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Title: What Will He Do with It? — Volume 07
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What Will He Do with It? — Volume 07" ***

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BOOK VII.


CHAPTER I.

     VIGNETTES FOR THE NEXT BOOK OF BEAUTY.

"I quite agree with you, Alban; Honoria Vipont is a very superior young
lady."

"I knew you would think so!"  cried the Colonel, with more warmth than
usual to him.

"Many years since," resumed Darrell, with reflective air, "I read Miss
Edgeworth's novels; and in conversing with Miss Honoria Vipont, methinks
I confer with one of Miss Edgeworth's heroines--so rational, so prudent,
so well-behaved--so free from silly romantic notions--so replete with
solid information, moral philosophy and natural history--so sure to
regulate her watch and her heart to the precise moment, for the one to
strike, and the other to throb--and to marry at last a respectable steady
husband, whom she will win with dignity, and would lose with decorum!  A
very superior girl indeed."

     ["Darrell speaks--not the author.  Darrell is unjust to the more
     exquisite female characters of a Novelist, admirable for strength of
     sense, correctness of delineation, terseness of narrative, and
     lucidity of style-nor less admirable for the unexaggerated nobleness
     of sentiment by which some of her heroines are notably
     distinguished.]

"Though your description of Miss Vipont is satirical," said Alban Morley,
smiling, in spite of some irritation, "yet I will accept it as panegyric;
for it conveys, unintentionally, a just idea of the qualities that make
an intelligent coinpanion and a safe wife.  And those are the qualities
we must look to, if we marry at our age.  We are no longer boys," added
the Colonel sententiously.

DARRELL.--"Alas, no!  I wish we were.  But the truth of your remark is
indisputable.  Ah, look!  Is not that a face which might make an
octogenarian forget that he is not a boy?--what regular features!
--and what a blush!"

The friends were riding in the park; and as Darrell spoke, he bowed to a
young lady, who, with one or two others, passed rapidly by in a barouche.
It was that very handsome young lady to whom Lionel had seen him
listening so attentively in the great crowd, for which Carr Vipont's
family party had been deserted.

Yes; Lady Adela is one of the loveliest girls in Loudon," said the
Colonel, who had also lifted his hat as the barouche whirled by--"and
amiable too: I have known her ever since she was born.  Her father and I
are great friends--an excellent man but stingy.  I had much difficulty in
arranging the eldest girl's marriage with Lord Bolton, and am a trustee
in the settlement.  If you feel a preference for Lady Adela, though I
don't think she would suit you so well as Miss Vipont, I will answer for
her father's encouragement and her consent.  'Tis no drawback to you,
though it is to most of her admirers, when I add, 'There's nothing with
her!'"

"And nothing in her!  which is worse," said Darrell.

"Still, it is pleasant to gaze on a beautiful landscape, even though the
soil be barren."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"That depends upon whether you are merely the artistic
spectator of the landscape, or the disappointed proprietor of the soil."

"Admirable!"  said Darrell; "you have disposed of Lady Adela.  So ho! so
ho!"  Darrell's horse (his old high-nettled horse, freshly sent to him
from Fawley, and in spite of the five years that had added to its age, of
spirit made friskier by long repose) here put down its ears lashed out--
and indulged in a bound which would have unseated many a London rider.
A young Amazon, followed hard by some two or three young gentlemen and
their grooms, shot by, swift and reckless as a hero at Balaclava.  But
With equal suddenness, as she caught sight of Darrell--whose hand and
voice had already soothed the excited nerves of his steed--the Amazon
wheeled round and gained his side.  Throwing up her veil, she revealed a
face so prettily arch, so perversely gay--with eye of radiant hazel, and
fair locks half loosened from their formal braid--that it would have
beguiled resentment from the most insensible--reconciled to danger the
most timid.  And yet there was really a grace of humility in the
apologies she tendered for her discourtesy and thoughtlessness.  As the
girl reined her light palfrey by Darrell's side-turning from the young
companions who had now joined her, their hackneys in a foam-and devoting
to his ear all her lively overflow of happy spirits, not untempered by a
certain deference, but still apparently free from dissimulation--
Daxrell's grand face lighted up--his mellow laugh, unrestrained, though
low, echoed her sportive tones; her youth, her joyousness were
irresistibly contagious.  Alban Morley watched observant, while
interchanging talk with her attendant comrades, young men of high ton,
but who belonged to that /jeunesse doree/ with which the surface of life
patrician is fretted over--young men with few ideas, fewer duties--but
with plenty of leisure--plenty of health--plenty of money in their
pockets--plenty of debts to their tradesmen--daring at Melton--scheming
at T'attersall's--pride to maiden aunts--plague to thrifty fathers--
fickle lovers, but solid matches--in brief, fast livers, who get through
their youth betimes, and who, for the most part, are middle-aged before
they are thirty--tamed by wedlock--sobered by the responsibilities that
come with the cares of property and the dignities of rank--undergo abrupt
metamorphosis into chairmen of quarter sessions, county members, or
decorous peers;--their ideas enriched as their duties grow--their
opinions, once loose as willows to the wind, stiffening into the
palisades of fenced propriety--valuable, busy men, changed as Henry V.,
when coming into the cares of state, he said to the Chief Justice, "There
is my hand;" and to Sir John Falstaff,

                   "I know thee not, old roan;
                    Fall to thy prayers!"

But meanwhile the elite of this /jeunesse doree/ glittered round Flora
Vyvyan: not a regular beauty like Lady Adela--not a fine girl like Miss
Vipont, but such a light, faultless figure--such a pretty radiant face--
more womanly for affection to be manlike--Hebe aping Thalestris.  Flora,
too, was an heiress--an only child--spoilt, wilful--not at all
accomplished--(my belief is that accomplishments are thought great bores
by the jeunesse doree)--no accomplishment except horsemanship, with a
slight knack at billiards, and the capacity to take three whiffs from a
Spanish cigarette.  That last was adorable--four offers had been advanced
to her hand on that merit alone.--(N.B.  Young ladies do themselves no
good with the jeunesse doree, which, in our time, is a lover that rather
smokes than "sighs, like furnace," by advertising their horror of
cigars.)  You would suppose that Flora Vyvyan must be coarse-vulgar
perhaps; not at all; she was pignaute--original; and did the oddest
things with the air and look of the highest breeding.  Fairies cannot be
vulgar, no matter what they do; they may take the strangest liberties--
pinch the maids--turn the house topsy-turvy; but they are ever the
darlings of grace and poetry.  Flora Vyvyan was a fairy.  Not peculiarly
intellectual herself, she had a veneration for intellect; those fast
young men were the last persons likely to fascinate that fast young lady.
Women are so perverse; they always prefer the very people you would least
suspect--the antithesis to themselves.  Yet is it possible that Flora
Vyvyan can have carried her crotchets to so extravagant a degree as to
have designed the conquest of Guy Darrell--ten years older than her own
father?  She, too, an heiress--certainly not mercenary; she who had
already refused better worldly matches than Darrell himself was--young
men, handsome men, with coronets on the margin of their note-paper and
the panels of their broughams!  The idea seemed preposterous;
nevertheless, Alban Morley, a shrewd observer, conceived that idea, and
trembled for his friend.

At last the young lady and her satellites shot off, and the Colonel said
cautiously, "Miss Vyvyan is--alarming."

DARRELL.--"Alarming! the epithet requires construing."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"The sort of girl who might make a man of our years
really and literally an old fool!"

DARRELL.--"Old fool such a man must be if girls of any sort are permitted
to make him a greater fool than he was before.  But I think that, with
those pretty hands resting on one's arm-chair, or that sunny face shining
into one's study windows, one might be a very happy old fool--and that is
the most one can expect!"

COLONEL MORLEY (checking an anxious groan).--"I am afraid, my poor
friend, you are far gone already.  No wonder Honoria Vipont fails to be
appreciated.  But Lady Selina has a maxim--the truth of which my
experience attests--'the moment it comes to woman, the most sensible men
are the'--"

"Oldest fools!"  put  in  Darrell.  "If  Mark Antony made such a goose of
himself for that painted harridan Cleopatra, what would he have done for
a blooming Juliet!  Youth and high spirit!  Alas!  why are these to be
unsuitable companions for us, as we reach that climax in time and sorrow
--when to the one we are grown the most indulgent, and of the other have
the most need?  Alban, that girl, if her heart were really won--her wild
nature wisely mastered, gently guided--would make a true, prudent,
loving, admirable wife--"

"Heavens!"  cried Alban Morley.

"To such a husband," pursued Darrell, unheeding the ejaculation, "as--
Lionel Haughton.  What say you?"  "Lionel--oh, I have no objection at all
to that; but he's too young yet to think of marriage--a mere boy.
Besides, if you yourself marry, Lionel could scarcely aspire to a girl of
Miss Vyvyan's birth and fortune."

"Ho, not aspire!  That boy at least shall not have to woo in vain from
the want of fortune.  The day I marry--if ever that day come--I settle on
Lionel Haughton and his heirs five thousand a-year; and if, with gentle
blood, youth, good looks, and a heart of gold, that fortune does not
allow him to aspire to any girl whose hand he covets, I can double it,
and still be rich enough to buy a superior companion in Honoria Vipont--"

MORLEY.--"Don't say buy--"

DARRELL.--" Ay, and still be young enough to catch a butterfly in Lady
Adela--still be bold enough to chain a panther in Flora Vyvyan.  Let the
world know--your world in each nook of its gaudy auction-mart--that
Lione: Haughton is no pauper cousin--no penniless fortune-hunter.  I wish
that world to be kind to him while he is yet young, and can enjoy it.
Ah, Morley, Pleasure, like Punishment, hobbles after us, /pede claudo/.
What would have delighted us yesterday does not catch us up till
to-morrow, and yesterday's pleasure is not the morrow's.  A pennyworth of
sugar-plums would have made our eyes sparkle when we were scrawling pot-
hooks at a preparatory school, but no one gave us sugar-plums then.  Now
every day at dessert France heaps before us her daintiest sugar-plums in
gilt /bonbonnieres/.  Do you ever covet them?  I never do.  Let Lionel
have his sugar-plums in time.  And as we talk, there he comes.  Lionel,
how are you?"

"I resign you to Lionel's charge now," said the Colonel, glancing at his
watch.  "I have an engagement--trouble some.  Two silly friends of mine
have been quarrelling--high words--in an age when duels are out of the
question.  I have promised to meet another man, and draw up the form for
a mutual apology.  High words are so stupid nowadays.  No option but to
swallow them up again if they were as high as steeples.  Adieu for the
present.  We meet to-night at Lady Dulcett's concert?"

"Yes," said Darrell.  "I promised Miss Vyvyan to be there, and keep her
from disturbing the congregation.  You Lionel, will come with me."

LIONELL (embarrassed).--"No; you must excuse me.  I have long been
engaged elsewhere."

"That's a pity," said the Colonel, gravely.  "Lady Dulcett's conceit is
just one of the places where a young man should be seen."  Colonel Morley
waved his hand with his usual languid elegance, and his hack cantered off
with him, stately as a charger, easy as a rocking-horse.

"Unalterable man," said Darrell, as his eye followed the horseman's
receding figure.  "'Through all the mutations on Time's dusty high-road-
stable as a milestone.  Just what Alban Morley was as a school-boy he is
now; and if mortal span were extended to the age of the patriarchs, just
what Alban Morley is now, Alban Morley would be a thousand years hence.
I don't mean externally, of course; wrinkles will come--cheeks will fade.
But these are trifles: man's body is a garment, as Socrates said before
me, and every seven years, according to the physiologists, man has a new
suit, fibre and cuticle, from top to toe.  The interior being that wears
the clothes is the same in Alban Morley.  Has he loved, hated, rejoiced,
suffered?  Where is the sign?  Not one.  At school, as in life, doing
nothing, but decidedly somebody--respected by small boys, petted by big
boys--an authority with all.  Never getting honours--arm and arm with
those who did; never in scrapes--advising those who were; imperturbable,
immovable, calm above mortal cares as an Epicurean deity.  What can
wealth give that he has not got?  In the houses of the richest he chooses
his room.  Talk of ambition, talk of power--he has their rewards without
an effort.  True prime minister of all the realm he cares for; good
society has not a vote against him--he transacts its affairs, he knows
its secrets--he yields its patronage.  Ever requested to do a favour--no
loan great enough to do him one.  Incorruptible, yet versed to a fraction
in each man's price; impeccable, yet confidant in each man's foibles;
smooth as silk, hard as adamant; impossible to wound, vex, annoy him--but
not insensible; thoroughly kind.  Dear, dear Alban! nature never polished
a finer gentleman out of a solider block of man!"  Darrell's voice
quivered a little as he completed in earnest affection the sketch begun
in playful irony, and then with a sudden change of thought, he resumed
lightly:

"But I wish you to do me a favour, Lionel.  Aid me to repair a fault in
good breeding, of which Alban Morley would never have been guilty.  I
have been several days in London, and not yet called on your mother.
Will you accompany me now to her house and present me?"

"Thank you, thank you; you will make her so proud and happy; but may I
ride on and prepare her for your visit?"

"Certainly; her address is--"

"Gloucester Place, No.--."

"I will meet you there in half an hour."



CHAPTER II.

              "Let observation, with expansive view,
               Survey mankind from China to Peru,"

--AND OBSERVATION WILL EVERYWHERE FIND, INDISPENSABLE TO THE HAPPINESS OF
WOMAN, A VISITING ACQUAINTANCE.

Lionel knew that Mrs. Haughton would that day need more than usual
forewarning of a visit from Mr. Darrell.  For the evening of that day
Mrs. Haughton proposed "to give a party."  When Mrs. Haughton gave a
party, it was a serious affair.  A notable and bustling housewife, she
attended herself to each preparatory detail.  It was to assist at this
party that Lionel had resigned Lady Dulcett's concert.  The young man,
reluctantly acquiescing in the arrangements by which Alban Morley had
engaged him a lodging of his own, seldom or never let a day pass without
gratifying his mother's proud heart by an hour or two spent in Gloucester
Place, often to the forfeiture of a pleasant ride, or other tempting
excursion, with gay comrades.  Difficult in London life, and at the full
of its season, to devote an hour or two to visits, apart from the track
chalked out by one's very mode of existence--difficult to cut off an hour
so as not to cut up a day.  And Mrs. Haughton was exacting-nice in her
choice as to the exact slice in the day.  She took the prime of the
joint.  She liked her neighbours to see the handsome, elegant young man
dismount from his charger or descend from his cabriolet, just at the
witching hour when Gloucester Place was fullest.  Did he go to a levee,
he must be sure to come to her before he changed his dress, that she and
Gloucester Place might admire him in uniform.  Was he going to dine at
some very great house, he must take her in his way (though no street
could be more out of his way), that she might be enabled to say in the
parties to which she herself repaired "There is a great dinner at Lord
So-and-so's to-day; my son called on me before he went there.  If he had
been disengaged, I should have asked permission to bring him here."

Not that Mrs. Haughton honestly designed, nor even wished to draw the
young man from the dazzling vortex of high life into her own little
currents of dissipation.  She was much too proud of Lionel to think that
her friends were grand enough for him to honour their houses by his
presence.  She had in this, too, a lively recollection of her lost
Captain's doctrinal views of the great world's creed.  The Captain had
flourished in the time when Impertinence, installed by Brummell, though
her influence was waning, still schooled her oligarchs, and maintained
the etiquette of her court; and even when his /misalliance/ and his debts
had cast him out of his native sphere, he lost not all the original
brightness of an exclusive.  In moments of connubial confidence, when
owning his past errors, and tracing to his sympathising Jessie the causes
of his decline, he would say: "'Tis not a man's birth, nor his fortune,
that gives him his place in society--it depends on his conduct, Jessie.
He must not be seen bowing to snobs, nor should his enemies track him to
the haunts of vulgarians.  I date my fall in life to dining with a horrid
man who lent me L100, and lived in Upper Baker Street.  His wife took my
arm from a place they called a drawing-room (the Captain as he spoke was
on a fourth floor), to share some unknown food which they called a dinner
(the Captain at that moment would have welcomed a rasher).  The woman
went about blabbing--the thing got wind--for the first time my character
received a soil.  What is a man without character! and character once
sullied, Jessie, man becomes reckless.  Teach my boy to beware of the
first false step--no association with parvenus.  Don't cry, Jessie--
I don't mean that he is to cut your--relations are quite different from
other people--nothing so low as cutting relations.  I continued, for
instance, to visit Guy Darrell, though he lived at the back of Holborn,
and I actually saw him once in brown beaver gloves.  But he was a
relation.  I have even dined at his house, and met odd people there--
people who lived also at the back of Holborn.  But he did not ask me
to go to their houses, and if he had, I must have cut him."  By
reminiscences of this kind of talk, Lionel was saved from any design of
Mrs. Haughton's to attract his orbit into the circle within which she
herself moved.  He must come to the parties she gave--illumine or awe odd
people there.  That was a proper tribute to maternal pride.  But had they
asked him to their parties, she would have been the first to resent such
a liberty.

Lionel found Mrs. Haughton in great bustle.  A gardener's cart was before
the street door.  Men were bringing in a grove of evergreens, intended to
border the staircase, and make its exiguous ascent still more difficult.
The refreshments were already laid out in the dining-room.  Mrs.
Haughton, with scissors in hand, was cutting flowers to fill the eperyne,
but darting to and fro, like a dragonfly, from the dining-room to the
hall, from the flowers to the evergreens.

"Dear me, Lionel, is that you?  Just tell me, you who go to all those
grandees, whether the ratafia-cakes should be opposite to the spauge-
cakes, or whether they would not go better--thus--at cross-corners?"

"My dear mother, I never observed--I don't know.  But make haste-take off
that apron-have those doors shut come upstairs.  Mr. Darrell will be here
very shortly.  I have ridden on to prepare you."

"Mr. Darrell--TO-DAY--HOW could you let him come?  Oh, Lionel, how
thoughtless you are!  You should have some respect for your mother--I am
your mother, sir."

"Yes, my own dear mother--don't scold--I could not help it.  He is so
engaged, so sought after; if I had put him off to-day, he might never
have come, and--"

"Never have come!  Who is Mr. Darrell, to give himself such airs?--Only a
lawyer after all," said Mrs. Haughton, with majesty.

"Oh, mother, that speech is not like you.  He is our benefactor--our--"

"Don't, don't say very more--I was very wrong--quite wicked--only my
temper, Lionel dear.  Good Mr. Darrell!  I shall be so happy to see him--
see him, too, in this house that I owe to him--see him by your side!  I
think I shall fall down on my knees to him."

And her eyes began to stream.

Lionel kissed the tears away fondly.  "That's my own mother now indeed--
now I am proud of you, mother; and how well you look!  I am proud of that
too."

"Look well--I am not fit to be seen, this figure--though perhaps an
elderly quiet gentleman like good Mr. Darrell does not notice ladies
much.  John, John, makes haste with those plants.  Gracious me! you've
got your coat off!--put it on--I expect a gentleman--I'm at home, in the
front drawing-room--no--that's all set out--the back drawing-room, John.
Send Susan to me.  Lionel, do just look at the supper-table; and what is
to be done with the flowers, and--"

The rest of Mrs. Haughton's voice, owing to the rapidity of her ascent,
which affected the distinctness of her utterance, was lost in air.  She
vanished at culminating point--within her chamber.



CHAPTER III.

     MRS. HAUGHTON AT HOME TO GUY DARRELL.

Thanks to Lionel's activity, the hall was disencumbered--the plants
hastily stowed away-the parlour closed on the festive preparations--and
the footman in his livery waiting at the door--when Mr. Darrell arrived.
Lionel himself came out and welcomed his benefactor's footstep across the
threshold of the home which the generous man had provided for the widow.

If Lionel had some secret misgivings as to the result of this interview,
they were soon and most happily dispelled.  For, at the sight of Guy
Darrell leaning so affectionately on her son's arm, Mrs. Haughton
mechanically gave herself up to the impulse of her own warm, grateful,
true woman's heart.  And her bound forward, her seizure of Darrell's
hand--her first fervent blessing--her after words, simple but eloquent
with feeling--made that heart so transparent, that Darrell looked it
through with respectful eyes.

Mrs. Haughton was still a pretty woman, and with much of that delicacy of
form and outline which constitutes the gentility of person.  She had a
sweet voice too, except when angry.  Her defects of education, of temper,
or of conventional polish, were not discernible in the overflow of
natural emotion.  Darrell had come resolved to be released if possible.
Pleased he was, much more than he had expected.  He even inly accepted
for the deceased Captain excuses which he had never before admitted to
himself.  The linen-draper's daughter was no coarse presuming dowdy, and
in her candid rush of gratitude there was not that underbred servility
which Darrell had thought perceptible in her epistolary compositions.
There was elegance too, void both of gaudy ostentation and penurious
thrift, in the furniture and arrangements of the room.  The income he
gave to her was not spent with slatternly waste or on tawdry gewgaws.  To
ladies in general, Darrell's manner was extremely attractive--not the
less winning because of a certain shyness which, implying respect for
those he addressed, and a modest undervaluing of his own merit, conveyed
compliment and soothed self-love.  And to that lady in especial such
gentle shyness was the happiest good-breeding.

In short, all went off without a hitch, till, as Darrell was taking
leave, Mrs. Haughton was reminded by some evil genius of her evening
party, and her very gratitude, longing for some opportunity to requite
obligation, prompted her to invite the kind man to whom the facility of
giving parties was justly due.  She had never realised to herself,
despite all that Lionel could say, the idea of Darrell's station in the
world--a lawyer who had spent his youth at the back of Holborn, whom the
stylish Captain had deemed it a condescension not to cut, might indeed
become very rich; but he could never be the fashion.  "Poor man," she
thought, "he must be very lonely.  He is not, like Lionel, a young
dancing man.  A quiet little party, with people of his own early rank and
habits, would be more in his way than those grand places to which Lionel
goes.  I can but ask him--I ought to ask him.  What would he say if I did
not ask him?  Black ingratitude indeed, if he were not asked!"  All these
ideas rushed through her mind in a breath, and as she clasped Darrell's
extended hand in both her own, she said: "I have a little party to-
night!"--and paused.  Darrell remaining mute, and Lionel not suspecting
what was to ensue, she continued: "There may be some good music--young
friends of mine--sing charmingly--Italians!"

Darrell bowed.  Lionel began to shudder.

"And if I might presume to think it would amuse you, Mr. Darrell, oh, I
should be so happy to see you!--so happy!"

"Would you?"  said Darrell, briefly.  "Then I should be a churl if I did
not come.  Lionel will escort me.  Of course you expect him too?"

"Yes, indeed.  Though he has so many fine places to go to-and it can't be
exactly what he is used to-yet he is such a dear good boy that he gives
up all to gratify his mother."

Lionel, in agonies, turned an unfilial back, and looked steadily out of
the window; but Darrell, far too august to take offence where none was
meant, only smiled at the implied reference to Lionel's superior demand
in the fashionable world, and replied, without even a touch of his
accustomed irony: "And to gratify his mother is a pleasure I thank you
for inviting me to share with him."

More and more at her ease, and charmed with having obeyed her hospitable
impulse, Mrs. Haughton, following Darrell to the landing-place, added:

"And if you like to play a quiet rubber--"

"I never touch cards--I abhor the very name of them, ma'am," interrupted
Darrell, somewhat less gracious in his tones.

He mounted his horse; and Lionel, breaking from Mrs. Haughton, who was
assuring him that Mr. Darrell was not at all what she expected, but
really quite the gentleman--nay, a much grander gentleman than even
Colonel Morley--regained his kinsman's side, looking abashed and
discomfited.  Darrell, with the kindness which his fine quick intellect
enabled him so felicitously to apply, hastened to relieve the young
guardsman's mind.

"I like your mother much--very much," said he, in his most melodious
accents.  "Good boy!  I see now why you gave up Lady Dulcett.  Go and
take a canter by yourself, or with younger friends, and be sure you call
on me so that we may be both at Mrs. Haughton's by ten o'clock.  I can go
later to the concert if I feel inclined."

He waved his hand, wheeled his horse, and trotted off towards the fair
suburban lanes that still proffer to the denizens of London glimpses of
rural fields, and shadows from quiet hedgerows.  He wished to be alone;
the sight of Mrs. Haughton had revived recollections of bygone days--
memory linking memory in painful chain-gay talk with his younger
schoolfellow--that wild Charlie, now in his grave--his own laborious
youth, resolute aspirings, secret sorrows--and the strong man felt the
want of the solitary self-commune, without which self-conquest is
unattainable.



CHAPTER IV.

     MRS. HAUGHTON AT HOME MISCELLANEOUSLY.  LITTLE PARTIES ARE USEFUL IN
     BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER.  ONE NEVER KNOWS WHOM ONE MAY MEET.

Great kingdoms grew out of small beginnings.  Mrs. Haughton's social
circle was described from a humble centre.  On coming into possession of
her easy income and her house in Gloucester Place, she was naturally
seized with the desire of an appropriate "visiting acquaintance."  The
accomplishment of that desire had been deferred awhile by the excitement
of Lionel's departure for Paris, and the IMMENSE TEMPTATION to which the
attentions of the spurious Mr. Courtenay Smith had exposed her widowed
solitude: but no sooner had she recovered from the shame and anger with
which she had discarded that showy impostor, happily in time, than the
desire became the more keen; because the good lady felt that with a mind
so active and restless as hers, a visiting acquaintance might be her best
preservative from that sense of loneliness which disposes widows to lend
the incautious ear to adventurous wooers.  After her experience of her
own weakness in listening to a sharper, and with a shudder at her escape,
Mrs. Haughton made a firm resolve never to give her beloved son a father-
in-law.  No, she would distract her thoughts--she would have a VISITING
ACQUAINTANCE.  She commenced by singling out such families as at various
times had been her genteelest lodgers--now lodging elsewhere.  She
informed them by polite notes of her accession of consequence and
fortune, which she was sure they would be happy to hear; and these notes,
left with the card of "Mrs. Haughton, Gloucester Place," necessarily
produced respondent notes and correspondent cards.  Gloucester Place then
prepared itself for a party.  The ci-devant lodgers urbanely attended the
summons.  In their turn they gave parties.  Mrs. Haughton was invited.
From each such party she bore back a new draught into her "social
circle."  Thus, long before the end of five years, Mrs. Haughton had
attained her object.  She had a "VISITING ACQUAINTANCE!"  It is true that
she was not particular; so that there was a new somebody at whose house a
card could be left, or a morning call achieved--who could help to fill
her rooms, or whose rooms she could contribute to fill in turn.  She was
contented.  She was no tuft-hunter.  She did not care for titles.  She
had no visions of a column in the Morning Post.  She wanted, kind lady,
only a vent for the exuberance of her social instincts; and being proud,
she rather liked acquaintances who looked up to, instead of looking down
on her.  Thus Gloucester Place was invaded by tribes not congenial to its
natural civilised atmosphere.  Hengists and Horsas, from remote Anglo-
Saxon districts, crossed the intervening channel, and insulted the
British nationality of that salubrious district.  To most of such
immigrators, Mrs. Haughton, of Gloucester Place, was a personage of the
highest distinction.  A few others of prouder status in the world, though
they owned to themselves that there was a sad mixture at Mrs. Haughton's
house, still, once seduced there, came again--being persons who, however
independent in fortune or gentle by blood, had but a small "visiting
acquaintance" in town; fresh from economical colonisation on the
Continent or from distant provinces in these three kingdoms.  Mrs.
Haughton's rooms were well lighted.  There was music for some, whist for
others; tea, ices, cakes, and a crowd for all.

At ten o'clock-the rooms already nearly filled, and Mrs. Haughton, as she
stood at the door, anticipating with joy that happy hour when the
staircase would become inaccessible--the head attendant, sent with the
ices from the neighbouring confectioner, announced in a loud voice: "Mr.
Haughton--Mr. Darrell."

At that latter name a sensation thrilled the assembly--the name so much
in every one's mouth at that period, nor least in the mouths of the great
middle class, on whom--though the polite may call them "a sad mixture,"
cabinets depend--could not fail to be familiar to the ears of Mrs.
Haughton's "visiting acquaintance."  The interval between his
announcement and his ascent from the hall to the drawing-room was busily
filled up by murmured questions to the smiling hostess: "Darrell! what!
the Darrell!  Guy Darrell! greatest man of the day!  A connection of
yours?  Bless me, you don't say so?"  Mrs. Haughton began to feel
nervous.  Was Lionel right?  Could the man who had only been a lawyer at
the back of Holborn really be, now, such a very, very great man--greatest
man of the day?  Nonsense!

"Ma'am," said one pale, puff-cheeked, flat-nosed gentleman, in a very
large white waistcoat, who was waiting by her side till a vacancy in one
of the two whist-tables should occur.  "Ma'am, I'm an enthusiastic
admirer of Mr. Darrell.  You say he is a connection of yours?  Present me
to him."

Mrs. Haughton nodded flutteringly, for, as the gentleman closed his
request, and tapped a large gold snuff-box, Darrell stood before her--
Lionel close at his side, looking positively sheepish.  The great man
said a few civil words, and was gliding into the room to make way for the
press behind him, when he of the white waistcoat, touching Mrs.
Haughton's arm, and staring Darrell full in the face, said, very loud:
"In these anxious times, public men dispense with ceremony.  I crave an
introduction to Mr. Darrell."  Thus pressed, poor Mrs. Haughton, without
looking up, muttered out: "Mr. Adolphus Poole--Mr. Darrell," and turned
to welcome fresh comers.

"Mr. Darrell," said Mr. Poole, bowing to the ground, "this is an honour."

Darrell gave the speaker one glance of his keen eye, and thought to
himself: "If I were still at the bar I should be sorry to hold a brief
for that fellow."  However, he returned the bow formally, and, bowing
again at the close of a highly complimentary address with which Mr. Poole
followed up his opening sentence, expressed himself "much flattered," and
thought he had escaped; but wherever he went through the crowd, Mr. Poole
contrived to follow him, and claim his notice by remarks on the affairs
of the day--the weather--the funds--the crops.  At length Darrell
perceived, sitting aloof in a corner, an excellent man whom indeed it
surprised him to see in a London drawing-room, but who, many years ago,
when Darrell was canvassing the enlightened constituency of Ouzelford,
had been on a visit to the chairman of his committee--an influential
trader--and having connections in the town--and, being a very high
character, had done him good service in the canvass.  Darrell rarely
forgot a face, and never a service.  At any time he would have been glad
to see the worthy man once more, but at that time he was grateful indeed.

"Excuse me," he said bluntly to Mr. Poole, "but I see an old friend."  He
moved on, and thick as the crowd had become, it made way, with respect as
to royalty for the distinguished orator.  The buzz of admiration as he
passed--louder than in drawing-rooms more refined--would have had
sweeter music than Grisi's most artful quaver to a vainer man--nay, once
on a time to him.  But--sugar plums come too late!  He gained the corner,
and roused the solitary sitter.

"My dear Mr. Hartopp, do you not remember me--Guy Darrell?"

"Mr. Darrell!"  cried the ex-mayor of Gatesboro', rising, "who could
think that you would remember me?"

"What! not remember those ten stubborn voters, on whom, all and singly,
I had lavished my powers of argu ment in vain?  You came, and with the
brief words, 'John--Ned--Dick--oblige me-vote for Darrell!' the men were
convinced--the votes won.  That's what I call eloquence"--(sotto voce-
"Confound that fellow! still after me! "Aside to Hartopp)--"Oh! may I ask
who is that Mr. What's-his-name--there--in the white waistcoat?"

"Poole," answered Hartopp.  "Who is he, sir?  A speculative man.  He is
connected with a new Company--I am told it answers.  Williams (that's my
foreman--a very long head he has too) has taken shares in the Company,
and wanted me to do the same, but 'tis not in my way.  And Mr. Poole may
be a very honest man, but he does not impress me with that idea.  I have
grown careless; I know I am liable to be taken in--I was so once--and
therefore I avoid 'Companies' upon principle--especially when they
promise thirty per cent., and work copper mines--Mr. Poole has a copper
mine."

"And deals in brass--you may see it in his face!  But you are not in town
for good, Mr. Hartopp?  If I remember right, you were settled at
Gatesboro' when we last met."

"And so I am still--or rather in the neighbourhood.  I am gradually
retiring from business, and grown more and more fond of farming.  But I
have a family, and we live in enlightened times, when children require a
finer education than their parents had.  Mrs. Hartopp thought my daughter
Anna Maria was in need of some 'finishing lessons'--very fond of the harp
is Anna Maria--and so we have taken a house in London for six weeks.
That's Mrs. Hartopp yonder, with the bird on her head--bird of paradise,
I believe; Williams says birds of that kind never rest.  That bird is an
exception--it has rested on Mrs. Hartopp's head for hours together, every
evening since we have been in town."

"Significant of your connubial felicity, Mr. Hartopp."

"May it be so of Anna Maria' s.  She is to be married when her education
is finished--married, by the by, to a son of your old friend Jessop, of
Ouzelford; and between you and me, Mr. Darrell, that is the reason why I
consented to come to town.  Do not suppose that I would have a daughter
finished unless there was a husband at hand who undertook to be
responsible for the results."

"You retain your wisdom, Mr. Hartopp; and I feel sure that not even your
fair partner could have brought you up to London unless you had decided
on the expediency of coming.  Do you remember that I told you the day you
so admirably settled a dispute in our committee-room, 'it was well you
were not born a king, for you would have been an irresistible tyrant'?"

"Hush! hush!" whispered Hartopp, in great alarm, "if Mrs. H. should hear
you!  What an observer you are, sir.  I thought I was a judge of
character--but I was once deceived.  I dare say you never were."

"You mistake," answered Darrell, wincing, "you deceived!  How?"

"Oh, a long story, sir.  It was an elderly man--the most agreeable,
interesting companion--a vagabond nevertheless--and such a pretty
bewitching little girl with him, his grandchild.  I thought he might have
been a wild harumscarum chap in his day, but that he had a true sense of
honour"--(Darrell, wholly uninterested in this narrative, suppressed a
yawn, and wondered when it would end).

"Only think, sir, just as I was saying to myself, 'I know character--I
never was taken in,' down comes a smart fellow--the man's own son--and
tells me--or rather he suffers a lady who comes with him to tell me--that
this charming old gentleman of high sense of honour was a returned
convict--been transported for robbing his employer."

Pale, breathless, Darrell listened, not unheeding now.  "What was the
name of--of--"

"The convict?  He called himself Chapman, but the son's name was Losely--
Jasper."

"Ah!"  faltered Darrell, recoiling.  "And you spoke of a little girl?"

"Jasper Losely's daughter; he came after her with a magistrate's warrant.
The old miscreant had carried her off,--to teach her his own swindling
ways, I suppose."

"Luckily she was then in my charge.  I gave her back to her father, and
the very respectable-looking lady he brought with him.  Some relation, I
presume."

"What was her name, do you remember?"

"Crane."

"Crane!--Crane!"  muttered Darrell, as if trying in vain to tax his
memory with that name.  "So he said the child was his daughter--are you
sure?"

"Oh, of course he said so, and the lady too.  But can you be acquainted
with their, sir?"

"I?--no!  Strangers to me, except by repute.  Liars--infamous liars!  But
have the accomplices quarrelled--I mean the son and father--that the
father should be exposed and denounced by the son?"

"I conclude so.  I never saw them again.  But you believe the father
really was, then, a felon, a convict--no excuse for him--no extenuating
circumstances?  There was something in that man, Mr. Darrell, that made
one love him--positively love him; and when I had to tell him that I had
given up the child he trusted to my charge, and saw his grief, I felt a
criminal myself."

Darrell said nothing, but the character of his face was entirely altered
--stern, hard, relentless--the face of an inexorable judge.  Hartopp,
lifting his eyes suddenly to that countenance, recoiled in awe.

"You think I was a criminal!"  he said, piteously.

"I think we are both talking too much, Mr. Hartopp, of a gang of
miserable swindlers, and I advise you to dismiss the whole remembrance of
intercourse with any of them from your honest breast, and never to repeat
to other ears the tale you have poured into mine.  Men of honour should
crush down the very thought that approaches them to knaves."

Thus saying, Darrell moved off with abrupt rudeness, and passing quickly
back through the crowd, scarcely noticed Mrs. Haughton by a retreating
nod, nor heeded Lionel at all, but hurried down the stairs.  He was
impatiently searching for his cloak in the back parlour, when a voice
behind said: "Let me assist you, sir--do:" and turning round with
petulant quickness, he beheld again Mr. Adolphus Poole.  It requires an
habitual intercourse with equals to give perfect and invariable control
of temper to a man of irritable nerves and frank character; and though,
where Daxrell really liked, he had much sweet forbearance, and where he
was indifferent much stately courtesy, yet, when he was offended, he
could be extremely uncivil.  "Sir," he cried almost stamping his foot,
"your importunities annoy me I request you to cease them."

"Oh, I ask your pardon," said Mr. Poole, with an angry growl.  "I have no
need to force myself on any man.  But I beg you to believe that if I
presumed to seek your acquaintance, it was to do you a service sir--yes,
a private service, sir."  He lowered his voice into a whisper, and laid
his finger on his nose: "There's one Jasper Losely, sir--eh?  Oh, sir,
I'm no mischief-maker.  I respect family secrets.  Perhaps I might be of
use, perhaps not."

"Certainly not to me, sir," said Darrell, flinging the cloak he had now
found across his shoulders, and striding from the house.  When he entered
his carriage, the footman stood waiting for orders.  Darrell was long in
giving them.  "Anywhere for half an hour--to St.  Paul's, then home."
But on returning from this objectless plunge into the City, Darrell
pulled the check-string: "To Belgrave Square--Lady Dulcett's."

The concert was half over; but Flora Vyvyan had still guarded, as she had
promised, a seat beside herself for Darrell, by lending it for the
present to one of her obedient vassals.  Her face brightened as she saw
Darrell enter and approach.  The vassal surrendered the chair.  Darrell
appeared to be in the highest spirits; and I firmly believe that he was
striving to the utmost in his power--what? to make himself agreeable to
Flora Vyvyan?  No; to make Flora Vyvyan agreeable to himself.  The man
did not presume that a fair young lady could be in love with him; perhaps
he believed that, at his years, to be impossible.  But he asked what
seemed much easier, and was much harder--he asked to be himself in love.



CHAPTER V.

     IT IS ASSERTED BY THOSE LEARNED MEN WHO HAVE DEVOTED THEIR LIVES TO
     THE STUDY OF THE MANNERS AND HABIT OF INSECT SOCIETY, THAT WHEN A
     SPIDER HAS LOST ITS LAST WEB, HAVING EXHAUSTED ALL THE GLUTINOUS
     MATTER WHEREWITH TO SPIN ANOTHER, IT STILL.  PROTRACTS ITS INNOCENT
     EXISTENCE, BY OBTRUDING ITS NIPPERS ON SOME LESS WARLIKE BUT MORE
     RESPECTABLE SPIDER, POSSESSED OF A CONVENIENT HOME AND AN AIRY
     LARDER.  OBSERVANT MORALISTS HAVE NOTICED THE SAME PECULIARITY IN
     THE MANEATER, OR POCKET-CANNIBAL.

Eleven o'clock, A.M., Samuel Adolphus Poole, Esq., is in his parlour,
--the house one of those new dwellings which yearly spring up north of
the Regent's Park,--dwellings that, attesting the eccentricity of the
national character, task the fancy of the architect and the gravity of
the beholder--each tenement so tortured into contrast with the other,
that, on one little rood of ground, all ages seemed blended, and all
races encamped.  No. 1 is an Egyptian tomb!--Pharaohs may repose there!
No. 2 is a Swiss chalet--William Tell may be shooting in its garden!  Lo!
the severity of Doric columns--Sparta is before you!  Behold that Gothic
porch--you are rapt to the Norman days!  Ha! those Elizabethan mullions--
Sidney and Raleigh, rise again!  Ho! the trellises of China--come forth,
Confucius, and Commissioner Yeh!  Passing a few paces, we are in the land
of the Zegri and Abencerrage:

               'Land of the dark-eyed maid and dusky Moor.'

Mr. Poole's house is called Alhambra Villa!  Moorish verandahs--plate-
glass windows, with cusped heads and mahogany sashes--a garden behind,
a smaller one in front--stairs ascending to the doorway under a Saracenic
portico, between two pedestalled lions that resemble poodles--the whole
new and lustrous--in semblance stone, in substance stucco-cracks in the
stucco denoting "settlements."  But the house being let for ninety-nine
years--relet again on a running lease of seven, fourteen, and twenty-one-
the builder is not answerable for duration, nor the original lessee for
repairs.  Take it altogether, than Alhambra Villa masonry could devise no
better type of modern taste and metropolitan speculation.

Mr. Poole, since we saw him between four and five years ago, has entered
the matrimonial state.  He has married a lady of some money, and become a
reformed man.  He has eschewed the turf, relinquished Belcher neckcloths
and Newmarket coats-dropped his old-bachelor acquaintances.  When a man
marries and reforms, especially when marriage and reform are accompanied
with increased income, and settled respectably in Alhambra Villa--
relations, before estranged, tender kindly overtures: the world, before
austere, becomes indulgent.  It was so with Poole--no longer Dolly.
Grant that in earlier life he had fallen into bad ways, and, among
equivocal associates, had been led on by that taste for sporting which is
a manly though a perilous characteristic of the true-born Englishman; he
who loves horses is liable to come in contact with blacklegs; the racer
is a noble animal; but it is his misfortune that the better his breeding
the worse his company:--Grant that, in the stables, Adolphus Samuel Poole
had picked up some wild oats--he had sown them now.  Bygones were
bygones.  He had made a very prudent marriage.  Mrs. Poole was a sensible
woman--had rendered him domestic, and would keep him straight!  His uncle
Samuel, a most worthy man, had found him that sensible woman, and, having
found her, had paid his nephew's debts, and adding a round sum to the
lady's fortune, had seen that the whole was so tightly settled on wife
and children that Poole had the tender satisfaction of knowing that,
happen what might to himself, those dear ones were safe; nay, that if, in
the reverses of fortune, he should be compelled by persecuting creditors
to fly his native shores, law could not impair the competence it had
settled upon Mrs. Poole, nor destroy her blessed privilege to share that
competence with a beloved spouse.  Insolvency itself, thus protected by a
marriage settlement, realises the sublime security of VIRTUE immortalised
by the Roman muse:

                    --"Repulse nescia sordidae,
                    Intaminatis fulget honoribus;
                    Nec sumit ant ponit secures
                    Arbitrio popularis aurae."

Mr. Poole was an active man in the parish vestry--he was a sound
politician--he subscribed to public charities--he attended public
dinners he had votes in half a dozen public institutions--he talked of
the public interests, and called himself a public man.  He chose his
associates amongst gentlemen in business--speculative, it is true, but
steady.  A joint-stock company was set up; he obtained an official
station at its board, coupled with a salary--not large, indeed, but still
a salary.

"The money," said Adolphus Samuel Poole, "is not my object; but I like to
have something to do."  I cannot say how he did something, but no doubt
somebody was done.

Mr. Poole was in his parlour, reading letters and sorting papers, before
he departed to his office in the West End.  Mrs. Poole entered, leading
an infant who had not yet learned to walk alone, and denoting, by an
interesting enlargement of shape, a kindly design to bless that infant,
at no distant period, with a brother or sister, as the case might be.

"Come and kiss Pa, Johnny," said she to the infant.  "Mrs. Poole, I am
busy," growled Pa.

"Pa's busy--working hard for little Johnny.  Johnny will be better for it
some day," said Mrs. Poole, tossing the infant half up to the ceiling, in
compensation for the loss of the paternal kiss.

"Mrs. Poole, what do you want?"

"May I hire Jones's brougham for two hours to-day, to pay visits?  There
are a great many cards we ought to leave; is there any place where I
should leave a card for you, lovey--any person of consequence you were
introduced to at Mrs. Haughton's last night?  That great man they were
all talking about, to whom you seemed to take such a fancy, Samuel,
duck--"

"Do get out! that man insulted me, I tell you."

"Insulted you!  No; you never told me."

"I did tell you last night coming home."

"Dear me, I thought you meant that Mr. Hartopp."

"Well, he almost insulted me, too.  Mrs. Poole, you are stupid and
disagreeable.  Is that all you have to say?"

"Pa's cross, Johnny dear!  poor Pa!--people have vexed Pa, Johnny--
naughty people.  We must go or we shall vex him too."

Such heavenly sweetness on the part of a forbearing wife would have
softened Tamburlane.  Poole's sullen brow relaxed.  If women knew how to
treat men, not a husband, unhenpecked, would be found from Indos to the
Pole.

And Poole, for all his surly demeanour, was as completely governed by
that angel as a bear by his keeper.

"Well, Mrs. Poole, excuse me.  I own I am out of sorts to-day--give me
little Johnny--there (kissing the infant; who in return makes a dig at
Pa's left eye, and begins to cry on finding that he has not succeeded in
digging it out)--take the brougham.  Hush, Johnny--hush--and you may
leave a card for me at Mr. Peckham's, Harley Street.  My eye smarts
horribly; that baby will gouge me one of these days."

Mrs. Poole had succeeded in stilling the infant, and confessing that
Johnny's fingers are extremely strong for his age--but, adding that
babies will catch at whatever is very bright and beautiful, such as gold
and jewels and Mr. Poole's eyes, administers to the wounded orb so
soothing a lotion of pity and admiration that Poole growls out quite
mildly: "Nonsense, blarney--by the by, I did not say this morning that
you should not have the rosewood chiffoniere!"

"No, you said you could not afford it, duck; and when Pa says he can't
afford it, Pa must be the judge--must not he, Johnny dear?"

"But perhaps I can afford it.  Yes, you may have it yes, I say, you shall
have it.  Don't forget to leave that card on Peckham--he's a moneyed man.
There's a ring at the bell.  Who is it? run and see."

Mrs. Poole obeyed with great activity, considering her interesting
condition.  She came back in half a minute.  "Oh, my Adolphus--I oh, my
Samuel! it is that dreadful-looking man who was here the other evening--
stayed with you so long.  I don't like his looks at all.  Pray don't be
at home."

"I must," said Poole, turning a shade paler, if that were possible.
"Stop--don't let that girl go to the door; and you--leave me."  He
snatched his hat and gloves, and putting aside the parlour-maid, who had
emerged from the shades below in order to answer the "ring," walked
hastily down the small garden.

Jasper Losely was stationed at the little gate.  Jasper was no longer in
rags, but he was coarsely clad--clad as if he had resigned all pretence
to please a lady's eye, or to impose upon a West-End tradesman--a check
shirt--a rough pea-jacket, his hands buried in its pockets.

Poole started with well--simulated surprise.  "What, you!  I am just
going to my office--in a great hurry at present."

"Hurry or not, I must and will speak to you," said Jasper, doggedly.

"What now? then, step in;--only remember I can't give you snore than five
minutes."

The rude visitor followed Poole into the back parlour, and closed the
door after him.

Leaning his arm over a chair, his hat still on his head, Losely fixed his
fierce eyes on his old friend, and said in a low, set, deterinined voice:
"Now, mark me, Dolly Poole, if you think to shirk my business, or throw
me over, you'll find yourself in Queer Street.  Have you called on Guy
Darrell, and put my case to him, or have you not?"

"I met Mr. Darrell only last night, at a very genteel party."  (Poole
deeined it prudent not to say by WHOM that genteel party was given, for
it will be remembered that Poole had been Jasper's confidant in that
adventurer's former designs upon Mrs. Haughton; and if Jasper knew that
Poole had made her acquaintance, might he not insist upon Poole's
reintroducing him as a visiting acquaintance?)  "A very genteel party,"
repeated Poole.  "I made a point of being presented to Mr. Darrell, and
very polite he was at first."

"Curse his politeness--get to the point."

"I sounded my way very carefully, as you may suppose; and when I had got
him into friendly chat, you understand, I began; Ah! my poor Losely,
nothing to be done there--he flew off in a tangent--as much as desired me
to mind my own business, and hold my tongue; and upon my life, I don't
think there is a chance for you in that quarter."

"Very well--we shall see.  Next, have you taken any steps to find out the
girl, my daughter?"

"I have, I assure you.  But you give me so slight a clue.  Are you quite
sure she is not in America after all?"

"I have told you before that that story about America was all bosh! a
stratagem of the old gentleman's to deceive me.  Poor old man," continued
Jasper, in a tone that positively betrayed feeling, "I don't wonder that
he dreads and flies me; yet I would not hurt him more than I have done,
even to be as well off as you are--blinking at me from your mahogany
perch like a pet owl with its crop full of mice.  And if I would take the
girl from him, it is for her own good.  For if Darrell could be got to
make a provision on her, and, through her, on myself, why, of course the
old man should share the benefit of it.  And now that these infernal
pains often keep me awake half the night, I can't always shut out the
idea of that old man wandering about the world, and dying in a ditch.
And that runaway girl--to whom, I dare swear, he would give away his last
crumb of bread--ought to be an annuity to us both: Basta, basta!  As to
the American story--I had a friend at Paris, who went to America on a
speculation; I asked him to inquire about this Willaim Waife and his
granddaughter Sophy, who were said to have sailed for New York nearly
five years ago, and he saw the very persons--settled in New York--no
longer under the name of Waife, but their true name of Simpson, and got
out from the man that they had been induced to take their passage from
England in the name of Waife, at the request of a person whom the mail
would not-give up, but to whom he said he was under obligations.  Perhaps
the old gentleman had done the fellow a kind turn in early life.  The
description of this /soi-disant/ Waife and his grandchild settles the
matter--wholly unlike those I seek; so that there is every reason to
suppose they must still be in England, and it is your business to find
them.  Continue your search--quicken your wits--let me be better pleased
with your success when I call again this day week--and meanwhile four
pounds, if you please--as much more as you like."

"Why, I gave you four pounds the other day, besides six pounds for
clothes; it can't be gone."

"Every penny."

"Dear, dear!  can't you maintain yourself anyhow?  Can't you get any one
to play at cards?  Four pounds!  Why, with your talent for whist, four
pounds are a capital!"

"Whom can I play with!  Whom can I herd with?  Cracksmen and pickpockets.
Fit me out; ask me to your own house; invite your own friends; make up a
rubber, and you will then see what I can do with four pounds; and may go
shares if you like, as we used to do."

"Don't talk so loud.  Losely, you know very well that what you ask is
impossible.  I've turned over a new leaf."

"But I've still got your handwriting on the old leaf."

"What's the good of these stupid threats?  If you really wanted to do me
a mischief, where could you go to, and who'd believe you?"

"I fancy your wife would.  I'll try.  Hillo--"

"Stop--stop--stop.  No row here, sir.  No scandal.  Hold your tongue, or
I'll send for the police."

"Do!  Nothing I should like better.  I'm tired out.  I want to tell my
own story at the Old Bailey, and have my revenge upon you, upon Darrell,
upon all.  Send for the police."

Losely threw himself at length on the sofa--(new morocco with spring
cushions)--and folded his arms.

"You could only give me five minutes--they are gone, I fear.  I am more
liberal.  I give you your own time to consider.  I don't care if I stay
to dine; I dare say Mrs. Poole will excuse my dress."

"Losely, you are such a--fellow!  If I do give you the four pounds you
ask, will you promise to shift for yourself somehow, and molest me no
more?"

"Certainly not.  I shall come once every week for the same sum.  I can't
live upon less--until--"

"Until what?"

"Until either you get Mr. Darrell to settle on me a suitable provision;
or until you place me in possession of my daughter, and I can then be in
a better condition to treat with him myself; for if I would make a claim
on account of the girl, I must produce the girl, or he may say she is
dead.  Besides, if she be as pretty as she was when a child, the very
sight of her might move him more than all my talk."

"And if I succeed in doing anything with Mr. Darrell, or discovering your
daughter, you will give up all such letters and documents of mine as you
say you possess?"

"'Say I possess!'  I have shown them to you in this pocket-book, Dolly
Poole--your own proposition to rob old Latham's safe."

Poole eyed the book, which the ruffian took out and tapped.  Had the
ruffian been a slighter man, Poole would have been a braver one.  As it
was--he eyed and groaned.  "Turn against one's own crony!  So unhandsome,
so unlike what I thought you were."

"It is you who would turn against me.  But stick to Darrell or find me my
daughter, and help her and me to get justice out of him; and you shall
not only have back these letters, but I'll pay you handsomely--
handsomely, Dolly Poole.  Zooks, sir--I am fallen, but I am always a
gentleman."

Therewith Losely gave a vehement slap to his hat, which, crushed by the
stroke, improved his general appearance into an aspect so outrageously
raffish, that but for the expression of his countenance the contrast
between the boast and the man would have been ludicrous even to Mr.
Poole.  The countenance was too dark to permit laughter.  In the dress,
but the ruin of fortune--in the face, the ruin of man.  Poole heaved a
deep sigh, and extended four sovereigns.

Losely rose and took them carelessly.  "This day week," he said--shook
himself--and went his way.



CHAPTER VI.

     FRESH TOUCHES TO THE THREE VIGNETTES FOR THE BOOK OF BEAUTY.

Weeks passed--the London season was beginning--Darrell had decided
nothing--the prestige of his position was undiminished,--in politics,
perhaps higher.  He had succeeded in reconciling some great men; he had
strengthened--it might be saved--a jarring cabinet.  In all this he had
shown admirable knowledge of mankind, and proved that time and disuse had
not lessened his powers of perception.  In his matrimonial designs,
Darrell seemed more bent than ever upon the hazard--irresolute as ever on
the choice of a partner.  Still the choice appeared to be circumscribed
to the fair three who had been subjected to Colonel Morley's speculative
criticism--Lady Adela, Miss Vipont, Flora Vyvyan.  Much pro and con might
be said in respect to each.  Lady Adela was so handsome that it was a
pleasure to look at her; and that is much when one sees the handsome face
every day,--provided the pleasure does not wear off.  She had the
reputation of a very good temper; and the expression of her countenance
confirmed it.  There, panegyric stopped; but detraction did not commence.
What remained was inoffensive commonplace.  She had no salient attribute,
and no ruling passion.  Certainly she would never have wasted a thought
on Mr. Darrell, nor have discovered a single merit in him, if he had not
been quoted as a very rich man of high character in search of a wife, and
if her father had not said to her: "Adela, Mr. Darrell has been greatly
struck with your appearance--he told me so.  He is not young, but he is
still a very fine looking man, and you are twenty-seven.  'Tis a greater
distinction to be noticed by a person of his years and position, than by
a pack of silly young fellows, who think more of their own pretty faces
than they would ever do of yours."

"If you did not mind a little disparity of years, he would make you a
happy wife; and, in the course of nature, a widow, not too old to enjoy
liberty, and with a jointure that might entitle you to a still better
match."

Darrell thus put into Lady Adela's head, he remained there, and became an
/idee fixe/.  Viewed in the light of a probable husband, he was elevated
into an "interesting man."  She would have received his addresses with
gentle complacency; and, being more the creature of habit than impulse,
would no doubt, in the intimacy of connubial life, have blest him, or any
other admiring husband, with a resaonable modicum of languid affection.
Nevertheless, Lady Adela was an unconscious impostor; for, owing to a
mild softness of eye and a susceptibility to blushes, a victim ensnared
by her beauty would be apt to give her credit for a nature far more
accessible to the romance of the tender passion than, happily perhaps for
her own peace of mind, she possessed; and might flatter himself that he
had produced a sensation which gave that softness to the eye and that
damask to the blush.

Honoria Vipont would have been a choice far more creditable to the good
sense of so mature a wooer.  Few better specimens of a young lady brought
up to become an accomplished woman of the world.  She had sufficient
instruction to be the companion of an ambitious man-solid judgment to fit
her for his occasional adviser.  She could preside with dignity over a
stately household--receive with grace distinguished guests.  Fitted to
administer an ample fortune, ample fortune was necessary to the
development of her excellent qualities.  If a man of Darrell's age were
bold enough to marry a young wife, a safer wife amongst the young ladies
of London he could scarcely find; for though Honoria was only three-and-
twenty, she was as staid, as sensible, and as remote from all girlish
frivolities, as if she had been eight-and-thirty.  Certainly had Guy
Darrell been of her own years, his fortunes unmade, his fame to win, a
lawyer residing at the back of Holborn, or a pretty squire in the petty
demesnes of Fawley, he would have had no charm in the eyes of Honoria
Vipont.  Disparity of years was in this case no drawback but his
advantage, since to that disparity Darrell owed the established name and
the eminent station which made Honoria think she elevated her own self in
preferring him.  It is but justice to her to distinguish here between a
woman's veneration for the attributes of respect which a man gathers
round him, and the more vulgar sentiment which sinks the man altogether,
except as the necessary fixture to be taken in with general valuation.
It is not fair to ask if a girl who entertains a preference for one of
our toiling, stirring, ambitious sex, who may be double her age or have a
snub nose, but who looks dignified and imposing on a pedestal of state,
whether she would like him as much if stripped of all his accessories,
and left unredeemed to his baptismal register or unbecoming nose.  Just
as well ask a girl in love with a young Lothario if she would like him as
much if he had been ugly and crooked.  The high name of the one man is as
much a part of him as good looks are to the other.  Thus, though it was
said of Madame de la Valliere that she loved Louis XIV: for himself and
not for his regal grandeur, is there a woman in the world, however
disinterested, who believes that Madame de la Valliere would have liked
Louis XIV. as much if Louis XIV. had been Mr. John Jones; Honoria would
not have bestowed her hand on a brainless, worthless nobleman, whatever
his rank or wealth.  She was above that sort of ambition; but neither
would she have married the best-looking and worthiest John Jones who ever
bore that British appellation, if he had not occupied the social position
which brought the merits of a Jones within range of the eyeglass of a
Vipont.

Many girls in the nursery say to their juvenile confidants, "I will marry
the man I love."  Honoria had ever said, "I will only marry the man I
respect."  Thus it was her respect for Guy Darrell that made her honour
him by her preference.  She appreciated his intellect--she fell in love
with the reputation which the intellect had acquired.  And Darrell might
certainly choose worse.  His cool reason inclined him much to Honoria.
When Alban Morley argued in her favour, he had no escape from
acquiescence, except in the turns and doubles of his ironical humour.
But his heart was a rebel to his reason; and, between you and me, Honoria
was exactly one of those young women by whom a man of grave years ought
to be attracted, and by whom, somehow or other, he never is; I suspect,
because the older we grow the more we love youthfulness of character.
When Alcides, having gone through all the fatigues of life, took a bride
in Olympus, he ought to have selected Minerva, but he chose Hebe.

Will Darrell find his Hebe in Flora Vyvyan?  Alban Morley became more and
more alarmed by the apprehension.  He was shrewd enough to recognise in
her the girl of all others formed to glad the eye and plague the heart of
a grave and reverend seigneur.  And it might well not only flatter the
vanity, but beguile the judgment, of a man who feared his hand would be
accepted only for the sake of his money, that Flora just at this moment
refused the greatest match in the kingdom, young Lord Vipont, son of the
new Earl of Montfort, a young man of good sense, high character, well-
looking as men go--heir to estates almost royal; a young man whom no girl
on earth is justified in refusing.  But would the whimsical creature
accept Darrell?  Was she not merely making sport of him, and if, caught
by her arts, he, sage and elder, solemnly offered homage and hand to that
/belle dedaigneuse/ who had just doomed to despair a comely young magnet
with five times his fortune, would she not hasten to make hirer the
ridicule of London.

Darrell had perhaps his secret reasons for thinking otherwise, but he did
not confide them even to Alban Morley.  This much only will the narrator,
more candid, say to the reader: If out of the three whom his thoughts
fluttered round, Guy Darrell wished to select the one who would love him
best--love him with the whole fresh unreasoning heart of a girl whose
childish forwardness sprang from childlike innocence, let him dare the
hazard of refusal and of ridicule; let him say to Flora Vyvyan, in the
pathos of his sweet deep voice: "Come and be the spoiled darling of my
gladdened age; let my life, ere it sink into night, be rejoiced by the
bloom and fresh breeze of the morning."

But to say it he must wish it; he himself must love--love with all
the lavish indulgence, all the knightly tenderness, all the grateful
sympathising joy in the youth of the beloved, when youth for the lover
is no more, which alone can realise what we sometimes see, though loth
to own it--congenial unions with unequal years.  If Darrell feel not that
love, woe to him, woe and thrice shame if he allure to his hearth one who
might indeed be a Hebe to the spouse who gave up to her his whole heart
in return for hers; but to the spouse who had no heart to give, or gave
but the chips of it, the Hebe indignant would be worse than Erinnys!

All things considered, then, they who wish well to Guy Darrell must range
with Alban Morley in favour of Miss Honoria Vipont.  She, proffering
affectionate respect--Darrell responding by rational esteem.  So,
perhaps, Darrell himself thought, for whenever Miss Vipont was named he
became more taciturn, more absorbed in reflection, and sighed heavily,
like a man who slowly makes up his mind to a decision, wise, but not
tempting.



CHAPTER VII.

     CONTAINING MUCH OF THAT INFORMATION WHICH THE WISEST MEN IN THE
     WORLD COULD NOT GIVE, BUT WHICH THE AUTHOR CAN.

"Darrell," said Colonel Morley, "you remember my nephew George as a boy?
He is now the rector of Humberston; married--a very nice sort of woman--
suits him Humberston is a fine living; but his talents are wasted there.
He preached for the first time in London last year, and made a
considerable sensation.  This year he has been much out of town.  He has
no church here as yet.

"I hope to get him one.  Carr is determined that he shall be a Bisop.
Meanwhile he preaches at--Chapel tomorrow; come and hear him with me,
and then tell me frankly--is he eloquent or not?"

Darrell had a prejudice against fashionable preachers; but to please
Colonel Morley he went to hear George.  He was agreeably surprised by the
pulpit oratory of the young divine.  It had that rare combination of
impassioned earnestness with subdued tones, and decorous gesture, which
suits the ideal of ecclesiastical eloquence conceived by an educated
English Churchman

          "Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full."

Occasionally the old defect in utterance was discernible; there was a
gasp as for breath, or a prolonged dwelling upon certain syllables,
which, occurring in the most animated passages, and apparently evincing
the preacher's struggle with emotion, rather served to heighen the
sympathy of the audience.  But, for the most part, the original stammer
was replaced by a felicitous pause, the pause as of a thoughtful reasoner
or a solemn monitor knitting ideas, that came too quick, into method, or
chastening impulse into disciplined zeal.  The mind of the preacher, thus
not only freed from trammel, but armed for victory, came forth with that
power which is peculiar to an original intellect--the power which
suggests more than it demonstrates.  He did not so much preach to his
audience as wind himself through unexpected ways into the hearts of the
audience; and they who heard suddenly found their hearts preaching to
themselves.  He took for his text: "Cast down, but not destroyed;" and
out of this text he framed a discourse full of true Gospel tenderness,
which seemed to raise up comfort as the saving, against despair as the
evil, principle of mortal life.  The congregation was what is called
"brilliant"--statesmen, and peers, and great authors, and fine ladies--
people whom the inconsiderate believe to stand little in need of comfort,
and never to be subjected to despair.  In many an intent or drooping
farce in that brilliant congregation might be read a very different tale.
But of all present there was no one whom the discourse so moved as a
woman who, chancing to pass that way, had followed the throng into the
Chapel, and with difficulty obtained a seat at the far end; a woman who
had not been within the walls of a chapel or church for long years--
a grim woman, in iron grey.  There she sate unnoticed, in her remote
corner; and before the preacher had done, her face was hidden behind her
clasped hands, and she was weeping such tears as she had not wept since
childhood.

On leaving church, Darrell said little more to the Colonel than this:
"Your nephew takes me by surprise.  The Church wants such men.  He will
have a grand career, if life be spared to him."  Then he sank into a
reverie, from which he broke abruptly: "Your nephew was, at school with
my boy.  Had my son lived, what had been his career?"

The Colonel, never encouraging painful subjects, made no rejoinder.

"Bring George to see me to-morrow.  I shrunk from asking it before:
I thought the sight of him would too much revive old sorrows; but I feel
I should accustom myself to face every memory.  Bring him."

The next day the Colonel took George to Darrell's; but George had been
pre-engaged till late at noon, and Darrell was just leaving home, and at
his street door, when the uncle and nephew came.  They respected his time
too much to accept his offer to come in, but walked beside him for a few
minutes, as he bestowed upon George those compliments which are sweet to
the ears of rising men from the lips of those who have risen.

"I remember you, George, as a boy," said Darrell, "and thanked you then
for good advice to a schoolfellow, who is lost to your counsels now."
He faltered an instant, but went on firmly: "You had then a slight defect
in utterance, which, I understand from your uncle, increased as you grew
older; so that I never anticipated for you the fame that you are
achieving.  Orator fit--you must have been admirably taught.  In the
management of your voice, in the excellence of your delivery, I see that
you are one of the few who deem that the Divine Word should not be
unworthily uttered.  The debater on beer bills may be excused from
studying the orator's effects; but all that enforce, dignify, adorn, make
the becoming studies of him who strives by eloquence to people heaven;
whose task it is to adjure the thoughtless, animate the languid, soften
the callous, humble the proud, alarm the guilty, comfort the sorrowful,
call back to the fold the lost.  Is the culture to be slovenly where the
glebe is so fertile?  The only field left in modern times for the ancient
orator's sublime conceptions, but laborious training, is the Preacher's.
And I own, George, that I envy the masters who skilled to the Preacher's
art an intellect like yours."

"Masters," said the Colonel.  "I thought all those elocution masters
failed with you, George.  You cured and taught yourself.  Did not you?
No!  Why, then, who was your teacher?"

George looked very much embarrassed, and, attempting to answer, began
horribly to stutter.

Darrell, conceiving that a preacher whose fame was not yet confirmed
might reasonably dislike to confess those obligations to elaborate study,
which, if known, might detract from his effect or expose him to ridicule,
hastened to change the subject.  "You have been to the country, I hear,
George; at your living, I suppose?"

"No. I have not been there very lately; travelling about."

"Have you seen Lady Montfort since your return?"  asked the Colonel.

"I only returned on Saturday night.  I go to Lady Montfort's at
Twickenham, this evening."

"She has a delightful retreat," said the Colonel.  "But if she wish
to avoid admiration, she should not make the banks of the river her
favourite haunt.  I know some romantic admirers, who, when she re-appears
in the world, may be rival aspirants, and who have much taken to rowing
since Lady Montfort has retired to Twickenham.  They catch a glimpse of
her, and return to boast of it.  But they report that there is a young
lady seen walking with her an extremely pretty one--who is she?  People
ask me--as if I knew everything."

"A companion, I suppose," said George, more and more confused.  "But,
pardon  me, I  must leave you now.  Good-bye, uncle.  Good day, Mr.
Darrell."

Darrell did not seem to observe George take leave, but walked on, his hat
over his brows, lost in one of his frequent fits of abstracted gloom.

"If my nephew were not married," said the Colonel, "I should regard his
embarrassment with much suspicion--embarrassed at every point, from his
travels about the country to the question of a young lady at Twickenham.
I wonder who that young lady can be--not one of the Viponts, or I should
have heard.  Are there any young ladies on the Lyndsay side?--Eh,
Darrell?"

"What do I care?--your head runs on young ladies," answered Darrell, with
peevish vivacity, as he stopped abruptly at Carr Vipont's door.

"And your feet do not seem to run from them," said the Colonel; and, with
an ironical salute, walked away, while the expanding portals engulfed his
friend.

As he sauntered up St. James's Street, nodding towards the thronged
windows of its various clubs, the Colonel suddenly enountered Lionel,
and, taking the young gentleman's arm, said: "If you are not very much
occupied, will you waste half an hour on me?--I am going homewards."

Lionel readily assented, and the Colonel continued "Are you in want
of your cabriolet to-day, or can you lend it to me?  I have asked a
Frenchman, who brings me a letter of introduction, to dine at the nearest
restaurant's to which one can ask a Frenchman.  I need not say that is
Greenwich: and if I took him in a cabriolet, he would not suspect that he
was taken five miles out of town."

"Alas, my dear Colonel, I have just sold my cabriolet."  What! old-
fashioned already!--True, it has been built three months.  Perhaps the
horse, too, has become an antique in some other collection--silent--um!
--cabriolet and horse both sold?"

"Both," said Lionel, imefully.

"Nothing surprises me that man can do," said the Colonel; "or I should be
surprised.  When, acting on Darrell's general instructions for your
outfit, I bought that horse, I flattered myself that I had chosen well.
But rare are good horses--rarer still a good judge of them;  I suppose I
was cheated, and the brute proved a screw."

"The finest cab-horse in London, my dear Colonel, and every one knows how
proud I was of him.  But I wanted money, and had nothing else that would
bring the sum I required.  Oh, Colonel Morley, do hear me?"

"Certainly, I am not deaf, nor is St. James's Street.  When a man says,
'I have parted with my horse because I wanted money,' I advise him to say
it in a whisper."

"I have been imprudent, at least unlucky, and I must pay the penalty.  A
friend of mine--that is, not exactly a friend, but an acquaintance--whom
I see every day--one of my own set-asked me to sign my name at Paris to a
bill at three months' date, as his security.  He gave me his honour that
I should hear no more of it--he would be sure to take up the bill when
due--a man whom I supposed to be as well off as myself!  You will allow
that I could scarcely refuse--at all events, I did not.  The bill became
due two days ago; my friend does not pay it, and indeed says he cannot,
and the holder of the bill calls on me.  He was very civil-offered to
renew it--pressed me to take my time, &c.; but I did not like his manner:
and as to my friend, I find that, instead of being well off, as I
supposed, he is hard up, and that I am not the first he has got into the
same scrape--not intending it, I am sure.  He's really a very good
fellow, and, if I wanted security, would be it to-morrow to any amount."

"I've no doubt of it--to any amount!"  said the Colonel.

"So I thought it best to conclude the matter at once.  I had saved
nothing from my allowance, munificent as it is.  I could not have the
face to ask Mr. Darrell to remunerate me for my own imprudence.  I should
not like to borrow from my mother--I know it would be inconvenient to
her.

"I sold both horse and cabriolet this morning.  I had just been getting
the cheque cashed when I met you.  I intend to take the money myself to
the bill-holder.  I have just the sum--L200."

"The horse alone was worth that," said the Colonel, with a faint sigh--"
not to be replaced.  France and Russia have the pick of our stables.
However, if it is sold, it is sold--talk no more of it.  I hate painful
subjects.  You did right not to renew the bill--it is opening an account
with Ruin; and though I avoid preaching on money matters, or, indeed, any
other (preaching is my nephew's vocation, not mine), yet allow me to
extract from you a solemn promise never again to sign bills, nor to draw
them.  Be to your friend what you please except security for him.
Orestes never asked Pylades to help him to borrow at fifty per cent.
Promise me--your word of honour as a gentleman!  Do you hesitate?"

"My dear Colonel," said Lionel frankly, "I do hesitate.  I might promise
not to sign a money-lender's bill on my own account, though really I
think you take rather an exaggerated view of what is, after all, a common
occurrence--"

"Do I?"  said the Colonel meekly.  "I'm sorry to hear it.  I detest
exaggeration.  Go on.  You might promise not to ruin yourself--but you
object to promise not to help in the ruin of your friend."

"That is exquisite irony, Colonel," said Lionel, piqued; but it does not
deal with the difficulty, which is simply this: When a man whom you call
friend--whom you walk with, ride with, dine with almost every day, says
to you 'I am in immediate want of a few hundreds--I don't ask you to lend
them to me, perhaps you can't--but assist me to borrow--trust to my
honour that the debt shall not fall on you,--why, then, it seems as if to
refuse the favour was to tell the man you call friend that you doubt his
honour; and though I have been caught once in that way, I feel that I
must be caught very often before I should have the moral courage to say
'No!' Don't ask me, then to promise--be satisfied with my assurance that,
in future at least, I will be more cautious, and if the loss fall on me,
why, the worst that can happen is to do again what I do now."

"Nay, you would not perhaps have another horse and cab to sell.  In that
case, you would do the reverse of what you do now--you would renew the
bill--the debt would run on like a snowball--in a year or two you would
owe, not hundreds, but thousands.  But come in--here we are at my door."

The Colonel entered his drawing-room.  A miracle of exquisite neatness
the room was--rather effeminate, perhaps, in its attributes; but that was
no sign of the Colonel's tastes, but of his popularity with the ladies.
All those pretty things were their gifts.  The tapestry on the chairs
their work--the Sevres on the consoles--the clock on the mantel-shelf--
the inkstand, paper-cutter, taper-stand on the writing-table--their
birthday presents.  Even the white woolly Maltese dog that sprang from
the rug to welcome him--even the flowers in the jardiniere--even the
tasteful cottage-piano, and the very music-stand beside it--and the card-
trays, piled high with invitations,--were contributions from the
forgiving sex to the unrequiting bachelor.

Surveying his apartment with a complacent air, the Colonel sank into his
easy /fauteuil/, and drawing off his gloves leisurely said--

"No man has more friends than I have--never did I lose one--never did
I sign a bill.  Your father pursued a different policy--he signed many
bills--and lost many friends."  Lionel, much distressed, looked down, and
evidently desired to have done with the subject.  Not so the Colonel.
That shrewd man, though he did not preach, had a way all his own, which
was perhaps quite as effective as any sermon by a fashionable layman can
be to an impatient youth.

"Yes," resumed the Colonel, "it is the old story.  One always begins by
being security to a friend.  The discredit of the thing is familiarised
to one's mind by the false show of generous confidence in another.  Their
what you have done for a friend, a friend should do for you;--a hundred
or two would be useful now--you are sure to repay it in three months.
To Youth the Future seems safe as the Bank of England, and distant as the
peaks of Himalaya.  You pledge your honour that in three months you will
release your friend.  The three months expire.  To release the one
friend, you catch hold of another--the bill is renewed, premium and
interest thrown into the next pay-day--soon the account multiplies, and
with it the honour dwindles--your NAME circulates from hand to hand on
the back of doubtful paper--your name, which, in all money transactions,
should grow higher and higher each year you live, falling down every
month like the shares in a swindling speculation.  You begin by what you
call trusting a friend, that is, aiding him to self-destruction--buying
him arsenic to clear his complexion--you end by dragging all near you
into your own abyss, as a drowning man would clutch at his own brother.
Lionel Haughton, the saddest expression I ever saw in your father's face
was when--when--but you shall hear the story--"

"No, sir; spare me.  Since you so insist on it, I will give the promise--
it is enough; and my father--"

"Was as honourable as you when he first signed his name to a friend's
bill; and, perhaps, promised to do so no more as reluctantly as you do.
You had better let me say on; if I stop now, you will forget all about it
by this day twelve-month; if I go on, you will never forget.  There are
other examples besides your father; I am about to name one."

Lionel resigned himself to the operation, throwing his handkerchief over
his face as if he had taken chloroform.  "When I was young," resumed the
Colonel, "I chanced to make acquaintance with a man of infinite whim and
humour; fascinating as Darrell himself, though in a very different way.
We called him Willy--you know the kind of man one calls by his Christian
name, cordially abbreviated--that kind of man seems never to be quite
grown up; and, therefore, never rises in life.  I never knew a man called
Willy after the age of thirty, who did not come to a melancholy end!
Willy was the natural son of a rich, helter-skelter, cleverish, maddish,
stylish, raffish, four-in-hand Baronet, by a celebrated French actress.
The title is extinct now, and so, I believe, is that genus of stylish,
raffish, four-in-hand Baronet--Sir Julian Losely--"

"Losely!" echoed Lionel.  "Yes; do you know the name?"

"I never heard it till yesterday.  I want to tell you what I did hear
then--but after your story--go on."

"Sir Julian Losely (Willy's father) lived with the French lady as his
wife, and reared Willy in his house, with as much pride and fondness as
if he intended him for his heir.  The poor boy, I suspect, got but little
regular education; though of course, he spoke his French mother's tongue
like a native; and, thanks also perhaps to his mother, he had an
extraordinary talent for mimicry and acting.  His father was passionately
fond of private theatricals, and Willy had early practice in that line.
I once saw him act Falstaff in a country house, and I doubt if Quin could
have acted it better.  Well, when Willy was still a mere boy, he lost his
mother, the actress.  Sir Julian married--had a legitimate daughter--died
intestate--and the daughter, of course, had the personal property, which
was not much; the heir-at-law got the land, and poor Willy nothing.  But
Willy was an universal favourite with his father's old friends--wild
fellows like Sir Julian himself amongst them there were two cousins, with
large country-houses, sporting-men, and bachelors.  They shared Willy
between them, and quarrelled which should have the most of him.  So he
grew up to be man, with no settled provision, but always welcome, not
only to the two cousins, but at every house in which, like Milton's lark,
'he came to startle the dull night'--the most amusing companion!--
a famous shot--a capital horseman--knew the ways of all animals, fishes,
and birds; I verily believe he could have coaxed a pug-dog to point, and
an owl to sing.  Void of all malice, up to all fun.  Imagine how much
people would court, and how little they would do for, a Willy of that
sort.  Do I bore you?"

"On the contrary, I am greatly interested."

"One thing a Willy, if a Willy could be wise, ought to do for himself--
keep single.  A wedded Willy is in a false position.  My Willy wedded--
for love too--an amiable girl, I believe (I never saw her; it was long
afterwards that I knew Willy)--but as poor as himself.  The friends and
relatives then said: 'This is serious: something--must be done for
Willy.'  It was easy to say, 'something must be done,' and monstrous
difficult to do it.  While the relations were consulting, his half-
sister, the Baronet's lawful daughter, died, unmarried; and though she
had ignored him in life, left him L2,000.  'I have hit it now, 'cried one
of the cousins; 'Willy is fond of a country life.  I will let him have a
farm on a nominal rent, his L2,000 will stock it; and his farm, which is
surrounded by woods, will be a capital hunting-meet.  As long as I live,
Willy shall be mounted.'

"Willy took the farm, and astonished his friends by attending to it.  It
was just beginning to answer when his wife died, leaving him only one
child--a boy; and her death made him so melancholy that he could no
longer attend to his farm.  He threw it up, invested the proceeds as a
capital, and lived on the interest as a gentleman at large.  He travelled
over Europe for some time--chiefly on foot--came back, having recovered
his spirits--resumed his old desultory purposeless life at different
country-houses, and at one of those houses I and Charles Haughton met
him.  Here I pause, to state that Willy Losely at that time impressed me
with the idea that he was a thoroughly honest man.  Though he was
certainly no formalist--though he had lived with wild sets of convivial
scapegraces--though, out of sheer high spirits, he would now and then
make conventional Proprieties laugh at their own long faces; yet, I
should have said that Bayard himself--and Bayard was no saint--could not
have been more incapable of a disloyal, rascally, shabby action.  Nay, in
the plain matter of integrity, his ideas might be called refined, almost
Quixotic.  If asked to give or to lend, Willy's hand was in his pocket in
an instant; but though thrown among rich men--careless as himself--Willy
never put his hand into their pockets, never borrowed, never owed.  He
would accept hospitality--make frank use of your table, your horses, your
dogs--but your money, no!  He repaid all he took from a host by rendering
himself the pleasantest guest that host ever entertained.  Poor Willy!  I
think I see his quaint smile brimming over with sly sport!  The sound of
his voice was like a cry of 'o-half-holiday' in a schoolroom.  He
dishonest!  I should as soon have suspected the noonday sun of being a
dark lantern!  I remember, when he and I were walking home from wild-duck
shooting in advance of our companions, a short conversation between us
that touched me greatly, for it showed that, under all his levity, there
were sound sense and right feeling.  I asked him about his son, then a
boy at school: 'Why, as it was the Christmas vacation, he had refused our
host's suggestion to let the lad come down there?'  'Ah,' said he, 'don't
fancy that I will lead my son to grow up a scatterbrained good-for-nought
like his father.  His society is the joy of my life; whenever I have
enough in my pockets to afford myself that joy, I go and hire a quiet
lodging close by his school, to have him with me from Saturday till
Monday all to myself--where he never hears wild fellows call me "Willy,"
and ask me to mimic.  I had hoped to have spent this vacation with him in
that way, but his school bill was higher than usual, and after paying it,
I had not a guinea to spare--obliged to come here where they lodge and
feed me for nothing; the boy's uncle on the mother's side--respectable
man in business--kindly takes him home for the holidays; but did not ask
me, because his wife--and I don't blame her--thinks I'm too wild for a
City clerk's sober household.'

"I asked Willy Losely what he meant to do with his son, and hinted that I
might get the boy a commission in the army without purchase.

"'No,' said Willy.  'I know what it is to set up for a gentleman on the
capital of a beggar.  It is to be a shuttlecock between discontent and
temptation.  I would not have my lost wife's son waste his life as I have
done.  He would be more spoiled, too, than I have been.  The handsomest
boy you ever saw-and bold as a lion.  Once in that set' (pointing over
his shoulder towards some of our sporting comrades, whose loud laughter
every now and then reached our ears)--'once in that set, he would never
be out of it--fit for nothing.  I swore to his mother on her death-bed
that I would bring him up to avoid my errors--that he should be no
hanger-on and led-captain!  Swore to her that he should be reared
according to his real station--the station of his mother's kin--(I have
no station)--and if I can but see him an honest British trader--
respectable, upright, equal to the highest--because no rich man's
dependant, and no poor man's jest--my ambition will be satisfied.  And
now you understand, sir, why my boy is not here.'  You would say a father
who spoke thus had a man's honest stuff in him.  Eh, Lionel!"

"Yes, and a true gentleman's heart, too!"

"So I thought; yet I fancied I knew the world!  After that conversation,
I quitted our host's roof, and only once or twice afterwards, at country-
houses, met William Losely again.  To say truth, his chief patrons and
friends were not exactly in my set.  But your father continued to see
Willy pretty often.  They took a great fancy to each other.  Charlie, you
know, was jovial--fond of private theatricals, too; in short, they became
great allies.  Some years after, as ill-luck would have it, Charles
Haughton, while selling off his Middlesex property, was in immediate want
of L1,200.  He could get it on a bill, but not without security.  His
bills were already rather down in the market, and he had already
exhausted most of the friends whose security was esteemed by
accommodators any better than his own.  In an evil hour he had learned
that poor Willy had just L1,500 out upon mortgage; and the money-lender,
who was lawyer for the property on which the mortgage was, knew it too.
It was on the interest of this L1,500 that Willy lived, having spent the
rest of his little capital in settling his son as a clerk in a first-rate
commercial house.  Charles Haughton went down to shoot at the house where
Willy was a guest-shot with him--drank with him--talked with him--proved to
him, no doubt, that long before the three months were over the Middlesex
property would be sold; the bill taken up, Willy might trust to his
Honour.  Willy did trust.  Like you, my dear Lionel, he had not moral
courage to say 'No.'  Your father, I am certain, meant to repay him; your
father never in cold blood meant to defraud any human being; but--your
father gambled!  A debt of honour at piquet preceded the claim of a bill-
discounter.  The L1,200 were forestalled--your father was penniless.  The
money-lender came upon Willy.  Sure that Charles Haughton would yet
redeem his promise, Willy renewed the bill another three months on
usurious terms; those months over, he came to town to find your father
hiding between four walls, unable to stir out for fear of arrest.  Willy
had no option but to pay the money; and when your father knew that it was
so paid, and that the usury had swallowed up the whole of Willy's little
capital, then, I say, I saw upon Charles Haughton's once radiant face the
saddest expression I ever saw on mortal man's.  And sure I am that all
the joys your father ever knew as a man of pleasure were not worth the
agony and remorse of that moment.  I respect your emotion, Lionel, but
you begin as your father began; and if I had not told you this story, you
might have ended as your father ended."

Lionel's face remained covered, and it was only by choking gasps that he
interrupted--the Colonel's narrative.  "Certainly," resumed Alban Morley,
in a reflective tone "certainly that villain--I mean William Losely, for
villain he afterwards proved to be--had the sweetest, most forgiving
temper!  He might have gone about to his kinsmen and friends denouncing
Charles Haughton, and saying by what solemn promises he had been undone.
But no! such a story just at that moment would have crushed Charles
Haughton's last chance of ever holding up his head again, and Charles
told me (for it was through Charles that I knew the tale) that Willy's
parting words to him were 'Do not fret, Charles--after all, my boy is now
settled in life, and I am a cat with nine lives, and should fall on my
legs if thrown out of a garret window.  Don't fret.'  So he kept the
secret, and told the money-lender to hold his tongue.  Poor Willy!  I
never asked a rich friend to lend me money but once in my life.  It was
then I went to Guy Darrell, who was in full practice, and said to him:
'Lend me one thousand pounds.  I may never repay you.'  'Five thousand
pounds, if you like it,' said he.  'One will do.'

"I took the money and sent it to Willy.  Alas!  he returned it, writing
word that 'Providence had been very kind to him; he had just been
appointed to a capital place, with a magnificent salary.'  The cat had
fallen on its legs.  He bade me comfort Haughton with that news.  The
money went back into Darrell's pocket, and perhaps wandered thence to
Charles Haughton's creditors.  Now for the appointment.  At the country-
house to which Willy had returned destitute, he had met a stranger (no
relation), who said to him: 'You live with these people--shoot their game
--break in their horses--see to their farms--and they give you nothing!
You are no longer very young--you should lay by your little income, and
add to it.  Live with me and I will give you L300 a-year.  I am parting
with my steward--take his place, but be my friend.' William Losely of
course closed with the proposition.  This gentleman, whose name was
Gunston, I had known slightly in former times--(people say I know
everybody)--a soured, bilious, melancholy, indolent, misanthropical old
bachelor.  With a splendid place universally admired, and a large estate
universally envied, he lived much alone, ruminating on the bitterness of
life and the nothingness of worldly blessings.  Meeing Willy at the
country-house to which, by some predestined relaxation of misanthropy,
he had been decoyed-for the first time for years Mr. Gunston was heard to
laugh.  He said to himself, 'Here is a man who actually amuses me.'
William Losely contrived to give the misanthrope a new zest of existence;
and when he found that business could be made pleasant, the rich man
conceived an interest in his own house, gardens, property.  For the sake
of William's merry companionship, he would even ride over his farms, and
actually carried a gun.  Meanwhile, the property, I am told, was really
well managed.  Ah! that fellow Willy was a born genius, and could have
managed everybody's affairs except his own.  I heard of all this with
pleasure--(people say I hear everything)--when one day a sporting man
seizes me by the button at Tattersall's--'Do you know the news?  Will
Losely is in prison on a charge; of robbing his employer.'"

"Robbing! incredible!"  exclaimed Lionel.

"My dear Lionel, it was after hearing that news that I established as
invariable my grand maxim, /Nil admirari/--never to be astonished at
anything!"

"But of course he was innocent?"

"On the contrary, he confessed,--was committed; pleaded guilty, and was
transported!  People who knew Willy said that Gunston ought to have
declined to drag him before a magistrate, or, at the subsequent trial,
have abstained from giving evidence against him; that Willy had been till
then a faithful steward; the whole proceeds of the estate lead passed
through his hands; he might, in transactions for timber, have cheated
undetected to twice the amount of the alleged robbery; it must have been
a momentary aberration of reason; the rich man should have let him off.
But I side with the rich man.  His last belief in his species was
annihilated.  He must have been inexorable.  He could never be amused,
never be interested again.  He was inexorable and--vindictive."

"But what were the facts?--what was the evidence?"

"Very little came out on the trial; because, in pleading guilty, the
court had merely to consider the evidence which had sufficed to commit
him.  The trial was scarcely noticed in the London papers.  William
Losely was not like a man known about town.  His fame was confined to
those who resorted to old-fashioned country-houses, chiefly single men,
for the sake of sport.  But stay.  I felt such an interest in the case,
that I made an abstract or praecis, not only of all that appeared, but
all that I could learn of its leading circumstances.  'Tis a habit
of mine, whenever any of my acquaintances embroil themselves with the
Crown--"  The Colonel rose, unlocked a small glazed bookcase, selected
from the contents a MS. volume, reseated himself, turning the pages,
found the place sought, and reading from it, resumed his narriative.
"One evening Mr. Gunston came to William Losely's private apartment.
Losely had two or three rooms appropriated to himself in one side of the
house; which was built in a quadrangle round a courtyard.  When Losely
opened his door to Mr. Gunston's knock, it struck Mr. Gunston that his
manner seemed confused.  After some talk on general subjects, Losely said
that he had occasion to go to London next morning for a few days on
private business of his own.  This annoyed Mr. Gunston.  He observed that
Losely's absence just then would be inconvenient.  He reminded him that a
tradesman, who lived at a distance, was coming over the next day to be
paid for a vinery he had lately erected, and on the charge for which
there was a dispute.  Could not Losely at least stay to settle it?
Losely replied, 'that he had already, by correspondence, adjusted the
dispute, having suggested deductions which the tradesman had agreed to,
and that Mr. Gunston would only have to give a cheque for the balance-
viz. L270.'  Thereon Mr. Gunston remarked: 'If you were not in the habit
of paying my bills for me out of what you receive, you would know that I
seldom give cheques.  I certainly shall not give one now, for I have the
money in the house.'  Losely observed 'That is a bad habit of yours
keeping large sums in your own house.  You may be robbed.' Gunston
answered 'Safer than lodging large sums in a country bank.  Country banks
break.  My grandfather lost L1,000 by the failure of a country bank; and
my father, therefore, always took his payments in cash, remitting them to
London from time to time as he went thither himself.  I do the same, and
I have never been robbed of a farthing that I know of.  Who would rob a
great house like this, full of menservants?'--'That's true,' said Losely;
'so if you are sure you have as much by you, you will pay the bill and
have done with it.  I shall be back before Sparks the builder comes to be
paid for the new barn to the home farm-that will be L600; but I shall be
taking money for timber next week.  He can be paid out of that.'

GUNSTON.--'No.  I will pay Sparks, too, out of what I have in my bureau;
and the timber-merchant can pay his debt into my London banker's.'

LOSELY.--'DO you mean that you have enough for both these bills actually
in the house?'

GUNSTON.--'Certainly, in the bureau in my study.  I don't know how
much I've got.  It may be L1,500--it may be L1,700.  I have not counted;
I am such a bad man of business; but I am sure it is more than L1,400.'
Losely made some jocular observation to the effect that if Gunston never
kept an account of what be had, he could never tell whether he was
robbed, and, therefore, never would be robbed; since, according to
Othello,

              'He that is robbed, not wanting what is stolen,
               Let him not know it, and He's not robbed at all.'

"After that, Losely became absent in manner, and seemed impatient to get
rid of Mr. Gunston, hinting that he had the labour-book to look over, and
some orders to write out for the bailiff, and that he should start early
the next morning."

Here the Colonel looked up from his MS., and said episodically: "Perhaps
you will fancy that these dialogues are invented by me after the fashion
of the ancient historians?  Not so.  I give you the report of what
passed, as Gunston repeated it verbatim; and I suspect that his memory
was pretty accurate.  Well (here Alban returned to his MS.) Gunston left
Willy, and went into his own study, where he took tea by himself.  When
his valet brought it in, he told the man that Mr. Losely was going to
town early the next morning, and ordered the servant to see himself that
coffee was served to Mr. Losely before he went.  The servant observed
'that Mr. Losely had seemed much out of sorts lately, and that it was
perhaps some unpleasant affair connected with the gentleman who had come
to see him two days before.' Gunston had not heard of such a visit.

"Losely had not mentioned it.  When the servant retired, Gunston, thinking
over Losely's quotation respecting his money, resolved to ascertain what
he had in his bureau.  He opened it, examined the drawers, and found,
stowed away in different places at different times, a larger sum than he
had supposed--gold and notes to the amount of L1,975, of which nearly
L300 were in sovereigns.  He smoothed the notes carefully; and, for want
of other occupation, and with a view of showing Losely that he could
profit by a hint, he entered the numbers of the notes in his pocketbook,
placed them all together in one drawer with the gold, relocked his
bureau, and went shortly afterwards to bed.  The next day (Losely having
gone in the morning) the tradesman came to be paid for the vinery.
Gunston went to his bureau, took out his notes, and found L250 were gone.
He could hardly believe his senses.  Had he made a mistake in counting?
No.  There was his pocket book, the missing notes entered duly therein.
Then he re-re-counted the sovereigns; 142 were gone of them--nearly
L400 in all thus abstracted.  He refused at first to admit suspicion of
Losely; but, on interrogating his servants, the valet deposed, that he
was disturbed about two o'clock in the morning by the bark of the house-
dog, which was let loose of a night within the front courtyard of the
house.  Not apprehending robbers, but fearing the dog might also disturb
his master, he got out of his window (being on the ground-flour) to
pacify the animal; that he then saw, in the opposite angle of the
building, a light moving along the casement of the passage between
Losely's rooms and Mr. Gunston's study.  Surprised at this, at such an
hour, he approached that part of the building and saw the light very
faintly through the chinks in the shutters of the study.  The passage
windows had no shutters, being old-fashioned stone mullions.  He waited
by the wall a few minutes, when the light again reappeared in the
passage; and he saw a figure in a cloak, which, being in a peculiar
colour, he recognised at once as Losely's, pass rapidly along; but before
the figure had got half through the passage, the light was extinguished,
and the servant could see no more.  But so positive was he, from his
recognition of the cloak, that the man was Losely, that he ceased to feel
alarm or surprise, thinking, on reflection, that Losely, sitting up later
than usual to transact business before his departure, might have gone
into his employer's study for any book or paper which he might have left
there.  The dog began barking again, and seemed anxious to get out of the
courtyard to which he was confined; but the servant gradually
appeased him--went to bed, and somewhat overslept himself.  When he
awoke, he hastened to take the coffee into Losely's room, but Losely was
gone.  Here there was another suspicious circumstance.  It had been a
question how the bureau had been opened, the key being safe in Gunston's
possession, and there being no sign of force.  The lock was one of those
rude old-fashioned ones which are very easily picked, but to which a
modern key does not readily fit.  In the passage there was found a long
nail crooked at the end; and that nail, the superintendent of the police
(who had been summoned) had the wit to apply to the lock of the bureau,
and it unlocked and re-locked it easily.  It was clear that whoever had
so shaped the nail could not have used such an instrument for the first
time, and must be a practised picklock.  That, one would suppose at
first, might exonerate Losely; but he was so clever a fellow at all
mechanical contrivances that, coupled with the place of finding, the nail
made greatly against him; and still more so when some nails precisely
similar were found on the chimney-piece of an inner room in his
apartment, a room between that in which he had received Guar ston and his
bed-chamber, and used by him both as study and workshop.  The nails,
indeed, which were very long and narrow, with a Gothic ornamental head,
were at once recognised by the carpenter on the estate as having been
made according to Losely's directions, for a garden bench to be placed in
Gunston's favourite walk, Gunston having remarked, some days before, that
he should like a seat there, and Losely having undertaken to make one
from a design by Pugin.  Still loth to believe in Losely's guilt, Gunston
went to London with the police superintendent, the valet, and the
neighbouring attorney.  They had no difficulty in finding Losely; he was
at his son's lodgings in the City, near the commercial house in which the
son was a clerk.  On being told of the robbery, he seemed at first
unaffectedly surprised, evincing no fear.  He was asked whether he had
gone into the study about two o'clock in the morning.  He said, 'No; why
should I?'  The valet exclaimed: 'But I saw you--I knew you by that old
grey cloak, with the red lining.  Why, there it is now--on that chair
yonder.  I'll swear it is the same.'  Losely then began to tremble
visibly, and grew extremely pale.  A question was next put to him as to
the nail, but he secured quite stupefied, muttering: 'Good heavens!  the
cloak--you mean to say you saw that cloak?'  They searched his person-
found on him some sovereigns, silver, and one bank-note for five pounds.
The number on that bank-note corresponded with a number in Gunston's
pocket-book.  He was asked to say where he got that five-pound note.  He
refused to answer.  Gunston said: 'It is one of the notes stolen from
me!'  Losely cried fiercely: 'Take care what you say.  How do you know?'
Gunston replied: 'I took an account of the numbers of my notes on leaving
your room.  Here is the memorandum in my pocket-book--see--'  Losely
looked, and fell back as if shot.  Losely's brother-in-law was in the
room at the time, and he exclaimed, 'Oh, William!  you can't be guilty.
You are the honestest fellow in the world.  There must be some mistake,
gentlemen.  Where did you get the note, William--say?'

"Losely made no answer, but seemed lost in thought or stupefaction.  'I
will go for your son, William--perhaps he may help to explain.' Losely
then seemed to wake up.  'My son! what! would you expose me before my
son?  he's gone into the country, as you know.  What has he to do with
it?  I took the notes--there--I have confessed. --Have done with it,'--
or words to that effect.

"Nothing more of importance," said the Colonel, turning over the leaves
of his MS., "except to account for the crime.  And here we come back to
the money-lender.  You remember the valet said that a gentleman had
called on Losely two days before the robbery.  This proved to be the
identical bill-discounter to whom Losely had paid away his fortune.  This
person deposed that Losely had written to him some days before, stating
that he wanted to borrow two or three hundred pounds, which he could
repay by instalments out of his salary.  What would be the terms?  The
money-lender, having occasion to be in the neighbourhood, called to
discuss the matter in person, and to ask if Losely could not get some
other person to join in security--suggesting his brother-in-law.  Losely
replied that it was a favour he would never ask of any one; that his
brother-in-law had no pecuniary means beyond his salary as a senior
clerk; and, supposing that he (Losely) lost his place, which he might any
day, if Gunston were displeased with him--how then could he be sure that
his debt would not fall on the security?  Upon which the money-lender
remarked that the precarious nature of his income was the very reason why
a security was wanted.  And Losely answered, 'Ay; but you know that you
incur that risk, and charge accordingly.  Between me and you the debt and
the hazard are mere matter of business, but between me and my security it
would be a matter of honour.'  Finally the money-lender agreed to find
the sum required, though asking very high terms.  Losely said he would
consider, and let him know.  There the conversation ended.  But Gunston
inquired 'if Losely had ever had dealings with the money-lender before,
and for what purpose it was likely he would leant the money now;' and the
money-lender answered 'that probably Losely had some sporting or gaming
speculations on the sly, for that it was to pay a gambling debt that he
had joined Captain Haughton in a bill for L1,200.'  And Gunston
afterwards told a friend of mine that this it was that decided him to
appear as a witness at the trial; and you will observe that if Gunston
had kept away there would have been no evidence sufficient to insure
conviction.  But Gunston considered that the man who could gamble away
his whole fortune must be incorrigible, and that Losely, having concealed
from him that he had become destitute by such transactions, must have
been more than a mere security in a joint bill with Captain Haughton.

"Gunston could never have understood such an inconsistency in human
nature, that the same man who broke open his bureau should have become
responsible to the amount of his fortune for a debt of which he had not
shared the discredit, and still less that such a man should, in case he
had been so generously imprudent, have concealed his loss out of delicate
tenderness for the character of the man to whom he owed his ruin.
Therefore, in short, Gunston looked on his dishonest steward not as a man
tempted by a sudden impulse in some moment of distress, at which a
previous life was belied, but as a confirmed, dissimulating sharper, to
whom public justice allowed no mercy.  And thus, Lionel, William Losely
was prosecuted, tried, and sentenced to seven years' transportation.  By
pleading guilty, the term was probably made shorter than it otherwise
would have been."

Lionel continued too agitated for words.  The Colonel, not seeming to
heed his emotions, again ran his eye over the MS.

"I observe here that there are some queries entered as to the evidence
against Losely.  The solicitor whom, when I heard of his arrest, I
engaged and sent down to the place on his behalf--"

"You did!  Heaven reward you!"  sobbed out Lionel.  "But my father?--
where was he?"

"Then?--in his grave."

Lionel breathed a deep sigh, as of thankfulness.

"The lawyer, I say--a sharp fellow--was of opinion that if Losely had
refused to plead guilty, he could have got him off in spite of his first
confession--turned the suspicion against some one else.  In the passage
where the nail was picked up there was a door into the park.  That door
was found unbolted in the inside the next morning: a thief might
therefore have thus entered and passed at once into the study.  The nail
was discovered close by the door; the thief might have dropped it on
putting out his light, which, by the valet's account, he must have done
when he was near the door in question, and required the light no more.
Another circumstance in Losely's favour: just outside the door, near a
laurel-bush, was found the fag-end of one of those small rose-coloured
wax-lights which are often placed in Lucifer-match boxes.  If this had
been used by the thief, it would seem as if, extinguishing the light
before he stepped into the air, he very naturally jerked away the morsel
of taper left, when, in the next moment, he was out of the house.  But
Losely would not have gone out of the house; nor was he, nor any one
about the premises, ever known to make use of that kind of taper, which
would rather appertain to the fashionable fopperies of a London dandy.
You will have observed, too, the valet had not seen the thief's face.
His testimony rested solely on the colours of a cloak, which, on cross-
examination; might have gone for nothing.  The dog had barked before the
light was seen.  It was not the light that made him bark.  He wished to
get out of the courtyard; that looked as if there were some stranger in
the grounds beyond.  Following up this clue, the lawyer ascertained that
a strange man had been seen in the park towards the grey of the evening,
walking up in the direction of the house.  And here comes the strong
point.  At the railway station, about five miles from Mr. Gunston's, a
strange man had arrived just in time to take his place in the night-train
from the north towards London, stopping there at four o'clock in the
morning.  The station-master remembered the stranger buying the ticket,
but did not remark his appearance.  The porter did, however, so far
notice him as he hurried into a first-class carriage, that he said
afterwards to the stationmaster: 'Why, that gentleman has a grey cloak
just like Mr. Losely's.  If he had not been thinner and taller, I should
have thought it was Mr. Losely.' Well, Losely went to the same station
the next morning, taking an early train, going thither on foot, with his
carpet-bag in his hand; and both the porter and station-master declared
that he had no cloak on him at the time; and as he got into a second-
class carriage, the porter even said to him: "Tis a sharp morning, sir;
I'm afraid you'll be cold.'  Furthermore, as to the purpose for which
Losely had wished to borrow of the money-lender, his brother-in-law
stated that Losely's son had been extravagant, had contracted debts, and
was even hiding from his creditors in a county town, at which William
Losely had stopped for a few hours on his way to London.  He knew the
young man's employer had written kindly to Losely several days before,
lamenting the son's extravagance; intimating that unless his debts were
discharged he must lose the situation, in which otherwise he might soon
rise to competence, for that he was quick and sharp; and that it was
impossible not to feel indulgent towards him, he was so lively and so
good-looking.  The trader added that he would forbear to dismiss the
young man as long as he could.  It was on the receipt of that letter that
Losely had entered into communication with the money-lender, whom he had
come to town to seek, and to whose house he was actually going at the
very hour of Gunston's arrival.  But why borrow of the money-lender, if
he had just stolen more money than he had any need to borrow?

The most damning fact against Losely, by the discovery in his possession
of the L5 note, of which Mr. Gunston deposed to have taken the number,
was certainly hard to get over; still an ingenious lawyer might have
thrown doubt on Gunstun's testimony--a man confessedly so careless might
have mistaken the number, &c.  The lawyer went, with these hints for
defence, to see Losely himself in prison; but Losely declined his help--
became very angry--said that he would rather suffer death itself than
have suspicion transferred to some innocent man; and that, as to the
cloak, it had been inside his carpet-bag.  So you see, bad as he was,
there was something inconsistently honourable left in him still.  Poor
Willy! he would not even subpeena any of his old friends as to his
general character.  But even if he had, what could the Court do since he
pleaded guilty?  And now dismiss that subject, it begins to pain me
extremely.  You were to speak to me about some one of the same name when
my story was concluded.  What is it?"

"I am so confused," faltered Lionel, still quivering with emotion, "that
I can scarcely answer you--scarcely recollect myself.  But--but--while
you were describing this poor William Losely, his talent for mimicry and
acting, I could not help thinking that I had seen him."  Lionel proceeded
to speak of Gentleman Waife.  "Can that be the man?"

Alban shook his head incredulously.  He thought it so like a romantic
youth to detect imaginary resemblances.

"No," said he, "my dear boy.  My William Losely could never become a
strolling-player in a village fair.  Besides, I have good reason to
believe that Willy is well off; probably made money in the colony by some
lucky hit for when do you say you saw your stroller?  Five years ago?
Well, not very long before that date-perhaps a year or two-less than two
years, I am sure-this eccentric rascal sent Mr. Gunston, the man who had
transported him, L100!  Gunston, you must know, feeling more than ever
bored and hipped when he lost Willy, tried to divert himself by becoming
director in some railway company.  The company proved a bubble; all
turned their indignation on the one rich man who could pay where others
cheated.  Gunston was ruined--purse and character--fled to Calais; and
there, less than seven years ago, when in great distress, he received
from poor Willy a kind, affectionate, forgiving letter, and L100.  I have
this from Gunston's nearest relation, to whom he told it, crying like a
child.  Willy gave no address! but it is clear that at the time he must
have been too well off to turn mountebank at your miserable exhibition.
Poor, dear, rascally, infamous, big-hearted Willy," burst out the
Colonel.  "I wish to heaven he had only robbed me!"

"Sir," said Lionel, "rely upon it, that man you described never robbed
any one--'tis impossible."

"No--very possible!--human nature," said Alban Morley.  "And, after all,
he really owed Gunston that L100.  For, out of the sum stolen, Gunston
received anonymously, even before the trial, all the missing notes, minus
about that L100; and Willy, therefore, owed Gunston the money, but not,
perhaps, that kind, forgiving letter.  Pass on--quick--the subject is
worse than the gout.  You have heard before the name of Losely--possibly.
There are many members of the old Baronet's family; but when or where did
you hear it?"

"I will tell you; the man who holds the bill (ah, the word sickens me)
reminded me when he called that I had seen him at my mother's house--a
chance acquaintance of hers--professed great regard for me--great
admiration for Mr. Darrell--and then surprised me by asking if I had
never heard Mr. Darrell speak of Mr. Jasper Losely."

"Jasper!" said the Colonel; "Jasper!--well, go on."  "When I answered,
'No,' Mr. Poole (that is his name) shook his head, and muttered: 'A sad
affair--very bad business--I could do Mr. Darrell a great service if he
would let me;' and then went on talking what seemed to me impertinent
gibberish about 'family exposures' and 'poverty making men desperate,'
and 'better compromise matters;' and finally wound up by begging me, 'if
I loved Mr. Darrell, and wished to guard him from very great annoyance
and suffering, to persuade him to give Mr. Poole an interview.' Then he
talked about his own character in the City, and so forth, and entreating
me 'not to think of paying him till quite convenient; that he would keep
the bill in his desk; nobody should know of it; too happy to do me a
favour'--laid his card on the table, and went away.  Tell me, should I
say anything to Mr. Darrell about this or not?"

"Certainly not, till I have seen Mr. Poole myself.  You have the money to
pay him about you?  Give it to me, with Mr. Poole's address; I will call,
and settle the matter.  Just ring the bell."  (To the servant entering)
"Order my horse round."  Then, when they were again alone, turning to
Lionel, abruptly laying one hand on leis shoulder, with the other
grasping his hand warmly, cordially: "Young man," said Alban Morley, "I
love you--I am interested in you-who would not be?  I have gone through
this story; put myself positively to pain--which I hate--solely for your
good.  You see what usury and money-lenders bring men to.  Look me in the
face!  Do you feel now that you would have the 'moral courage' you before
doubted of?  Have you done with such things for ever?"

"For ever, so help me Heaven!  The lesson has been cruel, but I do thank
and bless you for it."

"I knew you would.  Mark this! never treat money affairs with levity--
MONEY is CHARACTER!  Stop.  I have bared a father's fault to a son.  It
was necessary--or even in his grave those faults might have revived in
you.  Now, I add this, if Charles Haughton--like you, handsome, high-
spirited, favoured by men, spoiled by women--if Charles Haughton, on
entering life, could have seen, in the mirror I have held up to you, the
consequences of pledging the morrow to pay for to-day, Charles Haughton
would have been shocked as you are, cured as you will be.  Humbled by
your own first error, be lenient to all his.  Take up his life where I
first knew it: when his heart was loyal, his lips truthful.  Raze out the
interval; imagine that he gave birth to you in order to replace the
leaves of existence we thus blot out and tear away.  In every error
avoided say, 'Thus the father warns the son;' in every honourable action,
or hard self-sacrifice, say, 'Thus the son pays a father's debt.'"

Lionel, clasping his hands together, raised his eyes streaming with
tears, as if uttering inly a vow to Heaven.  The Colonel bowed his
soldier-crest with religious reverence, and glided from the room
noiselessly.



CHAPTER VIII.

     BEING BUT ONE OF THE CONSIDERATE PAUSES IN A LONG JOURNEY,
     CHARITABLY AFFORDED TO THE READER.

Colonel Morley found Mr. Poole at home, just returned from his office;
he stayed with that gentleman nearly an hour, and then went straight to
Darrell.  As the time appointed to meet the French acquaintance, who
depended on his hospitalities for a dinner, was now nearly arrived,
Alban's conference with his English friend was necessarily brief and
hurried, though long enough to confirm one fact in Mr. Poole's statement,
which had been unknown to the Colonel before that day, and the admission
of which inflicted on Guy Darrell a pang as sharp as ever wrenched
confession from the lips of a prisoner in the cells of the Inquisition.
On returning from Greenwich, and depositing his Frenchman in some
melancholy theatre, time enough for that resentful foreigner to witness
theft and murder committed upon an injured countryman's vaudeville, Alban
hastened again to Carlton Gardens.  He found Darrell alone, pacing his
floor to and fro, in the habit he had acquired in earlier life, perhaps
when meditating some complicated law case, or wrestling with himself
against some secret sorrow.  There are men of quick nerves who require a
certain action of the body for the better composure of the mind; Darrell
was one of them.

During these restless movements, alternated by abrupt pauses, equally
inharmonious to the supreme quiet which characterised his listener's
tastes and habits, the haughty gentleman disburdened himself of at least
one of the secrets which he had hitherto guarded from his early friend.
But as that secret connects itself with the history of a Person about
whom it is well that the reader should now learn more than was known to
Darrell himself, we will assume our privilege to be ourselves the
narrator, and at the cost of such dramatic vivacity as may belong to
dialogue, but with the gain to the reader of clearer insight into those
portions of the past which the occasion permits us to reveal--we will
weave into something like method the more imperfect and desultory
communications by which Guy Darrell added to Alban Morley's distasteful
catalogue of painful subjects.  The reader will allow, perhaps, that we
thus evince a desire to gratify his curiosity, when we state that of
Arabella Crane Darrell spoke but in one brief and angry sentence, and
that not by the name in which the reader as yet alone knows her; and it
is with the antecedents of Arabella Crane that our explanation will
tranquilly commence.



CHAPTER IX.

     GRIM ARABELLA CRANE.

Once on a time there lived a merchant named Fossett, a widower with three
children, of whom a daughter, Arabella, was by some years the eldest.  He
was much respected, deemed a warm man, and a safe--attended diligently to
his business--suffered no partner, no foreman, to dictate or intermeddle
--liked his comforts, but made no pretence to fashion.  His villa was at
Clapham, not a showy but a solid edifice, with lodge, lawn, and gardens
chiefly notable for what is technically called glass--viz. a range of
glass-houses on the most improved principles, the heaviest pines, the
earliest strawberries.  "I'm no judge of flowers," quoth Mr. Fossett,
meekly.  "Give me a plain lawn, provided it be close-shaven.  But I say
to my gardener: 'Forcing is my hobby--a cucumber with my fish all the
year round!'"  Yet do not suppose Mr Fossett ostentatious--quite the
reverse.  He would no more ruin himself for the sake of dazzling others,
than he would for the sake of serving them.  He liked a warm house,
spacious rooms, good living, old wine, for their inherent merits:  He
cared not to parade them to public envy.  When he dined alone, or with
a single favoured guess, the best Lafitte, the oldest sherry!--when
extending the rites of miscellaneous hospitality to neighbours,
relations, or other slight acquaintances--for Lafitte, Julien; and for
sherry, Cape!--Thus not provoking vanity, nor courting notice, Mr.
Fossett was without an enemy, and seemed without a care.  Formal were his
manners, formal his household, formal even the stout cob that bore him
from Cheapside to Clapham, from Claphain to Cheapside.  That cob could
not even prick up its ears if it wished to shy--its ears were cropped,
so were its mane and its tail.

Arabella early gave promise of beauty, and more than ordinary power of
intellect and character.  Her father be stowed on her every advantage of
education.  She was sent to a select boarding-school of the highest
reputation; the strictest discipline, the best masters, the longest
bills.  At the age of seventeen she had become the show pupil of the
seminary.  Friends wondered somewhat why the prim merchant took such
pains to lavish on his daughter the worldly accomplishments which seemed
to give him no pleasure, and of which he never spoke with pride.  But
certainly, if she was so clever--first-rate musician, exquisite artist,
accomplished linguist, "it was very nice in old Fossett to bear it so
meekly, never crying her up, nor showing her off to less fortunate
parents--very nice in him--good sense--greatness of mind."

"Arabella," said the worthy man one day, a little time after his eldest
daughter had left school for good; "Arabella," said he, "Mrs. -------,"
naming the head teacher in that famous school, "pays you a very high
compliment in a letter I received from her this morning.  She says it is
a pity you are not a poor man's daughter--that you are so steady and so
clever that you could make a fortune for yourself as a teacher."

Arabella at that age could smile gaily, and gaily she smiled at the
notion conveyed in the compliment.

"No one can guess," resumed the father, twirling his thumbs and speaking
rather through his nose; "the ups and downs in this mortal sphere of
trial, 'specially in the mercantile community.  If ever, when I'm dead
and gone, adversity should come upon you, you will gratefully remember
that I have given you the best of education, and take care of your little
brother and sister, who are both--stupid!"

These doleful words did not make much impression on Arabella, uttered as
they were in a handsome drawing-room, opening on the neat-shaven lawn it
took three gardeners to shave, with a glittering side-view of those
galleries of glass in which strawberries were ripe at Christmas, and
cucumbers never failed to fish.  Time--went on.  Arabella was now twenty-
three--a very fine girl, with a decided manner--much occupied by her
music, her drawing, her books, and her fancies.  Fancies--for, like most
girls with very active heads and idle hearts, she had a vague yearning
for some excitement beyond the monotonous routine of a young lady's life;
and the latent force of her nature inclined her to admire whatever was
out of the beaten track--whatever was wild and daring.  She had received
two or three offers from young gentlemen in the same mercantile community
as that which surrounded her father in this sphere of trial.  But they
did not please her; and she believed her father when he said that they
only courted her under the idea that he would come down with something
handsome; "whereas," said the merchant, "I hope you will marry an honest
man, who will like you for yourself; and wait for your fortune till my
will is read.  As King William says to his son, in the History of
England, 'I don't mean to strip till I go to bed.'"

One night, at a ball in Clapham, Arabella saw the man who was destined to
exercise so baleful an influence over her existence.  Jasper Losely had
been brought to this ball by a young fellow-clerk in the same commercial
house as himself; and then in all the bloom of that conspicuous beauty,
to which the miniature Arabella had placed before his eyes so many years
afterwards did but feeble justice, it may well be conceived that he
concentred on himself the admiring gaze of the assembly.  Jasper was
younger than Arabella; but, what with the height of his stature and the
self-confidence of his air, he looked four or five and twenty.
Certainly, in so far as the distance from childhood may be estimated by
the loss of innocence, Jasper might have been any age!  He was told that
old Fossett's daughter would have a very fine fortune; that she was a
strong-minded young lady, who governed her father, and would choose for
herself; and accordingly he devoted himself to Arabella the whole of the
evening.  The effect produced on the mind of this ill-fated woman by her
dazzling admirer was as sudden as it proved to be lasting.  There was a
strange charm in the very contrast between his rattling audacity and the
bashful formalities of the swains who had hitherto wooed her as if she
frightened them.  Even his good looks fascinated her less than that vital
energy and power about the lawless brute, which to her seemed the
elements of heroic character, though but the attributes of riotous
spirits, magnificent formation, flattered vanity, and imperious egotism.
She was a bird gazing spell-bound on a gay young boa-constrictor, darting
from bough to bough, sunning its brilliant hues, and showing off all its
beauty, just before it takes the bird for its breakfast.

When they parted that night, their intimacy had so far advanced that
arrangements had been made for its continuance.  Arabella had an
instinctive foreboding that her father would be less charmed than herself
with Jasper Losely; that, if Jasper were presented to him, he would
possibly forbid her farther acquaintance with a young clerk, however
superb his outward appearance.  She took the first false step.  She had a
maiden aunt by the mother's side, who lived in Bloomsbury, gave and went
to small parties, to which Jasper could easily get introduced.  She
arranged to pay a visit for some weeks to this aunt, who was then very
civil to her, accepting with marked kindness seasonable presents of
strawberries, pines, spring chickens, and so forth, and offering in turn,
whenever it was convenient, a spare room, and whatever amusement a round
of small parties, and the innocent flirtations incidental thereto, could
bestow.  Arabella said nothing to her father about Jasper Losely, and to
her aunt's she went.  Arabella saw Jasper very often; they became engaged
to each other, exchanged vows and love-tokens, locks of hair, &c.
Jasper, already much troubled by duns, became naturally ardent to insure
his felicity and Arabella's supposed fortune.  Arabella at last summoned
courage, and spoke to her father.  To her delighted surprise, Mr.
Fossett, after some moralising, more on the uncertainty of life in
general than her clandestine proceedings in particular, agreed to see Mr.
Jasper Losely, and asked him down to dinner.  After dinner, over 'a
bottle of Lafitte, in an exceedingly plain but exceedingly weighty silver
jug, which made Jasper's mouth water (I mean the jug), Mr. Fossett,
commencing with that somewhat coarse though royal saying of William the
Conqueror, with which he had before edified his daughter, assured Jasper
that he gave his full consent to the young gentleman's nuptials with
Arabella, provided Jasper or his relations would maintain her in a plain
respectable way, and wait for her fortune till his (Fossett's) will was
read.  What that fortune would be, Mr. Fossett declined even to hint.
Jasper went away very much cooled.  Still the engagement remained in
force; the nuptials were tacitly deferred.  Jasper and his relations
maintain a wife!  Preposterous idea!  It would take a clan of relations
and a Zenana of wives to maintain in that state to which he deemed
himself entitled--Jasper himself!  But just as he was meditating the
possibility of a compromise with old Fossett, by which he would agree to
wait till the will was read for contingent advantages, provided Fossett,
in his turn, would agree in the mean while to afford lodging and board,
with a trifle for pocket-money, to Arabella and himself, in the Clapham
villa, which, though not partial to rural scenery, Jasper preferred, on
the whole, to a second floor in the City,--old Fossett fell ill, took to
his bed; was unable to attend to his business, some one else attended to
it; and the consequence was, that the house stopped payment, and was
discovered to have been insolvent for the last ten years.  Not a
discreditable bankruptcy.  There might perhaps be seven shillings in the
pound ultimately paid, and not more than forty families irretrievably
ruined.  Old Fossett, safe in his bed, bore the affliction with
philosophical composure; observed to Arabella that he had always warned
her of the ups and downs in this sphere of trial; referred again with
pride to her first-rate education; commended again to her care Tom and
Biddy; and, declaring that he died in charity with all men, resigned
himself to the last slumber.

Arabella at first sought a refuge with her maiden aunt.  But that lady,
though not hit in pocket by her brother-in-law's failure, was more
vehement against his memory than his most injured creditor--not only that
she deemed herself unjustly defrauded of the pines, strawberries, and
spring chickens, by which she had been enabled to give small parties at
small cost, though with ample show, but that she was robbed of the
consequence she had hitherto derived from the supposed expectations of
her niece.  In short, her welcome was so hostile, and her condolences so
cutting, that Arabella quitted her door with a solemn determination never
again to enter it.

And now the nobler qualities of the bankrupt's daughter rose at once into
play.  Left penniless, she resolved by her own exertions to support and
to rear her young brother and sister.  The great school to which she had
been the ornament willingly received her as a teacher, until some more
advantageous place in a private family, and with a salary worthy of her
talents and accomplishments, could be found.

Her intercourse with Jasper became necessarily suspended.  She had the
generosity to write, offering to release him from his engagement.  Jasper
considered himself fully released without that letter; but he deemed it
neither gallant nor discreet to say so.  Arabella might obtain a
situation with larger salary than she could possibly need, the
superfluities whereof Jasper might undertake to invest.  Her aunt had
evidently something to leave, though she might have nothing to give.  In
fine, Arabella, if not rich enough for a wife, might be often rich enough
for a friend at need; and so long as he was engaged to her for life, it
must be not more her pleasure than her duty to assist him to live.
Besides, independently of these prudential though not ardent motives for
declaring unalterable fidelity to troth, Jasper at that time really did
entertain what he called love for the handsome young woman--flattered
that one of attainments so superior to all the girls he had ever known
should be so proud even less of his affection for her than her own
affection for himself.  Thus the engagement lasted--interviews none--
letters frequent.  Arabella worked hard, looking to the future; Jasper
worked as little as possible, and was very much bored by the present.

Unhappily, as it turned out, so great a sympathy, not only amongst the
teachers, but amongst her old schoolfellows, was felt for Arabella's
reverse; her character for steadiness, as well as talent, stood so high,
and there was something so creditable in her resolution to maintain her
orphan brother and sister, that an effort was made to procure her a
livelihood much more lucrative, and more independent, than she could
obtain either in a school or a family.  Why not take a small house of her
own, live there with her fellow-orphans, and give lessons out by the
hour?  Several families at once agreed so to engage her, and an income
adequate to all her wants was assured.  Arabella adopted this plan.  She
took the house; Bridget Greggs, the nurse of her infancy, became her
servant, and soon to that house, stealthily in the shades of evening,
glided Jasper Losely.  She could not struggle against his influence--had
not the heart to refuse his visits--he was so poor--in such scrapes--and
professed himself to be so unhappy.  There now became some one else to
toil for, besides the little brother and sister.  But what were
Arabella's gains to a man who already gambled?  New afflictions smote
her.  A contagious fever broke out in the neighborhood; her little
brother caught it; her little sister sickened the next day; in less than
a week two small coffins were borne from her door by the Black Horses--
borne to that plot of sunny turf in the pretty suburban cemetery, bought
with the last earnings made for the little ones by the mother-like
sister:--Motherless lone survivor! what! no friend on earth, no soother
but that direful Jasper!  Alas! the truly dangerous Venus is not that
Erycina round whom circle Jest and Laughter.  Sorrow, and that sense of
solitude which makes us welcome a footstep as a child left in the
haunting dark welcomes the entrance of light, weaken the outworks of
female virtue more than all the vain levities of mirth, or the flatteries
which follow the path of Beauty through the crowd.  Alas, and alas!  let
the tale hurry on!

Jasper Losely has still more solemnly sworn to marry his adored Arabella.
But when?  When they are rich enough.  She feels as if her spirit was
gone--as if she could work no more.  She was no weak commonplace girl,
whom love can console for shame.  She had been rigidly brought up; her
sense of female rectitude was keen; her remorse was noiseless, but it was
stern.  Harassments of a more vulgar nature beset her: she had
forestalled her sources of income; she had contracted debts for Jasper's
sake;--in vain: her purse was emptied, yet his no fuller.  His creditors
pressed him; he told her that he must hide.  One winter's day he thus
departed; she saw him no more for a year.  She heard, a few days after he
left her, of his father's crime and committal.  Jasper was sent abroad by
his maternal uncle, at his father's prayer; sent to a commercial house
in France, in which the uncle obtained him a situation.  In fact, the
young man had been despatched to France under another name, in order to
save him from the obloquy which his father had brought upon his own.

Soon came William Losely's trial and sentence.  Arabella felt the
disgrace acutely--felt how it would affect the audacious insolent Jasper;
did not wonder that he forbore to write to her.  She conceived him bowed
by shame, but she was buoyed up by her conviction that they should meet
again.  For good or for ill, she held herself bound to him for life.  But
meanwhile the debts she had incurred on his account came upon her.  She
was forced to dispose of her house; and at this time Mrs. Lyndsay,
looking out for some first-rate superior governess for Matilda Darrell,
was urged by all means to try and secure for that post Arabella Fossett.
The highest testimonials from the school at which she had been reared,
from the most eminent professional masters, from the families at which
she had recently taught, being all brought to bear upon Mr. Darrell, he
authorised Mrs. Lyndsay to propose such a salary as could not fail to
secure a teacher of such rare qualifications.  And thus Arabella became
governess to Miss Darrell.

There is a kind of young lady of whom her nearest relations will say, "I
can't make that girl out."  Matilda Darrell was that kind of young lady.
She talked very little; she moved very noiselessly; she seemed to regard
herself as a secret which she had solemnly sworn not to let out.  She had
been steeped in slyness from her early infancy by a sly mother.  Mrs.
Darrell was a woman who had always something to conceal.  There was
always some note to be thrust out of sight; some visit not to be spoken
of; something or other which Matilda was not on any account to mention to
Papa.

When Mrs. Darrell died, Matilda was still a child, but she still
continued to view her father as a person against whom prudence demanded
her to be constantly on her guard.  It was not that she was exactly
afraid of him--he was very gentle to her, as he was to all children; but
his loyal nature was antipathetic to hers.  She had no sympathy with him.
How confide her thoughts to him?  She had an instinctive knowledge that
those thoughts were not such as could harmonise with his.  Yet, though
taciturn, uncaressing, undemonstrative, she appeared mild and docile.
Her reserve was ascribed to constitutional timidity.  Timid to a degree
she usually seemed; yet, when you thought you had solved the enigma, she
said or did something so coolly determined, that you were forced again to
exclaim, "I can't make that girl out!"  She was not quick at her lessons.
You had settled in your mind that she was dull, when, by a chance remark,
you were startled to find that she was very sharp; keenly observant, when
you had fancied her fast asleep.  She had seemed, since her mother's
death, more fond of Mrs. Lyndsay and Caroline than of any other human
beings--always appeared sullen or out of spirits when they were absent;
yet she confided to them no more than she did to her father.  You would
suppose from this description that Matilda could inspire no liking in
those with whom she lived.  Not so; her very secretiveness had a sort of
attraction--a puzzle always creates some interest.  Then her face, though
neither handsome nor pretty, had in it a treacherous softness--a subdued,
depressed expression.  A kind observer could not but say with an
indulgent pity; "There must be a good deal of heart in that girl, if one
could but--make her out."

She appeared to take at once to Arabella, more than she had taken to Mrs.
Lyndsay, or even to Caroline, with whom she had been brought up as a
sister, but who, then joyous and quick and innocently fearless--with her
soul in her eyes and her heart on her lips--had no charm for Matilda,
because there she saw no secret to penetrate, and her she had no object
in deceiving.

But this stranger, of accomplishments so rare, of character so decided,
with a settled gloom on her lip, a gathered care on her brow--there was
some one to study, and some one with whom she felt a sympathy; for she
detected at once that Arabella was also a secret.

At first, Arabella, absorbed in her own reflections, gave to Matilda but
the mechanical attention which a professional teacher bestows on an
ordinary pupil.  But an interest in Matilda sprung up in her breast, in
proportion as she conceived a venerating gratitude for Darrell.  He was
aware of the pomp and circumstance which had surrounded her earlier
years; he respected the creditable energy with which she had devoted her
talents to the support of the young children thrown upon her care;
compassionated her bereavement of those little fellow-orphans for whom
toil had been rendered sweet; and he strove, by a kindness of forethought
and a delicacy of attention, which were the more prized in a man so
eminent and so preoccupied, to make her forget that she was a salaried
teacher--to place her saliently, and as a matter of course, in the
position of a gentlewoman, guest, and friend.  Recognising in her a
certain vigour and force of intellect apart from her mere
accomplishments, he would flatter her scholastic pride, by referring to
her memory in some question of reading, or consulting her judgment on
some point of critical taste.  She, in return, was touched by his
chivalrous kindness to the depth of a nature that, though already
seriously injured by its unhappy contact with a soul like Jasper's,
retained that capacity of gratitude, the loss of which is humanity's
last deprivation.  Nor this alone: Arabella was startled by the intellect
and character of Darrell into that kind of homage which a woman, who has
hitherto met but her own intellectual inferiors, renders to the first
distinguished personage in whom she recognises, half with humility and
half with awe, an understanding and a culture to which her own reason is
but the flimsy glass-house, and her own knowledge but the forced exotic.

Arabella, thus roused from her first listlessness, sought to requite
Darrell's kindness by exerting every energy to render his insipid
daughter an accomplished woman.  So far as mere ornamental education
extends, the teacher was more successful than, with all her experience,
her skill, and her zeal, she had presumed to anticipate.  Matilda,
without ear, or taste, or love for music, became a very fair mechanical
musician.  Without one artistic predisposition, she achieved the science
of perspective--she attained even to the mixture of colours--she filled a
portfolio with drawings which no young lady need have been ashamed to see
circling round a drawing-room.  She carried Matilda's thin mind to the
farthest bound it could have reached without snapping, through an elegant
range of selected histories and harmless feminine classics--through
Gallic dialogues--through Tuscan themes--through Teuton verbs--yea,
across the invaded bounds of astonished Science into the Elementary
Ologies.  And all this being done, Matilda Darrell was exactly the same
creature that she was before.  In all that related to character, to
inclinations, to heart, even that consummate teacher could give no
intelligible answer, when Mrs. Lyndsay in her softest accents (and no
accents ever were softer) sighed: "Poor dear Matilda! can you make her
out, Miss Fossett?"  Miss Fossett could not make her out.  But, after the
most attentive study, Miss Fossett had inly decided that there was
nothing to make out--that, like many other very nice girls, Matilda
Darrell was a harmless nullity, what you call "a Miss" white deal or
willow, to which Miss Fossett had done all in the way of increasing its
value as ornamental furniture, when she had veneered it over with
rosewood or satinwood, enriched its edges with ormolu, and strewed its
surface with nicknacks and albums.  But Arabella firmly believed Matilda
Darrell to be a quiet, honest, good sort of "Miss," on the whole--very
fond of her, Arabella.  The teacher had been several months in Darrell's
family, when Caroline Lyndsay, who had been almost domesticated with
Matilda (sharing the lessons bestowed on the latter, whether by Miss
Fossett or visiting masters), was taken away by Mrs. Lyndsay on a
visit to the old Marchioness of Montfort.  Matilda, who was to come out
the next year, was thus almost exclusively with Arabella, who redoubled
all her pains to veneer the white deal, and protect with ormolu its
feeble edges--so that, when it "came out," all should admire that
thoroughly fashionable piece of furniture.  It was the habit of Miss
Fossett and her pupil to take a morning walk in the quiet retreats of the
Green Park; and one morning, as they were thus strolling, nursery-maids
and children, and elderly folks who were ordered to take early exercises,
undulating round their unsuspecting way,--suddenly, right upon their path
(unlooked--for as the wolf that startled Horace in the Sabine wood, but
infinitely more deadly than that runaway animal), came Jasper Losely!
Arabella uttered a faint scream.  She could not resist--had no thought of
resisting--the impulse to bound forward--lay her hand on his arm.  She
was too agitated to perceive whether his predominant feeling was surprise
or rapture.  A few hurried words were exchanged, while Matilda Darrell
gave one sidelong glance towards the handsome stranger, and walked
quietly by them.  On his part, Jasper said that he had just returned to
London--that he had abandoned for ever all idea of a commercial life--
that his father's misfortune (he gave that gentle appellation to the
incident of penal transportation) had severed him from all former
friends, ties, habits--that he had dropped the name of Losely for ever
--entreated Arabella not to betray it--his name now was Hammond--his
"prospects," he said, "fairer than they had ever been."  Under the name
of Hammond, as an independent gentleman, he had made friends more
powerful than he could ever have made under the name of Losely as a city
clerk.  He blushed to think he had ever been a city clerk.  No doubt he
should get into some Government office; and then, oh then, with assured
income and a certainty to rise, he might claim the longed-for hand of the
"best of creatures."

On Arabella's part, she hastily explained her present position.  She was
governess to Miss Darrell--that was Miss Darrell.  Arabella must not
leave her walking on by herself--she would write to him.  Addresses were
exchanged--Jasper gave a very neat card--"Mr. Hammond, No.--, Duke
Street, St. James's."

Arabella, with a beating heart, hastened to join her friend.  At the
rapid glance she had taken of her perfidious lover, she thought him, if
possible, improved.  His dress, always studied, was more to the fashion
of polished society, more simply correct--his air more decided.
Altogether he looked prosperous, and his manner had never been more
seductive, in its mixture of easy self-confidence and hypocritical
coaxing.  In fact, Jasper had not been long in the French commercial
house--to which he had been sent out of the way while his father's trial
was proceeding and the shame of it fresh--before certain licenses of
conduct had resulted in his dismissal.  But, meanwhile, he had made many
friends amongst young men of his own age--those loose wild viveurs who,
without doing anything the law can punish as dishonest, contrive for a
few fast years to live very showily on their wits.  In that strange
social fermentation which still prevails in a country where an
aristocracy of birth, exceedingly impoverished, and exceedingly numerous
so far as the right to prefix a De to the name, or to stamp a coronet on
the card, can constitute an aristocrat--is diffused amongst an ambitious,
adventurous, restless, and not inelegant young democracy--each cemented
with the other by that fiction of law called egalite; in that yet
unsettled and struggling society in which so much of the old has been
irretrievably destroyed, and so little of the new has been solidly
constructed--there are much greater varieties, infinitely more subtle
grades and distinctions, in the region of life which lies between
respectability and disgrace, than can be found in a country like ours.
The French novels and dramas may apply less a mirror than a magnifying-
glass to the beings that move through that region.  But still those
French novels and dramas do not unfaithfully represent the
classifications of which they exaggerate the types.  Those strange
combinations, into one tableau, of students and grisettes; opera-dancers,
authors, viscounts, swindlers, romantic Lorettes, gamblers on the Bourse,
whose pedigree dates from the Crusades; impostors, taking titles from
villages in which their grandsires might have been saddlers--and if
detected, the detection but a matter of laugh; delicate women living like
lawless men; men making trade out of love, like dissolute women, yet with
point of honour so nice, that, doubt their truth or their courage, and--
piff! you are in Charon's boat,--humanity in every civilised land may
present single specimens, more or less, answering to each thus described.
But where, save in France, find them all, if not precisely in the same
salons, yet so crossing each other to and fro as to constitute a social
phase, and give colour to a literature of unquestionable genius?  And
where, over orgies so miscellaneously Berecynthian, an atmosphere so
elegantly Horatian?  And where can coarseness so vanish into polished
expression as in that diamond-like language--all terseness and sparkle--
which, as friendly to Wit in its airiest prose, as hostile to Passion in
its torrent of cloud-wrack of poetry, seems invented by the Grace out of
spite to the Muse?

Into circles such as those of which the dim outline is here so
imperfectly sketched, Jasper Losely niched himself, as /le bel Anglais/.
(Pleasant representative of the English nation!)  Not that those circles
are to have the sole credit of his corruption.  No!  Justice is justice!
Stand we up for our native land! /Le bel Anglais/ entered those circles a
much greater knave than most of those whom he found there.  But there, at
least, he learned to set a yet higher value on his youth, and strength,
and comeliness--on his readiness of resource--on the reckless audacity
that browbeat timid and some even valiant men--on the six feet one of
faultless symmetry that captivated foolish, and some even sensible women.
Gaming was, however, his vice by predilection.  A month before Arabella
met him, he had had a rare run of luck.  On the strength of it he had
resolved to return to London, and (wholly oblivious of the best of
creatures till she had thus startled him) hunt out and swoop off with an
heiress.  Three French friends accompanied him.  Each had the same
object.  Each believed that London swarmed with heiresses.  They were
all three fine-looking men.  One was a Count,--at least he said so.  But
proud of his rank?--not a bit of it: all for liberty (no man more likely
to lose it)--all for fraternity (no man you would less love as a
brother).  And as for /egalite!/--the son of a shoemaker who was /homme
de lettres/, and wrote in a journal, inserted a jest on the Count's
courtship.  "All men are equal before the pistol," said the Count; and
knowing that in that respect he was equal to most, having practised at
/poupees/ from the age of fourteen, he called out the son of Crispin and
shot him through the lungs.  Another of Jasper's travelling friends was
an /enfant die peuple/--boasted that he was a foundling.  He made verses
of lugubrious strain, and taught Jasper how to shuffle at whist.  The
third, like Jasper, had been designed for trade; and, like Jasper, he had
a soul above it.  In politics he was a Communist--in talk Philanthropist.
He was the cleverest man of them all, and is now at the galleys.  The
fate of his two compatriots--more obscure it is not my duty to discover.
In that peculiar walk of life Jasper is as much as I can possibly manage.

It need not be said that Jasper carefully abstained from reminding his
old city friends of his existence.  It was his object and his hope to
drop all identity with that son of a convict who had been sent out of the
way to escape humiliation.  In this resolve he was the more confirmed
because he had no old city friends out of whom anything could be well
got.  His poor uncle, who alone of his relations in England had been
privy to his change of name, was dead; his end hastened by grief for
William Losely's disgrace, and the bad reports he had received from
France of the conduct of William Losely's son.  That uncle had left, in
circumstances too straitened to admit the waste of a shilling, a widow of
very rigid opinions; who, if ever by some miraculous turn in the wheel of
fortune she could have become rich enough to slay a fatted calf, would
never have given the shin-bone of it to a prodigal like Jasper, even had
he been her own penitent son, instead of a graceless step-nephew.
Therefore, as all civilisation proceeds westward, Jasper turned his face
from the east; and had no more idea of recrossing Temple Bar in search of
fortune, friends, or kindred, than a modern Welshman would dream of a
pilgrimage to Asian shores to re-embrace those distant relatives whom Hu
Gadarn left behind him countless centuries ago, when that mythical chief
conducted his faithfid Cymrians over the Hazy Sea to this happy island of
Honey.

     [Mel Ynnys--Isle of Honey.  One of the poetic names given to England
     in the language of the ancient Britons.]

Two days after his rencontre with Arabella in the Green Park, the /soi-
disant/ Hammond having, in the interim, learned that Darrell was
immensely rich, and that Matilda was his only surviving child, did not
fail to find himself in the Green Park again--and again--and again!

Arabella, of course, felt how wrong it was to allow him to accost her,
and walk by one side of her while Miss Darrell was on the other.  But she
felt, also, as if it would be much more wrong to slip out and meet him
alone.  Not for worlds would she again have placed herself in such peril.
To refuse to meet him at all?--she had not strength enough for that!  Her
joy at seeing him was so immense.  And nothing could be more respectful
than Jasper's manner and conversation.  Whatever of warmer and more
impassioned sentiment was exchanged between them passed in notes.  Jasper
had suggested to Arabella to represent him to Matilda as some near
relation.  But Arabella refused all such disguise.  Her sole claim to
self-respect was in considering him solemnly engaged to her--the man she
was to marry.

And, after the second time they thus met, she said to Matilda, who had
not questioned her by a word-by a look: "I was to be married to that
gentleman before my father died; we are to be married as soon as we have
something to live upon."

Matilda made some commonplace but kindly rejoinder.  And thus she became
raised into Arabella's confidence, so far as that confidence could be
given, without betraying Jasper's real name or one darker memory in
herself.  Luxury, indeed, it was to Arabella to find, at last, some one
to whom she could speak of that betrothal in which her whole future was
invested--of that affection which was her heart's sheet-anchor--of that
home, humble it might be and far off, but to which Time rarely fails to
bring the Two, if never weary of the trust to become as One.  Talking
thus, Arabella forgot the relationship of pupil and teacher; it was as
woman to woman--girl to girl--friend to friend.  Matilda seemed touched
by the confidence--flattered to possess at last another's secret.
Arabella was a little chafed that she did not seem to admire Jasper as
much as Arabella thought the whole world must admire.  Matilda excused
herself.  "She had scarcely noticed Mr. Hammond.  Yes: she had no doubt
he would be considered handsome; but she owned, though it might be bad
taste, that she preferred a pale complexion, with auburn hair;" and then
she sighed and looked away, as if she had, in the course of her secret
life, encountered some fatal pale complexion, with never-to-be-forgotten
auburn hair.  Not a word was said by either Matilda or Arabella as to
concealing from Mr. Darrell these meetings with Mr. Hammond.  Perhaps
Arabella could not stoop to ask that secrecy; but there was no necessity
to ask; Matilda was always too rejoiced to have something to conceal.

Now, in these interviews, Jasper scarcely ever addressed himself to
Matilda; not twenty spoken words could have passed between them; yet, in
the very third interview, Matilda's sly fingers had closed on a sly note.
And from that day, in each interview, Arabella walking in the centre,
Jasper on one side, Matilda the other--behind Arabella's back-passed the
sly fingers and the sly notes, which Matilda received and answered.  Not
more than twelve or fourteen times was even this interchange effected.
Darrell was about to move to Fawley.  All such meetings would be now
suspended.  Two or three mornings before that fixed for leaving London,
Matilda's room was found vacant.  She was gone.  Arabella was the first
to discover her flight, the first to learn its cause.  Matilda had left
on her writing-table a letter for Miss Fossett.  It was very short, very
quietly expressed, and it rested her justification on a note from Jasper,
which she enclosed--a note in which that gallant hero, ridiculing the
idea that he could ever have been in love with Arabella, declared that he
would destroy himself if Matilda refused to fly.  She need not fear such
angelic confidence in him.  No!  Even

                    Had he a heart for falsehood framed,
                    He ne'er could injure her."

Stifling each noisier cry--but panting--gasping--literally half out of
her mind, Arabella rushed into Darrell's study.  He, unsuspecting man,
calmly bending over his dull books, was startled by her apparition.  Few
minutes sufficed to tell him all that it concerned him to learn.  Few
brief questions, few passionate answers, brought him to the very worst.

Who, and what, was this Mr. Hammond?  Heaven of heavens! the son of
William Losely--of a transported felon!

Arabella exulted in a reply which gave her a moment's triumph over the
rival who had filched from her such a prize.  Roused from his first
misery and sense of abasement in this discovery, Darrell's wrath was
naturally poured, not on the fugitive child, but on the frontless woman,
who, buoyed up by her own rage and sense of wrong, faced him, and did not
cower.  She, the faithless governess, had presented to her pupil this
convict's son in another name; she owned it--she had trepanned into the
snares of so vile a fortune-hunter an ignorant child: she might feign
amaze--act remorse--she must have been the man's accomplice.  Stung,
amidst all the bewilderment of her anguish, by this charge, which, at
least, she did not deserve, Arabella tore from her bosom Jasper's recent
letters to herself--letters all devotion and passion--placed them before
Darrell, and bade him read.  Nothing thought she then of name and fame--
nothing but of her wrongs and of her woes.  Compared to herself, Matilda
seemed the perfidious criminal--she the injured victim.  Darrell but
glanced over the letters; they were signed "your loving husband."

"What is this?"  he exclaimed; "are you married to the man?"

"Yes," cried Arabella, "in the eyes of Heaven!"

To Darrell's penetration there was no mistaking the significance of those
words and that look; and his wrath redoubled.  Anger in him, when once
roused, was terrible; he had small need of words to vent it.  His eye
withered, his gesture appalled.  Conscious but of one burning firebrand
in brain and heart--of a sense that youth, joy, and hope were for ever
gone, that the world could never be the same again--Arabella left the
house, her character lost, her talents useless, her very means of
existence stopped.  Who henceforth would take her to teach?  Who
henceforth place their children under her charge?

She shrank into a gloomy lodging--she--shut herself up alone with her
despair.  Strange though it may seem, her anger against Jasper was slight
as compared with the in tensity of her hate to Matilda.  And stranger
still it may seem, that as her thoughts recovered from their first chaos,
she felt more embittered against the world, more crushed by a sense of
shame, and yet galled by a no less keen sense of injustice, in recalling
the scorn with which Darrell had rejected all excuse for her conduct in
the misery it had occasioned her, than she did by the consciousness of
her own lamentable errors.  As in Darrell's esteem there was something
that, to those who could appreciate it, seemed invaluable, so in his
contempt to those who had cherished that esteem there was a weight of
ignominy, as if a judge had pronounced a sentence that outlaws the rest
of life.

Arabella had not much left out of her munificent salary.  What she had
hitherto laid by had passed to Jasper--defraying, perhaps, the very cost
of his flight with her treacherous rival.  When her money was gone, she
pawned the poor relics of her innocent happy girlhood, which she had been
permitted to take from her father's home, and had borne with her wherever
she went, like household gods, the prize-books, the lute, the costly
work-box, the very bird-cage, all which the reader will remember to have
seen in her later life, the books never opened--the lute broken, the bird
long, long, long vanished from the cage!  Never did she think she should
redeem those pledges from that Golgotha, which takes, rarely to give
back, so many hallowed tokens of the Dreamland called "Better Days,"--
the trinkets worn at the first ball, the ring that was given with the
earliest love-vow--yea, even the very bells and coral that pleased the
infant in his dainty cradle, and the very Bible in which the lips, that
now bargain for sixpence more, read to some grey-haired father on his bed
of death!

Soon the sums thus miserably raised were as miserably doled away.  With a
sullen apathy the woman contemplated famine.  She would make no effort to
live--appeal to no relations, no friends.  It was a kind of vengeance she
took on others, to let herself drift on to death.  She had retreated from
lodging to lodging, each obscurer, more desolate than the other.  Now,
she could no longer pay rent for the humblest room; now, she was told to
go forth--whither?  She knew not--cared not--took her way towards the
River, as by that instinct which, when the mind is diseased, tends
towards self-destruction, scarce less involuntarily than it turns, in
health, towards self-preservation.  Just as she passed under the lamp-
light at the foot of Westminster Bridge, a man looked at her, and seized
her arm.  She raised her head with a chilly, melancholy scorn, as if she
had received an insult--as if she feared that the man knew the stain upon
her name, and dreamed, in his folly, that the dread of death might cause
her to sin again.

"Do you not know me?"  said the man; "more strange that I should
recognise you!  Dear, dear, and what a dress!--how you are altered!  Poor
thing!"

At the words "poor thing" Arabella burst into tears; and in those tears
the heavy cloud on her brain seemed to melt away.

"I have been inquiring, seeking for you everywhere, Miss," resumed the
man.  "Surely, you know me now!  Your poor aunt's lawyer!  She is no
more--died last week.  She has left you all she had in the world; and a
very pretty income it is, too, for a single lady."

Thus it was that we find Arabella installed in the dreary comforts of
Podden Place.  "She exchanged," she said, "in honour to her aunt's
memory, her own name for that of Crane, which her aunt had borne--her own
mother's maiden name."  She assumed, though still so young, that title of
"Mrs." which spinsters, grown venerable, moodily adopt when they desire
all mankind to know that henceforth they relinquish the vanities of
tender misses--that, become mistress of themselves, they defy and spit
upon our worthless sex, which, whatever its repentance, is warned that it
repents in vain.  Most of her aunt's property was in houses, in various
districts of Bloombury.  Arabella moved from one to the other of these
tenements, till she settled for good into the dullest of all.  To make it
duller yet, by contrast with the past, the Golgotha for once gave up its
buried treasures--broken lute, birdless cage!

Somewhere about two years after Matilda's death, Arabella happened to be
in the office of the agent who collected her house-rents, when a well-
dressed man entered, and, leaning over the counter, said: "There is an
advertisement in to-day's Times about a lady who offers a home,
education, and so forth, to any little motherless girl; terms moderate,
as said lady loves children for their own sake.  Advertiser refers to
your office for particulars--give them!"

The agent turned to his books; and Arabella turned towards the inquirer.
"For whose child do you want a home, Jasper Losely?"

Jasper started.  "Arabella!  Best of creatures!  And can you deign to
speak to such a vil---"

"Hush--let us walk.  Never mind the advertisement of a stranger.  I may
find a home for a motherless child--a home that will cost you nothing."

She drew him into the street.  "But can this be the child of--of--Matilda
Darrell?"--

"Bella!"  replied, in coaxing accents, that most execrable of lady-
killers, "can I trust you?--can you be my friend in spite of my having
been such a very sad dog?  But money--what can one do without money in
this world?  'Had I a heart for falsehood framed, it would ne'er have
injured you'--if I had not been so cursedly hard up!  And indeed, now, if
you would but condescend to forgive and forget, perhaps some day or other
we may be Darby and Joan--only, you see, just at this moment I am really
not worthy of such a Joan.  You know, of course, that I am a widower--not
inconsolable."

"Yes; I read of Mrs. Hammond's death in an old newspaper."

"And you did not read of her baby's death, too--some weeks afterwards?"'

"No; it is seldom that I see a newspaper.  Is the infant dead?"

"Hum--you shall hear."  And Jasper entered into a recital, to which
Arabella listened with attentive interest.  At the close she offered to
take, herself, the child for whom Jasper sought a home.  She informed him
of her change of name and address.  The wretch promised to call that
evening with the infant; but he sent the infant, and did not call.  Nor
did he present himself again to her eyes, until, several years
afterwards, those eyes so luridly welcomed him to Podden Place.  But
though he did not even condescend to write to her in the mean while, it
is probable that Arabella contrived to learn more of his habits and mode
of life at Paris than she intimated when they once more met face to face.

And now the reader knows more than Alban Morley, or Guy Darrell, perhaps
ever will know, of the grim woman in iron-grey,



CHAPTER X.

              "Sweet are the uses of Adversity,
               Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
               Bears yet a precious jewel in its head."

     MOST PERSONS WILL AGREE THAT THE TOAD IS UGLY AND VENOMOUS, BUT FEW
     INDEED ARE THE PERSONS WHO CAN BOAST OF HAVING ACTUALLY DISCOVERED
     THAT "PRECIOUS JEWEL IN ITS HEAD," WHICH THE POET ASSURES US IS
     PLACED THERE.  BUT CALAMITY MAY BE CLASSED IN TWO GREAT DIVISIONS--
     1ST, THE AFFLICTIONS, WHICH NO PRUDENCE CAN AVERT; 2ND, THE
     MISFORTUNES, WHICH MEN TAKE ALL POSSIBLE PAINS TO BRING UPON
     THEMSELVES.  AFFLICTIONS OF THE FIRST CLASS MAY BUT CALL FORTH OUR
     VIRTUES, AND RESULT IN OUR ULTIMATE GOOD.  SUCH IS THE ADVERSITY
     WHICH MAY GIVE US THE JEWEL.  BUT TO GET AT THE JEWEL WE MUST KILL
     THE TOAD.  MISFORTUNES OF THE SECOND CLASS BUT TOO OFTEN INCREASE
     THE ERRORS OR THE VICES BY WHICH THEY WERE CREATED.  SUCH IS THE
     ADVERSITY WHICH IS ALL TOAD AND NO JEWEL.  IF YOU CHOOSE TO BREED
     AND FATTEN YOUR OWN TOADS, THE INCREASE OF THE VENOM ABSORBS EVERY
     BIT OF THE JEWEL.

Never did I know a man who was an habitual gambler, otherwise than
notably inaccurate in his calculations of probabilities in the ordinary
affairs of life.  Is it that such a man has become so chronic a drunkard
of hope, that he sees double every chance in his favour?

Jasper Losely had counted upon two things as matters of course.

1st.  Darrell's speedy reconciliation with his only child.  2nd.  That
Darrell's only child must of necessity be Darrell's heiress.

In both these expectations the gambler was deceived.  Darrell did not
even answer the letters that Matilda addressed to him from France, to the
shores of which Jasper had borne her, and where he had hastened to make
her his wife under the assumed name of Hammond, but his true Christian
name of Jasper.

In the disreputable marriage Matilda had made, all the worst parts of her
character seemed suddenly revealed to her father's eye, and he saw what
he had hitherto sought not to see, the true child of a worthless mother.
A mere mesalliance, if palliated by long or familiar acquaintance with
the object, however it might have galled him, his heart might have
pardoned; but here, without even a struggle of duty, without the ordinary
coyness of maiden pride, to be won with so scanty a wooing, by a man who
she knew was betrothed to another--the dissimulation, the perfidy, the
combined effrontery and meanness of the whole transaction, left no force
in Darrell's eyes to the common place excuses of experience and youth.
Darrell would not have been Darrell if he could have taken back to his
home or his heart a daughter so old in deceit, so experienced in thoughts
that dishonour.

Darrell's silence, however, little saddened the heartless bride, and
little dismayed the sanguine bridegroom.  Both thought that pardon and
plenty were but the affair of time a little more or little less.  But
their funds rapidly diminished; it became necessary to recruit them.  One
can't live in hotels entirely upon hope.  Leaving his bride for a while
in a pleasant provincial town, not many hours distant from Paris, Jasper
returned to London, intent upon seeing Darrell himself; and, should the
father-in-law still defer articles of peace, Jasper believed that he
could have no trouble in raising a present supply upon such an El Dorado
of future expectations.  Darrell at once consented to see Jasper, not at
his own house, but at his solicitor's.  Smothering all opposing disgust,
the proud gentleman deemed this condescension essential to the clear and
definite understanding of those resolves upon which depended the worldly
station and prospects of the wedded pair.

When Jasper was shown into Mr. Gotobed's office, Darrell was alone,
standing near the hearth, and by a single quiet gesture repelled that
tender rush towards his breast which Jasper had elaborately prepared; and
thus for the first time the two men saw each other, Darrell perhaps yet
more resentfully mortified while recognising those personal advantages in
the showy profligate which had rendered a daughter of his house so facile
a conquest: Jasper (who had chosen to believe that a father-in-law so
eminent must necessarily be old and broken) shocked into the most
disagreeable surprise by the sight of a man still young, under forty,
with a countenance, a port, a presence, that in any assemblage would have
attracted the general gaze from his own brilliant self, and looking
altogether as unfavourable an object, whether for pathos or for post-
obits, as unlikely to breathe out a blessing or to give up the ghost, as
the worst brute of a father-in-law could possibly be.  Nor were Darrell's
words more comforting than his aspect.

"Sir, I have consented to see you, partly that you may learn from my own
lips once for all that I admit no man's right to enter my family without
my consent, and that consent you will never receive; and partly that,
thus knowing each other by sight, each may know the man it becomes him
most to avoid.  The lady who is now your wife is entitled by my marriage-
settlement to the reversion of a small fortune at my death; nothing more
from me is she likely to inherit.  As I have no desire that she to whom I
once gave the name of daughter should be dependent wholly on yourself for
bread, my solicitor will inform you on what conditions I am willing,
during my life, to pay the interest of the sum which will pass to your
wife at my death.  Sir, I return to your hands the letters that lady has
addressed to me, and which, it is easy to perceive, were written at your
dictation.  No letter from her will I answer.  Across my threshold her
foot will never pass.  Thus, sir, concludes all possible intercourse
between you and myself; what rests is between you and that gentleman."

Darrell had opened a side-door in speaking the last words--pointed
towards the respectable form of Mr. Gotobed standing tall beside his tall
desk--and, before Jasper could put in a word, the father-in-law was gone.

With becoming brevity, Mr. Gotobed made Jasper fully aware that not only
all, Mr. Darrell's funded or personal property was entirely at his own
disposal--that not only the large landed estates he had purchased (and
which Jasper had vaguely deemed inherited and in strict entail) were in
the same condition--condition enviable to the proprietor, odious to the
bridegroom of the proprietor's sole daughter; but that even the fee-
simple of the poor Fawley Manor House and lands were vested in Darrell,
encumbered only by the portion of L10,000 which the late Mrs. Darrell had
brought to her husband, and which was settled, at the death of herself
and Darrell, on the children of the marriage.

In the absence of marriage-settlements between Jasper and Matilda, that
sum at Darrell's death was liable to be claimed by Jasper, in right of
his wife, so as to leave no certainty that provision would remain for the
support of his wife and family; and the contingent reversion might, in
the mean time, be so dealt with as to bring eventual poverty on them all.

"Sir," said the lawyer, "I will be quite frank with you.  It is my wish,
acting for Mr. Darrell, so to settle this sum of L10,000 on your wife,
and any children she may bear you, as to place it out of your power to
anticipate or dispose of it, even with Mrs. Hammond's consent.  If you
part with that power, not at present a valuable one, you are entitled to
compensation.  I am prepared to make that compensation liberal.  Perhaps
you would prefer communicating with me through your own solicitor.  But I
should tell you, that the terms are more likely to be advantageous to you
in proportion as negotiation is confined to us two.  It might, for
instance, be expedient to tell your solicitor that your true name (I beg
you a thousand pardons) is not Hammond.  That is a secret which, the more
you can keep it to yourself, the better I think it will be for you.  We
have no wish to blab it out."

Jasper, by this time, had somewhat recovered the first shock of
displeasure and disappointment; and with that quickness which so
erratically darted through a mind that contrived to be dull when anything
honest was addressed to its apprehension, he instantly divined that his
real name of Losely was worth something.  He had no idea of reusing--was,
indeed, at that time anxious altogether to ignore and eschew it; but he
had a right to it, and a man's rights are not to be resigned for nothing.
Accordingly, he said with some asperity: "I shall resume my family name
whenever I choose it.  If Mr. Darrell does not like his daughter to be
called Mrs. Jasper Losely--or all the malignant tittle-tattle which my
poor father's unfortunate trial might provoke--he must, at least, ask me
as a favour to retain the name I have temporarily adopted--a name in my
family, sir.  A Losely married a Hammond, I forget when--generations ago
--you'll see it in the Baronetage.  My grandfather, Sir Julian, was not a
crack lawyer, but he was a baronet of as good birth as any in the
country; and my father, sir"--(Jasper's voice trembled) "my father," he
repeated, fiercely striking his clenched hand on the table, "was a
gentleman every inch of his body; and I'll pitch any man out of the
window who says a word to the contrary!"

"Sir," said Mr. Gotobed, shrinking towards the bell pull, "I think, on
the whole, I had better see your solicitor."

Jasper cooled down at that suggestion; and, with a slight apology for
natural excitement, begged to know what Mr. Gotobed wished to propose.
To make an end of this part of the story, after two or three interviews,
in which the two negotiators learned to understand each other, a
settlement was legally completed, by which the sum of L10,000 was
inalienably settled on Matilda, and her children by her marriage with
Jasper; in case he survived her, the interest was to be his for life--
in case she died childless, the capital would devolve to himself at
Darrell's decease.  Meanwhile, Darrell agreed to pay L500 a year, as the
interest of the L10,000 at five per cent., to Jasper Hammond, or his
order, provided always that Jasper and his wife continued to reside
together, and fixed that residence abroad.

By a private verbal arrangement, not even committed to writing, to this
sum was added another L200 a year, wholly at Darrell's option and
discretion.  It being clearly comprehended that these words meant so long
as Mr. Hammond kept his own secret, and so long, too, as he forbore,
directly or indirectly, to molest, or even to address, the person at
whose pleasure it was held.  On the whole, the conditions to Jasper were
sufficiently favourable: he came into an income immeasurably beyond his
right to believe that he should ever enjoy; and sufficient--well managed
--for even a fair share of the elegancies as well as comforts of life, to
a young couple blest in each other's love, and remote from the horrible
taxes and emulous gentilities of this opulent England, where out of fear
to be thought too poor nobody is ever too rich.

Matilda wrote no more to Darrell.  But some months afterwards he received
an extremely well-expressed note in French, the writer whereof
represented herself as a French lady, who had very lately seen Madame
Hammondwho was now in London, but for a few days, and had something to
communicate, of such importance as to justify the liberty she took in
requesting him to honour her with a visit.  After some little hesitation,
Darrell called on this lady.  Though Matilda had forfeited his affection,
he could not contemplate her probable fate without painful anxiety.
Perhaps Jasper had ill-used her--perhaps she had need of shelter
elsewhere.  Though that shelter could not again be under a father's roof
--and though Darrell would have taken no steps to separate her from the
husband she had chosen, still, in secret, he would have felt comparative
relief and ease had she herself sought to divide her fate from one whose
path downwards in dishonour his penetration instinctively divined.  With
an idea that some communication might be made to him, to which he might
reply that Matilda, if compelled to quit her husband, should never want
the home and subsistence of a gentlewoman, he repaired to the house (a
handsome house in a quiet street) temporarily occupied by the French
lady.  A tall chasseur, in full costume, opened the door--a page ushered
him into the drawing-room.  He saw a lady--young-and with all the grace
of a Parisieune in her manner--who, after some exquisitely-turned phrases
of excuse, showed him (as a testimonial of the intimacy between herself
and Madame Hammond) a letter she had received from Matilda, in a very
heart-broken, filial strain, full of professions of penitence--of a
passionate desire for her father's forgivenessbut far from complaining of
Jasper, or hinting at the idea of deserting a spouse with whom, but for
the haunting remembrance of a beloved parent, her lot would be blest
indeed.  Whatever of pathos was deficient in the letter, the French lady
supplied by such apparent fine feeling, and by so many touching little
traits of Matilda's remorse, that Darrell's heart was softened in spite
of his reason.  He went away, however, saying very little, and intending
to call no more.  But another note came.  The French lady had received a
letter from a mutual friend--"Matilda," she feared, "was dangerously
ill."  This took him again to the house, and the poor French lady seemed
so agitated by the news she had heard--and yet so desirous not to
exaggerate nor alarm him needlessly, that Darrell suspected his daughter
was really dying, and became nervously anxious himself for the next
report.  Thus, about three or four visits in all necessarily followed the
first one.  Then Darrell abruptly closed the intercourse, and could not
be induced to call again.  Not that he for an instant suspected that this
amiable lady, who spoke so becomingly, and whose manners were so high-
bred, was other than the well-born Baroness she called herself, and
looked to be, but partly because, in the last interview, the charming
Parisienne had appeared a little to forget Matilda's alarming illness,
in a not forward but still coquettish desire to centre his attention more
upon herself; and the moment she did so, he took a dislike to her which
he had not before conceived; and partly because his feelings having
recovered the first effect which the vision of a penitent, pining, dying
daughter could not fail to produce, his experience of Matilda's duplicity
and falsehood made him discredit the penitence, the pining, and the
dying.  The Baroness might not wilfully be deceiving him--Matilda might
be wilfully deceiving the Baroness.  To the next note, therefore,
despatched to him by the feeling and elegant foreigner, he replied but
by a dry excuse--a stately hint, that family matters could never be
satisfactorily discussed except in family councils, and that if her
friend's grief or illness were really in any way occasioned by a belief
in the pain her choice of life might have inflicted on himself, it might
comfort her to know that that pain had subsided, and that his wish for
her health and happiness was not less sincere, because henceforth he
could neither watch over the one nor administer to the other.  To this
note, after a day or two, the Baroness replied by a letter so beautifully
worded, I doubt whether Madame de Sevigne could have written in purer
French, or Madame de Steel with a finer felicity of phrase.  Stripped of
the graces of diction, the substance was but small: "Anxiety for a friend
so beloved--so unhappy--more pitied even than before, now that the
Baroness had been enabled to see how fondly a daughter must idolise a
father in the Man whom the nation revered!--(here two lines devoted to
compliment personal)--compelled by that anxiety to quit even sooner than
she had first intended the metropolis of that noble Country," &c.--(here
four lines devoted to compliment national)--and then proceeding through
some charming sentences about patriot altars and domestic hearths, the
writer suddenly checked herself--" would intrude no more on time
sublimely dedicated to the Human Race--and concluded with the assurance
of sentiments the most /distinguees/."  Little thought Darrell that this
complimentary stranger, whom he never again beheld, would exercise an
influence over that portion of his destiny which then seemed to him most
secure from evil; towards which, then, be looked for the balm to every
wound--the compensation to every loss!

Darrell heard no more of Matilda, till, not long afterwards, her death
was announced to him.  She had died from exhaustion shortly after giving
birth to a female child.  The news came upon him at a moment; when, from
other causes--(the explanation of which, forming no part of his
confidence to Alban, it will be convenient to reserve)--his mind was in a
state of great affliction and disorder--when he had already buried
himself in the solitudes of Fawley--ambition resigned and the world
renounced--and the intelligence saddened and shocked him more than it
might have done some months before.  If, at that moment of utter
bereavement, Matilda's child had been brought to him--given up to him to
rear--would he have rejected it? would he have forgotten that it was a
felon's grandchild?

I dare not say.  But his pride was not put to such a trial.  One day he
received a packet from Mr. Gotobed, enclosing the formal certificates of
the infant's death, which had been presented to him by Jasper, who had
arrived in London for that melancholy purpose, with which he combined
a pecuniary proposition.  By the death of Matilda and her only child, the
sum of L10,000 absolutely reverted to Jasper in the event of Darrell's
decease.  As the interest meanwhile was continued to Jasper, that widowed
mourner suggested "that it would be a great boon to himself and no
disadvantage to Darrell if the principal were made over to him at once.
He had been brought up originally to commerce.  He had abjured all
thoughts of resuming such vocation during his wife's lifetime, out of
that consideration for her family and ancient birth which motives of
delicacy imposed.  Now that the connection with Mr. Darrell was
dissolved, it might be rather a relief than otherwise to that gentleman
to know that a son-in-law so displeasing to him was finally settled, not
only in a foreign land, but in a social sphere in which his very
existence would soon be ignored by all who could remind Mr. Darrell that
his daughter had once a husband.  An occasion that might never occur
again now presented itself.  A trading firm at Paris, opulent, but
unostentatiously quiet in its mercantile transactions, would accept him
as a partner could he bring to it the additional capital of L10,000."
Not without dignity did Jasper add, "that since his connection had been
so unhappily distasteful to Mr. Darrell, and since the very payment, each
quarter, of the interest on the sum in question must in itself keep alive
the unwelcome remembrance of that connection, he had the less scruple in
making a proposition which would enable the eminent personage who so
disdained his alliance to get rid of him altogether."  Darrell closed at
once with Jasper's proposal, pleased to cut off from his life each tie
that could henceforth link it to Jasper's, nor displeased to relieve his
hereditary acres from every shilling of the marriage portion which was
imposed on it as a debt, and associated with memories of unmingled
bitterness.  Accordingly, Mr. Gotobed, taking care first to ascertain
that the certificates as to the poor child's death were genuine, accepted
Jasper's final release of all claim on Mr. Darrell's estate.  There
still, however, remained the L200 a year which Jasper had received during
Matilda's life, on the tacit condition of remaining Mr. Hammond, and not
personally addressing Mr. Darrell.  Jasper inquired "if that annuity was
to continue?"  Mr. Gotobed referred the inquiry to Darrell, observing
that the object for which this extra allowance had been made was rendered
nugatory by the death of Mrs. Hammond and her child; since Jasper
henceforth could have neither power nor pretext to molest Mr. Darrell,
and that it could signify but little what name might in future be borne
by one whose connection with the Darrell family was wholly dissolved.
Darrell impatiently replied, "That nothing having been said as to the
withdrawal of the said allowance in case Jasper became a widower, he
remained equally entitled, in point of honour, to receive that allowance,
or an adequate equivalent."

This answer being intimated to Jasper, that gentleman observed "that it
was no more than he had expected from Mr. Darrell's sense of honour," and
apparently quite satisfied, carried himself and his L10,000 back to
Paris.  Not long after, however, he wrote to Mr. Gotobed that "Mr.
Darrell having alluded to an equivalent for the L200 a year allowed to
him, evidently implying that it was as disagreeable to Mr. Darrell to see
that sum entered quarterly in his banker's books, as it had been to see
there the quarterly interest of the L10,000, so Jasper might be excused
in owning that he should prefer an equivalent.  The commercial firm to
which he was about to attach himself required a somewhat larger capital
on his part than he had anticipated, &c., &c.  Without presuming to
dictate any definite sum, he would observe that L1,500 or even L1000
would be of more avail to his views and objects in life than an annuity
of L200 a year, which, being held only at will, was not susceptible of a
temporary loan."  Darrell, wrapped in thoughts wholly remote from
recollections of Jasper, chafed at being thus recalled to the sense of
that person's existence wrote back to the solicitor who transmitted to
him this message, "that an annuity held on his word was not to be
calculated by Mr. Hammond's notions of its value.  That the L200 a year
should therefore be placed on the same footing as the L500 a year that
had been allowed on a capital of L10,000; that accordingly it might be
held to represent a principal of L4,000, for which he enclosed a cheque,
begging Mr. Gotobed not only to make Mr. Hammond fully understand that
there ended all possible accounts or communication between them, but
never again to trouble him with any matters whatsoever in reference to
affairs that were thus finally concluded."  Jasper, receiving the L4,000,
left Darrell and Gotobed in peace till the following year.  He then
addressed to Gotobed an exceedingly plausible, business-like letter.
"The firm he had entered, in the silk trade, was in the most flourishing
state--an opportunity occurred to purchase a magnificent mulberry
plantation in Provence, with all requisite magnanneries, &c., which would
yield an immense increase of profit.  That if, to insure him a share in
this lucrative purchase, Mr. Darrell could accommodate him for a year
with a loan of L2,000 or L3,000, he sanguinely calculated on attaining so
high a position in the commercial world as, though it could not render
the recollection of his alliance more obtrusive to Mr. Darrell, would
render it less humiliating."

Mr. Gotobed, in obedience to the peremptory instructions he had received
from his client, did not refer this letter to Darrell, but having
occasion at that time to visit Paris on other business, he resolved
(without calling on Mr. Hammond) to institute there some private inquiry-
into that rising trader's prospects and status.  He found, on arrival at
Paris, these inquiries difficult.  No one in either the /beau monde/ or
in the /haut commerce/ seemed to know anything about this Mr. Jasper
Hammond.  A few fashionable English /roues/ remembered to have seen, once
or twice during Matilda's life, and shortly after her decease, a very
fine-looking man shooting meteoric across some equivocal /salons/, or
lounging in the Champs Elysees, or dining at the Cafe de Paris; but of
late that meteor had vanished.  Mr. Gotobed, then anxiously employing a
commissioner to gain some information of Mr. Hammond's firm at the
private residence from which Jasper addressed his letter, ascertained
that in that private residence Jasper did not reside.  He paid the porter
to receive occasional letters, for which he called or sent; and the
porter, who was evidently a faithful and discreet functionary, declared
his belief that Monsieur Hammond lodged in the house in which he
transacted business, though where was the house or what was the business,
the porter observed, with well-bred implied rebuke, "Monsieur Hammond was
too reserved to communicate, he himself too incurious to inquire."  At
length, Mr. Gotobed's business, which was, in fact, a commission from a
distressed father to extricate an imprudent son, a mere boy, from some
unhappy associations, having brought him into the necessity of seeing
persons who belonged neither to the /beau monde/ nor to the /haut
commerce/, he gleaned from them the information he desired.  Mr. Hammond
lived in the very heart of a certain circle in Paris, which but few
Englishmen ever penetrate.  In that circle Mr. Hammond had, on receiving
his late wife's dowry, become the partner in a private gambling hell; in
that hell had been engulfed all the monies he had received--a hell that
ought to have prospered with him, if he could have economised his
villanous gains.  His senior partner in that firm retired into the
country with a fine fortune--no doubt the very owner of those mulberry
plantations which were now on sale!  But Jasper scattered napoleons
faster than any croupier could rake them away.  And Jasper's natural
talent for converting solid gold into thin air had been assisted by a
lady who, in the course of her amiable life, had assisted many richer men
than Jasper to lodgings in /St. Pelagie/, or cells in the /Maison des
Fous/.  With that lady he had become acquainted during the lifetime of
his wife, and it was supposed that Matilda's discovery of this liaison
had contributed perhaps to the illness which closed in her decease; the
name of that lady was Gabrielle Desinarets.  She might still be seen
daily at the Bois de Boulogne, nightly at opera-house or theatre; she had
apartments in the Chaussee d'Antin far from inaccessible to Mr. Gotobed,
if he coveted the honour of her acquaintance.  But Jasper was less before
an admiring world.  He was supposed now to be connected with another
gambling-house of lower grade than the last, in which he had contrived to
break his own bank and plunder his own till.  It was supposed also that
he remained good friends with Mademoiselle Desmarets; but if he visited
her at her house, he was never to be seen there.  In fact, his temper was
so uncertain, his courage so dauntless, his strength so prodigious, that
gentlemen who did not wish to be thrown out of the window, or hurled down
a staircase, shunned any salon or boudoir in which they had a chance
to encounter him.  Mademoiselle Desmarets had thus been condemned to the
painful choice between his society and that of nobody else, or that of
anybody else with the rigid privation of his.  Not being a turtle-dove,
she had chosen the latter alternative.  It was believed, nevertheless,
that if Gabrielle Desmarets had known the weakness of a kind sentiment,
it was for this turbulent lady-killer; and that, with a liberality she
had never exhibited in any other instance, when she could no longer help
him to squander, she would still, at a pinch, help him to live; though,
of course, in such a reverse of the normal laws of her being,
Mademoiselle Desmarets set those bounds on her own generosity which she
would not have imposed upon his, and had said with a sigh: "I could
forgive him if he beat me and beggared my friends! but to beat my friends
and to beggar me,--that is not the kind of love which makes the world go
round!"

Scandalised to the last nerve of his respectable system by the
information thus gleaned, Mr. Gotobed returned to London.  More letters
from Jasper--becoming urgent, and at last even insolent--Mr. Gotobed
worried into a reply, wrote back shortly "that he could not even
communicate such applications to Mr. Darrell, and that he must
peremptorily decline all further intercourse, epistolary or personal,
with Mr. Hammond."

Darrell, on returning from one of the occasional rambles on the
Continent, "remote, unfriended, melancholy," by which he broke the
monotony of his Fawley life, found a letter from Jasper, not fawning, but
abrupt, addressed to himself, complaining of Mr. Gotobed's improper tone,
requesting pecuniary assistance, and intimating that he could in return
communicate to Mr. Darrell an intelligence that would give him more joy
than all his wealth could purchase.  Darrell enclosed that note to Mr.
Gotobed; Mr. Gotobed came down to Fawley to make those revelations of
Jasper's mode of life which were too delicate--or too much the reverse of
delicate--to commit to paper.  Great as Darrell's disgust at the memory
of Jasper had hitherto been, it may well be 'conceived how much more
bitter became that memory now.  No answer was, of course, vouchsafed to
Jasper, who, after another extremely forcible appeal for money, and
equally enigmatical boast of the pleasurable information it was in his
power to bestow, relapsed into sullen silence.

One day, somewhat more than five years after Matilda's death, Darrell,
coming in from his musing walks, found a stranger waiting for him.  This
stranger was William Losely, returned from penal exile; and while
Darrell, on hearing this announcement, stood mute with haughty wonder
that such a visitor could cross the threshold of his father's house, the
convict began what seemed to Darrell a story equally audacious and
incomprehensible--the infant Matilda had borne to Jasper, and the
certificates of whose death had been so ceremoniously produced and so
prudently attested, lived still!  Sent out to nurse as soon as born, the
nurse had in her charge another babe, and this last was the child who had
died and been buried as Matilda Hammond's.  The elder Losely went on to
stammer out a hope that his son was not at the time aware of the
fraudulent exchange, but had been deceived by the nurse--that it had not
been a premeditated imposture of his own to obtain his wife's fortune.

When Darrell came to this part of his story, Alban Morley's face grew
more seriously interested.  "Stop!"  he said; "William Losely assured
you of his own conviction that this strange tale was true.  What proofs
did he volunteer?"

"Proofs!  Death, man, do you think that at such moments I was but a
bloodless lawyer, to question and cross examine?  I could but bid the
impostor leave the house which his feet polluted."

Alban heaved a sigh, and murmured, too low for Darrell to overhear, "Poor
Willy!" then aloud: "But, my dear friend, bear with me one moment.
Suppose that, by the arts of this diabolical Jasper, the exchange really
had been effected, and a child to your ancient line lived still, would it
not be a solace, a comfort--"

"Comfort!" cried Darrell, "comfort in the perpetuation of infamy!  The
line I promised my father to restore to its rank in the land, to be
renewed in the grandchild of a felon!--in the child of the yet viler
sharper of a hell!  You, gentleman and soldier, call that thought--
'comfort!'  O Alban!--out on you!  Fie!  fie!  No!--leave such a thought
to the lips of a William Losely!  He indeed, clasping his hands, faltered
forth some such word; he seemed to count on my forlorn privation of kith
and kindred--no heir to my wealth--no representative of my race--would I
deprive myself of--ay--your very words--of a solace--a comfort!  He asked
me, at least, to inquire."

"And you answered?"

"Answered so as to quell and crush in the bud all hopes in the success of
so flagrant a falsehold--answered: 'Why inquire?  Know that, even if your
tale were true, I have no heir, no representative, no descendant in the
child of Jasper--the grandchild of William-Losely.  I can at least leave
my wealth to the son of Charles Haughton.  True, Charles Haughton was a
spendthrift, a gamester; but he was neither a professional cheat nor a
convicted felon.'"

"You said that--Oh, Darrell!"

The Colonel checked himself.  But for Charles Haughton, the spendthrift
and gamester, would William Losely have been the convicted felon?  He
checked that thought, and hurried on: "And how did William Losely reply?"

"He made no reply--he skulked away without a word."  Darrell then
proceeded to relate the interview which Jasper had forced on him at
Fawley during Lionel's visit there--on Jasper's part an attempt to tell
the same tale as William had told--on Darrell's part, the same scornful
refusal to hear it out.  "And," added Darrell, "the man, finding it thus
impossible to dupe my reason, had the inconceivable meanness to apply to
me for alms.  I could not better show the disdain in which I held himself
and his story than in recognising his plea as a mendicant.  I threw my
purse at his feet, and so left him.

"But," continued Darrell, his brow growing darker and darker--" but wild
and monstrous as the story was, still the idea that it MIGHT be true--a
supposition which derived its sole strength from the character of Jasper
Losely--from the interest he had in the supposed death of a child that
alone stood between himself and the money he longed to grasp--an interest
which ceased when the money itself was gone, or rather changed into the
counter-interest of proving a life that, he thought, would re-establish a
hold on me--still, I say, an idea that the story might be true would
force itself on my fears, and if so, though my resolution never to
acknowledge the child of Jasper Losely as a representative, or even as a
daughter, of my house, would of course be immovable--yet it would become
my duty to see that her infancy was sheltered, her childhood reared, her
youth guarded, her existence amply provided for."

"Right--your plain duty," said Alban bluntly.  "Intricate sometimes are
the obligations imposed on us as gentlemen; 'noblesse oblige' is a motto
which involves puzzles for a casuist; but our duties as men are plain--
the idea very properly haunted you--and--"

"And I hastened to exorcise the spectre.  I left England--I went to the
French town in which poor Matilda died--I could not, of course, make
formal or avowed inquiries of a nature to raise into importance the very
conspiracy (if conspiracy there were) which threatened me.  But I saw the
physician who had attended both my daughter and her child--I sought those
who had seen them both when living--seen them both when dead.  The doubt
on my mind was dispelled--not a pretext left for my own self-torment.
The only person needful in evidence whom I failed to see was the nurse to
whom the infant had been sent.  She lived in a village some miles from
the town--I called at her house--she was out.  I left word I should call
the next day--I did so--she had absconded.  I might, doubtless, have
traced her, but to what end if she were merely Jasper's minion and tool?
Did not her very flight prove her guilt and her terror?  Indirectly I
inquired into her antecedents and character.  The inquiry opened a field
of conjecture, from which I hastened to turn my eyes.  This woman had a
sister who had been in the service of Gabrielle Desmarets, and Gabrielle
Desmarets had been in the neighbourhood during my poor daughter's life-
time, and just after my daughter's death.  And the nurse had had two
infants under her charge; the nurse had removed with one of them to
Paris--and Gabrielle Desmarets lived in Paris--and, O Alban, if there be
really in flesh and life a child by Jasper Losely, to be forced upon my
purse or my pity--is it his child, not by the ill-fated Matilda, but by
the vile woman for whom Matilda, even in the first year of wedlock, was
deserted?  Conceive how credulity itself would shrink appalled from the
horrible snare!--I to acknowledge, adopt, proclaim as the last of the
Darrells, the adulterous offspring of a Jasper Losely and a Gabrielle
Desmarets!--or, when I am in my grave, some claim advanced upon the sum
settled by my marriage articles on Matilda's issue, and which, if a child
survived, could not have been legally transferred to its father--a claim
with witnesses suborned--a claim that might be fraudulently established
--a claim that would leave the representative--not indeed of my lands and
wealth, but, more precious far, of my lineage and blood--in--in the
person of--of--"

Darrell paused, almost stifling, and became so pale that Alban started
from his seat in alarm.

"It is nothing," resumed Darrell, faintly, "and, ill or well, I must
finish this subject now, so that we need not reopen it."

"I remained abroad, as you know, for some years.  During that time two or
three letters from Jasper Losely were forwarded to me; the latest in date
more insolent than all preceding ones.  It contained demands as if they
were rights, and insinuated threats of public exposure, reflecting on
myself and my pride: 'He was my son-in-law after all, and if he came to
disgrace, the world should know the tie.'  Enough.  This is all I knew
until the man who now, it seems, thrusts himself forward as Jasper
Losely's friend or agent, spoke to me the other night at Mrs. Haughton's.
That man you have seen, and you say that he--"

"Represents Jasper's poverty as extreme; his temper unscrupulous and
desperate; that he is capable of any amount of scandal or violence.  It
seems that though at Paris he has (Poole believes) still preserved the
name of Hammond, yet that in England he has resumed that of Losely; and
seems by Poole's date of the time at which he, Poole, made Jasper's
acquaintance, to have done so after his baffled attempt on you at Fawley-
whether in so doing he intimated the commencement of hostilities, or
whether, as is more likely, the sharper finds it convenient to have one
name in one country, and one in another, 'tis useless to inquire; enough
that the identity between the Hammond who married poor Matilda, and the
Jasper Losely whose father was transported, that unscrupulous rogue has
no longer any care to conceal.  It is true that the revelation of this
identity would now be of slight moment to a man of the world-as thick-
skinned as myself, for instance; but to you it would be disagreeable-
there is no denying that--and therefore, in short, when Mr. Poole advises
a compromise, by which Jasper could be secured from want and yourself
from annoyance, I am of the same opinion as Mr. Poole is."

"You are?"

"Certainly.  My dear Darrell, if in your secret heart there was something
so galling in the thought that the man who had married your daughter,
though without your consent, was not merely the commonplace adventurer
whom the world supposed, but the son of that poor dear--I mean that
rascal who was transported, Jasper, too, himself a cheat and a sharper-if
this galled you so, that you have concealed the true facts from myself,
your oldest friend, till this day--if it has cost you even now so sharp a
pang to divulge the true name of that Mr. Hammond, whom our society never
saw, whom even gossip has forgotten in connection with yourself--how
intolerable would be your suffering to have this man watching for you in
the streets, some wretched girl in his hand, and crying out, 'A penny for
your son-in-law and your grandchild!'  Pardon me--I must be blunt.  You
can give him to the police--send him to the treadmill.  Does that mend
the matter?  Or, worse still, suppose the man commits some crime that
fills all the newspapers with his life and adventures, including of
course his runaway marriage with the famous Guy Darrell's heiress--no one
would blame you, no one respect you less; but do not tell me that you
would not be glad to save your daughter's name from being coupled with
such a miscreant's at the price of half your fortune."

"Alban'" said Darrell, gloomily, "you can say nothing on this score that
has not been considered by myself.  But the man has so placed the matter,
that honour itself forbids me to bargain with him for the price of my
name.  So long as he threatens, I cannot buy off a threat; so long as he
persists in a story by which he would establish a claim on me on behalf
of a child whom I have every motive as well as every reason to disown as
inheriting my blood--whatever I bestowed on himself would seem like hush-
money to suppress that claim."

"Of course--I understand, and entirely agree with you.  But if the man
retract all threats, confess his imposture in respect to this pretended
offspring, and consent to retire for life to a distant colony, upon an
annuity that may suffice for his wants, but leave no surplus beyond, to
render more glaring his vices, or more effective his powers of evil; if
this could be arranged between Mr. Poole and myself, I think that your
peace might be permanently secured without the slightest sacrifice of
honour.  Will you leave the matter in my hands on this assurance--that I
will not give this person a farthing except on the conditions I have
premised?"

"On these conditions, yes, and most gratefully," said Darrell.  "Do what
you will; but one favour more: never again speak to me (unless absolutely
compelled) in reference to this dark portion of my inner life."

Alban pressed his friend's hand, and both were silent for some moments.
Then said the Colonel, with an attempt at cheerfulness: "Darrell, more
than ever now do I see that the new house at Fawley, so long suspended,
must be finished.  Marry again you must!--you can never banish old
remembrances unless you can supplant them by fresh hopes."

"I feel it--I know it," cried Darrell, passionately.  And oh! if one
remembrance could be wrenched away!  But it shall--it shall!"

"Ah!" thought Alban--" the remembrance of his former conjugal life!--a
remembrance which might well make the youngest and the boldest Benedict
shrink from the hazard of a similar experiment."

In proportion to the delicacy, the earnestness, the depth of a man's
nature, will there be a something in his character which no male friend
can conceive, and a something in the secrets of his life which no male
friend can ever conjecture.



CHAPTER XI.

     OUR OLD FRIEND THE POCKET-CANNIBAL EVINCES UNEXPECTED PATRIOTISM AND
     PHILOSOPHICAL MODERATION, CONTENTED WITH A STEAK OFF HIS OWN
     SUCCULENT FRIEND IN THE AIRS OF HIS OWN NATIVE SKY.

Colonel Morley had a second interview with Mr. Poole.  It needed not
Alban's knowledge of the world to discover that Poole was no partial
friend to Jasper Losely; that, for some reason or other, Poole was no
less anxious than the Colonel to get that formidable client, whose cause
he so warmly advocated, pensioned and packed off into the region most
remote from Great Britain in which a spirit hitherto so restless might
consent to settle.  And although Mr. Poole had evidently taken offence at
Mr. Darrell's discourteous rebuff of his amiable intentions, yet no
grudge against Darrell furnished a motive for conduct equal to his
Christian desire that Darrell's peace should be purchased by Losely's
perpetual exile.  Accordingly, Colonel Morley took leave, with a well-
placed confidence in Poole's determination to do all in his power to
induce Jasper to listen to reason.  The Colonel had hoped to learn
something from Poole of the elder Losely's present residence and
resources.  Poole, as we know, could give him there no information.  The
Colonel also failed to ascertain any particulars relative to that female
pretender on whose behalf Jasper founded his principal claim to Darrell's
aid.  And so great was Poole's embarrassment in reply to all questions on
that score--Where was the young person?  With whom had she lived?  What
was she like?  Could the Colonel see her, and hear her own tale?--that
Alban entertained a strong suspicion that no such girl was in existence;
that she was a pure fiction and myth; or that, if Jasper were compelled
to produce some petticoated fair, she would be an artful baggage hired
for the occasion.

Poole waited Jasper's next visit with impatience and sanguine delight.
He had not a doubt that the ruffian would cheerfully consent to allow
that, on further inquiry, he found he had been deceived in his belief of
Sophy's parentage, and that there was nothing in England so peculiarly
sacred to his heart, but what he might consent to breathe the freer air
of Columbian skies, or even to share the shepherd's harmless life amidst
the pastures of auriferous Australia!  But, to Poole's ineffable
consternation, Jasper declared sullenly that he would not consent to
expatriate himself merely for the sake of living.

"I am not so young as I was," said the bravo; "I don't speak of years,
but feeling.  I have not the same energy; once I had high spirits--they
are broken; once I had hope--I have none: I am not up to exertion; I have
got into lazy habits.  To go into new scenes, form new plans, live in a
horrid raw new world, everybody round me bustling and pushing--No!  that
may suit your thin dapper light Hop-o'-my-thumbs!  Look at me!  See how I
have increased in weight the last five years--all solid bone and muscle.
I defy any four draymen to move me an inch if I am not in the mind to it;
and to be blown off to the antipodes as if I were the down of a pestilent
thistle, I am not in the mind for that, Dolly Poole!"

"Hum!" said Poole, trying to smile.  "This is funny talk.  You always
were a funny fellow.  But I am quite sure, from Colonel Morley's decided
manner, that you can get nothing from Darrell if you choose to remain in
England."

"Well, when I have nothing else left, I may go to Darrell myself, and
have that matter out with him.  At present I am not up to it.  Dolly,
don't bore!"  And the bravo, opening a jaw strong enough for any
carnivorous animal, yawned--yawned much as a bored tiger does in the face
of a philosophical student of savage manners in the Zoological Gardens.

"Bore!" said Poole, astounded and recoiling from that expanded jaw.
"But I should have thought no subject could bore you less than the
consideration of how you are to live?"

"Why, Dolly, I have learned to be easily contented, and you see at
present I live upon you."

"Yes," groaned Poole, "but that can't go on for ever; and, besides, you
promised that you would leave me in peace as soon as I had got Darrell to
provide for you."

"So I will.  Zounds, sir, do you doubt my word?  So I will.  But I don't
call exile 'a provision'--Basta!  I understand from you that Colonel
Morley offers to restore the niggardly L200 a year Darrell formerly
allowed to me, to be paid monthly or weekly, through some agent in Van
Diemen's Land, or some such uncomfortable half-way house to Eternity,
that was not even in the Atlas when I studied geography at school.  But
L200 a year is exactly my income in England, paid weekly too, by your
agreeable self, with whom it is a pleasure to talk over old times.
Therefore that proposal is out of the question.  Tell Colonel Morley,
with my compliments, that if he will double the sum, and leave me to
spend it where I please, I scorn haggling, and say 'done.'  And as to the
girl, since I cannot find her (which, on penalty of being threshed to a
mummy, you will take care not to let out), I would agree to leave Mr.
Darrell free to disown her.  But are you such a dolt as not to see that I
put the ace of trumps on my adversary's pitiful deuce, if I depose that
my own child is not my own child, when all I get for it is what I equally
get out of you, with my ace of trumps still in my hands?  Basta!--I say
again Basta!  It is evidently an object to Darrell to get rid of all fear
that Sophy should ever pounce upon him tooth and claw: if he be so
convinced that she is not his daughter's child, why make a point of my
saying that I told him a fib, when I said she was?  Evidently, too, he is
afraid of my power to harass and annoy him; or why make it a point that I
shall only nibble his cheese in a trap at the world's end, stared at by
bushmen, and wombats, and rattlesnakes, and alligators, and other
American citizens or British settlers!  L200 a year, and my wife's father
a millionaire!  The offer is an insult.  Ponder this: put on the screw;
make them come to terms which I can do them the honour to accept;
meanwhile, I will trouble you for my four sovereigns."

Poole had the chagrin to report to the Colonel, Jasper's refusal of the
terms proposed, and to state the counter-proposition he was commissioned
to make.  Alban was at first surprised, not conjecturing the means of
supply, in his native land, which Jasper had secured in the coffers of
Poole himself.  On sounding the unhappy negotiator as to Jasper's
reasons, he surmised, however, one part of the truth--viz., that Jasper
built hopes of better terms precisely on the fact that terms had been
offered to him at all; and this induced Alban almost to regret that he
had made any such overtures, and to believe that Darrell's repugnance to
open the door of conciliation a single inch to so sturdy a mendicant was
more worldly-wise than Alban had originally supposed.  Yet partly, even
for Darrell's own security and peace, from that persuasion of his own
powers of management which a consummate man of the world is apt to
entertain, and partly from a strong curiosity to see the audacious soil
of that poor dear rascal Willy, and examine himself into the facts he
asserted, and the objects he aimed at, Alban bade Poole inform Jasper
that Colonel Morley would be quite willing to convince him, in a personal
interview, of the impossibility of acceding to the propositions Jasper
had made; and that he should be still more willing to see the young
person whom Jasper asserted to be the child of his marriage.

Jasper, after a moment's moody deliberation, declined to meet Colonel
Morley, actuated to some extent in that refusal by the sensitive vanity
which once had given him delight, and now only gave him pain.  Meet thus
--altered, fallen, imbruted--the fine gentleman whose calm eye had
quelled him in the widow's drawing-room in his day of comparative
splendour--that in itself was distasteful to the degenerated bravo.  But
he felt as if he should be at more disadvantage in point of argument with
a cool and wary representative of Darrell's interests, than he should
be even with Darrell himself.  And unable to produce the child whom he
arrogated the right to obtrude, he should be but exposed to a fire of
cross-questions without a shot in his own locker.  Accordingly he
declined, point-blank, to see Colonel Morley; and declared that the terms
he himself had proposed were the lowest he would accept.  "Tell Colonel
Morley, however, that if negotiations fail, I shall not fail, sooner or
later, to argue my view of the points in dispute with my kind father-in-
law, and in person."

"Yes, hang it!"  cried Poole, exasperated; "go and see Darrell yourself.
He is easily found."

"Ay," answered Jasper, with the hardest look of his downcast sidelong
eye--"Ay; some day or other it may come to that.  I would rather not,
if possible.  I might not keep my temper.  It is not merely a matter of
money between us, if we two meet.  There are affronts to efface.
Banished his house like a mangy dog--treated by a jackanapes lawyer like
the dirt in the kennel!  The Loselys, I suspect, would have looked down
on the Darrells fifty years ago; and what if my father was born out of
wedlock, is the blood not the same?  Does the breed dwindle down for want
of a gold ring and priest?  Look at me.  No; not what I now am; not even
as you saw me five years ago; but as I leapt into youth!  Was I born to
cast sums and nib pens as a City clerk?  Aha, my poor father, you were
wrong there!  Blood will out!  Mad devil, indeed, is a racer in a
citizen's gig!  Spavined, and wind-galled, and foundered--let the brute
go at last to the knockers; but by his eye, and his pluck, and his bone,
the brute shows the stock that he came from!"

Dolly opened his eyes and-blinked.  Never in his gaudy days had Jasper
half so openly revealed what, perhaps, had been always a sore in his
pride; and his outburst now may possibly aid the reader to a subtler
comprehension of the arrogance, and levity, and egotism, which
accompanied his insensibility to honour, and had converted his very claim
to the blood of a gentleman into an excuse for a cynic's disdain of the
very virtues for which a gentleman is most desirous of obtaining credit.
But by a very ordinary process in the human mind, as Jasper had fallen
lower and lower into the lees and dregs of fortune, his pride had more
prominently emerged from the group of the other and gaudier vices, by
which, in health and high spirits, it had been pushed aside and outshone.

"Humph!" said Poole, after a pause.  "If Darrell was as uncivil to you as
he was to me, I don't wonder that you owe him a grudge.  But even if you
do lose temper in seeing him, it might rather do good than not.  You can
make yourself cursedly unpleasant if you choose it; and perhaps you will
have a better chance of getting your own terms if they see you can bite
as well as bark!  Set at Darrell, and worry him; it is not fair to worry
nobody but me!"

"Dolly, don't bluster!  If I could stand at his door, or stop him in the
streets, with the girl in my hand, your advice would be judicious.  The
world would not care for a row between a rich man and a penniless son-in-
law.  But an interesting young lady, who calls him grandfather, and falls
at his knees,--he could not send her to hard labour; and if he does not
believe in her birth, let the thing but just get into the newspapers, and
there are plenty who will: and I should be in a very different position
for treating.  'Tis just because, if I meet Darrell again, I don't wish
that again it should be all bark and no bite, that I postpone the
interview.  All your own laziness--exert yourself and find the girl."

"But I can't find the girl, and you know it.  And I tell you what, Mr.
Losely, Colonel Morley, who is a very shrewd man, does not believe in the
girl's existence."

"Does not he!  I begin to doubt it myself.  But, at all events, you can't
doubt of mine, and I am grateful for yours; and since you have given me
the trouble of coming here to no purpose, I may as well take the next
week's pay in advance--four sovereigns if you please, Dolly Poole."



CHAPTER XII.

     ANOTHER HALT--CHANGE OF HORSES--AND A TURN ON THE ROAD.

Colonel Morley, on learning that Jasper declined a personal conference
with himself, and that the proposal of an interview with Jasper's alleged
daughter was equally scouted or put aside, became still more confirmed in
his belief that Jasper had not yet been blest with a daughter
sufficiently artful to produce.  And pleased to think that the sharper
was thus unprovided with a means of annoyance, which, skilfully managed,
might have been seriously harassing; and convinced that when Jasper found
no farther notice taken of him, he himself 'would be compelled to
petition for the terms he now rejected, the Colonel dryly informed Poole
"that his interference was at an end; that if Mr. Losely, either through
himself, or through Mr. Poole, or any one else, presumed to address Mr.
Darrell direct, the offer previously made would be peremptorily and
irrevocably withdrawn.  I myself," added the Colonel, "shall be going
abroad very shortly for the rest of the summer; and should Mr. Losely, in
the mean while, think better of a proposal which secures him from want, I
refer him to Mr. Darrell's solicitor.  To that proposal, according to
your account of his destitution, he must come sooner or later; and I am
glad to see that he has in yourself so judicious an adviser"--
a compliment which by no means consoled the miserable Poole.

In the briefest words, Alban informed Darrell of his persuasion that
Jasper was not only without evidence to support a daughter's claim, but
that the daughter herself was still in that part of Virgil's Hades
appropriated to souls that have not yet appeared upon the upper earth;
and that Jasper himself, although holding back, as might be naturally
expected, in the hope of conditions more to his taste, had only to be
left quietly to his own meditations in order to recognise the advantages
of emigration.  Another L100 a-year or so, it is true, he might bargain
for, and such a demand might be worth conceding.  But, on the whole,
Alban congratulated Darrell upon the probability of hearing very little
more of the son-in-law, and no more at all of the son-in-law's daughter.

Darrell made no comment nor reply.  A grateful look, a warm pressure of
the hand, and, when the subject was changed, a clearer brow and livelier
smile, thanked the English Alban better than all words.



CHAPTER XIII.

     COLONEL MORLEY SHOWS THAT IT IS NOT WITHOUT REASON THAT HE ENJOYS
     HIS REPUTATION OF KNOWING SOMETHING ABOUT EVERYBODY.

"Well met," said Darrell, the day after Alban had conveyed to him the
comforting assurances which had taken one thorn from his side-dispersed
one cloud in his evening sky.  "Well met," said Darrell, encountering the
Colonel a few paces from his own door.  "Pray walk with me as far as the
New Road.  I have promised Lionel to visit the studio of an artist friend
of his, in whom he chooses to find a Raffaele, and in whom I suppose, at
the price of truth, I shall be urbanely compelled to compliment a
dauber."

"Do you speak of Frank Vance?"

"The same."

"You could not visit a worthier man, nor compliment a more promising
artist.  Vance is one of the few who unite gusto and patience, fancy and
brushwork.  His female heads, in especial, are exquisite, though they are
all, I confess, too much like one another.  The man himself is a
thoroughly fine fellow.  He has been much made of in good society, and
remains unspoiled.  You will find his manner rather off-hand, the reverse
of shy; partly, perhaps, because he has in himself the racy freshness and
boldness which he gives to his colours; partly, perhaps, also, because he
has in his art the self-esteem that patricians take from their pedigree,
and shakes a duke by the hand to prevent the duke holding out to him a
finger."

"Good," said Darrell, with his rare, manly laugh.  "Being shy myself, I
like men who meet one half-way.  I see that we shall be at our ease with
each other."

"And perhaps still more 'when I tell you that he is connected with an old
Eton friend of ours, and deriving no great benefit from that connection;
you remember poor Sidney Branthwaite?"

"To be sure.  He and I were great friends at Eton somewhat in the same
position of pride and poverty.  Of all the boys in the school we two had
the least pocket-money.  Poor Branthwaite!  I lost sight of him
afterwards.  He went into the Church, got only a curacy, and died young."

"And left a son, poorer than himself, who married Frank Vance's sister."

"You don't say so.  The Branthwaites were of good old family; what is Mr.
Vance's?"

"Respectable enough.  Vance's father was one of those clever men who have
too many strings to their bow.  He, too, was a painter; but he was also a
man of letters, in a sort of a way--had a share in a journal, in which he
wrote Criticisms on the Fine Arts.  A musical composer, too.

"Rather a fine gentleman, I suspect, with a wife who was rather a fine
lady.  Their house was much frequented by artists and literary men: old
Vance, in short, was hospitable--his wife extravagant.  Believing that
posterity would do that justice to his pictures which his contemporaries
refused, Vance left to his family no other provision.  After selling his
pictures and paying his debts, there was just enough left to bury him.
Fortunately, Sir --------, the great painter of that day, had already
conceived a liking to Frank Vance--then a mere boy--who had shown genius
from an infant, as all true artists do.  Sir -------- took him into his
studio and gave him lessons.  It would have been unlike Sir --------, who
was open-hearted but close-fisted, to give anything else.  But the boy
contrived to support his mother and sister.  That fellow, who is now as
arrogant a stickler for the dignity of art as you or my Lord Chancellor
may be for that of the bar, stooped then to deal clandestinely with fancy
shops, and imitate Watteau on fans.  I have two hand-screens that he
painted for a shop in Rathbone Place.  I suppose he may have got ten
shillings for them, and now any admirer of Frank's would give L100 apiece
for them."

"That is the true soul in which genius lodges, and out of which fire
springs," cried Darrell cordially.  "Give me the fire that lurks in the
flint, and answers by light the stroke of the hard steel.  I'm glad
Lionel has won a friend in such a man.  Sidney Branthwaite's son married
Vance's sister--after Vance had won reputation?"

"No; while Vance was still a boy.  Young Arthur Branthwaite was an
orphan.  If he had any living relations, they were too poor to assist
him.  He wrote poetry much praised by the critics (they deserve to be
hanged, those critics!)--scribbled, I suppose, in old Vance's journal;
saw Mary Vance a little before her father died; fell in love with her;
and on the strength of a volume of verse, in which the critics all
solemnly deposed to his surpassing riches--of imagination, rushed to the
altar, and sacrificed a wife to the Muses!  Those villanous critics will
have a dark account to render in the next world!  Poor Arthur
Branthwaite!  For the sake of our old friend, his father, I bought a copy
of his little volume.  Little as the volume was, I could not read it
through."

What!--below contempt?"

"On the contrary, above comprehension!  All poetry praised by critics
now-a-days is as hard to understand as a hieroglyphic.  I own a weakness
for Pope and common sense.  I could keep up with our age as far as Byron;
after him I was thrown out.  However, Arthur was declared by the critics
to be a great improvement on Byron--more 'poetical in form'--more
'aesthetically artistic'--more 'objective' or 'subjective' (I am sure I
forget which; but it was one or the other, nonsensical, and not English)
in his views of man and nature.  Very possibly.  All I know is--I bought
the poems, but could not read them; the critics read them, but did not
buy.  All that Frank Vance could make by painting hand-screens and fans
and album-scraps, he sent, I believe, to the poor poet; but I fear it did
not suffice.  Arthur, I suspect, must have been publishing another volume
on his own account.  I saw a Monody on something or other, by Arthur
Branthwaite, advertised, and no doubt Frank's fans and hand-screens must
have melted into the printer's bill.  But the Monody never appeared: the
poet died, his young wife too.  Frank Vance remains a bachelor, and
sneers at gentility--abhors poets--is insulted if you promise posthumous
fame--gets the best price he can for his pictures--and is proud to be
thought a miser.  Here we are at his door."



CHAPTER XIV.

     ROMANTIC LOVE PATHOLOGICALLY REGARDED BY FRANK VANCE AND ALBAN
     MORLEY.

Vance was before his easel, Lionel looking over his shoulder.  Never was
Darrell more genial than he was that day to Frank Vance.  The two men
took to each other at once, and talked as familiarly as if the retired
lawyer and the rising painter were old fellow-travellers along the same
road of life.  Darrell was really an exquisite judge of art, and his
praise was the more gratifying because discriminating.  Of course he gave
the due meed of panegyric to the female heads, by which the artist had
become so renowned.  Lionel took his kinsman aside, and, with a mournful
expression of face, showed him the portrait by which, all those varying
ideals had been suggested--the portrait of Sophy as Titania.

"And that is Lionel," said the artist, pointing to the rough outline of
Bottom.

"Pish!" said Lionel, angrily.  Then turning to Darrell: "This is the
Sophy we have failed to find, sir--is it not a lovely face?"

"It is indeed," said Darrell.  "But that nameless refinement in
expression--that arch yet tender elegance in the simple, watchful
attitude--these, Mr. Vance, must he your additions to the original."

"No, I assure you, sir," said Lionel:  "besides that elegance, that
refinement, there was a delicacy in the look and air of that child to
which Vance failed to do justice.  Own it, Frank."

"Reassure yourself, Mr. Darrell," said Vance, "of any fears which
Lionel's enthusiasm might excite.  He tells me that Titania is in
America; yet, after all, I would rather he saw her again--no cure for
love at first sight like a second sight of the beloved object after a
long absence."

DARRELL (somewhat gravely).--"A hazardous remedy--it might kill, if it
did not cure."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"I suspect, from Vance's manner, that he has tested its
efficacy on his own person."

LIONEL.--"NO, mon Colonel--I'll answer for Vance.  He in love!  Never."

Vance coloured--gave a touch to the nose of a Roman senator in the famous
classical picture which he was then painting for a merchant at
Manchester--and made no reply.  Darrell looked at the artist with a sharp
and searching glance.

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Then all the more credit to Vance for his intuitive
perception of philosophical truth.  Suppose, my dear Lionel, that we
light, one idle day, on a beautiful novel, a glowing romance--suppose
that, by chance, we are torn from the book in the middle of the interest
--we remain under the spell of the illusion--we recall the scenes--we try
to guess what should have been the sequel--we think that no romance ever
was so captivating, simply because we were not allowed to conclude it.
Well, if, some years afterwards, the romance fall again in our way, and
we open at the page where we left off, we cry, in the maturity of our
sober judgment, 'Mawkish stuff!--is this the same thing that I once
thought so beautiful?--how one's tastes do alter!'"

DARRELL.--"Does it not depend on the age in which one began the romance?"

LIONEL.--"Rather, let me think,  sir,  upon the real depth of the
interest--the true beauty of the--"

VANCE (interrupting).--" Heroine?--Not at all, Lionel.  I once fell in
love--incredible as it may seem to you--nine years ago last January.  I
was too poor then to aspire to any young lady's hand--therefore I did not
tell my love, but 'let concealment,' et cetera, et cetera.  She went away
with her mamma to complete her education on the Continent.  I remained
'Patience on a monument.'  She was always before my eyes--the slenderest,
shyest creature just eighteen.  I never had an idea that she could grow
any older, less slender, or less shy.  Well, four years afterwards (just
before we made our excursion into Surrey, Lionel), she returned to
England, still unmarried.  I went to a party at which I knew she was to
be-saw her, and was cured."

"Bad case of small-pox, or what?"  asked the Colonel, smiling.

VANCE--"Nay; everybody said she was extremely improved--that was the
mischief--she had improved herself out of my fancy.  I had been faithful
as wax to one settled impression, and when I saw a fine, full-formed,
young Frenchified lady, quite at her ease, armed with eyeglass and
bouquet and bustle, away went my dream of the slim blushing maiden.  The
Colonel is quite right, Lionel; the romance once suspended, 'tis a
haunting remembrance till thrown again in our way, but complete
disillusion if we try to renew it; though I swear that in my case the
interest was deep, and the heroine improved in her beauty.  So with you
and that dear little creature.  See her again, and you'll tease, me no
more to give you that portrait of Titania at watch over Bottom's soft
slumbers.  All a Midsummer Night's Dream, Lionel.  Titania fades back
into the arms of Oberon, and would not be Titania if you could make her-
Mrs. Bottom."



CHAPTER XV.

     EVEN COLONEL MORLEY, (KNOWING EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING), IS PUZZLED
     WHEN IT COMES TO THE PLAIN QUESTION--"WHAT WILL HE DO WITH IT?"

"I am delighted with Vance," said Darrell, when he and the Colonel were
again walking arm-in-arm.  "His is not one of those meagre intellects
which have nothing to spare out of the professional line.  He has humour.
Humour--strength's rich superfluity."

"I like your definition," said the Colonel.  "And humour in Vance, though
fantastic, is not without subtlety.  There was much real kindness in his
obvious design to quiz Lionel out of that silly enthusiasm for--"

"For a pretty child, reared up to be a strolling player," interrupted
Darrell.  "Don't call it silly enthusiasm.  I call it chivalrous
compassion.  Were it other than compassion, it would not be enthusiasm--
it would be degradation.  But do you believe, then, that Vance's
confession of first love, and its cure, was but a whimsical invention?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Not so.  Many a grave truth is spoken jestingly.  I
have no doubt that, allowing for the pardonable exaggeration of a
/raconteur/, Vance was narrating an episode in his own life."

DARRELL.--"Do you think that a grown man, who has ever really felt love,
can make a jest of it, and to mere acquaintances?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Yes; if he be so thoroughly cured, that he has made a
jest of it to himself.  And the more lightly he speaks of it, perhaps the
more solemnly at one time he felt it.  Levity is his revenge on the
passion that fooled him."

DARRELL.--"You are evidently an experienced philosopher in the lore of
such folly.  '/Consultas insapientis sapientiae/.' Yet I can scarcely
believe that you have ever been in love."

"Yes, I have," said the Colonel bluntly, "and very often!  Everybody at
my age has--except yourself.  So like a man's observation, that,"
continued the Colonel with much tartness.  "No man ever thinks another
man capable of a profound and romantic sentiment!"

DARRELL.--"True; I own my shallow fault, and beg you ten thousand
pardons.  So then you really believe, from your own experience, that
there is much in Vance's theory and your own very happy illustration?
Could we, after many years, turn back to the romance at the page at which
we left off, we should--"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Not care a straw to read on!  Certainly, half the
peculiar charm of a person beloved must be ascribed to locality and
circumstance."

DARRELL.--"I don't quite understand you."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Then, as you liked my former illustration, I will
explain myself by another one more homely.  In a room to which you are
accustomed there is a piece of furniture, or an ornament, which so
exactly suits the place that you say: 'The prettiest thing I ever saw!'
You go away--you return--the piece of furniture or the ornament has been
moved into another room.  You see it there, and you say: 'Bless me, is
that the thing I so much admired!'  The strange room does not suit it-
losing its old associations and accessories, it has lost its charm.  So
it is with human beings--seen in one place, the place would be nothing
without them; seen in another, the place without them would be all the
better!"

DARRELL (musingly)--"There are some puzzles in life which resemble the
riddles a child asks you to solve.  Your imagination cannot descend low
enough for the right guess.  Yet, when you are told, you are obliged to
say, 'How clever!'  Man lives to learn."

"Since you have arrived at that conviction," replied Colonel Morley,
amused by his friend's gravity, "I hope that you will rest satisfied with
the experiences of Vance and myself; and that if you have a mind to
propose to one of the young ladies whose merits we have already
discussed, you will not deem it necessary to try what effect a prolonged
absence might produce on your good resolution."

"No!"  said Darrell, with sudden animation.  "Before three days are over
my mind shall be made up."  "Bravo!--as to whom of the three you would
ask in marriage?"

"Or as to the idea of ever marrying again.  Adieu, I am going to knock at
that door."

"Mr. Vyvyan's!  Ah, is it so, indeed?  Verily, you are a true Dare-all."

"Do not be alarmed.  I go afterwards to an exhibition with Lady Adela,
and I dine with the Carr Viponts.  My choice is not yet made, and my hand
still free."

"His hand still free!"  muttered the Colonel, pursuing his walk alone.
"Yes--but three days hence--O--What will he do with it?"



CHAPTER XVI.

     GUY DARRELL'S DECISION.

Guy Darrell returned home from Carr Vipont's dinner at a late hour.  On
his table was a note from Lady Adela's father, cordially inviting Darrell
to pass the next week at his country-house; London was now emptying fast.
On the table too was a parcel, containing a book which Darrell had lent
to Miss Vyvyan some weeks ago, and a note from herself.  In calling at
her father's house that morning, he had learned that Mr. Vyvyan had
suddenly resolved to take her into Switzerland, with the view of passing
the next winter in Italy.  The room was filled with loungers of both
sexes.  Darrell had stayed but a short time.  The leave-taking had been
somewhat formal--Flora unusually silent.  He opened her note, and read
the first lines listlessly; those that followed, with a changing cheek
and an earnest eye.  He laid down the note very gently, again took it up
and reperused.  Then he held it to the candle, and it dropped from his
hand in tinder.  "The innocent child," murmured he, with a soft paternal
tenderness; "she knows not what she writes."  He began to pace the room
with his habitual restlessness when in solitary thought--often stopping--
often sighing heavily.  At length his face cleared-his lips became firmly
set.  He summoned his favourite servant.  "Mills," said he, "I shall
leave town on horseback as soon as the sun rises.  Put what I may require
for a day or two into the saddle-bags.  Possibly, however I may be back
by dinner-time.  Call me at five o'clock, and then go round to the
stables.  I shall require no groom to attend me."

The next morning, while the streets were deserted, no houses as yet
astir, but the sun bright, the air fresh, Guy Darrell rode from his door.
He did not return the same day, nor the next, nor at all.  But, late in
the evening of the second day, his horse, reeking hot and evidently hard-
ridden, stopped at the porch of Fawley Manor-House; and Darrell flung
himself from the saddle, and into Fairthorn's arms.  "Back again--back
again--and to leave no more!" said he, looking round; "Spes et Fortuna
valete!"



CHAPTER XVII.

     A MAN'S LETTER--UNSATISFACTORY AND PROVOKING AS A MAN'S LETTERS
     ALWAYS ARE.


GUY DARRELL To COLONEL MORLEY.

Fawley Manor-House, August 11, 18--.  I HAVE decided, my dear Alban.  I
did not take three days to do so, though the third day may be just over
ere you learn my decision.  I shall never marry again: I abandon that
last dream of declining years.  My object in returning to the London
world was to try whether I could not find, amongst the fairest and most
attractive women that the world produces--at least to an English eye--
some one who could inspire me with that singleness of affection which
could alone justify the hope that I might win in return a wife's esteem
and a contented home.  That object is now finally relinquished, and with
it all idea of resuming the life of cities.  I might have re-entered a
political career, had I first secured to myself a mind sufficiently
serene and healthful for duties that need the concentration of thought
and desire.  Such a state of mind I cannot secure.  I have striven for
it; I am baffled.  It is said that politics are a jealous mistress--that
they require the whole man.  The saying is not invariably true in the
application it commonly receives--that is, a politician may have some
other employment of intellect, which rather enlarges his powers than
distracts their political uses.  Successful politicians have united with
great parliamentary toil and triumph legal occupations or learned
studies.  But politics do require that the heart should be free, and at
peace from all more absorbing private anxieties--from the gnawing of a
memory or a care, which dulls ambition and paralyses energy.  In this
sense politics do require the whole man.  If I return to politics now,
I should fail to them, and they to me.  I feel that the brief interval
between me and the grave has need of repose: I find that repose here.
I have therefore given the necessary orders to dismiss the pompous
retinue which I left behind me, and instructed my agent to sell my London
house for whatever it may fetch.  I was unwilling to sell it before--
unwilling to abandon the hope, however faint, that I might yet regain
strength for action.  But the very struggle to obtain such strength
leaves me exhausted more.

You may believe that it is not without a pang, less of pride than of
remorse, that I resign unfulfilled the object towards which all my
earlier life was so resolutely shaped.  The house I promised my father to
re-found dies to dust in my grave.  To my father's blood no heir to my
wealth can trace.  Yet it is a consolation to think that Lionel Haughton
is one on whom my father would have smiled approvingly.  At my death,
therefore, at least the old name will not die; Lionel Haughton will take
and be worthy to bear it.  Strange weakness of mine, you will say; but I
cannot endure the thought that the old name should be quite blotted out
of the land.  I trust that Lionel may early form a suitable and happy
marriage.  Sure that he will not choose ignobly, I impose no fetters on
his choice.

One word only on that hateful subject, confided so tardily to your
friendship, left so thankfully to your discretion.  Now that I have once
more buried myself in Fawley, it is very unlikely that the man it pains
me to name will seek me here.  If he does, he cannot molest me as if I
were in the London world.  Continue, then, I pray you, to leave him
alone.  And, in adopting your own shrewd belief, that after all there is
no such child as he pretends to claim, my mind becomes tranquillised on
all that part of my private griefs.

Farewell, old school-friend!  Here, so far as I can foretell--here, where
my life began, it returns, when Heaven pleases, to close.  Here I could
not ask you to visit me: what is rest to me would be loss of time to you.
But in my late and vain attempt to re-enter that existence in which you
have calmly and wisely gathered round yourself, "all that should
accompany old age-honour, love, obedience, troops of friends"--nothing so
repaid the effort--nothing now so pleasantly remains to recollection--as
the brief renewal of that easy commune which men like me never know, save
with those whose laughter brings back to them a gale from the old
playground.  "/Vive, vale/;" I will not add, "/Sis memor mei/."  So many
my obligations to your kindness, that you will be forced to remember me
whenever you recall the not "painful subjects" of early friendship and
lasting gratitude.  Recall only those when reminded of  GUY DARRELL.



CHAPTER XVIII.

     NO COINAGE IN CIRCULATION S0 FLUCTUATES IN VALUE AS THE WORTH OF A
     MARRIAGEABLE MAN.

Colonel Morley was not surprised (that, we know, he could not be, by any
fresh experience of human waywardness and caprice), but much disturbed
and much vexed by the unexpected nature of Darrell's communication.
Schemes for Darrell's future lead become plans of his own.  Talk with his
old school-fellow had, within the last three months, entered into the
pleasures of his age.  Darrell's abrupt and final renunciation of this
social world made at once a void in the business of Alban's mind, and in
the affections of Alban's heart.  And no adequate reason assigned for so
sudden a flight and so morbid a resolve!  Some tormenting remembrance--
some rankling grief--distinct from those of which Alban was cognisant,
from those in which he had been consulted, was implied, but by vague and
general hints.  But what was the remembrance or the grief, Alban Morley,
who knew everything, was quite persuaded that Darrell would never suffer
him to know.  Could it be in any way connected with those three young
ladies to whom Darrell's attentions had been so perversely impartial?
The Colonel did not fail to observe that to those young ladies Darrell's
letter made no allusion.  Was it not possible that he had really felt for
one of them a deeper sentiment than a man advanced in years ever likes to
own even to his nearest friend--hazarded a proposal, and met with a
rebuff?  If so, Alban conjectured the female culprit by whom the
sentiment had been inspired, and the rebuff administered.  "That
mischievous kitten, Flora Vyvyan," growled the Colonel.  "I always felt
that she had the claws of a tigress under her /patte de velours/!"
Roused by this suspicion, he sallied forth to call on the Vyvyans.  Mr.
Vyvyan, a widower, one of those quiet gentleman-like men who sit much in
the drawing-room and like receiving morning visitors, was at home to him.
"So Darrell has left town for the season," said the Colonel, pushing
straight to the point.

"Yes," said Mr. Vyvyan.  "I had a note from him this morning to say he
had renounced all hope of--"

"What?" cried the Colonel.

"Joining us in Switzerland.  I am so sorry.  Flora still more sorry.  She
is accustomed to have her own way, and she had set her heart on hearing
Darrell read 'Manfred' in sight of the Jungfrau!"

"Um!" said the Colonel.  "What might be sport to her might be death to
him.  A man at his age is not too old to fall in love with a young lady
of hers.  But he is too old not to be extremely ridiculous to such a
young lady if he does."

"Colonel Morley--Fie!" cried an angry voice behind him.  Flora had
entered the room unobserved.  Her face was much flushed, and her eyelids
looked as if tears had lately swelled beneath them, and were swelling
still.

"What have I said to merit your rebuke?"  asked the Colonel composedly.

"Said! coupled the thought of ridicule with the name of Mr. Darrell!"

"Take care, Morley," said Mr. Vyvyan, laughing.  "Flora is positively
superstitious in her respect for Guy Darrell; and you cannot offend her
more than by implying that he is mortal.  Nay, child, it is very natural.
Quite apart from his fame, there is something in that man's familiar
talk, or rather, perhaps, in the very sound of his voice, which makes
most other society seem flat and insipid.

"I feel it myself.  And when Flora's young admirers flutter and babble
round her--just after Darrell has quitted his chair beside her--they seem
very poor company.  I am sure, Flora," continued Vyvyan kindly, "that the
mere acquaintance of such a man has done you much good; and I am now in
great hopes that, whenever you marry, it will be a man of sense."

"Um!" again said the Colonel, eyeing Flora aslant, but with much
attention.  "How I wish, for my friend's sake, that he was of an age
which inspired Miss Vyvyan with less--veneration."

Flora turned her back on the Colonel, looking out of the window, and her
small foot beating the ground with nervous irritation.

"It was given out that Darrell intended to marry again," said Mr. Vyvyan.
"A man of that sort requires a very superior highly-educated woman; and
if Miss Carr Vipont had been a little more of his age she would have just
suited him.  But I am patriot enough to hope that he will remain single,
and have no wife but his country, like Mr. Pitt."  The Colonel having now
satisfied his curiosity, and assured himself that Darrell was, there at
least, no rejected suitor, rose and approached Flora to make peace and to
take leave.  As he held out his hand, he was struck with the change in a
countenance usually so gay in its aspect--it spoke of more than
dejection, it betrayed distress; when she took his hand, she retained it,
and looked into his eyes wistfully; evidently there was something on her
mind which she wished to express and did not know how.  At length she
said in a whisper: "You are Mr. Darrell's most intimate friend; I have
heard him say so; shall you see him soon?"

"I fear not; but why?"

"Why? you, his friend; do you not perceive that he is not happy?  I, a
mere stranger, saw it at the first.  You should cheer and comfort him;
you have that right--it is a noble privilege."

"My dear young lady," said the Colonel, touched, "you have a better heart
than I thought for.  It is true Darrell is not a happy man; but can you
give me any message that might cheer him more than an old bachelor's
commonplace exhortations to take heart, forget the rains of yesterday,
and hope for some gleam of sun on the morrow?"

"No," said Flora, sadly, "it would be a presumption indeed in me, to
affect the consoler's part; but"--(her lips quivered)--"but if I may
judge by his letter, I may never see him again."

"His letter!  He has written to you, then, as well as to your father?"

"Yes," said Flora, confused and colouring, "a few lines in answer to a
silly note of mine; yes, tell him that I shall never forget his kind
counsels, his delicate, indulgent construction of--of--in short, tell him
my father is right, and that I shall be better and wiser all my life for
the few short weeks in which I have known Guy Darrell."

"What secrets are you two whispering there?"  asked Mr. Vyvyan from his
easy-chair.

"Ask her ten years hence," said the Colonel, as he retreated to the door.
"The fairest leaves in the flower are the last that the bud will
disclose."

From Mr. Vyvyan the Colonel went to Lord -----'s.  His lordship had also
heard from Darrell that morning; Darrell declined the invitation to ----
Hall; business at Fawley.  Lady Adela had borne the disappointment with
her wonted serenity of temper, and had gone out shopping.  Darrell had
certainly not offered his hand in that quarter; had he done so--whether
refused or accepted--all persons yet left in London would have heard the
news.  Thence the Colonel repaired to Carr Vipont's.  Lady Selina was at
home and exceedingly cross.  Carr had been astonished by a letter from
Mr. Darrell, dated Fawley--left town for the season without even calling
to take leave--a most eccentric man.  She feared his head was a little
touched--that he knew it, but did not like to own it--perhaps the doctors
had told him he must keep quiet, and not excite himself with politics.
"I had thought," said Lady Selina, "that he might have felt a growing
attachment for Honoria; and considering the disparity of years, and that
Honoria certainly might marry any one, he was too proud to incur the risk
of refusal.  But I will tell you in confidence, as a relation and dear
friend, that Honoria has a very superior mind, and might have overlooked
the mere age: congenial tastes--you understand.  But on thinking it all
over, I begin to doubt whether that be the true reason for his running
away in this wild sort of manner.  My maid tells me that his house-
steward called to say that the establishment was to be broken up.  That
looks as if he had resigned London for good; just, too, when, Carr says,
the CRISIS, so long put off, is sure to burst on us.  I'm quite sick of
clever men--one never knows how to trust them; if they are not dishonest
they are eccentric!  I have just been telling Honoria that clever men
are, after all, the most tiresome husbands.  Well, what makes you so
silent?  What do you say?  Why don't you speak?"

"I am slowly recovering from my shock," said the Colonel.  "So Darrell
shirks the CRISIS, and has not even hinted a preference for Honoria, the
very girl in all London that would have made him a safe, rational
companion.  I told him so, and he never denied it.  But it is a comfort
to think he is no loss.  Old monster!"

"Nay," said Lady Selina, mollified by so much sympathy, "I don't say he
is no loss.  Honestly speaking--between ourselves--I think he is a very
great loss.  An alliance between him and Honoria would have united all
the Vipont influence.  Lord Montfort has the greatest confidence in
Darrell; and if this CRISIS comes, it is absolutely necessary for the
Vipont interest that it should find somebody who can speak.  Really, my
dear Colonel Morley, you, who have such an influence over this very odd
man, should exert it now.  One must not be over-nice in times of CRISIS;
the country is at stake, Cousin Alban."

"I will do my best," said the Colonel; "I am quite aware that an alliance
which would secure Darrell's talents to the House of Vipont, and the
House of Vipont to Darrell's talents, would--but 'tis no use talking, we
must not sacrifice Honoria even on the altar of her country's interest!"

"Sacrifice!  Nonsense!  The man is not young certainly, but then what a
grand creature, and so clever."

"Clever--yes!  But that was your very objection to him five minutes ago."

"I forgot the CRISIS.--One don't want clever men every day, but there are
days when one does want them!"

"I envy you that aphorism.  But from what you now imply, I fear that
Honoria may have allowed her thoughts to settle upon what may never take
place; and if so, she may fret."

"Fret! a daughter of mine fret!--and of all my daughters, Honoria!  A
girl of the best-disciplined mind!  Fret! what a word!--vulgar!"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"So it is; I blush for it; but let us understand each
other.  If Darrell proposed for Honoria, you think, ambition apart, she
would esteem him sufficiently for a decided preference."

LADY SELINA,--"If that be his doubt, re-assure him.  He is shy-men of
genius are; Honoria would esteem him!  Till he has actually proposed it
would compromise her to say more even to you."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"And if that be not the doubt, and if I ascertain that
Darrell has no idea of proposing, Honoria would--"

LADY SELINA.--"Despise him.  Ah, I see by your countenance that you think
I should prepare her.  Is it so, frankly?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Frankly, then.  I think Guy Darrell, like many other
men, has been so long in making up his mind to marry again that he has
lost the right moment, and will never find it."

Lady Selina smells at her vinaigrette, and replies in her softest,
affectedest, civilest, and crushingest manner: "POOR--DEAR--OLD MAN!"



CHAPTER XIX.

     MAN IS NOT PERMITTED, WITH ULTIMATE IMPUNITY, TO EXASPERATE THE
     ENVIES AND INSULT THE MISERIES OF THOSE AROUND HIM, BY A SYSTEMATIC
     PERSEVERANCE IN WILFUL-CELIBACY.  IN VAIN MAY HE SCHEME, IN THE
     MARRIAGE OF INJURED FRIENDS, TO PROVIDE ARM-CHAIRS, AND FOOT-STOOLS,
     AND PRATTLING BABIES FOR THE LUXURIOUS DELECTATION OF HIS INDOLENT
     AGE.  THE AVENGING EUMENIDES (BEING THEMSELVES ANCIENT VIRGINS
     NEGLECTED) SHALL HUMBLE HIS INSOLENCE, BAFFLE HIS PROJECTS, AND
     CONDEMN HIS DECLINING YEARS TO THE HORRORS OF SOLITUDE,--RARELY EVEN
     WAKENING HIS SOUL TO THE GRACE OF REPENTANCE.

The Colonel, before returning home, dropped into the Clubs, and took care
to give to Darrell's sudden disappearance a plausible and commonplace
construction.  The season was just over.  Darrell had gone to the
country.  The town establishment was broken up, because the house in
Carlton Gardens was to be sold.  Darrell did not like the situation--
found the air relaxing--Park Lane or Grosvenor Square were on higher
ground.  Besides, the staircase was bad for a house of such pretensions--
not suited to large parties.  Next season Darrell might be in a position
when he would have to give large parties, &c., &c.  As no one is inclined
to suppose that a man will retire from public life just when he has
a chance of office, so the Clubs took Alban Morley's remarks
unsuspiciously, and generally agreed that Darrell showed great tact in
absenting himself from town during the transition state of politics that
always precedes a CRISIS, and that it was quite clear that he calculated
on playing a great part when the CRISIS was over, by finding his house
had grown too small for him.  Thus paving the way to Darrell's easy
return to the world, should he repent of his retreat (a chance which
Alban by no means dismissed from his reckoning), the Colonel returned
home to find his nephew George awaiting him there.  The scholarly
clergyman had ensconced himself in the back drawing-room, fitted up as
a library, and was making free with the books.  "What have you there,
George?"  asked the Colonel, after shaking him by the hand.  "You seemed
quite absorbed in its contents, and would not have noticed my presence
but for Gyp's bark."

"A volume of poems I never chanced to meet before, full of true genius."

"Bless me, poor Arthur Branthwaite's poems.  And you were positively
reading those--not induced to do so by respect for his father?  Could you
make head or tail of them?"

"There is a class of poetry which displeases middle age by the very
attributes which render it charming to the young; for each generation has
a youth with idiosyncrasies peculiar to itself, and a peculiar poetry by
which those idiosyncrasies are expressed."

Here George was beginning to grow metaphysical, and somewhat German, when
his uncle's face assumed an expression which can only be compared to that
of a man who dreads a very severe and long operation.  George humanely
hastened to relieve his mind.

"But I will not bore you at present."

"Thank you," said the Colonel, brightening up.

"Perhaps you will lend me the book.  I am going down to Lady Montfort's
by-and-by, and I can read it by the way."

"Yes, I will lend it to you till next season.  Let me have it again then,
to put on the table when Frank Vance comes to breakfast with me.  The
poet was his brother-in-law; and though, for that reason, poets and
poetry are a sore subject with Frank, yet the last time he breakfasted
here, I felt, by the shake of his hand in parting, that he felt pleased
by a mark of respect to all that is left of poor Arthur Branthwaite.  So
you are going to Lady Montfort?  Ask her why she chits me!"

"My dear uncle!  You know how secluded her life is at present; but she
has charged me to assure you of her unalterable regard for you; and
whenever her health and spirits are somewhat more recovered, I have no
doubt that she will ask you to give her the occasion to make that
assurance in person."

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Can her health and spirits continue so long affected by
grief for the loss of that distant acquaintance whom the law called her
husband?"

GEORGE.--"She is very far from well, and her spirits are certainly much
broken.  And now, uncle, for the little favour I came to ask.  Since you
presented me to Mr. Darrell, he kindly sent me two or three invitations
to dinner, which my frequent absence from town would not allow me to
accept.  I ought to call on him; and, as I feel ashamed not to have done
so before, I wish you would accompany me to his house.  One happy word
from you would save me a relapse into stutter.  When I want to apologise
I always stutter."

"Darrell has left town," said the Colonel, roughly, "you have missed an
opportunity that will never occur again.  The most charming companion; an
intellect so manly, yet so sweet!  I shall never find such another."  And
for the first time in thirty years a tear stole to Alban Morley's eye.

GEORGE.--"When did he leave town?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Three days ago."

GEORGE.--"Three  days ago! and for the Continent again?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"No; for the Hermitage, George.  I have such a letter
from him!  You know how many years he has been absent from the world.
When, this year, he re-appeared, he and I grew more intimate than we had
ever been since we had left school; for though the same capital held us
before, he was then too occupied for much familiarity with an idle man
like me.  But just when I was intertwining what is left of my life with
the bright threads of his, he snaps the web asunder: he quits this London
world again; says he will return to it no more."

GEORGE.--"Yet I did hear that he proposed to renew his parliamentary
career; nay, that he was about to form a second marriage, with Honoria
Vipont?"

COLONEL MORLEY.--"Mere gossip-not true.  No, he will never marry again.
Three days ago I thought it certain that he would--certain that I should
find for my old age a nook in his home--the easiest chair in his social
circle; that my daily newspaper would have a fresh interest, in the
praise of his name or the report of his speech; that I should walk
proudly into White's, sure to hear there of Guy Darrell; that I should
keep from misanthropical rust my dry knowledge of life, planning shrewd
panegyrics to him of a young happy wife, needing all his indulgence--
panegyrics to her of the high-minded sensitive man, claiming tender
respect and delicate soothing;--that thus, day by day, I should have made
more pleasant the home in which I should have planted myself, and found
in his children boys to lecture and girls to spoil.  Don't be jealous,
George.  I like your wife, I love your little ones, and you will inherit
all I have to leave.  But to an old bachelor, who would keep young to the
last, there is no place so sunny as the hearth of an old school-friend.
But my house of cards is blown down--talk of it no more--'tis a painful
subject.  You met Lionel Haughton here the last time you called--how did
you like him!"

"Very much indeed."

"Well, then, since you cannot call on Darrell, call on him."

GEORGE (with animation).--"It is just what I meant to do--what is his
address?"

COLONEL MORLEY--"There is his card--take it.  He was here last night to
inquire if I knew where Darrell had gone, though no one in his household,
nor I either, suspected till this morning that Darrell had left town for
good.  You will find Lionel at home, for I sent him word I would call.
But really I am not up to it now.  Tell him from me that Mr. Darrell will
not return to Carlton Gardens this season, and is gone to Fawley.  At
present Lionel need not know more--you understand?  And now, my dear
George, good day."



CHAPTER XX.

     EACH GENERATION HAS ITS OWN CRITICAL CANONS IN POETRY AS WELL AS IN
     POLITICAL CREEDS, FINANCIAL SYSTEMS, OR WHATEVER OTHRR CHANGEABLE
     MATTERS OF TASTE ARE CALLED "SETTLED QUESTIONS" AND "FIXED OPINIONS."

George, musing much over all that his uncle had said respecting Darrell,
took his way to Lionel's lodgings.  The young man received him with the
cordial greeting due from Darrell's kinsman to Colonel Morley's nephew,
but tempered by the respect no less due to the distinction and the
calling of the eloquent preacher.

Lionel was perceptibly affected by learning that Darrell had thus
suddenly returned to the gloomy beech-woods of Fawley; and he evinced his
anxious interest in his benefactor with so much spontaneous tenderness of
feeling that George, as if in sympathy, warmed into the same theme.
"I can well conceive," said he, "your affection for Mr. Darrell.  I
remember, when I was a boy, how powerfully he impressed me, though I saw
but little of him.  He was then in the zenith of his career, and had but
few moments to give to a boy like me; but the ring of his voice and the
flash of his eye sent me back to school, dreaming of fame and intent on
prizes.  I spent part of one Easter vacation at his house in town; he
bade his son, who was my schoolfellow, invite me."

LIONEL.--"You knew his son?  How Mr. Darrell has felt that loss!"

GEORGE.--"Heaven often veils its most provident mercy in what to man
seems its sternest inflictions.  That poor boy must have changed his
whole nature, if his life had not, to a father like Mr. Darrell,
occasioned grief sharper than his death."

LIONEL.--"You amaze me.  Mr. Darrell spoke of him as a boy of great
promise."

GEORGE.--"He had that kind of energy which to a father conveys the idea
of promise, and which might deceive those older than himself--a fine
bright-eyed, bold-tongued boy, with just enough awe of his father to
bridle his worst qualities before him."

LIONEL.--"What were those?"

GEORGE.--"Headstrong arrogance--relentless cruelty.  He had a pride which
would have shamed his father out of pride, had Guy Darrell detected its
nature--purse pride!  I remember his father said to me with a half-laugh:
'My boy must not be galled and mortified as I was every hour at school--
clothes patched and pockets empty.'  And so, out of mistaken kindness,
Mr. Darrell ran into the opposite extreme, and the son was proud, not of
his father's fame, but of his father's money, and withal not generous,
nor exactly extravagant, but using money as power-power that allowed him
to insult an equal or to buy a slave.  In a word, his nickname at school
was 'Sir Giles Overreach.'  His death was the result of his strange
passion for tormenting others.  He had a fag who could not swim, and who
had the greatest terror of the water; and it was while driving this child
into the river out of his depth that cramp seized himself, and he was
drowned.  Yes, when I think what that boy would have been as a man,
succeeding to Darrell's wealth--and had Darrell persevered (as he would,
perhaps, if the boy had lived) in his public career--to the rank and
titles he would probably have acquired and bequeathed--again, I say, in
man's affliction is often Heaven's mercy."

Lionel listened aghast.  George continued: "Would that I could speak as
plainly to Mr. Darrell himself!  For we find constantly in the world that
there is no error that misleads us like the error that is half a truth
wrenched from the other half; and nowhere is such an error so common as
when man applies it to the judgment of some event in his own life, and
separates calamity from consolation."

LIONEL.--"True; but who could have the heart to tell a mourning father
that his dead son was worthless?"

GEORGE.--"Alas!  my young friend, the preacher must sometimes harden his
own heart if he would strike home to another's soul.  But I am not sure
that Mr. Darrell would need so cruel a kindness.  I believe that his
clear intellect must have divined some portions of his son's nature which
enabled him to bear the loss with fortitude.  And he did bear it bravely.
But now, Mr. Haughton, if you have the rest of the day free, I am about
to make you an unceremonious proposition for its disposal.  A lady who
knew Mr. Darrell when she was very young has--a strong desire to form
your acquaintance.  She resides on the banks of the Thames, a little
above Twickenham.  I have promised to call on her this evening.  Shall we
dine together at Richmond? and afterwards we can take a boat to her
villa."

Lionel at once accepted, thinking so little of the lady that he did not
even ask her name.  He was pleased to have a companion with whom he could
talk of Darrell.  He asked but delay to write a few lines of affectionate
inquiry to his kinsman at Fawley, and, while he wrote, George took out
Arthur Branthwaite's poems, and resumed their perusal.  Lionel having
sealed his letter, George extended the book to him.  "Here are some
remarkable poems by a brother-in-law of that remarkable artist, Frank
Vance."

"Frank Vance!  True, he had a brother-in-law a poet.  I admire Frank so
much; and, though he professes to sneer at poetry, he is so associated in
my mind with poetical images that I am prepossessed beforehand in favour
of all that brings him, despite himself, in connection with poetry."

"Tell me then," said George, pointing out a passage in the volume, "what
you think of these lines.  My good uncle would call them gibberish.  I am
not sure that I can construe them; but when I was your age, I think I
could--what say you?"

Lionel glanced.  "Exquisite indeed!--nothing can be clearer--they express
exactly a sentiment in myself that I could never explain."

"Just so," said George, laughing.  "Youth has a sentiment that it cannot
explain, and the sentiment is expressed in a form of poetry that middle
age cannot construe.  It is true that poetry of the grand order interests
equally all ages; but the world ever throws out a poetry not of the
grandest; not meant to be durable--not meant to be universal, but
following the shifts and changes of human sentiment, and just like those
pretty sundials formed by flowers, which bloom to tell the hour, open
their buds to tell it, and, telling it, fade themselves from time."

Not listening to the critic, Lionel continued to read the poems,
exclaiming, "How exquisite!--how true!"



CHAPTER XXI.

     IN LIFE, AS IN ART, THE BEAUTIFUL MOVES IN CURVES.

They have dined.--George Morley takes the oars, and the boat cuts through
the dance of waves flushed by the golden sunset.  Beautiful river! which
might furnish the English tale-teller with legends wild as those culled
on shores licked by Hydaspes, and sweet as those which Cephisus ever
blended with the songs of nightingales and the breath of violets!  But
what true English poet ever names thee, O Father Thames, without a
melodious tribute?  And what child ever whiled away summer noons along
thy grassy banks, nor hallowed thy remembrance among the fairy days of
life?

Silently Lionel bent over the side of the gliding boat; his mind carried
back to the same soft stream five years ago.  How vast a space in his
short existence those five years seemed to fill!  And how distant from
the young man, rich in the attributes of wealth, armed with each weapon
of distinction, seemed the hour when the boy had groaned aloud, "'Fortune
is so far, Fame so impossible!'"  Farther and farther yet than his
present worldly station from his past seemed the image that had first
called forth in his breast the dreamy sentiment, which the sternest of us
in after life never, utterly forget.  Passions rage and vanish, and when
all their storms are gone, yea, it may be, at the verge of the very
grave, we look back and see like a star the female face, even though it
be a child's, that first set us vaguely wondering at the charm in a human
presence, at the void in a smile withdrawn!  How many of us could recall
a Beatrice through the gaps of ruined hope, seen, as by the Florentine,
on the earth a guileless infant, in the heavens a spirit glorified!
Yes--Laura was an affectation--Beatrice a reality!

George's voice broke somewhat distastefully on Lionel's reverie.  "We
near our destination, and you have not asked me even the name of the lady
to whom you are to render homage.  It is Lady Montfort, widow to the last
Marquess.  You have no doubt heard Mr. Darrell speak of her?"

"Never Mr. Darrell--Colonel Morley often.  And in the world I have heard
her cited as perhaps the handsomest, and certainly the haughtiest, woman
in England."

"Never heard Mr. Darrell mention her! that is strange indeed," said
George Morley, catching at Lionel's first words, and unnoticing his after
comment.  "She was much in his house as a child, shared in his daughter's
education."

"Perhaps for that very reason he shuns her name.  Never but once did I
hear him allude to his daughter; nor can I wonder at that, if it be true,
as I have been told by people who seem to know very little of the
particulars, that, while yet scarcely out of the nursery, she fled from
his house with some low adventurer--a Mr. Hammond--died abroad the first
year of that unhappy marriage."

"Yes, that is the correct outline of the story; and, as you guess, it
explains why Mr. Darrell avoids mention of one, whom he associates with
his daughter's name; though, if you desire a theme dear to Lady Montfort,
you can select none that more interests her grateful heart than praise of
the man who saved her mother from penury, and secured to herself the
accomplishments and instruction which have been her chief solace."

"Chief solace!  Was she not happy with Lord Montfort?  What sort of man
was he?"

"I owe to Lord Montfort the living I hold, and I can remember the good
qualities alone of a benefactor.  If Lady Montfort was not happy with
him, it is just to both to say that she never complained.  But there is
much in Lady Montfort's character which the Marquess apparently failed to
appreciate; at all events, they had little in common, and what was called
Lady Montfort's haughtiness was perhaps but the dignity with which a
woman of grand nature checks the pity that would debase her--the
admiration that would sully--guards her own beauty, and protects her
husband's name.  Here we are.  Will you stay for a few minutes in the
boat, while I go to prepare Lady Montfort for your visit?"

George leapt ashore, and Lionel remained under the covert of mighty
willows that dipped their leaves into the wave.  Looking through the
green interstices of the foliage, he saw at the far end of the lawn, on a
curving bank by which the glittering tide shot oblique, a simple arbour-
an arbour like that from which he had looked upon summer stars five.
years ago--not so densely covered with the honeysuckle; still the
honeysuckle, recently trained there, was fast creeping up the sides; and
through the trellis of the woodwork and the leaves of the flowering
shrub, he just caught a glimpse of some form within--the white robe of a
female form in a slow gentle movement-tending perhaps the flowers that
wreathed the arbour.  Now it was still, now it stirred again; now it was
suddenly lost to view.  Had the inmate left the arbour?  Was the inmate
Lady Montfort?  George Morley's step had not passed in that direction.



CHAPTER XXII.

     A QUIET SCENE-AN UNQUIET HEART.

Meanwhile, not far from the willow-bank which sheltered Lionel, but far
enough to be out of her sight and beyond her hearing, George Morley found
Lady Montfort seated alone.  It was a spot on which Milton might have
placed the lady in "Comus"--a circle of the smoothest sward, ringed
everywhere (except at one opening which left the glassy river in full
view) with thick bosks of dark evergreens and shrubs of livelier verdure;
oak and chest nut backing and overhanging all.  Flowers, too, raised on
rustic tiers and stages; a tiny fountain, shooting up from a basin
starred with the water-lily; a rustic table, on which lay hooks and the
implements of woman's graceful work; so that the place had the home-look
of a chamber, and spoke that intense love of the out-door life which
abounds in our old poets from Chaucer down to the day when minstrels,
polished into wits, took to Will's Coffee-house, and the lark came no
more to bid bards

                              "Good morrow
               From his watch-tower in the skies."

But long since, thank Heaven we have again got back the English poetry
which chimes to the babble of the waters, and the riot of the birds; and
just as that poetry is the freshest which the out-door life has the most
nourished, so I believe that there is no surer sign of the rich vitality
which finds its raciest joys in sources the most innocent, than the
childlike taste for that same out-door life.  Whether you take from
fortune the palace or the cottage, add to your chambers a hall in the
courts of Nature.  Let the earth but give you room to stand on; well,
look up--Is it nothing to have for your roof-tree--Heaven?

Caroline Montfort (be her titles dropped) is changed since we last saw
her.  The beauty is not less in degree, but it has gained in one
attribute, lost in another; it commands less, it touches more.  Still in
deep mourning, the sombre dress throws a paler shade over the cheek.  The
eyes, more sunken beneath the brow, appear larger, softer.  There is that
expression of fatigue which either accompanies impaired health or
succeeds to mental struggle and disquietude.  But the coldness or pride
of mien which was peculiar to Caroline as a wife is gone--as if in
widowhood it was no longer needed.  A something like humility prevailed
over the look and the bearing which had been so tranquilly majestic.  As
at the approach of her cousin she started from her seat, there was a
nervous tremor in her eagerness; a rush of colour to the cheeks; an
anxious quivering of the lip; a flutter in the tones of the sweet low
voice: "Well, George."

"Mr. Darrell is not in London; he went to Fawley three days ago; at least
he is there now.  I have this from my uncle, to whom he wrote; and whom
his departure has vexed and saddened."

"Three days ago!  It must have been he, then!  I was not deceived,"
murmured Caroline, and her eyes wandered mound.

"There is no truth in the report you heard that he was to marry Honoria
Vipont.  My uncle thinks he will never marry again, and implies that he
has resumed his solitary life at Fawley with a resolve to quit it no
more."

Lady Montfort listened silently, bending her face over the fountain, and
dropping amidst its playful spray the leaves of a rose which she had
abstractedly plucked as George was speaking.

"I have, therefore, fulfilled your commission so far," renewed George
Morley.  "I have ascertained that Mr. Darrell is alive, and doubtless
well; so that it could not have been his ghost that startled you amidst
yonder thicket.  But I have done more: I have forestalled the wish you
expressed to become acquainted with young Haughton; and your object in
postponing the accomplishment of that wish while Mr. Darrell himself was
in town having ceased with Mr. Darrell's departure, I have ventured to
bring the young man with me.  He is in the boat yonder.  Will you receive
him?  Or--but, my dear cousin, are you not too unwell today?  What is the
matter?  Oh, I can easily make an excuse for you to Haughton.  I will run
and do so."

"No, George, no.  I am as well as usual.  I will see Mr. Haughton.  All
that you have heard of him, and have told me, interests me so much in his
favour; and besides--"  She did not finish the sentence; but led away by
some other thought, asked, "Have you no news of our missing friend?"

"None as yet; but in a few days I shall renew my search.  Now, then, I
will go for Haughton."

"Do so; and George, when you have presented him to me, will you kindly
join that dear anxious child yonder!

"She is in the new arbour, or near it-her favourite spot.  You must
sustain her spirits, and give her hope.  You cannot guess how eagerly she
looks forward to your visits, and how gratefully she relies on your
exertions."

George shook his head half despondingly, and saying briefly, "My
exertions have established no claim to her gratitude as yet," went
quickly back for Lionel.



CHAPTER XXIII.

     SOMETHING ON AN OLD SUBJECT, WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SAID BEFORE

Although Lionel was prepared to see a very handsome woman in Lady
Montfort, the beauty of her countenance took him by surprise.  No
preparation by the eulogies of description can lessen the effect that
the first sight of a beautiful object produces upon a mind to which
refinement of idea gives an accurate and quick comprehension of beauty.
Be it a work of art, a scene in nature, or, rarest of all, a human face
divine, a beauty never before beheld strikes us with hidden pleasure,
like a burst of light.  And it is a pleasure that elevates; the
imagination feels itself richer by a new idea of excellence; for not only
is real beauty wholly original, having no prototype, but its immediate
influence is spiritual.  It may seem strange--I appeal to every observant
artist if the assertion be not true--but the first sight of the most
perfect order of female beauty, rather than courting, rebukes and strikes
back, every grosser instinct that would alloy admiration.  There must be
some meanness and blemish in the beauty which the sensualist no sooner
beholds than he covets.  In the higher incarnation of the abstract idea
which runs through all our notions of moral good and celestial purity--
even if the moment the eye sees the heart loves the image--the love has
in it something of the reverence which it was said the charms of Virtue
would produce could her form be made visible; nor could mere human love
obtrude itself till the sweet awe of the first effect had been
familiarised away.  And I appreheud that it is this exalting or
etherealising attribute of beauty to which all poets, all writers who
would poetise the realities of life, have unconsciously rendered homage,
in the rank to which they elevate what, stripped of such attribute, would
be but a gaudy idol of painted clay.  If, from the loftiest epic to the
tritest novel, a heroine is often little more than a name to which we are
called upon to bow, as to a symbol representing beauty, and if we
ourselves (be we ever so indifferent in our common life to fair faces)
feel that, in art at least, imagination needs an image of the Beautiful--
if, in a word, both poet and reader here would not be left excuseless, it
is because in our inmost hearts there is a sentiment which links the
ideal of beauty with the Supersensual.  Wouldst thou, for instance, form
some vague conception of the shape worn by a pure soul released? wouldst
thou give to it the likeness of an ugly hag? or wouldst thou not ransack
all thy remembrances and conceptions of forms most beauteous to clothe
the holy image?  Do so: now bring it thus robed with the richest graces
before thy mind's eye.  Well, seest thou now the excuse for poets in the
rank they give to BEAUTY?  Seest thou now how high from the realm of the
senses soars the mysterious Archetype?  Without the idea of beauty,
couldst thou conceive a form in which to clothe a soul that has entered
heaven?



CHAPTER XXIV.

     AGREEABLE SURPRISES ARE THE PERQUISITES OF YOUTH.

If the beauty of Lady Montfort's countenance took Lionel by surprise,
still more might he wonder at the winning kindness of her address--a
kindness of look, manner, voice, which seemed to welcome him not as a
chance acquaintance but as a new-found relation.  The first few
sentences, in giving them a subject of common interest, introduced into
their converse a sort of confiding household familiarity.  For Lionel,
ascribing Lady Montfort's gracious reception to her early recollections
of his kinsman, began at once to speak of Guy Darrell; and in a little
time they were walking over the turf, or through the winding alleys of
the garden, linking talk to the same theme, she by question, he by
answer--he, charmed to expatiate--she, pleased to listen--and liking each
other more and more, as she recognised in all he said a bright young
heart, overflowing with grateful and proud affection, and as he felt
instinctively that he was with one who sympathised in his enthusiasm--one
who had known the great man in his busy day, ere the rush of his career
had paused, whose childhood had lent a smile to the great man's home
before childhood and smile had left it.

As they thus conversed, Lionel now and then, in the turns of their walk,
caught a glimpse of George Morley in the distance, walking also side by
side with some young companion, and ever as he caught that glimpse a
strange restless curiosity shot across his mind, and distracted it even
from praise of Guy Darrell.  Who could that be with George?  Was it a
relation of Lady Montfort's?  The figure was not in mourning; its shape
seemed slight and youthful--now it passes by that acacia tree,--standing
for a moment apart and distinct from George's shadow, but its own outline
dim in the deepening twilight--now it has passed on, lost amongst the
laurels.

A turn in the walk brought Lionel and Lady Montfort before the windows of
the house, which was not large for the rank of the owner, but commodious,
with no pretence to architectural beauty--dark-red brick, a century and a
half old--irregular; jutting forth here, receding there, so as to produce
that depth of light and shadow which lends a certain picturesque charm
even to the least ornate buildings--a charm to which the Gothic
architecture owes half its beauty.  Jessamine, roses, wooodbine, ivy,
trained up the angles and between the windows.  Altogether the house had
that air of HOME which had been wanting to the regal formality of
Moutfort Court.  One of the windows, raised above the ground by a short
winding stair, stood open.  Lights had just been brought into the room
within, and Lionel's eye was caught by the gleam.  Lady Montfort turned
up the stair, and Lionel followed her into the apartment.  A harp stood
at one corner--not far from it a piano and music-stand.  On one of the
tables there were the implements of drawing--a sketch in water-colours
half finished.

"Our work-room," said Lady Montfort, with a warm cheerful smile, and yet
Lionel could see that tears were in her eyes--" mine and my dear pupil's.
Yes, that harp is hers.  Is he still fond of music--I mean Mr. Darrell?"

"Yes, though he does not care for it in crowds; but he can listen for
hours to Fairthorn's flute.  You remember Mr. Fairthorn?"

"Ay, I remember him," answered Lady Montfort softly.  "Mr. Darrell then
likes his music, still?"

Lionel here uttered an exclamation of more than surprise.  He had turned
to examine the water-colour sketch--a rustic inn, a honeysuckle arbour,
a river in front; a boat yonder--just begun.

"I know the spot!"  he cried.  "Did you make the sketch of it?"

"I? no; it is hers--my pupil's--my adopted child's."  Lionel's dark eyes
turned to Lady Montfort's wistfully, inquiringly; they asked what his
lips could not presume to ask.  "Your adopted child--what is she?--who?"

As if answering to the eyes, Lady Montfort said: "Wait here a moment; I
will go for her."

She left him, descended the stairs into the garden, joined George Morley
and his companion; took aside the former, whispered him, then drawing the
arm of the latter within her own, led her back into the room, while
George Morley remained in the garden, throwing himself on a bench, and
gazing on the stars as they now came forth, fast and frequent, though one
by one.



CHAPTER XXV.

                    "Quem Fors dierum cunque dabit
                    Lucro appone."--HORAT.

Lionel stood, expectant, in the centre of the room, and as the two female
forms entered, the lights were full upon their faces.  That younger face
--it is she--it is she, the unforgotten--the long-lost.  Instinctively,
as if no years had rolled between--as if she were still the little child,
he the boy who had coveted such a sister--he sprang forward and opened
his arms, and as suddenly halted, dropped the arms to, his side,
blushing, confused, abashed.  She! that vagrant child!--she! that form
so elegant--that great peeress's pupil--adopted daughter, she the poor
wandering Sophy!  She!--impossible!

But her eyes, at first downcast, are now fixed on him.  She, too, starts
--not forward, but in recoil; she, too, raises her arms, not to open, but
to press them to her breast; and she, too, as suddenly checks an impulse,
and stands, like him, blushing, confused, abashed.

"Yes," said Caroline Montfort, drawing Sophy nearer to her breast, "yes,
you will both forgive me for the surprise.  Yes, you do see before you,
grown up to become the pride of those who cherish her, that Sophy who--"

"Sophy!"  cried Lionel advancing; "it is so, then!  I knew you were no
stroller's grandchild."

Sophy drew up: "I am, I am his grandchild, and as proud to be so as I was
then."

"Pardon me, pardon me; I meant to say that he too was not what be seemed.
You forgive me," extending his hand, and Sophy's soft hand fell into his
forgivingly.

"But he lives? is well? is here? is--"  Sophy burst into tears, and Lady
Montfort made a sign to Lionel to go into the garden, and leave them.
Reluctantly and dizzily, as one in a dream, he obeyed, leaving the
vagrant's grandchild to be soothed in the fostering arms of her whom, an
hour or two ago, he knew but by the titles of her rank and the reputation
of her pride.

It was not many minutes before Lady Montfort rejoined him.

"You touched unawares," said she, "upon the poor child's most anxious
cause of sorrow.  Her grandfather; for whom her affection is so
sensitively keen, has disappeared.  I will speak of that later; and if
you wish, you shall be taken into our consultations.  But--" she paused,
looked into his face-open, loyal face, face of gentleman--with heart of
man in its eyes, soul of man on its brow; face formed to look up to the
stars which now lighted it--and laying her hand lightly on his shoulder,
resumed with hesitating voice: "but I feel like a culprit in asking you
what, nevertheless, I must ask, as an imperative condition, if your
visits here are to be renewed--if your intimacy here is to be
established.  And unless you comply with that condition, come no more;
we cannot confide in each other."

"Oh, Lady Montfort, impose any condition.  I promise beforehand."

"Not beforehand.  The condition is this: inviolable secrecy.  You will
not mention to any one your visits here; your introduction to me; your
discovery of the stroller's grandchild in my adopted daughter."

"Not to Mr. Darrell?"

"To him least of all; but this I add, it is for Mr. Darrell's sake that I
insist on such concealment; and I trust the concealment will not be long
protracted."

"For Mr. Darrell's sake?"

"For the sake of his happiness," cried Lady Montfort, clasping her hands.
"My debt to him is larger far than yours; and in thus appealing to you,
I scheme to pay back a part of it.  Do you trust me?"

"I do, I do."

And from that evening Lionel Haughton became the constant visitor in that
house.

Two or three days afterwards Colonel Morley, quitting England for a
German Spa at which he annually recruited himself for a few weeks,
relieved Lionel from the embarrassment of any questions which that shrewd
observer might otherwise have addressed to him.  London itself was now
empty.  Lionel found a quiet lodging in the vicinity of Twickenham.  And
when his foot passed along the shady lane through yon wicket gate into
that region of turf and flowers, he felt as might have felt that famous
Minstrel of Ercildoun, when, blessed with the privilege to enter
Fairyland at will, the Rhymer stole to the grassy hillside, and murmured
the spell that unlocks the gates of Oberon,





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