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Title: "My Novel" — Volume 09
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 ""My Novel" — Volume 09" ***

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Now that I am fairly in the heart of my story, these preliminary chapters
must shrink into comparatively small dimensions, and not encroach upon
the space required by the various personages whose acquaintance I have
picked up here and there, and who are now all crowding upon me like poor
relations to whom one has unadvisedly given a general invitation, and who
descend upon one simultaneously about Christmas time.  Where they are to
be stowed, and what is to become of them all, Heaven knows; in the mean
while, the reader will have already observed that the Caxton Family
themselves are turned out of their own rooms, sent a packing, in order to
make way for the new comers.

But to proceed: Note the heading to the present Chapter, "ON PUBLIC
LIFE,"--a thesis pertinent to this portion of my narrative; and if
somewhat trite in itself, the greater is the stimulus to suggest thereon
some original hints for reflection.

Were you ever in public life, my dear reader?  I don't mean, by that
question, to ask whether you were ever Lord Chancellor, Prime Minister,
Leader of the Opposition, or even a member of the House of Commons.  An
author hopes to find readers far beyond that very egregious but very
limited segment of the Great Circle.  Were you ever a busy man in your
vestry, active in a municipal corporation, one of a committee for
furthering the interests of an enlightened candidate for your native
burgh, town, or shire,--in a word, did you ever resign your private
comforts as men in order to share the public troubles of mankind?  If
ever you have so far departed from the Lucretian philosophy, just look
back--was it life at all that you lived?  Were you an individual distinct
existence,--a passenger in the railway,--or were you merely an indistinct
portion of that common flaine which heated the boiler and generated the
steam that set off the monster train?--very hot, very active, very
useful, no doubt; but all your identity fused in flame, and all your
forces vanishing in gas.

And do you think the people in the railway carriages care for you?  Do
you think that the gentleman in the worsted wrapper is saying to his
neighbour with the striped rug on his comfortable knees, "How grateful we
ought to be for that fiery particle which is crackling and hissing under
the boiler.  It helps us on a fraction of an inch from Vauxhall to
Putney!"  Not a bit of it.  Ten to one but he is saying, "Not sixteen
miles an hour!  What the deuce is the matter with the stoker?"

Look at our friend Audley Egerton.  You have just had a glimpse of the
real being that struggles under the huge copper; you have heard the
hollow sound of the rich man's coffers under the tap of Baron Levy's
friendly knuckle, heard the strong man's heart give out its dull warning
sound to the scientific ear of Dr. F-----.  And away once more vanishes
the separate existence, lost again in the flame that heats the boiler,
and the smoke that curls into air from the grimy furnace.

Look to it, O Public Man, whoever thou art, and whatsoever thy degree,--
see if thou canst not compound matters, so as to keep a little nook apart
for thy private life; that is, for thyself!  Let the Great Popkins
Question not absorb wholly the individual soul of thee, as Smith or
Johnson.  Don't so entirely consume thyself under that insatiable boiler,
that when thy poor little monad rushes out from the sooty furnace, and
arrives at the stars, thou mayest find no vocation for thee there, and
feel as if thou hadst nothing to do amidst the still splendours of the
Infinite.  I don't deny to thee the uses of "Public Life;" I grant that
it is much to have helped to carry that Great Popkins Question; but
Private Life, my friend, is the life of thy private soul; and there may
be matters concerned with that which, on consideration, thou mayest allow
cannot be wholly mixed up with the Great Popkins Question, and were not
finally settled when thou didst exclaim, "I have not lived in vain,--the
Popkins Question is carried at last!"  Oh, immortal soul, for one quarter
of an hour per diem de-Popkinize thine immortality!


It had not been without much persuasion on the part of Jackeymo that
Riccabocca had consented to settle himself in the house which Randal had
recommended to him.  Not that the exile conceived any suspicion of the
young man beyond that which he might have shared with Jackeymo, namely,
that Randal's interest in the father was increased by a very natural and
excusable admiration of the daughter; but the Italian had the pride
common to misfortune,--he did not like to be indebted to others, and he
shrank from the pity of those to whom it was known that he had held a
higher station in his own land.  These scruples gave way to the strength
of his affection for his daughter and his dread of his foe.  Good men,
however able and brave, who have suffered from the wicked, are apt to
form exaggerated notions of the power that has prevailed against them.
Jackeymo had conceived a superstitious terror of Peschiera; and
Riccabocca, though by no means addicted to superstition, still had a
certain creep of the flesh whenever he thought of his foe.

But Riccabocca--than whom no man was more physically brave, and no man,
in some respects, more morally timid--feared the count less as a foe than
as a gallant.  He remembered his kinsman's surpassing beauty, the power
he had obtained over women.  He knew him versed in every art that
corrupts, and wholly void of the conscience that deters.  And
Riccabocca had unhappily nursed himself into so poor an estimate of the
female character, that even the pure and lofty nature of Violante did not
seem to him a sufficient safeguard against the craft and determination of
a practised and remorseless intriguer.  But of all the precautions he
could take, none appeared more likely to conduce to safety than his
establishing a friendly communication with one who professed to be able
to get at all the count's plans and movements, and who could apprise
Riccabocca at once should his retreat be discovered.  "Forewarned is
forearmed," said he to himself, in one of the proverbs common to all
nations.  However, as with his usual sagacity he came to reflect upon the
alarming intelligence conveyed to him by Randal, namely, that the count
sought his daughter's hand, he divined that there was some strong
personal interest under such ambition; and what could be that interest
save the probability of Riccabocca's ultimate admission to the Imperial
grace, and the count's desire to assure himself of the heritage to an
estate that he might be permitted to retain no more?  Riccabocca was not
indeed aware of the condition (not according to usual customs in Austria)
on which the count held the forfeited domains.  He knew not that they had
been granted merely on pleasure; but he was too well aware of Peschiera's
nature to suppose that he would woo a bride without a dower, or be moved
by remorse in any overture of reconciliation.  He felt assured too--and
this increased all his fears--that Peschiera would never venture to seek
an interview with himself; all the count's designs on Violante would be
dark, secret, and clandestine.  He was perplexed and tormented by the
doubt whether or not to express openly to Violante his apprehensions of
the nature of the danger to be apprehended.  He had told her vaguely that
it was for her sake that he desired secrecy and concealment.  But that
might mean anything: what danger to himself would not menace her?  Yet to
say more was so contrary to a man of his Italian notions and
Machiavellian maxims!  To say to a young girl, "There is a man come over
to England on purpose to woo and win you.  For Heaven's sake take care of
him; he is diabolically handsome; he never fails where he sets his
heart.--/Cospetto!/" cried the doctor, aloud, as these admonitions shaped
themselves to speech in the camera obscura of his brain; "such a warning
would have undone a Cornelia while she was yet an innocent spinster."
No, he resolved to say nothing to Violante of the count's intention, only
to keep guard, and make himself and Jackeymo all eyes and all ears.

The house Randal had selected pleased Riccabocca at first glance.  It
stood alone, upon a little eminence; its upper windows commanded the high
road.  It had been a school, and was surrounded by high walls, which
contained a garden and lawn sufficiently large for exercise.  The garden
doors were thick, fortified by strong bolts, and had a little wicket
lattice, shut and opened at pleasure, from which Jackeymo could inspect
all visitors before he permitted them to enter.

An old female servant from the neighbourhood was cautiously hired;
Riccabocca renounced his Italian name, and abjured his origin.  He spoke
English sufficiently well to think he could pass as an Englishman.  He
called himself Mr. Richmouth (a liberal translation of Riccabocca).  He
bought a blunderbuss, two pairs of pistols, and a huge housedog.  Thus
provided for, he allowed Jackeymo to write a line to Randal and
communicate his arrival.

Randal lost no time in calling.  With his usual adaptability and his
powers of dissimulation, he contrived easily to please Mrs. Riccabocca,
and to increase the good opinion the exile was disposed to form of him.
He engaged Violante in conversation on Italy and its poets.  He promised
to bring her books.  He began, though more distantly than he could have
desired,--for her sweet stateliness awed him,--the preliminaries of
courtship.  He established himself at once as a familiar guest, riding
down daily in the dusk of evening, after the toils of office, and
returning at night.  In four or five days he thought he had made great
progress with all.  Riccabocca watched him narrowly, and grew absorbed
in thought after every visit.  At length one night, when he and Mrs.
Riccabocca were alone in the drawing-room, Violante having retired to
rest, he thus spoke as he filled his pipe,--

"Happy is the man who has no children!  Thrice happy he who has no

"My dear Alphonso!" said the wife, looking up from the waistband to which
she was attaching a neat mother-o'-pearl button.  She said no more; it
was the sharpest rebuke she was in the custom of administering to her
husband's cynical and odious observations.  Riccabocca lighted his pipe
with a thread paper, gave three great puffs, and resumed,

"One blunderbuss, four pistols, and a house-dog called Pompey, who would
have made mincemeat of Julius Caesar!"

"He certainly eats a great deal, does Pompey!" said Mrs. Riccabocca,
simply.  "But if he relieves your mind!"

"He does not relieve it in the least, ma'am," groaned Riccabocca; "and
that is the point I am coming to.  This is a most harassing life, and a
most undignified life.  And I who have only asked from Heaven dignity and
repose!  But if Violante were once married, I should want neither
blunderbuss, pistol, nor Pompey.  And it is that which would relieve my
mind, cara mia,--Pompey only relieves my larder."

Now Riccabocca had been more communicative to Jemima than he had been to
Violante.  Having once trusted her with one secret, he had every motive
to trust her with another; and he had accordingly spoken out his fears of
the Count di Peschiera.  Therefore she answered, laying down the work,
and taking her husband's hand tenderly,

"Indeed, my love, since you dread so much (though I own that I must think
unreasonably) this wicked, dangerous man, it would be the happiest thing
in the world to see dear Violante well married; because, you see, if she
is married to one person she cannot be married to another; and all fear
of this count, as you say, would be at an end."

"You cannot express yourself better.  It is a great comfort to unbosom
one's-self to a wife, after all," quoth Riccabocca.

"But," said the wife, after a grateful kiss,--"but where and how can we
find a husband suitable to the rank of your daughter?"

"There! there! there!" cried Riccabocca, pushing back his chair to the
farther end of the room, "that comes of unbosoming one's-self!  Out flies
one secret; it is opening the lid of Pandora's box; one is betrayed,
ruined, undone!"

"Why, there's not a soul that can hear us!" said Mrs. Riccabocca,

"'That's chance, ma'am!  If you once contract the habit of blabbing out a
secret when nobody's by, how on earth can you resist it when you have the
pleasurable excitement of telling it to all the world?  Vanity, vanity,--
woman's vanity!  Woman never could withstand rank,--never!"  The doctor
went on railing for a quarter of an hour, and was very reluctantly
appeased by Mrs. Riccabocca's repeated and tearful assurances that she
would never even whisper to herself that her husband had ever held any
other rank than that of doctor.  Riccabocca, with a dubious shake of the
head, renewed,

"I have done with all pomp and pretension.  Besides, the young man is a
born gentleman: he seems in good circumstances; he has energy and latent
ambition; he is akin to L'Estrange's intimate friend: he seems attached
to Violante.  I don't think it probable that we could do better.  Nay, if
Peschiera fears that I shall be restored to my country, and I learn the
wherefore, and the ground to take, through this young  man--why,
gratitude is the  first  virtue  of the noble!"

"You speak, then, of Mr. Leslie?"

"To be sure--of whom else?"

Mrs. Riccabocca leaned her cheek on her hand thoughtfully.  "Now you have
told me that, I will observe him with different eyes."

"Anima mia, I don't see how the difference of your eyes will alter the
object they look upon!" grumbled Riccabocca, shaking the ashes out of his

"The object alters when we see it in a different point of view!" replied
Jemima, modestly.  "This thread does very well when I look at it in order
to sew on a button, but I should say it would never do to tie up Pompey
in his Kennel."

"Reasoning by illustration, upon my soul!" ejaculated Riccabocca, amazed.

"And," continued Jemima, "when I am to regard one who is to constitute
the happiness of that dear child, and for life, can I regard him as I
would the pleasant guest of an evening?  Ah, trust me, Alphonso; I don't
pretend to be wise like you; but when a woman considers what a man is
likely to prove to woman,--his sincerity, his honour, his heart,--oh,
trust me, she is wiser than the wisest man!"

Riccabocca continued to gaze on Jemima with unaffected admiration and
surprise.  And certainly, to use his phrase, since he had unbosomed
himself to his better half, since he had confided in her, consulted with
her, her sense had seemed to quicken, her whole mind to expand.

"My dear," said the sage, "I vow and declare that Machiavelli was a fool
to you.  And I have been as dull as the chair I sit upon, to deny myself
so many years the comfort and counsel of such a--But, /corpo di Bacco!/
forget all about rank; and so now to bed.--One must not holloa till one's
out of the wood," muttered the ungrateful, suspicious villain, as he
lighted the chamber candle.


RICCABOCCA could not confine himself to the precincts within the walls to
which he condemned Violante.  Resuming his spectacles, and wrapped in his
cloak, he occasionally sallied forth upon a kind of outwatch or
reconnoitring expedition,--restricting himself, however, to the immediate
neighbourhood, and never going quite out of sight of his house.  His
favourite walk was to the summit of a hillock overgrown with stunted
bush-wood.  Here he would sit himself musingly, often till the hoofs of
Randal's horse rang on the winding road, as the sun set, over fading
herbage, red and vaporous, in autumnal skies.  Just below the hillock,
and not two hundred yards from his own house, was the only other
habitation in view,--a charming, thoroughly English cottage, though
somewhat imitated from the Swiss, with gable ends, thatched roof, and
pretty, projecting casements, opening through creepers and climbing
roses.  From his height he commanded the gardens of this cottage, and his
eye of artist was pleased, from the first sight, with the beauty which
some exquisite taste had given to the ground.  Even in that cheerless
season of the year, the garden wore a summer smile; the evergreens were
so bright and various, and the few flow ers still left so hardy and so
healthful.  Facing the south, a colonnade, or covered gallery, of rustic
woodwork had been formed, and creeping plants, lately set, were already
beginning to clothe its columns.  Opposite to this colonnade there was a
fountain which reminded Riccabocca of his own at the deserted Casino.  It
was indeed singularly like it; the same circular shape, the same girdle
of flowers around it.  But the jet from it varied every day, fantastic
and multiform, like the sports of a Naiad,--sometimes shooting up like a
tree, sometimes shaped as a convolvulus, sometimes tossing from its
silver spray a flower of vermilion, or a fruit of gold,--as if at play
with its toy like a happy child.  And near the fountain was a large
aviary, large enough to enclose a tree.  The Italian could just catch a
gleam of rich colour from the wings of the birds, as they glanced to and
fro within the network, and could hear their songs, contrasting the
silence of the freer populace of air, whom the coming winter had already

Riccabocca's eye, so alive to all aspects of beauty, luxuriated in the
view of this garden.  Its pleasantness had a charm that stole him from
his anxious fear and melancholy memories.

He never saw but two forms within the demesnes, and he could not
distinguish their features.  One was a woman, who seemed to him of staid
manner and homely appearance: she was seen but rarely.  The other a man,
often pacing to and fro the colonnade, with frequent pauses before the
playful fountain, or the birds that sang louder as he approached.  This
latter form would then disappear within a room, the glass door of which
was at the extreme end of the colonnade; and if the door were left open,
Riccabocca could catch a glimpse of the figure bending over a table
covered with books.

Always, however, before the sun set, the man would step forth more
briskly, and occupy himself with the garden, often working at it with
good heart, as if at a task of delight; and then, too, the woman would
come out, and stand by as if talking to her companion.  Riccabocca's
curiosity grew aroused.  He bade Jemima inquire of the old maid-servant
who lived at the cottage, and heard that its owner was a Mr. Oran,--a
quiet gentleman, and fond of his book.

While Riccabocca thus amused himself, Randal had not been prevented,
either by his official cares or his schemes on Violante's heart and
fortune, from furthering the project that was to unite Frank Hazeldean
and Beatrice di Negra.  Indeed, as to the first, a ray of hope was
sufficient to fire the ardent and unsuspecting lover.  And Randal's
artful misrepresentation of his conference with Mrs. Hazeldean removed
all fear of parental displeasure from a mind always too disposed to give
itself up to the temptation of the moment.  Beatrice, though her feelings
for Frank were not those of love, became more and more influenced by
Randal's arguments and representations, the more especially as her
brother grew morose, and even menacing, as days slipped on, and she could
give no clew to the retreat of those whom he sought for.  Her debts, too,
were really urgent.  As Randal's profound knowledge of human infirmity
had shrewdly conjectured, the scruples of honour and pride, that had made
her declare she would not bring to a husband her own encumbrances, began
to yield to the pressure of necessity.  She listened already, with but
faint objections, when Randal urged her not to wait for the uncertain
discovery that was to secure her dowry, but by a private marriage with
Frank escape at once into freedom and security.  While, though he had
first held out to young Hazeldean the inducement of Beatrice's dowry as
a reason of self-justification in the eyes of the squire, it was still
easier to drop that inducement, which had always rather damped than fired
the high spirit and generous heart of the poor Guardsman.  And Randal
could conscientiously say, that when he had asked the squire if he
expected fortune with Frank's bride, the squire had replied, "I don't
care."  Thus encouraged by his friend and his own heart, and the
softening manner of a woman who might have charmed many a colder, and
fooled many a wiser man, Frank rapidly yielded to the snares held out for
his perdition.  And though as yet he honestly shrank from proposing to
Beatrice or himself a marriage without the consent, and even the
knowledge, of his parents, yet Randal was quite content to leave a
nature, however good, so thoroughly impulsive and undisciplined, to the
influences of the first strong passion it had ever known.  Meanwhile, it
was so easy to dissuade Frank from even giving a hint to the folks at
home.  "For," said the wily and able traitor, "though we may be sure of
Mrs. Hazeldean's consent, and her power over your father, when the step
is once taken, yet we cannot count for certain on the squire, he is so
choleric and hasty.  He might hurry to town, see Madame di Negra, blurt
out some passionate, rude expressions, which would wake her resentment,
and cause her instant rejection.  And it might be too late if he repented
afterwards, as he would be sure to do."

Meanwhile Randal Leslie gave a dinner at the Clarendon Hotel (an
extravagance most contrary to his habits), and invited Frank, Mr.
Borrowell, and Baron Levy.

But this house-spider, which glided with so much ease after its flies,
through webs so numerous and mazy, had yet to amuse Madame di Negra with
assurances that the fugitives sought for would sooner or later be
discovered.  Though Randal baffled and eluded her suspicion that he was
already acquainted with the exiles ("the persons he had thought of were,"
he said, "quite different from her description;" and he even presented to
her an old singing-master and a sallow-faced daughter, as the Italians
who had caused his mistake), it was necessary for Beatrice to prove the
sincerity of the aid she had promised to her brother, and to introduce
Randal to the count.  It was no less desirable to Randal to know, and
even win the confidence of this man--his rival.

The two met at Madame di Negra's house.  There is something very strange,
and almost mesmerical, in the rapport between two evil natures.  Bring
two honest men together, and it is ten to one if they recognize each
other as honest; differences in temper, manner, even politics, may make
each misjudge the other.  But bring together two men unprincipled and
perverted--men who, if born in a cellar, would have been food for the
hulks or gallows--and they understand each other by instant sympathy.
The eyes of Franzini, Count of Peschiera, and Randal Leslie no sooner met
than a gleam of intelligence shot from both.  They talked on indifferent
subjects,--weather, gossip, politics,--what not.  They bowed and they
smiled; but all the while, each was watching, plumbing the other's heart,
each measuring his strength with his companion; each inly saying, "This
is a very remarkable rascal; am I a match for him?"  It was at dinner
they met; and following the English fashion, Madame di Negra left them
alone with their wine.

Then, for the first time, Count di Peschiera cautiously and adroitly made
a covered push towards the object of the meeting.

"You have never been abroad, my dear sir?  You must contrive to visit me
at Vienna.  I grant the splendour of your London world; but, honestly
speaking, it wants the freedom of ours,--a freedom which unites gayety
with polish.  For as your society is mixed, there are pretension and
effort with those who have no right to be in it, and artificial
condescension and chilling arrogance with those who have to keep their
inferiors at a certain distance.  With us, all being of fixed rank and
acknowledged birth, familiarity is at once established.  Hence," added
the count, with his French lively smile,--"hence there is no place like
Vienna for a young man, no place like Vienna for /bonnes fortunes/."

"Those make the paradise of the idle," replied Randal, "but the purgatory
of the busy.  I confess frankly to you, my dear count, that I have as
little of the leisure which becomes the aspirer to /bonnes fortunes/ as I
have the personal graces which obtain them without an effort;" and he
inclined his head as in compliment.

"So," thought the count, "woman is not his weak side.  What is?"

"Morbleu! my dear Mr. Leslie, had I thought as you do some years since,
I had saved myself from many a trouble.  After all, Ambition is the best
mistress to woo; for with her there is always the hope, and never the

"Ambition, Count," replied Randal, still guarding himself in dry
sententiousness, "is the luxury of the rich, and the necessity of the

"Aha," thought the count, "it comes, as I anticipated from the first,--
comes to the bribe."  He passed the wine to Randal, filling his own
glass, and draining it carelessly; "/Sur mon ame, mon cher/," said the
count, "luxury is ever pleasanter than necessity; and I am resolved at
least to give Ambition a trial; je vais me refugier dans le sein du
bonheur domestique,--a married life and a settled home. /Peste!/  If
it were not for ambition, one would die of /ennui/. /A propos/, my dear
sir, I have to thank you for promising my sister your aid in finding a
near and dear kinsman of mine, who has taken refuge in your country, and
hides himself even from me."

"I should be most happy to assist in your search.  As yet, however, I
have only to regret that all my good wishes are fruitless.  I should have
thought, however, that a man of such rank had been easily found, even
through the medium of your own ambassador."

"Our own ambassador is no very warm friend of mine; and the rank would be
no clew, for it is clear that my kinsman has never assumed it since he
quitted his country."

"He quitted it, I understand, not exactly from choice," said Randal,
smiling.  "Pardon my freedom and curiosity, but will you explain to me
a little more than I learn from English rumour (which never accurately
reports upon foreign matters still more notorious), how a person who had
so much to lose, and so little to win, by revolution, could put himself
into the same crazy boat with a crew of hair-brained adventurers and
visionary professors."

"Professors!" repeated the count; "I think you have hit on the very
answer to your question; not but what men of high birth were as mad as
the /canaille/.  I am the more willing to gratify your curiosity, since
it will perhaps serve to guide your kind search in my favour.  You must
know, then, that my kinsman was not born the heir to the rank he
obtained.  He was but a distant relation to the head of the House which
he afterwards represented.  Brought up in an Italian university, he was
distinguished for his learning and his eccentricities.  There too, I
suppose, brooding over old wives' tales about freedom, and so forth, he
contracted his carbonaro, chimerical notions for the independence of
Italy.  Suddenly, by three deaths, he was elevated, while yet young, to
a station and honours which might have satisfied any man in his senses.
/Que diable!/  what could the independence of Italy do for him?  He and I
were cousins; we had played together as boys; but our lives had been
separated till his succession to rank brought us necessarily together.
We became exceedingly intimate.  And you may judge how I loved him," said
the count, averting his eyes slightly from Randal's quiet, watchful gaze,
"when I add, that I forgave him for enjoying a heritage that, but for
him, had been mine."

"Ah, you were next heir?"

"And it is a hard trial to be very near a great fortune, and yet just to
miss it."

"True," cried Randal, almost impetuously.  The count now raised his eyes,
and again the two men looked into each other's souls.

"Harder still, perhaps," resumed the count, after a short pause,--"harder
still might it have been to some men to forgive the rival as well as the

"Rival! how?"

"A lady, who had been destined by her parents to myself, though we had
never, I own, been formally betrothed, became the wife of my kinsman."

"Did he know of your pretensions?"

"I do him the justice to say he did not.  He saw and fell in love with
the young lady I speak of.  Her parents were dazzled.  Her father sent
for me.  He apologized, he explained; he set before me, mildly enough,
certain youthful imprudences or errors of my own, as an excuse for his
change of mind; and he asked me not only to resign all hope of his
daughter, but to conceal from her new suitor that I had ever ventured to

"And you consented?"

"I consented."

"That was generous.  You must indeed have been much attached to your
kinsman.  As a lover, I cannot comprehend it; perhaps, my dear count, you
may enable me to understand it better--as a man of the world."

"Well," said the count, with his most roue air, "I suppose we are both
men of the world?"

"Both! certainly," replied Randal, just in the tone which Peachum might
have used in courting the confidence of Lockit.

"As a man of the world, then, I own," said the count, playing with the
rings on his fingers, "that if I could not marry the lady myself (and
that seemed to me clear), it was very natural that I should wish to see
her married to my wealthy kinsman."

"Very natural; it might bring your wealthy kinsman and yourself still
closer together."

"This is really a very clever fellow!" thought the count, but he made no
direct reply.

"/Enfin/, to cut short a long story, my cousin afterwards got entangled
in attempts, the failure of which is historically known.  His projects
were detected, himself denounced.  He fled, and the emperor, in
sequestrating his estates, was pleased, with rare and singular clemency,
to permit me, as his nearest kinsman, to enjoy the revenues of half those
estates during the royal pleasure; nor was the other half formally
confiscated.  It was no doubt his Majesty's desire not to extinguish a
great Italian name; and if my cousin and his child died in exile, why,
of that name, I, a loyal subject of Austria,--I, Franzini, Count di
Peschiera, would become the representative.  Such, in a similar case,
has been sometimes the Russian policy towards Polish insurgents."

"I comprehend perfectly; and I can also conceive that you, in profiting
so largely, though so justly, by the fall of your kinsman, may have been
exposed to much unpopularity, even to painful suspicion."

"/Entre nous, mon cher/, I care not a stiver for popularity; and as to
suspicion, who is he that can escape from the calumny of the envious?
But, unquestionably, it would be most desirable to unite the divided
members of our house; and this union I can now effect by the consent of
the emperor to my marriage with my kinsman's daughter.  You see,
therefore, why I have so great an interest in this research?"

"By the marriage articles you could no doubt secure the retention of the
half you hold; and if you survive your kinsman, you would enjoy the
whole.  A most desirable marriage; and, if made, I suppose that would
suffice to obtain your cousin's amnesty and grace?"

"You say it."

"But even without such marriage, since the emperor's clemency has been
extended to so many of the proscribed, it is perhaps probable that your
cousin might be restored?"

"It once seemed to me possible," said the count, reluctantly; "but since
I have been in England, I think not.  The recent revolution in France,
the democratic spirit rising in Europe, tend to throw back the cause of
a proscribed rebel.  England swarms with revolutionists; my cousin's
residence in this country is in itself suspicious.  The suspicion is
increased by his strange seclusion.  There are many Italians here who
would aver that they had met with him, and that he was still engaged in
revolutionary projects."


"/Ma foi/, it comes to the same thing; 'les absents ont toujours tort.'
I speak to a man of the world.  No; without some such guarantee for his
faith as his daughter's marriage with myself would give, his recall is
improbable.  By the heaven above us, it shall be impossible!"  The count
rose as he said this,--rose as if the mask of simulation had fairly
fallen from the visage of crime; rose tall and towering, a very image of
masculine power and strength, beside the slight, bended form and sickly
face of the intellectual schemer.  And had you seen them thus confronted
and contrasted, you would have felt that if ever the time should come
when the interest of the one would compel him openly to denounce or
boldly to expose the other, the odds were that the brilliant and
audacious reprobate would master the weaker nerve but superior wit of
the furtive traitor.  Randal was startled; but rising also, he said

"What if this guarantee can no longer be given; what if, in despair of
return, and in resignation to his altered fortunes, your cousin has
already married his daughter to some English suitor?"

"Ah, that would indeed be, next to my own marriage with her, the most
fortunate thing that could happen to myself."

"How? I don't understand!"

"Why, if my cousin has so abjured his birthright, and forsworn his rank;
if this heritage, which is so dangerous from its grandeur, pass, in case
of his pardon, to some obscure Englishman,--a foreigner, a native of a
country that has no ties with ours, a country that is the very refuge of
levellers and Carbonari--/mort de ma vie!/ do you think that such would
not annihilate all chance of my cousin's restoration, and be an excuse
even in the eyes of Italy for formally conferring the sequestrated
estates on an Italian?  No; unless, indeed, the girl were to marry an
Englishman of such name and birth and connection as would in themselves
be a guarantee (and how in poverty is this likely?) I should go back to
Vienna with a light heart, if I could say, 'My kinswoman is an
Englishman's wife; shall her children be the heirs to a house so renowned
for its lineage, and so formidable for its wealth?' /Parbleu!/ if my
cousin were but an adventurer, or merely a professor, he had been
pardoned long ago.  The great enjoy the honour not to be pardoned

Randal fell into deep but brief thought.  The count observed him, not
face to face, but by the reflection of an opposite mirror.  "This man
knows something; this man is deliberating; this man can help me," thought
the count.

But Randal said nothing to confirm these hypotheses.  Recovering from his
abstraction, he expressed courteously his satisfaction at the count's
prospects, either way.  "And since, after all," he added, "you mean so
well to your cousin, it occurs to me that you might discover him by a
very simple English process."


"Advertise that, if he will come to some place appointed, he will hear of
something to his advantage."

The count shook his head.  "He would suspect me, and not come."

"But he was intimate with you.  He joined an insurrection; you were more
prudent.  You did not injure him, though you may have benefited yourself.
Why should he shun you?"

"The conspirators forgive none who do not conspire; besides, to speak
frankly, he thought I injured him."

"Could you not conciliate him through his wife--whom you resigned to

"She is dead,--died before he left the country."

"Oh, that is unlucky!  Still I think an advertisement might do good.
Allow me to reflect on that subject.  Shall we now join Madame la

On re-entering the drawing-room, the gentlemen found Beatrice in full
dress, seated by the fire, and reading so intently that she did not
remark them enter.

"What so interests you, /ma seuur/?--the last novel by Balzac, no doubt?"

Beatrice started, and, looking up, showed eyes that were full of tears.
"Oh, no! no picture of miserable, vicious, Parisian life.  This is
beautiful; there is soul here."

Randal took up the book which the marchesa laid down; it was the same
which had charmed the circle at Hazeldean, charmed the innocent and
fresh-hearted, charmed now the wearied and tempted votaress of the world.

"Hum," murmured Randal; "the parson was right.  This is power,--a sort of
a power."

"How I should like to know the author!  Who can he be?  Can you guess?"

"Not I.  Some old pedant in spectacles."

"I think not, I am sure not.  Here beats a heart I have ever sighed to
find, and never found."

"Oh, /la naive enfant!/" cried the count; "comme son imagination s'egare
en reves enchantes.  And to think that while you talk like an Arcadian,
you are dressed like a princess."

"Ah, I forgot--the Austrian ambassador's.  I shall not go to-night.  This
book unfits me for the artificial world."

"Just as you will, my sister.  I shall go.  I dislike the man, and he me;
but ceremonies before men!"

"You are going to the Austrian Embassy?" said Randal.  "I, too, shall be
there.  We shall meet."  And he took his leave.

"I like your young friend prodigiously," said the count, yawning.  "I am
sure that he knows of the lost birds, and will stand to them like a
pointer, if I can but make it his interest to do so.  We shall see."


Randal arrived at the ambassador's before the count, and contrived to mix
with the young noblemen attached to the embassy, and to whom he was
known.  Standing among these was a young Austrian, on his travels, of
very high birth, and with an air of noble grace that suited the ideal of
the old German chivalry.  Randal was presented to him, and, after some
talk on general topics, observed, "By the way, Prince, there is now in
London a countryman of yours, with whom you are, doubtless, familiarly
acquainted,--the Count di Peschiera."

"He is no countryman of mine.  He is an Italian.  I know him but by sight
and by name," said the prince, stiffly.

"He is of very ancient birth, I believe."

"Unquestionably.  His ancestors were gentlemen."

"And very rich."

"Indeed!  I have understood the contrary.  He enjoys, it is true, a large

A young attache, less discreet than the prince; here observed, "Oh,
Peschiera! poor fellow, he is too fond of play to be rich."

"And there is some chance that the kinsman whose revenue he holds may
obtain his pardon, and re-enter into possession of his fortunes--so I
hear, at least," said Randal, artfully.

"I shall be glad if it be true," said the prince, with decision; "and I
speak the common sentiment at Vienna.  That kinsman had a noble spirit,
and was, I believe, equally duped and betrayed.  Pardon me, sir; but we
Austrians are not so bad as we are painted.  Have you ever met in England
the kinsman you speak of?"

"Never, though he is supposed to reside here; and the count tells me that
he has a daughter."

"The count--ha!  I heard something of a scheme,--a wager of that--that
count's.  A daughter!  Poor girl!  I hope she will escape his pursuit;
for, no doubt, he pursues her."

"Possibly she may already have married an Englishman."

"I trust not," said the prince, seriously; "that might at present be a
serious obstacle to her father's return."

"You think so?"

"There can be no doubt of it," interposed the attache, with a grand and
positive air; "unless, indeed, the Englishman were of a rank equal to her

Here there was a slight, well-bred murmur and buzz at the door, for the
Count di Peschiera himself was announced; and as he entered, his presence
was so striking, and his beauty so dazzling, that whatever there might be
to the prejudice of his character, it seemed instantly effaced or
forgotten in that irresistible admiration which it is the prerogative of
personal attributes alone to create.

The prince, with a slight curve of his lip at the groups that collected
round the count, turned to Randal, and said, "Can you tell me if a
distinguished countryman of yours is in England, Lord L'Estrange?"

"No, Prince, he is not.  You know him?"


"He is acquainted with the count's kinsman; and perhaps from him you have
learned to think so highly of that kinsman?"

The prince bowed, and answered as he moved away, "When one man of high
honour vouches for another, he commands the belief of all."

"Certainly," soliloquized Randal, "I must not be precipitate.  I was very
near falling into a terrible trap.  If I were to marry the girl, and
only, by so doing, settle away her inheritance on Peschiera!--how hard it
is to be sufficiently cautious in this world!"

While thus meditating, a member of parliament tapped him on the shoulder.

"Melancholy, Leslie!  I lay a wager I guess your thoughts."

"Guess," answered Randal.

"You were thinking of the place you are so soon to lose."

"Soon to lose!"

"Why, if ministers go out, you could hardly keep it, I suppose."

This ominous and horrid member of parliament, Squire Hazeldean's
favourite county member, Sir John, was one of those legislators
especially odious to officials,--an independent "large-acred" member, who
would no more take office himself than he would cut down the oaks in his
park, and who had no bowels of human feeling for those who had opposite
tastes and less magnificent means.

"Hem!" said Randal, rather surlily.  "In the first place, Sir John,
ministers are not going out."

"Oh, yes, they will go.  You know I vote with them generally, and would
willingly keep them in; but they are men of honour and spirit; and if
they can't carry their measures, they must resign; otherwise, by Jove, I
would turn round and vote them out myself!"

"I have no doubt you would, Sir John; you are quite capable of it; that
rests with you and your constituents.  But even if ministers did go out,
I am but a poor subaltern in a public office,--I am no minister.  Why
should I go out too?

"Why?  Hang it, Leslie, you are laughing at me.  A young fellow like you
could never be mean enough to stay in, under the very men who drove out
your friend Egerton?"

"It is not usual for those in the public offices to retire with every
change of government."

"Certainly not; but always those who are the relations of a retiring
minister; always those who have been regarded as politicians, and who
mean to enter parliament, as of course you will do at the next election.
But you know that as well as I do,--you who are so decided a politician,
the writer of that admirable pamphlet!  I should not like to tell my
friend Hazeldean, who has a sincere interest in you, that you ever
doubted on a question of honour as plain as your A, B, C."

"Indeed, Sir John," said Randal, recovering his suavity, while he inly
breathed a dire anathema on his county member, "I am so new to these
things that what you say never struck me before.  No doubt you must be
right; at all events I cannot have a better guide and adviser than Mr.
Egerton himself."

SIR JOHN.--"No, certainly; perfect gentleman, Egerton!  I wish we could
make it up with him and Hazeldean."

RANDAL (sighing).--"Ah, I wish we could!"

SIR JOHN.--"And some chance of it now; for the time is coming when all
true men of the old school must stick together."

RANDAL.--"Wisely, admirably said, my dear Sir John.  But, pardon me, I
must pay my respects to the ambassador."  Randal escaped, and passing on,
saw the ambassador himself in the next room, conferring in a corner with
Audley Egerton.  The ambassador seemed very grave, Egerton calm and
impenetrable, as usual.  Presently the count passed by, and the
ambassador bowed to him very stiffly.

As Randal, some time later, was searching for his cloak below, Audley
Egerton unexpectedly joined him.

"Ah, Leslie," said the minister, with more kindness than usual, "if you
don't think the night air too cold for you, let us walk home together.
I have sent away the carriage."

This condescension in his patron was so singular, that it quite startled
Randal, and gave him a presentiment of some evil.  When they were in the
street, Egerton, after a pause, began,

"My dear Mr. Leslie, it was my hope and belief that I had provided for
you at least a competence; and that I might open to you, later, a career
yet more brilliant.  Hush!  I don't doubt your gratitude; let me proceed.
There is a possible chance, after certain decisions that the Government
have come to, that we may be beaten in the House of Commons, and of
course resign.  I tell you this beforehand, for I wish you to have time
to consider what, in that case, would be your best course.  My power of
serving you may then probably be over.  It would, no doubt (seeing our
close connection, and my views with regard to your future being so well
known),--no doubt, be expected that you should give up the place you
hold, and follow my fortunes for good or ill.  But as I have no personal
enemies with the opposite party, and as I have sufficient position in the
world to uphold and sanction your choice, whatever it may be, if you
think it more prudent to retain your place, tell me so openly, and I
think I can contrive that you may do it without loss of character and
credit.  In that case, confine your ambition merely to rising gradually
in your office, without mixing in politics.  If, on the other hand, you
should prefer to take your chance of my return to office, and so resign
your present place; and, furthermore, should commit yourself to a policy
that may then be not only in opposition but unpopular, I will do my best
to introduce you into parliamentary life.  I cannot say that I advise the

Randal felt as a man feels after a severe fall,--he was literally
stunned.  At length he faltered out,--

"Can you think, sir, that I should ever desert your fortunes, your party,
your cause?"

"My dear Leslie," replied the minister, "you are too young to have
committed yourself to any men or to any party, except, indeed, in that
unlucky pamphlet.  This must not be an affair of sentiment, but of sense
and reflection.  Let us say no more on the point now; but by considering
the pros and the cons, you can better judge what to do, should the time
for option suddenly arrive."

"But I hope that time may not come."

"I hope so too, and most sincerely," said the minister, with deliberate
and genuine emphasis.

"What could be so bad for the country?" ejaculated Pandal.  "It does not
seem to me possible, in the nature of things, that you and your party
should ever go out!"

"And when we are once out, there will be plenty of wiseacres to say it is
out of the nature of things that we should ever come in again.  Here we
are at the door."


Randal passed a sleepless night; but, indeed, he was one of those persons
who neither need, nor are accustomed to, much sleep.  However, towards
morning, when dreams are said to be prophetic, he fell into a most
delightful slumber, a slumber peopled by visions fitted to lure on,
through labyrinths of law, predestined chancellors, or wreck upon the
rocks of glory the inebriate souls of youthful ensigns; dreams from which
Rood Hall emerged crowned with the towers of Belvoir or Raby, and looking
over subject lands and manors wrested from the nefarious usurpation of
Thornhills and Hazeldeans; dreams in which Audley Egerton's gold and
power, rooms in Downing Street, and saloons in Grosvenor Square, had
passed away to the smiling dreamer, as the empire of Chaldaea passed to
Darius the Median.  Why visions so belying the gloomy and anxious
thoughts that preceded them should visit the pillow of Randal Leslie,
surpasses my philosophy to conjecture.  He yielded, however, passively to
their spell, and was startled to hear the clock strike eleven as he
descended the stairs to breakfast.  He was vexed at the lateness of the
hour, for he had meant to have taken advantage of the unwonted softness
of Egerton, and drawn therefrom some promises or proffers to cheer the
prospects which the minister had so chillingly expanded before him the
preceding night; and it was only at breakfast that he usually found the
opportunity of private conference with his busy patron.  But Audley
Egerton would be sure to have sallied forth; and so he had, only Randal
was surprised to hear that he had gone out in his carriage, instead of on
foot, as was his habit.  Randal soon despatched his solitary meal, and
with a new and sudden affection for his office, thitherwards bent his
way.  As he passed through Piccadilly, he heard behind a voice that had
lately become familiar to him, and turning round, saw Baron Levy walking
side by side, though not arm-in-arm, with a gentleman almost as smart as
himself, but with a jauntier step and a brisker air,--a step that, like
Diomed's, as described by Shakspeare,--

              "Rises on the toe; that spirit of his
               In aspiration lifts him from the earth."

Indeed, one may judge of the spirits and disposition of a man by his
ordinary gait and mien in walking.  He who habitually pursues abstract
thought looks down on the ground.  He who is accustomed to sudden
impulses, or is trying to seize upon some necessary recollection, looks
up with a kind of jerk.  He who is a steady, cautious, merely practical
man, walks on deliberately, his eyes straight before him; and, even in
his most musing moods, observes things around sufficiently to avoid a
porter's knot or a butcher's tray.  But the man with strong ganglions--of
pushing, lively temperament, who, though practical, is yet speculative;
the man who is emulous and active, and ever trying to rise in life;
sanguine, alert, bold--walks with a spring, looks rather above the heads
of his fellow-passengers, but with a quick, easy turn of his own, which
is lightly set on his shoulders; his mouth is a little open, his eye is
bright, rather restless, but penetrative, his port has something of
defiance, his form is erect, but without stiffness.  Such was the
appearance of the baron's companion.  And as Randal turned round at
Levy's voice, the baron said to his companion, "A young man in the first
circles--you should book him for your fair lady's parties.  How d' ye do,
Mr. Leslie?  Let me introduce you to Mr. Richard Avenel."  Then, as he
hooked his arm into Randal's, he whispered, "Man of first-rate talent,
monstrous rich, has two or three parliamentary seats in his pocket, wife
gives parties,--her foible."

"Proud to make your acquaintance, sir," said Mr. Avenel, lifting his hat.
"Fine day."

"Rather cold too," said Leslie, who, like all thin persons with weak
digestions, was chilly by temperament; besides, lie had enough on his
mind to chill his body.

"So much the healthier,--braces the nerves," said Mr. Avenel; "but you
young fellows relax the system by hot rooms and late hours.  Fond of
dancing, of course, sir?"  Then, without waiting for Randal's negative,
Mr. Richard continued rapidly, "Mrs. Avenel has a /soiree dansante/ on
Thursday,--shall be very happy to see you in Eaton Square.  Stop, I have
a card;" and he drew out a dozen large invitation-cards, from which he
selected one, and presented it to Randal.  The baron pressed that young
gentleman's arm, and Randal replied courteously that it would give him
great pleasure to be introduced to Mrs. Avenel.  Then, as he was not
desirous to be seen under the wing of Baron Levy, like a pigeon under
that of a hawk, he gently extricated himself, and pleading great haste,
walked quickly on towards his office.

"That young man will make a figure some day," said the baron.  "I don't
know any one of his age with so few prejudices.  He is a connection by
marriage to Audley Egerton, who--"

"Audley Egerton!" exclaimed Mr. Avenel; "a d---d haughty, aristocratic,
disagreeable, ungrateful fellow!"

"Why, what do you know of him?"

"He owed his first seat in parliament to the votes of two near relations
of mine, and when I called upon him some time ago, in his office, he
absolutely ordered me out of the room.  Hang his impertinence; if ever I
can pay him off, I guess I sha'n't fail for want of good will!"

"Ordered you out of the room?  That's not like Egerton, who is civil, if
formal,--at least to most men.  You must have offended him in his weak

"A man whom the public pays so handsomely should have no weak point.
What is Egerton's?"

"Oh, he values himself on being a thorough gentleman,--a man of the
nicest honour," said Levy, with a sneer.  "You must have ruffled his
plumes there.  How was it?"

"I forget," answered Mr. Avenel, who was far too well versed in the
London scale of human dignities since his marriage, not to look back with
a blush at his desire of knighthood.  "No use bothering our heads now
about the plumes of an arrogant popinjay.  To return to the subject we
were discussing: you must be sure to let me have this money next week."

"Rely on it."

"And you'll not let my bills get into the market; keep them under lock
and key."

"So we agreed."

"It is but a temporary difficulty,--royal mourning, such nonsense; panic
in trade, lest these precious ministers go out.  I shall soon float over
the troubled waters."

"By the help of a paper boat," said the baron, laughing; and the two
gentlemen shook hands and parted.


Meanwhile Audley Egerton's carriage had deposited him at the door of Lord
Lansmere's house, at Knightsbridge.  He asked for the countess, and was
shown into the drawing-room, which was deserted.  Egerton was paler than
usual; and as the door opened, he wiped the unwonted moisture from his
forehead, and there was a quiver on his firm lip.  The countess too, on
entering, showed an emotion almost equally unusual to her self-control.
She pressed Audley's hand in silence, and seating herself by his side,
seemed to collect her thoughts.  At length she said,

"It is rarely indeed that we meet, Mr. Egerton, in spite of your intimacy
with Lansmere and Harley.  I go so little into your world, and you will
not voluntarily come to me."

"Madam," replied Egerton, "I might evade your kind reproach by stating
that my hours are not at my disposal; but I answer you with plain truth,
--it must be painful to both of us to meet."

The countess coloured and sighed, but did not dispute the assertion.

Audley resumed: "And therefore, I presume that, in sending for me, you
have something of moment to communicate?"

"It relates to Harley," said the countess, as if in apology; "and I would
take your advice."

"To Harley!  Speak on, I beseech you."

"My son has probably told you that he has educated and reared a young
girl, with the intention to make her Lady L'Estrange, and hereafter
Countess of Lansmere."

"Harley has no secrets from me," said Egerton, mournfully.  "This young
lady has arrived in England, is here, in this house."

"And Harley too?"

"No, she came over with Lady N------and her daughters.  Harley was to
follow shortly, and I expect him daily.  Here is his letter.  Observe,
he has never yet communicated his intentions to this young person, now
entrusted to my care, never spoken to her as the lover."

Egerton took the letter and read it rapidly, though with attention.

"True," said he, as he returned the letter: "and before he does so he
wishes you to see Miss Digby and to judge of her yourself,--wishes to
know if you will approve and sanction his choice."

"It is on this that I would consult you: a girl without rank; the father,
it is true, a gentleman, though almost equivocally one, but the mother, I
know not what.  And Harley, for whom I hoped an alliance with the first
houses in England!"  The countess pressed her hands convulsively

EGERTON.--"He is no more a boy.  His talents have been wasted, his life a
wanderer's.  He presents to you a chance of resettling his mind, of
re-arousing his native powers, of a home besides your own.  Lady
Lansmere, you cannot hesitate!"

LADY LANSMERE .--"I do, I do?  After all that I have hoped after all that
I did to prevent--"

EGERTON (interrupting her).--"You owe him now an atonement; that is in
your power,--it is not in mine."  The countess again pressed Audley's
hand, and the tears gushed from her eyes.

"It shall be so.  I consent, I consent.  I will silence, I will crush
back this proud heart.  Alas! it well-nigh broke his own!  I am glad you
speak thus.  I like to think he owes my consent to you.  In that there is
atonement for both."

"You are too generous, madam," said Egerton, evidently moved, though
still, as ever, striving to repress emotion.  "And now may I see the
young lady?  This conference pains me; you see even my strong nerves
quiver; and at this time I have much to go through,--need of all my
strength and firmness."

"I hear, indeed, that the Government will probably retire.  But it is
with honour: it will be soon called back by the voice of the nation."

"Let me see the future wife of Harley L'Estrange," said Egerton, without
heed of this consolatory exclamation.

The countess rose and left the room.  In a few minutes she returned with
Helen Digby.

Helen was wondrously improved from the pale, delicate child, with the
soft smile and intelligent eyes, who had sat by the side of Leonard in
his garret.  She was about the middle beight, still slight, but
beautifully formed; that exquisite roundness of proportion which conveys
so well the idea of woman, in its undulating, pliant grace,--formed to
embellish life, and soften away its rude angles; formed to embellish, not
to protect.  Her face might not have satisfied the critical eye of an
artist,--it was not without defects in regularity; but its expression was
eminently gentle and prepossessing; and there were few who would not have
exclaimed, "What a lovely countenance!"  The mildness of her brow was
touched with melancholy--her childhood had left its traces on her youth.
Her step was slow, and her manner shy, subdued, and timid.

Audley gazed on her with earnestness as she approached him; and then
coming forward, took her hand and kissed it.  "I am your guardian's
constant friend," said he, and he drew her gently to a seat beside him,
in the recess of a window.  With a quick glance of his eye towards the
countess, he seemed to imply the wish to converse with Helen somewhat
apart.  So the countess interpreted the glance; and though she remained
in the room, she seated herself at a distance, and bent over a book.

It was touching to see how the austere man of business lent himself
to draw forth the mind of this quiet, shrinking girl; and if you had
listened, you would have comprehended how he came to possess such social
influence, and how well, some time or other in the course of his life, he
had learned to adapt himself to women.

He spoke first of Harley L'Estrange,--spoke with tact and delicacy.
Helen at first answered by monosyllables, and then, by degrees, with
grateful and open affection.  Audley's brow grew shaded.  He then spoke
of Italy; and though no man had less of the poet in his nature, yet with
the dexterity of one long versed in the world, and who had been
accustomed to extract evidences from characters most opposed to his own,
he suggested such topics as might serve to arouse poetry in others.
Helen's replies betrayed a cultivated taste, and a charming womanly mind;
but they betrayed, also, one accustomed to take its colourings from
another's,--to appreciate, admire, revere the Lofty and the Beautiful,
but humbly and meekly.  There was no vivid enthusiasm, no remark of
striking originality, no flash of the self-kindling, creative faculty.
Lastly, Egerton turned to England,--to the critical nature of the times,
to the claims which the country possessed upon all who had the ability to
serve and guide its troubled destinies.  He enlarged warmly on Harley's
natural talents, and rejoiced that he had returned to England, perhaps to
commence some great career.  Helen looked surprised, but her face caught
no correspondent glow from Audley's eloquence.  He rose, and an
expression of disappointment passed over his grave, handsome features,
and as quickly vanished.

"Adieu, my dear Miss Digby; I fear I have wearied you, especially with my
politics.  Adieu, Lady Lansmere; no doubt I shall see Harley as soon as
he returns."

Then he hastened from the room, gained his carriage, and ordered the
coachman to drive to Downing Street.  He drew down the blinds, and leaned
back.  A certain languor became visible in his face, and once or twice,
he mechanically put his hand to his heart.

"She is good, amiable, docile,--will make an excellent wife, no doubt,"
said he, nuirmuringly.  "But does she love Harley as he has dreamed of
love?  No!  Has she the power and energy to arouse his faculties, and
restore to the world the Harley of old?  No!  Meant by Heaven to be the
shadow of another's sun--not herself the sun,--this child is not the one
who can atone for the Past and illume the Future."


That evening Harley L'Estrange arrived at his father's house.  The few
years that had passed since we saw him last had made no perceptible
change in his appearance.  He still preserved his elastic youthfulness
of form, and singular variety and play of countenance.  He seemed
unaffectedly rejoiced to greet his parents, and had something of the
gayety and tenderness of a boy returned from school.  His manner to Helen
bespoke the chivalry that pervaded all the complexities and curves of his
character.  It was affectionate, but respectful,--hers to him, subdued,
but innocently sweet and gently cordial.  Harley was the chief talker.
The aspect of the times was so critical that he could not avoid questions
on politics; and, indeed, he showed an interest in them which he had
never evinced before.  Lord Lansmere was delighted.

"Why, Harley, you love your country after all?"

"The moment she seems in danger, yes!" replied the Patrician; and the
Sybarite seemed to rise into the Athenian.  Then he asked with eagerness
about his old friend Audley; and, his curiosity satisfied there, he
inquired the last literary news.  He had heard much of a book lately
published.  He named the one ascribed by Parson Dale to Professor Moss;
none of his listeners had read it.

Harley pished at this, and accused them all of indolence and stupidity,
in his own quaint, metaphorical style.  Then he said, "And town gossip?"

"We never hear it," said Lady Lansmere.

"There is a new plough much talked of at Boodle's," said Lord Lansmere.

"God speed it.  But is not there a new man much talked of at White's?"

"I don't belong to White's."

"Nevertheless, you may have heard of him,--a foreigner, a Count di

"Yes," said Lord Lansmere; "he was pointed out to me in the Park,--a
handsome man for a foreigner; wears his hair properly cut; looks
gentlemanlike and English."

"Ah, ah!  He is here then!"  and Harley rubbed his hands.

"Which road did you take?  Did you pass the Simplon?"

"No; I came straight from Vienna."

Then, relating with lively vein his adventures by the way, he continued
to delight Lord Lansmere by his gayety till the time came to retire to
rest.  As soon as Harley was in his own room his mother joined him.

"Well," said he, "I need not ask if you like Miss Digby?  Who would not?"

"Harley, my own son," said the mother, bursting into tears, "be happy
your own way; only be happy, that is all I ask."

Harley, much affected, replied gratefully and soothingly to this fond
injunction.  And then gradually leading his mother on to converse of
Helen, asked abruptly, "And of the chance of our happiness,--her
happiness as well as mine,--what is your opinion?  Speak frankly."

"Of her happiness there can be no doubt," replied the mother, proudly.
"Of yours, how can you ask me?  Have you not decided on that yourself?"

"But still it cheers and encourages one in any experiment, however well
considered, to hear the approval of another.  Helen has certainly a most
gentle temper."

"I should conjecture so.  But her mind--"

"Is very well stored."

"She speaks so little--"

"Yes.  I wonder why?  She's surely a woman!"

"Pshaw," said the countess, smiling in spite of herself.

"But tell me more of the process of your experiment.  You took her as a
child, and resolved to train her according to your own ideal.  Was that

"It seemed so.  I desired to instil habits of truth: she was already by
nature truthful as the day; a taste for Nature and all things natural:
that seemed inborn; perceptions of Art as the interpreter of Nature:
those were more difficult to teach.  I think they may come.  You have
heard her play and sing?"


"She will surprise you.  She has less talent for drawing; still, all that
teaching could do has been done,--in a word, she is accomplished.
Temper, heart, mind,--these all are excellent."  Harley stopped, and
suppressed a sigh.  "Certainly I ought to be very happy," said he; and
he began to wind up his watch.

"Of course she must love you," said the countess, after a pause.  "How
could she fail?"

"Love me!  My dear mother, that is the very question I shall have to

"Ask!  Love is discovered by a glance; it has no need of asking."

"I have never discovered it, then, I assure you.  The fact is, that
before her childhood was passed, I removed her, as you may suppose, from
my roof.  She resided with an Italian family near my usual abode.  I
visited her often, directed her studies, watched her improvement--"

"And fell in love with her?"

"Fall is such a very violent word.  No; I don't remember to have had a
fall.  It was all a smooth inclined plane from the first step, until at
last I said to myself, 'Harley L'Estrange, thy time has come.  The bud
has blossomed into flower.  Take it to thy breast.'  And myself replied
to myself, meekly, 'So be it.'  Then I found that Lady N-----, with her
daughters, was coming to England.  I asked her Ladyship to take my ward
to your house.  I wrote to you, and prayed your assent; and, that
granted, I knew you would obtain my father's.  Iam here,--you give me the
approval I sought for.  I will speak to Helen to-morrow.  Perhaps, after
all, she may reject me."

"Strange, strange! you speak thus coldly, thus lightly, you, so capable
of ardent love!"

"Mother," said Harley, earnestly, "be satisfied!  I am!  Love as
of old, I feel, alas! too well, can visit me never more.  But gentle
companionship, tender friendship, the relief and the sunlight of woman's
smile, hereafter the voices of children,--music that, striking on the
hearts of both parents, wakens the most lasting and the purest of all
sympathies,--these are my hope.  Is the hope so mean, my fond mother?"

Again the countess wept, and her tears were not dried when she left the


Oh, Helen, fair Helen,--type of the quiet, serene, unnoticed, deep-felt
excellence of woman!  Woman, less as the ideal that a poet conjures from
the air, than as the companion of a poet on the earth!  Woman, who, with
her clear sunny vision of things actual, and the exquisite fibre of her
delicate sense, supplies the deficiencies of him whose foot stumbles on
the soil, because his eye is too intent upon the stars!  Woman, the
provident, the comforting, angel whose pinions are folded round the
heart, guarding there a divine spring unmarred by the winter of the
world!  Helen, soft Helen, is it indeed in thee that the wild and
brilliant "lord of wantonness and ease" is to find the regeneration of
his life, the rebaptism of his soul?  Of what avail thy meek prudent
household virtues to one whom Fortune screens from rough trial; whose
sorrows lie remote from thy ken; whose spirit, erratic and perturbed, now
rising, now falling, needs a vision more subtle than thine to pursue, and
a strength that can sustain the reason, when it droops, on the wings of
enthusiasm and passion?

And thou, thyself, O nature, shrinking and humble, that needest to be
courted forth from the shelter, and developed under the calm and genial
atmosphere of holy, happy love--can such affection as Harley L'Estrange
may proffer suffice to thee?  Will not the blossoms, yet folded in the
petal, wither away beneath the shade that may protect them from the
storm, and yet shut them from the sun?  Thou who, where thou givest love,
seekest, though meekly, for love in return; to be the soul's sweet
necessity, the life's household partner to him who receives all thy faith
and devotion,--canst thou influence the sources of joy and of sorrow in
the heart that does not heave at thy name?  Hast thou the charm and the
force of the moon, that the tides of that wayward sea shall ebb and flow
at thy will?  Yet who shall say, who conjecture how near two hearts can
become, when no guilt lies between them, and time brings the ties all its
own?  Rarest of all things on earth is the union in which both, by their
contrasts, make harmonious their blending; each supplying the defects of
the helpmate, and completing, by fusion, one strong human soul!
Happiness enough, where even Peace does but seldom preside, when each can
bring to the altar, if not the flame, still the incense.  Where man's
thoughts are all noble and generous, woman's feelings all gentle and
pure, love may follow if it does not precede; and if not, if the roses be
missed from the garland, one may sigh for the rose, but one is safe from
the thorn.

The morning was mild, yet somewhat overcast by the mist which announces
coming winter in London, and Helen walked musingly beneath the trees that
surrounded the garden of Lord Lansmere's house.  Many leaves were yet
left on the boughs; but they were sere and withered.  And the birds
chirped at times; but their note was mournful and complaining.  All
within this house, until Harley's arrival, had been strange and saddening
to Helen's timid and subdued spirits.  Lady Lansmere had received her
kindly, but with a certain restraint; and the loftiness of manner, common
to the countess with all but Harley, had awed and chilled the diffident
orphan.  Lady Lansmere's very interest in Harley's choice, her attempts
to draw Helen out of her reserve, her watchful eyes whenever Helen shyly
spoke or shyly moved, frightened the poor child, and made her unjust to

The very servants, though staid, grave, and respectful, as suited a
dignified, old-fashioned household, painfully contrasted the bright
welcoming smiles and free talk of Italian domestics.  Her recollections
of the happy, warm Continental manner, which so sets the bashful at their
ease, made the stately and cold precision of all around her doubly awful
and dispiriting.  Lord Lansmere himself, who did not as yet know the
views of Harley, and little dreamed that he was to anticipate a daughter-
in-law in the ward, whom he understood Harley, in a freak of generous
roinance, had adopted, was familiar and courteous, as became a host; but
he looked upon Helen as a mere child, and naturally left her to the
countess.  The dim sense of her equivocal position, of her comparative
humbleness of birth and fortunes, oppressed and pained her; and even her
gratitude to Harley was made burdensome by a sentiment of helplessness.
The grateful long to requite.  And what could she ever do for him?

Thus musing, she wandered alone through the curving walks; and this sort
of mock-country landscape--London loud, and even visible, beyond the high
gloomy walls, and no escape from the windows of the square formal house--
seemed a type of the prison bounds of Rank to one whose soul yearns for
simple loving Nature.

Helen's revery was interrupted by Nero's joyous bark.  He had caught
sight of her, and came bounding up, and thrust his large head into her
hand.  As she stooped to caress the dog, happy at his honest greeting,
and tears that had been long gathering at the lids fell silently on his
face (for I know nothing that more moves us to tears than the hearty
kindness of a dog, when something in human beings has pained or chilled
us), she heard behind the musical voice of Harley.  Hastily she dried or
repressed her tears, as her guardian came up, and drew her arm within his

"I had so little of your conversation last evening, my dear ward, that I
may well monopolize you now, even to the privation of Nero.  And so you
are once more in your native land?"

Helen sighed softly.

"May I not hope that you return under fairer auspices than those which
your childhood knew?"

Helen turned her eyes with ingenuous thankfulness to her guardian, and
the memory of all she owed to him rushed upon her heart.

Harley renewed, and with earnest, though melancholy sweetness, "Helen,
your eyes thank me; but hear me before your words do.  I deserve no
thanks.  I am about to make to you a strange confession of egotism and

"You!--oh, impossible!"

"Judge yourself, and then decide which of us shall have cause to be
grateful.  Helen, when I was scarcely your age--a boy in years, but more,
methinks, a man at heart, with man's strong energies and sublime
aspirings, than I have ever since been--I loved, and deeply--"

He paused a moment, in evident struggle.  Helen listened in mute
surprise, but his emotion awakened her own; her tender woman's heart
yearned to console.  Unconsciously her arm rested on his less lightly.

"Deeply, and for sorrow.  It is a long tale, that may be told hereafter.
The worldly would call my love a madness.  I did not reason on it then,
I cannot reason on it now.  Enough: death smote suddenly, terribly, and
to me, mysteriously, her whom I loved.  The love lived on.  Fortunately,
perhaps, for me, I had quick distraction, not to grief, but to its inert
indulgence.  I was a soldier; I joined our armies.  Men called me brave.
Flattery!  I was a coward before the thought of life.  I sought death:
like sleep, it does not come at our call.  Peace ensued.  As when the
winds fall the sails droop, so when excitement ceased, all seemed to me
flat and objectless.  Heavy, heavy was my heart.  Perhaps grief had been
less obstinate, but that I feared I had causes for self-reproach.  Since
then I have been a wanderer, a self-made exile.  My boyhood had been
ambitious,--all ambition ceased.  Flames, when they reach the core of the
heart, spread, and leave all in ashes.  Let me be brief: I did not mean
thus weakly to complain,--I to whom Heaven has given so many blessings!
I felt, as it were, separated from the common objects and joys of men.
I grew startled to see how, year by year, wayward humours possessed me.
I resolved again to attach myself to some living heart--it was my sole
chance to rekindle my own.  But the one I had loved remained as my type
of woman, and she was different from all I saw.  Therefore I said to
myself, 'I will rear from childhood some young fresh life, to grow up
into my ideal.'  As this thought began to haunt me, I chanced to discover
you.  Struck with the romance of your early life, touched by your
courage, charmed by your affectionate nature, I said to myself, 'Here is
what I seek.'  Helen, in assuming the guardianship of your 'Life, in all
the culture which I have sought to bestow on your docile childhood, I
repeat, that I have been but the egotist.  And now, when you have reached
that age when it becomes me to speak, and you to listen; now, when you
are under the sacred roof of my own mother; now I ask you, can you accept
this heart, such as wasted years, and griefs too fondly nursed, have left
it?  Can you be, at least, my comforter?  Can you aid me to regard life
as a duty, and recover those aspirations which once soared from the
paltry and miserable confines of our frivolous daily being?  Helen, here
I ask you, can you be all this, and under the name of--Wife?"

It would be in vain to describe the rapid, varying, indefinable emotions
that passed through the inexperienced heart of the youthful listener as
Harley thus spoke.  He so moved all the springs of amaze, compassion,
tender respect, sympathy, child-like gratitude, that when he paused and
gently took her hand, she remained bewildered, speechless, overpowered.
Harley smiled as he gazed upon her blushing, downcast, expressive face.
He conjectured at once that the idea of such proposals had never crossed
her mind; that she had never contemplated him in the character of wooer;
never even sounded her heart as to the nature of such feelings as his
image had aroused.

"My Helen," he resumed, with a calm pathos of voice, "there is some
disparity of years between us, and perhaps I may not hope henceforth for
that love which youth gives to the young.  Permit me simply to ask, what
you will frankly answer, Can you have seen in our quiet life abroad, or
under the roof of your Italian friends, any one you prefer to me?"

"No, indeed, no!" murmured Helen.  "How could I; who is like you?"  Then,
with a, sudden effort--for her innate truthfulness took alarm, and her
very affection for Harley, childlike and reverent, made her tremble lest
she should deceive him--she drew a little aside, and spoke thus,

"Oh, my dear guardian, noblest of all human beings, at least in my eyes,
forgive, forgive me, if I seem ungrateful, hesitating; but I cannot,
cannot think of myself as worthy of you.  I never so lifted my eyes.
Your rank, your position--"

"Why should they be eternally my curse?  Forget them, and go on."

"It is not only they," said Helen, almost sobbing, "though they are much;
but I your type, your ideal!--I?--impossible!  Oh, how can I ever be
anything even of use, of aid, of comfort to one like you!"

"You can, Helen--you can," cried Harley, charmed by such ingenuous
modesty.  "May I not keep this hand?"  And Helen left her hand in
Harley's, and turned away her face, fairly weeping.

A stately step passed under the wintry trees.

"My mother," said Harley L'Estrange, looking up, "I present to you my
future wife."


With a slow step and an abstracted air, Harley L'Estrange bent his way
towards Egerton's house, after his eventful interview with Helen.  He had
just entered one of the streets leading into Grosvenor Square, when a
young man, walking quickly from the opposite direction, came full against
him, and drawing back with a brief apology, recognized him, and
exclaimed, "What! you in England, Lord L'Estrange!  Accept my
congratulations on your return.  But you seem scarcely to remember me."

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Leslie.  I remember you now by your smile; but
you are of an age in which it is permitted me to say that you look older
than when I saw you last."

"And yet, Lord L'Estrange, it seems to me that you look younger."

Indeed, this reply was so far true that there appeared less difference of
years than before between Leslie and L'Estrange; for the wrinkles in the
schemer's mind were visible in his visage, while Harley's dreamy worship
of Truth and Beauty seemed to have preserved to the votary the enduring
youth of the divinities.

Harley received the compliment with a supreme indifference, which might
have been suitable to a Stoic, but which seemed scarcely natural to a
gentleman who had just proposed to a lady many years younger than

Leslie renewed: "Perhaps you are on your way to Mr. Egerton's.  If so,
you will not find him at home; he is at his office."

"Thank you.  Then to his office I must re-direct my steps."

"I am going to him myself," said Randal, hesitatingly.  L'Estrange had no
prepossessions in favour of Leslie from the little he had seen of that
young gentleman; but Randal's remark was an appeal to his habitual
urbanity, and he replied, with well-bred readiness, "Let us be companions
so far."

Randal accepted the arm proffered to him; and Lord L'Estrange, as is
usual with one long absent from his native land, bore part as a
questioner in the dialogue that ensued.

"Egerton is always the same man, I suppose,--too busy for illness, and
too firm for sorrow?"

"If he ever feel either, he will never stoop to complain.  But, indeed,
my dear lord, I should like much to know what you think of his health."

"How!  You alarm me!"

"Nay, I did not mean to do that; and pray do not let him know that I went
so far.  But I have fancied that he looks a little worn and suffering."

"Poor Audley!" said L'Estrange, in a tone of deep affection.  "I will
sound him, and, be assured, without naming you; for I know well how
little he likes to be supposed capable of human infirmity.  I am obliged
to you for your hint, obliged to you for your interest in one so dear to

And Harley's voice was more cordial to Randal than it had ever been
before.  He then began to inquire what Randal thought of the rumours that
had reached himself as to the probable defeat of the Government, and how
far Audley's spirits were affected by such risks.  But Randal here,
seeing that Harley could communicate nothing, was reserved and guarded.

"Loss of office could not, I think, affect a man like Audley," observed
Lord L'Estrange.  "He would be as great in opposition--perhaps greater;
and as to emoluments--"

"The emoluments are good," interposed Randal, with a half-sigh.

"Good enough, I suppose, to pay him back about a tenth of what his place
costs our magnificent friend.  No, I will say one thing for English
statesmen, no man amongst them ever yet was the richer for place."

"And Mr. Egerton's private fortune must be large, I take for granted,"
said Randal, carelessly.

"It ought to be, if he has time to look to it."

Here they passed by the hotel in which lodged the Count di Peschiera.

Randal stopped.  "Will you excuse me for an instant?  As we are passing
this hotel, I will just leave my card here."  So saying he gave his card
to a waiter lounging by the door.  "For the Count di Peschiera," said he,

L'Estrange started; and as Randal again took his arm, said, "So that
Italian lodges here; and you know him?"

"I know him but slightly, as one knows any foreigner who makes a

"He makes a sensation?"

"Naturally; for he is handsome, witty, and said to be very rich,--that
is, as long as he receives the revenues of his exiled kinsman."

"I see you are well informed, Mr. Leslie.  And what is supposed to bring
hither the Count di Peschiera?"

"I did hear something, which I did not quite understand, about a bet of
his that he would marry his kinsman's daughter, and so, I conclude,
secure to himself all the inheritance; and that he is therefore here to
discover the kinsman and win the heiress.  But probably you know the
rights of the story, and can tell me what credit to give to such gossip."

"I know this at least, that if he did lay such a wager, I would advise
you to take any odds against him that his backers may give," said
L'Estrange, dryly; and while his lip quivered with anger, his eye gleamed
with arch ironical humour.

"You think, then, that this poor kinsman will not need such an alliance
in order to regain his estates?"

"Yes; for I never yet knew a rogue whom I would not bet against, when he
backed his own luck as a rogue against Justice and Providence."

Randal winced, and felt as if an arrow had grazed his heart; but he soon

"And indeed there is another vague rumour that the young lady in question
is married already--to some Englishman."  This time it was Harley who
winced.  "Good heavens! that cannot be true,--that would undo all!  An
Englishman just at this moment!  But some Englishman of correspondent
rank I trust, or at least one known for opinions opposed to what an
Austrian would call Revolutionary doctrines?"

"I know nothing.  But it was supposed merely a private gentleman of good
family.  Would not that suffice?  Can the Austrian Court dictate a
marriage to the daughter as a condition for grace to the father?"

"No,--not that!" said Harley, greatly disturbed.  "But put yourself in
the position of any minister to one of the great European monarchies.
Suppose a political insurgent, formidable for station and wealth, had
been proscribed, much interest made on his behalf, a powerful party
striving against it; and just when the minister is disposed to relent, he
hears that the heiress to this wealth and this station is married to the
native of a country in which sentiments friendly to the very opinions for
which the insurgent was proscribed are popularly entertained, and thus
that the fortune to be restored may be so employed as to disturb the
national security, the existing order of things,--this, too, at the very
time when a popular revolution has just occurred in France, and its
effects are felt most in the very land of the exile;--suppose all this,
and then say if anything could be more untoward for the hopes of the
banished man, or furnish his adversaries with stronger arguments against
the restoration of his fortune?  But pshaw! this must be a chimera!  If
true, I should have known of it."

     [As there have been so many revolutions in France, it may be
     convenient to suggest that, according to the dates of this story,
     Harley no doubt alludes to that revolution which exiled Charles X.
     and placed Louis Philippe on the throne.]

"I quite agree with your lordship,--there can be no truth in such a
rumour.  Some Englishman, hearing, perhaps, of the probable pardon of the
exile, may have counted on an heiress, and spread the report in order to
keep off other candidates.  By your account, if successful in his suit,
he might fail to find an heiress in the bride."

"No doubt of that.  Whatever might be arranged, I can't conceive that
he would be allowed to get at the fortune, though it might be held in
suspense for his children.  But indeed it so rarely happens that an
Italian girl of high name marries a foreigner that we must dismiss this
notion with a smile at the long face of the hypothetical fortune-hunter.
Heaven help him, if he exist!"

"Amen!" echoed Randal, devoutly.

"I hear that Peschiera,'s sister is returned to England.  Do you know her

"A little."

"My dear Mr. Leslie, pardon me if I take a liberty not warranted by our
acquaintance.  Against the lady I say nothing.  Indeed, I have heard some
things which appear to entitle her to compassion and respect.  But as to
Peschiera all who prize honour suspect him to be a knave,--I know him to
be one.  Now, I think that the longer we preserve that abhorrence for
knavery which is the generous instinct of youth, why, the fairer will be
our manhood, and the more reverend our age.  You agree with me?"  And
Harley suddenly turning, his eyes fell like a flood of light upon
Randal's pale and secret countenance.

"To be sure," murmured the schemer.

Harley, surveying him, mechanically recoiled, and withdrew his arm.

Fortunately for Randal, who somehow or other felt himself slipped into a
false position, he scarce knew how or why, he was here seized by the arm;
and a clear, open, manly voice cried, "My dear fellow, how are you?  I
see you are engaged now; but look into my rooms when you can, in the
course of the day."

And with a bow of excuse for his interruption to Lord L'Estrange, the
speaker was then turning away, when Harley said,

"No, don't let me take you from your friend, Mr. Leslie.  And you need
not be in a hurry to see Egerton; for I shall claim the privilege of
older friendship for the first interview."

"It is Mr. Egerton's nephew Frank Hazeldan."

"Pray, call him back, and present me to him.  He has a face that would
have gone far to reconcile Timon to Athens."  Randal obeyed, and after a
few kindly words to Frank, Harley insisted on leaving the two young men
together, and walked on to Downing Street with a brisker step.


"That Lord L'Estrange seems a very good fellow."

"So-so; an effeminate humourist,--says the most absurd things, and
fancies them wise.  Never mind him.  You wanted to speak to me, Frank?"

"Yes; I am so obliged to you for introducing me to Levy.  I must tell you
how handsomely he has behaved."

"Stop; allow me to remind you that I did not introduce you to Levy; you
had met him before at Borrowell's, if I recollect right, and he dined
with us at the Clarendon,--that is all I had to do with bringing you
together.  Indeed I rather cautioned you against him than not.  Pray
don't think I introduced you to a man who, however pleasant and perhaps
honest, is still a money-lender.  Your father would be justly angry with
me if I had done so."

"Oh, pooh!  you are prejudiced against poor Levy.  But just hear: I was
sitting very ruefully, thinking over those cursed bills, and how the
deuce I should renew them, when Levy walked into my rooms; and after
telling me of his long friendship for my uncle Egerton and his admiration
for yourself, and (give me your hand, Randal) saying how touched he felt
by your kind sympathy in my troubles, he opened his pocket-book, and
showed me the bills safe and sound in his own possession."


"He had bought them up.  'It must be so disagreeable to me,' he said, 'to
have them flying about the London moneymarket, and those Jews would be
sure sooner or later to apply to my father.  And now,' added Levy, 'I am
in no immediate hurry for the money, and we must put the interest upon
fairer terms.'  In short, nothing could be more liberal than his tone.
And he says, he is thinking of a way to relieve me altogether, and will
call about it in a few days, when his plan is matured.  After all, I must
owe this to you, Randal.  I dare swear you put it into his head."

"Oh, no, indeed!  On the contrary, I still say, Be cautious in all your
dealings with Levy.  I don't know, I 'm sure, what he means to propose.
Have you heard from the Hall lately?"

"Yes, to-day.  Only think--the Riccaboccas have disappeared.  My mother
writes me word of it,--a very odd letter.  She seems to suspect that I
know where they are, and reproaches me for 'mystery'--quite enigmatical.
But there is one sentence in her letter--see, here it is in the
postscript--which seems to refer to Beatrice: 'I don't ask you to tell me
your secrets, Frank, but Randal will no doubt have assured you that my
first consideration will be for your own happiness, in any matter in
which your heart is really engaged.'"

"Yes," said Randal, slowly; "no doubt this refers to Beatrice; but, as I
told you, your mother will not interfere one way or the other,--such
interference would weaken her influence with the squire.  Besides, as she
said, she can't wish, you to marry a foreigner; though once married, she
would--But how do you stand now with the marchesa?  Has she consented to
accept you?"

"Not quite; indeed I have not actually proposed.  Her manner, though much
softened, has not so far emboldened me; and, besides, before a positive
declaration, I certainly must go down to the Hall and speak at least to
my mother."

"You must judge for yourself, but don't do anything rash: talk first to
me.  Here we are at my office.  Good-by; and--and pray believe that, in
whatever you do with Levy, I have no hand in it."


Towards the evening, Randal was riding fast on the road to Norwood.  The
arrival of Harley, and the conversation that had passed between that
nobleman and Randal, made the latter anxious to ascertain how far
Riccabocca was likely to learn L'Estrange's return to England, and to
meet with him.  For he felt that, should the latter come to know that
Riccabocca, in his movements, had gone by Randal's advice.  Harley would
find that Randal had spoken to him disingenuously; and on the other hand,
Riccabocca, placed under the friendly protection of Lord L'Estrange,
would no longer need Randal Leslie to defend him from the machinations of
Peschiera.  To a reader happily unaccustomed to dive into the deep and
mazy recesses of a schemer's mind, it might seem that Randal's interest
in retaining a hold over the exile's confidence would terminate with the
assurances that had reached him, from more than one quarter, that
Violante might cease to be an heiress if she married himself.  "But
perhaps," suggests some candid and youthful conjecturer,--"perhaps Randal
Leslie is in love with this fair creature?"  Randal in love!--no!  He was
too absorbed by harder passions for that blissful folly.  Nor, if he
could have fallen in love, was Violante the one to attract that sullen,
secret heart; her instinctive nobleness, the very stateliness of her
beauty, womanlike though it was, awed him.  Men of that kind may love
some soft slave,--they cannot lift their eyes to a queen.  They may look
down,--they cannot lookup.  But on the one hand, Randal could not resign
altogether the chance of securing a fortune that would realize his most
dazzling dreams, upon the mere assurance, however probable, which had so
dismayed him; and on the other hand, should he be compelled to relinquish
all idea of such alliance, though he did not contemplate the base perfidy
of actually assisting Peschiera's avowed designs, still, if Frank's
marriage with Beatrice should absolutely depend upon her brother's
obtaining the knowledge of Violante's retreat, and that marriage should
be as conducive to his interests as he thought he could make it, why--he
did not then push his deductions further, even to himself,--they seemed
too black; but he sighed heavily, and that sigh foreboded how weak would
be honour and virtue against avarice and ambition.  Therefore, on all
accounts, Riccabocca was one of those cards in a sequence, which so
calculating a player would not throw out of his hand: it might serve for
repique, at the worst it might score well in the game.  Intimacy with the
Italian was still part and parcel in that knowledge which was the synonym
of power.

While the young man was thus meditating, on his road to Norwood,
Riccabocca and his Jemima were close conferring in their drawing-room.
And if you could have seen them, reader, you would have been seized with
equal surprise and curiosity: for some extraordinary communication had
certainly passed between them.  Riccabocca was evidently much agitated,
and with emotions not familiar to him.  The tears stood in his eyes at
the same time that a smile, the reverse of cynical or sardonic, curved
his lips; while his wife was leaning her head on his shoulder, her hand
clasped in his, and, by the expression of her face, you might guess that
he had paid her some very gratifying compliment, of a nature more genuine
and sincere than those which characterized his habitual hollow and
dissimulating gallantry.  But just at this moment Giacomo entered, and
Jemima, with her native English modesty, withdrew in haste from
Riccabocca's sheltering side.

"Padrone," said Giacomo, who, whatever his astonishment at the connubial
position he had disturbed, was much too discreet to betray it,--"Padrone,
I see the young Englishman riding towards the house, and I hope, when he
arrives, you will not forget the alarming information I gave to you this

"Ah, ah!" said Riccabocca, his face falling.  "If the signorina were but

"My very thought,--my constant thought!" exclaimed Riccabocca.  "And you
really believe the young Englishman loves her?"

"Why else should he come, Excellency?" asked Giacomo, with great naivete.

"Very true; why, indeed?" said Riccabocca.  "Jemima, I cannot endure the
terrors I suffer on that poor child's account.  I will open myself
frankly to Randal Leslie.  And now, too, that which might have been a
serious consideration, in case I return to Italy, will no longer stand in
our way, Jemima."

Jemima smiled faintly, and whispered something to Riccabocca, to which he

"Nonsense, anima mia.  I know it will be,--have not a doubt of it.
I tell you it is as nine to four, according to the nicest calculations.
I will speak at once to Randal.  He is too young, too timid to speak

"Certainly," interposed Giacomo; "how could he dare to speak, let him
love ever so well?"

Jemima shook her head.

"Oh, never fear," said Riccabocca, observing this gesture; "I will give
him the trial.  If he entertain but mercenary views, I shall soon detect
them.  I know human nature pretty well, I think, my love; and, Giacomo,
just get me my Machiavelli;--that's right.  Now leave me, my dear; I must
reflect and prepare myself."

When Randal entered the house, Giacomo, with a smile of peculiar suavity,
ushered him into the drawing-room.  He found Riccabocca alone, and seated
before the fireplace, leaning his face on his hand, with the great folio
of Machiavelli lying open on the table.

The Italian received him as courteously as usual; but there was in his
manner a certain serious and thoughtful dignity, which was perhaps the
more imposing, because but rarely assumed.  After a few preliminary
observations, Randal remarked that Frank Hazeldean had informed him of
the curiosity which the disappearance of the Riccaboccas had excited at
the Hall, and inquired carelessly if the doctor had left instructions as
to the forwarding of any letters that might be directed to him at the

"Letters!" said Riccabocca, simply; "I never receive any; or, at least,
so rarely, that it was not worth while to take an event so little to be
expected into consideration.  No; if any letters do reach the Casino,
there they will wait."

"Then I can see no possibility of indiscretion; no chance of a clew to
your address."

"Nor I either."

Satisfied so far, and knowing that it was not in Riecabocca's habits to
read the newspapers, by which he might otherwise have learned of
L'Estrange's arrival in London, Randal then proceeded to inquire, with
much seeming interest, into the health of Violante,--hoped it did not
suffer by confinement, etc.  Riccabocca eyed him gravely while he spoke,
and then suddenly rising, that air of dignity to which I have before
referred became yet more striking.

"My young friend," said he, "hear me attentively, and answer me frankly.
I know human nature--"  Here a slight smile of proud complacency passed
the sage's lips, and his eye glanced towards his Machiavelli.

"I know human nature,--at least I have studied it," he renewed more
earnestly, and with less evident self-conceit; "and I believe that when
a perfect stranger to me exhibits an interest in my affairs, which
occasions him no small trouble,--an interest," continued the wise man,
laying his hand on Randal's shoulder, "which scarcely a son could exceed,
he must be under the influence of some strong personal motive."

"Oh, sir!" cried Randal, turning a shade more pale, and with a faltering
tone.  Riccabocca, surveyed him with the tenderness of a superior being,
and pursued his deductive theories.

"In your case, what is that motive?  Not political; for I conclude you
share the opinions of your government, and those opinions have not
favoured mine.  Not that of pecuniary or ambitious calculations; for how
can such calculations enlist you on behalf of a ruined exile?  What
remains?  Why, the motive which at your age is ever the most natural and
the strongest.  I don't blame you.  Machiavelli himself allows that such
a motive has swayed the wisest minds, and overturned the most solid
States.  In a word, young man, you are in love, and with my daughter

Randal was so startled by this direct and unexpected charge upon his own
masked batteries, that he did not even attempt his defence.  His head
drooped on his breast, and he remained speechless.

"I do not doubt," resumed the penetrating judge of human nature, "that
you would have been withheld by the laudable and generous scruples which
characterize your happy age, from voluntarily disclosing to me the state
of your heart.  You might suppose that, proud of the position I once
held, or sanguine in the hope of regaining my inheritance, I might be
over-ambitious in my matrimonial views for Violante; or that you,
anticipating my restoration to honours and fortune, might seem actuated
by the last motives which influence love and youth; and, therefore, my
dear young friend, I have departed from the ordinary custom in England,
and adopted a very common one in my own country.  With us, a suitor
seldom presents himself till he is assured of the consent of a father.
I have only to say this,--if I am right, and you love my daughter, my
first object in life is to see her safe and secure; and, in a word--you
understand me."

Now, mightily may it comfort and console us ordinary mortals, who advance
no pretence to superior wisdom and ability, to see the huge mistakes made
by both these very sagacious personages,--Dr. Riccabocca, valuing himself
on his profound acquaintance with character, and Randal Leslie,
accustomed to grope into every hole and corner of thought and action,
wherefrom to extract that knowledge which is power!  For whereas the
sage, judging not only by his own heart in youth, but by the general
influence of the master passion on the young, had ascribed to Randal
sentiments wholly foreign to that able diplomatist's nature, so no sooner
had Riccabocca brought his speech to a close, than Randal, judging also
by his own heart, and by the general laws which influence men of the
mature age and boasted worldly wisdom of the pupil of Machiavelli,
instantly decided that Riccabocca presumed upon his youth and
inexperience, and meant most nefariously to take him in.

"The poor youth!" thought Riccabocca, "how unprepared he is for the
happiness I give him!"

"The cunning old Jesuit!" thought Randal; "he has certainly learned,
since we met last, that he has no chance of regaining his patrimony, and
so he wants to impose on me the hand of a girl without a shilling.  What
other motive can he possibly have?  Had his daughter the remotest
probability of becoming the greatest heiress in Italy, would he dream of
bestowing her on me in this off-hand way?  The thing stands to reason."

Actuated by his resentment at the trap thus laid for him, Randal was
about to disclaim altogether the disinterested and absurd affection
laid to his charge, when it occurred to him that, by so doing, he might
mortally offend the Italian, since the cunning never forgive those who
refuse to be duped by them,--and it might still be conducive to his
interest to preserve intimate and familiar terms with Riccabocca;
therefore, subduing his first impulse, he exclaimed,

"Oh, too generous man! pardon me if I have so long been unable to express
my amaze, my gratitude; but I cannot--no, I cannot, while your prospects
remain thus uncertain, avail myself of your--of your inconsiderate
magnanimity.  Your rare conduct can only redouble my own scruples, if
you, as I firmly hope and believe, are restored to your great
possessions--you would naturally look so much higher than me.  Should
these hopes fail, then, indeed, it may be different; yet even then, what
position, what fortune, have I to offer to your daughter worthy of her?"

"You are well born!  all gentlemen are equals," said Riccabocca, with a
sort of easy nobleness.  "You have youth, information, talent,--sources
of certain wealth in this happy country,--powerful connections; and, in
fine, if you are satisfied with marrying for love, I shall be contented;
if not, speak openly.  As to the restoration to my possessions, I can
scarcely think that probable while my enemy lives.  And even in that
case, since I saw you last, something has occurred," added Riccabocca,
with a strange smile, which seemed to Randal singularly sinister and
malignant, "that may remove all difficulties.  Meanwhile, do not think me
so extravagantly magnanimous; do not underrate the satisfaction I must
feel at knowing Violante safe from the designs of Peschiera,--safe, and
forever, under a husband's roof.  I will tell you an Italian proverb,--it
contains a truth full of wisdom and terror,

"'Hai cinquanta Amici?--non basta.  Hai un Nemico?--e troppo.'"
["Have you fifty friends?--it is not enough.  Have you one enemy?--it is
too much."]

"Something has occurred!" echoed Randal, not heeding the conclusion of
this speech, and scarcely hearing the proverb, which the sage delivered
in his most emphatic and tragic tone.  "Something has occurred!  My dear
friend, be plainer.  What has occurred?"  Riccabocca remained silent.
"Something that induces you to bestow your daughter on me?"  Riccabocca
nodded, and emitted a low chuckle.

"The very laugh of a fiend," muttered Randal.  "Something that makes her
not worth bestowing.  He betrays himself.  Cunning people always do."

"Pardon me," said the Italian, at last, "if I don't answer your question;
you will know later; but at present this is a family secret.  And now I
must turn to another and more alarming cause for my frankness to you."
Here Riccabocca's face changed, and assumed an expression of mingled rage
and fear.  "You must know," he added, sinking his voice, "that Giacomo
has seen a strange person loitering about the house, and looking up at
the windows; and he has no doubt--nor have I--that this is some spy or
emissary of Peschiera's."

"Impossible; how could he discover you?"

"I know not; but no one else has any interest in doing so.  The man kept
at a distance, and Giacomo could not see his face."

"It may be but a mere idler.  Is this all?"

"No; the old woman who serves us said that she was asked at a shop 'if we
were not Italians'?"

"And she answered?"

"'No;'  but owned that 'we had a foreign servant, Giacomo.'"

"I will see to this.  Rely on it that if Peschiera has discovered you, I
will learn it.  Nay, I will hasten from you in order to commence

"I cannot detain you.  May I think that we have now an interest in

"Oh, indeed yes; but--but--your daughter!  How can I dream that one so
beautiful, so peerless, will confirm the hope you have extended to me?"

"The daughter of an Italian is brought up to consider that it is a
father's right to dispose of her hand."

"But the heart?"

"/Cospetto!/" said the Italian, true to his infamous notions as to the
sex, "the heart of a girl is like a convent,--the holier the cloister,
the more charitable the door."


Randal had scarcely left the house before Mrs. Riccabocca, who was
affectionately anxious in all that concerned Violante, rejoined her

"I like the young man very well," said the sage,--"very well indeed.  I
find him just what I expected, from my general knowledge of human nature;
for as love ordinarily goes with youth, so modesty usually accompanies
talent.  He is young, ergo, he is in love; he has talent, ergo, he is
modest, modest and ingenuous."

"And you think not in any way swayed by interest in his affections?"

"Quite the contrary; and to prove him the more, I have not said a word as
to the worldly advantages which, in any case, would accrue to him from an
alliance with my daughter.  In any case: for if I regain my country, her
fortune is assured; and if not, I trust" (said the poor exile, lifting
his brow with stately and becoming pride) "that I am too well aware of my
child's dignity, as well as my own, to ask any one to marry her to his
own worldly injury."

"Eh!  I don't quite understand you, Alphonso.  To be sure, your dear life
is insured for her marriage portion; but--"

"Pazzie-stuff!" said Riccabocca, petulantly; "her marriage portion would
be as nothing to a young man of Randal's birth and prospects.  I think
not of that.  But listen: I have never consented to profit by Harley
L'Estrange's friendship for me; my scruples would not extend to my son-
in-law.  This noble friend has not only high rank, but considerable
influence,--influence with the government, influence with Randal's
patron, who, between ourselves, does not seem to push the young man as he
might do; I judge by what Randal says.  I should write, therefore, before
anything was settled, to L'Estrange, and I should say to him simply, 'I
never asked you to save me from penury, but I do ask you to save a
daughter of my House from humiliation.  I can give to her no dowry; can
her husband owe to my friend that advance in an honourable career, that
opening to energy and talent, which is more than a dowry to generous

"Oh, it is in vain you would disguise your rank," cried Jemima, with
enthusiasm; "it speaks in all you utter, when your passions are moved."

The Italian did not seem flattered by that eulogy.  "Pish," said he,
"there you are! rank again!"

But Jemima was right.  There was something about her husband that was
grandiose and princely, whenever he escaped from his accursed
Machiavelli, and gave fair play to his heart.

And he spent the next hour or so in thinking over all that he could do
for Randal, and devising for his intended son-in-law the agreeable
surprise, which Randal was at that very time racking his yet cleverer
brains to disappoint.

These plans conned sufficiently, Riccabocca shut up his Machiavelli, and
hunted out of his scanty collection of books, Buffon on Man, and various
other psychological volumes, in which he soon became deeply absorbed.
Why were these works the object of the sage's study?  Perhaps he will let
us know soon, for it is clearly a secret known to his wife; and though
she has hitherto kept one secret, that is precisely the reason why
Riccabocca would not wish long to overburden her discretion with another.


Randal reached home in time to dress for a late dinner at Baron Levy's.

The baron's style of living was of that character especially affected
both by the most acknowledged exquisites of that day, and, it must be
owned, also, by the most egregious /parvenus/.  For it is noticeable that
it is your /parvenu/ who always comes nearest in fashion (so far as
externals are concerned) to your genuine exquisite.  It is your /parvenu/
who is most particular as to the cut of his coat, and the precision of
his equipage, and the minutia, of his menage.  Those between the
/parvenu/ and the exquisite, who know their own consequence, and have
something solid to rest upon, are slow in following all the caprices of
fashion, and obtuse in observation as to those niceties which neither
give them another ancestor, nor add another thousand to the account at
their banker's,--as to the last, rather indeed the contrary!  There was a
decided elegance about the baron's house and his dinner.  If he had been
one of the lawful kings of the dandies, you would have cried, "What
perfect taste!"--but such is human nature, that the dandies who dined
with him said to each other, "He pretend to imitate D----! vulgar dog!"
There was little affectation of your more showy opulence.  The furniture
in the rooms was apparently simple, but, in truth, costly, from its
luxurious comfort; the ornaments and china scattered about the commodes
were of curious rarity and great value, and the pictures on the walls
were gems.  At dinner, no plate was admitted on the table.  The Russian
fashion, then uncommon, now more prevalent, was adopted, fruit and
flowers in old Sevres dishes of priceless /vertu/, and in sparkling glass
of Bohemian fabric.  No livery servant was permitted to wait; behind each
guest stood a gentleman dressed so like the guest himself, in fine linen
and simple black, that guest and lacquey seemed stereotypes from one

The viands were exquisite; the wine came from the cellars of deceased
archbishops and ambassadors.  The company was select; the party did not
exceed eight.  Four were the eldest sons of peers (from a baron to a
duke); one was a professed wit, never to be got without a month's notice,
and, where a /parvenu/ was host, a certainty of green peas and peaches--
out of season; the sixth, to Randal's astonishment, was Mr. Richard
Avenel; himself and the baron made up the complement.

The eldest sons recognized each other with a meaning smile; the most
juvenile of them, indeed (it was his first year in London), had the grace
to blush and look sheepish.  The others were more hardened; but they all
united in regarding with surprise both Randal and Dick Avenel.  The
former was known to most of them personally, and to all, by repute, as a
grave, clever, promising young man, rather prudent than lavish, and never
suspected to have got into a scrape.  What the deuce did he do there?
Mr. Avenel puzzled them yet more.  A middle-aged man, said to be in
business, whom they had observed "about town" (for he had a noticeable
face and figure),--that is, seen riding in the Park, or lounging in the
pit at the opera, but never set eyes on at a recognized club, or in the
coteries of their "set;" a man whose wife gave horrid third-rate parties,
that took up half a column in the "Morning Post" with a list of "The
Company Present," in which a sprinkling of dowagers fading out of
fashion, and a foreign title or two, made the darkness of the obscurer
names doubly dark.  Why this man should be asked to meet them, by Baron
Levy, too--a decided tuft-hunter and would-be exclusive--called all their
faculties into exercise.  The wit, who, being the son of a small
tradesman, but in the very best society, gave himself far greater airs
than the young lords, impertinently solved the mystery.  "Depend on it,"
whispered he to Spendquick,--"depend on it the man is the X. Y. of the
'Times' who offers to lend any sum of money from L10 to half-a-million.
He's the man who has all your bills; Levy is only his jackal."

"'Pon my soul," said Spendquick, rather alarmed, "if that's the case, one
may as well be civil to him."

"You, certainly," said the wit.  "But I never have found an X. Y. who
would advance me the L. s.; and therefore I shall not be more respectful
to X. Y. than to any other unknown quantity."

By degrees, as the wine circulated, the party grew gay and sociable.
Levy was really an entertaining fellow; had all the gossip of the town at
his fingers' ends; and possessed, moreover, that pleasant art of saying
ill-natured things of the absent, which those present always enjoy.  By
degrees, too, Mr. Richard Avenel came out; and, as the whisper had
circulated round the table that he was X. Y., he was listened to with a
profound respect, which greatly elevated his spirits.  Nay, when the wit
tried once to show him up or mystify him, Dick answered with a bluff
spirit, that, though very coarse, was found so humorous by Lord
Spendquick and other gentlemen similarly situated in the money-market
that they turned the laugh against the wit, and silenced him for the rest
of the night,--a circumstance which made the party go off much more
pleasantly.  After dinner, the conversation, quite that of single men,
easy and /debonnaire/, glanced from the turf and the ballet and the last
scandal towards politics; for the times were such that politics were
discussed everywhere, and three of the young lords were county members.

Randal said little, but, as was his wont, listened attentively; and he
was aghast to find how general was the belief that the Government was
doomed.  Out of regard to him, and with that delicacy of breeding which
belongs to a certain society, nothing personal to Egerton was said,
except by Avenel, who, however, on blurting out some rude expressions
respecting that minister, was instantly checked by the baron.  "Spare my
friend and Mr. Leslie's near connection," said he, with a polite but
grave smile.

"Oh," said Avenel, "public men, whom we pay, are public property,--aren't
they, my Lord?" appealing to Spendquick.

"Certainly," said Spendquick, with great spirit,--" public property, or
why should we pay them?  There must be a very strong motive to induce us
to do that!  I hate paying people.  In fact," he subjoined in an aside,
"I never do."

"However," resumed Mr. Avenel, graciously, "I don't want to hurt your
feelings, Mr. Leslie.  As to the feelings of our host, the baron, I
calculate that they have got tolerably tough by the exercise they have
gone through."

"Nevertheless," said the baron, joining in the laugh which any lively
saying by the supposed X. Y. was sure to excite, "nevertheless, 'love me,
love my dog,'--love me, love my Egerton."

Randal started, for his quick ear and subtle intelligence caught
something sinister and hostile in the tone with which Levy uttered this
equivocal comparison, and his eye darted towards the baron.  But the
baron had bent down his face, and was regaling himself upon an olive.

By-and-by the party rose from table.  The four young noblemen had their
engagements elsewhere, and proposed to separate without re-entering the
drawing-room.  As, in Goethe's theory, monads which have affinities with
each other are irresistibly drawn together, so these gay children of
pleasure had, by a common impulse, on rising from table, moved each to
each, and formed a group round the fireplace.  Randal stood a little
apart, musing; the wit examined the pictures through his eye-glass; and
Mr. Avenel drew the baron towards the side-board, and there held him in
whispered conference.  This colloquy did not escape the young gentlemen
round the fireplace; they glanced towards each other.

"Settling the percentage on renewal," said one, sotto voce.  "X. Y. does
not seem such a very bad fellow," said another.

"He looks rich, and talks rich," said a third.

"A decided, independent way of expressing his sentiments; those moneyed
men generally have."

"Good heavens!" ejaculated Spendquick, who had been keeping his eye
anxiously fixed on the pair, "do look; X. Y. is actually taking out his
pocket-book; he is coming this way.  Depend on it he has got our bills--
mine is due to-morrow!"

"And mine too," said another, edging off.  "Why, it is a perfect /guet-

Meanwhile, breaking away from the baron, who appeared anxious to detain
him, and failing in that attempt, turned aside, as if not to see Dick's
movements,--a circumstance which did not escape the notice of the group,
and confirmed all their suspicions,--Mr. Avenel, with a serious,
thoughtful face, and a slow step, approached the group.  Nor did the
great Roman general more nervously "flutter the dove-cots in Corioli,"
than did the advance of the supposed X. Y. agitate the bosoms of Lord
Spendquick and his sympathizing friends.  Pocket-book in hand, and
apparently feeling for something formidable within its mystic recesses,
step by step came Dick Avenel towards the fireplace.  The group stood
still, fascinated by horror.

"Hum," said Mr. Avenel, clearing his throat.

"I don't like that hum at all," muttered Spendquick.  "Proud to have made
your acquaintance, gentlemen," said Dick, bowing.

The gentlemen thus addressed bowed low in return.

"My friend the baron thought this not exactly the time to--" Dick stopped
a moment; you might have knocked down those four young gentlemen, though
four finer specimens of humanity no aristocracy in Europe could produce,
--you might have knocked them down with a feather!  "But," renewed
Avenel, not finishing his sentence, "I have made it a rule in life never
to lose securing a good opportunity; in short, to make the most of the
present moment.  And," added he, with a smile which froze the blood in
Lord Spendquick's veins, "the rule has made me a very warm man!
Therefore, gentlemen, allow me to present you each with one of these"
--every hand retreated behind the back of its well-born owner, when, to
the inexpressible relief of all, Dick concluded with,--"a little soiree
dansante," and extended four cards of invitation.

"Most happy!" exclaimed Spendquick.  "I don't dance in general; but to
oblige X--I mean, to have a better acquaintance, sir, with you--I would
dance on the tight-rope."

There was a good-humoured, pleasant laugh at Spendquick's enthusiasm, and
a general shaking of hands and pocketing of the invitation cards.

"You don't look like a dancing man," said Avenel, turning to the wit, who
was plump and somewhat gouty,--as wits who dine out five days in the week
generally are; "but we shall have supper at one o'clock."

Infinitely offended and disgusted, the wit replied dryly, "that every
hour of his time was engaged for the rest of the season," and, with a
stiff salutation to the baron, took his departure.  The rest, in good
spirits, hurried away to their respective cabriolets; and Leslie was
following them into the hall, when the baron, catching hold of him, said,
"Stay, I want to talk to you."


The baron turned into his drawing-room, and Leslie followed.

"Pleasant young men, those," said Levy, with a slight sneer, as he threw
himself into an easy-chair and stirred the fire.  "And not at all proud;
but, to be sure, they are--under great obligations to me.  Yes; they owe
me a great deal /a propos/, I have had a long talk with Frank Hazeldean,
--fine young man, remarkable capacities for business.  I can arrange his
affairs for him.  I find, on reference to the Will Office, that you were
quite right; the Casino property is entailed on Frank.  He will have the
fee simple.  He can dispose of the reversion entirely.  So that there
will be no difficulty in our arrangements."

"But I told you also that Frank had scruples about borrowing on the event
of his father's death."

"Ay, you did so.  Filial affection!  I never take that into account in
matters of business.  Such little scruples, though they are highly
honourable to human nature, soon vanish before the prospect of the King's
Bench.  And, too, as you so judiciously remarked, our clever young friend
is in love with Madame di Negra."

"Did he tell you that?"

"No; but Madame di Negra did!"

"You know her?"

"I know most people in good society, who now and then require a friend in
the management of their affairs.  And having made sure of the fact you
stated, as to Hazeldean's contingent property (excuse my prudence), I
have accommodated Madame di Negra and bought up her debts."

"You have--you surprise me!"

"The surprise will vanish on reflection.  But you are very new to the
world yet, my dear Leslie.  By the way, I have had an interview with

"About his sister's debts?"

"Partly.  A man of the nicest honour is Peschiera."  Aware of Levy's
habit of praising people for the qualities in which, according to the
judgment of less penetrating mortals, they were most deficient, Randal
only smiled at this eulogy, and waited for Levy to resume.  But the baron
sat silent and thoughtful for a minute or two, and then wholly changed
the subject.

"I think your father has some property in ----shire, and you probably can
give me a little information as to certain estates of a Mr. Thornhill,
estates which, on examination of the title-deeds, I find once, indeed,
belonged to your family."  The baron glanced at a very elegant
memorandum-book.--"The manors of Rood and Dulmansberry, with sundry farms
thereon.  Mr. Thornhill wants to sell them--an old client of mine,
Thornhill.  He has applied to me on the matter.  Do you think it an
improvable property?"

Randal listened with a livid cheek and a throbbing heart.  We have seen
that, if there was one ambitious scheme in his calculation which, though
not absolutely generous and heroic, still might win its way to a certain
sympathy in the undebased human mind, it was the hope to restore the
fallen fortunes of his ancient house, and repossess himself of the long
alienated lands that surrounded the dismal wastes of the mouldering hall.
And now to hear that those lands were getting into the inexorable gripe
of Levy--tears of bitterness stood in his eyes.

"Thornhill," continued Levy, who watched the young man's countenance,--
"Thornhill tells me that that part of his property--the old Leslie lands
--produces L2, 000 a year, and that the rental could be raised.  He would
take L50,000 for it, L20,000 down, and suffer the remaining L30,000 to
lie on mortgage at four per cent.  It seems a very good purchase.  What
do you say?"

"Don't ask me," said Randal, stung into rare honesty; for I had hoped I
might live to repossess myself of that property."

"Ah, indeed!  It would be a very great addition to your consequence in
the world,--not from the mere size of the estate, but from its hereditary
associations.  And if you have any idea of the purchase, believe me, I'll
not stand in your way."

"How can I have any idea of it?"

"But I thought you said you had."

"I understood that these lands could not be sold till Mr. Thornhill's son
came of age, and joined in getting rid of the entail."

"Yes, so Thornhill himself supposed, till, on examining the title-deeds,
I found he was under a mistake.  These lands are not comprised in the
settlement made by old Jasper Thornhill, which ties up the rest of the
property.  The title will be perfect.  Thornhill wants to settle the
matter at once,--losses on the turf, you understand; an immediate
purchaser would get still better terms.  A Sir John Spratt would give the
money; but the addition of these lands would make the Spratt property of
more consequence in the county than the Thornhill.  So my client would
rather take a few thousands less from a man who don't set up to be his
rival.  Balance of power in counties as well as nations."

Randal was silent.

"Well," said Levy, with great kindness of manner, "I see I pain you;
and though I am what my very pleasant guests would call a /parvenu/,
I comprehend your natural feelings as a gentleman of ancient birth.
/Parvenu!/  Ah, is it not strange, Leslie, that no wealth, no fashion, no
fame can wipe out that blot?  They call me a /parvenu/, and borrow my
money.  They call our friend the wit a /parvenu/, and submit to all his
insolence--if they condescend to regard his birth at all--provided they
can but get him to dinner.  They call the best debater in the parliament
of England a /parvenu/, and will entreat him, some day or other, to be
prime minister, and ask him for stars and garters.  A droll world, and no
wonder the /parvenus/ want to upset it."

Randal had hitherto supposed that this notorious tufthunter, this dandy
capitalist, this money-lender, whose whole fortune had been wrung from
the wants and follies of an aristocracy, was naturally a firm supporter
of things as they are--how could things be better for men like Baron
Levy?  But the usurer's burst of democratic spleen did not surprise his
precocious and acute faculty of observation.  He had before remarked,
that it is the persons who fawn most upon an aristocracy, and profit the
most by the fawning, who are ever at heart its bitterest disparagers.
Why is this?  Because one full half of democratic opinion is made up of
envy; and we can only envy what is brought before our eyes, and what,
while very near to us, is still unattainable.  No man envies an

"But," said Levy, throwing himself back in his chair, "a new order of
things is commencing; we shall see.  Leslie, it is lucky for you that you
did not enter parliament under the government; it would be your political
ruin for life."

"You think, then, that the ministry really cannot last?"

"Of course I do; and what is more, I think that a ministry of the same
principles cannot be restored.  You are a young man of talent and spirit;
your birth is nothing compared to the rank of the reigning party; it
would tell, to a certain degree, in a democratic one.  I say, you should
be more civil to Avenel; he could return you to parliament at the next

"The next election!  In six years!  We have just had a general election."

"There will be another before this year, or half of it, or perhaps a
quarter of it, is out."

"What makes you think so?"

"Leslie, let there be confidence between us; we can help each other.
Shall we be friends?"

"With all my heart.  But though you may help me, how can I help you?"

"You have helped me already to Frank Hazeldean and the Casino estate.
All clever men can help me.  Come, then, we are friends; and what I say
is secret.  You ask me why I think there will be a general election so
soon?  I will answer you frankly.  Of all the public men I ever met with,
there is no one who has so clear a vision of things immediately before
him as Audley Egerton."

"He has that character.  Not far-seeing, but clear-sighted to a certain

"Exactly so.  No one better, therefore, knows public opinion and its
immediate ebb and flow."


"Egerton, then, counts on a general election within three months, and I
have lent him the money for it."

"Lent him the money!  Egerton borrow money of you, the rich Audley

"Rich!" repeated Levy, in a tone impossible to describe, and accompanying
the word with that movement of the middle finger and thumb, commonly
called a "snap," which indicates profound contempt.

He said no more.  Randal sat stupefied.  At length the latter muttered,
"But if Egerton is really not rich; if he lose office, and without the
hope of return to it--"

"If so, he is ruined!" said Levy, coldly; "and therefore, from regard to
you, and feeling interest in your future fate, I say, Rest no hopes of
fortune or career upon Audley Egerton.  Keep your place for the present,
but be prepared at the next election to stand upon popular principles.
Avenel shall return you to parliament; and the rest is with luck and
energy.  And now, I'll not detain you longer," said Levy, rising and
ringing the bell.  The servant entered.  "Is my carriage here?"

"Yes, Baron."

"Can I set you down anywhere?"

"No, thank you, I prefer walking."

"Adieu, then.  And mind you remember the /soiree dansante/ at Mrs.
Avenel's."  Randal mechanically shook the hand extended to him, and went
down the stairs.

The fresh frosty air roused his intellectual faculties, which Levy's
ominous words had almost paralyzed.

And the first thing the clever schemer said to himself was this,

"But what can be the man's motive in what he said to me?"

The next was,--

"Egerton ruined!  What am I, then?"  And the third was,

"And that fair remnant of the old Leslie property!  L20,000 down--how to
get the sum?  Why should Levy have spoken to me of this?"

And lastly, the soliloquy rounded back--"The man's motives!  His

Meanwhile, the baron threw himself into his chariot--the most
comfortable, easy chariot you can possibly conceive, single man's
chariot, perfect taste,--no married man ever had such a chariot; and in a
few minutes he was at ---------'s hotel, and in the presence of Giulio
Franzini, Count di Peschiera.

"Mon cher," said the baron, in very good French, and in a tone of the
most familiar equality with the descendant of the princes and heroes of
grand medimval Italy,--"/mon cher/, give me one of your excellent cigars.
I think I have put all matters in train."

"You have found out--"

"No; not so fast yet," said the baron, lighting the cigar extended to
him.  "But you said that you should be perfectly contented if it only
cost you L20,000 to marry off your sister (to whom that sum is legally
due), and to marry yourself to the heiress."

"I did, indeed."

"Then I have no doubt I shall manage both objects for that sum, if Randal
Leslie really knows where the young lady is, and can assist you.  Most
promising, able man is Randal Leslie--but innocent as a babe just born."

"Ha, ha!  Innocent? /Que diable!/"

"Innocent as this cigar, /mon cher/,--strong certainly, but smoked very
easily. /Soyez tranquille!/"


Who has not seen, who not admired, that noble picture by Daniel Maclise,
which refreshes the immortal name of my ancestor Caxton!  For myself,
while with national pride I heard the admiring murmurs of the foreigners
who grouped around it (nothing, indeed, of which our nation may be more
proud had they seen in the Crystal Palace),--heard, with no less a pride
in the generous nature of fellow-artists, the warm applause of living and
deathless masters sanctioning the enthusiasm of the popular crowd, what
struck me more than the precision of drawing, for which the artist has
been always renowned, and the just, though gorgeous affluence of colour
which he has more recently acquired, was the profound depth of
conception, out of which this great work had so elaborately arisen.  That
monk, with his scowl towards the printer and his back on the Bible over
which his form casts a shadow--the whole transition between the medieval
Christianity of cell and cloister, and the modern Christianity that
rejoices in the daylight, is depicted there, in the shadow that obscures
the Book, in the scowl that is fixed upon the Book-diffuser;--that
sombre, musing face of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, with the beauty of
Napoleon, darkened to the expression of a Fiend, looking far and
anxiously into futurity, as if foreseeing there what antagonism was about
to be created to the schemes of secret crime and unrelenting force; the
chivalrous head of the accomplished Rivers, seen but in profile, under
his helmet, as if the age when Chivalry must defend its noble attributes
in steel was already half passed away; and, not least grand of all, the
rude thews and sinews of the artisan forced into service on the type, and
the ray of intellect, fierce, and menacing revolutions yet to be,
struggling through his rugged features, and across his low knitted brow,
--all this, which showed how deeply the idea of the discovery in its good
and its evil, its saving light and its perilous storms, had sunk into the
artist's soul, charmed me as effecting the exact union between sentiment
and execution, which is the true and rare consummation of the Ideal in
Art.  But observe, while in these personages of the group are depicted
the deeper and graver agencies implicated in the bright but terrible
invention, observe how little the light epicures of the hour heed the
scowl of the monk, or the restless gesture of Richard, or the troubled
gleam in the eyes of the artisan, King Edward, handsome Poco curante,
delighted in the surprise of a child, with a new toy, and Clarence, with
his curious, yet careless, glance,--all the while Caxton himself, calm,
serene, untroubled, intent solely upon the manifestation of his
discovery, and no doubt supremely indifferent whether the first proofs of
it shall be dedicated to a Rivers or an Edward, a Richard or a Henry,
Plantagenet or Tudor--'t is all the same to that comely, gentle-looking
man.  So is it ever with your Abstract Science!--not a jot cares its
passionless logic for the woe or weal of a generation or two.  The
stream, once emerged from its source, passes on into the great
Intellectual Sea, smiling over the wretch that it drowns, or under
the keel of the ship which it serves as a slave.

Now, when about to commence the present chapter on the Varieties of Life,
this masterpiece of thoughtful art forced itself on my recollection, and
illustrated what I designed to convey.  In the surface of every age it is
often that which but amuses for the moment the ordinary children of
pleasant existence, the Edwards and the Clarences (be they kings and
dukes, or simplest of simple subjects), which afterwards towers out as
the great serious epoch of the time.  When we look back upon human
records, how the eye settles upon WRITERS as the main landmarks of the
past!  We talk of the age of Augustus, of Elizabeth, of Louis XIV., of
Anne, as the notable eras of the world.  Why?  Because it is their
writers who have made them so.  Intervals between one age of authors and
another lie unnoticed, as the flats and common lands of uncultured
history.  And yet, strange to say, when these authors are living amongst
us, they occupy a very small portion of our thoughts, and fill up but
desultory interstices in the bitumen and tufo wherefrom we build up the
Babylon of our lives.  So it is, and perhaps so it should be, whether it
pleases the conceit of penmen or not.  Life is meant to be active; and
books, though they give the action to future generations, administer but
to the holiday of the present.

And so, with this long preface, I turn suddenly from the Randals and the
Egertons, and the Levys, Avenels, and Peschieras, from the plots and
passions of practical life, and drop the reader suddenly into one of
those obscure retreats wherein Thought weaves, from unnoticed moments,
a new link to the chain that unites the ages.

Within a small room, the single window of which opened on a fanciful and
fairy-like garden that has been before described, sat a young man alone.
He had been writing; the ink was not dry on his manuscript, but his
thoughts had been suddenly interrupted from his work, and his eyes, now
lifted from the letter which had occasioned that interruption, sparkled
with delight.  "He will come," exclaimed the young man; "come here,--to
the home which I owe to him.  I have not been unworthy of his friendship.
And she--" his breast heaved, but the joy faded from his face.  "Oh,
strange, strange, that I feel sad at the thought to see her again!  See
her--Ah, no!  my own comforting Helen, my own Child-angel!  Her I can
never see again!  The grown woman--that is not my Helen.  And yet--and
yet," he resumed after a pause, "if ever she read the pages in which
thought flowed and trembled under her distant starry light, if ever she
see how her image has rested with me, and feel that, while others believe
that I invent, I have but remembered, will she not, for a moment, be my
own Helen again?  Again, in heart and in fancy, stand by my side on the
desolate bridge, hand in hand, orphans both, as we stood in the days so
sorrowful, yet, as I recall them, so sweet?  Helen in England--it is a

He rose, half-consciously, and went to the window.  The fountain played
merrily before his eyes, and the birds in the aviary carolled loud to his
ear.  "And in this house," he murmured, "I saw her last!  And there,
where the fountain now throws its spray on high,--there her benefactor
and mine told me that I was to lose her, that I might win--fame.  Alas!"

At this time a woman, whose dress was somewhat above her mien and air,
which, though not without a certain respectability, were very homely,
entered the room; and seeing the young man standing thus thoughtful by
the window, paused.  She was used to his habits; and since his success in
life, had learned to respect them.  So she did not disturb his revery,
but began softly to arrange the room, dusting, with the corner of her
apron, the various articles of furniture, putting a stray chair or two in
its right place, but not touching a single paper.  Virtuous woman, and
rare as virtuous!

The young man turned at last, with a deep, yet not altogether painful

"My dear mother, good day to you.  Ah, you do well to make the room look
its best.  Happy news!  I expect a visitor!"

"Dear me, Leonard, will he want lunch--or what?"

"Nay, I think not, Mother.  It is he to whom we owe all,--'Haec otia
fecit.'  Pardon my Latin; it is Lord L'Estrange."

The face of Mrs. Fairfield (the reader has long since divined the name)
changed instantly, and betrayed a nervous twitch of all the muscles,
which gave her a family likeness to old Mrs. Avenel.

"Do not be alarmed, Mother.  He is the kindest--"

"Don't talk so; I can't bear it!" cried Mrs. Fairfield.

"No wonder you are affected by the recollection of all his benefits.  But
when once you have seen him, you will find yourself ever after at your
ease.  And so, pray smile and look as good as you are; for I am proud of
your open honest look when you are pleased, Mother.  And he must see your
heart in your face, as I do."

With this, Leonard put his arm round the widow's neck and kissed her.
She clung to him fondly for a moment, and he felt her tremble from head
to foot.  Then she broke from his embrace, and hurried out of the room.
Leonard thought perhaps she had gone to improve her dress, or to carry
her housewife energies to the decoration of the other rooms; for "the
house" was Mrs. Fairfield's hobby and passion; and now that she worked no
more, save for her amusement, it was her main occupation.  The hours she
contrived to spend daily in bustling about those little rooms, and
leaving everything therein to all appearance precisely the same, were
among the marvels in life which the genius of Leonard had never
comprehended.  But she was always so delighted when Mr. Norreys, or some
rare visitor came, and said,--Mr. Norreys never failed to do so,-"How
neatly all is kept here.  What could Leonard do without you, Mrs.

And, to Norreys's infinite amusement, Mrs. Fairfield always returned the
same answer.  "'Deed, sir, and thank you kindly, but 't is my belief that
the drawin'-room would be awful dusty."

Once more left alone, Leonard's mind returned to the state of revery, and
his face assumed the expression that had now become to it habitual.  Thus
seen, he was changed much since we last beheld him.  His cheek was more
pale and thin, his lips more firmly compressed, his eye more fixed and
abstract.  You could detect, if I may borrow a touching French
expression, that "Sorrow had passed by there."  But the melancholy on his
countenance was ineffably sweet and serene, and on his ample forehead
there was that power, so rarely seen in early youth,--the power that has
conquered, and betrays its conquests but in calm.  The period of doubt,
of struggle, of defiance, was gone, perhaps forever; genius and soul were
reconciled to human life.  It was a face most lovable; so gentle and
peaceful in its character.  No want of fire; on the contrary, the fire
was so clear and so steadfast, that it conveyed but the impression of
light.  The candour of boyhood, the simplicity of the villager, were
still there,--refined by intelligence, but intelligence that seemed to
have traversed through knowledge, not with the 'footstep, but the wing,
unsullied by the mire, tending towards the star, seeking through the
various grades of Being but the lovelier forms of truth and goodness; at
home, as should be the Art that consummates the Beautiful,--

                   "In den heitern Regionen
                    Wo die reinen Formen wohnen."

                    [At home--"In the serene regions
                    Where dwell the pure forms."]

From this revery Leonard did not seek to rouse himself, till the bell at
the garden gate rang loud and shrill; and then starting up and hurrying
into the hall, his hand was grasped in Harley's.


A full and happy hour passed away in Harley's questions and Leonard's
answers,--the dialogue that naturally ensued between the two, on the
first interview after an absence of years so eventful to the younger man.

The history of Leonard during this interval was almost solely internal,
the struggle of intellect with its own difficulties, the wanderings of
imagination through its own adventurous worlds.

The first aim of Norreys, in preparing the mind of his pupil for its
vocation, had been to establish the equilibrium of its powers, to calm
into harmony the elements rudely shaken by the trials and passions of the
old hard outer life.

The theory of Norreys was briefly this: The education of a superior human
being is but the development of ideas in one for the benefit of others.
To this end, attention should be directed,--1st, To the value of the
ideas collected; 2dly, To their discipline; 3dly, To their expression.
For the first, acquirement is necessary; for the second, discipline; for
the third, art.  The first comprehends knowledge purely intellectual,
whether derived from observation, memory, reflection, books, or men,
Aristotle or Fleet Street.  The second demands training, not only
intellectual, but moral; the purifying and exaltation of motives; the
formation of habits; in which method is but a part of a divine and
harmonious symmetry, a union of intellect and conscience.  Ideas of
value, stored by the first process; marshalled into force, and placed
under guidance, by the second,--it is the result of the third, to place
them before the world in the most attractive or commanding form.  This
may be done by actions no less than words; but the adaptation of means to
end, the passage of ideas from the brain of one man into the lives and
souls of all, no less in action than in books, requires study.  Action
has its art as well as literature.  Here Norreys had but to deal with the
calling of the scholar, the formation of the writer, and so to guide the
perceptions towards those varieties in the sublime and beautiful, the
just combination of which is at once CREATION.  Man himself is but a
combination of elements.  He who combines in nature, creates in art.
Such, very succinctly and inadequately expressed, was the system upon
which Norreys proceeded to regulate and perfect the great native powers
of his pupil; and though the reader may perhaps say that no system laid
down by another can either form genius or dictate to its results, yet
probably nine-tenths at least of those in whom we recognize the
luminaries of our race have passed, unconsciously to themselves (for
self-education is rarely conscious of its phases), through each of these
processes.  And no one who pauses to reflect will deny, that according to
this theory, illustrated by a man of vast experience, profound knowledge,
and exquisite taste, the struggles of genius would be infinitely
lessened, its vision cleared and strengthened, and the distance between
effort and success notably abridged.

Norreys, however, was far too deep a reasoner to fall into the error of
modern teachers, who suppose that education can dispense with labour.  No
mind becomes muscular without rude and early exercise.  Labour should be
strenuous, but in right directions.  All that we can do for it is to save
the waste of time in blundering into needless toils.

The master had thus first employed his neophyte in arranging and
compiling materials for a great critical work in which Norreys himself
was engaged.  In this stage of scholastic preparation, Leonard was
necessarily led to the acquisition of languages, for which he had great
aptitude; the foundations of a large and comprehensive erudition were
solidly constructed.  He traced by the ploughshare the walls of the
destined city.  Habits of accuracy and of generalization became formed
insensibly; and that precious faculty which seizes, amidst accumulated
materials, those that serve the object for which they are explored,--that
faculty which quadruples all force, by concentrating it on one point,--
once roused into action, gave purpose to every toil and quickness to each
perception.  But Norreys did not confine his pupil solely to the mute
world of a library; he introduced him to some of the first minds in arts,
science, and letters, and active life.  "These," said he, "are the living
ideas of the present, out of which books for the future will be written:
study them; and here, as in the volumes of the past, diligently amass and
deliberately compile."

By degrees Norreys led on that young ardent mind from the selection of
ideas to their aesthetic analysis,--from compilation to criticism; but
criticism severe, close, and logical,--a reason for each word of praise
or of blame.  Led in this stage of his career to examine into the laws of
beauty, a new light broke upon his mind; from amidst the masses of marble
he had piled around him rose the vision of the statue.

And so, suddenly, one day Norreys said to him, "I need a compiler no
longer,--maintain yourself by your own creations."  And Leonard wrote,
and a work flowered up from the seed deep buried, and the soil well
cleared to the rays of the sun and the healthful influence of expanded

That first work did not penetrate to a very wide circle of readers, not
from any perceptible fault of its own--there is luck in these things; the
first anonymous work of an original genius is rarely at once eminently
successful.  But the more experienced recognized the promise of the book.
Publishers, who have an instinct in the discovery of available talent,
which often forestalls the appreciation of the public, volunteered
liberal offers.  "Be fully successful this time," said Norreys; "think
not of models nor of style.  Strike at once at the common human heart,--
throw away the corks, swim out boldly.  One word more,--never write a
page till you have walked from your room to Temple Bar, and, mingling
with men, and reading the human face, learn why great poets have mostly
passed their lives in cities."

Thus Leonard wrote again, and woke one morning to find himself famous.
So far as the chances of all professions dependent on health will permit,
present independence, and, with foresight and economy, the prospects of
future competence were secured.

"And, indeed," said Leonard, concluding a longer but a simpler narrative
than is here told,--" indeed, there is some chance that I may obtain at
once a sum that will leave me free for the rest of my life to select my
own subjects, and write without care for remuneration.  This is what I
call the true (and, perhaps, alas! the rare) independence of him who
devotes himself to letters.  Norreys, having seen my boyish plan for the
improvement of certain machinery in the steam engine, insisted on my
giving much time to mechanics.  The study that once pleased me so greatly
now seemed dull; but I went into it with good heart; and the result is,
that I have improved so far on my original idea, that my scheme has met
the approbation of one of our most scientific engineers: and I am assured
that the patent for it will be purchased of me upon terms which I am
ashamed to name to you, so disproportioned do they seem to the value of
so simple a discovery.  Meanwhile, I am already rich enough to have
realized the two dreams of my heart,--to make a home in the cottage where
I had last seen you and Helen--I mean Miss Digby; and to invite to that
home her who had sheltered my infancy."

"Your mother, where is she?  Let me see her."

Leonard ran out to call the widow, but to his surprise and vexation
learned that she had quitted the house before L'Estrange arrived.

He came back, perplexed how to explain what seemed ungracious and
ungrateful, and spoke with hesitating lip and flushed cheek of the
widow's natural timidity and sense of her own homely station.  "And so
overpowered is she," added Leonard, "by the recollection of all that we
owe to you, that she never hears your name without agitation or tears,
and trembled like a leaf at the thought of seeing you."

"Ha!" said Harley, with visible emotion.  "Is it so?"  And he bent down,
shading his face with his hand.  "And," he renewed, after a pause, but
not looking up--"and you ascribe this fear of seeing me, this agitation
at my name, solely to an exaggerated sense of--of the circumstances
attending my acquaintance with yourself?"

"And, perhaps, to a sort of shame that the mother of one you have made
her proud of is but a peasant."

"That is all?" said Harley, earnestly, now looking up and fixing eyes in
which stood tears upon Leonard's ingenuous brow.

"Oh, my dear Lord, what else can it be?  Do not judge her harshly."

L'Estrange arose abruptly, pressed Leonard's hand, muttered something not
audible, and then drawing his young friend's arm in his, led him into the
garden, and turned the conversation back to its former topics.

Leonard's heart yearned to ask after Helen, and yet something withheld
him from doing so, till, seeing Harley did not volunteer to speak of her,
he could not resist his impulse.  "And Helen--Miss Digby--is she much

"Changed, no--yes; very much."

"Very much!" Leonard sighed.

"I shall see her again?"

"Certainly," said Harley, in a tone of surprise.  "How can you doubt it?
And I reserve to you the pleasure of saying that you are renowned.  You
blush; well, I will say that for you.  But you shall give her your

"She has not yet read them, then?--not the last?  The first was not
worthy of her attention," said Leonard, disappointed.  "She has only just
arrived in England; and, though your books reached me in Germany, she was
not then with me.  When I have settled some business that will take me
from town, I shall present you to her and my mother."  There was a
certain embarrassment in Harley's voice as he spoke; and, turning round
abruptly, he exclaimed, "But you have shown poetry even here.  I could
not have conceived that so much beauty could be drawn from what appeared
to me the most commonplace of all suburban gardens.  Why, surely, where
that charming fountain now plays stood the rude bench in which I read
your verses."

"It is true; I wished to unite all together my happiest associations.  I
think I told you, my Lord, in one of my letters, that I had owed a very
happy, yet very struggling time in my boyhood to the singular kindness
and generous instructions of a foreigner whom I served.  This fountain is
copied from one that I made in his garden, and by the margin of which
many a summer day I have sat and dreamed of fame and knowledge."

"True, you told me of that; and your foreigner will be pleased to hear of
your success, and no less so of your grateful recollections.  By the way,
you did not mention his name."


"Riccabocca!  My own dear and noble friend!--is it possible?  One of my
reasons for returning to England is connected with him.  You shall go
down with me and see him.  I meant to start this evening."

"My dear Lord," said Leonard, "I think that you may spare yourself so
long a journey.  I have reason to suspect that Signor Riccabocca is my
nearest neighbour.  Two days ago I was in the garden, when suddenly
lifting my eyes to yon hillock I perceived the form of a man seated
amongst the brushwood; and though I could not see his features, there was
something in the very outline of his figure and his peculiar posture,
that irresistibly reminded me of Riccabocca.  I hastened out of the
garden and ascended the hill, but he was gone.  My suspicions were so
strong that I caused inquiry to be made at the different shops scattered
about, and learned that a family consisting of a gentleman, his wife, and
daughter had lately come to live in a house that you must have passed in
your way hither, standing a little back from the road, surrounded by high
walls; and though they were said to be English, yet from the description
given to me of the gentleman's person by one who had noticed it, by the
fact of a foreign servant in their employ, and by the very name
'Richmouth,' assigned to the newcomers, I can scarcely doubt that it is
the family you seek."

"And you have not called to ascertain?"

"Pardon me, but the family so evidently shunning observation (no one but
the master himself ever seen without the walls), the adoption of another
name too, led me to infer that Signor Riccabocca has some strong motive
for concealment; and now, with my improved knowledge of life, and
recalling all the past, I cannot but suppose that Riccabocca was not what
he appeared.  Hence, I have hesitated on formally obtruding myself upon
his secrets, whatever they be, and have rather watched for some chance
occasion to meet him in his walks."

"You did right, my dear Leonard; but my reasons for seeing my old friend
forbid all scruples of delicacy, and I will go at once to his house."

"You will tell me, my Lord, if I am right."

"I hope to be allowed to do so.  Pray, stay at home till I return.  And
now, ere I go, one question more: You indulge conjectures as to
Riccabocca, because he has changed his name,--why have you dropped your

"I wished to have no name," said Leonard, colouring deeply, "but that
which I could make myself."

"Proud poet, this I can comprehend.  But from what reason did you assume
the strange and fantastic name of Oran?"

The flush on Leonard's face became deeper.  "My Lord," said he, in a low
voice, "it is a childish fancy of mine; it is an anagram."


"At a time when my cravings after knowledge were likely much to mislead,
and perhaps undo me, I chanced on some poems that suddenly affected my
whole mind, and led me up into purer air; and I was told that these poems
were written in youth by one who had beauty and genius,--one who was in
her grave,--a relation of my own, and her familiar name was Nora--"

"Ah," again ejaculated Lord L'Estrange, and his arm pressed heavily upon

"So, somehow or other," continued the young author, falteringly, "I
wished that if ever I won to a poet's fame, it might be to my own heart,
at least, associated with this name of Nora; with her whom death had
robbed of the fame that she might otherwise have won; with her who--"

He paused, greatly agitated.

Harley was no less so.  But, as if by a sudden impulse, the soldier bent
down his manly head and kissed the poet's brow; then he hastened to the
gate, flung himself on his horse, and rode away.


Lord L'Estrange did not proceed at once to Riecabocca's house.  He was
under the influence of a remembrance too deep and too strong to yield
easily to the lukewarm claim of friendship.  He rode fast and far; and
impossible it would be to define the feelings that passed through a mind
so acutely sensitive, and so rootedly tenacious of all affections.  When,
recalling his duty to the Italian, he once more struck into the road to
Norwood, the slow pace of his horse was significant of his own exhausted
spirits; a deep dejection had succeeded to feverish excitement.  "Vain
task," he murmured, "to wean myself from the dead!  Yet I am now
betrothed to another; and she, with all her virtues, is not the one to--"
He stopped short in generous self-rebuke.  "Too late to think of that!
Now, all that should remain to me is to insure the happiness of the life
to which I have pledged my own.  But--" He sighed as he so murmured.  On
reaching the vicinity of Riccabocca's house, he put up his horse at a
little inn, and proceeded on foot across the heathland towards the dull
square building, which Leonard's description had sufficed to indicate as
the exile's new home.  It was long before any one answered his summons at
the gate.  Not till he had thrice rung did he hear a heavy step on the
gravel walk within; then the wicket within the gate was partially drawn
aside, a dark eye gleamed out, and a voice in imperfect English asked who
was there.

"Lord L'Estrange; and if I am right as to the person I seek, that name
will at once admit me."

The door flew open as did that of the mystic cavern at the sound of
"Open, Sesame;" and Giacomo, almost weeping with joyous emotion,
exclaimed in Italian, "The good Lord!  Holy San Giacomo! thou hast heard
me at last!  We are safe now."  And dropping the blunderbuss with which
he had taken the precaution to arm himself, he lifted Harley's hand to
his lips, in the affectionate greeting familiar to his countrymen.

"And the padrone?" asked Harley, as he entered the jealous precincts.

"Oh, he is just gone out; but he will not be long.  You will wait for

"Certainly.  What lady is that I see at the far end of the garden?"

"Bless her, it is our signorina.  I will run and tell her you are come."

"That I am come; but she cannot know me even by name."

"Ah, Excellency, can you think so?  Many and many a time has she talked
to me of you, and I have heard her pray to the holy Madonna to bless you,
and in a voice so sweet--"

"Stay, I will present myself to her.  Go into the house, and we will wait
without for the padrone.  Nay, I need the air, my friend."  Harley, as he
said this, broke from Giacomo, and approached Violante.

The poor child, in her solitary walk in the obscurer parts of the dull
garden, had escaped the eye of Giacomo when he had gone forth to answer
the bell; and she, unconscious of the fears of which she was the object,
had felt something of youthful curiosity at the summons at the gate, and
the sight of a stranger in close and friendly conference with the
unsocial Giacomo.

As Harley now neared her with that singular grace of movement which
belonged to him, a thrill shot through her heart, she knew not why.  She
did not recognize his likeness to the sketch taken by her father from his
recollections of Harley's early youth.  She did not guess who he was; and
yet she felt herself colour, and, naturally fearless though she was,
turned away with a vague alarm.

"Pardon my want of ceremony, Signorina," said Harley, in Italian; "but I
am so old a friend of your father's that I cannot feel as a stranger to

Then Violante lifted to him her dark eyes so intelligent and so
innocent,--eyes full of surprise, but not displeased surprise.  And
Harley himself stood amazed, and almost abashed, by the rich and
marvellous beauty that beamed upon him.  "My father's friend," she said
hesitatingly, and I never to have seen you!"

"Ah, Signorina," said Harley (and something of its native humour, half
arch, half sad, played round his lip), "you are mistaken there; you have
seen me before, and you received me much more kindly then."

"Signor!" said Violante, more and more surprised, and with a yet richer
colour on her cheeks.

Harley, who had now recovered from the first effect of her beauty, and
who regarded her as men of his years and character are apt to regard
ladies in their teens, as more child than woman, suffered himself to be
amused by her perplexity; for it was in his nature that the graver and
more mournful he felt at heart, the more he sought to give play and whim
to his spirits.

"Indeed, Signorina," said he, demurely, "you insisted then on placing one
of those fair hands in mine; the other (forgive me the fidelity of my
recollections) was affectionately thrown around my neck."

"Signor!" again exclaimed Violante; but this time there was anger in her
voice as well as surprise, and nothing could be more charming than her
look of pride and resentment.

Harley smiled again, but with so much kindly sweetness, that the anger
vanished at once, or rather Violante felt angry with herself that she was
no longer angry with him.  But she had looked so beautiful in her anger,
that Harley wished, perhaps, to see her angry again.  So, composing his
lips from their propitiatory smile, he resumed gravely,

"Your flatterers will tell you, Signorina, that you are much improved
since then, but I liked you better as you were; not but what I hope to
return some day what you then so generously pressed upon me."

"Pressed upon you!---I?  Signor, you are under some strange mistake."

"Alas!  no; but the female heart is so capricious and fickle!  You
pressed it upon me, I assure you.  I own that I was not loath to accept

"Pressed it!  Pressed what?"

"Your kiss, my child," said Harley; and then added, with a serious
tenderness, "and I again say that I hope to return it some day, when I
see you, by the side of father and of husband, in your native land,--the
fairest bride on whom the skies of Italy ever smiled!  And now, pardon a
hermit and a soldier for his rude jests, and give your hand, in token of
that pardon, to Harley L'Estrange."

Violante, who at the first words of his address had recoiled, with a
vague belief that the stranger was out of his mind, sprang forward as it
closed, and in all the vivid enthusiasm of her nature pressed the hand
held out to her with both her own.  "Harley L'Estrange! the preserver of
my father's life!" she cried; and her eyes were fixed on his with such
evident gratitude and reverence, that Harley felt at once confused and
delighted.  She did not think at that instant of the hero of her dreams,
--she thought but of him who had saved her father.  But, as his eyes sank
before her own, and his head, uncovered, bowed over the hand he held, she
recognized the likeness to the features on which she had so often gazed.
The first bloom of youth was gone, but enough of youth still remained to
soften the lapse of years, and to leave to manhood the attractions which
charm the eye.  Instinctively she withdrew her hands from his clasp, and
in her turn looked down.

In this pause of embarrassment to both, Riccabocca let himself into the
garden by his own latch-key, and, startled to see a man by the side of
Violante, sprang forward with an abrupt and angry cry.  Harley heard, and

As if restored to courage and self-possession by the sense of her
father's presence, Violante again took the hand of the visitor.
"Father," she said simply, "it is he,--he is come at last."  And then,
retiring a few steps, she contemplated them both; and her face was
radiant with happiness, as if something, long silently missed and looked
for, was as silently found, and life had no more a want, nor the heart a

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book ""My Novel" — Volume 09" ***

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