Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Caxtons: A Family Picture — Volume 14
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Caxtons: A Family Picture — Volume 14" ***

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



PART XIV.



CHAPTER I.


There is a beautiful and singular passage in Dante (which has not
perhaps attracted the attention it deserves), wherein the stern
Florentine defends Fortune from the popular accusations against her.
According to him she is an angelic power appointed by the Supreme Being
to direct and order the course of human splendors; she obeys the will of
God; she is blessed; and hearing not those who blaspheme her, calm and
aloft amongst the other angelic powers, revolves her spheral course and
rejoices in her beatitude. (1)

This is a conception very different from the popular notion which
Aristophanes, in his true instinct of things popular, expresses by the
sullen lips of his Plutus.  That deity accounts for his blindness by
saying that "when a boy he had indiscreetly promised to visit only the
good;" and Jupiter was so envious of the good that be blinded the poor
money-god.  Whereon Chremylus asks him whether, "if he recovered his
sight, he would frequent the company of the good." "Certainly," quoth
Plutus; "for I have not seen them ever so long."  "Nor I either,"
rejoins Chremylus, pithily, "for all I can see out of both eyes."

But that misanthropical answer of Chremylus is neither here nor there,
and only diverts us from the real question, and that is, "Whether
Fortune be a heavenly, Christian angel, or a blind, blundering, old
heathen deity?"  For my part, I hold with Dante; for which, if I were so
pleased, or if at this period of my memoirs I had half a dozen pages to
spare, I could give many good reasons.  One thing, however, is quite
clear, that whether Fortune be more like Plutus or an angel, it is no
use abusing her,--one may as well throw stones at a star.  And I think,
if one looked narrowly at her operations, one might perceive that she
gives every man a chance at least once in his life if he take and make
the best of it, she will renew her visits; if not, itur ad astra!  And
therewith I am reminded of an incident quaintly narrated by Mariana in
his "History of Spain," how the army of the Spanish kings got out of a
sad hobble among the mountains at the Pass of Losa by the help of a
shepherd who showed them the way.  "But," saith Mariana,
parenthetically, "some do say the shepherd was an angel; for after he
had shown the way, he was never seen more."  That is, the angelic nature
of the guide was proved by being only once seen, and after having got
the army out of the hobble, leaving it to fight or run away, as it had
most mind to.  Now, I look upon that shepherd, or angel, as a very good
type of my fortune at least.  The apparition showed me my way in the
rocks to the great "Battle of Life;" after that--hold fast and strike
hard!

Behold me in London with Uncle Roland.  My poor parents naturally wished
to accompany me, and take the last glimpse of the adventurer on board
ship; but I, knowing that the parting would seem less dreadful to them
by the hearthstone, and while they could say, "He is with Roland; he is
not yet gone from the land," insisted on their staying behind; and thus
the farewell was spoken.  But Roland, the old soldier, had so many
practical instructions to give, could so help me in the choice of the
outfit and the preparations for the voyage, that I could not refuse his
companionship to the last.  Guy Bolding, who had gone to take leave of
his father, was to join me in town, as well as my humbler Cumberland
colleagues.

As my uncle and I were both of one mind upon the question of economy, we
took up our quarters at a lodging-house in the City; and there it was that
I first made acquaintance with a part of London of which few of my politer
readers even pretend to be cognizant. I do not mean any sneer at the City
itself, my dear alderman,--that jest is worn out.  I am not alluding to
streets, courts, and lanes; what I mean may be seen at the West-end--not
so well as at the East, but still seen very fairly,--I mean The House-Tops!


(1) Dante here evidently associates Fortune with the planetary
influences of judicial astrology.  It is doubtful whether Schiller ever
read Dante; but in one of his most thoughtful poems he undertakes the
same defence of Fortune, making the Fortunate a part of the Beautiful.



CHAPTER II.


The House-Tops!  What a soberizing effect that prospect produces on the
mind.  But a great many requisites go towards the selection of the right
point of survey.  It is not enough to secure a lodging in the attic; you
must not be fobbed off with a front attic that faces the street.  First,
your attic must be unequivocally a back attic; secondly, the house in
which it is located must be slightly elevated above its neighbors;
thirdly, the window must not lie slant on the roof, as is common with
attics,--in which case you can only catch a peep of that leaden canopy
which infatuated Londoners call the sky,--but must be a window
perpendicular, and not half blocked up by the parapets of that fosse
called the gutter; and, lastly, the sight must be so humored that you
cannot catch a glimpse of the pavements: if you once see the world
beneath, the whole charm of that world above is destroyed.  Taking it
for granted that you have secured these requisites, open your window,
lean your chin on both hands, the elbows propped commodiously on the
sill, and contemplate the extraordinary scene which spreads before you.
You find it difficult to believe life can be so tranquil on high, while
it is so noisy and turbulent below.  What astonishing stillness!  Eliot
Warburton (seductive enchanter!) recommends you to sail down the Nile if
you want to lull the vexed spirit.  It is easier and cheaper to hire an
attic in Holborn!  You don't have the crocodiles, but you have animals
no less hallowed in Egypt,--the cats!  And how harmoniously the tranquil
creatures blend with the prospect; how noiselessly they glide along at
the distance, pause, peer about, and disappear!  It is only from the
attic that you can appreciate the picturesque which belongs to our
domesticated tiger-kin!  The goat should be seen on the Alps, and the
cat on the house-top.

By degrees the curious eye takes the scenery in detail; and first, what
fantastic variety in the heights and shapes of the chimney-pots!  Some
all level in a row, uniform and respectable, but quite uninteresting;
others, again, rising out of all proportion, and imperatively tasking
the reason to conjecture why they are so aspiring.  Reason answers that
it is but a homely expedient to give freer vent to the smoke; wherewith
Imagination steps in, and represents to you all the fretting and fuming
and worry and care which the owners of that chimney, now the tallest of
all, endured before, by building it higher, they got rid of the vapors.
You see the distress of the cook when the sooty invader rushed down,
"like a wolf on the fold," full spring on the Sunday joint.  You hear
the exclamations of the mistress (perhaps a bride,--house newly
furnished) when, with white apron and cap, she ventured into the
drawing-room, and was straightway saluted by a joyous dance of those
monads called vulgarly "smuts."  You feel manly indignation at the brute
of a bridegroom who rushes out from the door, with the smuts dancing
after him, and swears, "Smoked out again!  By the Arch-smoker himself,
I'll go and dine at the club!"  All this might well have been, till the
chimney-pot was raised a few feet nearer heaven; and now perhaps that
long-suffering family owns the happiest home in the Row.  Such
contrivances to get rid of the smoke!  It is not every one who merely
heightens his chimney; others clap on the hollow tormentor all sorts of
odd head-gear and cowls.  Here, patent contrivances act the purpose of
weather-cocks, swaying to and fro with the wind; there, others stand as
fixed as if, by a sic jubeo, they had settled the business.

But of all those houses that in the street one passes by, unsuspicious
of what's the matter within, there is not one in a hundred but what
there has been the devil to do to cure the chimneys of smoking!  At that
reflection Philosophy dismisses the subject, and decides that, whether
one lives in a but or a palace, the first thing to do is to look to the
hearth and get rid of the vapors.

New beauties demand us.  What endless undulations in the various
declivities and ascents,--here a slant, there a zigzag!  With what
majestic disdain yon roof rises up to the left!  Doubtless a palace of
Genii, or Gin (which last is the proper Arabic word for those builders
of halls out of nothing, employed by Aladdin).  Seeing only the roof of
that palace boldly breaking the sky-line, how serene your
contemplations!  Perhaps a star twinkles over it, and you muse on soft
eyes far away; while below at the threshold--No, phantoms! we see you
not from our attic.  Note, yonder, that precipitous fall,--how ragged
and jagged the roof-scene descends in a gorge!  He who would travel on
foot through the pass of that defile, of which we see but the
picturesque summits, stops his nose, averts his eyes, guards his
pockets, and hurries along through the squalor of the grim London
lazzaroni.  But seen above, what a noble break in the sky-line!  It
would be sacrilege to exchange that fine gorge for a dead flat of dull
rooftops.  Look here, how delightful! that desolate house with no roof
at all,--gutted and skinned by the last London fire!  You can see the
poor green-and-white paper still clinging to the walls, and the chasm
that once was a cupboard, and the shadows gathering black on the
aperture that once was a hearth!  Seen below, how quickly you would
cross over the way!  That great crack forebodes an avalanche; you hold
your breath, not to bring it down on your head.  But seen above, what a
compassionate, inquisitive charm in the skeleton ruin!  How your fancy
runs riot,--re-peopling the chambers, hearing the last cheerful good-
night of that destined Pompeii, creeping on tiptoe with the mother when
she gives her farewell look to the baby.  Now all is midnight and
silence; then the red, crawling serpent comes out.  Lo! his breath;
hark! his hiss.  Now, spire after spire he winds and he coils; now he
soars up erect,--crest superb, and forked tongue,--the beautiful horror!
Then the start from the sleep, and the doubtful awaking, and the run
here and there, and the mother's rush to the cradle; the cry from the
window, and the knock at the door, and the spring of those on high
towards the stair that leads to safety below, and the smoke rushing up
like the surge of a hell!  And they run back stifled and blinded, and
the floor heaves beneath them like a bark on the sea.  Hark! the grating
wheels thundering low; near and nearer comes the engine.  Fix the
ladders,--there! there! at the window, where the mother stands with the
babe!  Splash and hiss comes the water; pales, then flares out, the
fire!  Foe defies foe; element, element.  How sublime is the war!  But
the ladder, the ladder,--there, at the window!  All else are saved,--the
clerk and his books; the lawyer with that tin box of title-deeds; the
landlord, with his policy of insurance; the miser, with his bank-notes
and gold: all are saved,--all but the babe and the mother.  What a crowd
in the streets; how the light crimsons over the gazers, hundreds on
hundreds!  All those faces seem as one face, with fear.  Not a than
mounts the ladder.  Yes, there,--gallant fellow!  God inspires, God
shall speed thee!  How plainly I see him! his eyes are closed, his teeth
set.  The serpent leaps up, the forked tongue darts upon him, and the
reek of the breath wraps him round.  The crowd has ebbed back like a
sea, and the smoke rushes over them all.  Ha! what dim forms are those
on the ladder?  Near and nearer,--crash come the roof-tiles!  Alas and
alas! no! a cry of joy,--a "Thank Heaven!" and the women force their way
through the men to come round the child and the mother.  All is gone
save that skeleton ruin.  But the ruin is seen from above.  O Art! study
life from the roof-tops!



CHAPTER III.


I was again foiled in seeing Trevanion.  It was the Easter recess, and
he was at the house of one of his brother ministers somewhere in the
North of England.  But Lady Ellinor was in London, and I was ushered
into her presence.  Nothing could be more cordial than her manner,
though she was evidently much depressed in spirits, and looked wan and
careworn.

After the kindest inquiries relative to my parents and the Captain, she
entered with much sympathy into my schemes and plans, which she said
Trevanion had confided to her.  The sterling kindness that belonged to
my old patron (despite his affected anger at my not accepting his
proffered loan) had not only saved me and my fellow-adventurer all
trouble as to allotment orders, but procured advice as to choice of site
and soil, from the best practical experience, which we found after wards
exceedingly useful.  And as Lady Ellinor gave me the little packet of
papers, with Trevanion's shrewd notes on the margin, she said, with a
half sigh, "Albert bids me say that he wishes he were as sanguine of his
success in the Cabinet as of yours in the Bush."  She then turned to her
husband's rise and prospects, and her face began to change; her eyes
sparkled, the color came to her cheeks.  "But you are one of the few who
know him," she said, interrupting herself suddenly; "you know how he
sacrifices all things,--joy, leisure, health,--to his country.  There is
not one selfish thought in his nature.  And yet such envy,--such
obstacles still!  And [her eyes dropped on her dress, and I perceived
that she was in mourning, though the mourning was not deep], and," she
added, "it has pleased Heaven to withdraw from his side one who would
have been worthy his alliance."

I felt for the proud woman, though her emotion seemed more that of pride
than sorrow.  And perhaps Lord Castleton's highest merit in her eyes had
been that of ministering to her husband's power and her own ambition.  I
bowed my head in silence, and thought of Fanny.  Did she, too, pine for
the lost rank, or rather mourn the lost lover?

After a time I said, hesitatingly, "I scarcely presume to condole with
you, Lady Ellinor, yet, believe me, few things ever shocked me like the
death you allude to.  I trust Miss Trevanion's health has not much
suffered.  Shall I not see her before I leave England?"

Lady Ellinor fixed her keen bright eyes searchingly on my countenance,
and perhaps the gaze satisfied her; for she held out her hand to me with
a frankness almost tender, and said "Had I had a son, the dearest wish
of my heart had been to see you wedded to my daughter."

I started up; the blood rushed to my cheeks, and then left me pale as
death.  I looked reproachfully at Lady Ellinor, and the word "cruel!"
faltered on my lips.

"Yes," continued Lady Ellinor, mournfully, "that was my real thought, my
impulse of regret, when I first saw you.  But as it is, do not think me
too hard and worldly if I quote the lofty old French proverb, Noblesse
oblige.  Listen to me, my young friend: we may never meet again, and I
would not have your father's son think unkindly of me, with all my
faults.  From my first childhood I was ambitious,--not, as women usually
are, of mere wealth and rank, but ambitious as noble men are, of power
and fame.  A woman can only indulge such ambition by investing it in
another.  It was not wealth, it was not rank, that attracted me to
Albert Trevanion: it was the nature that dispenses with the wealth and
commands the rank.  Nay," continued Lady Ellinor, in a voice that
slightly trembled, "I may have seen in my youth, before I knew
Trevanion, one [she paused a moment, and went on hurriedly]--one who
wanted but ambition to have realized my ideal.  Perhaps even when I
married--and it was said for love--I loved less with my whole heart than
with my whole mind.  I may say this now, for now every beat of this
pulse is wholly and only true to him with whom I have schemed and toiled
and aspired; with whom I have grown as one; with whom I have shared the
struggle, and now partake the triumph, realizing the visions of my
youth."

Again the light broke from the dark eyes of this grand daughter of the
world, who was so superb a type of that moral contradiction,--an
ambitious woman.

"I cannot tell you," resumed Lady Ellinor, softening, "how pleased I was
when you came to live with us.  Your father has perhaps spoken to you of
me and of our first acquaintance!"

Lady Ellinor paused abruptly, and surveyed me as she paused.  I was
silent.

"Perhaps, too, he has blamed me?" she resumed, with a heightened color.

"He never blamed you, Lady Ellinor!"

"He had a right to do so,--though I doubt if he would have blamed me on
the true ground.  Yet no; he never could have done me the wrong that
your uncle did when, long years ago, Mr. de Caxton in a letter--the very
bitterness of which disarmed all anger--accused me of having trifled
with Austin,--nay, with himself!  And he, at least, had no right to
reproach me," continued Lady Ellinor warmly, and with a curve of her
haughty lip; "for if I felt interest in his wild thirst for some
romantic glory, it was but in the hope that what made the one brother so
restless might at least wake the other to the ambition that would have
become his intellect and aroused his energies.  But these are old tales
of follies and delusions now no more: only this will I say, that I have
ever felt, in thinking of your father, and even of your sterner uncle,
as if my conscience reminded me of a debt which I longed to discharge,--
if not to them, to their children.  So when we knew you, believe me that
your interests, your career, instantly became to me an object.  But
mistaking you, when I saw your ardent industry bent on serious objects,
and accompanied by a mind so fresh and buoyant, and absorbed as I was in
schemes or projects far beyond a woman's ordinary province of hearth and
home, I never dreamed, while you were our guest,--never dreamed of
danger to you or Fanny.  I wound you,--pardon me; but I must vindicate
myself.  I repeat that if we had a son to inherit our name, to bear the
burden which the world lays upon those who are born to influence the
world's destinies, there is no one to whom Trevanion and myself would
sooner have intrusted the happiness of a daughter.  But my daughter is
the sole representative of the mother's line, of the father's name: it
is not her happiness alone that I have to consult, it is her duty,--duty
to her birthright, to the career of the noblest of England's patriots;
duty, I may say, without exaggeration, to the country for the sake of
which that career is run!"

"Say no more, Lady Ellinor, say no more; I understand you.  I have no
hope, I never had hope--it was a madness--it is over.  It is but as a
friend that I ask again if I may see Miss Trevanion in your presence
before--before I go alone into this long exile, to leave, perhaps, my
dust in a stranger's soil!  Ay, look in my face,--you cannot fear my
resolution, my honor, my truth!  But once, Lady Ellinor,--but once more.
Do I ask in vain?"

Lady Ellinor was evidently much moved.  I bent down almost in the
attitude of kneeling; and brushing away her tears with one hand, she
laid the other on my head tenderly, and said in a very low voice,--

"I entreat you not to ask me; I entreat you not to see my daughter.  You
have shown that you are not selfish,--conquer yourself still.  What if
such an interview, however guarded you might be, were but to agitate,
unnerve my child, unsettle her peace, prey upon--"

"Oh! do not speak thus,--she did not share my feelings!"

"Could her mother own it if she did?  Come, come; remember how young you
both are.  When you return, all these dreams will be forgotten; then we
can meet as before; then I will be your second mother, and again your
career shall be my care: for do not think that we shall leave you so
long in this exile as you seem to forbode.  No, no; it is but an
absence, an excursion,--not a search after fortune.  Your fortune,--
leave that to us when you return!"

"And I am to see her no more!" I murmured, as I rose, and went silently
towards the window to conceal my face.  The great struggles in life are
limited to moments.  In the drooping of the head upon the bosom, in the
pressure of the hand upon the brow, we may scarcely consume a second in
our threescore years and ten; but what revolutions of our whole being
may pass within us while that single sand drops noiseless down to the
bottom of the hour-glass!

I came back with firm step to Lady Ellinor, and said calmly: "My reason
tells me that you are right, and I submit; forgive me!  And do not think
me ungrateful and overproud if I add that you must leave me still the
object in life that consoles and encourages me through all."

"What object is that?" asked Lady Ellinor, hesitatingly.

"Independence for myself, and ease to those for whom life is still
sweet.  This is my twofold object; and the means to effect it must be my
own heart and my own hands.  And now, convey all my thanks to your noble
husband, and accept my warm prayers for yourself and her--whom I will
not name.  Farewell, Lady Ellinor!"

"No, do not leave me so hastily; I have many things to discuss with
you,--at least to ask of you.  Tell me how your father bears his
reverse,--tell me at least if there be aught he will suffer us to do for
him?  There are many appointments in Trevanion's range of influence that
would suit even the wilful indolence of a man of letters.  Come, be
frank with me!"

I could not resist so much kindness; so I sat down, and as collectedly
as I could, replied to Lady Ellinor's questions, and sought to convince
her that my father only felt his losses so far as they affected me, and
that nothing in Trevanion's power was likely to tempt him from his
retreat, or calculated to compensate for a change in his habits.
Turning at last from my parents, Lady Ellinor inquired for Roland, and
on learning that he was with me in town, expressed a strong desire to
see him.  I told her I would communicate her wish, and she then said
thoughtfully,--

"He has a son, I think; and I have heard that there is some unhappy
dissension between them."

"Who could have told you that?" I asked in surprise, knowing how closely
Roland had kept the secret of his family afflictions.

"Oh! I heard so from some one who knew Captain Roland,--I forget when
and where I heard it; but is it not the fact?"

"My uncle Roland has no son."

"How!"

"His son is dead."

"How such a loss must grieve him!"

I did not speak.

"But is he sure that his son is dead?  What joy if he were mistaken,--if
the son yet lived!"

"Nay, my uncle has a brave heart, and he is resigned.  But, pardon me,
have you heard anything of that son?"

"I!--what should I hear?  I would fain learn, however, from your uncle
himself what he might like to tell me of his sorrows--or if, indeed,
there be any chance that--"

"That--what?"

"That--that his son still survives."

"I think not," said I; "and I doubt whether you will learn much from my
uncle.  Still, there is something in your words that belies their
apparent meaning, and makes me suspect that you know more than you will
say."

"Diplomatist!" said Lady Ellinor, half smiling; but then, her face
settling into a seriousness almost severe, she added,--"it is terrible
to think that a father should hate his son!"

"Hate!--Roland hate his son!  What calumny is this?"

"He does not do so, then!  Assure me of that; I shall be so glad to know
that I have been misinformed."

"I can tell you this, and no more (for no more do I know), that if ever
the soul of a father were wrapped up in a son,--fear, hope, gladness,
sorrow, all reflected back on a father's heart from the shadows on a
son's life,--Roland was that father while the son lived still."

"I cannot disbelieve you!" exclaimed Lady Ellinor, though in a tone of
surprise.  "Well, do let me see your uncle."

"I will do my best to induce him to visit you, and learn all that you
evidently conceal from me."

Lady Ellinor evasively replied to this insinuation, and shortly
afterwards I left that house in which I had known the happiness that
brings the folly, and the grief that bequeathes the wisdom.



CHAPTER IV.


I had always felt a warm and almost filial affection for Lady Ellinor,
independently of her relationship to Fanny, and of the gratitude with
which her kindness inspired me; for there is an affection very peculiar
in its nature, and very high in its degree, which results from the
blending of two sentiments not often allied,--namely, pity and
admiration.  It was impossible not to admire the rare gifts and great
qualities of Lady Ellinor, and not to feel pity for the cares,
anxieties, and sorrows which tormented one who, with all the
sensitiveness of woman, went forth into the rough world of man.

My father's confession had somewhat impaired my esteem for Lady Ellinor,
and had left on my mind the uneasy impression that she had trifled with
his deep and Roland's impetuous heart.  The conversation that had just
passed, allowed me to judge her with more justice, allowed me to see
that she had really shared the affection she had inspired in the
student, but that ambition had been stronger than love,--an ambition, it
might be, irregular, and not strictly feminine, but still of no vulgar
nor sordid kind.  I gathered, too, from her hints and allusions her true
excuse for Roland's misconception of her apparent interest in himself;
she had but seen, in the wild energies of the elder brother, some agency
by which to arouse the serener faculties of the younger.  She had but
sought, in the strange comet that flashed before her, to fix a lever
that might move the star.  Nor could I withhold my reverence from the
woman who, not being married precisely from love, had no sooner linked
her nature to one worthy of it, than her whole life became as fondly
devoted to her husband as if he had been the object of her first romance
and her earliest affections.  If even her child was so secondary to her
husband; if the fate of that child was but regarded by her as one to be
rendered subservient to the grand destinies of Trevanion,--still it was
impossible to recognize the error of that conjugal devotion without
admiring the wife, though one might condemn the mother.  Turning from
these meditations, I felt a lover's thrill of selfish joy, amidst all
the mournful sorrow comprised in the thought that I should see Fanny no
more.  Was it true, as Lady Ellinor implied, though delicately, that
Fanny still cherished a remembrance of me which a brief interview, a
last farewell, might reawaken too dangerously for her peace?  Well, that
was a thought that it became me not to indulge.

What could Lady Ellinor have heard of Roland and his son?  Was it
possible that the lost lived still?  Asking myself these questions, I
arrived at our lodgings, and saw the Captain himself before me, busied
with the inspection of sundry specimens of the rude necessaries an
Australian adventurer requires.  There stood the old soldier, by the
window, examining narrowly into the temper of hand-saw and tenon-saw,
broad-axe and drawing-knife; and as I came up to him, he looked at me
from under his black brows with gruff compassion, and said peevishly,--

"Fine weapons these for the son of a gentleman!  One bit of steel in the
shape of a sword were worth them all."

"Any weapon that conquers fate is noble in the hands of a brave man,
uncle."

"The boy has an answer for everything," quoth the Captain, smiling, as
he took out his purse and paid the shopman.

When we were alone, I said to him: "Uncle, you must go and see Lady
Ellinor; she desires me to tell you so."

"Pshaw!"

"You will not?"

"No!"

"Uncle, I think that she has something to say to you with regard to--to
--pardon me!--to my cousin."

"To Blanche?"

"No, no; the cousin I never saw."

Roland turned pale, and sinking down on a chair, faltered out--"To him,
--to my son?"

"Yes; but I do not think it is news that will afflict you.  Uncle, are
you sure that my cousin is dead?"

"What!--how dare you!--who doubts it?  Dead,--dead to me forever!  Boy,
would you have him live to dishonor these gray hairs?"

"Sir, sir, forgive me,--uncle, forgive me.  But pray go to see Lady
Ellinor; for whatever she has to say, I repeat that I am sure it will be
nothing to wound you."

"Nothing to wound me, yet relate to him!"

It is impossible to convey to the reader the despair that was in those
words.

"Perhaps," said I, after a long pause and in a low voice, for I was awe-
stricken, "perhaps--if he be dead--he may have repented of all offence
to you before he died."

"Repented--ha, ha!"

"Or if he be not dead--"

"Hush, boy, hush!"

"While there is life, there is hope of repentance."

"Look you, nephew," said the Captain, rising, and folding his arms
resolutely on his breast,--"look you, I desired that that name might
never be breathed.  I have not cursed my son yet; could he come to life
--the curse might fall!  You do not know what torture your words have
given me just when I had opened my heart to another son, and found that
son in you.  With respect to the lost, I have now but one prayer, and
you know it,--the heart-broken prayer that his name never more may come
to my ears!"

As he closed these words, to which I ventured no reply, the Captain took
long, disordered strides across the room; and suddenly, as if the space
imprisoned, or the air stifled him, he seized his hat and hastened into
the streets.  Recovering my surprise and dismay, I ran after him; but he
commanded me to leave him to his own thoughts, in a voice so stern, yet
so sad, that I had no choice but to obey.  I knew, by my own experience,
how necessary is solitude in the moments when grief is strongest and
thought most troubled.



CHAPTER V.


Hours elapsed, and the Captain had not returned home.  I began to feel
uneasy, and went forth in search of him, though I knew not whither to
direct my steps.  I thought it, however, at least probable that he had
not been able to resist visiting Lady Ellinor, so I went first to St.
James's Square.  My suspicions were correct; the Captain had been there
two hours before.  Lady Ellinor herself had gone out shortly after the
Captain left.  While the porter was giving me this information, a
carriage stopped at the door, and a footman, stepping up, gave the
porter a note and a small parcel, seemingly of books, saying simply,
"From the Marquis of Castleton."  At the sound of that name I turned
hastily, and recognized Sir Sedley Beaudesert seated in the carriage and
looking out of the window with a dejected, moody expression of
countenance, very different from his ordinary aspect, except when the
rare sight of a gray hair or a twinge of the toothache reminded him that
he was no longer twenty-five.  Indeed, the change was so great that I
exclaimed dubiously,--"Is that Sir Sedley Beaudesert?"  The footman
looked at me, and touching his hat, said, with a condescending smile,
"Yes, sir, now the Marquis of Castleton."

Then, for the first time since the young lord's death, I remembered Sir
Sedley's expressions of gratitude to Lady Castleton and the waters of
Ems for having saved him from "that horrible marquisate."  Meanwhile my
old friend had perceived me, exclaiming,--

"What!  Mr. Caxton?  I am delighted to see you.  Open the
door, Thomas.  Pray come in, come in."

I obeyed, and the new Lord Castleton made room for me by his side.

"Are you in a hurry?" said he.  "If so, shall I take you
anywhere?  If not, give me half an hour of your time while I drive to
the city."

As I knew not now in what direction more than another to prosecute my
search for the Captain, and as I thought I might as well call at our
lodgings to inquire if he had not returned, I answered that I should be
very happy to accompany his lordship; "Though the City," said I,
smiling, "sounds to me strange upon the lips of Sir Sedley--I beg
pardon, I should say of Lord--"

"Don't say any such thing; let me once more hear the grateful sound of
Sedley Beaudesert.  Shut the door, Thomas to Gracechurch Street,--
Messrs.  Fudge & Fidget."

The carriage drove on.

"A sad affliction has befallen me," said the marquis, "and none
sympathize with me!"

"Yet all, even unacquainted with the late lord, must have felt shocked
at the death of one so young and so full of promise."

"So fitted in every way to bear the burden of the great Castleton name
and property.  And yet you see it killed him!  Ah! if he had been but a
simple gentleman, or if he had had a less conscientious desire to do his
duties, he would have lived to a good old age.  I know what it is
already.  Oh, if you saw the piles of letters on my table!  I positively
dread the post.  Such colossal improvement on the property which the
poor boy had began, for me to finish.  What do you think takes me to
Fudge & Fidget's?  Sir, they are the agents for an infernal coal-mine
which my cousin had re-opened in Durham, to plague my life out with
another thirty thousand pounds a year!  How am I to spend the money?--
how am I to spend it?  There's a cold-blooded head steward who says that
charity is the greatest crime a man in high station can commit,--it
demoralizes the poor.  Then, because some half-a-dozen farmers sent me a
round-robin to the effect that their rents were too high, and I wrote
them word that the rents should be lowered, there was such a hullabaloo,
you would have thought heaven and earth were coming together.  'If a man
in the position of the Marquis of Castleton set the example of letting
land below its value, how could the poorer squires in the country exist?
Or if they did exist, what injustice to expose them to the charge that
they were grasping landlords, vampires, and bloodsuckers!  Clearly if
Lord Castleton lowered his rents (they were too low already), he struck
a mortal blow at the property of his neighbors if they followed his
example, or at their characters if they did not.'  No man can tell how
hard it is to do good, unless fortune gives him a hundred thousand
pounds a-year, and says--'Now, do good with it!'  Sedley Beaudesert
might follow his whims, and all that would be said against him was
'good-natured, simple fellow!'  But if Lord Castleton follow his whims,
you would think he was a second Catiline,--unsettling the peace and
undermining the prosperity of the entire nation!"  Here the wretched man
paused, and sighed heavily; then, as his thoughts wandered into a new
channel of woe, he resumed: "Ah! if you could but see the forlorn great
house I am expected to inhabit, cooped up between dead walls instead of
my pretty rooms with the windows full on the park; and the balls I am
expected to give; and the parliamentary interest I am to keep up; and
the villanous proposal made to me to become a lord-steward or lord-
chamberlain, because it suits my rank to be a sort of a servant.  Oh,
Pisistratus, you lucky dog,--not twenty-one, and with, I dare say, not
two hundred pounds a-year in the world!"

Thus bemoaning and bewailing his sad fortunes, the poor marquis ran on,
till at last he exclaimed, in a tone of yet deeper despair,--

"And everybody says I must marry too;--that the Castleton line must not
be extinct!  The Beaudeserts are a good old family ono,'--as old, for
what I know, as the Castletons; but the British empire would suffer no
loss if they sank into the tomb of the Capulets.  But that the Castleton
peerage should expire is a thought of crime and woe at which all the
mothers of England rise in a phalanx!  And so, instead of visiting the
sins of the fathers on the sons, it is the father that is to be
sacrificed for the benefit of the third and fourth generation!"

Despite my causes for seriousness, I could not help laughing; my
companion turned on me a look of reproach.

"At least," said I, composing my countenance, "Lord Castleton has one
comfort in his afflictions,--if he must marry, he may choose as he
pleases."

"That is precisely what Sedley Beaudesert could, and Lord Castleton
cannot do," said the marquis, gravely.  "The rank of Sir Sedley
Beaudesert was a quiet and comfortable rank, he might marry a curate's
daughter, or a duke's, and please his eye or grieve his heart as the
caprice took him.  But Lord Castleton must marry, not for a wife, but
for a marchioness,--marry some one who will wear his rank for him; take
the trouble of splendor oft his hands, and allow him to retire into a
corner and dream that he is Sedley Beaudesert once more!  Yes, it must
be so,--the crowning sacrifice must be completed at the altar.  But a
truce to my complaints.  Trevanion informs me you are going to
Australia,--can that be true?"

"Perfectly true."

"They say there is a sad want of ladies there."

"So much the better,--I shall be all the more steady."

"Well, there's something in that.  Have you seen Lady Ellinor?"

"Yes,--this morning."

"Poor woman!  A great blow to her,--we have tried to console each other.
Fanny, you know, is staying at Oxton, in Surrey, with Lady Castleton,--
the poor lady is so fond of her,--and no one has comforted her like
Fanny."

"I was not aware that Miss Trevanion was out of town."

"Only for a few days, and then she and Lady Ellinor join Trevanion in
the North,--you know he is with Lord N--, settling measures on which--
But, alas! they consult me now on those matters,--force their secrets on
me.  I have, Heaven knows how many votes!  Poor me!  Upon my word, if
Lady Ellinor was a widow, I should certainly make up to her: very clever
woman, nothing bores her."  (The marquis yawned,--Sir Sedley Beaudesert
never yawned.)  "Trevanion has provided for his Scotch secretary, and is
about to get a place in the Foreign Office for that young fellow Gower,
whom, between you and me, I don't like.  But he has bewitched
Trevanion!"

"What sort of a person is this Mr. Gower?  I remember you said that he
was clever and good-looking."

"He is both; but it is not the cleverness of youth,--he is as hard and
sarcastic as if he had been cheated fifty times, and jilted a hundred!
Neither are his good looks that letter of recommendation which a
handsome face is said to be.  He has an expression of countenance very
much like that of Lord Hertford's pet bloodhound when a stranger comes
into the room.  Very sleek, handsome dog the bloodhound is certainly,--
well-mannered, and I dare say exceedingly tame; but still you have but
to look at the corner of the eye to know that it is only the habit of
the drawing-room that suppresses the creature's constitutional tendency
to seize you by the throat, instead of giving you a paw.  Still, this
Mr. Gower has a very striking head,--something about it Moorish or
Spanish, like a picture by Murillo--I half suspect that he is less a
Gower than a gypsy!"

"What!"--I cried, as I listened with rapt and breathless attention to
this description.  "He is then very dark, with high, narrow forehead,
features slightly aquiline, but very delicate, and teeth so dazzling
that the whole face seems to sparkle when he smiles,--though it is only
the lip that smiles, not the eye."

"Exactly as you say; you have seen him, then?"

"Why, I am not sure, since you say his name is Gower."

"He says his name is Gower," returned Lord Castleton, dryly, as he
inhaled the Beaudesert mixture.

"And where is he now,--with Mr. Trevanion?"

"Yes, I believe so.  Ah! here we are--Fudge & Fidget!  But perhaps,"
added Lord Castleton, with a gleam of hope in his blue eye,--"perhaps
they are not at home!"

Alas! that was an illusive "imagining," as the poets of the nineteenth
century unaffectedly express themselves.  Messrs.  Fudge & Fidget were
never out to such clients as the Marquis of Castleton; with a deep sigh,
and an altered expression of face, the Victim of Fortune slowly
descended the steps of the carriage.

"I can't ask you to wait for me," said he; "Heaven only knows how long I
shall be kept!  Take the carriage where you will, and send it back to
me."

"A thousand thanks, my dear lord, I would rather walk.  But you will let
me call on you before I leave town."

"Let you!--I insist on it.  I am still at the old quarters,--under
pretence," said the marquis, with a sly twinkle of the eyelid, "that
Castleton House wants painting!"

"At twelve to-morrow, then?"

"Twelve to-morrow!  Alas! that's just the hour at which Mr. Screw, the
agent for the London property (two squares, seven streets, and a lane!)
is to call."

"Perhaps two o'clock will suit you better?"

"Two! just the hour at which Mr. Plausible, one of the Castleton
members, insists upon telling me why his conscience will not let him
vote with Trevanion!"

"Three o'clock?"

"Three! just the hour at which I am to see the secretary of the
Treasury, who has promised to relieve Mr. Plausible's conscience!  But
come and dine with me,--you will meet the executors to the will!"

"Nay, Sir Sedley,--that is, my dear lord,--I will take my chance, and
look in after dinner."

"I do so; my guests are not lively!  What a firm step the rogue has!
Only twenty, I think,--twenty! and not an acre of property to plague
him!" So saying, the marquis dolorously shook his head and vanished
through the noiseless mahogany doors behind which Messrs.  Fudge &
Fidget awaited the unhappy man,--with the accounts of the great
Castleton coal-mine.



CHAPTER VI.


On my way towards our lodgings I resolved to look in at a humble tavern,
in the coffee-room of which the Captain and myself habitually dined.  It
was now about the usual hour in which we took that meal, and he might be
there waiting for me.  I had just gained the steps of this tavern when a
stagecoach came rattling along the pavement and drew up at an inn of
more pretensions than that which we favored, situated within a few doors
of the latter.  As the coach stopped, my eye was caught by the Trevanion
livery, which was very peculiar.  Thinking I must be deceived, I drew
near to the wearer of the livery, who had just descended from the roof,
and while he paid the coachman, gave his orders to a waiter who emerged
from the inn,--"Half-and-half, cold without!"  The tone of the voice
struck me as familiar, and the man now looking up, I beheld the features
of Mr. Peacock.  Yes, unquestionably it was he.  The whiskers were
shaved; there were traces of powder in the hair or the wig; the livery
of the Trevanions (ay, the very livery,--crest-button and all) upon that
portly figure, which I had last seen in the more august robes of a
beadle.  But Mr. Peacock it was,--Peacock travestied, but Peacock still.
Before I had recovered my amaze, a woman got out of a cabriolet that
seemed to have been in waiting for the arrival of the coach, and
hurrying up to Mr. Peacock, said, in the loud, impatient tone common to
the fairest of the fair sex, when in haste, "How late you are!--I was
just going.  I must get back to Oxton to-night."

Oxton,--Miss Trevanion was staying at Oxton!  I was now close behind the
pair; I listened with my heart in my ear.

"So you shall, my dear,--so you shall; just come in, will you?"

"No, no; I have only ten minutes to catch the coach.  Have you any
letter for me from Mr. Gower?  How can I be sure, if I don't see it
under his own hand, that--"

"Hush!" said Peacock, sinking his voice so low that I could only catch
the words, "no names.  Letter, pooh!  I'll tell you."  He then drew her
apart and whispered to her for some moments.  I watched the woman's
face, which was bent towards her companion's, and it seemed to show
quick intelligence.  She nodded her head more than once, as if in
impatient assent to what was said, and after a shaking of hands, hurried
off to the cab; then, as if a thought struck her, she ran back, and
said,--

"But in case my lady should not go,--if there's any change of plan?"

"There'll be no change, you may be sure.  Positively tomorrow,--not too
early: you understand?"

"Yes, yes; good-by!" and the woman, who was dressed with a quiet
neatness that seemed to stamp her profession as that of an abigail
(black cloak with long cape,--of that peculiar silk which seems spun on
purpose for ladies'-maids,--bonnet to match, with red and black
ribbons), hastened once more away, and in another moment the cab drove
off furiously.

What could all this mean?  By this time the waiter brought Mr. Peacock
the half-and-half.  He despatched it hastily, and then strode on towards
a neighboring stand of cabriolets.  I followed him; and just as, after
beckoning one of the vehicles from the stand, he had ensconced himself
therein, I sprang up the steps and placed myself by his side.  "Now, Mr.
Peacock," said I, "you will tell me at once how you come to wear that
livery, or I shall order the cabman to drive to Lady Ellinor Trevanion's
and ask her that question myself."

"And who the devil!  Ah, you're the young gentleman that came to me
behind the scenes,--I remember."

"Where to, sir?" asked the cabman.

"To--to London Bridge," said Mr. Peacock.  The man mounted the box and
drove on.

"Well, Mr. Peacock, I wait your answer.  I guess by your face that you
are about to tell me a lie; I advise you to speak the truth."

"I don't know what business you have to question me," said Mr. Peacock,
sullenly; and raising his glance from his own clenched fists, he
suffered it to wander over my form with so vindictive a significance
that I interrupted the survey by saying, "'Will you encounter the
house?' as the Swan interrogatively puts it?  Shall I order the cabman
to drive to St. James's Square?"

"Oh, you know my weak point, sir!  Any man who can quote Will--sweet
Will--has me on the hip," rejoined Mr. Peacock, smoothing his
countenance and spreading his palms on his knees.  "But if a man does
fall in the world, and after keeping servants of his own, is obliged to
be himself a servant,--

          "'I will not shame To tell you what I am.'"

"The Swan says, 'To tell you what I was,' Mr. Peacock.  But enough of
this trifling.  Who placed you with Mr. Trevanion?"

Mr. Peacock looked down for a moment, and then fixing his eyes on me,
said, "Well, I'll tell you: you asked me, when we met last, about a
young gentleman,--Mr.--Mr. Vivian."

Pisistratus.--"Proceed."

Peacock.--"I know you don't want to harm him.  Besides, 'He hath a
prosperous art,' and one day or other,--mark my words, or rather my
friend Will's,--

          "'He will bestride this narrow world Like a    Colossus.'

"Upon my life he will,--like a Colossus;

          "'And we petty men--'"

Pisistratus (savagely).--"Go on with your story."

Peacock (snappishly).--"I am going on with it!  You put me out.  Where
was I--oh--ah--yes.  I had just been sold up,--not a penny in my pocket;
and if you could have seen my coat,--yet that was better than the small
clothes!  Well, it was in Oxford Street,--no, it was in the Strand, near
the Lowther,--

          "'The sun was in the heavens; and the proud day    Attended
          with the pleasures of the world."'

Pisistratus (lowering the glass).--"To St. James's Square?"

Peacock.--"No, no; to London Bridge.

          "'How use doth breed a habit in a man!'

"I will go on,--honor bright.  So I met Mr. Vivian, and as he had known
me in better days, and has a good heart of his own, he says,--

          "'Horatio,--or I do forget myself."'

Pisistratus puts his hand on the check-string.

Peacock (correcting himself).--I mean--"Why, Johnson, my good fellow."'

Pisistratus.--"Johnson!  Oh, that's your name,--not Peacock."

Peacock.--"Johnson and Peacock both [with dignity].  When you know the
world as I do, sir, you will find that it is ill travelling this
'naughty world' without a change of names in your portmanteau.

"'Johnson,' says he, 'my good fellow,' and he pulled out his purse.
'Sir,' said I, 'if, "exempt from public haunt," I could get something to
do when this dross is gone.  In London there are sermons in stones,
certainly, but not "good in everything,"--an observation I should take
the liberty of making to the Swan if he were not now, alas! "the
baseless fabric of a vision.""'

Pisistratus.--"Take care!"

Peacock (hurriedly).--"Then says Mr. Vivian, 'If you don't mind wearing
a livery till I can provide for you more suitably, my old friend,
there's a vacancy in the establishment of Mr. Trevanion.'  Sir, I
accepted the proposal; and that's why I wear this livery."

Pisistratus.--"And pray, what business had you with that young woman,
whom I take to be Miss Trevanion's maid?  And why should she come from
Oxton to see you?"

I had expected that these questions would confound Mr. Peacock; but if
there were really anything in them to cause embarrassment, the ci-devant
actor was too practised in his profession to exhibit it.  He merely
smiled, and smoothing jauntily a very tumbled shirt front, he said, "Oh,
sir, fie!

          "'Of this matter
            Is little Cupid's crafty arrow made.'

"If you must know my love affairs, that young woman is, as the vulgar
say, my sweetheart."

"Your sweetheart!" I exclaimed, greatly relieved, and acknowledging at
once the probability of the statement.  "Yet," I added suspiciously,--
"yet, if so, why should she expect Mr. Gower to write to her?"

"You're quick of hearing, sir; but though--

          "'All adoration, duty, and observance;
            All humbleness and patience and impatience,'

the young woman won't marry a livery servant,--proud creature!--very
proud! and Mr. Gower, you see, knowing how it was, felt for me, and told
her, if I may take such liberty with the Swan, that she should--

          "'Never lie by Johnson's side
            With an unquiet soul,'

for that he would get me a place in the Stamps!  The silly girl said she
would have it in black and white,--as if Mr. Gower would write to her!

"And now, sir," continued Mr. Peacock, with a simpler gravity, "you are
at liberty, of course, to say what you please to my lady; but I hope
you'll not try to take the bread out of my mouth because I wear a livery
and am fool enough to be in love with a waiting-woman,--I, sir, who
could have married ladies who have played the first parts in life--on
the metropolitan stage."

I had nothing to say to these representations, they seemed plausible;
and though at first I had suspected that the man had only resorted to
the buffoonery of his quotations in order to gain time for invention or
to divert my notice from any flaw in his narrative, yet at the close, as
the narrative seemed probable, so I was willing to believe the
buffoonery was merely characteristic.  I contented myself, therefore,
with asking, "Where do you come from now?"

"From Mr. Trevanion, in the country, with letters to Lady Ellinor."

"Oh! and so the young woman knew you were coming to town?"

"Yes, sir; Mr. Trevanion told me, some days ago, the day I should have
to start."

"And what do you and the young woman propose doing to-morrow if there is
no change of plan?"

Here I certainly thought there was a slight, scarce perceptible,
alteration in Mr. Peacock's countenance; but he answered readily, "To-
morrow, a little assignation, if we can both get out,--

          "`Woo me, now I am in a holiday humor,
            And like enough to consent'

"Swan again, sir."

"Humph! so then Mr. Gower and Mr. Vivian are the same person?"

Peacock hesitated.  "That's not my secret, sir; 'I am combined by a
sacred vow.'  You are too much the gentleman to peep through the blanket
of the dark and to ask me, who wear the whips and stripes--I mean the
plush small-clothes and shoulder-knots--the secrets of another gent to
whom 'my services are bound.'"

How a man past thirty foils a man scarcely twenty!  What superiority the
mere fact of living-on gives to the dullest dog!  I bit my lip and was
silent.

"And," pursued Mr. Peacock, "if you knew how the Mr. Vivian you inquired
after loves you!  When I told him, incidentally, how a young gentleman
had come behind the scenes to inquire after him, he made me describe
you, and then said, quite mournfully, 'If ever I sin what I hope to
become, how happy I shall be to shake that kind hand once more,'--very
words, sir, honor bright!

          "'I think there's ne'er a man in Christendom
          Can lesser hide his hate or love than he.'"

And if Mr. Vivian has some reason to keep himself concealed still; if
his fortune or ruin depend on your not divulging his secret for a
while,--I can't think you are the man he need fear.  'Pon my life,--

          "'I wish I was as sure of a good dinner,'

as the Swan touchingly exclaims.  I dare swear that was a wish often on
the Swan's lips in the privacy of his domestic life!"

My heart was softened, not by the pathos of the much profaned and
desecrated Swan, but by Mr. Peacock's unadorned repetition of Vivian's
words.  I turned my face from the sharp eyes of my companion; the cab
now stopped at the foot of London Bridge.

I had no more to ask, yet still there was some uneasy curiosity in my
mind, which I could hardly define to myself, was it not jealousy?
Vivian so handsome and so daring,--he at least might see the great
heiress; Lady Ellinor perhaps thought of no danger there.  But--I--I was
a lover still, and--nay, such thoughts were folly indeed!

"My man," said I to the ex-comedian, "I neither wish to harm Mr. Vivian
(if I am so to call him), nor you who imitate him in the variety of your
names.  But I tell you fairly that I do not like your being in Mr.
Trevanion's employment, and I advise you to get out of it as soon as
possible.  I say nothing more as yet, for I shall take time to consider
well what you have told me."

With that I hastened away, and Mr. Peacock continued his solitary
journey over London Bridge.



CHAPTER VII.


Amidst all that lacerated my heart or tormented my thoughts that
eventful day, I felt at least one joyous emotion when, on entering our
little drawing-room, I found my uncle seated there.

The Captain had placed before him on the table a large Bible, borrowed
from the landlady.  He never travelled, to be sure, without his own
Bible; but the print of that was small, and the Captain's eyes began to
fail him at night.  So this was a Bible with large type, and a candle
was placed on either side of it; and the Captain leaned his elbows on
the table, and both his hands were tightly clasped upon his forehead,--
tightly, as if to shut out the tempter, and force his whole soul upon
the page.

He sat the image of iron courage; in every line of that rigid form there
was resolution: "I will not listen to my heart; I will read the Book,
and learn to suffer as becomes a Christian man."

There was such a pathos in the stern sufferer's attitude that it spoke
those words as plainly as if his lips had said them.  Old soldier, thou
hast done a soldier's part in many a bloody field; but if I could make
visible to the world thy brave soldier's soul, I would paint thee as I
saw thee then!--Out on this tyro's hand!

At the movement I made, the Captain looked up, and the strife he had
gone through was written upon his face.

"It has done me good," said he simply, and he closed the book.

I drew my chair near to him and hung my arm over his shoulder.

"No cheering news, then?" asked I in a whisper.

Roland shook his head, and gently laid his finger on his lips.



CHAPTER VIII.


It was impossible for me to intrude upon Roland's thoughts, whatever
their nature, with a detail of those circumstances which had roused in
me a keen and anxious interest in things apart from his sorrow.

Yet as "restless I rolled around my weary bed," and revolved the renewal
of Vivian's connection with a man of character so equivocal as Peacock;
the establishment of an able and unscrupulous tool of his own in the
service of Trevanion; the care with which he had concealed from me his
change of name, and his intimacy at the very house to which I had
frankly offered to present him; the familiarity which his creature had
contrived to effect with Miss Trevanion's maid; the words that had
passed between them,--plausibly accounted for, it is true, yet still
suspicious; and, above all, my painful recollections of Vivian's
reckless ambition and unprincipled sentiments,--nay, the effect that a
few random words upon Fanny's fortune, and the luck of winning an
heiress, had sufficed to produce upon his heated fancy and audacious
temper,--when all these thoughts came upon me, strong and vivid, in the
darkness of night, I longed for some confidant, more experienced in the
world than myself, to advise me as to the course I ought to pursue.
Should I warn Lady Ellinor?  But of what?  The character of the servant,
or the designs of the fictitious Gower?  Against the first I could say,
if nothing very positive, still enough to make it prudent to dismiss
him.  But of Gower or Vivian, what could I say without--not indeed
betraying his confidence, for that he had never given me--but without
belying the professions of friendship that I myself had lavishly made to
him?  Perhaps, after all, he might have disclosed whatever were his real
secrets to Trevanion; and, if not, I might indeed ruin his prospects by
revealing the aliases he assumed.  But wherefore reveal, and wherefore
warn?  Because of suspicions that I could not myself analyze,--
suspicions founded on circumstances most of which had already been
seemingly explained away.  Still, when morning came, I was irresolute
what to do; and after watching Roland's countenance, and seeing on his
brow so great a weight of care that I had no option but to postpone the
confidence I pined to place in Iris strong understanding and unerring
sense of honor, I wandered out, hoping that in the fresh air I might re-
collect my thoughts and solve the problem that perplexed me.  I had
enough to do in sundry small orders for my voyage, and commissions for
Bolding, to occupy me some hours.  And, this business done, I found
myself moving westward; mechanically, as it were, I had come to a kind
of half-and-half resolution to call upon Lady Ellinor and question her,
carelessly and incidentally, both about Gower and the new servant
admitted to the household.

Thus I found myself in Regent Street, when a carriage, borne by post-
horses, whirled rapidly over the pavement, scattering to the right and
left all humbler equipages, and hurried, as if on an errand of life and
death, up the broad thoroughfare leading into Portland Place.  But
rapidly as the wheels dashed by, I had seen distinctly the face of Fanny
Trevanion in the carriage; and that face wore a strange expression,
which seemed to me to speak of anxiety and grief; and by her side--Was
not that the woman I had seen with Peacock?  I did not see the face of
the woman, but I thought I recognized the cloak, the bonnet, and
peculiar turn of the head.  If I could be mistaken there, I was not
mistaken at least as to the servant on the seat behind.  Looking back at
a butcher's boy who had just escaped being run over, and was revenging
himself by all the imprecations the Dirae of London slang could suggest,
the face of Mr. Peacock was exposed in full to my gaze.

My first impulse, on recovering my surprise, was to spring after the
carriage; in the haste of that impulse, I cried "Stop!"  But the
carriage was out of sight in a moment, and my word was lost in air.
Full of presentiments of some evil,--I knew not what,--I then altered my
course, and stopped not till I found myself, panting and out of breath,
in St. James's Square--at the door of Trevanion's house--in the hall.
The porter had a newspaper in his hand as he admitted me.

"Where is Lady Ellinor?  I must see her instantly."

"No worse news of master, I hope, sir?"

"Worse news of what, of whom?  Of Mr. Trevanion?"

"Did you not know he was suddenly taken ill, sir,--that a servant came
express to say so last night?  Lady Ellinor went off at ten o'clock to
join him."

"At ten o'clock last night?"

"Yes, sir; the servant's account alarmed her ladyship so much."

"The new servant, who had been recommended by Mr. Gower?"

"Yes, sir,--Henry," answered the porter, staring at me.  "Please, sir,
here is an account of master's attack in the paper.  I suppose Henry
took it to the office before he came here,--which was very wrong in him;
but I am afraid he's a very foolish fellow."

"Never mind that.  Miss Trevanion,--I saw her just now,--she did not go
with her mother: where was she going, then?"

"Why, sir,--but pray step into the parlor."

"No, no; speak!"

"Why, sir, before Lady Ellinor set out she was afraid that there might
be something in the papers to alarm Miss Fanny, and so she sent Henry
down to Lady Castleton's to beg her ladyship to make as light of it as
she could; but it seems that Henry blabbed the worst to Mrs. Mole."

"Who is Mrs. Mole?"

"Miss Trevanion's maid, sir,--a new maid; and Mrs. Mole blabbed to my
young lady, and so she took fright, and insisted on coming to town.  And
Lady Castleton, who is ill herself in bed, could not keep her, I
suppose,--especially as Henry said, though he ought to have known
better, 'that she would be in time to arrive before my lady set off.'
Poor Miss Trevanion was so disappointed when she found her mamma gone.
And then she would order fresh horses and go on, though Mrs. Bates (the
housekeeper, you know, sir) was very angry with Mrs. Mole, who
encouraged Miss; and--"

"Good heavens!  Why did not Mrs. Bates go with her?"

"Why, sir, you know how old Mrs. Bates is, and my young lady is always
so kind that she would not hear of it, as she is going to travel night
and day; and Mrs. Mole said she had gone all over the world with her
last lady, and that--"

"I see it all.  Where is Mr. Gower?"

"Mr. Gower, sir!"

"Yes!  Can't you answer?"

"Why, with Mr. Trevanion, I believe, sir."

"In the North,--what is the address!"

"Lord N--, C-- Hall, near W--"

I heard no more.

The conviction of some villanous snare struck me as with the swiftness
and force of lightning.  Why, if Trevanion were really ill, had the
false servant concealed it from me?  Why suffered me to waste his time,
instead of hastening to Lady Ellinor?  How, if Mr. Trevanion's sudden
illness had brought the man to London,--how had he known so long
beforehand (as he himself told me, and his appointment with the waiting-
woman proved) the day he should arrive?  Why now, if there were no
design of which bliss Trevanion was the object, why so frustrate the
provident foresight of her mother, and take advantage of the natural
yearning of affection, the quick impulse of youth, to hurry off a girl
whose very station forbade her to take such a journey without suitable
protection,--against what must be the wish, and what clearly were the
instructions, of Lady Ellinor?  Alone, worse than alone!  Fanny
Trevanion was then in the hands of two servants who were the instruments
and confidants of an adventurer like Vivian; and that conference between
those servants, those broken references to the morrow coupled with the
name Vivian had assumed,--needed the unerring instincts of love more
cause for terror?--terror the darker because the exact shape it should
assume was obscure and indistinct.

I sprang from the house.

I hastened into the Haymarket, summoned a cabriolet, drove home as fast
as I could (for I had no money about me for the journey I meditated),
sent the servant of the lodging to engage a chaise-and-four, rushed into
the room, where Roland fortunately still was, and exclaimed,--"Uncle,
come with me!  Take money, plenty of money!  Some villany I know, though
I can't explain it, has been practised on the Trevanions.  We may defeat
it yet.  I will tell you all by the way.  Come, come!"

"Certainly.  But villany,--and to people of such a station--pooh!
collect yourself.  Who is the villain?"

"Oh, the man I had loved as a friend; the man whom I myself helped to
make known to Trevanion,--Vivian, Vivian!"

"Vivian!  Ah, the youth I have heard you speak of!  But how?  Villany to
whom,--to Trevanion?"

"You torture me with your questions.  Listen: this Vivian (I know him),
--he has introduced into the house, as a servant, an agent capable of any
trick and fraud; that servant has aided him to win over her maid,--
Fanny's--Miss Trevanion's.  Miss Trevanion is an heiress, Vivian an
adventurer.  My head swims round; I cannot explain now.  Ha! I will
write a line to Lord Castleton,--tell him my fears and suspicions; he
will follow us, I know, or do what is best."

I drew ink and paper towards me and wrote hastily.  My uncle came round
and looked over my shoulder.

Suddenly he exclaimed, seizing my arm: "Gower, Gower!  What name is
this?  You said Vivian."

"Vivian or Gower,--the same person."

My uncle hurried out of the room.  It was natural that he should leave
me to make our joint and brief preparations for departure.

I finished my letter, sealed it, and when, five minutes afterwards, the
chaise came to the door, I gave it to the hostler who accompanied the
horses, with injunctions to deliver it forthwith to Lord Castleton
himself.

My uncle now descended, and stepped from the threshold with a firm
stride.  "Comfort yourself," he said, as he entered the chaise, into
which I had already thrown myself.  "We may be mistaken yet."

"Mistaken!  You do not know this young man.  He has every quality that
could entangle a girl like Fanny, and not, I fear, one sentiment of
honor that would stand in the way of his ambition.  I judge him now as
by a revelation--too late--Oh Heavens, if it be too late!"

A groan broke from Roland's lips.  I heard in it a proof of his sympathy
with my emotion, and grasped his hand, it was as cold as the hand of the
dead.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Caxtons: A Family Picture — Volume 14" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home