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Title: Arminell (Vol 3/3) - A Social Romance
Author: Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine)
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 "Arminell (Vol 3/3) - A Social Romance" ***

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                                ARMINELL

                            A Social Romance



                                 BY THE
               AUTHOR OF “MEHALAH,” “JOHN HERRING,” ETC.


                            IN THREE VOLUMES


                               VOL. III.


                                LONDON:
                  METHUEN & CO., 18 BURY STREET, W.C.
                                  1890



                               ARMINELL.



                             CHAPTER XXVII.

                         THE TURN OF THE TIDE.


Giles Saltren caught an express and whirled down into the west. He had
not taken a ticket for Orleigh Road Station, as he did not choose to get
out there, but at the nearest town, and there he hired a light trap in
which he was driven to within half a mile of Chillacot, where he
dismissed the vehicle and walked on.

He had resolved what to do. He would pay a hasty visit to his mother and
then go on to the village, and perhaps call at the Rectory. He must show
himself as much as possible.

He had hardly left the trap, when, on turning a corner, he came on
Samuel Ceely and Joan Melhuish walking together, arm in arm. The sight
brought the blood into his pale face. He was behind the pair, and he was
able to notice the shabbiness of the old man and the ungainliness of his
walk. This man was his father. To him, the meanest in the parish—not to
his lordship, the highest—must he look as the author of his being.

Joan Melhuish knew nothing of Samuel’s love affair with Marianne Welsh.
She looked up to and admired the cripple, seeing him in the light of her
girlish fancy, as the handsome, reckless gamekeeper.

Giles’s foot lagged, but he kept his eyes steadily on the man slouching
along before him. A new duty had fallen on him. He must provide for the
cripple, without allowing the secret of his relationship to become
known, both for the sake of his mother and for that of the trusting
Joan.

Samuel Ceely heard his step and turned his head, disengaged his arm from
the woman, and extended the mutilated hand towards the young man.

“I say—I say!” began he, with his water-blue eyes fixed eagerly on
Jingles. “I was promised a place; Miss Arminell herself said I should
have work, two shillings a day, sweeping, and now they say she has gone
away and left no directions about me. If you can put in a word with my
lady, or with my lord, mind that I was promised it.”

“How can you, Samuel, speak of my lord, when you know he is dead?”

“My lord is not dead,” answered the old man sharply. “Master Giles is
now my lord. I know what I am about.”

“And Samuel would do the work wonderfully well,” threw in Joan; “of all
the beautifulest things that ever I see, is Samuel’s sweeping. If they
were to give prizes for that as they do for ploughing, Samuel would be
rich.”

“I should like,” said Giles, “to have some particulars about my lord’s
death.”

“’Tis a terrible job, sure enough,” answered the woman. “And folks tell
strange tales about it, not half of ’em is true. They’ve sat on him this
afternoon.”

“The inquest already?”

“Yes, to be sure. You see he died o’ Saturday, so he was crowned to-day.
Couldn’t do it yesterday.”

“And what was the verdict? I have been to Huxham to-day”—this was the
nearest town.

“Samuel can tell you better than I, sir, I don’t understand these
things. But it do seem a funny thing to crown a man when he is dead.”

“What was the verdict?” asked Giles of Samuel.

“Well,” said the old man, shaking his head. “It puzzled the jury a bit.
Some said it was an accident, and some that it was murder; but the worst
of it all is, that it will drive my sweeping at two shillings out of the
heads of my lady and Miss Arminell. They’ll be so took up wi’ ordering
of mourning that they’ll not think of me—which is a crying shame. If his
lordship could but have lived another week till I was settled into my
sweeping and victuals, he might have died and welcome, but to go
interfering like between me and two shillings, is that provoking I could
swear. Not that I say it was his lordship’s fault, and I lay no blame on
him, but folks do say, that——”

“There now, Samuel,” interrupted Joan. “This is young Mr. Saltren you
are speaking to and you are forgetting.”

“I’m not forgetting,” grumbled the old man; “don’t you be always of a
flurrying me. Why, if I had had my situation as was promised me, we
might have married and reared a family. I reckon one can do that on two
shillings a day, and broken victuals from the kitchen. I might take the
case into court and sue Captain Saltren for damages.”

“Hush Samuel,” interposed Joan nervously, looking at Giles.

“I aint a-going to be hushed like a baby,” said Samuel Ceely irritably;
“I reckon if I don’t get my place, we can’t marry, and have a family,
and where will my domestic happiness be? I tell you, them as chucked his
lordship down the Cleave, chucked my family as was to be down with him,
and if I can’t bring ’em into court for murdering his lordship, I can
for murdering my family, of as healthy and red-cheeked children as might
have been—all gone,” said the old man grimly. “All, head over heels down
the Cleave, along of Lord Lamerton.”

“How can you talk so?” said Joan, reproachfully. “You know you have no
children.”

“I might have had—a dozen of ’em—seven girls and five boys, and I’d got
the names for them all in my head. I might have had if I’d got the
sweeping and the broken victuals as I was promised. What’s the
difference in wickedness, I’d like to know?” asked the old man
sententiously, and figuring out his proposition on Saltren’s coat with
his crooked fingers. “What’s the odds in wickedness, chucking over a
horrible precipice a dozen sweet and innocent children as is, or as is
to be, my family was as certain as new potatoes in June, and now all
gone, chucked down the Cleave. It is wickedness.”

“What is that you hinted about Captain Saltren?” asked Giles gravely.

“Oh, I say nothing,” answered old Samuel sourly. “I don’t talk—I leave
that to the woman.”

“It does seem a pity,” said Joan. “Samuel would have been so useful. He
might have gone about the park picking up the sandwich-papers and the
corks and bottles, after the public.”

“But,” said the young man, “I really wish to know what the talk is about
in which my father’s name is introduced.”

“Sir, sir! folk’s tongues go like the clappers in the fields to drive
away the blackbirds. A very little wind makes ’em rattle wonderfully.”

“But what have they said?”

“Well”—Joan hesitated. She was a woman of delicate feeling. “Well, sir,
you must not think there is anything in it. Tongues cannot rest, and
what they say to-day they unsay to-morrow. Some think that as the
captain was so bitter against his lordship, and denounced him as
ordained to destruction, that he may have had a helping hand in his
death. But, sir, the captain did not speak so strong as Mr. Welsh, and
nobody says that Mr. Welsh laid a finger on him. Why should they try to
fix it on your father and not on your uncle? But, sir, there is no call
to fix it on any one. I might walk over the edge of the Cleave. If a man
goes over the brink, I reckon he needs no help to make him go to the
bottom.”

“The jury couldn’t agree, Joan,” said Samuel. “Two of ’em wanted to
bring in wilful murder against the captain.”

“So they did against his lordship in the case of Arkie Tubb. But that
was nonsense. His lordship wasn’t there. And this is nonsense, just the
same.”

“But the captain was nigh. Mr. Macduff saw him.”

“Well, and he might have seen me, and he did see me a little while
afore, as I was coming from Court with some baccy money for you, Samuel.
That don’t follow that I killed his lordship. Mr. Macduff see’d also
Farmer Yole’s old grey mare. Be you a going accusing of that old mare of
having had a hoof in his lordship’s death?”

“Where did Mr. Macduff see my father?” asked the young man.

“On the down. But he didn’t see him speak to his lordship, and he
couldn’t tell to half an hour or three-quarters when it was. So the
crowner discharged the jury, just as he did in the case of Arkie, and he
got together another, and they found that his lordship had done it
accidental.”

“For all that,” growled Samuel, “folks will always say that the captain
helped him over, as he was so set against him.”

“Then,” said Joan, “it is a shame and a sin if they do. It is one thing
to talk against a person, and another thing to lift a hand against him.
I’ve said hard things of you, scores of times; I’ve said you never ought
to have taken the game and sent it off by the mail-cart when you was
keeper, and that you couldn’t have blown off your hand if you’d not gone
poaching, nor put out your hip if you’d been sober—I’ve said them cruel
things scores o’ times, but never laid a finger on you to hurt you. I
couldn’t do it—as you know very well.”

She cast an affectionate glance at the cripple; then she went on, “Lord!
I forgive and excuse all the frolics of your youth; and folks always
says things rougher than they mean them.”

Instead of going on to Chillacot, as he had at first intended, Giles now
resolved on following the road to the village, and returning home later.
He must lose no time in showing himself. He trusted that in the
excitement caused by the death of Lord Lamerton no questions would be
raised about Arminell, and any little suspicions which might have been
awakened by her sudden departure would be allayed.

He was not altogether easy about his father, nor satisfied with Joan’s
justification of him. That the jury had returned a verdict of accidental
death was a relief to his mind, but it made him uncomfortable to think
that suspicion against his father should be entertained. Giles had
little or no knowledge of his father’s new craze. He knew that the
captain was a fanatic who went heart and soul with whatever commended
itself to his reason or prejudice. At one time he took up hotly the
subject of vegetarianism, then he became infatuated with
Anglo-Israelism, then he believed vehemently in a quack syrup he saw
advertised in a Christian paper, warranted to cure all disorder; after
that he became possessed with the teetotal mania, and attributed all the
evils in the world, war, plagues, earthquakes, popery, and
foot-and-mouth disease to the use of alcohol. Recently he had combined
his religious vagaries with political theories, and had made a strange
stir-about of both. His trouble at losing his situation as captain of
the manganese mine, and his irritation against the railway company for
wanting Chillacot had combined to work him into a condition of unusual
excitability. Giles had heard that his father had seen a vision, but of
what sort he had not inquired, because he was entirely out of sympathy
with the spiritual exaltations and fancies of his father.

The village of Orleigh was not what is commonly termed a “church town,”
that is to say, it was not clustered about the church, which stood in
the park, near the mansion of the Ingletts. In ancient days, when the
population was sparse, the priest drew his largest congregation from the
manor house, and therein he lived as chaplain and tutor; consequently in
many places we find the parish church situated close to the manor house,
and away from the village which had grown up later. It was so at
Orleigh. The village consisted of a green, with an old tree in the
midst, an ale-house, the Lamerton Arms, a combined general and grocery
store, which was also post office, a blacksmith’s forge, and
half-a-dozen picturesque cottages white-washed, with red windows and
thatched roofs. Most of these houses had flower gardens before their
doors, encouraged thereto by an annual Floricultural Society which gave
prizes to those villagers who had the neatest, most cheerful and varied
gardens.

Jingles found knots of men standing about the green, some were coming
out of, others about to enter the public-house door; another knot
clustered about the forge. Women were not wanting, to throw in words.

The dusk of evening had settled in, so that at first none noticed the
approach of the young man. He came, not by the road, but across by the
blacksmith’s garden, where a short cut saved a round. Thus he was in the
midst of the men before they were aware that he was near.

He could not catch all that was being said, but he heard that the death
of Lord Lamerton occupied their minds and exercised their tongues. His
father’s name was also freely bandied about.

“I say,” exclaimed the village tailor, in a voice like that of a
corncrake, “I say that Cap’n Saltren did it. What do you consider the
reason why the coroner discharged the jury and called another? I know,
if you do not. You don’t perhaps happen to know, but I do, that Marianne
Saltren’s aunt, old Betsy Welsh, washes for the coroner. Nothing more
likely, were he to allow a verdict against the captain, than that his
shirt-fronts would come home iron-moulded. Don’t tell me there was no
evidence. Evidence is always to be had if looked for. Evidence is like
snail’s horns, thrust forth or drawn in, according to circumstances. If
the coroner had wanted evidence, he could have had it. But he was
thinking of his shirt-front, and he, maybe, going out to a dinner-party.
It is easy done, boil an old nail along with the clothes, and pounds’
worth of linen is spoiled. I don’t blame him,” concluded the tailor
sententiously. “Human nature is human nature.”

“And,” shouted a miner, “facts is facts”—but he pronounced them _fax_.

“Lord Lamerton,” said a second miner, “wanted to make a new road, and
carry it to Chillacot. The cap’n didn’t like it, he didn’t want to have
a station there. He was set against his lordship on that account, for
his lordship was a director. If you can prove to me that his lordship
wasn’t a director, then I shall admit he may have come by his death
naturally. I say naught against his lordship for not wanting to have his
house undermined, but I do say that the cap’n acted unreasonably and
wrongly in not letting the company have Chillacot for the station. If
he’d have done that, his lordship would have found us work on the road.”

“Ah, Gloyne,” called the other miner, “that’s it. Fax is fax.”



                            CHAPTER XXXVIII.

                         THE RISE OF THE TIDE.


“Come here,” shouted the blacksmith, who was outside his shop, and still
wore his apron, and the smut and rust on his hands and face. “Come here,
Master Jingles. You’ve come into the midst of us, and we want to know
something from you. Where is your father? We’ve seen nothing of him
since Friday. If he has not been at mischief, why don’t he come forward
like a man? Why don’t your father show his face? He ain’t a tortoise,
privileged to draw it in, or a hedgehog, at liberty to coil it up. Where
is he? He is not at home. If he is hiding, what is he hiding from unless
he be guilty?”

“He may have gone after work,” said young Saltren.

“I heard him say,” said the shoemaker, “that his lordship was doomed to
destruction.”

“I know he said it,” answered the blacksmith, “and I ask, is a man like
to make a prophecy and not try to make what he said come to pass?”

“Human nature is human nature,” threw in the tailor.

“And fax is fax,” added the miner.

“Then,” pursued the blacksmith, “let us look at things as they affect
us. His lordship has kept about twenty-three horses—hunters, cobs,
ponies and carriage horses—and each has four hoofs, and all wants
shoeing once a month, and some every fortnight. That brings me in a good
part of my living. Very well. I ask all who hear me, is his lordship
like to keep such a stud now he is dead? Is he like to want hunters? I
grant you, for the sake of argument, that the young lady and young
gentleman will have their cobs and ponies, but will there be anything
like as many horses kept as there have been? No, in reason there cannot
be. So you may consider what a loss to me is the death of his lordship.
My worst personal enemy couldn’t have hit me harder than when he knocked
Lord Lamerton over the Cleave. He as much as knocked a dozen or fourteen
horses over with him, each with four hoofs at sixpence a shoe, and shod,
let us say, eighteen times in the year.”

“You are right,” put in the tailor, “landed property is tied up, and his
lordship’s property is tied up—tied up and sealed like mail bags—till
the young lord comes of age, which will not be for eleven years. So
Blatchford,”—addressing the blacksmith—“you must multiply your horses by
eleven.”

“That makes,” said the smith, working out the sum in chalk on the
shutter of the shop, “say fourteen horses eighteen times—two hundred and
two—and by four—and again by eleven—and halved because of sixpences,
that makes five hundred and fifty-four pounds; then there were odd jobs,
but them I won’t reckon. Whoever chucked Lord Lamerton down the Cleave
chucked five hundred and fifty-four pounds of as honestly-earned money
as ever was got, belonging to me, down along with him.”

“Fax is fax,” said the miner.

“And human nature is human nature to feel it,” added the tailor.

“There’s another thing to be considered,” said a game-keeper. “In the
proper sporting season, my lord had down scores of gentlemen to shoot
his covers, and that brought me a good many sovereigns and half-sovs.
Now, I’d like to know, with the family in mourning, and the young lord
not able to handle a gun, will there be a house full of gentlemen? It
wouldn’t be decent. And that means the loss of twenty pounds to me—if
one penny.”

“Nor is that all,” said the tailor, “you’ll have Macduff to keep an eye
on you, not my lord. There’ll be no more chucking of hampers into the
goods train as it passes Copley Wood, I reckon.”

The keeper made no other reply than a growl, and drew back.

“There is my daughter Jane, scullery-maid at the Park,” said the
shoe-maker, “learning to be a cook. If her ladyship shuts up the house,
and leaves the place, what will become of Jane? It isn’t the place I
grieve for, nor the loss of learning, for places ask to be filled now
and any one will be taken as cook, if she can do no more than boil
water—but it is the perquisites. My wife was uncommon fond of jellies
and sweets of all sorts, and I don’t suppose these are to be picked off
hedges, when the house is empty.”

“Here comes Farmer Labett,” exclaimed the tailor. “I say, Mr. Labett,
did not his lordship let off five-and-twenty per cent. from his rents
last fall?”

“That is no concern of yours,” replied the farmer.

“But it does concern you,” retorted the tailor, “for now that his
lordship is dead, the property is tied up and put in the hands of
trustees, and trustees can’t remit rents. If they were to do so, the
young lord, when he comes of age, might be down on them and make them
refund out of their own pockets. So that away over the rocks, down the
Cleave, went twenty-five per cent. abatement when his lordship fell, or
was helped over.”

“Ah!” groaned the shoemaker, “and all them jellies, and blanc-mange, and
custards was chucked down along of him.”

“And now,” said another, “Macduff will have the rule. Afore, if we
didn’t like what Macduff ordained, we could go direct to his lordship,
but now there will be no one above Macduff but trustees, and trustees
won’t meddle. That will be a pretty state of things, and his wife to
ride in a victoria, too.”

Then a woman called Tregose pushed her way through the throng, and with
loud voice expressed her views.

“I don’t see what occasion you men have to grumble. Don’t y’ see that
the family will have to go into mourning, and so get rid of their
colours, and we shall get them. There’s Miss Arminell’s terra-cotta I’ve
had my eye on for my Louisa, but I never reckoned on having it so soon.
There never was a wind blowed,” argued Mrs. Tregose, “that was an
unmixed evil, and didn’t blow somebody good. If this here wind have
blowed fourteen horses, and jellies and twenty-five per cent. and the
keeper’s tips over the Cleave—it ha’ blowed a terra-cotta gown on to my
Louisa.”

“But,” argued the tailor in his strident voice, “supposing, in
consequence of the death, that her ladyship and the young lady and the
little lord give up living here, and go for education to London or
abroad, where will you be, Mrs. Tregose, for their cast gowns? Your
Louisa ain’t going to wear that terra-cotta for eleven years, I reckon.”

“There’s something in that,” assented the woman, and her mouth fell.
“Yes,” she said, after a pause for consideration, “who can tell how many
beautiful dresses and bonnets and mantles have gone over the Cleave
along with the blanc-mange, and the horses and the five-and-twenty per
cent.? I’m uncommon sorry now his lordship is dead.”

“I’ve been credibly informed,” said the tailor, “that his lordship laid
claim to Chillacot, and said that because old Gaffer Saltren squatted
there, that did not constitute a title. Does it give a rook a title to a
Scotch fir because he builds a nest on it? Can the rook dispose of the
timber? Can it refuse to allow the tree to be cut down and sawn up, for
and because he have sat on the top of it? I’ve an old brood sow in my
stye. Does the stye belong to the sow or to me?”

“Fax is fax,” assented the miner.

“And,” urged the blacksmith, “if his lordship wanted to get the land
back, why not? If I lend my ladder to Farmer Eggins, haven’t I a right
to reclaim it? His lordship asked for the land back, not because he
wanted it for himself, but in the interest of the public, to give us a
station nigh at hand, instead of forcing us to walk three and a half or
four miles, and sweat terrible on a summer’s day. And his lordship
intended to run a new road to Chillacot, where the station was to be,
and so find work for hands out of employ, and he said it would cost him
a thousand pounds. And now, there is the new road and all it would have
cost as good as thrown over the Cleave along with his lordship.”

“The captain—he did it,” shouted the blacksmith.

“Fax speak—they are fax. Skin me alive, if they baint,” said the miner.

Giles Inglett Saltren had heard enough. He raised his voice and said,
“Mr. Blatchford, and the rest of you—some insinuate, others openly
assert that my father has been guilty of an odious crime, that he has
had a hand in the death of Lord Lamerton.”

He was interrupted by shouts of “He has, he has! We know it!”

“How do you know it? You only suppose it. You have no grounds
absolutely, no grounds for basing such a supposition. The coroner, as
yourselves admit, refused to listen to the charge.”

A voice: “He was afraid of having his shirt-fronts moulded.”

“Here, again, you bring an accusation as unfounded as it is absurd,
against an honourable man and a Crown official. If you had been able to
produce a particle of evidence against my father, a particle of evidence
to show that what you imagine is not as hollow as a dream, the coroner
would have hearkened and acted. Are you aware that this bandying of
accusations is an indictable offence? My father has not hurt you in any
way.”

This elicited a chorus of cries.

“He has spoiled my shoeing.” “He has prevented the making of the road.”
“My wife will never have blanc-mange again.” And Samuel Ceely, now
arrived on the scene, in whispering voice added, “All my beautiful
darlings—twelve of them, as healthy as apples, and took their
vaccination well—all gone down the Cleave.”

It really seemed as if the happiness, the hopes, the prosperity of all
Orleigh, had gone over the edge of the cliff with his lordship.

“I repeat it,” exclaimed the young man, waxing warm; “I repeat it, my
father never did you an injury. You are now charging him with hurting
you, because you suffer through his lordship’s death, and you are eager
to find some one on whom to cast blame. As for any real sorrow and
sympathy, you have none; wrapped up in your petty and selfish ends.”

A voice: “Fax is fax—he did kill Lord Lamerton.”

The tailor: “Human nature is human nature, and nobody can deny he
prophesied my lord’s death.”

“I dare you to charge my father with the crime,” cried young Saltren. “I
warn you. I have laid by a little money, and I will spend it in
prosecuting the man who does.”

“We all do. Prosecute the parish,” rose in a general shout.

“My father is incapable of the crime.”

“We have no quarrel with you, young Jingles,” roared a miner. “Our
contention is with the captain. Mates, what do y’ say? Shall we pay him
a visit?”

“Aye—aye!” from all sides. “Let us show him our minds.”

A boisterous voice exclaimed: “We’ll serve him out for taking the bread
out of our mouths. We’ll tumble his house about his ears. He sha’n’t
stand in our light any more.”

And another called, “If you want to prosecute us, we’ll provide you with
occasion.”

Then a stone was flung, which struck Jingles on the head and knocked him
down.

For a few minutes the young man was unconscious, or rather confused, he
never quite lost his senses. The women clustered about him, and Mrs.
Tregose threw water in his face.

He speedily gathered his faculties together, and stood up, rather angry
than hurt, to see that nearly all the men had departed. The act of
violence, instead of quelling the excitement, had stirred it to greater
heat; and the body of the men, the miners, labourers, the blacksmith,
tailor, and shoemaker, their sons and apprentices, went off in a
shouting gesticulating rabble in the direction of the Cleave, not of
Chillacot, but of the down overhanging it.

In a moment the latent savage, suppressed in those orderly men, was
awake and asserting itself. Mr. Welsh had spoken the truth when he told
Jingles that the destructive passion was to be found in all; it was
aroused now. The blacksmith, the tailor, the shoemaker, the labourers,
had in all their several ways been working constructively all their
life, one to make shoes and harrows, one to shape trousers and
waistcoats, one to put together boots, others to build, and plant, and
stack, and roof, and now, all at once, an appeal came to the suppressed
barbarian in each, the chained madman in the asylum, and the destructive
faculty was loose and rioting in its freedom.

Thomasine Kite stood before the young man. “Now then,” she said half
mockingly, “if you want to save your mother out of the house before the
roof is broke in, you must make haste. Come along with me.”



                             CHAPTER XXXIX.

                         THE FLOW OF THE TIDE.


Captain Saltren returned at night to sleep at Chillacot, but he wandered
during the day in the woods, with his Bible in his pocket or in his
hand, now reading how Gideon was raised up to deliver Israel from
Midian, and Samson was set apart from his mother’s womb to smite the
Philistines, then sitting at the edge of the quarry brooding over his
thoughts.

He was not able to fix his mind for long on anything, and he found that
the Scripture only interested and arrested his attention so far as it
touched on analogous trains of ideas. For the first time in his life a
chilling sense of doubt, a cold suspicion of error stole over his heart.
When this was the case he was for a moment in agony, his nerves tingled,
his throat contracted, and a clammy sweat broke out over his face. The
fit passed, and he was again confident, and in his confidence strong. He
raised his voice and intoned a hymn, then became frightened at the
sound, and stopped in the midst of a stanza.

Presently he recalled his wife’s deceptions and how his heart had foamed
and leaped at the thought of the wrong done her and himself, and how he
had nourished a deadly hatred against Lord Lamerton on that account. Now
he knew that there had been no occasion for this hatred. What had he
done to his lordship? Had he really with his hand thrust him over the
precipice, or had the nobleman fallen in stepping back to avoid the
blow. Either way the guilt, if guilt there were, rested on Saltren’s
head; but the captain would not listen to the ever welling-up suggestion
that there was guilt. It was not he who had killed his lordship, it was
the hand of God that had slain him, because the hand of human justice
had failed to reach him. The captain entertained little or no personal
fear—he was ready, if it were the will of heaven, to appear before
magistrates and juries; before them he would testify as the apostles had
testified. If it were the will of heaven that he should die on the
gallows, he was ready to ascend the scaffold, sure of receiving the
crown of glory; perhaps the world was not ripe to receive his mission.

When that wave of horror swept over him, no fear of the consequences of
his act helped to chill the wave; his only horrible apprehension was
lest he should have made a mistake. This it was that lowered his
pulsation, turned his lips blue, and made a cloud come between him and
the landscape. He fought against the doubt, battled with it as against a
temptation of the Evil One, but as often as he overcame it, it returned.
The discovery that he had been deceived by Marianne into believing that
Lord Lamerton had injured him, was the little rift in his hitherto
unbroken all-enveloping faith; but even now he had no doubt about the
vision, but only as to its purport. That he had seen and heard all that
he professed to have seen and heard—that he believed still, but he
feared and quaked with apprehension lest he should have misread his
revelation.

It is not easy, rather is it impossible, for a man of education,
surrounded as he has been from infancy by ten thousand influences to
which the inferior classes are not subjected, to understand the
self-delusion of such a man.

The critical, sceptical spirit is developed in this century among the
cultured classes at an early age, and the child of the present day
begins with a _Dubito_ not with a _Credo_. Where there is no conviction
there can be no enthusiasm, for enthusiasm is the flame that dances
about the glowing coals of belief; and where no fire is, there can be no
flame. We allow of any amount of professions, but not of conviction.
Zeal is as much a mark of bad breeding as a hoarse guffaw.

Enthusiasms are only endurable when affectations, to be put on and put
off at pleasure; to be trifled with, not to be possessed by. This is an
age of toleration; we tolerate everything but what is earnest, and we
lavish our adulation on the pretence, not the reality of sincerity. For
we know that a genuine enthusiasm is unsuitable for social intercourse;
he who is carried away by it is carried beyond the limits of that
toleration which allows a little of everything, but exclusiveness to
none. He who harbours a belief is not suffered to obtrude it; if he be a
teetotaller he must hide his blue ribbon; if a Home Ruler, must joke
over his shamrock; if a Quaker; must dress in colours; if a Catholic,
eat meat on Good Friday. The apostle expressed his desire to be all
things to all men; we have made universal what was then a possibility
only to one, we are all things to all men, only sincere neither to
ourselves nor to any one. We are like children’s penny watches that mark
any hour the wearers desire, not chronometers that fix the time for all.
How can we be chronometers when we have no main springs, or if we had
them, wilfully break them.

We regard all enthusiasms as forms of fever, and quarantine those
infected by them; we watch ourselves against them, we are uneasy when
the symptoms appear among our children. At the least quickening of the
pulse and kindling of the eye we fly to our medicine chests for a
spiritual narcotic or a sceptical lowering draught.

The new method of dealing with fevers is to plunge the patient in cold
water, the reverse of the old method, which was to bring out the heat;
and we apply this improved system to our spiritual fevers, to all these
mental attacks bred of convictions. We subdue them with the douche and
ice, and the wet blanket. When the priests of Baal invoked their god on
Mount Carmel, they leaped upon the altar, and cut themselves with
knives; but Elijah looked on with a supercilious smile, and invited
those who followed him to pour buckets of water over his sacrifice; and
with what pity, what contempt we regard all such as are possessed with
the divine fury, and are ready to suffer and make themselves ridiculous
for their god; how we water our oblations, and make sure that the sticks
on our altar are green and incombustible; how, if a little spark
appears, or a spiral of smoke arises, we turn on hydrants, and our
friends rush to our aid with the buckets, and we do not breathe freely
till spark and smoke are subdued.

But then, because altars are erected for burnt sacrifices, and a burnt
sacrifice is unsavoury, expensive, and unfashionable, we thrust a little
coloured tin-foil in among the wet sticks, and protest how natural, how
like real fire it looks, and we prostrate ourselves before it in mock
homage.

No dread of enthusiasm, no shrinking from conviction, is found among the
uneducated, and the semi-educated. Among them enthusiasm is the token of
the divine afflatus, as madness is regarded among savages. They respect
it, they bring fuel to feed it, they allow it to burst into
extravagance, to riot over reason, and to consume every particle of
common sense. The corrective, judicial faculty, the balance wheel is
deficient; the strength, not the quality of a conviction gives it its
command to the respect and adhesion of the many. If I were to break out
of Bedlam with the one fixed idea in me that I had eyes at the ends of
my ten toes, wherewith I saw everything that went on in the world, and
with my big toes saw what was to be in the future; and if I went up and
down England preaching this and declaring what I saw with my toes, and
continued preaching it with the fire of perfect sincerity for a
twelvemonth, I would shake the hold of the Established Church on the
hearts of the people, and make the work of the Liberation Society easy.
Half England would form the Church of the seeing toes, but in that
Church I would not number any of the cultured.

As for us, we get over our enthusiasms early, as we cut our teeth, and
we lose them as rapidly. Primeval man wore his teeth till he died, so do
savages of the present day; but the very milk teeth of our infants
decay. We are so familiar with the fact that we assume that all good
sets of teeth are false, that if we keep here and there a fang in our
jaws, it is carious, and only preserved as a peg to which to wire our
sham molars and front teeth. It is so unusual to find any one with a
real set, that we look on such a person with suspicion as having in him
a stain of barbarous blood.

It is obvious that this defect of real teeth in our jaws has its
advantages. It allows us to change our teeth when we find those we have
hitherto worn inconvenient or out of fashion.

It is the same with our convictions, we lose them early, all the inside
disappears, leaving but the exterior enamel, and that breaks away
finally.

But then, we do not open our mouths to our friends and in society,
exposing our deficiencies. We replace what is lost by what looks well,
and hold them in position by the fragments of early belief that still
project; and when these artificial articles prove irksome we change
them. This is how it is that, for instance, in politics, a man may
profess to day one thing, and something quite different to-morrow. No
one is shocked, every one understands that this exhibition to-day is
unreal, and that to-morrow also unreal.

But, together with the advantage afforded by this power of altering our
sets, there is a disadvantage which must not be left unnoticed, which is
that the biting and holding power in them is not equal to that possessed
by the natural articles.

Patience Kite came upon the captain as he stood in a dream, Bible in
hand, but not reading, meditating, and looking far away, yet seeing
nothing. She roused him with a hand on his shoulder.

“Do you know what they are about?”

“They! Who?”

“All the parish—the men; the miners out of work, the day-labourers, the
tradesmen, all.”

Saltren shook his head; he desired to be left alone to his thoughts, his
prayers, his Bible reading.

“They are destroying your house,” said Patience, shaking him, to rouse
him, as she would have shaken a sleeper.

“My house? Chillacot?”

“Yes, they are; they are breaking up the rock on the Cleave; and
throwing it down on your roof, and smashing it in.”

“My house! Chillacot?” He was still absent in mind. He could not at once
withdraw his thoughts from where they had strayed to matters so closely
concerning himself.

“It is true; Tamsine came running to me to tell me about it. Your son
managed to get into the house and bring his mother out, and Marianne is
like one in a fit, she cannot speak—_that_, if you wish it, is a
miracle. The men have set picks and crowbars to work to tumble the
stones down on your house and garden, and bury them. Slates and windows
are smashed already, and the shrubs broken down in your garden.”

“My house!—why?”

“Why? Because you won’t let the railway come along there, and the parish
is angry, and thinks the station will be set further from the village.
The fellows say you, with your obstinacy, are standing in the way of
improvement, and driving trade and money out of the place.”

Stephen Saltren looked at Mrs. Kite with dazed eyes. He could not
receive all she said, but he allowed her to lead him through the woods
in the direction of Chillacot. He came out with her at the spot where he
had stood before and looked on whilst the body of Lord Lamerton was
removed from the place where it had fallen.

He stood there now, and looked again, and saw the destruction of the
house he loved. A crowd of men and boys were on the down, shouting,
laughing, some working, others encouraging them. Those who had crowbars
drove them into the turf, and worked through to the rock that came up
close to the surface; then they levered the stones through clefts and
faults, out of place, and sent them plunging over the edge of the
precipice, accompanied by clouds of dust, and avalanches of rubble. As
each piece went leaping and rolling down it was saluted with a cheer,
and the men leaned over the edge of the cliff to see where it fell, and
what amount of damage was done by it.

The roof of Chillacot was broken through in several places; the slates
at the top of the chimney, set on edge to divert the draught from
blowing down it, were knocked off. One huge block had overleaped the
house, torn a track through the flower-bed in front, had beat down the
entrance gate and there halted, seated on the shattered gate.

Saltren stood looking on with apparent indifference, because he was
still unable to realise what was being done; but the full importance of
the fact that his home was being wrecked came on him with a sudden rush,
the blood flew into his face, he uttered a shout of rage, plunged
through the bushes, down the hill-side, dashed through the stream below
in the valley, ran up to his cottage, and for a moment stood shaking his
fist in inarticulate wrath at the men who looked down on him, laughing
and jeering from the cliff.

He had forgotten everything now except what was before him, and his
anger made him blind and speechless. This was his house, built by his
father; this his garden, tilled by his own hands. Who had a right to
touch his property?

The blacksmith from above shouted to him to stand off, another mass of
rock was dislodged and would fall. Saltren could see what menaced. On
the piece of rock grew a thorn-tree, and the thorn was swaying against
the sky with the exertions of the men leaning on their levers, snapping
the ligatures of root-fibre, and opening the joints in the stone. But
Saltren had no fear for himself in his fury at the outrage being done
him. Regardless of the warning cries addressed to him, he strode over
the broken gate, and entered his partially ruined house.

The blacksmith, alarmed, shouted to the miners engaged on the levers to
desist from their work, as Saltren was in the house below; but they
replied that the stone was moving, the crack widening between it and the
rock, and that to arrest it was now impossible.

The men held their breath, and were for the moment afraid of the
consequence of what they had done. But they breathed freely a moment
later, as they saw the captain emerge from his house and cross the
garden, and take up a place out of the reach of danger. What they did
not notice, or disregarded, was that he had brought out his gun with
him. Stephen stood where he could command those on the cliff, and
levelled and cocked his gun. His strong jaws were set; his dark eyebrows
drawn over his flashing eyes; there was not a tremor in his muscles. He
watched the swaying thorn; he saw that in another moment it would come
down along with the mass of rock on which it stood, and which it
grappled with its claw-like roots.

“What are you about, cap’n?” asked Mrs. Kite, coming up hastily.

He turned his head, smiled bitterly, and touched the barrel of his gun.

“When that rock comes down,” he said, “one of those above shall follow
it.”

At that moment the block parted from the parent rock, and whirled
beneath, followed by a train of dust. It struck the corner of the
chimney, sent the stones of which it was built flying in all directions,
and crashed through the roof, but left the thorn-bush athwart the gap it
had torn.

Before Saltren could discharge his gun, Mrs. Kite struck it up, and he
fired it into the air.

“You fool!” she said, and then burst into a harsh laugh. “You find fault
with others for doing that you approve yourself. You would undermine
Orleigh, and object to Chillacot being overthrown.”



                              CHAPTER XL.

                         THE END OF A DELUSION.


Captain Saltren remained motionless, with his gun raised, as it had been
struck up by Patience Kite, for several minutes; then he slowly lowered
it, and turned his face to her. The troubled expression which of late
had passed over it at intervals returned. The jaw was no longer set, and
the red spots of anger had faded from his cheeks. The momentary
character of decision his face had assumed was gone, and now the lips
trembled feebly.

“What was that you said?” he asked.

Patience laughed, and pointed to the crag.

“See,” she exclaimed, “the gun has frightened the men; and there comes
the policeman with your son over the down!” She laughed again. “How the
fellows run! After all, men are cowards.”

“What was that you said when I was about to fire?” asked the captain
again.

“Said?—why, what is true. You wanted to rattle down his lordship’s
house, and killed him because he refused to allow it to be done; and now
you object to having your own shaken down. But there, that is the way of
men.”

Saltren remained brooding in thought, with his eyes on the ground, and
the end of the gun resting where his eyes fell.

Mrs. Kite taunted him.

“You kill the man who won’t let you pull down his house, and you would
kill the man who throws down yours. What are you going to do now?
Prosecute them for the mischief, and make them patch up again what they
have broken? or will you give up the point, and let them have their own
way, and the railway to run here, with a station to Chillacot?”

He did not answer. He was considering Mrs. Kite’s reproach, not her
question. Presently he threw the gun away, and turned from his wrecked
house.

“It is true,” he said. “Our ways are unequal; it is very true.” He put
his hand over his face, and passed it before his eyes; his hand was
shaking. “I will go back to the Owl’s Nest,” he said in a low tone.

“What! leave your house? Do you not want to secure what has not been
broken?”

“I do not care about my house. I do not care about anything in it.”

“But will you not go and see Marianne—your wife? You do not know where
she is, into what place your son took her, and whether she is ill?”

He looked at her with a mazed expression, almost as if he were out of
his senses, and said slowly—

“I do not care about her any more.” Then, dimly seeing that this
calmness needed justification, he added, “I have condemned in others
what I allow in myself. I have measured to one in this way, and to
myself in that.”

He turned away, and went slowly along the brook to the point at which he
had crossed it with Patience Kite after the death of Lord Lamerton, when
she led him into the covert of the woods. Mrs. Kite accompanied him now.

They ascended the further hillside together, passing through the
coppice, and he remained silent, mechanically thrusting the oak-boughs
apart. He seemed to see, to feel nothing, so occupied was he with his
own thoughts.

Presently he came out on the open patch where he had stood twice before,
once to watch the removal of his victim, next to see the destruction of
his house. There now he halted, and brushed his arms down, first the
left, then the right with his hands, then passed them over his shoulders
as though he were sweeping off him something that clung to and
encumbered him.

“They are all gone,” said Mrs. Kite pointing to the headland, “and
Jingles is bringing the policeman down to see the mischief that has been
done.”

Captain Saltren stood and looked across the valley, but not at his
house; he seemed to have forgotten about it, or lost all concern in it;
he looked away from it, higher up, to the spot whence Lord Lamerton had
fallen. Mrs. Kite was puzzled at the expression in his face, and at his
peculiar manner. She had never thought highly of him, now she supposed
he was losing his head. Every now and then he put up his hand over his
mouth to conceal the contraction and quivering of the lips; and once she
heard him utter a sound which might have been a laugh, but was more like
a sob, not in his throat, but in his breast.

That dread of having been a prey to delusions, which had passed over him
before, had gained consistency, and burdened him insupportably. Opposite
him was the headland whence he had precipitated Lord Lamerton, and now
he asked himself why he had done it. Because he believed his lordship
had hurt him in his family relations? In that he was mistaken. Because
his lordship stopped the mine and threw him out of work rather than have
his house imperilled? He himself was as resolute in resisting an attack
on his own property, an interference with his own house. Because his
lordship had occasioned the death of Arkie Tubb? Now as the veils of
prejudice fell, one after another, he saw that no guilt attached to his
lordship on that account. The boy had gone in to save Mrs. Kite. It was
her fault that he was crushed. She had allowed her daughter, Arkie, all
who looked on to believe she was endangered, when she had placed herself
in a position of security. The only way in which he could allay the
unrest in his mind was to repeat again and again to himself, “It was
ordained. The Lord revealed it. There were reasons which I did not
know.”

There is a moment, we are told by those who have ascended in a balloon,
when the cord is cut, and the solid earth is seen to begin to drift
below, the trees to dance, and the towers to slide away, that an all but
over-powering sense of fear and inclination comes on one to leap from
the car at the risk of being dashed to pieces. It is said that the panic
produced by an earthquake exceeds every other terror. When a ship is
storm-tossed, escape is possible in a boat, when a house is on fire
there are feather-beds into which we can leap; but when the earth is
insecure, then we have nowhere to which we can flee, nothing to which we
can look.

With Captain Saltren, his religious convictions were what was most
stable. Everything else glided before him as a dream, but he kept his
feet on those things that belonged to the spiritual world, as if they
were adamantine foundations. And now he was being, like an aeronaut,
caught away, and these shifted under his eyes; like one in an
earthquake, he felt the strong bases rock beneath him. The sense of
terror that passed over him was akin to despair; but the last cord was
not snapped, and that was the firmest of all—his visions and
revelations.

“Of all queer folks,” said Mrs. Kite, “I reckon you are the queerest,
captain. I thought so from the time I first saw you come and pray on
your raft in the pond, and when I heard what a tale you had made out of
Miss Arminell throwing a book at you, then I did begin to believe you
were not right in your mind; now I’m sure of it.”

Captain Saltren looked dreamily at her; but in that dreamy look was
pain.

“That was, to be sure, a wonderful tale,” pursued Mrs. Kite, losing
patience with him. “An angel from Heaven cast the Everlasting Gospel
down to you, was that it?”

He nodded, but said nothing.

“And I see’d Miss Arminell do it.”

His eyes opened wide with alarm.

“What the name of the book was, I do not mind; indeed, I do not know,
because I cannot read; but I have got the book, and can show it you, and
you who are a scholar can read it through from the first word to the
last.”

“You have the book?”

“I have; when it fell it went under your raft, but it did not sink, it
came up after on the other side, and when you were gone I fished it out,
and I have it now.”

“It was red as blood.”

“Aye, and the paint came off on my fingers, but I dried it in the sun;
and I have the book now, not in the Owl’s Nest, but in a cupboard of the
back kitchen o’ my old house.”

“His likeness was on it.”

“That I can’t say. There is a head of a man.”

“The head of Lord Lamerton.”

“It don’t look like it; the man has black hair and a beard, and his
lordship had no beard, and his hair was light brown.”

A shudder came over the captain. Was his last, his firmest anchor to
break?

Again, as he had done several times already, he passed his hands over
his arms and shoulders and sides, as if peeling off what adhered to him.

“Let me see the book,” he said faintly. “Lead on.”

“I ought to have returned it to Miss Arminell,” said Mrs. Kite; “but I
didn’t, because my Tamsine saw it, and said she’d like to read it. She’s
mighty fond of what they call a sensational novel.”

“It was the book of the Everlasting Gospel,” said Saltren with a burst
of desperation. “Nothing will ever make me believe otherwise.”

“Or that Miss Arminell, who stood in the mouth of the Owl’s Nest, was an
angel flying?”

He made no reply, but lowered his head, and pushed forwards.

When they reached the ruined hovel, Mrs. Kite went into that part which
had not been dismantled, and brought forth the crimson-covered book from
the oven, where it had been hidden, and gave it to her companion.

“It is ‘The Gilded Clique,’” was all he said, and fixed his eyes on it
with terror in them.

He dared not look Mrs. Kite in the face; he stood with lowered head
before her, and his hands shook as he held the book, so that he could
not study it.

“Tell me all that you heard and saw,” he said; then with sudden
eagerness, “It was not on the Sabbath?”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Kite, “it was on a Sunday that I saw you.” Then she
told him all the circumstances as they had really happened.

Wondrous are the phantasmagoric pictures conjured up by the sun in the
desert; the traveller looks on and sees blue water, flying sails, palm
groves, palaces, and all is so real that he believes he even hears the
muezzin’s call to prayer from the minarets, and the lap of the water on
the sands, and the chant of mariners in the vessels. Then up springs a
cold air, and in a moment the picture is dissolved and exposes arid
waste strewn with bones and utterly herbless. And the words of the woman
produced some such an effect on the mind of Saltren. In a minute all the
imaginations that had spun themselves out of the little bare fact, and
overspread and disguised it, were riven and swept aside.

Captain Saltren stood turning the book about, and looking at the
likeness of M. Emile Gaboriau on the cover; it bore not the faintest
resemblance to the late Lord Lamerton. The book was headed “Gaboriau’s
Sensational novels, the Favourite Reading of Prince Bismarck, one
shilling.” And beneath the medallion was “The Gilded Clique.” Sick at
heart, with giddy head, Captain Saltren opened the book stained with
water, and read, hardly knowing what he did, an advertisement that
occupied the fly leaf—an advertisement of “Asiatic Berordnung,” for the
production of “whiskers, moustaches, and hair, and for the cure of
baldness, and the renovation of ladies’ scanty partings.”

Was this the revelation which had been communicated to him? Was it this
which had drawn him on into an ecstasy of fanatical faith which led him
to the commission of an unprovoked crime?

Still half-stunned by his fear he read on. “Eminent authorities have
expressed their entire approval of the valuable yet perfectly harmless
nature of our discovery. In an age like this, when a youthful appearance
is so against a young man, those without beard or moustache being
designated boys, and scanty hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes, so
unproductive of admiration in the fair sex, the Asiatic Berordnung
should be universally adopted. Price 1s. 6d.; full sized bottles 3s. 6d.
each.”

Captain Saltren’s face was in colour like that of a corpse, he raised
his eyes for a moment to Mrs. Kite, and saw the mocking laugh on her
lips. He dropped them again, and said in a low voice; “Leave me alone, I
cannot think upon what you have said till you are gone.”

“I will return to Chillacot and see the ruin,” she said.

“The ruin?” he repeated, “the ruin?” He had forgotten about his house,
he was looking on a greater ruin than that, the desolation of a
broken-down faith, and of prostrate self-confidence.

“Mind you do not risk going to the Owl’s Nest,” said Mrs. Kite; “you are
not in condition for that, your knees scarce support you. Abide here and
read your book, and see what comfort you can get out of it; a firm head
and a steady foot is needed for that path.”

He made a sign to the woman to go; he shook as with the palsy; he put
his hand to his head. A band as of iron was tightening about his
temples. He could not endure to have Mrs. Kite there any longer. He
would go mad unless left alone.

She hesitated for a moment, repeated her injunctions to him to stay
where he was till her return, and then left.

He looked after her till she had disappeared, and for some little while
after she was gone he looked at the bushes that had closed behind her,
fearing lest she should return; then he sank down on a heap of stones,
put the book from him with a shudder, and buried his head in his hands.

The mirage was past, the dry and hideous reality remained, but Saltren
had not as yet quite recovered from the impression of reality that
mirage had produced on his mind. We cannot on waking from certain dreams
drive them entirely from us, so that they in no way affect our conduct
and influence our opinions. I know that sometimes I wake after having
dreamed of some amiable and innocent person in an odious light, and
though I fight against the impression all day, I cannot view that person
without repugnance. Captain Saltren was aware that he had dreamed, that
he had believed in the reality of the mirage conjured up by his fancy,
had regarded that crimson-covered book as the revelation of the
Everlasting Gospel, and though his mind assented to the fact that he had
been deceived, he was unable to drive away the glamour of the delusion
that clung to him.

I, who write this, know full well that I shall find readers, and
encounter critics who will pronounce the case of Captain Saltren
impossible; because in the London clubs and in country houses no such
delusions are found. What! are we not all engaged in blowing
soap-bubbles, in painting mirages, in spinning cobwebs? But then our
soap-bubbles, our mirages, our cobwebs, in which we, unlike spiders,
entangle ourselves, are not theological, but social and political. Do we
not weave out of our own bowels vast webs, and hang them up in the sight
of all as substantial realities? And are we not surprised with
paralysing amazement when we discover that the bubbles we have blown are
not new created worlds, and our cobwebs are dissolved by a touch? I have
seen in Innsbruck pictures painted on cobwebs of close texture, with
infinite dexterity and patient toil. We not only spin our cobwebs, but
paint on them, though I allow we do not picture on them sacred images.
Why, my own path is strewn with these gossamer webs of my own weaving
that never caught any other midge than my own insignificant self; me
they entangled, they choked my windpipe, they filled my eyes, they
clogged my ears. Look back, critical reader, at your own course, and see
if it be not encumbered with such torn and trampled cobwebs. There is a
great German book of nine volumes, each of over a thousand pages, and it
is entitled “The History of Human Folly.” Alas, it is not complete! It
gives but the record of the inconceivable follies of a few most salient
characters. But in our own towns, in our villages, in our immediate
families, what histories of human folly there are unwritten, but well
known, I go closer home—in our own lives there is a volume for every
year recording our delusions and our inconsequences.

In our Latin grammars we learned “Nemo omnibus horis sapit,” but that
may be better rendered, “Quis non omnibus horis delirat?”

The anthropologist and antiquary delight in exploring the kitchen
middens of a lost race, heaps of bones, and shells, and broken potsherds
rejected by a population that lived in pre-historic times. But, oh, what
kitchen middens are about our own selves, at our own doors, of empty
shells and dismarrowed bones of old convictions, old superstitions, old
conceits, old ambitions, old hopes! Where is the meat? Where the
nutriment? Nowhere; gone past recall; only the dead husks, and shells,
and bones, and potsherds remain. Open your desk, pull out the secret
drawer, and what are revealed? A dry flower—the refuse scrap of an old
passion; a worthless voucher of a bad investment; a MS. poem which was
refused by every magazine; a mother’s Bible, monument of a dead belief.
Go, turn over your own kitchen middens, and then come and argue with me
that such a delusion as that of Captain Saltren is impossible. I tell
you it is paralleled every year.

And now, sitting on the heap of stones, full of doubt, and yet not
altogether a prey to despair, Captain Saltren took the red book again,
and began to read it, first at the beginning, then turning to the
middle, then looking to the end. Then he put it from him once more, and,
with the cold sweat streaming over his face, he walked to the edge of
the quarry, and there knelt down to pray. Had he been deceived? Was he
not now subjected to a fiery trial of his faith—a last assault of the
Evil One? This was indeed a possibility, and it was a possibility to
which he clung desperately.

A little while ago we saw Giles Saltren humiliated and crushed, passing
through the flame of disappointment and disenchantment, the purgatorial
flame that in this life tries every man. In that fire the young man’s
self-esteem and self-reliance had shrivelled up and been reduced to ash.
And now his reputed father entered the same furnace.

He prayed and wrestled in spirit, wringing his hands, and with sweat and
tears commingled streaming down his cheeks. He prayed that he might be
given a token. He could not, he would not, accept the humiliation. He
fought against it with all the powers of his soul and mind.

Then he stood up. He was resolved what to do. He would walk along the
ledge of rock to the Owl’s Nest, holding the red book in his hand
instead of clinging to the ivy bands. If that book stayed him up and
sustained him in equilibrium till he reached the Cave, then he would
still believe in his mission, and the revelations that attended it. But
if he had erred, why then—

Holding the book he began the perilous walk. He took three steps
forward, and then the judgment was pronounced.



                              CHAPTER XLI.

                            SOCIAL SUICIDE.


When Giles Saltren had left town to return to Orleigh his uncle remained
with Arminell. The girl asked Mr. Welsh to leave her for half an hour to
collect her thoughts and resolve on what she would do; and he went off
to the British Museum to look at the marbles till he considered she had
been allowed sufficient time to decide her course, and then he returned
to the inn. She was ready for him, composed, seated on the sofa, pale,
and dark under the eyes.

“Well, Miss Inglett,” said Welsh, “I’ve been studying the busts of the
Roman Emperors and their wives, and imagining them dressed in our
nineteenth-century costume; and, upon my word, I believe they would pass
for ordinary English men and women. I believe dress has much to do with
the determination of character. Conceive of Domitian in a light, modern
summer suit—in that he could not be bloodthirsty and a tyrant. Imagine
me in a toga, and you may imagine me committing any monstrosity. Dress
does it. How about your affairs? Are you going to Aunt Hermione?”

“To Lady Hermione Woodhead?” corrected Arminell, with a touch of
haughtiness. “No.”

“Then what will you do? I’ll take the liberty of a chair.” He seated
himself. “I can’t get their busts out of my head—however, go on.”

“Mr. Welsh, I wish to state to you exactly what I have done, and let you
see how I am circumstanced. I have formed my own opinion as to what I
must do, and I shall be glad afterwards to hear what you think of my
determination. You have shown me kindness in coming here, and offering
your help, and I am not so ungracious as to refuse to accept, to some
extent, the help so readily offered.”

“I shall be proud, young lady.”

“Let me then proceed to tell you how stands the case, and then you will
comprehend why I have taken my resolution. I ran away from home with
your nephew, moved by a vague romantic dream, which, when I try to
recall, partly escapes me, and appears to me now altogether absurd.”

“You were not dressed for the part,” threw in Welsh. “You could no more
be the heroine in modern vest and the now fashionable hat, than I could
commit the crimes of Cæsar in this suit.”

“In the first place,” pursued Arminell, disregarding the interruption,
“I was filled with the spirit of unrest and discontent, which made me
undervalue everything I had, and crave for and over-estimate everything
I had not. With my mind ill at ease, I was ready to catch at whatever
chance offered of escape from the vulgar round of daily life, and plunge
into a new, heroic and exciting career. The chance came. Your nephew
believed that he was my half-brother.”

“Young Jack-an-apes!” intercalated Welsh.

“That he was my dear father’s son by a former fictitious marriage with
your sister Mrs. Saltren, I believed, as firmly as your nephew believed
it; and I was extremely indignant with my poor father for what I thought
was his dishonourable conduct in the matter, and for the hypocrisy of
his after life. I thought that, if I ran away with your nephew, I would
force him—I mean my lord—to acknowledge the tie, and so do an act of
tardy justice to his son. Then, in the next place, I was filled with
exalted ideas of what we ought to do in this world, that we were to be
social knights errant, rambling about at our own free will, redressing
wrongs, and I despised the sober virtues of my father, and the ordinary
social duties, with the execution of which my step-mother filled up her
life. I thought that a brilliant career was open to your nephew, and
that I might take a share in it, that we would make ourselves names, and
effect great things for the social regeneration of the age. It was all
nonsense and moonshine. I see that clearly enough now. My wonder is that
I did not see it before. But the step has been taken and cannot be
recalled. I have broken with my family and with my class, I cannot ask
to have links rewelded which I wilfully snapped, to be reinstalled in a
place I deliberately vacated. Nemesis has overtaken me, and even the
gods bow to Nemesis.”

“You are exaggerating,” interrupted Welsh; “you have, I admit, acted
like a donkey—excuse the expression, no other is as forcible and as
true—but I find no such irretrievable mischief done as you suppose.
Fortunately the mistake has been corrected at once. If you will go home,
or to Lady Woodhead—”

“Lady Hermione Woodhead,” corrected Arminell.

“Or to Lady Hermione Woodhead—all will be well. What might have been a
catastrophe is averted.”

“No,” answered Arminell, “all will not be well. Excuse me if I flatly
contradict you. There is something else you have not reckoned on, but
which I must take into my calculations. I shall never forget what I have
done, never forgive myself for having embittered the last moments of my
dear father’s life, never for having thought unworthily of him, and let
him see that he had lost my esteem. If I were to return home, now or
later from my aunt’s house, I could not shake off the sense of
self-reproach, of self-loathing which I now feel. There is one way, and
one way only, in which I can recover my self-respect and peace of mind.”

“And that is—?”

“By not going home.”

“Well—go to your aunt’s.”

“I should be there for a month, and after that must return to Orleigh.
No—that is not possible. Do you not see that several reasons conspire
against my taking that course?”

“Pray let me know them.”

“In the first place, it is certain to have leaked out that I ran away
from home. My conduct will be talked about and commented on in Orleigh,
in the county. It will become part of the scandal published in the
society papers, and be read and laughed over by the clerks and
shop-girls who take in these papers, whose diet it is. Everywhere, in
all classes, the story will be told how the Honourable Arminell Inglett,
only daughter of Giles, tenth Baron Lamerton of Orleigh, and his first
wife, the Lady Lucy Hele, daughter of the Earl of Anstey, had eloped
with the son of a mining captain, the tutor to her half-brother, and how
that they were discovered together in a little inn in Bloomsbury.”

“No,” said Welsh, impatiently. “If you will act as Jingles has
suggested, this will never be known. He is back at Orleigh, or will be
there this afternoon, and you will be at Portland Place, where your maid
will find you. What more natural than that you should return to-morrow
home, on account of your father’s death? As for the society papers—if
they get an inkling of the real facts—I am connected with the press. I
can snuff the light out. There are ways and means. Leave that to me.”

“But, Mr. Welsh, suppose that suspicion has been roused at Orleigh—Mrs.
Cribbage has to be considered. That woman will not leave a stone
unturned till she has routed out everything. I used to say that was why
the finger ends were always out of her gloves. I would have to
equivocate, and perhaps to lie, when asked point-blank questions which
if answered would betray the truth. I would be putting my dear
step-mother to the same inconvenience and humiliation.”

“Trust her wit and knowledge of the world to evade Mrs. Cribbage.”

“But I cannot. I have not the wit.”

Mr. Welsh was vexed, he stamped impatiently.

“I can’t follow you in this,” he said.

“Well, Mr. Welsh, then perhaps you may in what I give you as my next
reason. I feel bound morally to take the consequences of my act. When a
wretched girl flings herself over London Bridge, perhaps she feels a
spasm of regret for the life she is throwing away, as the water closes
over her, but she drowns all the same.”

“Not at all, when there are boats put forth to the rescue, and hands
extended to haul her in.”

“To rescue her for what?—To be brought before a magistrate, and to have
her miserable story published in the daily penny papers. Why, Mr. Welsh,
her friends regret that her body was not rolled down into the deep sea,
or smothered under a bed of Thames mud; that were better than the
publication of her infamy.”

“What will you have?”

“I have made the plunge; I must go down.”

“Not if I can pull you out.”

“You cannot pull me out. I made my leap out of my social order. What I
have done has been to commit social suicide. There is no recovery for me
save at a cost which I refuse to pay. I have heard that those who have
been half drowned suffer infinite agonies on the return of vitality. I
shrink from these pains. I know what it would be were I fished up and
thrown on my own shore again. I would tingle and smart in every fibre of
my consciousness, and cry out to be cast in again. No, Mr. Welsh,
through youthful impetuosity and wrong-headedness I have jumped out of
my social world, and I must abide by the consequences. As the Honourable
Arminell Inglett I have ceased to exist. I die out of the peerage, die
out of my order, die out of the recognition, though not the memory of my
relatives. But I live on as plain Miss Inglett, one of the countless
members of the great Middle Class.”

James Welsh looked at the girl with puzzlement in his face. Spots of
flame had come into her pale cheeks, and to the temples, as she spoke,
and she moved her slender fingers on her lap in her eagerness to make
herself explicit and her difficulties intelligible.

“I don’t understand you, Miss Inglett. That is, I do not see what is
your intention.”

“I mean that I have committed social suicide, and I do not wish to be
saved either for my friends’ sake or for my own. I ask you kindly to get
my death inserted in the _Times_ and the other daily papers.”

“Your actual death?”

“A statement that on such a day died the Honourable Arminell Inglett,
only daughter of the late Lord Lamerton. That will suffice; it proclaims
to society that I have ceased to belong to it. Of course my dear
step-mother and my aunt and the family solicitors shall know the truth.
I have money that comes to me from my mother. A statement of my death in
the _Times_ will not constitute legal death, but it will suffice to
establish my social death.”

“You are taking an extraordinary and unwarrantable course.”

“Extraordinary it may be, but not unwarranted. I have the justification
within, in my conscience. When one has done that which is wrong, one is
called to suffer for it, and the conscience is never cleansed and
restored without expiating pains. If I were to return to Orleigh I would
die morally, of that I am sure, because it would be a shirking of the
consequences which my foolish act has brought down on me.”

“There may be something in that,” said Welsh.

“I will write to Lady Lamerton and tell her everything and assure her
that my decision is irrevocable. I have caused her so much pain, I have
behaved so badly to my father, I have been so ungrateful for all the
happy days and pleasant comforts of dear, dear Orleigh”—her eyes filled
with tears, and she was unable to finish her sentence.

Mr. Welsh said nothing.

“No,” she said, after a pause—“No, Mr. Welsh, I cannot in conscience go
home, there to dissemble and lie to Mrs. Cribbage and to neighbours; and
never to be able to shake off the sense of self-reproach for not having
frankly accepted the results of my own misconduct. Do you know, Mr.
Welsh, I was angry with my father because I thought he was evading his
retribution?”

Mr. Welsh, usually a talkative man, felt no inclination now to say a
word.

“Mr. Welsh,” said Arminell, “I ask you to go to Portland Place, call on
Lady Hermione Woodhead, she is a practical woman of the world; lay the
entire case before her, and see if she does not say, ‘Throw her in
again, for Heaven’s sake, so as to keep the story out of the papers.’”

“And if her ladyship does not say so?”

“She will say it.”

“If she does not, but asks me to bring you to her, will you go to
Portland Place?”

“No; my resolution is taken.”

Welsh stood up and paced the room.

“What the deuce will you do?” he asked. “You are quite a girl, and a
pretty girl, and confoundedly inexperienced. You cannot, you must not
live alone. My Tryphœna is a good soul; it is true that we are without a
cook, but if you do not object to rissoles I shall be happy to offer you
such hospitality as my house affords. Shepherd’s Bush is not the most
aristocratic quarter of the town, but Poplar is worse; it is not near
the theatres and the parks, but you’re welcome to it. Your idea is
startling. I’ll go into that _cul-de-sac_, Queen’s Square, where runs no
cab, no ’bus does rumble, and consider it there.”

“Will you see my aunt, Lady Hermione? It will save me writing, and you
can explain the circumstances by word better than I can tell them with a
pen.”

“Bless me! I have a mind to do so.” He stopped, went to the window, came
back, and said abruptly, “Yes, I will. God bless me! To think that I—I
of all men, a raging Democrat, should be hansoming to and fro between my
Ladies and Honourables.”

“You can do what will give you pleasure,” said the girl with a faint
smile—“with a stroke of the pen convert the Honourable Arminell into
plain Miss Inglett.”

He did not laugh at the sally. He came in front of her, and stood
contemplating her, with his hands behind his back.

“God bless me!” he said, “one can be heroic after all in modern costume.
I didn’t think it. Well, I will go, but write me a line to ensure her
receiving me in the morning.”

Arminell did as required.

When she had finished the note and was folding it, she looked up at
Welsh, and asked, “Have you read the Hecuba?”

“The Hecuba? Classic? Not even in Bohn’s translation.”

“Then the saying of Hecuba to Polyxenes will not occur to you: ‘I am
dead before my death, through my ills.’”

“I will go,” he said, and held out his hand. “Give me a shake—it will do
me good.”

“But, Mr. Welsh, you will return to me?”

“Yes.” His mouth and eyes were twitching.

“Deuce take it! an aristocrat can do an heroic thing even with a vest
and toupee.”

Two hours later the journalist returned.

“Confound these aristocrats,” he said, as he entered, hot and puffing.
“They live in daily, hourly terror of public opinion. I wouldn’t be one
of them, existing in such a state of quivering terror, not for anything
you could offer me. They are like a man I knew who spent all his
energies in fighting against draughts. He put sandbags to the bottom of
his doors, stuffed cotton-wool into the crevices of his windows, papered
over the joints of his flooring, corked up the key-holes, and yet was
always catching catarrh from draughts that came from—no one knows where.
What they fear is breath—the breath of public opinion.”

“What did my aunt say?” asked Arminell.

“Say? In the most elegant and roundabout way what may be summarized in
four words—‘Chuck her in again.’”

“I said as much.”

“Come, Miss Inglett. I have telegraphed to Tryphœna to do two extra
rissoles. We shall pass the stores, and I’ll buy a tin of prawns and a
bottle of Noyeau jelly. Pack up your traps. The cab is at the door.
Sorry to-day is Monday, or you should have had something better than
rissoles.”



                             CHAPTER XLII.

                            SHEPHERD’S BUSH.


“Here we are,” said Mr. Welsh, “The Avenue—the most stylish part of
Shepherd’s Bush, as it is of New York. You sit still in the fly whilst I
go in and make an explanation to her ladyship. I’ll take that bottle of
Noyeau you have been nursing; I have the canister of prawns in my
coat-pocket; I am sorry before purchasing it that I forgot to ask you if
you preferred Loch Awe salmon. What is your favourite tipple? You will
hear from my wife that we have no cook. The last we got became
inebriated, and we had to dismiss her. We have been without one for a
fortnight. Tryphœna—that is, her ladyship—upon my word I have been so
mixed up with aristocrats of late, that I find myself giving a title to
every one I meet. What was I saying? Oh! that her ladyship has all the
cooking to do now? You sit quiet. No fumbling after your purse; I pay
the cabby because I engaged him. We of the Upper Ten, under present
depression, do not keep our own carriages and livery servants—we hire as
we want.”

Under all Welsh’s rollicking humour lay real kindness of heart. Arminell
felt it, and drew towards this man, so unlike any other man with whom
she was acquainted, or whom she had met. She knew that he was perfectly
reliable, that he would do everything in his power to serve her, and
that a vast store of tenderness and consideration lay veiled under an
affectation of boisterousness and burlesque.

How is it that when we do a kindness we endeavour to minimise it? We
disguise the fact that what we do costs us something, that it gives us
trouble, that it draws down on us irksome responsibilities? It is not
that we are ashamed of ourselves for doing kindnesses, that we think it
unmanly to be unselfish, but rather that we fear to embarrass the person
who receives favours at our hands.

Mr. Welsh had really sacrificed much that day for Arminell. He was to
have met an editor and arranged with him for articles for his paper. He
had not kept his appointment; that might possibly be resented, and lead
to pecuniary loss, to some one else being engaged in his room. Editors
are unforgiving. “Yes,” said Mr. Welsh that same afternoon, when he
found that what he dreaded had occurred, “a Domitian is possible still
in our costume, but the tyrants confine their ferocity to aspirants
after literary work. They cut off their heads, they put out their eyes,
and they disjoint their noses wholesale.”

Presently Welsh put his head to the cab door and said cheerfully, “All
right, I’ve broken it to her ladyship. She don’t know all. You are a
distant and disowned relative of the noble house of Lamerton. That is
what I have told her; and I am your guardian for the time. I have
explained. Come in. The maid-of-all-work don’t clean herself till the
afternoon, and is now in hiding behind the hall door. She spends the
morning in accumulating the dirt of the house on her person, when no one
is expected to call, and she scrubs it off after lunch.” He opened the
cab door, and conducted her into the house. “I will lug the slavey out
from behind the door,” he said, “if you will step into the dining room;
and then she and I will get the luggage from the cab. Your room is not
yet ready. Go in there.” He opened the door on his left, and ushered
Arminell into the little apartment.

“Excuse me if I leave you,” he said, “and excuse Mrs. Welsh for a bit.
She is rummaging somewhere. We have, as she will tell you presently, no
cook. The last—” he made pantomimic signs of putting a bottle to his
lips. Then he went out, and for a while there reached Arminell from the
narrow front passage, somewhat grandly designated the hall, sounds of
the moving of her luggage.

A moment later, and a whispered conversation from outside the door
reached her ears.

“It’s no use—there are only scraps. How can you suggest rissoles? There
is no time for the preparation of delicacies. If we are to have them, it
must be for dinner. I did not expect you at noon, much less that you
would be bringing a visitor. Your telegram arrived one minute before
yourself.”

“Not so loud,” whispered James Welsh, “or she will hear. You must
provide enough to eat, of course. Send out for steak.”

“Nonsense, James; it is lunch time already. She must manage with scraps,
and them cold scraps are wholesome. What doesn’t poison fattens.”

“You couldn’t, I suppose, have the scraps warmed, or”—somewhat louder,
with a flash of inspiration—“or converted into a haricot?”

“How can you talk like this, James? Go on, suggest that they shall be
made into a mayonnaise next. To have hot meat means a fire, and there is
none to speak of in the kitchen.”

“Only dead scraps! My dear Tryphœna, she belongs to a titled family, a
long way off and disowned, you understand, but still—there is a title in
the family and—scraps!”

“What else will you have, James? Had you been home yesterday for dinner,
there would have been joint, roast; but as you were not, I ate cold
meat. Now there are only scraps.”

“Perhaps if you were to turn out the Noyeau jelly in a shape, Tryphœna,
it would give the lunch a more distinguished look.”

“Scraps of cold boiled mutton and Noyeau jelly! No, that won’t do. The
jelly must be warmed and melted into the shape, and take three hours to
cool.”

“I wish I had taken her to the Holborn Restaurant,” groaned Welsh; “what
difficulties encumber domestic arrangements!”

“Without a cook—yes,” added his wife.

“Do go in and welcome her,” urged Mr. Welsh.

“I cannot in this condition. You know I have no cook, and must attend to
everything. The girl has been impudent this morning, and has given me
notice.”

Whilst this discussion was being carried on, Arminell tried not to
listen, but the whispers were pitched so high, and were so articulate
that scarce a word escaped her.

Then Mr. Welsh whispered, “Do lower your voice, Tryphœna,” and the pair
drifted down the passage to the head of the kitchen steps, and what was
further discussed there was inaudible.

Arminell looked round the room. Its most prominent feature was the
gas-lamp with double burner and globes—the latter a little smoked,
suspended from the ceiling by a telescopic tube that allowed just
sufficient gas to escape at the joints to advertise itself as gas, not
paraffin or electric fluid. This room was the one in which, apparently,
Mrs. Welsh sat when she had a cook, and was not engrossed in domestic
affairs. Her workbox, knitting, a railway novel, bills paid and unpaid,
and one of Mr. Welsh’s stockings with a hole in the heel, showed that
she occupied this apartment occasionally.

The door opened, and Mrs. Welsh entered, followed by her husband. She
was a stout lady with a flat face, and a pair of large dark eyes, her
only beauty. Her hair was not tidy, nor were all the buttons and hooks
in place and performing their proper functions about her body.

“How do you do?” she said, extending her hand; “I’m sorry to say I have
no cook; nothing is more difficult than to find cooks with characters
now-a-days; ladies will give such false characters. What I say is, tell
the truth, whatever comes of it. My last cook had a glowing character
from the lady with whom she lived in Belgrave Square. I assure you she
was in a superior house, quite aristocratic—carriage people; but I could
not keep her. I did not myself find out that she drank. I did not
suspect it. I knew she was flighty—but at last she went up a ladder,
sixty feet high, and could hardly be got down again. It was in an
adjoining builder’s yard. The ladder leaned against nothing, it pointed
to the sky, and she went up it, and though a stout and elderly woman,
looked no bigger than a fly when she had reached the top. Won’t you sit
down? or stay—let me take you up to the parlour. We will have the table
laid directly for lunch. Mr. Welsh does not generally come home at this
time of day, so I was unprepared, and I have no cook. The ladder began
to sway with her, for she became nervous at the top, and afraid to come
down; quite a crowd collected. Do take off your things. Your room will
be ready presently. In the meantime you can lay your bonnet in the
drawing-room. I am short of hands now. The steps are rather narrow and
steep, but I will lead the way. I’ll see to having water and soap and a
towel taken to the best bed-room presently, but my servant is now making
herself neat. None of the police liked to go up the ladder after my
cook. The united weights at the top, sixty feet, would have made it sway
like a bulrush, and perhaps break. This is the drawing-room. Do make
yourself comfortable in it and excuse me. My father and mother were
carriage people. There he is in his uniform, between the windows, taken
when he was courting my mother. You will excuse me, or the girl will
spread a dirty instead of a clean tablecloth for lunch. Dear me, the
blinds have not been drawn up!”

Then Mrs. Welsh departed. All men and women trail shadows behind them
when the sun shines in their faces, but some women, in all conditions of
the heavens, drag behind them braid. It would seem as if they had their
skirts bound to come undone. As in the classic world certain females
were described as being with relaxed zones, so are there females in the
modern world in a perpetual condition of relaxed bindings. If Mrs. Welsh
had lived in a palæozoic period, when the beasts that inhabited the
globe impressed their footprints on the pliant ooze, what perplexity her
traces would now produce among the palæontologists, and what triumph in
the minds of the anthropologists, who would conclude that these were the
footprints of the _homo caudatus_, the missing link between the ape and
man, and point in evidence to the furrow accompanying the impressions of
the feet; and Mrs. Welsh always did wear a tail, but the tail was of
black binding, sometimes looped, sometimes dragging in ends. As Arminell
followed Mrs. Welsh up the stairs, she had to keep well in the rear to
avoid treading on this tail.

On reaching the drawing-room, Arminell laid her bonnet and cloak on the
sofa, and looked round the room as she looked about that below. The
latter had been dreary to the eyes, the former had the superadded
dreariness of pretence.

Houses that are uninhabited are haunted by ghosts, and unoccupied rooms
by smells. The carpet, the curtains, the wall-paper, the chintz covers,
the cold fire-place, send forth odours urgent to attract attention, as
soon as the door opens. They are so seldom seen that they _will_ be
smelt.

The drawing-room in the Avenue was small, with two narrow windows to it;
the walls were papered with an æsthetic dado of bulrushes and water
weeds, on a pea-green base; above that ran a pattern picked out with
gold, a self-assertive paper. Above the marble mantelshelf was a
chimney-piece of looking-glasses and shelves, on which stood several
pieces of cheap modern china, mostly Japanese, such as are seen outside
Glaves in Oxford Street, in baskets, labelled, “Any of this lot for 2d.”

Against the wall opposite the windows were two blue Delft plates, hung
by wires. Between the windows was the miniature of the father of Mrs.
Welsh, once a carriageman, but not looking it, wearing the uniform of a
marine officer, and the languishment of a lover. He was represented with
a waxy face, a curl on his brow, and either water or wadding on his
chest.

Upon the table were books radiating from a central opal specimen glass
that contained three or four dry everlastings, smelling like corduroys;
and the books in very bright cloth had their leaves glued together with
the gilding.

Unhappy, occupied with her own trouble though Arminell was, yet she
noted these things because they were so different from that to which she
was accustomed. Perhaps the rawness of the decoration, the strain after
impossible effect, struck Arminell more than the lack of taste. She had
been accustomed to furniture and domestic decoration pitched in a key
below that of the occupants, but here everything was screwed up above
that of such as were supposed to use the room. Elsewhere she had seen
chairs and sofas to be sat on, carpets to be walked on, books to be
read, wall papers to be covered with paintings. Here even the sun was
not allowed to touch the carpet, and the chairs were to be made use of
gingerly, and the fire-irons not to be employed at all, and the grate
most rarely. After Arminell had spent half-an-hour in this parlour, the
whole house reverberated with the boom of a gong; and next moment Mrs.
Welsh came in to say that lunch was ready. She had in the meantime
dressed herself to do the honours of the meal; had changed her gown,
then brushed her hair, and put on rings. Nevertheless she lacked finish.
The brooch was not fastened, and threatened to fall, and her dress
improver had not been accurately and symmetrically fitted to her person.

“Welsh,” she said, “has departed. He is very sorry, but business calls
must be attended to. Never mind, I’ll do what I can to entertain you. I
will tell you the end of the story of my cook up a ladder. Ah!” she
exclaimed on reaching the foot of the stairs—“is that your umbrella
fallen on the floor? You stuck it up against the wall, no doubt. The
gong has done it, shaken it down with the vibration.”

The lunch was plain, but the good lady had made an effort to give it the
semblance of elegance. She had sent out for parsley to garnish the cold
mutton, and for a dish of lettuce and another of watercress, and had set
a just uncorked bottle of Castle A Claret on the table beside Arminell’s
plate.

“You’ll excuse if we help ourselves and dispense with the girl,” said
Mrs. Welsh. “Have you had much to do with servants? I have applied to
the registry offices for a cook and can’t get one; they object to
Shepherd’s Bush, or else want to redeem their characters at my expense.
I have applied at the hospital for a convalescent, but if I get one, she
will not be up to much work, and besides will have been so pampered in
hospital, that she will not accommodate herself to our fare, and will
leave as soon as she is well. If we were carriage people, it would be
different. Servants won’t remain in a situation where a carriage and
pair are not kept. They think it immoral. Were your parents carriage
people? And did your mother have much trouble with her servants? And, if
I may ask, where did she go to for her cooks?”

“My mother died shortly after my birth, and my father recently.”
Arminell spoke with a choke in her voice. “I have not had time to get
mourning. I must do some shopping this afternoon.”

“I can show you where you can get things very cheap. You take a ’bus
along Goldhawk Road; it costs but twopence if you walk as far as
Shepherd’s Bush Station, otherwise it comes to threepence. I suppose you
have kept home for your father? Did you meet with impertinence from
servants? But I dare say you kept your carriage. If you don’t do that
they regard you as their equals. They divide mankind into castes—the
lowest keep no conveyances, the middle have one-horse traps, and the
superior and highest of all keep a pair and close carriage. My parents
were carriage people—indeed, my father was an officer in her Majesty’s
service. My husband will some day, I trust, have his equipage. His
sister is very intimate with people of distinction. I don’t mean
carriage people only, but titled persons, the highest nobility. She was
a bosom friend of the dowager Lady Lamerton, she told me so herself. I
almost expect the Lamerton family to call on me. Should they do so
whilst you are here, I shall be happy to introduce you. By the way—your
name is Inglett, you must be a distant connexion of the family. James
said you were related to a noble family, but that they did not receive
you. In the event of a call, perhaps you would prefer to remain in the
dining-room. My husband’s nephew is called after his lordship, Giles
Inglett, because my lord stood godfather to him at the font. I assure
you the intimacy between Marianne and the family is most cordial. I
wonder what Mrs. Tomkins over the way will say when their carriage stops
at my gate! What a pity it is that the British nobility should be the
hotbed of vice.”

“Is it?” asked Arminell listlessly.

“Indeed it is. I know a great deal about the aristocracy. My
sister-in-law moves in the highest circles. I read all the divorce cases
in high life, and I have an intimate friend who is much in great
houses—in fact, she nurses there. Persons of good family when reduced in
circumstances become trained nurses. This lady has nursed Sir Lionel
Trumpington, and I could tell you a thing or two about his family she
has confided to me—but you are not married. She had the charge of chief
Justice Bacon’s daughter, who was a dipsomaniac, and so had the _entrée_
into the best families, and has told me the most extraordinary and
shocking stories about them.”

After lunch, Mrs. Welsh said, “There now, go up to the parlour, and sit
there an hour, till I am ready. I must see that the girl does your room,
after which I will put on my walking clothes. I will take you where you
can get crape, just a little crumpled and off colour, at half-price. We
will walk to the railway arch and so save a penny.”

Arminell sat by herself in the drawing-room; the sun was streaming in,
but Mrs. Welsh allowed the blinds to remain undrawn. She stood
hesitatingly with hand raised to draw them, but went away, leaving them
rolled up, a concession to the presence of a visitor.

Arminell’s mind turned from her own troubles to the consideration of the
life Mrs. Welsh and those of her social grade led. How utterly
uninteresting, commonplace, aimless it seemed; how made up of small
pretences, absurd vanities, petty weaknesses, and considerable follies!
A few days ago, such a revelation of sordid middle-class triviality
would have amused her. Now it did not. She saw something beside all the
littleness and affectation, something which dignified it.

Everywhere in life is to be observed a straining after what is above;
and the wretched drunken cook scrambling up a ladder that led to
nothing, blindly exemplified the universal tendency. As among the plants
in a garden, and the trees of a plantation, there is manifest an upward
struggle, so is it in the gardens and plantations of humanity. The
servant, as Mrs. Welsh had said, is not content to serve where no
servant is kept, and changes to a situation where there is a
pony-chaise; then feels a yearning in her that fills her with unrest
till she has got into a sphere where there is a one-horse brougham, and
deserts that again for the house that maintains a landau and pair. In
the lower class an effort is made to emulate the citizens of the middle
class, in dress and arrangement of hair, and mode of speech; and in the
middle class is apparent protracted effort to reach the higher; or if it
cannot be reached, to hang on to it by a miniature and a sister-in-law,
and a trained nurse friend. Is this ridiculous? Of course it is
ridiculous to see cooks scrambling up ladders that reach nowhere, but it
is infinitely better that they should do this than throw themselves into
the gutter. And so thought Arminell now. Mrs. Welsh may have been
absurd, but behind all her nonsense beat a true and generous heart, full
of aspiration after something better, and a cheerful spirit of
hospitality and self-sacrifice. No. Arminell saw the struggle in the
woman’s face about the blinds, and respected her. But when she was gone,
the girl stood up, went to the windows, and drew down the blinds, to
save from fading Mrs. Welsh’s new gaudy carpet.



                             CHAPTER XLIII.

                                DOWSING.


A few days later, towards evening, Mr. James Welsh arrived, after having
been absent from home. He had not told his wife or Arminell the cause of
his departure, nor whither he was going. When he returned, he informed
Arminell that he had been away on business, and that he wanted a word
with her in the parlour.

“There is no gas in the drawing-room. Will you have a lamp?” asked Mrs.
Welsh.

“Thank you. It will be unnecessary. At this time of the year it is not
dark, and the dusk is agreeable for a _tête-à-tête_. My business does
not need reference to papers.”

“Then I will go down and see about locking up the remains of the
plum-pudding. The girl has had her share set apart on a plate, and I
object to her consuming everything that goes out from dinner. There is
enough of the pudding left to serve up fried to-morrow.”

Arminell and Mr. Welsh mounted the steep stairs to the sitting-room. The
parlour was close and stuffy; Welsh went to the window and opened it a
little way.

“Do sit down, Miss Inglett,” he said, “there, on the sofa, with your
back to the window, if you are not afraid of a breath of air. This
twilight is restful to the eyes and grateful to the overwrought brain.
There is no need for candles.” He seated himself away from her, looking
in another direction, and said, “I suppose you can guess where I have
been?”

“Indeed I cannot, Mr. Welsh.”

“I have been at Orleigh. I thought I would like to be present at your
father’s funeral. Besides, I belong to the press, and my duties took me
there. Also, my sister is left a widow. You may not, perhaps, have heard
of the death of Captain Saltren?”

“Captain Saltren dead!”

“Yes, drowned in the old quarry pit.”

“I remember having once seen him there. He was a strange man. He went
there to say his prayers, and he prayed on a kind of raft of his own
construction. I suppose it gave way under him, or he overbalanced
himself.”

“Possibly. How he fell is not known. He was very strange in his manner
of late, so that the general opinion is that he was off his head. He had
visions, or fancied that he had.”

Arminell said no more on this matter. She was desirous of hearing about
her father’s funeral.

“I was present when Lord Lamerton was taken to his last rest,” said
Welsh; “you cannot have any conception what an amount of feeling was
elicited by his death. By me it was unexpected. I could not have
supposed that the people, as distinguished from the aristocracy, would
have been other than coldly respectful, but his lordship must have been
greatly beloved.” Welsh paused, and rubbed his chin. “Yes, much loved.
Of course, I had only seen one side of him, and that was the side I
cared to see, being a professional man, and professionally engaged to
see only one side. That is in the way of business, and just as a timber
merchant measures a tree, and estimates it by the amount of plank it
will make, regardless of its effect in the landscape, so it is with me.
I look on a man, especially a nobleman, from a commercial point of view,
and ask how many feet of type I can get out of him. I don’t consider him
for any other qualities he may have than those which serve my object.
But I will admit that there must have been a large amount of kindness
and sterling worth in his lordship, or there would not have been such a
demonstration at his funeral, and that not by a party, but general—not
cooked, but spontaneous. One expected to see the quality at the funeral,
but what surprised me was the real sorrow expressed by the people. Why,
bless you! what do you think? Because Captain Saltren had denounced his
lordship, and prophesied his death, the mob rolled stones down the cliff
on Chillacot and ruined the house and spoiled the garden.”

Pope Leo X. was inaccessible except to buffoons, and when a priest
desired an interview with his Holiness, but was unable to obtain one in
the ordinary manner, he dressed himself in motley, and as a clown
obtained immediate admission.

There are some people who suppose that every one else has the
peculiarities of Leo X., and who never approach their fellows, even when
they have to speak on matters of serious import, without putting on cap
and bells. They labour under the conviction that “the motley,” as Jaques
said to the Duke, “is the only wear,” especially when most inappropriate
to the matter of discourse.

Mr. Welsh was desirous of doing what was kind, of conveying to Arminell
what he knew was to her painful information, describing to her scenes
which must stir her emotions, but he could not assume a sympathetic and
serious tone. He was possessed by that perverse spirit which forces a
man to garnish his story, however tragic, with quirks and scraps of
illustration incongruous and out of taste. He was at heart full of pity
for Arminell; he had not gone to Orleigh on journalistic ends, though
not averse to paying his travelling expenses by turning what he had seen
into type, but he had gone for the girl’s sake, and only learned the
death of his brother-in-law on reaching Orleigh. He knew that she
hungered for information which she could not receive through the
channels formerly open to her. As he spoke to her, his heart swelled,
and he had some difficulty in controlling his emotion. Nevertheless, he
assumed a tone of half banter, that galled his own sense of propriety as
much as it jarred on Arminell. And this masquerade was assumed by him as
much to disguise his real self from himself as from the girl. Verily, in
our horror of hypocrisy, we are arrant hypocrites. Essayists and
satirists have united to wage a crusade against cant, and have succeeded
so completely that we dread the semblance of piety, kindliness,
sweetness, lest they be taken as an assumption only. In the reaction
against false appearances of goodness we have run into the opposite
extreme, and put on a false appearance of roughness, hardness, and
cynicism. Lest we should be taken to be apricots, with sweet outside and
hard interior, we affect to be walnuts, rugged and bitter. A woman poses
to herself in the glass, and adorns herself with jewelry to give
pleasure first to herself and then to others; but men cock their hats,
smut their noses, make grimaces in the glass, and having sneered at
their own buffoon appearance, pass off the same pranks on their
acquaintance. They will neither allow to themselves nor to others that
they acknowledge a serious interest in the drama of life, that they have
respect for what is noble, pity for what is suffering, reverence for
what is holy. They affect to cast burlesque into all relations of life,
as salt is put into all dishes, to make them palatable.

Arminell was not deceived by the manner of James Welsh; under the
affectation of selfishness and callousness she recognised the presence
of generous sympathy, just as she had seen the same quality under the
chatter and pretence of the wife.

At the beginning of this story we saw Arminell present at what we called
the grand transformation scene in the pantomime of life; now she had
reached another, and that a more startling, thorough-going
transformation scene. She saw the world and the performers therein
differently from the way in which she had seen them before, the world in
a real light, the performers in undress. She had got behind the scenes,
and into the green-room. Delusion was no longer possible; she saw the
framework of the scenery, the contrivances for the production of
effects, and the actors oiling their faces with cotton-wool to remove
the paint.

In former times there existed in England a profession which has become
extinct—the profession of dowsing. A dowser was a man who laid claim to
the peculiar gift of discernment of metal and of water. He was employed
to discover mines and springs. He took in his hands a forked hazel rod,
holding in each hand one of the branches. When he walked over a hidden
vein of metal, or a subterranean artery of water, the rod revolved in
his hands, and pointed downwards, and wherever it pointed, there he
ordered the sinking of a shaft or well.

But, although dowsing after minerals and fountains has ceased to be
practised, we still have among us moral dowsers, and it is even possible
for us to become adepts at dowsing ourselves.

The old dowsers insisted that their profession was not an art but an
inherent faculty. The dowser was born, not made. But in moral dowsing
this is not the case. The faculty can most certainly be acquired, but
only on one condition, that we begin with dowsing our own selves. _Fiat
experimentum in corpore vili._ Unconsciously Arminell had been invested
with this power; it had come on her at once, on that morning when her
folly, her error, had been revealed to her consciousness. From that
memorable moment, when she came to know herself as she really was, not
as she had fancied herself to be, the manner in which she viewed other
natures with which she was brought in contact was radically changed. She
found herself no longer as heretofore occupied with the outer surface,
its ups and downs, its fertility or its barrenness; the invisible rod
turned in her hands and revealed to her the hidden veins of ore and
motive currents. She saw the silver thread deep below the most
unpromising surface, the limpid spring under the most rugged exterior.

As she overlooked the superficial flaws in Mr. and Mrs. Welsh because
she recognised their substantial goodness, so did she begin now to
perceive what had before been unnoticed in the characters of her father
and step-mother. She had had eyes previously only for their foibles and
infirmities, now she saw how full of sterling qualities both had been,
of punctual fulfilment of duties, of conscientious discharge of the
obligations imposed on them by their position and wealth, of hearty
good-will for all with whom they were brought in contact. She had
disregarded her little half-brother, the present Baron Lamerton, because
he was only a child with childish thoughts, childish pursuits, and
childish prattle; and now she saw that his was a very tender, loving
spirit, which it would have been worth her while to cultivate. In the
first moment of disappointment, humiliation and anger, she had been
incensed against Jingles for having assisted her in perpetrating her
great mistake. She saw what a fool he had been, how conceited, how
ungrateful, but even over this forbidding soil the divining rod turned,
and revealed a vein of noble metal. If it had not been there, he would
not have accepted his humiliation with frankness and have shown so
decided a moral rebound.

When one who has the dowsing faculty is in the society of those who lack
it, and listens to their talk, their disparagement of others, the
captiousness with which they pick at trivial blemishes, sneer at
infirmities, blame short-comings, that person listens with a sort of
wonder at the blindness of the talkers, at their lack of perception,
because their eyes never penetrate below the surface, and a sort of pity
that they have never turned it inwards and searched themselves, not for
silver but for dross.

The knight Huldbrand, when riding through the Enchanted Wood, had his
eyes opened, and beneath the turf and the roots of the trees, he looked
through, as it were, a sheet of green glass, and saw the gold and silver
veins in the earth, and the spirits that worked at, and directed their
courses, opening sluices here and stopping currents there. So it is with
those invested with the dowsing gift—with them in the Enchanted Wood of
Life.

In the twilight room Arminell listened to Mr. Welsh’s story of the
funeral of her father, with tears running down her cheeks, regardless of
the manner in which the story was told, in the intensity of her interest
in the matter, and conscious of the intention of the narrator.

The death of Lord Lamerton had indeed evoked an amount of feeling and
regret that showed how deeply-rooted was the estimation in which his
good qualities were held, and how unreal was the agitation that had been
provoked against him.

The county papers of all political complexions gave laudatory notices of
the late nobleman. Every one who had come within range of his influence
had good words to say of him, and lamented his loss as that of a
relative. Selfish interest undoubtedly mixed with the general regret.
The sportsmen feared that the subscription to the foxhounds would not be
maintained on the same liberal scale; the parsons, that on the
occurrence of a vacancy in the Lamerton patronage, their claims would be
overlooked by the trustees; the medical men regretted that the death had
been too sudden to advantage them professionally; the benevolent
societies feared that the park would not be thrown open to them with the
same liberality; the young ladies that there would be no ball at Orleigh
next winter; the topers that they would not taste again the contents of
a famous cellar; the tradesmen that money would not be spent in the
little country town; the artisans that work would be abandoned and hands
discharged. Of course there was self-interest in the minds of those who
lamented the loss of Lord Lamerton, regret was not unmingled with
selfish feeling; but, then, what motives, what emotions are unmixed? The
coin of the realm is not pure, it consists of metal and alloy; and the
feelings that pass current among men are not less adulterated. But are
they the less estimable on that account? Would they pass if unmixed?
Would they be as poignant if pure? Why, the very prayers in which we
address Heaven have their stiffening of self-concern, and it is this
that gives them their force. Are they less acceptable on that account?

Popular feeling was doubly stirred and sympathy for the family greatly
deepened by the news of the almost simultaneous death of Miss Arminell
Inglett. The notice of her death had appeared first in the _Times_, and
then in all the papers; but the circumstances were only imperfectly
known. It was rumoured that the shock of the news of her father’s death
had affected her fatally—her heart having always been weak—whilst in
London staying with her aunt. Such an account had appeared in one of the
society papers, and perhaps Mr. Welsh could give the best explanation of
how it came there. This was reported at Orleigh. Others said she had
died at the second family place in Northamptonshire; all agreed that she
had been buried there beside her mother. Strange rumours had circulated
about Miss Inglett, but they had been traced to Mrs. Cribbage, and every
one knew that the tongue of that lady, like that of an ox, must be taken
with salt. Consequently the rumours died away, and were wholly
discredited.

And it was true that Arminell Inglett was dead. That is to say, the old
self-opinionated, supercilious, self-willed Arminell was no more.

In spring the new buds are sheathed in hard husks. One warm morning
after a shower they thrust aside these horny sheaths, and the tender
foliage appears. It was so with Arminell. She had hitherto worn her
better part, the generous qualities of her soul, in a hard and
ungracious shell; now this shell had fallen off, and they broke forth,
ready to expand and clothe her with a new and unexpected beauty.



                             CHAPTER XLIV.

                                FRAMING.


Mr. James Welsh did all that was requisite for the arrangement of
Arminell’s money-matters. She was entitled to her mother’s dower,
sufficient to maintain her in easy circumstances. The settlement of her
affairs with the trustees, guardians, and the solicitors of the family
was a delicate transaction; Arminell authorised Welsh to act for her,
and he managed with adroitness and tact, without grudging time or
trouble. Meanwhile she remained an inmate of his villa in the Avenue,
Shepherd’s Bush. She did not wish to be hasty in securing a house for
herself and engaging a companion. She would not, however, encroach on
the hospitality of the Welshes, and she insisted on becoming their
lodger, paying them a moderate weekly sum for her board. They were not
rich, their circumstances somewhat strait; it was an object with Mrs.
Welsh to save the penny on the ’bus by walking to the railway arch; and
though, in their exuberant hospitality, they would have cheerfully kept
her as their guest, and treated her to the best they could afford, she
insisted on their accepting her on her own terms, not on theirs.

Only by degrees did she realise to the full extent what her social
suicide implied. It was not possible for her to estimate its costs till
she had committed the irrevocable act which severed her from the world
to which she had belonged; as impossible, or almost as impossible as it
is for the girl who jumps off London Bridge to conceive of the altered
relations and strangeness of the region into which she will pass through
the mud and water of the Thames.

I know that nothing surprised me more as a child than being told that
water was composed of an infinite number of globules arranged like
pebbles in a bag; but the stream of social life, which looks equally
simple and elemental, is in reality made not only of the little
component globules of individual life, but of a thousand other circles
enclosing these globules, all distinct, self-contained, and rotating on
their own axes and taking their own courses. Each of these circles has
its special interests, its special tittle-tattle, its special spites,
and its special ambitions. There are circles of all sorts, professional,
and social, and intellectual, and those who pass from one to another
have to undergo mental adjustment before they can understand the
language and partake in the momentum of these spheres. Such is the
parsonic circle, such the sporting circle, such the circle of
politicians, such the legal circle. Let a hunter pitch his rider in pink
over a hedge into a ditchful of picnicing clergy and their wives and
daughters, and he will be as unable to talk with them as they to
entertain him. Let Mrs. Brown drop through the ceiling into an officers’
mess, and she will not have a thought, a taste, a word in common. Suffer
an archbishop to rise through a trap into the green-room of the ballet
girls, and what would they have in common? The gods live on Olympus,
mortals on the plain, and the demons in Tartarus, and all roll on
together in one current. Dante divides heaven into constellations, and
purgatory into mansions—all the blessed are separated by leagues of
ether, and all the lost by adamantine walls. They do not associate, the
former enjoy themselves by themselves in their cold planets and groups
of stars, and the latter stop in their several torments by themselves.
Their several virtues and several vices classify them and separate them
from their fellows. It is not otherwise in this world. We are all boxed
off from each other, and very uncomfortable when we step out of our
proper box into another.

Arminell felt keenly the solitude of her condition, and it weighed on
her spirits. It was not possible for her at once to accommodate herself
to her new surroundings. She had Mrs. Welsh to talk, or rather to listen
to, but Mrs. Welsh had no other subjects of conversation than the
iniquities of servants and the scandals in high life. According to Mrs.
Welsh, there was but one social circle in which reigned virtue, and that
was the circle of the middle class to which she belonged. Servants as
beneath that were bad, that her daily experience taught her, and the
upper ten thousand, as she knew by the voice of gossip and the
revelations of the press, were also corrupt. It is conceivable that one
may tire of hearing only two subjects discussed, even though these
subjects be of engrossing interest; and Arminell was fatigued with the
relation of the misdeeds of domestics, and the disorders of the
nobility. Shylock said to Antonio that he would talk with him, buy with
him, sell with him, but would not eat with him. Arminell could do
everything with Mrs. Welsh except think with her. The girl felt her
friendless condition. She had no companion of her own age, class, and
sex, to whom she could open her mind and of whom ask counsel. She could
have no more communication with those in the upper world to which she
had belonged, and which shared her intellectual and moral culture, than
can a fish have communication with the bird. It looks up and sees the
beautiful creatures skimming the surface of its element, sees their feet
moving in it, their beaks dipped below it, but the birds do not belong
to the aqueous element, nor the fish to the atmosphere, and they must
live apart accordingly. The bird can pull out a fish and gobble it, and
the fish can bite the toes of the swimming duck, and that is the limit
of their association.

I have heard of the case of a lady who was either struck by lightning or
so paralyzed by electricity that she lay as one dead, bereft of power of
motion. She neither breathed nor did her pulse beat, she could not move
a muscle or articulate a sound. She was pronounced to be dead, and was
measured, shrouded, and put into her coffin. But though apparently dead,
she could hear all that went on in the room, the blinds being drawn
down, the number of feet and inches determined for her shell, the
sobbing of her mother, and the tramp of those who brought in her coffin.
She heard the undertaker ask her father on the day of the funeral,
whether he should at once screw her down—then, by a supreme effort she
succeeded in flickering an eyelid, and her father saw the movement and
sent for a surgeon.

Arminell was dead—dead to her relations, to her friends, and to her
acquaintance. They discussed her, and she was unable to defend herself.
They wept over her, and she could not dry their tears. She was
incapacitated by her own act from giving a token of life. She was
separated from every one with whom for eighteen years she had
associated, cut off from every interest which for all these years had
occupied her mind, severed from that stream of intellectual life in
which she had moved.

She would not quiver an eye in entreaty to be taken out of her shell,
she had deliberately gone into that chest, and to it she must henceforth
contract her interests and accommodate her habits. When we die we carry
away nothing with us of our treasure, but we have our friends and
relatives to associate with in the world of spirits; Arminell, by her
social death, had carried away with her her patrimony, but that was all.
She must make new acquaintances, and acquire fresh friends.

If there be any truth in the doctrine of the transmigration of spirits,
then the souls after death enter into new existences, as dogs, oxen,
elephants, cockatoos, or earth-worms. If so—the dog that fawns on us
with such speaking eyes may be the wife we still lament; and when we cut
a worm in two with our spade, we may be slicing in half our little lost
babe; and the beef of the ox served at our table may have been worn by
the wandering spirit of our most intimate friend.

There are two considerations which make me most reluctant to accept the
doctrine of transmigration—the one is that when we leave our human
frames and enter into those of dog or slug, what wretchedness it will be
for us to adapt our minds and feelings to doggish or sluggish limits.
And the other is that the distress must be insupportable to associate
with those with whom we have lived without the power of communicating
with them.

Now Arminell had transmigrated from the aristocratic order of beings
into the middle class order of beings, and she had to accommodate her
mind to the ways of this lower grade; and although sitting on a bench in
Hyde Park, she might see those she had known, talked to, loved, pass in
Rotten Row, she could no more communicate with them than can those who
have migrated into dog, and cockatoo, and slug, communicate with us.

In course of time, no doubt, she would find congenial spirits, get to
know and love nice girls in this new circle in which she found herself,
but that would take time. In course of time, no doubt, she would find
her place in this new order of life, be caught by its drift, and drive
forward with it. When we are in a railway carriage and cast something
from the window, that object is carried on by the momentum of the train,
and does not drop perpendicularly to the ground. So Arminell in falling
from her class was still for a while sensible of its impulses, but this
would cease in time.

There are cases known to science, in which a person has fallen into a
condition of mental blank, has forgotten everything acquired, and all
acquaintances, and has to begin from the beginning again, to learn to
know the relations and to acquire speech and every accomplishment. Now
such a case was not that of Arminell, for she remembered all her past,
nevertheless she had in this new condition to accept as lost a vast
amount of what she had acquired in eighteen years, and begin to
accumulate afresh.

Now—she was solitary. It had not occurred to her in her former life that
solitude could be oppressive. Then she had counted it as an escape from
the whirl of social intercourse. Then she had resented advice, and
undervalued sympathy; but now, when she was deprived of these things,
she felt the loss of them. The wife transmigrated into a dog may snap
and bark, but cannot otherwise express her heartache, and reproach her
husband when preparing for his second wife; nor can the worm plead and
look at us out of our child’s blue eyes and tell us it is our own little
one translated, when we lift the spade over it. So must Arminell remain
silent and unrecognised before all those who had loved her and known her
in her first existence.

The life she led in the Avenue, Shepherd’s Bush, was so unlike what she
had been accustomed to that it was not possible for her to fit herself
to it all at once. But Arminell had good sense, and a brave spirit. She
did not waste her energies on vain repining. She did not recoil from and
disparage that life into which she had entered. She accepted it, as she
had accepted the revelation of her folly.

There is a serviceable Yorkshire word, descriptive of accommodation to
circumstances, which is worthy of being rescued from a provincialism and
of elevation into general acceptance, and that word is—to frame.

A raw country girl is taken into a household as servant. If she shows
token of adaptability to the situation, teachableness, and willingness,
she is said to frame.

A clerk settles into an office, is quick in acquiring the technicalities
of the business, is interested in his work, obliging as to extension of
hours under pressure, and he is said by his employers to frame.

A newly-married couple, if they make allowances for each other’s
weaknesses, are not self-willed and unyielding, if ready to make the
best of all circumstances, are said also to frame.

The frame is the situation, and it may be of all kinds, plain or rich,
narrow or wide; it may be guilt and burnished, or of rude cross-pieces
of oak. Into this frame the new life, like a picture, has to be fitted,
so much of margin has to be shorn off, or so much of mount has to be
added. The frame will not accommodate itself to the picture, the picture
must be adapted to the frame.

Arminell was in the process of framing, and the frame was one of her own
selection. Whether suitable or not, the situation could not be adapted
to her, she must adapt herself to it; she must cut away here, and piece
on there to fit it. The reader shall be shown some instances of the way
in which Arminell progressed with her framing.

In the first place, the girl had been accustomed all her life to having
a lady’s-maid in attendance on her, and putting to rights everything she
left in disorder. When she changed her dress, she had been accustomed to
throw her clothes about just where she had taken them off; she had not
put her gloves away, tidied her dressing-table, arranged her dresses in
the drawers. When, at first, she came to the Avenue, she did as she had
been wont, and was unable to understand the hints thrown out by her
hostess that the maid had too much of household work to do to be able to
act as a lady’s-maid as well. Then Arminell discovered that it engaged
Mrs. Welsh half-an-hour in the morning, another half-hour in the
afternoon, and a third in the evening, to arrange her clothes and room.
And as she was aware that Mrs. Welsh had no cook, and had to superintend
the cooking herself, this imposed on her hostess an extra and arduous
task. Mrs. Welsh expected before long to be a mother, and to accumulate
work on the good woman at such a time was unjustifiable.

Accordingly Arminell began to put her room to rights herself, learned
how to fold her gowns, and liked to arrange her boots tidily under the
dressing-table, and put her towels straight on the horse, and the comb
on the brush. After a week she found that the trouble she gave herself
was very slight, and that it afforded her real pleasure to be her own
lady’s-maid.

That was one item in the framing.

Mrs. Welsh had not much plate. Arminell was not particular about what
she ate, but she was accustomed to silver and glass, kept very bright,
and to unchipped and pretty china. The plate of the Welsh establishment
was electro-plate, and the plating was somewhat abraded. The forks and
spoons were scratched, not polished. If an egg had been eaten at
breakfast, it was not impossible to identify at dinner the spoon that
had been used for the egg. Even Castle E claret was not attractive when
the bowl of the wine-glass bore on it the impress of a thumb.

One day Arminell said to Mrs. Welsh, “I am sure that the girl is
overworked. Shall I give a final burnish to the silver and glass before
they come on table?” And Mrs. Welsh had joyfully assented. So Arminell
began to take a pride and find a pleasure in being butler in the house
of Welsh.

That was another item in the framing.

One day Mrs. Welsh threw out mysterious hints about the anticipated
addition to the family, and lamented that, owing to her being without a
cook, she had been unable to provide the many articles of clothing which
a new-comer into the world expects and exacts, to wit:—six long
night-dresses, half-a-dozen flannels, six shirts, the same number of
little socks, bibs to the number of one dozen, besides other articles
which for brevity we will include under an &c. What would little Welsh
do without his trousseau?

Then Arminell went out and bought linen and flannel, and horrocks, and
began to cut out and sew, and mark, and then hold up the little garments
and laugh and dance round them, and find a pleasure and pride in being a
sempstress.

That was another item in the framing.

In a couple of weeks, Mrs. Welsh was unable to further superintend the
cooking, The heat of the kitchen made her faint, and the girl, when left
to her own devices, devised startling effects, quite Wagnerian, Doréish.

Then Arminell began diligently to study “Mrs. Warne’s Cookery Book,” and
descend to the subareal world and direct the proportions of condiments,
the rolling of pastry, the mincing of veal, and the stuffing of geese.
Mrs. Welsh had had a limited culinary horizon—beef olives, rissoles,
haricot, were the changes on joint, and the puddings were ground rice
mould, “shape” Mrs. Welsh called it, rice milk and apple-tart. Arminell
extended the range, and was pleased to surprise and delight Mr. Welsh,
when he returned fagged in the evening, with a dinner that was a
pleasure to eat. In a word, she found a gratification and pride in being
cook.

That was another item in the framing.

Later, a little Welsh appeared on the scene, and the monthly nurse
appeared simultaneously. It really seemed as if Mrs. Welsh had been
brought to bed of two babies, for the nurse was as helpless as the
infant. She could, or would, neither dust the patient’s room, nor lay a
fire, nor put a match to the fire when laid for her. She was incapable
of carrying upstairs a cup of tea or bowl of gruel. It was hard to say
which of the two babies was the most incapable, exacting, fractious, and
insatiable. The maid-of-all-work lost what little head she had, and her
temper went along with her head. When, finally, it became clear that the
corpulent, middle-aged baby drank something stronger than milk, Arminell
asked to have her dismissed, and undertook to attend to Mrs. Welsh and
the baby for the remaining fortnight.

Thus Arminell fell into the position of a nurse.

That was another item in the framing.

But there were other adjustments went to the framing. Arminell’s
superciliousness, her pride of intellect, her self-will, required much
paring down. Formerly she had treated what was common-place and humdrum
with contempt as beneath the regard of one gifted with intelligence. Now
she began to acknowledge that it was in the fulfilment of humdrum
duties, and in the accomplishment of common-place obligations that the
dignity and heroism of life lay.

Arminell had been accustomed to criticise severely those with whom she
associated, and to laugh at their weaknesses; and now she had learned
her own weakness, the disposition to laugh at others had departed from
her, and was replaced by great forbearance.

She began to wonder whether the regeneration of society was to be
effected by revolutionary methods, and was not best accomplished by the
slow processes of leavening with human charity.

How often had she supposed that happiness was impossible apart from the
amenities of life, that in the middle class, with its imperfect culture
and narrow aims, there could be no true felicity; that in the lowest
classes, where there was no refinement of taste, no polish of mind, no
discipline of intellect, life must be insupportable in its wretchedness.
But now she saw that happiness was of general distribution and was not
to be arrogated as a prerogative of one class alone, that, indeed, it
seemed to lose its freshness, its gaiety in proportion as knowledge
increased and culture advanced. The two Welshes were happy; James happy
in his work of furious onslaught against aristocracy, Tryphœna happy in
the little sphere of household duties, and supremely happy in giving
food to her baby. Not only so, but the slave, the maid-of-all-work, was
happy down the area, and sang over her drudgery.

Then Arminell recalled the game she had played as a child with her
companions in a circle, holding a string with a gold ring threaded on
it. One child stood in the centre and tried to discover who had the
ring, and the ring passed about the living hoop, and there was no hand
under which the ring might not be found. It was the same with the round
game of life. The gold ring of happiness was not retained by those in
gay clothing, nor to be found only under the taper fingers and in the
delicate palms, as often it slipped under the broad flat hands of those
in washing calico gowns, and quite as often was retained by the laughing
rogues in rags, whose rough hands were begrimed with dirt.

Consequently Arminell’s ideas on this point, as on many another,
underwent radical change. This also went towards the framing. Arminell’s
manner changed. Her impatience was replaced by gentleness and
consideration for others. Instead of her thoughts radiating from and
reverting to self, they played about others, to the forgetfulness of
self.

An underlying sadness never deserted her, but never intruded on notice.
She constrained herself to be cheerful, and its presence was only
revealed by great sweetness of disposition. She took interest in what
interested others, and did not force on others interest in her own
concerns.

There are frames ready-made for all of us. It falls to the lot of an
exceptional few to have frames made to fit them. Some of us make frames
for ourselves, and as we always over-estimate our size such frames are
never suitable. As we cannot expand or contract our frames to our
liking, we must do the other thing, stretch and shape our pictures to
them. I have seen coloured sketches on an elastic material capable of
being extended indefinitely. Well for us if our life’s picture be
painted on such accommodating material.



                              CHAPTER XLV.

                               FAREWELL.


The house at Chillacot had been temporarily repaired, and made
habitable, so that Jingles and his mother could occupy it; but the young
man shortly after the death of his reputed father entered into
negotiations with the railway company for the sale of the place. His
mother was shaken by what had occurred. She had been threatened with
paralysis, and her speech affected for a few days; but she speedily
recovered activity of tongue. There was now nothing in Orleigh to retain
the Saltrens. The mother had never liked the dismal house, it was not
grand enough to meet her ideas, for was she not the sister of a
gentleman of the press, a man who was certain, according to her account,
to contest that division of the county in the Radical interest at the
next election? She resolved to settle in London. There she would be able
to assume more consequence than where she and her antecedents were well
known. But Mrs. Saltren laid down to her son that it was not to any part
of London she would go. She must have a house in the West End—her
brother, she said, lived in the West End. There was no qualifying S.
before or C. after the W. on his address. Those persons who lived in S.
W. or W. C. _might_ be gentlemen, those who lived in division W. _were_
gentlemen. As certain estates in Austria ennoble their purchasers, so
did living in the W. quarter of town elevate socially. At Orleigh Mrs.
Saltren could not aspire to occupy such a position as that which her
fancy pictured herself as adorning in town. There she could figure as
the widow of a captain; at Orleigh it was known too well that the
captaincy of her husband had been over a gang of miners.

The sale of Chillacot would enable her to spend more money than was
usually at her command, and she talked grandly of having a carriage and
a button-boy. At Orleigh she could not speak as freely of her
acquaintance with the Lamerton family as she could elsewhere, for at
Orleigh it was known that her situation at the Park had been a menial
one. The railway company paid liberally for Chillacot, but not so
liberally as Mrs. Saltren figured to herself, nor was the capital thus
acquired likely to cover all the expenditure which she flattered herself
she would be able to launch forth into.

Marianne Saltren had exercised sufficient discretion to hold her tongue
about her husband’s concern in the death of Lord Lamerton, but she was
sufficiently aware of her own frailty to doubt whether she could retain
the secret for ever among confidential friends, and she knew that to
trust an intimate friend with a secret was the way to publish it to the
world. Anxiety lest she should be betrayed into communicating what had
better remain unknown acted strongly upon her to make her desire to
leave Orleigh speedily.

The young man, moreover, had no wish to stay in a place which was
associated in his mind with too many painful and humiliating
recollections. It would not be possible for him there to escape meeting
Lady Lamerton and little Giles, and such encounters must be productive
of distress to her ladyship and embarrassment to himself.

At Orleigh moreover, there were no means of his earning for himself a
livelihood. His mother was welcome, in his eyes, to spend the money
derived from the sale, money to which he had, he felt, a legal but no
moral right. The captain was not his father, therefore he did not
consider himself entitled to what he left.

The desire to make his way in literature had deserted him under the
rebuff received from Mr. Welsh, and his self-confidence had not
recovered the blow it had been given to make him feel himself qualified
to act as political teacher of men.

He resolved on taking a clerkship in an office. His pride was gone. So
long as he could earn enough to support himself and his mother, he did
not care in what sort of business he made the money, so long as it was
fairly and honourably earned.

As the day approached on which it was arranged that he and his mother
should leave Chillacot, Saltren’s heart sank; but not so that of his
mother. She became more talkative and more boastful. Only since he had
discovered how false she had been in the story of his parentage, had his
eyes been open to her unreliability. Hitherto he had looked up to her
with respect. He had never felt much tenderness towards old Saltren, and
his mother by her complaints had bred in him antagonism towards his
father as if he were a man who misunderstood his mother and failed to
show her the love and regard she deserved. There are heads like those of
thistles, that are full of feather-light, mischievous thoughts, which
are blown about the country and in proper soil germinate and produce a
crop of weeds. Such was the head of Marianne Saltren, but Jingles was
sufficiently humbled to acknowledge that unless his own heart had proved
suitable soil, rich in self-conceit, these thistle-down fancies would
not have rooted.

Mrs. Saltren’s acquaintances called to say farewell, and before them her
boasting was so ridiculous that it covered her son with shame. He knew
what the circumstances of James Welsh were, and what the position was
that he occupied in town.

Young Saltren hesitated for some days how to act towards Lady Lamerton.
Should he call and bid her farewell, or should he forbear? To both a
meeting must be painful. If he considered his natural shrinking from an
unpleasant scene, he would desist from paying her his respects; but his
conscience told him that to depart without an apology and a word of
explanation would be ungenerous. Accordingly, on his last day at
Chillacot, he walked over to the Park, and asked to see her ladyship.
Lady Lamerton was engaged at the moment with some ladies who had called
to pay their condolence, so at his request he was shown into the
library; and the butler undertook to inform her ladyship that he was
there, as soon as she was free from her visitors.

As he sat in the familiar room, he mused on what he had to say. The
situation was peculiar, as it was difficult. Lady Lamerton knew nothing,
he supposed, and need know nothing, about the mistake he had made
concerning his parentage. He could not tell her the story which he and
Arminell had believed, and on which they had acted, yet without this key
to their conduct it was hardly possible to explain it—to justify it even
with the key was impossible.

As Jingles sat in the study meditating, the door opened slightly, and
little Giles’s face appeared at it. The moment he saw his old tutor he
uttered an exclamation of delight, and ran to him. “Mr. Saltren, why
have you left me?” he asked: “my dear papa is dead, and I am so unhappy.
Why do you not come back to us? and Arminell is dead also. I have no one
here but mamma. I love mamma, but I want you also.”

Jingles took the little boy on his knee. The child had a delicate,
intelligent face.

“Did you hear that I had arrived?” asked Saltren.

“No; I looked into the library because—I really can hardly say why.
Since I have lost papa, I go all about the house; I know I cannot find
him, but I cannot help running into one room and then another seeking
him. I heard the study door open, and that was papa’s room, and I
thought—that is—I didn’t think—I wondered who could be in papa’s room. I
was fond of coming here and sitting on his lap and hearing about his
rides and his spills when foxhunting. Whenever I hear a door open or a
step on the stairs, I think papa is coming, and then next moment I know
it cannot be so. Why do you not come back? I am doing no lessons now,
and am tired of holiday.”

“You are going to school shortly, Giles.”

“Yes, I know, but not till the term begins. Nurse says that I am my lord
now, and that mamma will call me Lamerton instead of Giles. But I don’t
like it. I don’t wish to take anything that was papa’s. I always
persuade myself he will come back. Did they tell you that I saw a black
coach come to the door and carry away papa? The black coach never came
for Arminell. When I saw that, papa would not let me tell mamma lest it
should frighten her. Why was not Arminell buried in the vault?”

“Have you had any of your bad dreams lately?”

“No, sir, but two nights ago I thought that papa came to my crib side
and kissed me. I did not see, but I felt him; and he put his hand on my
head and stroked my hair, exactly the same way he did that night when I
had my bad dreams and saw the black coach and screamed. I know papa’s
kiss even when I do not hear him speak, and also the touch of his hand,
which is not heavy, but very light. I told nurse about it in the night,
after he was gone, but she said it was all stuff and nonsense, and I
must go to sleep. There comes mamma.”

The boy jumped off his tutor’s knee and stood aside. He had been brought
up to old-fashioned courtesy, and never remained seated when his mother
entered the room.

Lady Lamerton bowed stiffly to Jingles. She was dressed in the deepest
mourning, and looked pale and delicate. At a sign from her the little
fellow withdrew. She indicated a chair, but Saltren, who had risen, did
not reseat himself. She did not speak, but waited for what he had to
say, and she remained standing.

“My lady,” said the young man, “my conscience would not suffer me to
depart, probably never again to revisit Orleigh, without coming here to
express to you in few words what I feel in every fibre of my heart. I
know how much I owe you, my lady,—to your forbearance and kindness
towards a”—he hesitated a moment, and then said the word firmly—“towards
a Prig. I have not the words at my command in which even to allude to
the debt I owe to one who——”

She bowed her head, she understood to whom he referred. His voice
refused to proceed with the sentence.

“I have come, my lady, in the first place to tell you that never, while
life lasts, will I forget what I owe to you and to his lordship.”

“It is a pity”—she began, and then checked herself; but a faint colour
came into her lips, a flush of anger at the recollection of how he had
repaid the kindness shown him.

Jingles waited for her to finish the sentence, but as she did not do so,
he said, “It is a pity I did not remember this earlier. Yes, that I now
admit, to my indelible shame. I acted most ungratefully. I do not know,
my lady, what Miss Inglett has told you, and therefore I am placed in a
difficulty.”

“She has told me everything,” answered Lady Lamerton, “at least so I
suppose. Here is her letter to me, which you are at liberty to peruse,
and you will see by it if there is anything kept back which ought to be
told, or which you wish to tell me.”

She extended a note to him, and he took it, and ran his eye through it.
It was written in Arminell’s firm hand, and it told everything, in her
plain, decisive, and direct manner—she hid nothing, she excused nothing.

He returned the letter to Lady Lamerton.

“There is but one thing for me to add—or rather,” said he, “one
correction for me to make. Miss Inglett takes the blame on herself. It
should rest mainly on my shoulders. Without my offer of help she never
would have left this house. I have no word of self-excuse. No one can
reproach me more severely than I reproach myself. In no eyes can I
figure more despicably than in my own. That is all I have to say—to
assure you of my gratitude and my regret. I thank you, Lady Lamerton,
that you have permitted me to see you and say this.”

“Mr. Saltren,” said she, “I will not disguise the fact that you—you and
my step-daughter between you—have occasioned me more grief than has even
the death of my dear lord. But I am not justified in refusing to accept
your expression of sorrow, though perhaps it is too early yet, and the
wound too fresh, for me to be able heartily to forgive you both. I
acknowledge that you acted for the best when you discovered your error,
in returning promptly to Chillacot, so as to silence the voice of
scandal. Whether Arminell was wise in acting as she did admits of
difference of opinion. For her decision you are not responsible. She
tells me what you proposed—to telegraph for her maid to be sent to
Portland Place, and that the maid should find her at her aunt’s and
accompany her home. If that plan had been executed, only ourselves would
have known the secret history of that London escapade. But she elected
otherwise. She would punish herself for having thought unworthily of her
dear father, and for having embittered his last hour of life. It is
possible, indeed it is probable, that it was the distress and alarm
which he felt, as he took that fatal walk, that blinded him as to his
course, so that he fell over the cliff. I dare say Arminell has judged
right in resolving to suffer. I do not blame her. There is something
honourable in her resolve to abide the consequences of her own foolish
act. She has also spared me the difficulty of meeting her under the
circumstances, and controlling and disguising my feelings towards her.
If we had met immediately, I hardly know how I could have behaved with
composure and charity towards her. I never, never could have loved her
as I have loved her heretofore; for I could not have forgotten the
dishonour she had done in thought to the purest life, the noblest
soul——” Then her ladyship broke down.

After a minute she recovered herself, and proceeded, “She has foreseen
this, and has resolved to relieve me of the restraint, to spare me the
trial. I thank her for that. I confess, Mr. Saltren, that when I heard
you were here my first impulse was to decline an interview. But on
second thoughts I resolved to accord you a meeting. It is as well that
no one should suspect the wrong you have done; and it is right that I
should accept your expression of penitence, for we daily ask of Heaven
to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive such as have trespassed
against us.” She paused.

Saltren’s heart was too full for him to speak.

Silence ensued for a minute or two. Each stood, each with lowered eyes,
and with a struggle raging in each for control over the stirred
emotions.

“I will say good-bye,” said her ladyship, “no doubt for ever. After what
has passed it is as well that we should never meet again. I am glad that
you have called. I am glad that I have received you. I shall think of
you henceforth more kindly, in the light of one who, having done wrong,
devotes the rest of his life to striving to do his duty. Mr. Saltren,
our feelings must not be allowed to guide us, but principle.”

Giles Inglett Saltren walked home much depressed, and yet content that
he had seen Lady Lamerton; depressed because he had seen her and Giles
for the last time, and content because he had done right in seeking the
interview.

He felt now that he had thrown away an opportunity of in some little way
repaying Lady Lamerton for the kindness shown him. But for his mistake
he might at this time have rendered her valuable aid, such as, in a time
of confusion consequent on the fall of the main pillar of a house, must
always occur. He might have been of use to her in a thousand little
ways, knowing as he did the ramifications of life in the great house; of
use also now with the boy in giving vent to his fresh and pliable
character.

A remarkable difference is found to exist between the stages of
development in the physical and moral natures. The insect passes through
three degrees, the larva, the pupa, and imago, the last phase being the
noblest, and the middle the most torpid of the three conditions. With
man and woman physically it is different. The childhood indeed
corresponds to the grub stage, but this is immediately followed by the
butterfly condition, and that of cessation of energies and deterioration
of beauty follows as the third period. In psychical development,
however, man follows the same course as the insect. After the first
voracious acquisitive period of growth, comes the pupa condition, when
the human conscience, glutted with as much knowledge and experience as
it deems sufficient, encases itself in a chrysalis of conceit, and falls
asleep in self-sufficiency. Then, after a period of comatosity, comes a
shock of awakening life, the breath of a new spirit passes over the
earth, the sun smites with provocative ray, and the sleeping soul
stretches itself, and suddenly finds its case too strait for it. Then
that horny hide of self-conceit is riven from top to bottom, and falls
away, and at length the true, the perfect spiritual character comes
forth, flutters its wings for a moment, gains fresh courage and expands
them. It is indeed true that some insects never escape out of their
chrysalis, and some birds stifle in their shells through lack of force
to rive the encasing bound. And it is also true that there are men and
women who to the last remain hide-bound in their self-esteem; and the
moral sense, the spiritual force, the power of development becomes
extinct in them.

In our gardens the spade occasionally brings up these dead pupæ in their
horny coffins; and we are continually coming across human beings in
society, in like manner enchrysalised in conceit, in which they remain
eternally encoffined.

It must not be supposed that the transition condition is without its
throes and effort. On the contrary, the advance to the better, the
perfect life is only possible through effort, and the effort is
stimulated by the sense of oppression, through realisation of the
straitness of the shell.

Hard had been the case that enclosed Jingles, but the Giles Inglett
Saltren we now see had completely emancipated himself from it.

When he opened the door of Chillacot, his mother said—“Giles, I have
secured a servant. I have promised Tamsine Kite a place in my
establishment as lady’s-maid. She will attend me to town.”

“But, mother—”

“My dear, it is settled; and see, here is Captain Tubb.”

“Captain Tubb!”

“Yes, he has come to pay me his respects before I leave, and to
congratulate me on the disposal of Chillacot for so handsome a sum, and
to enquire what I propose doing with the money—and even to suggest a
desirable investment for it.”



                             CHAPTER XLVI.

                            ON FLOWER-POTS.


Saltren moved with his mother to London, and went with her into
lodgings. Mrs. Saltren had insisted on taking Thomasine with her, and
incurred accordingly the additional expense of maintaining her where she
was not wanted. Thomasine was not likely to be of use till the Saltrens
got a house of their own, and Giles did not choose to take one till he
had got into a situation and was able to see what his prospects were
likely to be. As lady’s-maid to Mrs. Saltren, Thomasine was, of course,
no good at all, or likely, to employ that serviceable Yorkshire word
again, “to frame” as one.

“Whatever you do,” said Mrs. Saltren, “mind that we live in the West
End. Why don’t you go to Shepherd’s Bush, near the Welshes? A man of my
brother’s political and literary position must have hosts of
distinguished acquaintances, and a woman of Tryphœna’s accomplishments
and beauty must have the _entrée_ into the highest circles. If we lived
near them we might get good introductions. If we don’t get settled to my
liking shortly in a fashionable quarter of town, I do not know but that
I may return to Orleigh.”

“Return to Orleigh!” echoed the son, “why, mother, I thought that your
desire had been to leave it. Besides, we have not a house there any
more.”

“I know we have not,” answered his mother, “but what _we_ may be
without, it is possible that _I_ might secure.”

“I do not understand,” said Jingles.

“I think,” said Mrs. Saltren, “that it is proper the money paid by the
railway company for Chillacot should be put into the bank in my name and
not in yours.”

“I have already told you, mother,” said Giles, “that I will not touch it
myself. I consider it yours, not mine.”

“But I have not the disposal of it.”

“Indeed, mother, you have; it is entered in your name, not in mine,
already. I have no account at the bank at all.”

“How can you talk nonsense,” said Mrs. Saltren; “you have all your
savings—quite a fortune—which you got at the Park whilst tutor to young
Giles.”

“My dear mother, I had not the time to accumulate a fortune. I was tutor
there for eighteen months and what I saved was a hundred and twenty-five
pounds, and that sum is already disposed of.”

“Disposed of! What have you done with it?”

“I have purchased an annuity for some one.”

“For whom? for me?”

“No, mother, not for you. You have the purchase money of Chillacot.”

“For whom then? I insist on knowing.”

“For a man who has been crippled, and is unable to earn his livelihood.”

“What nonsense! What absurd fit of heroic charity has come over you?
Since you went to town in that strange, hurried fashion at the time of
your father’s death, you have been altered from what you were before, as
different as canister beef from that which is fresh from the ox.”

Giles said nothing in self-defence.

“But I insist on knowing on whom you have thrown this money away.”

“I do not wish to tell—on a man who has the nearest of claims on me.”

Mrs. Saltren considered, then coloured, looked mortified, and did not
prosecute her inquiries. “Well,” she said petulantly, “a fool and his
money is soon parted. I am very glad I insisted on having the Chillacot
purchase money removed from your fingering. Please to ring for my
lady’s-maid.”

“Lady’s-maid, mother?”

“For Thomasine. I want to speak to her. You may leave the room. Here we
have been in town a week and the Welshes have not called. If we are to
be more solitary here than we were at Chillacot, I shall go back to
Orleigh. Ring for my lady’s-maid.”

Mrs. Saltren was, indeed, becoming tired of London. Her opportunities
for boasting were confined to talks with her landlady and her landlady’s
visitors.

It did her soul good, said the woman of the lodgings, to hear of lords
and ladies; it was as comforting and improving as the words that dropped
from the lips of the Reverend Hezekiah Bumpas. She felt it down to her
toes.

Mrs. Saltren indulged her in this particular to her heart’s content. She
knew many persons of distinction. Lady Hermione Woodhead, who lived in
Portland Place, had once been her intimate friend, till they differed
about Lord Lamerton’s marriage. What had made them differ? It did not
become her to speak, but his lordship had set his affections elsewhere,
she could not name in what direction, and had been inveigled by the
Woodheads into an alliance with their family. It was a mistake, an
entanglement managed by designing women.

Lord Lamerton was ill after his engagement, so was another person who
must be nameless. When Lady Lamerton died, then his first flame had
married—without love, and in his desperation he married again. Of course
after that first estrangement she and Lady Hermione never spoke.
She—Marianne Saltren—had passed the Earl of Anstey’s family repeatedly
without recognition. If her landlady doubted her word, let her accompany
her to Hyde Park, and when the Anstey family drove by, she would see
that they took no notice of each other. After what had happened it could
not be otherwise. But though Mrs. Saltren could talk what nonsense came
into her vain head to the lodging-house keeper, she was disappointed
that she could not to a larger circle, disappointed at the little notice
she attracted in town. It was most strange that the Welshes took no
notice of her. She feared that they were going to treat her with
coldness and not introduce her to the distinguished circle of
acquaintances in which they moved.

I knew a young girl who was given lessons in oil-painting before she had
learned how to draw, and a somewhat similar inversion of order went on
in the instruction of Thomasine Kite, whom Marianne Saltren began to
train to be a lady’s-maid before the girl knew the elements of domestic
service, having previously been a farm-maid, feeding pigs and scouring
milk-pails.

Thomasine did not take readily to instruction, least of all could she
acquire deference towards her mistress; and Mrs. Saltren was irritated
at the freedom with which the girl accosted her, and at the laughter she
provoked in Thomasine when she, Marianne, assumed her grand manner.
Moreover, she discovered that her landlady had been questioning the girl
in private as to the circumstances and former position of her mistress,
and Mrs. Saltren was afraid that the revelations in the kitchen might
cause some of her stories to be discounted. Fortunately for her, the
broad dialect of Thomasine was almost unintelligible to the landlady,
and the girl had the cunning of the uneducated, which leads them to
evade giving a direct answer to any question put to them.

Giles Inglett Saltren was unaware till he came to town that Arminell was
settled in the house of the Welshes. He knew that his uncle had
undertaken to arrange matters of business for her, and to look out for a
house and companion for her, but he had refrained from asking questions
about her, from motives of delicacy. Indeed, he had scarcely written to
Mr. Welsh since his return to Orleigh. He was resolved not again to seek
his assistance on his own behalf, but to find a situation for himself.
When, however, he came to town, and met his uncle at an office in the
city, he learned from him where Arminell was, and at once urged on Mr.
Welsh the mischief which would ensue should Mrs. Saltren discover that
Miss Inglett was alive and their lodger. Welsh saw that, and undertook
to prevent his wife from calling on Mrs. Saltren, and promised to keep
his eye open for an opportunity of placing Arminell elsewhere. Marianne
Saltren shared the prevailing opinion that Miss Inglett was dead and
Giles was specially anxious lest she should discover that this was not
the case. If she were to see Arminell, would it be possible to control
her tongue? Would she not be eager to publish the fact that the
Honourable Miss Inglett was a guest of her brother and sister-in-law?

It had been Saltren’s intention to keep away from Arminell, but under
this alarm he felt it his duty to see her and precipitate her departure
from Shepherd’s Bush. His mother could not be kept indefinitely away
from her brother’s house. One word from his mother might frustrate
Arminell’s intention, upset her plans. From Mrs. Saltren the report
would rapidly spread. Mrs. Cribbage had ears like those of the trusty
servant on the Winchester escutcheon, and without the trusty servant’s
padlock on the tongue. If once the truth got wind, to what difficulties
would the Lamerton family be put, now that they had accepted and
published the death of the girl!

The author of this novel was involved many years ago in an amateur
performance of “Macbeth,” but the sole part he took in the tragedy was
to sit in the midst of the witches’ cauldron, and ignite the several
coloured fires which were destined to flame, as scale of dragon, tooth
of wolf, liver of blaspheming Jew, were cast in. But when, to Locke’s
lovely music, the imps and witches danced around the vessel, then it was
his function to explode a so-called flower-pot, which is a roaring,
spirting composition of fire-work. Unfortunately, at the first chorus
and circular dance, the blazing flower-pot tumbled back upon the author,
concealed within the depths of the cauldron, and, to save himself from
an _auto-da-fé_ end, he enveloped the flower-pot in a rug, and screwed
it up tight and sat on it. So the scene ended, and, believing that the
fire-work was completely extinguished, he then unfolded the rug. No
sooner, however, did the air reach the smothered fire-work, than it
bounced, and roared, and blazed with doubled vigour. It threw out
sheaths of flame, it shot off Roman candles, it ejected a score of
crackers, and filled the entire stage with smoke, and very nearly burnt
down the theatre.

Saltren dreaded something of this sort happening now. The fire-work of
scandal had, indeed, been muffled up and smothered, when first it began
to fizz; but—who could tell?—if it got air again, even through a
pin-hole, it would burst into furious conflagration and defy all efforts
made to suppress it.

The writer of this story takes this occasion of apologising—if apology
be necessary—for the introduction, on more than one occasion, of his own
adventures, his own opinions, and, if you will it, his own prejudices
into the course of his narrative. He will be told that the author should
disappear as a personality, just as the actor merges his individuality
in that of the character he represents. He must treat himself as a
flower-pot and wrap himself up in the _garde-robe_ of his _dramatis
personæ_. I might, of course, have told that story of the flower-pot in
the cauldron as having happened to Jingles at Orleigh, but then I could
never have told that story again at a dinner-party, for my guest, next
but one, would say, “Ah! that happened to my brother, or to my uncle, or
to an intimate friend;” and how can I deny that Jingles did not stand in
one of these relations to him?

Montaigne, the essayist, was a sad sinner in the introduction of himself
into his prose. The essay on which he was engaged might be on the
history of Virgil, or Julius Cæsar, but there was certain to creep into
it more of Montaigne than of either. The younger Scaliger rebuked him
for it, and, after having acquainted the world with the ancestry of
Montaigne, he adds, “His great fault is this, that he must needs inform
you, ‘For my part I am a lover of white wines or red wines.’ What the
Devil signifies it to the public,” adds Scaliger, “whether he is a lover
of white wines or red wines?” So, but with more delicacy, and without
the introduction of that personage whose name has been written with a
capital D, the reader may say to the author, What the blank does it
signify what you think, what you like, what you did, whether you ever
sat in a cauldron, whether you ever had a flower-pot fall on your head,
whether you sought to extinguish it by sitting on it?—go on with your
story.

But a man’s personality—I mean my own—is like that piece of pyrotechnic
contrivance, a flower-pot. He wraps it up, he smothers it under fold
after fold of fiction; but, fizz! fizz! out it comes at last—here,
there, on all sides, and cannot be disguised. There is, to be sure, that
subterfuge, the use of the first person plural in place of the first
person singular, but is it not more vainglorious to talk of We, as if we
were royalties, instead of plain and modest I?

When Giles Saltren arrived at the house in the Avenue, Shepherd’s Bush,
Arminell flushed with pleasure, sprang from her seat, and with
outstretched hand started to receive him; then she checked herself, and
said, “I am glad to see you. Oh, Mr. Saltren, I hear nothing of Orleigh,
of dear, dear Orleigh! I have the heartache for news. I want to hear my
own tongue wag on the subject nearest my heart, and to listen to tidings
about the people I knew there. I am like a departed soul looking back on
familiar scenes, and unable to visit them and old friends, and unable to
communicate with them. I am Dives, and Orleigh is to me Paradise. You
have come thence with a drop of fresh news wherewith to cool my thirsty
tongue.”

“I am Lazarus indeed,” said Saltren, “but out of Paradise. Ask me what
you will about Orleigh, and I will answer what I can.”

“There is one matter that teases me,” she said; “I promised a poor
fellow, before I left, that he should have employment at a small wage,
and I do not suppose he has had what I undertook to give him.”

“Do you mean Samuel Ceely? He is provided for.”

“How so?”

“He has come in, unexpectedly, for a little money, wherewith an annuity
has been purchased.”

“I am glad of that. And—my mother and Giles, have you seen them?”

“Yes, I called to say farewell to both. Lady Lamerton looks worn and
sad, and your dear brother is out of spirits; but this could not be
otherwise.”

Arminell’s eyes filled, and she went to the window and dried her tears.

“Miss Inglett,” said the young man, after she had been given time to
recover herself, “I have only ventured to call on you for one reason,
that I might impress on you the necessity of leaving this house. My
mother is in town, and she must not be allowed to know or even suspect
that you are alive and here.”

Arminell did not speak for some time. Presently she said, “Do not let us
talk about anything at present but Orleigh. I am parched for news. I
daresay there is nothing of tremendous importance to relate, but I care
for little details. How was the house looking? Were the trees turning to
their autumn tints? The Virginian creeper, was that touched with
crimson? How are Mr. and Mrs. Macduff? I could not abide them when I was
at Orleigh; I could be thankful now for a sound of their delightful
Scotch brogue. What is Giles going to do? dear little boy! I would give
a week’s sunlight for a kiss from his moist lips—which formerly I
objected to. And mamma—has she been to the Sunday School since—since—?”

Then Arminell’s tears flowed again.

After another pause, during which the young man looked through the
photographic album on the table, Arminell recovered herself, and said,
“Do not suppose for a moment that I regret my decision. My conscience is
relieved. I am beginning to acquire fresh interests. I am now making a
frock for baby. I am godmother to Mrs. Welsh’s child, and have come to
be very fond of him. But there—tell me something about Orleigh, and
Giles, and my mother—about any person or animal, or shrub or tree there.
And, oh! can you obtain for me some photographs of the place? I should
cherish them above everything I have. I dream of Orleigh. I think of
Orleigh, and—I shall never see dear Orleigh again.”

“I will come another day, Miss Inglett, and tell you all that I can, but
to-day I must urge on you the vital necessity of at once leaving this
house.”

“Your aunt can hardly get on without me.”

“She managed formerly without you, she must do the same again.”

“But there was no baby in the house then. And, besides, the new cook who
was to have come has failed. The last went up a ladder sixty feet high,
and it took several constables and a sergeant to get her down.”

Arminell laughed through her tears.

“Miss Inglett, consider what the difficulty would be in which her
ladyship would be placed should it become known—”

“Mrs. Saltren and her lady’s-maid!”

The door was thrown open by the maid of-all-work, and she ushered into
the drawing-room the person of all others—except perhaps Mrs.
Cribbage—whom it was desired to keep from the house, and she was
followed by Thomasine Kite.

Verily, the flower-pot was not smothered. It was about to fizz and puff
again.



                             CHAPTER XLVII.

                              EQUILIBRIUM.


The story is told of a mouse having been hidden under a dish-cover, and
a married pair introduced into the dining-room and invited to partake of
every dish except that which remained covered. When left to themselves,
the woman, contrary to the advice of her husband, raised the cover, and
out ran the mouse. Blue Beard forbade Fatima to open one door in his
castle, and of course she tried the forbidden key. There was one tree in
the midst of Paradise of which our first parents were not allowed to
eat, and of course they nibbled at the fruit to discover how it tasted.
All these stories point to the truth that nothing can be retained from
human inquisitiveness. A secret resembles a mouse more than an apple or
a dead wife of Blue Beard, for the mouse escapes when once uncovered and
can no more be hidden, whereas the apple disappears when eaten, and the
dead woman is locked up again. A secret when once out is all over the
house, and is far too wary to be trapped again.

Who would expect to find a mouse under a dish-cover? So with secrets,
they are let loose from the most unlikely places, and many of us know
that so well that we devote our energies to, and spend our time in
lifting china cups, opening snuff-boxes, removing lids of tea caddies,
unsnapping purses, pulling out drawers, boring holes in casks, in the
hopes of letting out secrets. We suspect our acquaintance and “visit”
their goods, as if we were custom-house officers in search of what is
contraband. We know that they have a forbidden secret somewhere, and we
search and probe everywhere to discover it.

There are mice everywhere; if we hold our breath and remain still for
two minutes we can hear them scratching and squeaking; and there are
secrets everywhere, behind the wainscot, under the floor, in the
cupboard. Once I knew of a nest of mice in a gentleman’s boot, and once
in a lady’s muff; and secrets nest and breed in quite as extraordinary
places—in a pocket, in a bunch of flowers, in envelopes, under pillows.

Æsop tells of a beautiful cat that was transformed into a woman, but
this woman could never forget her feline instinct to run after a mouse.
A great many ladies I know have the same feline instinct to spring out
of bed, up from their sofas, to make a dart after a secret, if they hear
but the slightest footsteps, see but a whisker. I do not blame them. Men
are sportsmen, why should not women be mousers? We find pleasure in
starting a hare, why should not a woman find as much in starting a
couching secret?

I do not blame them for their love of sport, but for what they do with
their game when it is caught. We bag ours, they let theirs run. Samson
did the same. He caught foxes and tied firebrands to their tails and
sent them into the standing corn of the Philistines. Our secret-hunters,
when they have caught their game, tie brimstone matches to their tails
and send them among the stores of their neighbours.

I do not believe in the possibility of concealing secrets, and therefore
never try to keep them. As for pursuing a secret when once out, that is
labour in vain, it changes form, it doubles, it dives, it has as many
artifices as a chased fox. As soon recover a secret as recondense
volatile essential oils that have been spilt. A secret is not safe in
our own heads, for our heads are of amber, and the secret is visible to
every one who looks at us, like a congealed fly therein.

In one of the Arabian Nights’ Tales a princess goes after a necromancer
who has transformed himself into a scorpion, and she takes the shape of
a serpent; the wizard, hard pressed, becomes a cat, and the princess
attacks him in the disguise of a wolf. Then the cat becomes a seed, and
the wolf a cock, thereat the seed falls into a canal and is transmuted
into a trout, which is at once chased by the princess in shape of a
pike. Finally both issue in flames from the water, the wizard is reduced
to ashes, but so also is the princess. If we try to overtake and make an
end of a secret, we shall meet with less success than did this princess.
She at last succeeded in destroying her game, but we, in our efforts to
catch and make an end of an unpleasant secret, get set on flames
ourselves. If we have anything we do not want our neighbours to know,
and it has got out, we had better let it run; we cannot recover it.
Indeed I believe that the best way to conceal what we do not want to
have known is to expose it for sale, to dangle it before the eyes of
every one, like those men outside the Exchange who offer spiders at the
end of threads of elastic for one penny. Nobody buys. No one even looks
at them. But were one of these fellows to hide such a black putty spider
in his hat, up his arm, in his pocket, a crowd would collect and pull
him to pieces to find the spider.

It was not immediately that Arminell realised the serious consequences
of Mrs. Saltren’s visit, but the young man knew at once that all chance
of the secret being respected was at an end.

“I am interrupting,” said the widow, knowingly, “I am sure I hadn’t the
wish. I came to see Mrs. Welsh, and never expected to find my son here,
much less Miss Inglett.”

“Mrs. Welsh is upstairs with the baby,” said Arminell. “You have not
seen your nephew. Shall I fetch him, Mrs. Saltren?”

“Not for the world, Miss Inglett. I will run upstairs and find my
sister-in-law, who, I do say, has been negligent in calling on me. But
if the mountain won’t go to Mahomet, Mahomet must go to the mountain.
I’m sure I don’t want to intrude here. You may leave the room,
Thomasine, I don’t want you to follow me up to the nursery. Go down to
the kitchen. Every one ought to know her own place.”

When the girl had disappeared, Mrs. Saltren said confidentially, “We
brought the young person to town, and she don’t understand how to friz
the hair, and me wanting to wear a fringe. However she could have had
the face to offer for my situation as lady’s-maid, passes my
understanding. But, Miss, the conceit of the rising generation is
surprising. I want to ask Mrs. Welsh to take the creature off my hands
in any capacity she likes to name. She might do as parlour-maid, or
nurse-girl, or cook, anything but lady’s-maid. I’ve tried to teach her
to fold gowns, but folding is like music or painting—you must be born
with the gift; it cannot be learnt; and as some have no ear for tune,
and others no eye for colour, so have some no natural gift for folding.
You can’t make, as they say, a fichu out of a bustle. I had once a red
flannel coverlet, and a hole was burnt in it, so I turned it into a
petticoat. When the hot weather came I couldn’t bear it, and as the Band
of Hope wanted a banner, I did a non-alcoholic motto on it in straw
letters, and converted it into a Temperance banner, and very inspiriting
it was. It is the same with girls. Some you can adapt to all sorts of
purposes, others you can’t.”

When Mrs. Saltren had left the room in quest of her sister-in-law and
the baby, Giles said in a tone of discouragement, “I do not know what is
to be done. It is inevitable that the news of your being here should
reach Orleigh, either through my mother or the girl, probably through
both, not perhaps at once, but eventually. Then—what a difficult
position Lady Lamerton will be in!”

Arminell looked down on the carpet, and traced the pattern with her
foot. Presently she looked up and said, “I see—I never did justice to
the merits of humdrum. Even when I was shown my folly and acknowledged
my fault, I must needs still play the heroine, and take a bold step, not
altogether justifiable, because it landed me in falsehood, and involved
others in untruth. But I thought then it was the simplest course for me
to follow to escape having to equivocate and even lie. The straight
course is always the best. Now I admit that. Short cuts do not always
lead where one thinks they will. I wish I had acted with less
precipitation and more modesty, had listened to your advice and acted
without dissimulation. For myself now I do not care, but I do not see
how my mother and other relations can extricate themselves from the
dilemma in which I have placed them.”

“Nor do I.”

“I am neither dead nor alive. The situation is almost grotesque. I wish
it were not distressing. Do not misunderstand me. It is painful to
myself only, as every sharp lesson cuts. But I am more vexed for the
sake of others than for my own. I have been a fool, an utter fool.”

She put her hands over her eyes.

“Upon my word, Mr. Saltren,” she said after an interval, “I have hardly
an atom of self-confidence left. There never was a more perverse girl
than myself, such a profound blunderer. I make a mistake whatever I do.
What is to be done? What can I do?”

Giles Saltren was silent. The predicament was one from which there was
no escape.

“Your mother’s red coverlet was better than me,” said Arminell. “That
did serve some good purpose, to whatever end it was turned, but I always
get from one difficulty into another, and drag my friends out of one
discomfort into another still worse. Only here—here am I of any good at
all; I was born into a wrong sphere, only now have I returned to that
system in which I ought to have been planted when called into existence.
And yet even in this I produce a disturbing effect on the system of
planets I have left.”

“You cannot remain in this house, Miss Inglett, not now for the reason I
gave at first, but because too much is put upon you.”

“Nothing is put on me—I take on me what I feel qualified to execute. Do
you remember the answer made by the young Persian to Cyrus, when the
prince reprimanded him because his actions were not in accordance with
his previously expressed sentiments? ‘Sire,’ he said, ‘I perceive that I
have two souls in me, one wilful and wicked, and the other modest and
righteous. Sometimes one is awake and at other times the second.’ So it
is with me. Now I trust the nobler soul is rubbing its eyes and
stretching itself, and the sandman is scattering dust in the eyes of the
baser soul. My old soul was haughty and lived in an atmosphere of
extravagance, and the new one is humble, and delights in the breath of
common-place. Do you remember, Mr. Saltren, telling me of the effect of
the contrast to you of a return from Orleigh Park to Chillacot? You said
that you were unfitted by the grandeur of the former to endure the
meanness of the latter. At the time when you said this, I thought that
such a translation to me would be unendurable, but the translation has
been effected, and I am not miserable. On the contrary, but for my
self-reproach and looking back on lost faces and scenes, I should be
happier here; for the childlike spirit is waking in me, which is content
with trifles.”

“Happier—here! Miss Inglett, surely not.”

“Yes—happier. I am happier in helping others. I am become useful to Mrs.
Welsh, I relieve her of the baby, I can even cook fairly, I make the
glass and silver shine. The work and worry here were more than your aunt
could bear. Cooks are scarce as saints. The last your aunt had—oh! I
have already mentioned the circumstances. I will not repeat them. I do
not feel that the house is small, indeed I am glad that it is not
larger. We talk a good deal about the misdeeds of servants, and the
difficulty there is in getting cooks; in my former world we talked a
good deal about the unscrupulousness of politicians, and the difficulty
there was in getting morality among statesmen—political morality I mean.
We discuss now the humours of the baby, what his dribbling means—whether
teeth or disorder; and we discussed then the humours of the public, and
what the dribble meant that flowed so freely at public meetings. We
think now how we may cut out and alter garments for the little creature;
and then, what adjustments and changes were needed for the satisfaction
of the public. Conversation on each subject is as interesting and as
profitless. I thought at one time that I could not live away from rocks
and trees—I hardly miss them now. I have no time to consider whether I
want them or not, because I am engaged all day. I really believe that
the servant girl, the slavey, as your uncle calls her, is happier than
your aunt or me, because she has the fewest responsibilities and the
most work.”

Arminell spoke fast, half in jest, half in tears; she spoke quickly, to
conceal the emotion she felt.

“Did you see a picture at the Royal Academy a few years ago representing
the Babylonian Marriage Market? In old Babylon all marriageable women
were sent up to auction, and the sum paid for the pretty ones went as
dower for those who were ugly. Thus was a balance preserved. I suspect
it is much the same in life. There is equilibrium where we least expect
it. The peacock has a gorgeous plumage and a horrible voice, the
nightingale the sweetest song and the plainest feathers. Some of our
most radiant flowers are without perfume, and some that smell
odoriferously have little in the way of beauty to boast of. When I was
in the aristocratic world, I had my luxuries, intellectual, æsthetic,
and physical, but somehow, I lacked that joyousness I am finding here.
In the middle class there is a freedom from the restraints which cramped
us in the class above, and I have no doubt that there is an _abandon_,
an _insouciance_ in the class below which makes up for the deficiency in
the amenities, refinements, and glow of life in higher spheres. There is
a making up of the balance, an adjustment of the equilibrium in the
market-place of modern life as in that of ancient Babylon. Those with
rank and wealth have to walk with muffled faces, only the plain and
lowly may breathe freely and let the sun kiss their cheeks.”

“Miss Inglett, I am sure, notwithstanding your efforts to make me think
the contrary, that you are not happy.”

“I tell you that I am. I say this in all sincerity. I do not deny that I
feel a heartache. That is because my conscience reproaches me, and
because I now love and regret what I once cast from me. If I had not
been born elsewhere I should be fresh and happy now, but every plant
suffers for a while when transplanted. I am throwing out my rootlets and
fastening myself into the new soil, and will soon be firm fixed in it as
if I had grown there from the beginning—my only trouble that I have
dreams of the past. A princess was once carried off by Rübezahl, giant
spirit of the mountains, to his palace of crystal in the heart of the
earth. He gave her all she could wish for, save one thing, the sound of
the cattle bells on the Alpine pastures. His home was too far down for
those sounds to reach. Whenever we are carried away from our home, we
must always carry away with us some recollections of pleasant sounds and
sights, and they linger with us as memories over which to weep. But
there—we have had enough about myself—nay, too much. I want to hear what
you are about, and what are your prospects.”

“I am in search of occupation, and have, so far, met only with
disappointment.”

“You have been anxious. You are not looking well.”

“Naturally, I am anxious. I, like you, have the weight of the past
oppressing me. Unlike you, I have not accommodated myself to my
transplantation, but—in fact, I have not yet found soil in which my
roots may take hold.”

“What soil do you want?”

“Any. There is a demand, I am told, for muscle; the market is glutted
with brain, or what passes for brain. As there is a deficiency in the
supply of cooks, I will mount a white cap and apron and apply for a
kitchen. But, seriously, apart from my affairs, which can wait, yours
must be attended to.”

“But nothing can be done. You propose nothing. I can suggest nothing.”

Then in came Mrs. Welsh and Mrs. Saltren. The former was carrying the
baby.

“It is all settled,” said Tryphœna Welsh. “Rejoice with me, Miss
Inglett. I did want a cook, one not given to climbing ladders, and now I
have got one; now James will swear, for he has been spoiled by your
cookery, Miss Inglett; at last I have got a cook, the girl Thomasine
Kite. Come, kiss the baby and thank Heaven.”



                            CHAPTER XLVIII.

                              L’ALLEMANDE.


“Why, blessings on me!” exclaimed Mrs. Saltren, on her return to the
lodgings in Bloomsbury. “Whoever expected the pleasure! And—I am sorry
that you should see us here, Captain Tubb; not settled into our West-End
house. Me and my son are looking about for a suitable residence, genteel
and commodious, and with a W. to the address; but there is that run on
the West End, and it is almost impossible, without interest, to get a
house. My brother, however, who is like to be an M.P., is using his
influence. But, captain, you see that every house won’t suit me; I’m not
going to be in the shade any more. Well, it is a pleasure to see an
Orleigh face here; and, pray, what has brought you to town, Captain
Tubb?”

The visitor was in a black suit, that obtained for his son’s funeral; he
held his hat in one hand, with a broad black cloth band about it. With
his disengaged hand he thrust up his beard and nibbled the ends.

Ladies play with their fans, coquette with them, talk with them, angle
with them; and an uninitiated person looking on wonders what is the
meaning of the many movements made with the fan—the unfurling, the
snapping, the half-opening. Perhaps Captain Tubb may have been
coquetting, talking with his hat, for he turned it about, then looked
into it, then smoothed it where it was ruffled, then put it under his
chair, then took it up and balanced it on his knee. I cannot tell. If he
was not speaking with his hat, what else could he have meant by all the
movements he went through with it?

“Well, ma’am,” said the captain; “seeing as how I was in London, I
thought I’d come and inquire how you was getting along. How are you? And
how is Mr. Jingles?”

“I, myself, am but middling,” answered Mrs. Saltren, with stateliness.
“My son—Mr. Giles Inglett Saltren—is very well indeed. I have gone
through a great deal of trouble, and that takes it out of one,” said
Mrs. Saltren, “like spirits of nitre.”

“So it do, ma’am. There is a vale of misery; but the sale of Chillacot
was an elevation in the same; and bank-notes are of that spongy nature
that they sop up a lot o’ tears. How, if I may make so bold as to ask,
is your son thinking of investing the money? You see, ma’am, poor
Captain Saltren and I knowed each other that intimate, our lines o’
business running alongside of each other, that we was always a-hailing
of each other. And now that he’s gone, it seems natural for me to come
and consult with his relict.”

“You’re flattering, Mr. Tubb. I must say, it is a pity my poor Stephen
did not oftener consult me. If he had—but there, I won’t say what I
might. About Chillacot, he was that pig-headed that—but no, not another
word. I’ve always heard say that the wife is the better half. What a
mercy it is, and how it proves the wisdom of Providence, that the wusser
half was took away first.”

“You don’t know, Mrs. Saltren, how dreadful you’re missed in Orleigh;
the place don’t seem the same without you. And folks say such spiteful
things too.”

“As what, captain?”

“As that, having sold Chillacot, you ought to spend the purchase money
there, and not be throwing it about in town.”

“Do they now? But I’m not throwing it about; it is all in the bank.”

“I reckon Mr. Jingles—I mean your son, ma’am—has it there in his own
name.”

“Not at all, cap’n. The money is mine.”

Captain Tubb whisked round the brim of his hat with both hands.

“There have been changes since you’ve gone,” he said. “For one, there is
old Sam Ceely married.”

“Sam Ceely!” echoed Mrs. Saltren, and dropped her hands in her lap.

“It does seem almost wicked for a man at his time of life and crippled.
But he and Joan Melhuish have been keeping company a long time, and now
he has come in for some money. I hope,” said the captain, “that the
childer, if there come any, mayn’t come into this world with half their
fingers blowed off through poaching, and a bad life through
drunkenness.”

Mrs. Saltren said nothing.

“There’s another thing,” pursued Captain Tubb. “The new quarry is
running out, and we’re thinking of reopening the old one.”

“What—that which is full of water? It is worked out.”

“Oh, no! there is more lime if more head be taken off; but there can be
nothing done till the water is pumped out.”

“You are thinking of pumping the quarry dry?”

“Yes, ma’am; with a water-wheel it could be cleared. I’ve talked the
matter with Mr. Macduff and the trustees, and they are content to let me
have the quarry rent free for five years, if I will put up the proper
machinery to get out the water.”

“The expense will be very heavy.”

Captain Tubb stroked his beard, and put the ends into his mouth; then,
after consideration, he admitted—

“Well, it will cost money.”

“And are you really going to sink money in pumping out water?”

“Consider, Mrs. Saltren, that I shall have the working of the quarry for
no rent at all during five years.”

“And you think it worth the outlay?”

“Seven per cent. guaranteed.”

“My son says that all I can expect to get for my capital if invested is
five per cent.”

“I dare say, in town. At Orleigh, seven.”

Neither spoke for some time; Captain Tubb continued to play alternately
with his beard and his hat; and Mrs. Saltren looked on the floor, then
furtively at her visitor.

Presently the widow asked, “What will you take? Bottled stout or spirits
and water?”

“Thank you, whichever you drink.”

“I drink neither,” answered Mrs. Saltren, drawing herself up. “I taste
nothing but tea and water; but when an old friend comes and sees me, I
make an exception. I have some whisky in the sideboard—Giles suffers in
his inside, and I’m obliged to keep it by me against his attacks. If you
will allow me, I will get it out.”

She rang for water and tumblers, and produced the spirits and sugar.

“Now tell me some further news of Orleigh,” she said, as she stirred a
glass.

“There has been the cottage of Patience Kite done up again,” said he,
“and she has gone back into it, which is unfortunate, for it would have
suited me if I work the old quarry.”

“But surely it would not be large enough for you, cap’n?”

He shook his head. He had finished his glass, and now abstractedly he
half filled it with water.

“Since poor Arkie died, I’m very lonely. It is fifteen years since I
buried my wife. I feel as lonely as does this drop o’ water in the
tumbler, without spirits to qualify it.”

Mrs. Saltren pushed the whisky bottle towards him.

“Mix to your liking, captain,” she said.

In old English country dances there is a figure known by the name of
l’allemande, which consists of a couple dancing round each other, back
to back, after which they join hands and dance down the middle. The
allemande lingers on in Sir Roger de Coverley, but is never performed in
polite society. It survives in full force in country courtships.

We who live in the midst of artificiality of all kinds in our time of
roses sigh for the unchecked liberty of the rustic swain and his
milkmaid, and kick at the little etiquettes which restrain us within the
limits of decorum. But, as a matter of fact, the love-making below
stairs is oblique, prosaic, and of a back-to-back description, full of
restraints and shynesses, of setting to partners, and allemanding about
them. From the contemplation of pastoral pictures in red crayon on our
Queen Anne walls, we carry away the notion that country love-making is
direct, idyllic, and flowery. It is nothing of the sort. Come, follow
the allemanding of this mature pair.

“I’ve not yet been to Brighton and seen the Aquarium,” said Mrs.
Saltren. “Have you, Captain Tubb?”

“Can’t say I have, ma’am. It’s lone work going by oneself to see
fishes.”

“So have I thought,” said the widow. “And for that reason I’ve not
been.”

“It is a wonderful consideration,” said the captain, “how fond cats are
of fish; and how ill the skin and bones of a salt herring do make a cat!
For myself, I like trout.”

“Well, so do I!” said the widow. “They’re fresher than salt-water fish,
as stands to reason.”

“The old lord put trout into the quarry-pond,” said Tubb.

“So I’ve heard; and Saltren told me they were monstrous fat and large.”

“There is no catching them,” observed the captain; “the water is clear,
and they are wary. If ever I pump the pond dry, ma’am, you shall have a
dish.”

“Trout should be eaten when they are just out of the water,” said Mrs.
Saltren; “they lose their flavour when a day old. I suppose it will not
be possible for me to have them trout you so kindly offer the same day
they are ketched.”

“Not possible if you are in London,” answered the captain. “Perhaps
you’d best come to Orleigh to eat ’em.”

Then ensued a silence, broken at last by Mrs. Saltren, who remarked,
with a sigh—

“There’ll be no eating of them trout till the pump is got.”

“That is true,” sighed Tubb. “But then the money is sure to be raised
wherewith to put up the water-wheel and pump. Just consider, ma’am,
seven per cent. You’ve not thought of investing, have you, what you got
by the sale of Chillacot?”

This was a direct question, and the captain was scared at his temerity
in putting it. He ate a whole mouthful of his beard.

“‘A fool and her money are soon parted,’ says the proverb,” answered
Mrs. Saltren. “Consequently, I don’t think I’ll let my money go anywhere
without me.”

Captain Tubb drew his chair closer; and, instead of settling the matter
at once, began a fresh allemand.

“What do you think of mutton here in London?”

“I don’t relish it; and it is awfully dear, so is beef. Elevenpence and
a shilling for what at Orleigh cost eightpence and ninepence. What
fortunes them butchers must be making!”

“It seems a sin to encourage them,” said Tubb.

“It does go against my conscience,” agreed Mrs. Saltren.

“Then,” argued the captain, “I wouldn’t encourage them. Twopence and
threepence in the pound is too much.”

“I’ve a mind to return to the country,” said Mrs. Saltren; “I don’t want
to encourage such wickedness.”

“And then, ma’am, you can eat the trout fresh.”

“Ah, captain! but the capital for pumping?”

Then Captain Tubb cautiously slid one arm round Mrs. Saltren’s waist,
and said—

“Come, Marianne, with your capital, away from the mutton of town to the
trout of the country.”

“I should like ’em fresh,” said the widow. “We’ll pump together for
them.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

The youthful romance-reader exacts of a novel some love-making, and, to
satisfy this reader, I have given this pathetic and romantic scene in
full. To this sort of reader, style is nothing, characterisation is
nothing, the grammar is nothing—indeed the whole story is nothing if
there be in it no love-making.

That is the spice which flavours the dish, and without it the dish is
rejected as unpalatable.

To encourage this reader, accordingly, at the outset a chapter was
devoted to love-making in tandem, and another to love-making abreast.
Only one of those love-affairs has come to a happy conclusion; one was
broken off by the breaking-down of Patience Kite’s chimney. To make up
to the reader for her disappointment, I have inserted this other love
scene, and have introduced it near the end of my book to stimulate the
jaded appetite to finish it.

Is it false to nature? Only those will say so who are ignorant of
country courtships. Oh, for a Dionysian ear through which to listen
to—not the sighs of prisoners, but the coo of turtle-doves! Now it so
fell out that the writer of these lines was himself, on one occasion, an
eye-and-ear witness to the wooing of a rustic couple—involuntarily. It
came about in this way.

When I was a boy, on a Sunday, I had set a trap to catch rats that
scared the scullery-maid in the back kitchen, and caused her to drop my
mother’s best china. But as rat-catching was not considered by my
parents a Sabbatical amusement, I set my traps on the sly when they were
at church on Sunday afternoon, and I was at home with a cold. The
house-maid was left in charge, and naturally admitted her lover to
assist her in watching after the safety of the house. Both seated
themselves in the kitchen, one in the settle, the other in a chair
before the fire. When I, in the back kitchen, heard them enter, I was
afraid to stir lest my parents should be informed of my proceedings, and
the sanctity of the Sabbath be impressed tinglingly on me, across my
father’s knee, with the back of a hair-brush, a paper-knife, or a
slipper. Accordingly I kept still.

Twenty minutes had elapsed, and no words having passed I stole to the
kitchen door and peeped through. The maid sat on the settle, the swain
on the chair, unctuously ogling each other in silence.

After the lapse of twenty minutes by the clock, the youth lifted up his
voice and said solemnly, “Mary, what be that there thing for?” and he
pointed to a button above the kitchen range.

“That, Joshua, is the damper.”

Again silence fell over the kitchen, only broken by the ticking of the
clock. After the expiration of twenty minutes more, the youth further
inquired, “And what be the damper for, Mary?”

“For to make the fire go a smother-like, Joshua,” she replied.

Again twenty minutes elapsed: then I heard a long-drawn sigh, and Joshua
said in a grave, emotionless voice, “Mary, there be no damper in my
buzzom.”

“There come master and mistress from church,” exclaimed Mary; “Joshua,
you must go.”

“Lord!” said the swain, slowly rising, “how I have enjoyed myself,
Mary.”

Next Sunday the banns were called.

This was slow allemanding indeed, quite at the cinque-pace, but then it
was the love-making of an inexperienced youthful couple. Marianne
Saltren and Captain Tubb had gone through the process at least once
previously, so that there was not the same shyness and stiffness in
their courtship. Nevertheless they conformed to the rule of country
courtship, and allemanded about each other, though, I grant you, at a
sprightlier pace than that of Joshua and Mary, before they joined hands
and went down the middle.



                             CHAPTER XLIX.

                           TWO ORLEIGH GIRLS.


Mrs. Welsh burst in on Arminell one evening just before dinner with a
face of dismay, and both her hands uplifted.

“Mercy on us! What do you think?” Arminell stood up. “What has happened,
Mrs. Welsh?” she asked in some alarm.

“My dear! You might have knocked me down with a feather. I thought that
the girl would be sure to know how to do boiled rabbit with onion
sauce.”

“Does she not?”

“And there was to be a Swiss pudding.”

“That, probably, she would not know how to make, but she can read, and
has Mrs. Warne to fly to for light.”

“I put out the currant jelly for the pudding, and she has spread it over
the rabbit on top of the onion sauce.”

Arminell was unable to restrain a laugh.

“I went down to see her dish up, and that is what she has done. Poured
the onion sauce over the rabbit and heaped the currant jelly a top of
that. Whatever shall we do? The last cook was bad enough, but she did
not spoil good food.”

“What induced her to do this?”

“She says that she has been told to put currant jelly with hare, and so
she has put it with rabbit, as she saw the jelly-pot set out on the
kitchen table for the pudding.”

“And the pudding?”

“Is without anything. We cannot eat the rabbit. That is spoiled; and the
pudding is nothing without red currant jelly. Whatever will Mr. Welsh do
for his dinner?”

“But the girl had Mrs. Warne’s Cookery Book on the table for reference?”

“Yes, but she also had a sensational novel.”

Arminell laughed again. “I am afraid the education she has received has
garnished her head much in the same fashion as she has garnished the
rabbit, several good things jumbled together, making an unpalatable
whole. I will go and see what can be done.”

“I have given the girl notice.”

“Surely not, Mrs. Welsh. She has but just come to town.”

“I spoke sharply to her, and girls now-a-days will not bear a word. She
flew out at me and said she would not remain another hour in the house.
Girls give themselves such airs. She knows my extremity, how long I have
been without a cook.”

Arminell descended to the kitchen, but Thomasine was not there. The
boiled rabbit stood on the table crowned with onion sauce and crimson
jelly. Near it lay, wide open, a book, not so thick as Mrs. Warne’s
Cookery Manual, and Arminell stooped to look at it. The book was
Gaboriau’s “Gilded Clique,” much stained and cockled, as if it had been
wet through, and then dried. Arminell turned it over; it was her own
copy, which she had flung from her when in the Owl’s Nest, to arouse and
arrest the attention of Captain Saltren. She could not doubt that it was
the identical book, for her name was pencilled on it, and the water had
not effaced the pencil scrawl. She did not know, what was the fact, that
the book had undergone two immersions, and had twice been recovered by
Patience, and that on the last occasion she had passed it on to her
daughter.

Arminell stood turning over the disfigured volume, speculating on how it
had come into Thomasine’s hands, and thinking of the occasion when she
had last read it; and so thinking, for a moment she forgot the rabbit
with its incongruous garnishment, and why she had descended to the
kitchen. She was roused from her reverie by the maid-of-all-work coming
in excitedly.

“Oh my, miss! What do you think? Thomasine has flown out at missus, and
packed up her things in a bundle, and gone.”

“Thomasine gone!”

“Lawk, miss! She wouldn’t stand no nonsense, she said; and if the missus
didn’t like her cooking she might cook for herself. She wouldn’t stay.
Thomasine had a flaming temper; it’s the way of them red-headed girls.”

“Thomasine gone!”

“Gone in a tantrum, her cheeks as red as her head. I can’t think what
folks find to admire in her hair. It is thick and red. I don’t fancy
carrots.”

“But whither is she gone? She is a stranger in London, and has no
friends.”

“I don’t suppose, miss, she knows herself.”

“Has she gone back to Mrs. Saltren?”

“I don’t fancy so. She was in such a rage, she thought of nothing but
going, and never even asked for her wage.”

“Do you know in which direction she went?”

“No, I was not on the look-out. She came flaring on me to give me
good-bye, and away she went. She said that as the missus had insulted
her, go she would to where she would be valued.”

“Have you no idea where she is gone?”

“I don’t know.” The girl hesitated, then said, “Thomasine said as how
there was a gentleman at the hotel where Mrs. Saltren first was, who
admired her and said she ought never to demean herself to go into
service—I can’t say, she has spoken of him once or twice, and I fancy he
came to look for her when she was at the lodgings with Mrs. Saltren—she
may have gone to ask his advice what to do and where to go.”

“That is enough,” said Arminell, and ran upstairs, put on her bonnet,
and hastened into the street. She was doubtful in which direction to
turn, but seeing the postman coming with the letters, she asked him if
he had observed a girl with red hair.

“What, the new cook at Mrs. Welsh’s, miss? Oh, yes, she has gone by with
a bundle. Very ’ansome girl, that.”

Arminell went down the Avenue, and at the corner encountered a policeman
on duty. She asked him the same question. He also had noticed Thomasine.
Indeed he knew her. Her splendid build, her profusion of glowing hair,
and beautiful complexion were a phenomenon in Shepherd’s Bush, and all
milkmen, butchers’ boys, postmen, police, knew and admired her, though
she had been in the house of Mrs. Welsh but a fortnight.

“Yes, miss, she’s gone down that way—has a bundle in her hand. I asked
her whither she was going and she said she was leaving her situation
because her mistress was impudent to her. Wery ’ansome gall, that.”

Arminell went on to a cabstand; she was near the Hammersmith Station. As
a disengaged flyman hailed her, she asked him if he had seen a young
woman go by carrying a bundle.

“A ’ansome gal with red hair? To be sure. ’Ailed her, but she said she’d
take a ’bus.”

Take a ’bus!—she had gone on to that great centre of radiating streets
and roads a few steps ahead. Arminell quickened her pace, almost ran,
and reached the main artery of traffic between the City and Hammersmith
through Kensington. She had a sharp eye, and in a moment saw Thomasine,
who was mounting an omnibus. She ran, as the horses started—ran,
regardless of what any one might think, but could not overtake the ’bus.
She signed to the driver of a passing empty cab.

“Keep up with the Hammersmith omnibus,” she said, panting. “When it
stops, set me down. Here is a shilling.” She sprang in, and speedily
caught up the scarlet-bodied conveyance, descended from the cab, entered
the omnibus, and seated herself beside Thomasine.

She was out of breath, the perspiration ran off her brow, and her heart
beat fast. She could not speak, but she laid her hand on that of the
girl which rested on the bundle, and the action said, “I have taken you
in charge.”

She was beside Thomasine, and could not see her face; she did not
attempt to look at her, but kept her hand where she had laid it, till
the omnibus halted at Broad Walk in front of Kensington Palace; by this
time she had recovered her breath sufficiently to bid the conductor let
her out. She rose hastily, still holding Thomasine, who did not stir.

“Come,” said Arminell, “come with me,” and looked the girl straight in
the eyes.

Thomasine’s hand quivered under that of Arminell, and her face flushed.
She dropped her eyes and rose. In another moment they were together on
the pavement.

“We will walk together,” said Miss Inglett, “up the broad avenue. I want
to speak to you. I want to know why you are running away, and whither
you are going?”

“Please, miss,” answered the girl, “I ain’t going to be spoken to by
Mrs. Welsh. Her’s nothing, nor old Welsh neither. He is the brother of
Marianne Saltren, and no better than me or my mother. They may set up to
be gentlefolk and give themselves airs, but they are only common people
like myself.”

“You have made a mistake, Thomasine. You should not have put the currant
jelly over the boiled rabbit. Those who make mistakes must have them
corrected. How would you like to have your pretty velvet bonnet spoiled
by Mrs. Welsh spilling ink over it?”

“I should be angry.”

“Well, it is the same case. You have spoiled the nice dinner she had
provided for Mr. Welsh.”

“Welsh is nothing. His father was an old Methody shopkeeper, who ran
away, having cheated a lot of folk out of their money. I know all about
the Welshes. I’m not going to stand cheek from them.”

“But you will listen to a word from me?”

“Oh, miss, you are different. I wouldn’t be impudent to you for
anything. But it is other with them stuck-ups as are no better than
myself.”

“You will not try to twist yourself away from me?”

“No, miss.”

“I want you to tell me, Thomasine, whither you were running? Were you
going to Mrs. Saltren?”

“Mrs. Saltren!” scoffed the girl. “She is nothing. Marianne Saltren, the
daughter of the canting old cheat, and widow of a mining captain. I
won’t be servant to her. Not I.”

“Whither were you going, then?”

Thomasine was silent.

Arminell walked at her side; she had let go the girl’s hand.

“I ran after you,” said Arminell.

“Was that what made you so hot and out of breath, miss?”

“Yes, I was frightened when I heard that you had gone away.”

“What was there to frighten you? I had not taken any spoons.”

“I never supposed that for a moment. I was alarmed about yourself.”

“I can take care of myself. I am old enough.”

“I am not sure that you can take care of yourself, Thomasine; you and I
come from the same place, dear Orleigh, and it is such a pleasure to me
to see you, and hear you talk. When I found that you were gone, I
thought what shall I do without my dear Tamsine to talk with about the
old place I love so much?”

“Why don’t you go back to it, miss, if you like it?” asked the girl.

“Because I cannot. Come closer to me.” Arminell caught the girl’s hand
again. “I also ran away. I ran away, as you are running away now. That
has brought upon me great sorrow and bitter self-reproach, and I would
save you from doing the same thing that I have done, and from the
repentance that comes too late.”

“They said at Orleigh, miss, that you were dead.”

“I am dead to Orleigh and all I love there. Why did you come to town
with Mrs. Saltren, if you do not care to be with her?”

“Because I wanted to see the world, but I had no intention of remaining
with her.”

“Then what did you intend?”

Thomasine shrugged her shoulders. “I wanted to see life, and have some
fun, and know what London was like. I don’t want to slave here as I
slaved in a farm.”

“You came to town restless and discontented, so did I; and now I would
give everything I have to be set back where I was. You came in the same
spirit, and I have stopped you on the threshold of a grave disaster, and
perhaps saved you from unutterable misery. Thomasine, dear Thomasine,
tell me the truth. Were you going to that hotel where some one flattered
your vanity and held out to you prospects of idleness? You were leaving
hard work and the duties that fell to your lot where God placed you,
because impatient of restraint. You had learned the one lesson that is
taught in all schools to boys and girls alike—hatred of honest work.
Tamsine, you must return with me.”

The girl pouted. Arminell, looking round, saw the curl in her lip.

“I don’t care to be under the Welshes,” said the girl; “nor Marianne
Saltren, neither. They ain’t better than me, and why shouldn’t I be as
stylish as they?”

“If you resent being with them, be with me. Be my maid. I am not going
to remain in Shepherd’s Bush. I intend to take a house somewhere in the
country—somewhere where I can be useful, and, Tamsine, find work, hard
work that I can do for others. That is what I seek now for myself. Will
you come with me? Then we two Orleigh girls will be together, that will
be charming.”

Thomasine turned and looked wonderingly at Miss Inglett. We two Orleigh
girls! We—the baron’s daughter and the wise woman’s bastard.

“I’d like my frolic first,” said Thomasine.

“After that—I could not receive you,” answered Arminell gravely.

“I don’t see,” said Thomasine, still pouting, but uneasy and undecided,
with the colour flying in flakes over her face and showing through the
transparent complexion. “I don’t see why we are to be always kept at
work, and not be allowed to amuse ourselves. We aren’t young for long.”

“Tamsine,” said Arminell, “poor Arkie Tubb sat by you when your mother’s
cottage was being pulled down, and when you thought that she was in
danger, and you could not run to her aid yourself, because you had
turned your ankle, you sent him. You sent him to his death. The chimney
fell and buried him. If he had considered himself he would not have
risked his life for your mother. We all honour him for what he did. He
never was clever and sharp in life, he failed in everything he
undertook, he even failed then, for he did not bring your mother out of
the ruin, he was buried in it himself. But he was a hero in his death
because he sacrificed himself for others—for you, because he loved you,
and for your mother.”

Thomasine said nothing, but her hand twitched in that of Arminell.

“You must be worthy of him, remain worthy of him. Thomasine, if you
follow your own self-will and passion for pleasure, people will say it
was well that Arkie Tubb died, she was not deserving of him.”

They had reached the head of the Broad Walk, and issued from Kensington
Park into Uxbridge Road. The stream of traffic flowed east and west,
east to the City, west to Shepherd’s Bush, past them, and they stood
watching the two currents. Thomasine withdrew her hand.

Arminell was certain that this was a critical moment in the girl’s
heart. She said nothing more. She had said enough, she waited. Thomasine
turned her face east, and took a step in that direction with a red flush
in her cheek. Then the red flush rose to her brow and deserted her
cheek, and she turned back.

Presently she said, “May I take your hand again, miss?”

Arminell readily gave it.

Then Thomasine strode to the west, holding Arminell. She seemed fearful
of herself if left to herself, but confident whilst holding the hand of
Arminell. The good angel had conquered, and that good angel was the
thought of poor, blundering, kindly, stupid Arkie Tubb.

Is ever a life utterly thrown away? It had seemed so when the stones
crushed the soul out of that lad. A profitless life had ended
unprofitably. But see! Here at the end of Broad Walk, Kensington, that
cast-away life was the saving of the girl whom he had loved
unprofitably.



                               CHAPTER L.

                        A RAZOR TO CUT CABBAGES.


An old man told me one day that he had spent fifty years of his life in
making a concordance of the Bible—he had never heard of Cruden’s work.
The labour of fifty years thrown away! I know another who sank all his
savings in publishing a Law Compendium he had compiled, and when it was
published sold two copies.

Jingles was going through a heart-breaking experience. He was
discovering that all he had acquired in school and university was a
disadvantage to him in the position in which he now found himself.

He had been well educated, had been polished and sharpened; but the
money spent on his education might as well have been thrown into the
sea, and the time devoted to learning have been as profitably given up
to billiards.

This would not have been the case had Giles Inglett Saltren been able to
enter a learned profession, but as this was out of the question, his
education was profitless. He had been qualified to take his place in a
social class in which he was no more able to show himself.

One day Jingles had given his razor to a boy to sharpen for him. The lad
took it to a grindstone and put an edge to the back. “Please, sir,” said
the fellow when reprimanded, “the front was middling sharp, so I thought
I’d put an edge to the back.” Jingles remembered this incident now with
some bitterness. He had been sharpened on the wrong side for cutting his
way. He was a classic scholar, knew his Æschylus and Euripides, and
could write elegant Latin verses. He was disciplined in the manners and
habits of the upper class. But he knew little of modern languages, and
his working out a sum in compound addition left much to be desired.

At first he looked out for such a situation as would suit him, but
speedily discovered that what he must find was a situation which he
would suit.

A librarianship, a secretaryship, lastly a tutorship, commended
themselves to him as situations for which he was qualified; but such
situations are few, and the applicants are legion.

The paralytic in the Gospel was always wanting to be let down into
Siloam after the troubling of the water, but invariably found that some
one else had stepped in whilst he was being carried, or was laboriously
dragging himself to the brink. It was so with Jingles. When he did hear
of a vacancy that would suit him, and made application for it, it was to
find that another had stepped in before him.

He tried for private pupils. He was ready to attend any house and teach
during the day. He would prefer that to being again taken into a family
as a resident tutor, but he was not even as successful as Nicholas
Nickleby. There were no little Miss Kenwigses to be taught.

He had a difficulty about giving references. He could not mention Lady
Lamerton, and invite inquiries concerning him of the family at Orleigh
Park. At first he was reluctant to apply to his uncle for a testimonial,
or for leave to use his name, but when he found that his way was blocked
through lack of references, he swallowed his pride and asked the
requisite permission of Mr. Welsh. The leave was granted and conduced to
nothing.

If pride could have fattened, about this time Jingles ought to have
grown plump, he swallowed so much of it; but it was like blackbeetles to
a cat—it made him grow lanker.

He spent a good deal of money in advertising in the daily papers, but
got no answers. Then he took to answering advertisements, and met with
no better success. Then he applied to agents, paid fees, and got no
further. It was to the advantage of these go-betweens to put bad men in
good posts, and thrust good men into bad posts, to plant square men into
round holes, and round men in square holes.

Every change brought an additional fee, and naturally this consideration
had its influence on the agents.

There was a whole class of middle schools conducted by speculative men
without education themselves, for the sons of tradesmen and farmers,
where the teaching given was of the worst description, and the moral
supervision was of the most inefficient quality. The ushers in these
were Germans, Swiss, and French, men out of pocket and out at elbows,
picking up a wretched subsistence, and eating as their daily diet humble
pie. The doors of these “Academies for Young Gentlemen” were closed to
Saltren because he was an University man and a scholar. He was
dangerous, he knew too much, and might expose the hollowness of these
swindles.

Convinced at length that there was no hope of his getting any place such
as he would like, in which his acquirements would avail, Jingles turned
to commercial life. But here also he found that his education stood in
the way. He went to Mincing Lane in quest of a clerkship in one of the
great tea, rice, sugar, and spice firms; but there an accountant and not
a logician was wanted.

Next he visited Mark Lane and sought admission into one of the great
corn-factors’ offices. He was too raw for these men; what were wanted in
such houses as these in Mark and Mincing Lanes were sharp lads of from
seventeen to nineteen, trained at Board Schools, who could reckon
rapidly, and were not above being sent messages; lads who would be filed
into business shape, who were disciplinable to take a special line, not
young men educated already and with their heads stuffed with matter
utterly useless for business.

In a state of discouragement Jingles next visited Lloyds. There it was
the same. What did he want? To become an underwriter! Well and good, let
him deposit five thousand pounds and find a clerk at two hundred, with
five per cent, on all transactions, till he had himself thoroughly
mastered the system of underwriting. He could not afford this. He must
be taken on as clerk. Where? At Lloyds, or at one of the Marine
Insurance offices that has its base at Lloyds. What did he know of the
work? The clerk has to go round with policies to be initialed, and when
the books return to the office after four o’clock, he has to make them
up. What did he understand about the value of cargoes and the risks run?
There was no place for him in a Marine Insurance. Some one recommended
him to try stockbroking.

Like a greenhorn, as he was, Jingles made at once for the Exchange, and
passing the porters, entered the House. The vast space was crowded. The
din bewildered him. He heard names shouted from the telegraph offices,
the call of porters, the voices of the stock-jobbers raised in dispute
or argument. All at once an exclamation, “Seventeen hundred.”[1] Then
ensued a gravitation towards himself, and in a moment his hat was
knocked over his eyes, then he was thrust, elbowed, jostled from side to
side.

When he recovered his sight, his hat was snatched from his hand and
flung across the House. Next, his umbrella was wrenched from him, and
with it he was struck over the back.

“You have no right in here, sir,” said a porter.

“Don’t mind him,” shouted a dozen around. “We are heartily glad to make
your acquaintance.”

The horseplay was resumed, and as the young man’s blood rose, and he
resented the treatment, and showed fight, he was still more roughly
handled, and finally found himself kicked and hustled out of the
Exchange.

Giles Saltren stood on the step without, minus a hat and umbrella, and
with his coat split down the back—his best coat put on to produce a good
impression on employers—stood dazed and humbled, an object of derision
to match-boys and flower-girls who danced about him, with words and
antics of mockery.

Presently an old white-haired stockbroker, who came out of the Exchange,
noticed him, and stopped and spoke to him, and bade him not be angry.
What had occurred was due to his having intruded where he had no right
to be. Jingles answered that he had gone there because he was in quest
of employment, whereupon he was told he might just as well have jumped
into the Thames because he desired engagement on a penny steamer.

“Young gentleman,” said the broker, “it is of no use your looking for
employment in our line of business. We have a Clerks’ Provident Fund, to
which every clerk out of employ subscribes; and if a broker wants a man
at forty, sixty, a hundred, two hundred pounds, he applies to the
secretary of the Provident Fund, who furnishes him with the man he wants
out of the number of those then disengaged. You have no experience, or
you would not have ventured into the House. If I want an errand boy, I
take on the son of a clerk. You have, I fear, no connexions in the line
to speak a word for you! You have been to the University, do you say?”

The broker whistled.

“My good sir, I do not recommend you to waste time in applying at
stockbrokers’ offices; you are likely to make acquaintance with the
outside only of their office doors. There is more chance for the son of
a bed-maker or a chimney-sweep than for you.”

Giles Saltren next sought admission into a bank, but found that this was
a business even more close than that of stock-jobbing. The banking
business was like the sleeping Brynhild, surrounded by a _waberlohe_, a
wall of flame; and he was no Siegfried to spur his horse through the
ring of fire.

Having discovered how futile were his attempts to enter a bank, he
turned to the docks, in hopes of getting a situation in a
shipping-office, only there also to meet with rebuff.

Then he saw an advertisement from a West-End shop-keeper, one of those
giants of trade, who has an universal store. There was a vacancy in the
stocking department for a young man. Applicants were to appear
personally at a fixed hour on Friday next.

Giles Inglett hesitated before he could resolve to offer himself as a
counter-jumper, and acquire the “What can we serve you next with,
ma’am?” To descend to the counter from the Oxford schools was a great
descent; but Jingles was like a vessel in stress of weather, throwing
overboard all her lading. Away must go his Greek, his Latin, his logic,
his position as an University scholar, that of a gentleman, his
self-esteem, certainly, his self-respect to some extent, his ambition
altogether.

But why not? He was not born to be a gentleman; it was by a happy
accident that he had been given an education that furnished him with
most accomplishments which adorn a man of birth and standing. He must
remember that he was not entitled by his parentage to anything above a
shopman’s place, and must gulp down this junk of pride.

On the appointed day Saltren went to Westbourne Grove, and found that he
was but one of between three or four hundred young men, applicants for
the vacancy behind the stocking counter. His appearance, delicate and
refined, the diffidence with which he spoke, were against him, and he
found himself at once and decisively rejected, and a vulgar young fellow
at his side, full of self-conceit, was chosen instead.

Saltren made application in other offices, but always without success:
his ignorance of shorthand was against him. In the offices of solicitors
it is indispensable that shorthand be practised by the clerks. It
facilitates and expedites the dictation of letters.

So also, had he been a proficient in shorthand, he might have obtained
work as a reporter at meetings. But to his grief he discovered that all
the education he had received which tended to broaden the mind was
valueless, that only was profitable which contracted the intellect.
Saltren, moreover, was speedily given to understand that unless he went
in search of a situation with gold in his hand, he could get nothing.
With capital, his intellectual culture would be graciously overlooked
and excused. His university education was such a drawback, that it could
only be forgiven if he put money into the concern where he proposed to
enter.

Saltren had come to the end of his own resources, and he saw that
without capital he could get admission nowhere. He could not obtain a
clerkship in any kind of business; the sole chance of entering a
commercial life was to become a partner in one.

There was abundance of advertisements for partners in the daily papers,
but nearly all the businesses, when examined, proved unsatisfactory, and
the risk of losing all too great. Giles Saltren had, indeed, no capital
of his own; but he resolved, should he see a chance of making an
investment that was safe, and one which would give him work in a
partnership, to propose to his mother that she should in this manner
dispose of the purchase-money for Chillacot. She would derive from it an
annual sum as interest, and have the satisfaction as well of knowing
that she had found employment for her son.

At last he found what he sought, and sanguine as to the results, he came
to his mother’s lodgings to make the proposal to her.

“Please, Mr. Saltren,” said the landlady; “your mother has gone out with
the admiral.”

“The admiral?”

“Ah, the admiral, sir!” said the landlady, with a knowing smile. “You
don’t mean to say, Mr. Saltren, that your mother hasn’t told you? and a
beautiful breakfast spread, and a cake with a cupid at top all made of
sugar.”

“But what admiral? We know no admiral!”

“What, not Admiral Tubb? Well, now, Mr. Saltren, who would have thought
your mother would have been so sly as not to have told you that she was
going to give you a new pa?”

“Upon my word, I do not understand you.”

“Then, Mr. Saltren, you come along with me, and see the breakfast laid
in the dining-room, and the beautiful wedding-cake all over
orange-flowers. It does seem sharp work too, when your father died so
very recently; but if widows don’t seize the moments as they fly, and
take admirals by the forelock, they may be left in their weeds till it
is too late. Why, bless me, Mr. Saltren, here they come!

“But,” persisted Jingles, much astonished, and almost persuaded that
Mrs. Bankes, the lodging-house-keeper, had gone off her head, “what
admiral?”

“Admiral Tubb, sir, R.N. Your mother told me so. There they are. Lawk,
sir! he in lavender don’t-mention-ems and yaller gloves; and she in a
beautiful Brussels veil that must have cost ten pounds, and the cabby
wearing of a favour.”

Into the house sailed Mrs. Saltren—Saltren no more, but Tubb—with a long
white veil over her head, and orange-blossoms in her hand, wearing a
grey silk gown. Captain Tubb advanced with her on his arm, and looked
red and sheepish.

“My child,” said Marianne, “come and salute your new father. This
distinguished officer—I mean,” she hesitated and corrected herself,
“Bartholomew Tubb has prevailed on me to lay aside my widow’s cap for
the bridal-veil. And, oh! my Giles, you will be pleased to hear that the
capital I got through the sale of Chillacot is to be sunk in the old
quarry, and me and the admiral—I mean Tubb—are going to join hands and
pump the water out.”

-----

Footnote 1:

  This was the original number on Exchange, and the call is one to
  attract attention to an unwarranted intrusion.



                              CHAPTER LI.

                          A PATCH OF BLUE SKY.


About the same time that Jingles was situation-hunting, Arminell was
engaged in house-hunting. She had made up her mind to take a cottage on
the south coast. Mrs. Welsh had, at length, got a cook who did passably.
She had fits occasionally and frothed at the mouth; she also kicked out
with her legs convulsively on these occasions and kicked over every
little table near her, regardless of what was on it—a glass
custard-dish, a sugar-bowl, or, indeed, anything smashable. However,
between her fits she was a good plain cook, and the fits did not come on
every day. When they did, Mrs. Welsh telegraphed to her husband to dine
at a restaurant, and she satisfied herself on scraps. Consequently, the
inconvenience was not serious, and as cooks are rare as capercailzies,
Mrs. Welsh was glad to have one even with the disadvantage of epileptic
attacks.

Mr. Welsh placed himself and his time at the service of Arminell. He
went with her to Brighton, St. Leonards, Worthing, Littlehampton,
Bournemouth; and finally Arminell decided on purchasing a small house at
the last-named place—a pretty villa among the pines, with a view of the
sea, a garden, a conservatory. The girl had scruples about troubling the
journalist so much, but he insisted that his excursions with her gave
him pleasure, and he did everything he could for her, and did it in the
most cheery, considerate and hearty manner.

Welsh was a shrewd man of business, and he fought hard over the terms
before he bought, and keenly scrutinised the title.

Then ensued the furnishing, and in this Arminell did not trust Mr.
Welsh. His ambition was to do all his purchases cheaply. He would have
ordered her sets for her several rooms in Tottenham Court Road, and
gloried in having got them at an extraordinarily low figure. Arminell
took Mrs. Welsh with her when making her purchases; not that she
placed any value on that lady’s taste, but because she was well aware
that by so doing she was giving to her hostess the richest treat she
could devise. There is, undoubtedly, positive enjoyment in spending
money, and next to the pleasure of spending money oneself, is that of
accompanying another shopping who spends money. After a day’s shopping
and the expenditure of a good many pounds, unquestionably one feels
morally elevated. And one is conscious of having done meritoriously
when one acts as a goad to a companion, urging her to more lavish
outlay, spurring her on when her heart fails at the estimation of the
cost. How mean you think your friend if she buys material at
twopence-three-farthings instead of that which is superior at
threepence. How vehemently you impress on her the mistake of
purchasing only five-and-a-half yards instead of six. Margin, you
urge, should always be given. It is false economy to cut your cloth
too close. With what rigidity of spinal marrow do you sit on your tall
chair and scorn the woman on your left who asks for cheaper Swiss
embroidery at threepence-farthing, when your friend on your right is
buying hers at a shilling. With what an approving glow of conscience
do you smile when you hear your companion’s bill reckoned up as over
fifteen pounds; and then you snatch the opportunity to secure a
remnant or a piece of tarnished material, with a haughty air, and bid
that it be put in with the rest—it will serve for a charity in which
you are interested: to wit—but you do not add this—the charity that
begins and ends with home.

Next to the enjoyment of shopping with a friend, who is lavish of her
money, comes the luxury of discussing the purchases after, of debating
whether this stamped velvet was, after all, the right thing, and whether
that tapestry silk would not have been better; whether the carpet and
the curtains will harmonise, and the paper of the wall accord with both.

It was a disappointment to Mrs. Welsh that Arminell did not have a dado
with water-reeds and sunflowers, and storks flying or standing on one
leg. “It is the fashion, I assure you,” said she, “as you may see in our
drawing-room at Shepherd’s Bush.” But then, it was a shock of surprise
and adoring admiration that came on Tryphœna Welsh, when, after having
advised jute for curtains and sofa-covers, because so extraordinarily
cheap, Arminell had deliberately turned to stamped velvet.

“Dear me!” said Mrs. Welsh to her husband one night, when they were
alone, “how you do worship Miss Inglett. Not that I’m jealous. Far be it
from me, for I admire her as much as I love her; but I’m surprised at it
in you—and she related to the nobility. It is inconsistent, Welsh, with
your professions, as inconsistent as it would be for Mr. Spurgeon to be
found crossing himself in a Roman Catholic chapel.”

“My dear Tryphœna,” said James Welsh, “I do not deny that the British
aristocracy has its good qualities—for one, its want of stuck-upedness.
For another, its readiness to adapt itself to circumstances. It is part
of their education, and it is not part of ours, and I don’t pretend to
that which I have not got. They used to make wooden dolls with a peg
through their joints, so that they would move their limbs forward and
backward, and that was all. Now there is another contrivance introduced,
the ball and socket system for the joints, and dolls can now move their
legs and arms in all directions, describe circles with them, do more
with them than I can with mine. It is the same with the faculties of the
aristocracy, there is a flexibility and a pliability in them that shows
they are on the ball and socket system, and not upon the peg
arrangement. I don’t mean to say that there are not to be found
elsewhere faculties so variable and adaptable, but it is exceptional
elsewhere; among the upper classes the whole educational system is
directed towards making the mental joints revolve in their sockets, and
getting rid of all woodenness and pegishness. Look at Miss Inglett. She
was ready to be just what you wanted—cook, nurse, butler, seamstress—and
yet never for a second has ceased to be what she is, a tip-top lady.”

“You talk, James, in a different way from what you used to talk.”

“I’ll tell you what stands in the way with us. Even if we be gifted with
faculties on the ball and socket system, we are afraid of using them
except as is allowed by fashion, and is supposed to be elegant. We are
ever considering whether we shall not lose respect if we employ them in
this way, set them at that angle, fold them in such a manner, turn them
about in such another. I know once,” continued Mr. Welsh, “I had burst
my boot over the toe, just before I went for an important interview with
an editor. I cut a sorry figure in his presence, because I was
considering the hole in my boot, and whether my stocking showed through.
I put my foot under the chair as far back as I could, then drew it
forward and set the other foot on it. Then I hid it behind my hat, then
curled it over in an ungainly fashion, so as to expose only the sole;
and all the while I was with the editor, I had no thought for what we
were talking about; I could not take my attention from the hole in my
boot. And it is the same with us who haven’t an all-round and complete
culture—we are conscious of burst seams, and splits, and exposures, and
are anxious to be screening them, and so are never at our ease.”

When Mr. Welsh began to talk, he liked to talk on uninterruptedly. His
wife knew this, and humoured him.

“Connected with this subject, Tryphœna, is the way in which the
aristocracy manage their trains.”

“Their trains, James?”

“Exactly—their trains or skirts. You know how that it is not possible
for you to be in a crowd without having your skirts trodden on and
ripped out of the gathers. There used to be a contrivance, Tryphœna, I
remember you had it once, like a pair of bell-ropes. You put your
fingers into rings, and up came your train in a series of loops and
folds, on the principle of the Venetian blind. But somehow you were
always pulling up your skirt just too late, after it had been
be-trampled and be-muddled. Now from what I have observed, the skirts
and trains of the aristocracy are imbued with an imparted vitality from
their persons, for all the world like the tail of a peacock, which it
elevates when it steps about in the dirt. Their skirts shrink and rise
of themselves, whenever a rude foot approaches, or they tread where the
soil may bespatter.”

“Now, really, James—how can human beings lift their tails?”

“My dear, I am speaking figuratively. If you do not understand—remain in
ignorance. There is, as the clown says in ‘Twelfth Night’ no darkness
like ignorance. I suppose you know, my dear, what it is to be pressed
upon and trampled on by those just behind you in the social ball? Well,
some persons manage so cleverly that they do not get their trains
crumpled; and others are in constant alarm and suspicion of everyone who
approaches within a pace of theirs.”

Welsh lighted a cigar.

“Don’t you mistake me and think that I have given up my opinions.
Nothing of the sort. I notice the difference between the aristocracy and
ourselves, but I do not say that I do not estimate the middle class
above theirs. On the contrary, I think our order of the nobility is the
most honourable. To us belongs the marquisate.”

“James, how can you talk such nonsense?”

“It is a fact, Tryphœna, that the marquis or margrave takes, or rather
took, his title from the debatable ground he held. He was the earl who
watched the marches against the barbarians; he protected civilisation
from overthrow. It was because he stood with drawn sword on the
confines, armed _cap-à-pie_, that the counts and viscounts and the
barons sat in clover at home and grew fat and wanton. We, Tryphœna,
guard the marches, we occupy the debatable ground, and we have to be
perpetually on the alert, to make blaze of beacons, blow cow-horns, and
rattle drums at the least approach or signs of approach of barbarism. Of
course we are touchy, tenacious of our right, sensitive about our
skirts, and must bluster and deal blows to protect them. We hold the
banat, the military frontier between culture and savagery, and it is
because of us that the noblemen and gentlemen of England can dwell at
home at ease. Of course our hands are rough with grip of the lance and
sword, and our boots smell of the stable. Heigh-ho!—here comes my Lady
Fair—and not looking herself.”

He stood up, and threw away his cigar into the grate and then went to
the window and threw up the sash. Arminell entered in her bonnet; her
face was sad, and her eyes were red as though she had been crying.

“Miss Inglett! I shall kill myself for having lit a cigar,” said Welsh,
“I am vexed beyond measure. I did not think you were going to favour us
with your company. As for Tryphœna, she loves smoke as a salamander
loves fire. But—what is the matter? You remind me of a certain river I
have read about in Bohn’s translation of ‘Herodotus.’ The river flowed
sweet from its source for many miles, but finally a tiny rill of
bitterness entered it, and throughout the rest of its course to the sea
the waters had lost their freshness.”

“Not so, Mr. Welsh,” said Arminell with a smile. “At least, I trust not.
May I not rather have reached the point to which the tide mounts? It is
not bitterness that is in me, but just a smack of the salt of the mighty
far-off ocean that runs up the estuary of life, and qualifies sooner or
later the water of every soul.”

“What has troubled you? I’m sure something has gone wrong.”

“I have been with Thomasine to see your nephew.”

“What—Jingles! you should not have done that.”

“Thomasine had paid a visit to Mrs. Bankes, the landlady of the house
where Mrs. Saltren lodged before she married and departed; and the good
woman told the girl something about Mr. Saltren that made me uneasy. So
I went to see him.”

“You have acted inconsiderately,” said James Welsh.

“I do not say that it was a proper and prudent thing to do, and yet,
under the circumstances, justifiable, and I have no doubt you will
forgive me.”

“You must make a full confession before I pronounce the absolution,”
said the journalist.

“Thomasine goes occasionally to see the good woman of the lodgings and
her servant, and she heard so sad an account of your nephew that she
communicated it to me.”

“What is the matter with him? I have not seen the cock-sparrow for three
months, and what is more, I do not want to see him; I can never forgive
him for what he has done.”

“He knows how you regard him, and that is the reason why he has not been
to see you, and told you how he was situated.”

“But what has happened? Has he been run over at crossing? He is fool
enough for even that to befall him.”

“No, Mr. Welsh; I will tell you all I know, and then you will think more
kindly and judge more leniently of Mr. Saltren. The landlady spoke to
Thomasine because she was uneasy about him, and she is a good-hearted
creature. It seems that when Mrs. Saltren married, Mr. Saltren was left
without any means whatever.”

“He had plenty of money. He sold Chillacot.”

“He made over the whole proceeds to his mother. She has not left him a
penny of it. From what I learn, she has given it to Captain Tubb to
invest for her in a water-wheel and a pump.”

“Marianne is fool enough for anything—except to speak the truth. What
next?”

“After she had departed as Mrs. Tubb, your nephew was left absolutely
without resources. He did everything that lay in his power to obtain a
situation, first in one capacity, then in another. He even—he
even”—Arminell’s voice quivered—“he even offered himself as a shop
assistant and was rejected. Disappointments, repeated day by day and
week by week, told on his spirits and on his health. As he was without
means, he frankly informed his hostess about his circumstances, and
asked for leave to occupy an attic bedroom, promising to pay her
directly he got employment. She did not like to turn him out, and I
daresay she thought she would get her rent in the end from Mrs. Tubb, so
she consented. But he has been living for many weeks on nothing but
bread and a little thin tea without milk. He has sold his books and
everything he could part with, and is now reduced to dire distress. He
goes out every day in the desperate endeavour to find work, but his
superior education, and his gentlemanly feelings stand in his way. Now
his health is failing, he looks too delicate for work, and no one will
have him on that account. He does not complain. He goes on trying, but
his daily disappointments have broken his spirit. It does seem a
hopeless venture for a man of good education and exceptional abilities
to find work in London.”

“Sans interest,” added Welsh. “Of old, interest was in the hands of the
upper classes. Now it is in the hands of the lower.”

“I heard a good deal of this from Thomasine,” continued Arminell. “I
could not bear it. I ran off to Bloomsbury to see Mrs. Bankes, and found
her to be a very kind, feeling, and willing woman. She told me
everything—how underfed Mr. Saltren was, how thin and shabby his clothes
had become, what a bad cough he had got, and how long it was since she
had been paid for her lodging.”

“I made sure Mrs. Bankes would not omit to mention that.”

“She is a most considerate woman. She said she had done him an egg of
late, every morning, and charged him nothing for it, though eggs are at
nine for a shilling, and he had had sixteen in all; so that she was, as
she said, beside the cost of his lodging, nearly two shillings to the
bad through these eggs—but she is a good honest soul, she told me he had
worn out the soles of his boots and could not afford a new pair, and
they let in the wet.” Arminell stopped, she was choking.

Presently she went on, “Whilst we were talking, he came in at the house
door, and I heard him cough; and then he went upstairs, with his hand on
the bannisters, dragging his tired feet and his springless weight up the
steep steps. He halted at each landing; he was weary and his breath
failed. I listened till he had reached the very top of the house, and
gone into his little attic room where he sleeps, and reads, and eats,
and dreams over his disappointments.”

She stopped. She had clasped her hands on her lap, and was twisting,
plaiting, and pulling her fingers.

“Then you came away to tell me,” said Mr. Welsh.

“No, I did not.”

“What next?”

“My heart was full. I went out into the lobby and stood there, and I
began to cry. And then, all at once, I ran upstairs.”

“What—to his room?”

“Yes—I went after him, I could not help it. He was so utterly lonely and
so unhappy. Mrs. Bankes said that no one ever came to see him, he had no
friends. It is dreadful to think of being alone in London for months
without any one to speak to, that is, any one who feels for you, and
knows about persons and things and places you have loved. I ran upstairs
after him, and tapped at his door, and dashed right in on him.”

The colour rose and fell on her cheek.

“I should have been happy for the occasion to have a talk with him, only
the circumstances were so sad. My heart came into my throat when I saw
him, and I held out my hand to him—no, in honour bright—I held out both
hands to him. He was surprised. I sat down there and made him tell me
everything. He did not complain, he was very brave, but he had lost
hope, and he plodded on as in a treadmill, trying for work because it
was a duty to seek it, not because he was sanguine of getting it. I do
not know how long I was there; I insisted on having tea with him, and
quite a nice little tea we had, and a chop—no, two chops with it. I
ordered them, and I would have them, and, of course, Mrs. Bankes brought
up Worcester sauce as well. Who ever knew a lodging-house without
Worcester sauce? I am obstinate when I take an idea into my head. You
know that. He was quite happy, I do believe, happier than he has been
for months, sitting there with me, taking tea, and milk in the tea, and
talking about old times, and Orleigh—dear Orleigh!—and my brother Giles
and papa.” Her heart was beating fast, so fast that it stopped her flow
of words.

Mr. Welsh said nothing, nor did Mrs. Welsh, who looked at her husband
questioningly, and then at Arminell.

“Once or twice I made him laugh, and the colour came again into his
white face, and the brightness into his dull eyes. But when he laughed
it brought on a fit of coughing.”

“Why did not the fellow come to me?” asked Welsh. “I have no patience
with his pride—it was nothing but pride which kept him away.”

“Self-respect, perhaps, and resolve to make a way for himself if
possible. You had discouraged him from attempting literature, and he had
lost all faith in politics. Besides, he kept away from this house
because I was in it, and he felt he had no right to come here whilst I
lived with you.”

She began again to plait her fingers, and looked down at them with a
little confusion in her face. Presently she looked at the miniature of
the marine officer, Mrs. Welsh’s father, and said, with a laugh, “Do you
know, Mr. Welsh, that Mrs. Saltren imposed on the landlady, and made her
believe that she was going to marry an Admiral of the Blue. When Mrs.
Bankes found out the truth, Mrs. Saltren, I mean Mrs. Tubb, said she had
heard men-of-war so constantly spoken of as tubs, and nothing but tubs,
and as her husband was a Tubb, she considered she had a right to speak
of him as a naval officer. It is a shame to tell the story, but—”

“It is too good not to be told. Marianne all over.”

“And, Mr. Welsh, there was a doctor lodging on the first floor at Mrs.
Bankes’, and he happened to see your nephew on the stairs, and hear him
cough, so he made him step into his room and he examined his chest.”

“What did he say?”

“That there was constitutional delicacy, and that unless he went for a
couple of winters to the south of Europe, and after that wintered at
Penzance, Torquay, or Bournemouth, he would be a dead man. But, if he
took proper care of himself and lived well, drank cod-liver oil and old
port, kept out of east winds and from getting wet, he might yet make old
bones.”

“That is out of the question,” said Welsh; “he shall have De Jongh’s
cod-liver oil, and inhale carbolic acid, and wear Dr. Jaeger’s
all-wool—to go to the south of Europe is impracticable.”

“Not at all.”

“My dear Miss Inglett, not another word. I will do all I can for the
rascal. But I cannot afford that.”

“But I can.”

“I won’t allow it. I am very sorry for the boy, and will do my duty by
him as his uncle; but I can’t send him to the Riviera.”

“But it is settled that he is going.”

“How? When?”

“Directly, and with me.”

“Nonsense, Miss Inglett.”

“And I have a house at Bournemouth.”

“That is true; but——”

“But I’m going to marry him, so as to be able to nurse him and carry him
off to Bordighera, and give him De Jongh’s cod-liver oil myself.”

“Miss Inglett, in reason!”

“It is settled. I settled it. I have paid Mrs. Bankes for the eggs and
all the rest. When we are off together we can talk at our leisure about
Orleigh.”



                              CHAPTER LII.

                              ON DIPPERS.


Sir Joshua Reynolds, in his treatise on the composition of a picture,
lays down as a necessity that a patch of blue sky should be introduced
into every painting, an opening through which the eye may escape out of
the constraint and gloom of the canvas. If the subject be a dungeon, in
one corner must be a window through which the eye can mount to heaven;
if a forest, there must be a gap in the foliage through which the sun
may strike and the free air blow. If a landscape under a grey canopy, or
a storm at sea under rolling clouds, there must be a rift somewhere
through which the upper azure gleams; otherwise the picture oppresses
and the frame cramps. For this reason, the preceding chapter was
entitled “A Patch of Blue Sky,” for in that chapter a small opening was
made quite in a corner, into that serene and super-terrestrial, that
ethereal and sublime realm—matrimony.

For a good many chapters our hero and heroine have been in a poor way,
inhaling London smoke, without sunshine enlivening their existences.
From Orleigh Park to Shepherd’s Bush, and from the elastic atmosphere of
the country to the fogs of the metropolis, is a change which,
considering the altered conditions of both—Jingles without a situation,
living on bread and thin tea, and Arminell without a home, living with
third-rate people—was depressing to both, and the picture was
overcharged with shadows. Therefore a little glimpse has been given into
that heaven to which all youthful and inexperienced novel-readers
aspire.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, moreover, insists on a proper balance of lights and
shadows. He says that it is false art to accumulate dark spots on one
side of the picture without relieving them with a corresponding number
of luminous foci on the other. Now in this story the reader has been
given three deaths. Therefore, there must needs be the same number of
marriages to produce equilibrium. Accordingly, over against the dark
points of Archelaus Tubb, Lord Lamerton, and Captain Saltren, we set off
the bright combinations of Samuel and Joan, of Captain Tubb and
Marianne, and of Arminell and Jingles. These are not, it is true, spots
of transcendent brilliancy, double stars of the first order, but of
subdued and chastened effulgence. Not many roses crowned the hymeneal
altar of Sam Ceely, nor would an impassioned epithalamium suit the
nuptials of Mrs. Saltren, just recovered from a touch of paralysis. Nor
will the beaker of ecstatic love brim over at the union of Arminell and
Giles Saltren, seeing that it is largely filled with De Jongh’s
cod-liver oil. When a cook has over-salted the soup, he mixes white
sugar with it, and this neutralises the brine and gives the soup a
mellowness, and velvety softness to the palate. On the same principle,
having put too many tears into this tale, I am shaking in the hymeneal
sugar in just proportions.

I know very well I am letting the reader into the secrets of
construction, telling the tricks of the trade, but as this narrative is
written for instruction as well as for amusement, I do not scruple thus
to indicate one of the principles of the art of novel writing; and I do
this with purpose, to gain the favour of the reader, who I fear is a
little ruffled and resentful, because I do not give a full and
particular account of the marriage. But it really hardly merited such an
account, it was celebrated so quietly—without choral song and train of
bride’s-maids, and without peal of bells. I am so much afraid that by
omitting to make a point of the marriage I may offend my readers that I
have let them into one of the secrets of the construction of a plot.

Among poor people a bottle of lemon-drops is set on the table, and the
children are given bread to eat. Those little ones whose conduct has
been indifferent are allowed only bread and point for a meal, but those
who have behaved well are permitted to enjoy bread and rub. To their
imaginations some of the sweetness of the lollipops penetrates the glass
and adheres to their slices.

A novel is the intellectual meal of a good many readers, and it begins
with bread and point, and is expected to end with bread and rub at the
acidulated drops of connubial felicity. Usually the reader has to
consume a great deal of bread and point and is only allowed bread and
rub in final chapters. In this story, however, I have been generous, I
have allowed of three little frettings at the bottle instead—indeed,
instead of keeping one tantalising bottle before the eyes of the reader,
I have set three on the table in front of him.

That I have transgressed the rule which requires the marriage of hero
and heroine to be at the end of the book, in the very last chapter, I
freely admit; but I have done this on purpose, and I have, for the same
purpose, most slyly slipped in the marriage, or rather left it to the
imagination, between the end of Chapter LI. and the beginning of Chapter
LII. And what do you suppose is my reason? It is, that I want to _dodge
the dippers_. The dippers are those readers who are only by an euphemism
called readers. They stand by the course of a story, and pop a beak down
into it every now and then, and bring up something from the current, and
then fly away pretending that they have read the whole story. The dipper
generally plunges the bill into the first chapter, then dips into the
last of the three volumes, and then again once or twice in the
mid-stream of the tale.

These dippers are gorgeous creatures, arrayed in gold and azure, with
bejewelled necks and wings and crowns. But in one matter they differ
from all other fowl—they have no gizzards. Other birds, notably those of
the barn door, when they eat pass their food through a pair of internal
grindstones, and thoroughly digest and assimilate it. The dippers, being
devoid of this organ, neither digest nor assimilate anything. They take
nothing into them for the purpose of nutrition, but for the taste it
leaves on their tongues. Consequently, the food they like best is not
that which invigorates, but that which is high flavoured.

A dipper may seem very small game at which to fire, a shot, but the
dippers are the special aversion of novel writers. These latter have
laboured to please, perhaps to instruct; they have worked with their
pens till their fingers are cramped, and their brains bemuzzed, and they
see the fruit of conscientious toil treated as a bird treats a
nectarine—pecked at and spoiled, not eaten.

But I have headed this chapter “On Dippers,” not because I intended to
blaze at those little, frivolous, foolish birds who dip into my story
and let all they scoop up dribble from their beaks again, but because I
have another class of dippers in my eye, about whom I have still sharper
words to say. And see!—one of this order has unexpectedly dropped in on
the Welshes—and that is Mrs. Cribbage.

The Reverend Mrs. Cribbage was not one of the king-fishers, but was a
dipper of the cormorant or skua genus. She was not one to stand by the
stream of a story and dip in that, but in the sea of life, and seek in
that for savoury meat over which to snap the bill, and smack the tongue,
and turn up the eyes, and distend the jaw-pouches. The dippers of this
order congregate on a rock above the crystal tide and chatter with their
beaks, whilst their eyes pierce the liquid depths. They have no
perceptions of the beauty of colour in the water, no admiration for its
limpidity. They inhale with relish none of the ozone that wafts over
it—their eyes explore for blubber, for uprooted weed, for mollusks that
have been bruised, for dead fish, for crustaceans that have lost limbs,
for empty shells invaded by parasites, for the scum, and the waste, and
the wreckage, in the mighty storm-tossed ocean of life.

Aristotle, in his “History of Animals,” says that most fish avoid what
is putrescent; but the taste of the dippers is other than that of the
fish. The dippers have no perception and liking for the freshness and
fragrance of the sea, but have vastly keen noses for carrion. The
suffering whiting, the crushed nautilus, the disabled shrimp, are
pounced on with avidity, and the great penguin-pouch expands under the
beak like a Gladstone bag full of the most varied forms of misery, of
sorrow and of nastiness.

The skua is a dipper akin to, but more active than the wary cormorant
and the clumsy auk. It is a lively bird, and darts on nimble wing over
the sea, and when it perceives a glutted dipper in flight, it dives
under it, strikes it on the breast, and makes it disgorge; whereupon it
seizes the prey as it falls, for itself. There are skuas as well as
cormorants about the coasts of the great social ocean, and there are
birds with the voracity of the cormorant and the quickness and
adroitness of the skua—of such was Mrs. Cribbage. It was part of her
cleverness in getting the food she required to come with a whisk and
blow at those who least expected her; and such was her visit or swoop on
the Welshes.

Unfortunately for her, James Welsh was at home when she swept in, and he
was quite able to hold his own before her.

“My dear,” said he to his wife, “I think I hear the cook squealing. She
is in an epileptic fit. You had better go down into the kitchen and
remain below as long as the fit lasts. Get the slavey to sit on her
feet, and you hold her head. I will remain at the service of Mrs.
Cribbage. I am sure she will excuse you. We have an epileptic cook,
ma’am—not a bad cook when out of her fits.”

“I am Mrs. Cribbage,” said the visitor, “the wife of the Rector of
Orleigh. We have not had the pleasure of meeting before, but I know your
sister, Mrs. Tubb, very well; she is a parishioner and the wife of one
of our Sunday-school teachers. Of course I know about you, Mr. Welsh,
though you may not know me.”

“I have heard a good deal about you, ma’am.”

“Through whom?” asked the lady eagerly.

“Through my nephew.”

“I have come to break to you some sad news about your sister. Poor
thing, she had a first seizure on the death of her first husband, and
she had a second immediately after her return to Orleigh as a bride. It
was kept quiet. I was not told of it, nor was my husband sent for. Now a
third has ensued which has bereft her of speech, and it is feared will
end fatally. I have come to town for some purchases and on a visit to
friends, and I thought it would be kind and wise if I came to see you
and tell you what I knew.”

“Very kind indeed, ma’am.”

“I promised Captain Tubb that I would do so; he is not a great hand at
letter writing, and I said that I could explain the circumstances so
much better by word of mouth than he could with the pen. The case, I
fear, is serious. She cannot speak.”

“It must indeed be serious, if Marianne can’t speak,” observed Welsh
dryly; “I’ll run down to Orleigh to-morrow.”

“How is your nephew? Mrs. Tubb hadn’t heard of him for three or four
months. I dare say anxiety about him has brought on the seizure.”

“My late nephew?” Welsh heaved a sigh. “Poor fellow, he is gone. He
always was delicate.”

“Gone!—”

“Yes—to a warm place.”

“It is not for us to judge,” said Mrs. Cribbage, sternly.

“Well, perhaps not,” answered Welsh; “but between you and me, ma’am, for
what else was he fit?”

“I always considered that he gave himself airs, and I had an impression
that he indulged in free-thinking. Still, he was not positively vicious.
Nothing was proved against his morals.”

“Others go to a warm place that shall be nameless, besides those who are
positively vicious.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Cribbage, “that is true, sadly true. And now to change
the topic—how is Miss Inglett? Is she still with you?”

“Miss Inglett?” Welsh’s eyes twinkled. He knew what the woman had come
to his place for. It was not out of kindness to communicate to him his
sister’s condition. He felt the dig of the skua’s beak in his chest.

“Oh yes, we know all about it. Marianne Tubb talked before she had the
stroke and lost the power of speech. You must not suppose, Mr. Welsh,
that we are taken in and believe that the Honourable Arminell Inglett
died as has been represented, through the shock caused by her father’s
fatal fall.”

“Ah! I remember seeing something about it in the papers. She died, did
she?”

“No, no, Mr. Welsh, that will not do. Your sister let the cat out of the
bag. She said that Miss Inglett was lodging here with you; and very
boastful Mr. Tubb was about it, and much talk did it occasion in
Orleigh. Some people would not believe it, they said that Marianne
Saltren had been a liar, and Marianne Tubb was no better. However,
others say that there is something in it. So, as I am come to town, I
thought I would just run here and inquire, and see Miss Inglett myself.”

“We have had an Inglett here, certainly,” answered Welsh composedly,
“and very decent pastry she made. She had a light hand.”

“I do not comprehend.”

“Are you in want of a cook, a nursemaid, or parlour maid? She was a
handy girl, and Mrs. Welsh would be happy to give her a good character—a
true and honest one, no reading between the lines, no disguising of
defects. She did not drink, was not a lie-abed, and was clean in her
work and person. I won’t say whether she put her fingers into the sugar,
because I don’t know, and Mrs. Welsh keeps the preserves and candied
fruit locked up in the side-board.”

“I do not understand,” said Mrs. Cribbage, gazing perplexedly at Mr.
Welsh’s imperturbable face.

“She was a sort of general hand with us,” explained Welsh, “was that
girl Inglett. We were sorry to lose her, but she thought to better
herself, and we do not give high wages. We can’t afford to pay more than
twelve pounds, and no beer. But the maid has the tea-leaves and
dripping. That is—she had; but now that we have a cook, the cook
arrogates the dripping to herself. We bear the young woman no grudge for
leaving us. It is the way with girls, they will always be on the move,
and if they can better themselves by moving, why not? What wages do you
pay, ma’am? And how about perquisites?”

“You had a general servant named Inglett?”

“Yes, and our present housemaid is named Budge. Our cook is Mrs. Winter.
The last cook we had drank, and ran up a ladder. It took several
policemen to get her down. The ladder was of extraordinary height. It
stood in a builder’s yard. It was impossible for us to retain the woman
after that. She had risen into notoriety. Then, for awhile, the girl
Inglett cooked for us; she was not brought up to it, had never passed
through her apprenticeship as kitchen-maid, but some women take to
cooking as poets take to verses—naturally.”

“That is true,” said Mrs. Cribbage. Her mouth was gradually falling at
the corners. She had expected to fish up a very queer and unpleasant bit
of scandal, and, to her disappointment, began to see that she had
spooned up clean water in her beak.

“Mrs. Welsh, seeing her abilities, may have advised the girl Inglett to
take a kitchen-maid’s place—I cannot say. Has she applied to you for
such a situation in your house, ma’am? If so, I am sure Mrs. Welsh can
confidently recommend her.”

“We thought,” said Mrs. Cribbage, in a tone of discouragement, “that is
to say, Mrs. Tubb said most positively that—that the Honourable Arminell
Inglett, daughter of Lord Lamerton, was not dead, but was lodging with
you. And you _really_ had a servant of the name of Inglett?”

“Certainly, a general, as I said—and now you mention it, it does seem
queer that she should have had such an aristocratic name, but I daresay
she assumed it, as actresses do.”

“I was led by Marianne Tubb to suppose—”

“Was not that like Marianne?” Mr. Welsh went into a fit of laughter.
Mrs. Cribbage, with a ghastly smile, admitted that it was like Marianne
Tubb, who was certainly given to boasting and romancing. However, she
added, charitably—

“Really, it almost seems a judgment on her.”

“What does?”

“The stroke. It was too bad of her to make us suppose that the
Honourable Arminell Inglett had come to live in such a quarter as this.
Then you really believe, Mr. Welsh, that Lord Lamerton’s daughter died
of the shock, when she heard of her father’s premature death?”

“I saw it so stated in the papers, and they are generally well informed.
What sort of a person was she? I ask you, as the Rector’s wife, was she
worldly? Was she at all prepared for the great change?”

Mrs. Cribbage shook her head.

“I was afraid it was so,” said Welsh solemnly. “Then I should not be at
all surprised if she also had gone to the same warm place as my poor
nephew.”

“It is not for us to judge,” said Mrs. Cribbage gravely; “still, if it
be permitted us to look beyond the veil, I would not say but that she
had. She was barely civil to me, once she was positively rude. Yes—I
have no doubt that she also has gone—gone—”

“To the same warm place,” added Welsh.



                             CHAPTER LIII.

                            ALLAH’S SLIPPER.


Having occupied an entire chapter with dippers, it may seem to the
reader to be acting in excess of what is just to revert in the ensuing
chapter to the same topic; but if we mention dippers again, it is in
another sense altogether.

In an oriental tale, a sultan was unable to conceive how that a thousand
days could seem to pass as a minute, or a minute be expanded into a
thousand days. Then a magician bade a pail of water be brought into the
royal presence, and invited the sultan to plunge his head into it. He
did so, and at once found himself translated to a strange country where
he was destitute of means of life, and was forced to support existence
by hard labour as a porter. He married a wife, and became the father of
seven children, after which his wife died, and as he was oppressed with
old age and poverty, he plunged into a river to finish his woes, when—up
came his head out of the pail of water. He stormed at the magician for
having given him such a life of wretchedness. “But, sire,” said the
magician, “your august head has been under water precisely three
seconds.”

Now I do not mean to say that this story is applicable to my hero and
heroine in all its parts. I do not mean that their history and that of
the sultan fit, when one is applied to the other, as to the triangles A
B C and D E F in the fourth proposition of the First Book of Euclid, but
only that there is a resemblance. Both Giles Saltren and Arminell had,
as the expression goes, got their heads under water, and having got them
there, found themselves beginning a new career, in a fresh place of
existence, with fresh experiences to make and connections to form. The
past was to both cut away as if it had never been, and, unlike this
sultan, there was no prospect of their getting their heads up again into
their former life. They must, therefore, make the best they could of
that new life in which they found themselves; and, perhaps, Arminell
acted sensibly in resolving that they should begin it together.

If Arminell had settled into her house at Bournemouth, and kept her
pony-carriage, and appeared to be unstraitened in circumstances, the
residents of Bournemouth would, in all probability, have asked who this
Miss Inglett was, and have turned up the name in the Red Books, and
pushed enquiries which could with difficulty have been evaded; but when
she set up her establishment as Mrs. Saltren the case was altered; for
the patronymic does not occur in the “Peerage” or in “Burke’s Landed
Gentry.” It was a name to baffle enquiry, whereas Inglett was calculated
to provoke it. It is true that Arminell might have changed her maiden
name without altering her condition, but this she was reluctant to do.

In Gervase of Tilbury’s “Otia Imperalia” is an account of a remarkable
event that took place in England in the reign of Henry II. One day an
anchor descended out of the clouds and grappled the earth, immediately
followed by a man who swarmed down the cable and disengaged the anchor,
whereupon man and anchor were drawn up again into the clouds.

Similar events occur at the present day. People, not men alone, but
women, whole families, come down on us out of the clouds, and move about
on the earth in our midst.

We know neither whence they come, nor anything about their antecedents.
They talk and eat and drink like the rest of us, and are sometimes very
agreeable to converse with, and take infinite pains to make themselves
popular. Nevertheless, we regard them with suspicion. We are never sure
that they will be with us long. Some day they will release the anchor
and go up with a whisk above the clouds into the fog-land whence they
fell.

There are certain times of the year when meteoric stones descend, and
there are certain belts on the surface of the earth on which they
chiefly tumble. So is it with these people who come down on us out of
the clouds. They usually fall into watering-places, and winter-quarters,
and always drop down in the season at these resorts. Rarely do they
descend into quiet country towns or rural districts among the
autochthones, parsonic and squirarchical. We come on them abroad, we
become acquaintances, we sit together at the opera, organize picnics
together, take coffee at one table in the gardens where the band plays,
yet we never know whence they have come and whither they will go. When
we are at the sea-side with our family we meet with another family, the
father and mother respectable, the young men handsome and polite, the
girls æsthetic, and with—oh, such eyes! The young people soon strike up
an intimacy, go boating, shrimping, nutting together; but we, the
parents, have seen the intimacy thicken with some uneasiness, and do not
like to see our son hang about the handsomest of the girls, or the most
irreproachable of the young men so assiduous in his attentions to our
daughter. Then we begin to institute enquiries, but learn nothing.
Nobody ever heard of these people before. Nobody ever saw them before.
Nobody knows where they made their money—yet money they must have, for
the girls dress charmingly, and you cannot dress charmingly by the
sea-side for nothing.

Then, all at once, when these people become aware that you are pushing
enquiries, the blade of the anchor wriggles out of the sand, and up they
all go, the young men waving their straw hats, and the girls casting sad
glances out of their splendid eyes, and the old people silent about
prosecuting the acquaintance elsewhere.

But—it must be admitted that these people who come down out of the
clouds do not for the most part form as complete a family as that just
spoken of. Either the monsieur or the madame is deficient, and we never
know exactly where he or she is, whether above the clouds or under the
earth.

No doubt that at Bournemouth, as at other sea-side places, persons
appear at the beginning of the season, cast anchor for a while, and no
one troubles himself about their antecedents, because they are supposed
to be there for the season only; but were a young lady to anchor herself
firmly, to buy a house and become a permanent resident, especially if
she were pretty and rich, do you suppose that the Bournemouth residents
would not examine the cable of her anchor, to see if the government
thread be woven into it, and the anchor to discover the maker’s stamp?
Do you not suppose that they would set their telescopes and
opera-glasses to work to discover out of what star the rope descended?

Arminell knew this. She brought with her out of her old world that
caution which bade her inquire who a person was before she consulted
with that person; and she was quite sure that wherever she set up her
tent, there questions would be asked concerning her. She knew that there
were Mrs. Cribbages everywhere, and that she would have to be on her
guard against them. But her difficulties about keeping her secret were
materially diminished by marriage.

The ceremony took place quietly, and no announcement of it was made in
the _Times_, the _Queen_, and the country papers. Immediately after it,
she and Giles departed for Algiers. That was the warm place of which Mr.
Welsh had spoken to Mrs. Cribbage. They went to Algiers, instead of
Bordighera and Mentone, because Saltren had been to the Riviera before,
and might be recognised.

Arminell had constituted herself the nurse of Jingles. She was the nurse
not only of a sick body, but of an infirm soul. His morbid sensitiveness
was in part constitutional, and due to his delicacy, but it had been
fostered and been ripened by the falseness of the position in which he
had been placed. Arminell had recovered her elasticity sooner than had
he; but then she had not been reduced to the same distress. Both had
been humbled, but the humiliations he had undergone had been more
numerous, more persistent than hers. She, at her moral rebound, had
adapted herself to her situation and had done well in every capacity; he
had not been able to find any situation in which he could show his
powers.

The body reacts on the moral nature more than we suppose, or allow for
in others. We call those ill-tempered who are in fact disordered in
liver and not in heart, and we consider those to be peppery who in
reality are only irritable because they have gout flying about their
joints. The morbidness of Jingles was largely due to his delicacy of
lung, and with De Jongh’s cod-liver oil would probably in time
disappear.

When a man battles a way for himself into a position not his by right of
birth, he acquires a tough skin. Siegfried, the Dragon-slayer, goes by
the name of the Horny Siegfried because, by bathing in the dragon’s
blood, he toughened his hide—only between his shoulders, where a
linden-leaf fell whilst he was bathing, could he be made to feel.

The successful men who have fought dragons and captured their guarded
treasures are thick-skinned, impervious to hints, ridicule,
remonstrances—you cannot pinch them, scratch them, prick them, unless
you discover the one vulnerable point. But Saltren had fought no
dragons, only his own shadow, and his skin was as thin as the inner film
of an egg—highly sensitive, and puckering at a breath. His vanity had
been broken away, but his skin had not been rendered more callous
thereby. Formerly he was in perpetual dudgeon because he imagined
slights that were never offered. He still imagined slights, but instead
of becoming angry at them became depressed.

As his health improved in the dry, salubrious air of North Africa, he
began to interest himself in the antiquities, to explore ruins, to copy
inscriptions, and so forgot himself in archæological pursuits. Arminell
encouraged him to prosecute these subjects, and he became more
enthusiastic on them; he regretted that the increasing heat would send
him to Europe. However, on his arrival at Bournemouth, he found
occupation in arranging his library and setting out his antiquities.
Then he wrote an account of some explorations he had among the
megalithic monuments near Constantine for a scientific journal, and this
attracted attention, and led to correspondence, and to the article being
reprinted with additions, and to a dispute as to the resemblances and
dissimilarities between the Constantine monuments and the so-called
Druidical remains in Britain.

The following winter Saltren was again at Algiers, and resumed his
explorations with assiduity, spent much time in planning, sketching,
digging, and formed a theory of his own relative to megalithic monuments
contrary to that of Mr. Fergusson, whom he resolved to attack and crush.
When summer came, at his particular desire, Arminell and he visited
Denmark and Norway, where he examined such stone monuments as belonged
to a prehistoric period, and then went with her into Brittany.

As he became known as an antiquary, his society was sought by men of
like tastes, and so he came to have a little circle of acquaintances,
which tended to widen, and as those who came to know him through
prehistoric rude stone monuments fell in love with his charming young
wife, they insisted on their womankind calling and knowing her also. In
vain did the ladies ask, “But, who was she?” They were crushed with the
reply, “My dears, what does it matter what she _was_, she _is_ the wife
of one of our first authorities on comparative megalithology.” So by
degrees, the young couple formed a coterie about themselves, and were no
longer solitary and feeling as if they were outcasts.

Now and then Mr. Welsh ran down to Bournemouth and spent a day with
them, and sometimes Mrs. Welsh brought the baby; but the Welshes were no
assistance to them in social matters. The Welsh circle was of a
different style of mind and manner and interest from that which formed
round the Saltrens. It was not a circle which could wax excited over
anything prehistoric, it was so completely engrossed in the present.

But the Welshes were always received with the utmost warmth and kindness
by Arminell, who could not forget what she owed them, and harboured for
the Radical journalist an affection quite special, mixed with great
respect. She knew the thorough goodness of the man, and she delighted in
his smartness.

“Look here, Tryphœna,” said James Welsh one day to his wife; “do you
remember what I said to you about aristocrats and their trains? There is
something else I will tell you. Once upon a time, say the Mussulmans,
Allah, sitting on his throne in paradise, dropped the slipper off his
foot, and it fell down into hell. Then he called to Adam, and bade him
go and fetch it. ‘What!’ exclaimed Adam, ‘Shall I, who am made in the
likeness of God, descend to the place of devils? God forbid!’ Then Allah
ordered Abraham to go after his slipper. ‘Shall I go down into hell? I
who am the friend of God! Far be it from me!’ was his reply. Then Allah
turned to Moses, and he exclaimed, ‘What! shall I, who am the law-giver
of God, I who led the people out of the brick-kilns, shall I descend to
the furnace? Away with the thought!’ And David cried, when Allah turned
to him, ‘Nay, but I am the psalmist of God, press me not to go where
demons yell discords.’ And Isaiah had also an objection to go, for he
said, ‘I am the prophet of God.’ Then Allah turned to Mahomet, and said,
‘Wilt thou go after my slipper?’ And Mahomet answered, ‘I go at once, I
am the servant of God.’ Whereupon Allah exclaimed, ‘Thou only art worthy
to sit on my throne. All the rest are a parcel of cads’—or words to that
effect.”

“But, James, what has this to do with the aristocracy?”

“Be silent, Tryphœna, and listen. You and I and all those who have
clambered up the steps of the social heaven, are mightily tenacious of
our places, and resent the slightest suggestion made to us to step
below. We clutch at our seats, and insist on every prerogative and
privilege that attaches to it. Quite right that it should be so. We
value the place we have gained, because it has cost us so much effort to
attain it, and because we have to balance ourselves and cling so tight
to keep ourselves from sliding down. But it is different with those who
have been born and brought up on the footstool of the throne. They don’t
want a pat of cobblers’-wax to keep them firm on their seat, and they
are not scrupulous about descending after Allah’s shoe wherever it may
have fallen. If they go down to hell they don’t get smoked. They don’t
find anyone disputing their seats when they return. They can go and
come, and we must sit and cling. That makes a difference. There is
something of Allah everywhere, only it wants fetching up. Just see what
has been made of that girl, Thomasine Kite. If ever there was a wilful,
unruly creature, fated to go to the devil, it was she. And what could
you do with her? Nothing. You sat on a step just above her, and were not
able to stoop for fear of toppling over. She is not the same girl now,
and I hear she is going to be married to a sergeant of the coastguard.
She is a well-conducted woman, passionately attached to her mistress,
and no wonder,—Arminell has brought up Allah’s slipper out of her. Look
again at Jingles! I never had any opinion of him—a conceited, morbid
monkey—and I could have done nothing with him; I lack the tact or
whatever it is that is needful. But he is changed also, unobtrusive,
self-respecting, learned, and modest—she has brought up Allah’s slipper
out of him.”

“You are a weather-cock, James. At one time you were all against the
aristocracy, and now no one can do anything right unless he has blue
blood in him. And yet—you call yourself a Radical.”

“So I am—a Radical still,” said Welsh. “I have not altered my opinions,
but my mode of procedure. I do not want to pull the aristocracy down,
but to pull all society up to it. I don’t say that no one can fetch up
Allah’s slipper but a born gentleman, but I do say that no one who has
not attained to the aristocratic ease in a superior position, is likely
to descend to seek Allah’s slipper, wherever it is to be found. I may
have been wrong in thinking the best way of advancing society was by
pinching the calves of those who sat above me, so as to make their seat
intolerable, instead of lending a hand to help up those below to a share
of my stool. Do you understand me, old woman?”

“I do not think I do. You have such a figurative method of speaking,
James.”



                              CHAPTER LIV.

                              MEGALITHIC.


One bright summer day, when the sea was still and blue as the nemophyla,
and twinkling as if strewn with diamond dust, Arminell was in her
garden, with an apron on, gloves over her hands, a basket on her arm,
and scissors for flowers.

At the end of the garden, partly screened by rhododendrons, was a
summer-house, and outside it some lumps of plaster of Paris, pots of
oil-paint, and slabs of slate, smeared with mortar. Occasionally the
door of the pavilion opened, and a man issued from it wearing a
brown-holland blouse, and on his head a paper cap. Particles and
splashes of plaster marked his face, especially about the nose, where he
had rubbed with a white finger.

“I will have it all cleaned away, Giles,” said Arminell. “How are you
getting on with the models?”

“Very well, only the plaster does not set as fast as I could wish. When
I have got the dolmens of Gozo and Constantine, of Lock Mariaker and
Madron to scale, side by side, the most prejudiced persons must agree
that the similarity of construction is strong evidence of identity of
origin. I can show on my map of megalithic monuments where the stream of
dolmen builders travelled, how that it set from Asia, along the margin
of the Baltic, and then branched north over Britain, and south over
Gaul. I can prove conclusively that they were not Gauls and Kelts. Just
come and look at my cromlechs and dolmens in the rough. The resemblance
_saute aux yeux_. We must establish their geographical distribution, and
then compare their points of similarity and dis——”

“Please, ma’am, a lady and a young gentleman are in the drawing-room,
and want to see you.”

“What names?”

“They gave none, ma’am.”

Arminell removed her apron, took off her gloves, and handed them and the
basket to the maid, then went towards the drawing-room glass door
opening upon the garden.

“Some people come to collect for the Jubilee,” said Arminell aside to
her husband, as she passed.

“I heard they were about.”

In another moment, however, Saltren, who was engaged on his models of
prehistoric rude stone monuments, heard a cry, and returning to the door
of his laboratory, saw Arminell in the arms of an old lady, and at the
same moment recognised her, and also the boy at her side. Then, without
removing his blouse or his paper cap, he ran also across the garden, to
welcome Lady Lamerton and his old pupil, Giles.

I do not think I could better illustrate the fact of the transformation
that had been effected in Jingles, than by mentioning this incident. Can
you—I cannot—conceive of Mr. Jingles as tutor at Orleigh Park, allowing
himself to be seen smudged with plaster, in a paper cap, with a nose of
chalky whiteness? On the present occasion he was so excited, so pleased
to see dear Lady Lamerton and Giles again, that he forgot all about his
own personal appearance, and even about the quoit of the Madron cromlech
he was then modelling to scale.

Lady Lamerton had come to see Arminell, as Arminell could not visit her;
and this was her first visit. She had not ventured before, because she
did not think it prudent, not because her heart did not draw her to
Arminell.

The most contradictory reports had circulated relative to the girl. Some
had asserted that she was dead, others declared she was alive. Then it
was said she was lodging in London, under an assumed name, and had made
herself notorious by her advocacy of woman’s rights, divided skirts, and
social democracy. It was asserted that she had become a platform orator
and a writer under the direction of that revolutionist, James Welsh.
This was again denied, and said to rest on a mistake arising from James
Welsh having had a general servant named Inglett. After a twelvemonth
gossip ceased, for interest was no longer taken in a person who was no
more seen, and who probably was dead.

And what does it matter, argued the cynical, whether she be dead or
alive, as she is no more in society? We know nothing of those who do not
appear, who have not been presented, who are not danced before our eyes.

In mediæval times there were _oubliettes_ in all castles, and
inconvenient persons were let fall down them to disappear for ever. Did
they break their necks in falling? Or did they linger on, fed on bread
and water, and languish for years? What did it matter?

They were practically dead when the trap-door closed over their heads.

Every aristocratic, every gentle family has now what was anciently the
prerogative of the mightiest barons only. Every family is encumbered
with its awkward and troublesome members who must be dropped somewhere.

The Honourable Arminell Inglett had gone down an _oubliette_, but
whether it were the family vault or a social limbo mattered nothing. We
are too wise to ask about her. We never do anything inconsistent with
good taste. We let sleeping dogs lie, and don’t push inquiries about
dropped relatives.

When we are invited to dine at my lord’s, we do not peep to see if the
broken meats and half-finished bottles be tumbled down under the feet to
be mumbled and drained by the forgotten ones beneath. When we dance at
my lady’s Christmas ball, in the state ballroom, we know very well that
below it is the family _oubliette_, but we scuffle with our feet to
drown the moans of those _mauvais sujets_ who lie below, and the
orchestra sounds its loudest strain to disguise the rattle of their
chains.

                  *       *       *       *       *

“My dear husband,” said Arminell, “take Lamerton to see your models.
They will interest him, and I will go in with mamma. Besides, you can
clear his mind of delusions with respect to the Druids, which is really
important. You know that there is a circle of stones on Orleigh Common,
and in an unguarded moment the boy might attribute them to the ancient
Britons.”

“The matter is not one to joke upon,” said Jingles with a flicker of
annoyance in his face.

Then he retreated to the pavilion with his old pupil, to show him the
work on which he was engaged.

Arminell, quick in perception, saw that Lady Lamerton had noticed the
transient cloud, so she said, with a smile, “Do you remember my husband
when he was Giles’s tutor? I mean, do you remember how sensitive he then
was, how he winced when you came near him? I have heard of nervous
disorders that make men thus susceptible. If you put a finger on them,
they scream and writhe; if near them, they quiver with apprehension. He
was in like manner touchy. Now, however, he is quite recovered. There is
but one single point on which he is sensitive, and where a feather will
make him wince.”

“What is that?”

“Megalithic monuments.”

“Megalithic monuments, my dear?”

“Yes, mamma. He loves me dearly, but even I, who can do almost anything
with him, would shrink from holding Mr. Fergusson’s view that Stonehenge
was a work of the Anglo-Saxons. If it did not separate us, it would make
a temporary estrangement. But, understand me, we are the greatest of
friends, we never quarrel. I believe with all my soul that the rude
stone monuments are prehistoric and pre-Keltic.”

“And what are his political views?”

“I do not think he has any. But he is deeply interested in the bill for
the acquisition and nationalisation of the antiquities of the country.
He says, and I agree with him, that if Britain is to maintain her place
as a leading nation in the civilized world, she should conserve most
strictly every prehistoric monument on the soil.”

Then Arminell made Lady Lamerton rest on the sofa; and she drew a stool
to her feet, and sat there holding her hands.

“I dare say you cannot understand why I married him,” she said, after a
short period of silence and mutual endearments. “But I was much alone,
and oh! so solitary. I wanted a companion and did not relish the idea of
an elderly eligible female, who, with bland perpetual smile,
acquiescence in all my vagaries, non-resistance to my opinion, would
have been intolerable to me. I could not do without a companion, and I
could not endure the society of one. It is the vocation of these
companions to be complaisant, to have no view, no opinion, no
personality. Unless she were all that, she would be no companion; if she
were all that, she would be insupportable to me. Then—with her I could
not have talked about dear Orleigh.”

She stroked and then kissed her step-mother’s hand.

“Also poor Jingles—I mean Mr. Saltren—required a companion, a nurse;
some one to look after him day and night, and see that he changed his
socks when they were damp, and drank fresh milk warm from the cow, and
took tonics at regular hours, and had sweet-oil rubbed into his back
between the shoulder-blades. I could not ask Mrs. Bankes to do that, or
the housemaid, and there was really no one else who could be asked. I
could not do this unless I married him, and so—I became his wife, and
rubbed in the sweet-oil. Thank God, he is a strong man now; but he has
to be kept up to the mark. I go with him when he makes archæological
excursions to the Morbihan, or to Scotland to plan old stones, for when
he gets interested he forgets himself, and would work on in an east wind
or in a sou’-west drizzle unless I were by to insist on his postponing
the measurements till the weather mends. He is a dear, amiable fellow,
and yields with the best grace. It is real pleasure to have to do with
him. Now tell me something about Orleigh.”

“About the people?”

“O yes, mamma, about the dear people there.”

“You know that Sam Ceely is married to Joan Melhuish, and she is devoted
to that old impostor as you seem to be to your patient. They live now in
the cottage which was occupied by Captain Tubb till he moved to the old
quarry.”

“Where is Patience Kite?”

“She has been had up twice before the magistrates for obtaining money
under false pretences. She is an inveterate witch, and might well have
been left alone, but Mrs. Cribbage has taken a dislike to her, and set
the police upon her, and has had her summonsed. Just now she is in
prison, because she could not pay the fine imposed on her. How is her
daughter, Thomasine?”

“Thomasine!—I will ring and you shall see her.”

“Not just yet, Arminell.”

“No, presently. She is the belle of Bournemouth. Such a handsome girl,
blooms into greater beauty than ever, and is so good and affectionate
and steady. She is going to be married to a coast-guard man, a most
respectable fellow.”

“And now about yourself, Armie. Does time not hang heavy on your hands?
You cannot be always engaged in prehistoric antiquities.”

“Indeed, mamma,” answered Arminell with energy, “time does not hang
heavy on my hands. I have, of course, my dear husband to consider first
of all, but I have plenty to occupy me besides—duties thoroughly
humdrum. I visit the old women, I read to the sick, I am an active
patroness of the Girls’ Friendly Society, and I teach every Sunday in
the school.”

“You do! Why, Armie, you used to hate Sunday School.”

“Dear mamma, I wish you could hear my class of girls, they have just
acquired the list of apocryphal books which are not to be applied to
establish doctrine. And, till I find some positive truth to teach, I
content myself with making them repeat the names of all the homilies
which no one has read, and which never are likely to be read. They have
also been taught the meaning of Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and
Septuagesima.”

“And you think you are really doing good, Armie?”

“I am using all my energies to teach my girls to grow up humdrum women.”


                                THE END.

                             --------------

                   _S. Cowan & Co., Printers, Perth._

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                         _BY THE SAME AUTHOR._

                             --------------

                         S. BARING GOULD, M.A.

                             --------------

        =HISTORIC ODDITIES AND STRANGE EVENTS.= Demy 8vo, 10s. 6d.

                                                       [Now Ready.

          “Striking into the dark side-paths of history, we have a
          collection of exciting and entertaining chapters. The
          volume is delightful reading.”—_Times._

          “The entire contents are stimulating and
          delightful.”—_Notes and Queries._

        =OLD COUNTRY LIFE.= With numerous Illustrations and
          Initial Letters by W. PARKINSON, F. D. BEDFORD, and F.
          MASEY. Large Crown 8vo, 10s. 6d. A limited number of
          copies on large paper will also be printed.

                                                [_On November 18._


                             --------------


                              _CONTENTS._


                      CHAP.
                         I. OLD COUNTY FAMILIES.
                        II. THE LAST SQUIRE.
                       III. COUNTRY HOUSES.
                        IV. THE OLD GARDEN.
                         V. THE COUNTRY PARSON.
                        VI. THE HUNTING PARSON.
                       VII. COUNTRY DANCES.
                      VIII. OLD ROADS.
                        IX. FAMILY PORTRAITS.
                         X. THE VILLAGE MUSICIANS.
                        XI. THE VILLAGE BARD.
                       XII. OLD SERVANTS.
                      XIII. THE HUNT.
                       XIV. THE COUNTY TOWN.


        =JAEL AND OTHER STORIES. (In February.)=

        =YORKSHIRE ODDITIES. New and Cheaper Edition. (In the
          Press.)=

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE


Punctuation has been normalized. Variations in hyphenation have been
retained as they were in the original publication. The following changes
have been made:

                it ha blowed —> it ha’ blowed {page 20}
                comman-place —> common-place {page 178}
                Mrs. Banks —> Mrs. Bankes {page 246}

Advertising material “By the Same Author” has been moved to the end of
the text.

Footnotes have been moved to the end of the chapter in which they occur.

Italicized phrases are presented by surrounding the text with
_underscores_.

Bolded phrases are presented by surrounding the text with =equal signs=.

Words and phrases presented in mixed small capital letters in the
original are presented using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.





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