland bag,
containing halfpence of various dates, as far back as Queen Anne,
accompanied by two French /sous/ and a German /silber gros/,--the which
miscellany Mr. Leslie magniloquently called "his coins," and had left in
his will as a family heirloom.  There were many other curiosities of
congenial nature and equal value--/quae nunc describere longum est/.
Mr. Leslie was engaged at this time in what is termed "putting things to
rights,"--an occupation he performed with exemplary care once a week.
This was his day; and he had just counted his coins, and was slowly tying
them up again in the brown holland bag, when Frank's knock reached his
ears.

Mr. Maunder Slugge Leslie paused, shook his head as if incredulously, and
was about to resume his occupation, when he was seized with a fit of
yawning which prevented the bag being tied for full two minutes.

While such the employment of the study, let us turn to the recreations in
the drawing-room, or rather parlour.  A drawing-room there was on the
first floor, with a charming look-out, not on the dreary fir-trees, but
on the romantic undulating forest-land; but the drawing-room had not been
used since the death of the last Mrs. Leslie.  It was deemed too good to
sit in, except when there was company: there never being company, it was
never sat in.  Indeed, now the paper was falling off the walls with the
damp, and the rats, mice, and moths--those /"edaces rerum"/--had eaten,
between them, most of the chair-bottoms and a considerable part of the
floor.  Therefore, the parlour was the sole general sitting-room; and
being breakfasted in, dined, and supped in, and, after supper, smoked in
by Mr. Leslie to the accompaniment of rum-and-water, it is impossible to
deny that it had what is called "a smell,"--a comfortable, wholesome
family smell, speaking of numbers, meals, and miscellaneous social
habitation.  There were two windows: one looked full on the fir-trees;
the other on the farmyard, with the pigsty closing the view.  Near the
fir-tree window sat Mrs. Leslie; before her, on a high stool, was a
basket of the children's clothes that wanted mending.  A work-table of
rosewood inlaid with brass, which had been a wedding-present, and was a
costly thing originally, but in that peculiar taste which is vulgarly
called "Brummagem," stood at hand: the brass had started in several
places, and occasionally made great havoc in the children's fingers and
in Mrs. Leslie's gown; in fact it was the liveliest piece of furniture in
the house, thanks to the petulant brasswork, and could not have been more
mischievous if it had been a monkey.  Upon the work-table lay a housewife
and thimble, and scissors, and skeins of worsted and thread, and little
scraps of linen and cloth for patches.  But Mrs. Leslie was not actually
working,--she was preparing to work; she had been preparing to work for
the last hour and a half.  Upon her lap she supported a novel, by a lady
who wrote much for a former generation, under the name of "Mrs. Bridget
Blue Mantle."  She had a small needle in her left hand, and a very thick
piece of thread in her right; occasionally she applied the end of the
said thread to her lips, and then--her eyes fixed on the novel--made a
blind, vacillating attack at the eye of the needle.  But a camel would
have gone through it with quite as much ease.  Nor did the novel alone
engage Mrs. Leslie's attention, for ever and anon she interrupted herself
to scold the children, to inquire "what o'clock it was;" to observe that
"Sarah would never suit;" and to wonder "why Mr. Leslie would not see
that the work-table was mended."  Mrs. Leslie has been rather a pretty
woman.  In spite of a dress at once slatternly and economical, she has
still the air of a lady,--rather too much so, the hard duties of her
situation considered.  She is proud of the antiquity of her family on
both sides; her mother was of the venerable stock of the Daudlers of
Daudle Place, a race that existed before the Conquest.  Indeed, one has
only to read our earliest chronicles, and to glance over some of those
long-winded moralizing poems which delighted the thanes and ealdermen of
old, in order to see that the Daudles must have been a very influential
family before William the First turned the country topsy-turvy.  While
the mother's race was thus indubitably Saxon, the father's had not only
the name but the peculiar idiosyncrasy of the Normans, and went far to
establish that crotchet of the brilliant author of "Sybil; or, The Two
Nations," as to the continued distinction between the conquering and
conquered populations.  Mrs. Leslie's father boasted the name of
Montfichet,--doubtless of the same kith and kin as those great barons of
Alontfichet, who once owned such broad lands and such turbulent castles.
A high-nosed, thin, nervous, excitable progeny, those same Montfydgets,
as the most troublesome Norman could pretend to be.  This fusion of race
was notable to the most ordinary physiognomist in the physique and in the
morale of Mrs. Leslie.  She had the speculative blue eye of the Saxon,
and the passionate high nose of the Norman; she had the musing do-
nothingness of the Daudlers, and the reckless have-at-every-thingness of
the  Montfydgets.  At Mrs. Leslie's feet, a little girl with her hair
about her ears (and beautiful hair it was too) was amusing herself with a
broken-nosed doll.  At the far end of the room, before a high desk, sat
Frank's Eton schoolfellow, the eldest son.  A minute or two before
Frank's alarum had disturbed the tranquillity of the household, he had
raised his eyes from the books on the desk to glance at a very tattered
copy of the Greek Testament, in which his brother Oliver had found a
difficulty that he came to Randal to solve.  As the young Etonian's face
was turned to the light, your first impression on seeing it would have
been melancholy, but respectful, interest,--for the face had already lost
the joyous character of youth; there was a wrinkle between the brows; and
the lines that speak of fatigue were already visible under the eyes and
about the mouth; the complexion was sallow, the lips were pale.  Years of
study had already sown in the delicate organization the seeds of many an
infirmity and many a pain; but if your look had rested longer on that
countenance, gradually your compassion might have given place to some
feeling uneasy and sinister,--a feeling akin to fear.  There was in the
whole expression so much of cold calm force, that it belied the debility
of the frame.  You saw there the evidence of a mind that was cultivated,
and you felt that in that cultivation there was something formidable.
A notable contrast to this countenance, prematurely worn and eminently
intelligent, was the round healthy face of Oliver, with slow blue eyes
fixed hard on the penetrating orbs of his brother, as if trying with
might and main to catch from them a gleam of that knowledge with which
they shone clear and frigid as a star.

At Frank's knock, Oliver's slow blue eyes sparkled into animation, and he
sprang from his brother's side.  The little girl flung back the hair from
her face, and stared at her mother with a look which spoke wonder and
fright.

The young student knit his brows, and then turned wearily back to the
books on his desk.

"Dear me," cried Mrs. Leslie, "who can that possibly be?  Oliver, come
from the window, sir, this instant: you will be seen!  Juliet, run, ring
the bell; no, go to the head of the kitchen stairs, and call out to Jenny
'Not at home.'  Not at home, on any account," repeated Mrs. Leslie,
nervously, for the Montfydget blood was now in full flow.

In another minute or so, Frank's loud boyish voice was distinctly heard
at the outer door.

Randal slightly started.

"Frank Hazeldean's voice," said he; "I should like to see him, Mother."

"See him," repeated Mrs. Leslie, in amaze; "see him! and the room in this
state!"

Randal might have replied that the room was in no worse state than usual;
but he said nothing.  A slight flush came and went over his pale face;
and then he leaned his check on his hand, and compressed his lips firmly.

The outer door closed with a sullen, inhospitable jar, and a slip-shod
female servant entered with a card between her finger and thumb.

"Who is that for?--give it to me.  Jenny," cried Mrs. Leslie.

But Jenny shook her head, laid the card on the desk beside Randal, and
vanished without saying a word.

"Oh, look, Randal, look up," cried Oliver, who had again rushed to the
window; "such a pretty gray pony!"

Randal did look up; nay, he went deliberately to the window, and gazed a
moment on the high-mettled pony and the well-dressed, spirited rider.  In
that moment changes passed over Randal's countenance more rapidly than
clouds over the sky in a gusty day.  Now envy and discontent, with the
curled lip and the gloomy scowl; now hope and proud self-esteem, with the
clearing brow and the lofty smile; and then again all became cold, firm,
and close, as he walked back to his books, seated himself resolutely, and
said, half aloud,--"Well, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!"



CHAPTER IV.

Mrs. Leslie came up in fidget and in fuss; she leaned over Randal's
shoulder and read the card.  Written in pen and ink, with an attempt at
imitation of printed Roman character, there appeared first "MR. FRANK
HAZELDEAN;" but just over these letters, and scribbled hastily and less
legibly in pencil, was,--

"DEAR LESLIE,--Sorry you were out; come and see us,--do!"

"You will go, Randal?" said Mrs. Leslie, after a pause.

"I am not sure."

"Yes, you can go; you have clothes like a gentleman; you can go anywhere,
not like those children;" and Mrs. Leslie glanced almost spitefully at
poor Oliver's coarse threadbare jacket, and little Juliet's torn frock.

"What I have I owe at present to Mr. Egerton, and I should consult his
wishes; he is not on good terms with these Hazeldeans."  Then turning
towards his brother, who looked mortified, he added, with a strange sort
of haughty kindness, "What I may have hereafter, Oliver, I shall owe to
myself; and then if I rise, I will raise my family."

"Dear Randal," said Mrs. Leslie, fondly kissing him on the forehead,
"what a good heart you have!"

"No, Mother; my books don't tell me that it is a good heart that gets on
in the world: it is a hard head," replied Randal, with a rude and
scornful candour.  "But I can read no more just now: come out, Oliver."

So saying, he slid from his mother's hand and left the room.  When Oliver
joined him, Randal was already on the common; and, without seeming to
notice his brother, he continued to walk quickly, and with long strides,
in profound silence.  At length he paused under the shade of an old oak,
that, too old to be of value save for firewood, had escaped the axe.  The
tree stood on a knoll, and the spot commanded a view of the decayed
house, the dilapidated church, the dreary village.

"Oliver," said Randal, between his teeth, so that his voice had the sound
of a hiss, "it was under this tree that I first resolved to--"

He paused.

"What, Randal?"

"Read hard: knowledge is power!"

"But you are so fond of reading."

"I!" cried Randal.  "Do you think, when Wolsey and Thomas-a-Becket became
priests, they were fond of telling their beads and pattering Aves?  I
fond of reading!"

Oliver stared; the historical allusions were beyond his comprehension.

"You know," continued Randal, "that we Leslies were not always the
beggarly poor gentlemen we are now.  You know that there is a man who
lives in Grosvenor Square, and is very rich,--very.  His riches come to
him from a Leslie; that man is my patron, Oliver, and he--is very good to
me."

Randal's smile was withering as he spoke.  "Come on," he said, after a
pause,--"come on."  Again the walk was quick, and the brothers were
silent.

They came at length to a little shallow brook, across which some large
stones had been placed at short intervals, so that the boys walked over
the ford dryshod.  "Will you pull down that bough, Oliver?" said Randal,
abruptly, pointing to a tree.  Oliver obeyed mechanically; and Randal,
stripping the leaves and snapping off the twigs, left a fork at the end;
with this he began to remove the stepping-stones.

"What are you about, Randal?" asked Oliver, wonderingly.

"We are on the other side of the brook now, and we shall not come back
this way.  We don't want the stepping-stones any more!---away with them!"



CHAPTER V.

The morning after this visit of Frank Hazeldean's to Rood Hall, the Right
Honourable Audley Egerton, member of parliament, privy councillor, and
minister of a high department in the State,--just below the rank of the
cabinet,--was seated in his library, awaiting the delivery of the post,
before he walked down to his office.  In the mean while he sipped his
tea, and glanced over the newspapers with that quick and half-disdainful
eye with which your practical man in public life is wont to regard the
abuse or the eulogium of the Fourth Estate.

There is very little likeness between Mr. Egerton and his half-brother;
none, indeed, except that they are both of tall stature, and strong,
sinewy, English build.  But even in this last they do not resemble each
other; for the squire's athletic shape is already beginning to expand
into that portly embonpoint which seems the natural development of
contented men as they approach middle life.  Audley, on the contrary, is
inclined to be spare; and his figure, though the muscles are as firm as
iron, has enough of the slender to satisfy metropolitan ideas of
elegance.  His dress, his look, his /tout ensemble/, are those of the
London man.  In the first, there is more attention to fashion than is
usual amongst the busy members of the House of Commons; but then Audley
Egerton has always been something more than a mere busy member of the
House of Commons.  He has always been a person of mark in the best
society; and one secret of his success in life has been his high
reputation as "a gentleman."

As he now bends over the journals, there is an air of distinction in the
turn of the well-shaped head, with the dark brown hair,--dark in spite of
a reddish tinge,--cut close behind, and worn away a little towards the
crown, so as to give an additional height to a commanding forehead.  His
profile is very handsome, and of that kind of beauty which imposes on men
if it pleases women; and is, therefore, unlike that of your mere pretty
fellows, a positive advantage in public life.  It is a profile with large
features clearly cut, masculine, and somewhat severe.  The expression of
his face is not open, like the squire's, nor has it the cold closeness
which accompanies the intellectual character of young Leslie's; but it is
reserved and dignified, and significant of self-control, as should be the
physiognomy of a man accustomed to think before he speaks.  When you look
at him, you are not surprised to learn that he is not a florid orator nor
a smart debater,--he is a, "weighty speaker."  He is fairly read,
but without any great range either of ornamental scholarship or
constitutional lore.  He has not much humour; but he has that kind
of wit which is essential to grave and serious irony.  He has not much
imagination, nor remarkable subtlety in reasoning; but if he does not
dazzle he does not bore,--he is too much of the man of the world for
that.  He is considered to have sound sense and accurate judgment.
Withal, as he now lays aside the journals, and his face relaxes its
austerer lines, you will not be astonished to hear that he is a man who
is said to have been greatly beloved by women, and still to exercise much
influence in drawing-rooms and boudoirs.  At least, no one was surprised
when the great heiress, Clementina Leslie, kinswoman and ward to Lord
Lansmere,--a young lady who had refused three earls and the heir apparent
to a dukedom,--was declared by her dearest friends to be dying of love
for Audley Egerton.  It had been the natural wish of the Lansmeres that
this lady should marry their son, Lord L'Estrange.  But that young
gentleman, whose opinions on matrimony partook of the eccentricity of his
general character, could never be induced to propose, and had, according
to the /on-dits/ of town, been the principal party to make up the match
between Clementina and his friend Audley; for the match required making-
up, despite the predilections of the young heiress.  Mr. Egerton had had
scruples of delicacy.  He avowed, for the first time, that his fortune
was much less than had been generally supposed, and he did not like the
idea of owing all to a wife, however highly be might esteem and admire
her.  Now, Lord L'Estrange (not long after the election at Lansmere,
which had given to Audley his first seat in parliament) had suddenly
exchanged from the battalion of the Guards to which be belonged, and
which was detained at home, into a cavalry regiment on active service in
the Peninsula.  Nevertheless, even abroad, and amidst the distractions of
war, his interest in all that could forward Egerton's career was
unabated; and by letters to his father and to his cousin Clementina, he
assisted in the negotiations for the marriage between Miss Leslie and his
friend; and before the year in which Audley was returned for Lansmere had
expired, the young senator received the hand of the great heiress.  The
settlement of her fortune, which was chiefly in the Funds, had been
unusually advantageous to the husband; for though the capital was tied up
so long as both survived, for the benefit of any children they might
have, yet in the event of one of the parties dying without issue by the
marriage, the whole passed without limitation to the survivor.  Miss
Leslie, in spite of all remonstrance from her own legal adviser, had
settled this clause with Egerton's confidential solicitor, one Mr. Levy,
of whom we shall see more hereafter; and Egerton was to be kept in
ignorance of it till after the marriage.  If in this Miss Leslie showed a
generous trust in Mr. Egerton, she still inflicted no positive wrong on
her relations, for she had none sufficiently near to her to warrant their
claim to the succession.  Her nearest kinsman, and therefore her natural
heir, was Harley L'Estrange; and if he was contented, no one had a right
to complain.  The tie of blood between herself and the Leslies of Rood
Hall was, as we shall see presently, extremely distant.

It was not till after his marriage that Mr. Egerton took an active part
in the business of the House of Commons.  He was then at the most
advantageous starting-point for the career of ambition.  His words on the
state of the country took importance from his stake in it.  His talents
found accessories in the opulence of Grosvenor Square, the dignity of a
princely establishment, the respectability of one firmly settled in life,
the reputation of a fortune in reality very large, and which was
magnified by popular report into the revenues of a Croesus.  Audley
Egerton succeeded in parliament beyond the early expectations formed of
him.  He took, from the first, that station in the House which it
requires tact to establish, and great knowledge of the world to free from
the charge of impracticability and crotchet, but which, once established,
is peculiarly imposing from the rarity of its independence; that is to
say, the station of the moderate man who belongs sufficiently to a party
to obtain its support, but is yet sufficiently disengaged from a party to
make his vote and word, on certain questions, matter of anxiety and
speculation.

Professing Toryism (the word Conservative, which would have suited him
better, was not then known), he separated himself from the country party,
and always avowed great respect for the opinions of the large towns.  The
epithet given to the views of Audley Egerton was "enlightened."  Never
too much in advance of the passion of the day, yet never behind its
movement, he had that shrewd calculation of odds which a consummate
mastery of the world sometimes bestows upon politicians,--perceived the
chances for and against a certain question being carried within a certain
time, and nicked the question between wind and water.  He was so good a
barometer of that changeful weather called Public Opinion, that he might
have had a hand in the "Times" newspaper.  He soon quarrelled, and
purposely, with his Lansmere constituents; nor had he ever revisited that
borough,--perhaps because it was associated with unpleasant reminiscences
in the shape of the squire's epistolary trimmer, and in that of his own
effigies which his agricultural constituents had burned in the corn-
market.  But the speeches that produced such indignation at Lansmere had
delighted one of the greatest of our commercial towns, which at the next
general election honoured him with its representation.  In those days,
before the Reform Bill, great commercial towns chose men of high mark for
their member; and a proud station it was for him who was delegated to
speak the voice of the princely merchants of England.

Mrs. Egerton survived her marriage but a few years.  She left no
children; two had been born, but died in their first infancy.  The
property of the wife, therefore, passed without control or limit to the
husband.

Whatever might have been the grief of the widower, he disdained to betray
it to the world.  Indeed, Audley Egerton was a man who had early taught
himself to conceal emotion.  He buried himself in the country, none knew
where, for some months.  When he returned, there was a deep wrinkle on
his brow,--but no change in his habits and avocations, except that,
shortly afterwards, he accepted office, and thus became more busy than
ever.

Mr. Egerton had always been lavish and magnificent in money spatters.
A rich man in public life has many claims on his fortune, and no one
yielded to those claims with in air so regal as Audley Egerton.  But
amongst his many liberal actions, there was none which seemed more worthy
of panegyric than the generous favour he extended to the son of his
wife's poor and distant kinsfolk, the Leslies of Rood Hall.

Some four generations back, there had lived a certain Squire Leslie, a
man of large acres and active mind.  He had cause to be displeased with
his elder son, and though he did not disinherit him, he left half his
property to a younger.

The younger had capacity and spirit, which justified the parental
provision.  He increased his fortune; lifted himself into notice and
consideration by public services and a noble alliance.  His descendants
followed his example, and took rank among the first commoners in England,
till the last male, dying, left his sole heiress and representative in
one daughter, Clementina, afterwards married to Mr. Egerton.

Meanwhile the elder son of the fore-mentioned squire had muddled and
sotted away much of his share in the Leslie property; and, by low habits
and mean society, lowered in repute his representation of the name.

His successors imitated him, till nothing was left to Randal's father,
Mr. Maunder Slugge Leslie, but the decayed house, which was what the
Germans call the /stamm schloss/, or "stem hall," of the race, and the
wretched lands immediately around it.

Still, though all intercourse between the two branches of the family had
ceased, the younger had always felt a respect for the elder, as the head
of the House.  And it was supposed that, on her death-bed, Mrs. Egerton
had recommended her impoverished namesakes and kindred to the care of her
husband; for when he returned to town, after Mrs. Egerton's death, Audley
had sent to Mr. Maunder Slugge Leslie the sum of L5000, which he said his
wife, leaving no written will, had orally bequeathed as a legacy to that
gentleman; and he requested permission to charge himself with the
education of the eldest son.

Mr. Maunder Slugge Leslie might have done great things for his little
property with those L5000, or even kept in the three-per-cents the
interest would have afforded a material addition to his comforts.  But a
neighbouring solicitor, having caught scent of the legacy, hunted it down
into his own hands, on pretence of having found a capital investment in a
canal; and when the solicitor had got possession of the L5000, he went
off with them to America.

Meanwhile Randal, placed by Mr. Egerton at an excellent preparatory
school, at first gave no signs of industry or talent; but just before he
left it, there came to the school, as classical tutor, an ambitious young
Oxford man; and his zeal--for he was a capital teacher--produced a great
effect generally on the pupils, and especially on Randal Leslie.  He
talked to them much in private on the advantages of learning, and shortly
afterwards he exhibited those advantages in his own person; for, having
edited a Greek play with much subtle scholarship, his college, which some
slight irregularities of his had displeased, recalled him to its
venerable bosom by the presentation of a fellowship.  After this he took
orders, became a college tutor, distinguished himself yet more by a
treatise on the Greek accent, got a capital living, and was considered
on the high road to a bishopric.  This young man, then, communicated to
Randal the thirst for knowledge; and when the boy went afterwards to
Eton, he applied with such earnestness and resolve that his fame soon
reached the ears of Audley; and that person, who had the sympathy for
talent, and yet more for purpose, which often characterizes ambitious
men, went to Eton to see him.  From that time Audley evinced great and
almost fatherly interest in the brilliant Etonian; and Randal always
spent with him some days in each vacation.

I have said that Egerton's conduct with respect to this boy was more
praiseworthy than most of those generous actions for which he was
renowned, since to this the world gave no applause.  What a man does
within the range of his family connections does not carry with it that
eclat which invests a munificence exhibited on public occasions.  Either
people care nothing about it, or tacitly suppose it to be but his duty.
It was true, too, as the squire had observed, that Randal Leslie was even
less distantly related to the Hazeldeans than to Mrs. Egerton, since
Randal's grandfather had actually married a Miss Hazeldean (the highest
worldly connection that branch of the family had formed since the great
split I have commemorated).  But Audley Egerton never appeared aware of
that fact.  As he was not himself descended from the Hazeldeans, he did
not trouble himself about their genealogy; and he took care to impress it
upon the Leslies that his generosity on their behalf was solely to be
ascribed to his respect for his wife's memory and kindred.  Still the
squire had felt as if his "distant brother" implied a rebuke on his own
neglect of these poor Leslies, by the liberality Audley evinced towards
them; and this had made him doubly sore when the name of Randal Leslie
was mentioned.  But the fact really was, that the Leslies of Rood had so
shrunk out of all notice that the squire had actually forgotten their
existence, until Randal became thus indebted to his brother; and then he
felt a pang of remorse that any one save himself, the head of the
Hazeldeans, should lend a helping hand to the grandson of a Hazeldean.

But having thus, somewhat too tediously, explained the position of Audley
Egerton, whether in the world or in relation to his young protege, I may
now permit him to receive and to read his letters.



CHAPTER VI.

Mr. Egerton glanced over the pile of letters placed beside him, and first
he tore up some, scarcely read, and threw them into the waste-basket.
Public men have such odd, out-of-the-way letters, that their waste-
baskets are never empty,--letters from amateur financiers proposing new
ways to pay off the National Debt; letters from America (never free!)
asking for autographs; letters from fond mothers in country villages,
recommending some miracle of a son for a place in the king's service;
letters from free-thinkers in reproof of bigotry; letters from bigots in
reproof of free-thinking; letters signed Brutus Redivivus, containing the
agreeable information that the writer has a dagger for tyrants, if the
Danish claims are not forthwith adjusted; letters signed Matilda or
Caroline, stating that Caroline or Matilda has seen the public man's
portrait at the Exhibition, and that a heart sensible to its attractions
may be found at No. -- Piccadilly; letters from beggars, impostors,
monomaniacs, speculators, jobbers,--all food for the waste-basket.

From the correspondence thus winnowed, Mr. Egerton first selected those
on business, which he put methodically together in one division of his
pocket-book; and secondly, those of a private nature, which he as
carefully put into another.  Of these last there were but three,--one
from his steward, one from Harley L'Estrange, one from Randal Leslie.
It was his custom to answer his correspondence at his office; and to his
office, a few minutes afterwards, he slowly took his way.  Many a
passenger turned back to look again at the firm figure, which, despite
the hot summer day, was buttoned up to the throat; and the black frock-
coat thus worn well became the erect air and the deep, full chest of the
handsome senator.  When he entered Parliament Street, Audley Egerton was
joined by one of his colleagues, also on his way to the cares of office.

After a few observations on the last debate this gentleman said,--

"By the way, can you dine with me next Saturday, to meet Lansmere?  He
comes up to town to vote for us on Monday."

"I had asked some people to dine with me," answered Egerton, "but I will
put them off.  I see Lord Lansmere too seldom to miss any occasion to
meet a man whom I respect so much."

"So seldom!  True, he is very little in town; but why don't you go and
see him in the country?  Good shooting,--pleasant, old-fashioned house."

"My dear Westbourne, his house is 'nimium vicina Cremonae,' close to a
borough in which I have been burned in effigy."

"Ha!  ha!  yes, I remember you first came into parliament for that snug
little place; but Lansmere himself never found fault with your votes, did
he?"

"He behaved very handsomely, and said he had not presumed to consider me
his mouthpiece; and then, too, I am so intimate with L'Estrange."

"Is that queer fellow ever coming back to England?"

"He comes, generally, every year, for a few days, just to see his father
and mother, and then returns to the Continent."

"I never meet him."

"He comes in September or October, when you, of course, are not in town,
and it is in town that the Lansmeres meet him."

"Why does he not go to them?"

"A man in England but once a year, and for a few days, has so much to do
in London, I suppose."

"Is he as amusing as ever?" Egerton nodded.

"So  distinguished as he  might be!"  remarked Lord Westbourne.

"So distinguished as he is!" said Egerton, formally; "an officer selected
for praise, even in such fields as Quatre Bras and Waterloo; a scholar,
too, of the finest taste; and as an accomplished gentleman matchless!"

"I like to hear one man praise another so warmly in these ill-natured
days," answered Lord Westbourne.  "But still, though L'Estrange is
doubtless all you say, don't you think he rather wastes his life living
abroad?"

"And trying to be happy, Westbourne?  Are you sure it is not we who waste
our lives?  But I can't stay to hear your answer.  Here we are at the
door of my prison."

"On Saturday, then?"

"On Saturday.  Good day."

For the next hour or more, Mr. Egerton was engaged on the affairs of the
State.  He then snatched an interval of leisure (while awaiting a report,
which he had instructed a clerk to make him), in order to reply to his
letters.  Those on public business were soon despatched; and throwing his
replies aside to be sealed by a subordinate hand, he drew out the letters
which he had put apart as private.

He attended first to that of his steward: the steward's letter was long,
the reply was contained in three lines.  Pitt himself was scarcely more
negligent of his private interests and concerns than Audley Egerton; yet,
withal, Audley Egerton was said by his enemies to be an egotist.

The next letter he wrote was to Randal, and that, though longer, was far
from prolix: it ran thus:--

     DEAR MR. LESLIE,--I appreciate your delicacy in consulting me
     whether you should accept Frank Hazeldean's invitation to call at
     the Hall.  Since you are asked, I can see no objection to it.  I
     should be sorry if you appeared to force yourself there; and for the
     rest, as a general rule, I think a young man who has his own way to
     make in life had better avoid all intimacy with those of his own age
     who have no kindred objects nor congenial pursuits.

     As soon as this visit is paid, I wish you to come to London.  The
     report I receive of your progress at Eton renders it unnecessary, in
     my judgment, that you should return there.  If your father has no
     objection, I propose that you should go to Oxford at the ensuing
     term.  Meanwhile, I have engaged a gentleman, who is a fellow of
     Balliol, to read with you.  He is of opinion, judging only by your
     high repute at Eton, that you may at once obtain a scholarship in
     that college.  If you do so, I shall look upon your career in life
     as assured.

     Your affectionate friend, and sincere well-wisher,  A.  E.


The reader will remark that in this letter there is a certain tone of
formality.  Mr. Egerton does not call his protege "Dear Randal," as would
seem natural, but coldly and stiffly, "Dear Mr. Leslie."  He hints, also,
that the boy has his own way to make in life.  Is this meant to guard
against too sanguine notions of inheritance, which his generosity may
have excited?  The letter to Lord L'Estrange was of a very different kind
from the others.  It was long, and full of such little scraps of news and
gossip as may interest friends in a foreign land; it was written gayly,
and as with a wish to cheer his friend; you could see that it was a reply
to a melancholy letter; and in the whole tone and spirit there was an
affection, even to tenderness, of which those who most liked Audley
Egerton would have scarcely supposed him capable.  Yet, notwithstanding,
there was a kind of constraint in the letter, which perhaps only the fine
tact of a woman would detect.  It had not that abandon, that hearty self-
outpouring, which you might expect would characterize the letters of two
such friends, who had been boys at school together, and which did breathe
indeed in all the abrupt rambling sentences of his correspondent.  But
where was the evidence of the constraint?  Egerton is off-hand enough
where his pen runs glibly through paragraphs that relate to others; it is
simply that he says nothing about himself,--that he avoids all reference
to the inner world of sentiment and feeling!  But perhaps, after all, the
man has no sentiment and feeling!  How can you expect that a steady
personage in practical life, whose mornings are spent in Downing Street,
and whose nights are consumed in watching Government bills through a
committee, can write in the same style as an idle dreamer amidst the
pines of Ravenna, or on the banks of Como?

Audley had just finished this epistle, such as it was, when the attendant
in waiting announced the arrival of a deputation from a provincial
trading town, the members of which deputation he had appointed to meet at
two o'clock.  There was no office in London at which deputations were
kept waiting less than at that over which Mr. Egerton presided.

The deputation entered,--some score or so of middle-aged, comfortable-
looking persons, who, nevertheless, had their grievance, and considered
their own interest, and those of the country, menaced by a certain clause
in a bill brought in by Mr. Egerton.

The mayor of the town was the chief spokesman, and he spoke well,--but in
a style to which the dignified official was not accustomed.  It was a
slap-dash style,--unceremonious, free and easy,--an American style.  And,
indeed, there was something altogether in the appearance and bearing of
the mayor which savoured of residence in the Great Republic.  He was a
very handsome man, but with a look sharp and domineering,--the look of a
man who did not care a straw for president or monarch, and who enjoyed
the liberty to speak his mind and "wallop his own nigger!"

His fellow-burghers evidently regarded him with great respect; and Mr.
Egerton had penetration enough to perceive that Mr. Mayor must be a rich
man, as well as an eloquent one, to have overcome those impressions of
soreness or jealousy which his tone was calculated to create in the self-
love of his equals.

Mr. Egerton was far too wise to be easily offended by mere manner; and
though he stared somewhat haughtily when he found his observations
actually pooh-poohed, he was not above being convinced.  There was much
sense and much justice in Mr. Mayor's arguments, and the statesman
civilly promised to take them into full consideration.

He then bowed out the deputation; but scarcely had the door closed before
it opened again, and Mr. Mayor presented himself alone, saying aloud to
his companions in the passage, "I forgot something I had to say to Mr.
Egerton; wait below for me."

"Well, Mr. Mayor," said Audley, pointing to a seat, "what else would you
suggest?"

The mayor looked round to see that the door was closed; and then, drawing
his chair close to Mr. Egerton's, laid his forefinger on that gentleman's
arm, and said, "I think I speak to a man of the world, sir?"

Mr. Egerton bowed, and made no reply by word, but he gently removed his
arm from the touch of the forefinger.

MR. MAYOR.---"You observe, sir, that I did not ask the members whom we
return to parliament to accompany us.  Do better without 'em.  You know
they are both in Opposition,--out-and-outers."

MR. EGERTON.--"It is a misfortune which the Government cannot remember
when the question is whether the trade of the town itself is to be served
or injured."

MR. MAYOR.---"Well, I guess you speak handsome, sir.  But you'd be glad
to have two members to support ministers after the next election."

MR. EGERTON (smiling).--"Unquestionably, Mr. Mayor."

MR. MAYOR.--"And I can do it, Mr. Egerton.  I may say I have the town in
my pocket; so I ought,--I spend a great deal of money in it.  Now, you
see, Mr. Egerton, I have passed a part of my life in a land of liberty--
the United States--and I come to the point when I speak to a man of the
world.  I'm a man of the world myself, sir.  And so, if the Government
will do something for me, why, I'll do something for the Government.  Two
votes for a free and independent town like ours,--that's something, isn't
it?"

MR. EGERTON (taken by surprise).--"Really, I--"

MR. MAYOR (advancing his chair still nearer, and interrupting the
official).--"No nonsense, you see, on one side or the other.  The fact
is, that I've taken it into my head that I should like to be knighted.
You may well look surprised, Mr. Egerton,--trumpery thing enough, I dare
say; still, every man has his weakness, and I should like to be Sir
Richard.  Well, if you can get me made Sir Richard, you may just name
your two members for the next election,--that is, if they belong to your
own set, enlightened men, up to the times.  That's speaking fair and
manful, is n't it?"

MR. EGERTON (drawing himself up).--"I am at a loss to guess why you
should select me, sir, for this very extraordinary proposition."

MR. MAYOR (nodding good-humouredly).--"Why, you see, I don't go along
with the Government; you're the best of the bunch.  And may be you'd like
to strengthen your own party.  This is quite between you and me, you
understand; honour's a jewel!"

MR. EGERTON (with great gravity).--"Sir, I am obliged by your good
opinion; but I agree with my colleagues in all the great questions that
affect the government of the country, and--"

MR. MAYOR (interrupting him).--"Ah, of course, you must say so; very
right.  But I guess things would go differently if you were Prime
Minister.  However, I have another reason for speaking to you about my
little job.  You see you were member for Lansmere once, and I think you
only came in by a majority of two, eh?"

MR. EGERTON.--"I know nothing of the particulars of that election; I was
not present."

MR. MAYOR.--"No; but luckily for you, two relations of mine were, and
they voted for you.  Two votes, and you came in by two.  Since then, you
have got into very snug quarters here, and I think we have a claim on
you--"

MR. EGERTON.--"Sir, I acknowledge no such claim; I was and am a stranger
to Lansmere; and if the electors did me the honour to return me to
parliament, it was in compliment rather to--"

MR. MAYOR (again interrupting the official).--"Rather to Lord Lansmere,
you were going to say; unconstitutional doctrine that, I fancy.  Peer of
the realm.  But never mind, I know the world; and I'd ask Lord Lansmere
to do my affair for me, only he is a pompous sort of man; might be
qualmish: antiquated notions.  Not up to snuff like you and me."

MR. EGERTON (in great disgust, and settling his papers before him).--
"Sir, it is not in my department to recommend to his Majesty candidates
for the honour of knighthood, and it is still less in my department to
make bargains for seats in parliament."

MR. MAYOR.--"Oh, if that's the case, you'll excuse me; I don't know much
of the etiquette in these matters.  But I thought that if I put two seats
in your hands for your own friends, you might contrive to take the affair
into your department, whatever it was.  But since you say you agree with
your colleagues, perhaps it comes to the same thing.  Now, you must not
suppose I want to sell the town, and that I can change and chop my
politics for my own purpose.  No such thing!  I don't like the sitting
members; I'm all for progressing, but they go too much ahead for me; and
since the Government is disposed to move a little, why, I'd as lief
support them as not.  But, in common gratitude, you see," added the
mayor, coaxingly, "I ought to be knighted!  I can keep up the dignity,
and do credit to his Majesty."

MR. EGERTON (without looking up from his papers).--"I can only refer you,
sir, to the proper quarter."

MR. MAYOR (impatiently).--"Proper quarter!  Well, since there is so much
humbug in this old country of ours, that one must go through all the
forms and get at the job regularly, just tell me whom I ought to go to."

MR. EGERTON (beginning to be amused as well as indignant).--"If you want
a knighthood, Mr. Mayor, you must ask the Prime Minister; if you want to
give the Government information relative to seats in parliament, you must
introduce yourself to Mr. ------, the Secretary of the Treasury."

MR. MAYOR.--"And if I go to the last chap, what do you think he'll say?"

MR. EGERTON (the amusement preponderating over the indignation).--"He
will say, I suppose, that you must not put the thing in the light in
which you have put it to me; that the Government will be very proud to
have the confidence of yourself and your brother electors; and that a
gentleman like you, in the proud position of mayor, may well hope to be
knighted on some fitting occasion; but that you must not talk about the
knighthood just at present, and must confine yourself to converting the
unfortunate political opinions of the town."

MR. MAYOR.--"Well, I guess that chap there would want to do me!  Not
quite so green, Mr. Egerton.  Perhaps I'd better go at once to the
fountain-head.  How d' ye think the Premier would take it?"

MR. EGERTON (the indignation preponderating over the amusement).--
"Probably just as I am about to do."

Mr. Egerton rang the bell; the attendant appeared.  "Show Mr. Mayor the
way out," said the minister.

The mayor turned round sharply, and his face was purple.  He walked
straight to the door; but suffering the attendant to precede him along
the corridor, he came back with a rapid stride, and clenching his hands,
and with a voice thick with passion, cried, "Some day or other I will
make you smart for this, as sure as my name's Dick Avenel!"

"Avenel!" repeated Egerton, recoiling,--"Avenel!" But the mayor was gone.

Audley fell into a deep and musing revery, which seemed gloomy, and
lasted till the attendant announced that the horses were at the door.

He then looked up, still abstractedly, and saw his letter to Harley
L'Estrange open on the table.  He drew it towards him, and wrote, "A man
has just left me, who calls himself Aven--"  In the middle of the name
his pen stopped.  "No, no," muttered the writer, "what folly to reopen
the old wounds there!" and he carefully erased the words.

Audley Egerton did not ride in the Park that day, as was his wont, but
dismissed his groom; and, turning his horse's head towards Westminster
Bridge, took his solitary way into the country.  He rode at first slowly,
as if in thought; then fast, as if trying to escape from thought.  He was
later than usual at the House that evening, and he looked pale and
fatigued.  But he had to speak, and he spoke well.



CHAPTER VII.

In spite of all his Machiavellian wisdom, Dr. Riccabocca had been foiled
in his attempt to seduce Leonard Fairfield into his service, even though
he succeeded in partially winning over the widow to his views.  For to
her he represented the worldly advantages of the thing.  Lenny would
learn to be fit for more than a day-labourer; he would learn gardening,
in all its branches,--rise some day to be a head gardener.  "And," said
Riccabocca, "I will take care of his book-learning, and teach him
whatever he has a head for."

"He has a head for everything," said the widow.

"Then," said the wise man, "everything shall go into it."  The widow was
certainly dazzled; for, as we have seen, she highly prized scholarly
distinction, and she knew that the parson looked upon Riccabocca as a
wondrous learned man.  But still Riccabocca was said to be a Papist, and
suspected to be a conjuror.  Her scruples on both these points, the
Italian, who was an adept in the art of talking over the fair sex, would
no doubt have dissipated, if there had been any use in it; but Lenny put
a dead stop to all negotiations.  He had taken a mortal dislike to
Riccabocca: he was very much frightened by him,--and the spectacles, the
pipe, the cloak, the long hair, and the red umbrella; and said so
sturdily, in reply to every overture, "Please, sir, I'd rather not; I'd
rather stay along with Mother," that Riccabocca was forced to suspend all
further experiments in his Machiavellian diplomacy.  He was not at all
cast down, however, by his first failure; on the contrary, he was one of
those men whom opposition stimulates; and what before had been but a
suggestion of prudence, became an object of desire.  Plenty of other lads
might no doubt be had on as reasonable terms as Lenny Fairfield; but the
moment Lenny presumed to baffle the Italian's designs upon him, the
special acquisition, of Lenny became of paramount importance in the
eyes of Signor Riccabocca.

Jackeymo, however, lost all his interest in the traps, snares, and gins
which his master proposed to lay for Leonard Fairfield, in the more
immediate surprise that awaited him on learning that Dr. Riccabocca had
accepted an invitation to pass a few days at the Hall.

"There will be no one there but the family," said Riccabocca.  "Poor
Giacomo, a little chat in the servants' hall will do you good; and the
squire's beef is more nourishing, after all, than the sticklebacks and
minnows.  It will lengthen your life."

"The padrone jests," said Jackeymo, statelily; "as if any one could
starve in his service."

"Um," said Riccabocca.  "At least, faithful friend, you have tried that
experiment as far as human nature will permit;" and he extended his hand
to his fellow-exile with that familiarity which exists between servant
and master in the usages of the Continent.  Jackeymo bent low, and a tear
fell upon the hand he kissed.

"Cospetto!" said Dr. Riccabocca, "a thousand mock pearls do not make up
the cost of a single true one!  The tears of women--we know their worth;
but the tears of an honest man---Fie, Giacomo!--at least I can never
repay you this!  Go and see to our wardrobe."

So far as his master's wardrobe was concerned, that order was pleasing to
Jackeymo; for the doctor had in his drawers suits which Jackeymo
pronounced to be as good as new, though many a long year had passed since
they left the tailor's hands.  But when Jackeymo came to examine the
state of his own clothing department, his face grew considerably longer.
It was not that he was without other clothes than those on his back,--
quantity was there, but the quality!  Mournfully he gazed on two suits,
complete in three separate members of which man's raiments are composed:
the one suit extended at length upon his bed, like a veteran stretched by
pious hands after death; the other brought piecemeal to the invidious
light,--the torso placed upon a chair, the limbs dangling down from
Jackeymo's melancholy arm.  No bodies long exposed at the Morgue could
evince less sign of resuscitation than those respectable defuncts!  For,
indeed, Jackeymo had been less thrifty of his apparel, more /profusus
sui/, than his master.  In the earliest days of their exile, he preserved
the decorous habit of dressing for dinner,--it was a respect due to the
padrone,--and that habit had lasted till the two habits on which it
necessarily depended had evinced the first symptoms of decay; then the
evening clothes had been taken into morning wear, in which hard service
they had breathed their last.

The doctor, notwithstanding his general philosophical abstraction from
such household details, had more than once said, rather in pity to
Jackeymo than with an eye to that respectability which the costume of the
servant reflects on the dignity of the master, "Giacomo, thou wantest
clothes; fit thyself out of mine!"

And Jackeymo had bowed his gratitude, as if the donation had been
accepted; but the fact was that that same fitting out was easier said
than done.  For though-thanks to an existence mainly upon sticklebacks
and minnows--both Jackeymo and Riccabocca had arrived at that state which
the longevity of misers proves to be most healthful to the human frame,--
namely, skin and bone,--yet the bones contained in the skin of Riccabocca
all took longitudinal directions; while those in the skin of Jackeymo
spread out latitudinally.  And you might as well have made the bark of a
Lombardy poplar serve for the trunk of some dwarfed and pollarded oak--in
whose hollow the Babes of the Wood could have slept at their ease--as
have fitted out Jackeymo from the garb of Riccabocca.  Moreover, if the
skill of the tailor could have accomplished that undertaking, the
faithful Jackeymo would never have had the heart to avail himself of the
generosity of his master.  He had a sort of religious sentiment, too,
about those vestments of the padrone.  The ancients, we know, when
escaping from shipwreck, suspended in the votive temple the garments in
which they had struggled through the wave.  Jackeymo looked on those
relics of the past with a kindred superstition.  "This coat the padrone
wore on such an occasion.  I remember the very evening the padrone last
put on those pantaloons!"  And coat and pantaloons were tenderly dusted,
and carefully restored to their sacred rest.

But now, after all, what was to be done?  Jackeymo was much too proud to
exhibit his person to the eyes of the squire's butler in habiliments
discreditable to himself and the padrone.  In the midst of his perplexity
the bell rang, and he went down into the parlour.

Riccabocca was standing on the hearth under his symbolical representation
of the "Patriae Exul."

"Giacomo," quoth he, "I have been thinking that thou hast never done what
I told thee, and fitted thyself out from my superfluities.  But we are
going now into the great world: visiting once begun, Heaven knows where
it may stop.  Go to the nearest town and get thyself clothes.  Things are
dear in England.  Will this suffice?"  And Riccabocca extended a five-
pound note.

Jackeymo, we have seen, was more familiar with his master than we formal
English permit our domestics to be with us; but in his familiarity he was
usually respectful.  This time, however, respect deserted him.

"The padrone is mad!" he exclaimed; "he would fling away his whole
fortune if I would let him.  Five pounds English, or a hundred and
twenty-six pounds Milanese!  Santa Maria! unnatural father!  And what is
to become of the poor signorina?  Is this the way you are to marry her in
the foreign land?"

"Giacomo," said Riccabocca, bowing his head to the storm, "the signorina
to-morrow; to-day the honour of the House.  Thy small-clothes, Giacomo,--
miserable man, thy small-clothes!"

"It is just," said Jackeymo, recovering himself, and with humility; "and
the padrone does right to blame me, but not in so cruel a way.  It is
just,--the padrone lodges and boards me, and gives me handsome wages, and
he has a right to expect that I should not go in this figure."

"For the board and the lodgment, good," said Riccabocca.  For the
handsome wages, they are the visions of thy fancy!"

"They are no such thing," said Jackeymo, "they are only in arrear.  As if
the padrone could not pay them some day or other; as if I was demeaning
myself by serving a master who did not intend to pay his servants!  And
can't I wait?  Have I not my savings too?  But be cheered, be cheered;
you shall be contented with me.  I have two beautiful suits still.  I was
arranging them when you rang for me.  You shall see, you shall see."

And Jackeymo hurried from the room, hurried back into his own chamber,
unlocked a little trunk which he kept at his bed-head, tossed out a
variety of small articles, and from the deepest depth extracted a
leathern purse.  He emptied the contents on the bed.  They were chiefly
Italian coins, some five-franc pieces, a silver medallion inclosing a
little image of his patron saint,--San Giacomo,--one solid English
guinea, and somewhat more than a pound's worth in English silver.
Jackeymo put back the foreign coins, saying prudently, "One will lose on
them here;" he seized the English coins, and counted them out.  "But are
you enough, you rascals?" quoth he, angrily, giving them a good shake.
His eye caught sight of the medallion,--he paused; and after eying the
tiny representation of the saint with great deliberation, he added, in a
sentence which he must have picked up from the proverbial aphorisms of
his master,--

"What's the difference between the enemy who does not hurt me, and the
friend who does not serve me?  Monsignore San Giacomo, my patron saint,
you are of very little use to me in the leathern bag; but if you help me
to get into a new pair of small-clothes on this important occasion, you
will be a friend indeed. /Alla bisogna, Monsignore./"  Then, gravely
kissing the medallion, he thrust it into one pocket, the coins into the
other, made up a bundle of the two defunct suits, and muttering to
himself, "Beast, miser, that I am, to disgrace the padrone with all these
savings in his service!" ran downstairs into his pantry, caught up his
hat and stick, and in a few moments more was seen trudging off to the
neighbouring town of L--------.

Apparently the poor Italian succeeded, for he came back that evening in
time to prepare the thin gruel which made his master's supper, with a
suit of black,--a little threadbare, but still highly respectable,--two
shirt fronts, and two white cravats.  But out of all this finery,
Jackeymo held the small-clothes in especial veneration; for as they had
cost exactly what the medallion had sold for, so it seemed to him that
San Giacomo had heard his prayer in that quarter to which he had more
exclusively directed the saint's direction.  The other habiliments came
to him in the merely human process of sale and barter; the small-clothes
were the personal gratuity of San Giacomo!



CHAPTER VIII.

Life has been subjected to many ingenious comparisons; and if we do not
understand it any better, it is not for want of what is called "reasoning
by illustration."  Amongst other resemblances, there are moments when, to
a quiet contemplator, it suggests the image of one of those rotatory
entertainments commonly seen in fairs, and known by the name of
"whirligigs," or "roundabouts," in which each participator of the
pastime, seated on his hobby, is always apparently in the act of pursuing
some one before him, while he is pursued by some one behind.  Man, and
woman too, are naturally animals of chase; the greatest still find
something to follow, and there is no one too humble not to be an object
of prey to another.  Thus, confining our view to the village of
Hazeldean, we behold in this whirligig Dr. Riccabocca spurring his hobby
after Lenny Fairfield; and Miss Jemima, on her decorous side-saddle,
whipping after Dr. Riccabocca.  Why, with so long and intimate a
conviction of the villany of our sex, Miss Jemima should resolve upon
giving the male animal one more chance of redeeming itself in her eyes,
I leave to the explanation of those gentlemen who profess to find "their
only books in woman's looks."  Perhaps it might be from the over-
tenderness and clemency of Miss Jemima's nature; perhaps it might be that
as yet she had only experienced the villany of man born and reared in
these cold northern climates, and in the land of Petrarch and Romeo, of
the citron and myrtle, there was reason to expect that the native monster
would be more amenable to gentle influences, less obstinately hardened in
his iniquities.  Without entering further into these hypotheses, it is
sufficient to say that, on Signor Riccabocca's appearance in the drawing-
room at Hazeldean, Miss Jemima felt more than ever rejoiced that she had
relaxed in his favour her general hostility to men.  In truth, though
Frank saw something quizzical in the old-fashioned and outlandish cut of
the Italian's sober dress; in his long hair, and the /chapeau bras/, over
which he bowed so gracefully, and then pressed it, as if to his heart,
before tucking it under his arm, after the fashion in which the gizzard
reposes under the wing of a roasted pullet,--yet it was impossible that
even Frank could deny to Riccabocca that praise which is due to the air
and manner of an unmistakable gentleman.  And certainly as, after dinner,
conversation grew more familiar, and the parson and Mrs. Dale, who had
been invited to meet their friend, did their best to draw him out, his
talk, though sometimes a little too wise for his listeners, became
eminently animated and agreeable.  It was the conversation of a man who,
besides the knowledge which is acquired from books and life, had studied
the art which becomes a gentleman,--that of pleasing in polite society.

The result was that all were charmed with him; and that even Captain
Barnabas postponed the whist-table for a full hour after the usual time.
The doctor did not play; he thus became the property of the two ladies,
Miss Jemima and Mrs. Dale.

Seated between the two, in the place rightfully appertaining to Flimsey,
who this time was fairly dislodged, to her great wonder and discontent,
the doctor was the emblem of true Domestic Felicity, placed between
Friendship and Love.

Friendship, as became her, worked quietly at the embroidered pocket-
handkerchief and left Love to more animated operations.

"You must be very lonely at the Casino," said Love, in a sympathizing
tone.

"Madam," replied Riccabocca, gallantly, "I shall think so when I leave
you."

Friendship cast a sly glance at Love; Love blushed, or looked down on the
carpet,--which comes to the same thing.  "Yet," began Love again,--"yet
solitude to a feeling heart--"

Riccabocca thought of the note of invitation, and involuntarily buttoned
his coat, as if to protect the individual organ thus alarmingly referred
to.

"Solitude to a feeling heart has its charms.  It is so hard even for us
poor ignorant women to find a congenial companion--but for YOU!"  Love
stopped short, as if it had said too much, and smelt confusedly at its
bouquet.

Dr. Riccabocca cautiously lowered his spectacles, and darted one glance
which, with the rapidity and comprehensiveness of lightning, seemed to
envelop and take in, as it were, the whole inventory of Miss Jemima's
personal attractions.  Now Miss Jemima, as I have before observed, had a
mild and pensive expression of countenance; and she would have been
positively pretty had the mildness looked a little more alert, and the
pensiveness somewhat less lackadaisical.  In fact, though Miss Jemima was
constitutionally mild, she was not /de natura/ pensive; she had too much
of the Hazeldean blood in her veins for that sullen and viscid humour
called melancholy, and therefore this assumption of pensiveness really
spoiled her character of features, which only wanted to be lighted up by
a cheerful smile to be extremely prepossessing.  The same remark might
apply to the figure, which--thanks to the same pensiveness--lost all the
undulating grace which movement and animation bestow on the fluent curves
of the feminine form.  The figure was a good figure, examined in detail,
--a little thin, perhaps, but by no means emaciated, with just and
elegant proportions, and naturally light and flexible.  But the same
unfortunate pensiveness gave to the whole a character of inertness and
languor; and when Miss Jemima reclined on the sofa, so complete seemed
the relaxation of nerve and muscle that you would have thought she had
lost the use of her limbs.  Over her face and form, thus defrauded of the
charms Providence had bestowed on them, Dr. Riccabocca's eye glanced
rapidly; and then moving nearer to Mrs. Dale--"Defend me" (he stopped a
moment, and added) "from the charge of not being able to appreciate
congenial companionship."

"Oh, I did not say that!" cried Miss Jemima.

"Pardon me," said the Italian, "if I am so dull as to misunderstand you.
One may well lose one's head, at least, in such a neighbourhood as this."
He rose as he spoke, and bent over Frank's shoulder to examine some views
of Italy, which Miss Jemima (with what, if wholly unselfish, would have
been an attention truly delicate) had extracted from the library in order
to gratify the guest.

"Most interesting creature, indeed," sighed Miss Jemima, but too--too
flattering."

"Tell me," said Mrs. Dale, gravely, "do you think, love, that you could
put off the end of the world a little longer, or must we make haste in
order to be in time?"

"How wicked you are!" said Miss Jemima, turning aside.  Some few minutes
afterwards, Mrs. Dale contrived it so that Dr. Riccabocca and herself
were in a farther corner of the room, looking at a picture said to be by
Wouvermans.

MRS. DALE.--"She is very amiable, Jemima, is she not?"

RICCABOCCA.--"Exceedingly so.  Very fine battle-piece!"

MRS. DALE.--"So kind-hearted."

RICCABOCCA.--"All ladies are.  How naturally that warrior makes his
desperate cut at the runaway!"

MRS. DALE.--"She is not what is called regularly handsome, but she has
something very winning."

RICCABOCCA (with a smile).--"So winning, that it is strange she is not
won.  That gray mare in the foreground stands out very boldly!"

MRS. DALE (distrusting the smile of Riccabocca, and throwing in a more
effective grape-charge).--"Not won yet; and it is strange! she will have
a very pretty fortune."

RICCABOCCA.--"Ah!"

MRS. DALE.  "Six thousand pounds, I dare say,--certainly four."

RICCABOCCA (suppressing a sigh, and with his wonted address).--"If Mrs.
Dale were still single, she would never need a friend to say what her
portion might be; but Miss Jemima is so good that I am quite sure it is
not Miss Jemima's fault that she is still--Miss Jemima!"

The foreigner slipped away as he spoke, and sat himself down beside the
whist-players.

Mrs. Dale was disappointed, but certainly not offended.  It would be such
a good thing for both," muttered she, almost inaudibly.

"Giacomo," said Riccabocca, as he was undressing that night in the large,
comfortable, well-carpeted English bedroom, with that great English four-
posted bed in the recess which seems made to shame folks out of single
blessedness, "Giacomo, I have had this evening the offer of probably
L6000, certainly of four thousand."

"Cosa meravigliosa!"--["Miraculous thing."]--exclaimed Jackeymo, and he
crossed himself with great fervour.  "Six thousand pounds English!  why,
that must be a hundred thousand--blockhead that I am!--more than L150,000
Milanese!"  And Jackeymo, who was considerably enlivened by the squire's
ale, commenced a series of gesticulations and capers, in the midst of
which he stopped and cried, "But not for nothing?"

"Nothing! no!"

"These mercenary English! the Government wants to bribe you?"

"That's not it."

"The priests want you to turn heretic?"

"Worse than that!" said the philosopher.

"Worse than that!  O Padrone!  for shame!"

"Don't be a fool, but pull off my pantaloons--they want me never to wear
THESE again!"

"Never to wear what?" exclaimed Jackeymo, staring outright at his
master's long legs in their linen drawers,--"never to wear--"

"The breeches," said Riccabocca, laconically.

"The barbarians!" faltered Jackeymo.

"My nightcap!  and never to have any comfort in this," said Riccabocca,
drawing on the cotton head-gear; "and never to have any sound sleep in
that," pointing to the four-posted bed; "and to be a bondsman and a
slave," continued Riccabocca, waxing wroth; "and to be wheedled and
purred at, and pawed and clawed, and scolded and fondled, and blinded and
deafened, and bridled and saddled--bedevilled and--married!"

"Married!" said Jackeymo, more dispassionately--"that's very bad,
certainly; but more than a hundred and fifty thousand lire, and perhaps a
pretty young lady, and--"

"Pretty young lady!" growled Riccabocca, jumping into bed and drawing the
clothes fiercely over him.  "Put out the candle, and get along with you,
--do, you villanous old incendiary!"



CHAPTER IX.

It was not many days since the resurrection of those ill-omened stocks,
and it was evident already, to an ordinary observer, that something wrong
had got into the village.  The peasants wore a sullen expression of
countenance; when the squire passed, they took off their hats with more
than ordinary formality, but they did not return the same broad smile to
his quick, hearty "Good-day, my man."  The women peered at him from the
threshold or the casement, but did not, as was their wont (as least the
wont of the prettiest), take occasion to come out to catch his passing
compliment on their own good looks, or their tidy cottages.  And the
children, who used to play after work on the site of the old stocks, now
shunned the place, and, indeed, seemed to cease play altogether.

On the other hand, no man likes to build, or rebuild, a great public work
for nothing.  Now that the squire had resuscitated the stocks, and made
them so exceedingly handsome, it was natural that he should wish to put
somebody into them.  Moreover, his pride and self-esteem had been wounded
by the parson's opposition; and it would be a justification to his own
forethought, and a triumph over the parson's understanding, if he could
satisfactorily and practically establish a proof that the stocks had not
been repaired before they were wanted.

Therefore, unconsciously to himself, there was something about the squire
more burly and authoritative and menacing than heretofore.  Old Gaffer
Solomons observed, "that they had better moind well what they were about,
for that the squire had a wicked look in the tail of his eye,--just as
the dun bull had afore it tossed neighbour Barnes's little boy."

For two or three days these mute signs of something brewing in the
atmosphere had been rather noticeable than noticed, without any positive
overt act of tyranny on the one hand or rebellion on the other.  But on
the very Saturday night in which Dr. Riccabocca was installed in the
four-posted bed in the chintz chamber, the threatened revolution
commenced.  In the dead of that night personal outrage was committed on
the stocks.  And on the Sunday morning, Mr. Stirn, who was the earliest
riser in the parish, perceived, in going to the farmyard, that the knob
of the column that flanked the board had been feloniously broken off;
that the four holes were bunged up with mud; and that some jacobinical
villain had carved, on the very centre of the flourish or scroll-work,
"Dam the stoks!"  Mr. Stirn was much too vigilant a right-hand man, much
too zealous a friend of law and order, not to regard such proceedings
with horror and alarm.  And when the squire came into his dressing-room
at half-past seven, his butler (who fulfilled also the duties of valet)
informed him, with a mysterious air, that Mr. Stirn had something "very
partikler to communicate about a most howdacious midnight 'spiracy and
'sault."

The squire stared, and bade Mr. Stirn be admitted.

"Well?" cried the squire, suspending the operation of stropping his
razor.

Mr. Stirn groaned.

"Well, man, what now?"

"I never knowed such a thing in this here parish afore," began Mr.
Stirn; "and I can only 'count for it by s'posing that them foreign
Papishers have been semminating--"

"Been what?"

"Semminating--"

"Disseminating, you blockhead,--disseminating what?"

"Damn the stocks," began Mr. Stirn, plunging right /in medias res/, and
by a fine use of one of the noblest figures in rhetoric.

"Mr. Stirn!" cried the squire, reddening, "did you say, 'Damn the
stocks'?--damn my new handsome pair of stocks!"

"Lord forbid, sir; that's what they say: that's what they have digged on
it with knives and daggers, and they have stuffed mud in its four holes,
and broken the capital of the elewation."

The squire took the napkin off his shoulder, laid down strop and razor;
he seated himself in his armchair majestically, crossed his legs, and, in
a voice that affected tranquillity, said,--

"Compose yourself, Stirn; you have a deposition to make, touching an
assault upon--can I trust my senses?--upon my new stocks.  Compose
yourself; be calm.  Now!  What the devil is come to the parish?"

"Ah, sir, what indeed?" replied Mr. Stirn: and then laying the forefinger
of the right hand on the palm of the left he narrated the case.

"And whom do you suspect?  Be calm now; don't speak in a passion.  You
are a witness, sir,--a dispassionate, unprejudiced witness.  Zounds and
fury! this is the most insolent, unprovoked, diabolical--but whom do you
suspect, I say?" Stirn twirled his hat, elevated his eyebrows, jerked his
thumb over his shoulder, and whispered, "I hear as how the two Papishers
slept at your honour's last night."

"What, dolt!  do you suppose Dr. Rickeybockey got out of his warm bed to
bung up the holes in my new stocks?"

"Noa; he's too cunning to do it himself, but he may have been
semminating.  He's mighty thick with Parson Dale, and your honour knows
as how the parson set his face agin the stocks.  Wait a bit, sir,--don't
fly at me yet.  There be a boy in this here parish--"

"A boy!  ah, fool, now you are nearer the mark.  The parson write 'Damn
the stocks,' indeed!  What boy do you mean?"

"And that boy be cockered up much by Mr. Dale; and the Papisher went and
sat with him and his mother a whole hour t' other day; and that boy is as
deep as a well; and I seed him lurking about the place, and hiding
hisself under the tree the day the stocks was put up,--and that 'ere boy
is Lenny Fairfield."

"Whew," said the squire, whistling, "you have not your usual senses about
you to-day, man.  Lenny Fairfield,--pattern boy of the village.  Hold
your tongue.  I dare say it is not done by any one in the parish, after
all: some good-for-nothing vagrant--that cursed tinker, who goes about
with a very vicious donkey,--a donkey that I caught picking thistles out
of the very eyes of the old stocks!  Shows how the tinker brings up his
donkeys!  Well, keep a sharp look-out.  To-day is Sunday; worst day of
the week, I'm sorry and ashamed to say, for rows and depredations.
Between the services, and after evening church, there are always idle
fellows from all the neighbouring country about, as you know too well.
Depend on it, the real culprits will be found gathering round the stocks,
and will betray themselves; have your eyes, ears, and wits about you, and
I've no doubt we shall come to the rights of the matter before the day's
out.  And if we do," added the squire, "we'll make an example of the
ruffian!"

"In course," said Stirn: "and if we don't find him we must make an
example all the same.  That's what it is, sir.  That's why the stocks
ben't respected; they has not had an example yet,--we wants an example."

"On my word I believe that's very true; and we'll clap in the first idle
fellow you catch in anything wrong, and keep him there for two hours at
least."

"With the biggest pleasure, your honour,--that's what it is."

And Mr. Stirn having now got what he considered a complete and
unconditional authority over all the legs and wrists of Hazeldean parish,
/quoad/ the stocks, took his departure.



CHAPTER X.

"Randal," said Mrs. Leslie on this memorable Sunday,--"Randal, do you
think of going to Mr. Hazeldean's?"

"Yes, ma'am," answered Randal.  "Mr. Egerton does not object to it; and
as I do not return to Eton, I may have no other opportunity of seeing
Frank for some time.  I ought not to fail in respect to Mr. Egerton's
natural heir."

"Gracious me!" cried Mrs. Leslie, who, like many women of her cast and
kind, had a sort of worldliness in her notions, which she never evinced
in her conduct,--"gracious me! natural heir to the old Leslie property!"

"He is Mr. Egerton's nephew, and," added Randal, ingenuously letting out
his thoughts, "I am no relation to Mr. Egerton at all."

"But," said poor Mrs. Leslie, with tears in her eyes, "it would be a
shame in the man, after paying your schooling and sending you to Oxford,
and having you to stay with him in the holidays, if he did not mean
anything by it."

"Anything, Mother, yes,--but not the thing you suppose.  No matter.  It
is enough that he has armed me for life, and I shall use the weapons as
seems to me best."

Here the dialogue was suspended by the entrance of the other members of
the family, dressed for church.

"It can't be time for church!  No, it can't," exclaimed Mrs. Leslie.  She
was never in time for anything,

"Last bell ringing," said Mr. Leslie, who, though a slow man, was
methodical and punctual.  Mrs. Leslie made a frantic rush at the door,
the Montfydget blood being now in a blaze, dashed up the stairs, burst
into her room, tore her best bonnet from the peg, snatched her newest
shawl from the drawers, crushed the bonnet on her head, flung the shawl
on her shoulders, thrust a desperate pin into its folds, in order to
conceal a buttonless yawn in the body of her gown, and then flew back
like a whirlwind.  Meanwhile the family were already out of doors, in
waiting; and just as the bell ceased, the procession moved from the
shabby house to the dilapidated church.

The church was a large one, but the congregation was small, and so was
the income of the parson.  It was a lay rectory, and the great tithes had
belonged to the Leslies, but they had been long since sold.  The
vicarage, still in their gift, might be worth a little more than L100 a
year.  The present incumbent had nothing else to live upon.  He was a
good man, and not originally a stupid one; but penury and the anxious
cares for wife and family, combined with what may be called solitary
confinement for the cultivated mind, when, amidst the two-legged
creatures round, it sees no other cultivated mind with which it can
exchange one extra-parochial thought, had lulled him into a lazy
mournfulness, which at times was very like imbecility.  His income
allowed him to do no good to the parish, whether in work, trade, or
charity; and thus he had no moral weight with the parishioners beyond the
example of his sinless life, and such negative effect as might be
produced by his slumberous exhortations.  Therefore his parishioners
troubled him very little; and but for the influence which, in hours of
Montfydget activity, Mrs. Leslie exercised over the most tractable,--that
is, the children and the aged,--not half-a-dozen persons would have known
or cared whether he shut up his church or not.

But our family were seated in state in their old seignorial pew, and Mr.
Dumdrum, with a nasal twang, went lugubriously through the prayers; and
the old people who could sin no more, and the children who had not yet
learned to sin, croaked forth responses that might have come from the
choral frogs in Aristophanes; and there was a long sermon a propos to
nothing which could possibly interest the congregation,--being, in fact,
some controversial homily which Mr. Dumdrum had composed and preached
years before.  And when this discourse was over, there was a loud
universal grunt, as if of relief and thanksgiving, and a great clatter of
shoes, and the old hobbled, and the young scrambled, to the church door.

Immediately after church, the Leslie family dined; and as soon as dinner
was over, Randal set out on his foot journey to Hazeldean Hall.

Delicate and even feeble though his frame, he had the energy and
quickness of movement which belongs to nervous temperaments; and he
tasked the slow stride of a peasant, whom he took to serve him as a guide
for the first two or three miles.  Though Randal had not the gracious
open manner with the poor which Frank inherited from his father, he was
still (despite many a secret hypocritical vice at war with the character
of a gentleman) gentleman enough to have no churlish pride to his
inferiors.  He talked little, but he suffered his guide to talk; and the
boor, who was the same whom Frank had accosted, indulged in eulogistic
comments on that young gentleman's pony, from which he diverged into some
compliments on the young gentleman himself.  Randal drew his hat over his
brows.  There is a wonderful tact and fine breeding in your agricultural
peasant; and though Tom Stowell was but a brutish specimen of the class,
he suddenly perceived that he was giving pain.  He paused, scratched his
head, and, glancing affectionately towards his companion, exclaimed,--

"But I shall live to see you on a handsomer beastis than that little
pony, Master Randal; and sure I ought, for you be as good a gentleman as
any in the land."

"Thank you," said Randal.  "But I like walking better than riding,--I am
more used to it."

"Well, and you walk bra'ly,--there ben't a better walker in the county.
And very pleasant it is walking; and 't is a pretty country afore you,
all the way to the Hall."

Randal strode on, as if impatient of these attempts to flatter or to
soothe; and coming at length into a broader lane, said, "I think I can
find my way now.  Many thanks to you, Tom;" and he forced a shilling into
Tom's horny palm.  The man took it reluctantly, and a tear started to his
eye.  He felt more grateful for that shilling than he had for Frank's
liberal half-crown; and he thought of the poor fallen family, and forgot
his own dire wrestle with the wolf at his door.

He stayed lingering in the lane till the figure of Randal was out of
sight, and then returned slowly.  Young Leslie continued to walk on at
a quick pace.  With all his intellectual culture and his restless
aspirations, his breast afforded him no thought so generous, no sentiment
so poetic, as those with which the unlettered clown crept slouchingly
homeward.

As Randal gained a point where several lanes met on a broad piece of
waste land, he began to feel tired, and his step slackened.  Just then a
gig emerged from one of these byroads, and took the same direction as the
pedestrian.  The road was rough and hilly, and the driver proceeded at a
foot's pace; so that the gig and the pedestrian went pretty well abreast.

"You seem tired, sir," said the driver, a stout young farmer of the
higher class of tenants, and he looked down compassionately on the boy's
pale countenance and weary stride.  "Perhaps we are going the same way,
and I can give you a lift?"

It was Randal's habitual policy to make use of every advantage proffered
to him, and he accepted the proposal frankly enough to please the honest
farmer.

"A nice day, sir," said the latter, as Randal sat by his side.  "Have you
come far?"

"From Rood Hall."

"Oh, you be young Squire Leslie," said the farmer, more respectfully, and
lifting his hat.

"Yes, my name is Leslie.  You know Rood, then?"

"I was brought up on your father's land, sir.  You may have heard of
Farmer Bruce?"

RANDAL.--"I remember, when I was a little boy, a Mr. Bruce who rented,
I believe, the best part of our land, and who used to bring us cakes when
he called to see my father.  He is a relation of yours?"

FARMER BRUCE.--"He was my uncle.  He is dead now, poor man."

RANDAL.-"Dead!  I am grieved to hear it.  He was very kind to us
children.  But it is long since he left my father's farm."

FARMER BRUCE (apologetically).--"I am sure he was very sorry to go.  But,
you see, he had an unexpected legacy--"

RANDAL.--"And retired from business?"

FARMER BRUCE.--"No.  But, having capital, he could afford to pay a good
rent for a real good farm."

RANDAL (bitterly).--"All capital seems to fly from the lands of Rood.
And whose farm did he take?"

FARMER BRUCE.--" He took Hawleigh, under Squire Hazeldean.  I rent it
now.  We've laid out a power o' money on it.  But I don't complain.  It
pays well."

RANDAL.--"Would the money have paid as well sunk on my father's land?"

FARMER BRUCE.---"Perhaps it might, in the long run.  But then, sir, we
wanted new premises,--barns and cattlesheds, and a deal more,--which the
landlord should do; but it is not every landlord as can afford that.
Squire Hazeldean's a rich man."

RANDAL.---"Ay!"

The road now became pretty good, and the farmer put his horse into a
brisk trot.

"But which way be you going, sir?  I don't care for a few miles more or
less, if I can be of service."

"I am going to Hazeldean," said Randal, rousing himself from a revery.
"Don't let me take you out of your way."

"O, Hawleigh Farm is on the other side of the village, so it be quite my
way, sir."

The farmer, then, who was really a smart young fellow,--one of that race
which the application of capital to land has produced, and which, in
point of education and refinement, are at least on a par with the squires
of a former generation,--began to talk about his handsome horse, about
horses in general, about hunting and coursing: he handled all these
subjects with spirit, yet with modesty.  Randal pulled his hat still
lower down over his brows, and did not interrupt him till they passed the
Casino, when, struck by the classic air of the place, and catching a
scent from the orange-trees, the boy asked abruptly, "Whose house is
that?"

"Oh, it belongs to Squire Hazeldean, but it is let or lent to a foreign
mounseer.  They say he is quite the gentleman, but uncommonly poor."

"Poor," said Randal, turning back to gaze on the trim garden, the neat
terrace, the pretty belvidere, and (the door of the house being open)
catching a glimpse of the painted hall within,--"poor?  The place seems
well kept.  What do you call poor, Mr. Bruce?"

The farmer laughed.  "Well, that's a home question, sir.  But I believe
the mounseer is as poor as a man can be who makes no debts and does not
actually starve."

"As poor as my father?" asked Randal, openly and abruptly.

"Lord, sir! your father be a very rich man compared to him."  Randal
continued to gaze, and his mind's eye conjured up the contrast of his
slovenly shabby home, with all its neglected appurtenances.  No trim
garden at Rood Hall, no scent from odorous orange blossoms.  Here poverty
at least was elegant,--there, how squalid!  He did not comprehend at how
cheap a rate the luxury of the Beautiful can be effected.  They now
approached the extremity of the squire's park pales; and Randal, seeing a
little gate, bade the farmer stop his gig, and descended.  The boy
plunged amidst the thick oak groves; the farmer went his way blithely,
and his mellow merry whistle came to Randal's moody ear as he glided
quick under the shadow of the trees.

He arrived at the Hall to find that all the family were at church; and,
according to the patriarchal custom, the churchgoing family embraced
nearly all the servants.  It was therefore an old invalid housemaid who
opened the door to him.  She was rather deaf, and seemed so stupid that
Randal did not ask leave to enter and wait for Frank's return.  He
therefore said briefly that he would just stroll on the lawn, and call
again when church was over.

The old woman stared, and strove to hear him; meanwhile Randal turned
round abruptly, and sauntered towards the garden side of the handsome old
house.

There was enough to attract any eye in the smooth greensward of the
spacious lawn, in the numerous parterres of variegated flowers, in the
venerable grandeur of the two mighty cedars, which threw their still
shadows over the grass, and in the picturesque building, with its
projecting mullions and heavy gables; yet I fear that it was with no
poet's nor painter's eye that this young old man gazed on the scene
before him.

He beheld the evidence of wealth--and the envy of wealth jaundiced his
soul.

Folding his arms on his breast, he stood a while, looking all around him,
with closed lips and lowering brow; then he walked slowly on, his eyes
fixed on the ground, and muttered to himself,--

"The heir to this property is little better than a dunce; and they tell
me I have talents and learning, and I have taken to my heart the maxim,
'Knowledge is power.'  And yet, with all my struggles, will knowledge
ever place me on the same level as that on which this dunce is born?  I
don't wonder that the poor should hate the rich.  But of all the poor,
who should hate the rich like the pauper gentleman?  I suppose Audley
Egerton means me to come into parliament, and be a Tory like himself?
What! keep things as they are!  No; for me not even Democracy, unless
there first come Revolution.  I understand the cry of a Marat,--'More
blood!'  Marat had lived as a poor man, and cultivated science--in the
sight of a prince's palace."

He turned sharply round, and glared vindictively on the poor old Hall,
which, though a very comfortable habitation, was certainly no palace;
and, with his arms still folded on his breast, he walked backward, as if
not to lose the view, nor the chain of ideas it conjured up.

"But," he continued to soliloquize,--"but of revolution there is no
chance.  Yet the same wit and will that would thrive in revolutions
should thrive in this commonplace life.  Knowledge is power.  Well, then,
shall I have no power to oust this blockhead?  Oust him--what from?  His
father's halls?  Well, but if he were dead, who would be the heir of
Hazeldean?  Have I not heard my mother say that I am as near in blood to
this squire as any one, if he had no children?  Oh, but the boy's life is
worth ten of mine!  Oust him from what?  At least from the thoughts of
his Uncle Egerton,--an uncle who has never even seen him!  That, at
least, is more feasible.  'Make my way in life,' sayest thou, Audley
Egerton?  Ay,--and to the fortune thou hast robbed from my ancestors.
Simulation! simulation!  Lord Bacon allows simulation.  Lord Bacon
practised it, and--"

Here the soliloquy came to a sudden end; for as, rapt in his thoughts,
the boy had continued to walk backwards, he had come to the verge where
the lawn slided off into the ditch of the ha-ha; and just as he was
fortifying himself by the precept and practice of my Lord Bacon, the
ground went from under him, and--slap into the ditch went Randal Leslie!

It so happened that the squire, whose active genius was always at some
repair or improvement, had been but a few days before widening and
sloping off the ditch just in that part, so that the earth was fresh and
damp, and not yet either turfed or flattened down.  Thus when Randal,
recovering his first surprise and shock, rose to his feet, he found his
clothes covered with mud; while the rudeness of the fall was evinced by
the fantastic and extraordinary appearance of his hat, which, hollowed
here, bulging there, and crushed out of all recognition generally, was as
little like the hat of a decorous, hard-reading young gentleman--protege
of the dignified Mr. Audley Egerton--as any hat picked out of a kennel
after some drunken brawl possibly could be.

Randal was dizzy and stunned and bruised, and it was some moments before
he took heed of his raiment.  When he did so his spleen was greatly
aggravated.  He was still boy enough not to like the idea of presenting
himself to the unknown squire and the dandy Frank in such a trim: he
resolved incontinently to regain the lane and return home, without
accomplishing the object of his journey; and seeing the footpath right
before him, which led to a gate that he conceived would admit him into
the highway sooner than the path by which he had come, he took it at
once.

It is surprising how little we human creatures heed the warnings of our
good genius.  I have no doubt that some benignant power had precipitated
Randal Leslie into the ditch, as a significant hint of the fate of all
who choose what is, nowadays; by no means an uncommon step in the march
of intellect,--namely, the walking backwards, in order to gratify a
vindictive view of one's neighbour's property!  I suspect that, before
this century is out, many a fine fellow will thus have found his ha-ha,
and scrambled out of the ditch with a much shabbier coat than he had on
when he fell into it.  But Randal did not thank his good genius for
giving him a premonitory tumble,--and I never yet knew a man who did!



CHAPTER, XI.

The squire was greatly ruffled at breakfast that morning.  He was too
much of an Englishman to bear insult patiently, and he considered that he
had been personally insulted in the outrage offered to his recent
donation to the parish.  His feelings, too, were hurt as well as his
pride.  There was something so ungrateful in the whole thing, just after
he had taken so much pains, not only in the resuscitation but the
embellishment of the stocks.  It was not, however, so rare an occurrence
for the squire to be ruffled as to create any remark.  Riccabocca,
indeed, as a stranger, and Mrs. Hazeldean, as a wife, had the quick tact
to perceive that the host was glum and the husband snappish; but the one
was too discreet, and the other too sensible, to chafe the new sore,
whatever it might be, and shortly after breakfast the squire retired into
his study, and absented himself from morning service.  In his delightful
"Life of Oliver Goldsmith," Mr. Forster takes care to touch our hearts by
introducing his hero's excuse for not entering the priesthood.  "He did
not feel himself good enough."  Thy Vicar of Wakefield, poor Goldsmith,
was an excellent substitute for thee; and Dr. Primrose, at least, will be
good enough for the world until Miss Jemima's fears are realized.  Now,
Squire Hazeldean had a tenderness of conscience much less reasonable than
Goldsmith's.  There were occasionally days in which he did not feel good
enough--I don't say for a priest, but even for one of the congregation,--
"days in which," said the squire in his own blunt way, "as I have never
in my life met a worse devil than a devil of a temper, I'll not carry
mine into the family pew.  He sha'n't be growling out hypocritical
responses from my poor grandmother's prayer-book."  So the squire and his
demon stayed at home.  But the demon was generally cast out before the
day was over: and on this occasion, when the bell rang for afternoon
service, it may be presumed that the squire had reasoned or fretted
himself into a proper state of mind; for he was then seen sallying forth
from the porch of his hall, arm-in-arm with his wife, and at the head of
his household.  The second service was (as is commonly the case in rural
districts) more numerously attended than the first one; and it was our
parson's wont to devote to this service his most effective discourse.

Parson Dale, though a very fair scholar, had neither the deep theology
nor the archaeological learning that distinguish the rising generation of
the clergy.  I much doubt if he could have passed what would now be
called a creditable examination in the Fathers; and as for all the nice
formalities in the rubric, he would never have been the man to divide a
congregation or puzzle a bishop.  Neither was Parson Dale very erudite in
ecclesiastical architecture.  He did not much care whether all the
details in the church were purely Gothic or not; crockets and finials,
round arch and pointed arch, were matters, I fear, on which he had never
troubled his head.

But one secret Parson Dale did possess, which is perhaps of equal
importance with those subtler mysteries,--he knew how to fill his church!
Even at morning service no pews were empty, and at evening service the
church overflowed.

Parson Dale, too, may be considered nowadays to hold but a mean idea of
the spiritual authority of the Church.  He had never been known to
dispute on its exact bearing with the State,--whether it was incorporated
with the State or above the State, whether it was antecedent to the
Papacy or formed from the Papacy, etc.  According to his favourite maxim,
"Quieta non movere,"--["Not to disturb things that are quiet."]--I have
no doubt that he would have thought that the less discussion is provoked
upon such matters the better for both Church and laity.  Nor had he ever
been known to regret the disuse of the ancient custom of excommunication,
nor any other diminution of the powers of the priesthood, whether
minatory or militant; yet for all this, Parson Dale had a great notion of
the sacred privilege of a minister of the gospel,--to advise, to deter,
to persuade, to reprove.  And it was for the evening service that he
prepared those sermons which may be called "sermons that preach at you."
He preferred the evening for that salutary discipline, not only because
the congregation was more numerous, but also because, being a shrewd man
in his own innocent way, he knew that people bear better to be preached
at after dinner than before; that you arrive more insinuatingly at the
heart when the stomach is at peace.  There was a genial kindness in
Parson Dale's way of preaching at you.  It was done in so imperceptible,
fatherly, a manner that you never felt offended.  He did it, too, with so
much art that nobody but your own guilty self knew that you were the
sinner he was exhorting.  Yet he did not spare rich nor poor: he preached
at the squire, and that great fat farmer, Mr. Bullock, the churchwarden,
as boldly as at Hodge the ploughman and Scrub the hedger.  As for
Mr. Stirn, he had preached at him more often than at any one in the
parish; but Stirn, though he had the sense to know it, never had the
grace to reform.  There was, too, in Parson Dale's sermons something of
that boldness of illustration which would have been scholarly if he had
not made it familiar, and which is found in the discourses of our elder
divines.  Like them, he did not scruple now and then to introduce an
anecdote from history, or borrow an allusion from some non-scriptural
author, in order to enliven the attention of his audience, or render an
argument more plain.  And the good man had an object in this, a little
distinct from, though wholly subordinate to, the main purpose of his
discourse.  He was a friend to knowledge,--but to knowledge accompanied
by religion; and sometimes his references to sources not within the
ordinary reading of his congregation would spirit up some farmer's son,
with an evening's leisure on his hands, to ask the parson for further
explanation, and so to be lured on to a little solid or graceful
instruction, under a safe guide.

Now, on the present occasion, the parson, who had always his eye and
heart on his flock, and who had seen with great grief the realization of
his fears at the revival of the stocks; seen that a spirit of discontent
was already at work amongst the peasants, and that magisterial and
inquisitorial designs were darkening the natural benevolence of the
squire,--seen, in short, the signs of a breach between classes, and the
precursors of the ever inflammable feud between the rich and the poor,
meditated nothing less than a great Political Sermon,--a sermon that
should extract from the roots of social truths a healing virtue for the
wound that lay sore, but latent, in the breast of his parish of
Hazeldean.

And thus ran--

THE POLITICAL SERMON OF PARSON DALE.



CHAPTER XII.

     For every man shall bear his own burden.--Gal. vi. 5.

"BRETHREN! every man has his burden.  If God designed our lives to end at
the grave, may we not believe that He would have freed an existence so
brief from the cares and sorrows to which, since the beginning of the
world, mankind has been subjected?  Suppose that I am a kind father, and
have a child whom I dearly love, but I know by a divine revelation that
he will die at the age of eight years, surely I should not vex his
infancy by needless preparations for the duties of life?  If I am a rich
man, I should not send him from the caresses of his mother to the stern
discipline of school.  If I am a poor man, I should not take him with me
to hedge and dig, to scorch in the sun, to freeze in the winter's cold:
why inflict hardships on his childhood for the purpose of fitting him for
manhood, when I know that he is doomed not to grow into man?  But if, on
the other hand, I believe my child is reserved for a more durable
existence, then should I not, out of the very love I bear to him, prepare
his childhood for the struggle of life, according to that station in
which he is born, giving many a toil, many a pain, to the infant, in
order to rear and strengthen him for his duties as man?  So it is with
our Father that is in heaven.  Viewing this life as our infancy and the
next as our spiritual maturity, where 'in the ages to come He may show
the exceeding riches of His grace,' it is in His tenderness, as in His
wisdom; to permit the toil and the pain which, in tasking the powers and
developing the virtue of the soul, prepare it for 'the earnest of our
inheritance.'  Hence it is that every man has his burden.  Brethren, if
you believe that God is good, yea, but as tender as a human father, you
will know that your troubles in life are a proof that you are reared for
an eternity.  But each man thinks his own burden the hardest to bear: the
poor-man groans under his poverty, the rich man under the cares that
multiply with wealth.  For so far from wealth freeing us from trouble,
all the wise men who have written in all ages have repeated, with one
voice, the words of the wisest, 'When goods increase, they are increased
that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the
beholding of them with their eyes?'  And this is literally true, my
brethren: for, let a man be as rich as was the great King Solomon
himself, unless he lock up all his gold in a chest, it must go abroad to
be divided amongst others; yea, though, like Solomon, he make him great
works,--though he build houses and plant vineyards, and make him gardens
and orchards,--still the gold that he spends feeds but the mouths he
employs; and Solomon himself could not eat with a better relish than the
poorest mason who builded the house, or the humblest labourer who planted
the vineyard.  Therefore 'when goods increase, they are increased that
eat them.'  And this, my brethren, may teach us toleration and compassion
for the rich.  We share their riches, whether they will or not; we do not
share their cares.  The profane history of our own country tells us that
a princess, destined to be the greatest queen that ever sat on this
throne, envied the milk-maid singing; and a profane poet, whose wisdom
was only less than that of the inspired writers, represents the man who,
by force--and wit, had risen to be a king sighing for the sleep
vouchsafed to the meanest of his subjects,--all bearing out the words of
the son of David, 'The sleep of the labouring man is sweet, whether he
eat little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to
sleep.'

"Amongst my brethren now present there is, doubtless, some one who has
been poor, and by honest industry has made himself comparatively rich.
Let his heart answer me while I speak: are not the chief cares that now
disturb him to be found in the goods he hath acquired?  Has he not both
vexations to his spirit and trials to his virtue, which he knew not when
he went forth to his labour, and took no heed of the morrow?  But it is
right, my brethren, that to every station there should be its care, to
every man his burden; for if the poor did not sometimes so far feel
poverty to be a burden as to desire to better their condition, and (to
use the language of the world) 'seek to rise in life,' their most
valuable energies would never be aroused; and we should not witness that
spectacle, which is so common in the land we live in,--namely, the
successful struggle of manly labour against adverse fortune,--a struggle
in which the triumph of one gives hope to thousands.  It is said that
necessity is the mother of invention; and the social blessings which are
now as common to us as air and sunshine have come from that law of our
nature which makes us aspire towards indefinite improvement, enriches
each successive generation by the labours of the last, and in free
countries often lifts the child of the labourer to a place amongst the
rulers of the land.  Nay, if necessity is the mother of invention,
poverty is the creator of the arts.  If there had been no poverty, and no
sense of poverty, where would have been that which we call the wealth of
a country?  Subtract from civilization all that has been produced by the
poor, and what remains?--the state of the savage.  Where you now see
labourer and prince, you would see equality indeed,--the equality of wild
men.  No; not even equality there! for there brute force becomes
lordship, and woe to the weak!  Where you now see some in frieze, some in
purple, you would see nakedness in all.  Where stands the palace and the
cot, you would behold but mud huts and caves.  As far as the peasant
excels the king among savages, so far does the society exalted and
enriched by the struggles of labour excel the state in which Poverty
feels no disparity, and Toil sighs for no ease.  On the other hand, if
the rich were perfectly contented with their wealth, their hearts would
become hardened in the sensual enjoyments it procures.  It is that
feeling, by Divine Wisdom implanted in the soul, that there is vanity and
vexation of spirit in the things of Mammon, which still leaves the rich
man sensitive to the instincts of Heaven, and teaches him to seek for
happiness in those beneficent virtues which distribute his wealth to the
profit of others.  If you could exclude the air from the rays of the
fire, the fire itself would soon languish and die in the midst of its
fuel; and so a man's joy in his wealth is kept alive by the air which it
warms; and if pent within itself, is extinguished.

"And this, my brethren, leads me to another view of the vast subject
opened to us by the words of the apostle, 'Every man shall bear his own
burden.'  The worldly conditions of life are unequal.  Why are they
unequal?  O my brethren, do you not perceive?  Think you that, if it had
been better for our spiritual probation that there should be neither
great nor lowly, rich nor poor, Providence would not so have ordered the
dispensations of the world, and so, by its mysterious but merciful
agencies, have influenced the framework and foundations of society?  But
if from the remotest period of human annals, and in all the numberless
experiments of government which the wit of man has devised, still this
inequality is ever found to exist, may we not suspect that there is
something in the very principles of our nature to which that inequality
is necessary and essential?  Ask why this inequality?  Why?--as well ask
why life is the sphere of duty and the nursery of virtues!  For if all
men were equal, if there were no suffering and no ease, no poverty and no
wealth, would you not sweep with one blow the half, at least, of human
virtues from the world?  If there were no penury and no pain, what would
become of fortitude; what of patience; what of resignation?  If there
were no greatness and no wealth, what would become of benevolence, of
charity, of the blessed human pity, of temperance in the midst of luxury,
of justice in the exercise of power?  Carry the question further; grant
all conditions the same,--no reverse, no rise, and no fall, nothing to
hope for, nothing to fear,--what a moral death you would at once inflict
upon all the energies of the soul, and what a link between the Heart of
Man and the Providence of God would be snapped asunder!  If we could
annihilate evil, we should annihilate hope; and hope, my brethren, is the
avenue to faith.  If there be 'a time to weep and a time to laugh,' it is
that he who mourns may turn to eternity for comfort, and he who rejoices
may bless God for the happy hour.  Ah, my brethren, were it possible to
annihilate the inequalities of human life, it would be the banishment of
our worthiest virtues, the torpor of our spiritual nature, the palsy of
our mental faculties.  The moral world, like the world without us,
derives its health and its beauty from diversity and contrast.

"'Every man shall bear his own burden.'  True; but now turn to an earlier
verse in the same chapter,--'Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil
the law of Christ.'  Yes, while Heaven ordains to each his peculiar
suffering, it connects the family of man into one household, by that
feeling which, more perhaps than any other, distinguishes us from the
brute creation,--I mean the feeling to which we give the name of
sympathy,--the feeling for each other!  The herd of deer shun the stag
that is marked by the gunner; the flock heedeth not the sheep that creeps
into the shade to die; but man has sorrow and joy not in himself alone,
but in the joy and sorrow of those around him.  He who feels only for
himself abjures his very nature as man; for do we not say of one who has
no tenderness for mankind that he is inhuman; and do we not call him who
sorrows with the sorrowful humane?

"Now, brethren, that which especially marked the divine mission of our
Lord is the direct appeal to this sympathy which distinguishes us from
the brute.  He seizes, not upon some faculty of genii given but to few,
but upon that ready impulse of heart which is given to us all; and in
saying, 'Love one another,' 'Bear ye one another's burdens,' he elevates
the most delightful of our emotions into the most sacred of His laws.
The lawyer asks our Lord, 'Who is my neighbour?'  Our Lord replies by the
parable of the good Samaritan.  The priest and the Levite saw the wounded
man that fell among the thieves and passed by on the other side.  That
priest might have been austere in his doctrine, that Levite might have
been learned in the law; but neither to the learning of the Levite nor to
the doctrine of the priest does our Saviour even deign to allude.  He
cites but the action of the Samaritan, and saith to the lawyer, 'Which
now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among
the thieves?  And he said, He that showed mercy unto him.  Then said
Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.'

"O shallowness of human judgments!  It was enough to be born a Samaritan
in order to be rejected by the priest, and despised by the Levite.  Yet
now, what to us the priest and the Levite, of God's chosen race though
they were?  They passed from the hearts of men when they passed the
sufferer by the wayside; while this loathed Samaritan, half thrust from
the pale of the Hebrew, becomes of our family, of our kindred; a brother
amongst the brotherhood of Love, so long as Mercy and Affliction shall
meet in the common thoroughfare of Life!

"'Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.'  Think
not, O my brethren, that this applies only to almsgiving, to that relief
of distress which is commonly called charity, to the obvious duty of
devoting from our superfluities something that we scarcely miss to the
wants of a starving brother.  No.  I appeal to the poorest amongst ye, if
the worst burdens are those of the body,--if the kind word and the tender
thought have not often lightened your hearts more than bread bestowed
with a grudge, and charity that humbles you by a frown.  Sympathy is a
beneficence at the command of us all,--yea, of the pauper as of the king;
and sympathy is Christ's wealth.  Sympathy is brotherhood.  The rich are
told to have charity for the poor, and the poor are enjoined to respect
their superiors.  Good: I say not to the contrary.  But I say also to the
poor, '/In your turn have charity for the rich/;' and I say to the rich,
'/In your turn respect the poor/.'

"'Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.'  Thou,
O poor man, envy not nor grudge thy brother his larger portion of worldly
goods.  Believe that he hath his sorrows and crosses like thyself, and
perhaps, as more delicately nurtured, he feels them more; nay, hath he
not temptations so great that our Lord hath exclaimed, 'How hardly shall
they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven'?  And what are
temptations but trials; what are trials but perils and sorrows?  Think
not that you can bestow no charity on the rich man, even while you take
your sustenance from his hands.  A heathen writer, often cited by the
earliest preachers of the gospel, hath truly said, 'Wherever there is
room for a man there is place for a benefit.'

"And I ask any rich brother amongst you, when he hath gone forth to
survey his barns and his granaries, his gardens and orchards, if suddenly
in the vain pride of his heart, he sees the scowl on the brow of the
labourer,--if he deems himself hated in the midst of his wealth, if he
feels that his least faults are treasured up against him with the
hardness of malice, and his plainest benefits received with the
ingratitude of envy,--I ask, I say, any rich man, whether straightway all
pleasure in his worldly possessions does not fade from his heart, and
whether he does not feel what a wealth of gladness it is in the power of
the poor man to bestow!  For all these things of Mammon pass away; but
there is in the smile of him whom we have served a something that we may
take with us into heaven.  If, then, ye bear one another's burdens, they
who are poor will have mercy on the errors and compassion for the griefs
of the rich.  To all men it was said--yes, to Lazarus as to Dives--'Judge
not, that ye be not judged.'  But think not, O rich man, that we preach
only to the poor.  If it be their duty not to grudge thee thy substance,
it is thine to do all that may sweeten their labour.  Remember that when
our Lord said, 'How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the
kingdom of heaven,' He replied also to them who asked, 'Who then can be
saved?'  'The things which are impossible with men are possible with
God,' that is, man left to his own temptations would fail; but,
strengthened by God, he shall be saved.  If thy riches are the tests of
thy trial, so may they also be the instruments of thy virtues.  Prove by
thy riches that thou art compassionate and tender, temperate and benign,
and thy riches themselves may become the evidence at once of thy faith
and of thy works.

"We have constantly on our lips the simple precept, 'Do unto others as
you would be done by.'  Why do we fail so often in the practice?  Because
we neglect to cultivate that SYMPATHY which nature implants as an
instinct, and the Saviour exalts as a command.  If thou wouldst do unto
thy neighbour as thou wouldst be done by, ponder well how thy neighbour
will regard the action thou art about to do to him.  Put thyself into his
place.  If thou art strong and he is weak, descend from thy strength and
enter into his weakness; lay aside thy burden for the while, and buckle
on his own; let thy sight see as through his eyes, thy heart beat as in
his bosom.  Do this, and thou wilt often confess that what had seemed
just to thy power will seem harsh to his weakness.  For 'as a zealous man
hath not done his duty when he calls his brother drunkard and beast,'
even so an administrator of the law mistakes his object if he writes on
the grand column of society only warnings that irritate the bold and
terrify the timid; and a man will be no more in love with law than with
virtue, 'if he be forced to it with rudeness and incivilities.'  If,
then, ye would bear the burden of the lowly, O ye great, feel not only
for them, but with!  Watch that your pride does not chafe them, your
power does not wantonly gall.  Your worldly inferior is of the class from
which the Apostles were chosen, amidst which the Lord of Creation
descended from a throne above the seraphs."


The parson here paused a moment, and his eye glanced towards the pew near
the pulpit, where sat the magnate of Hazeldean.  The squire was leaning
his chin thoughtfully on his hand, his brow inclined downwards, and the
natural glow of his complexion much heightened.

"But," resumed the parson, softly, without turning to his book, and
rather as if prompted by the suggestion of the moment--"but he who has
cultivated sympathy commits not these errors, or, if committing them,
hastens to retract.  So natural is sympathy to the good man that he obeys
it mechanically when he suffers his heart to be the monitor of his
conscience.  In this sympathy, behold the bond between rich and poor!  By
this sympathy, whatever our varying worldly lots, they become what they
were meant to be,--exercises for the virtues more peculiar to each; and
thus, if in the body each man bear his own burden, yet in the fellowship
of the soul all have common relief in bearing the burdens of each other.
This is the law of Christ,--fulfil it, O my flock!"


Here the parson closed his sermon, and the congregation bowed their
heads.





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