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Title: The Young Duke
Author: Disraeli, Benjamin, Earl of Beaconsfield
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 "The Young Duke" ***

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THE YOUNG DUKE

By Benjamin Disraeli

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BOOK I.



CHAPTER I.

     _Fortune’s Favourite_

GEORGE AUGUSTUS FREDERICK, DUKE OF ST. JAMES, completed his twenty-first
year, an event which created almost as great a sensation among the
aristocracy of England as the Norman Conquest. A minority of twenty
years had converted a family always amongst the wealthiest of Great
Britain into one of the richest in Europe. The Duke of St. James
possessed estates in the north and in the west of England, besides a
whole province in Ireland. In London there were a very handsome square
and several streets, all made of bricks, which brought him in yearly
more cash than all the palaces of Vicenza are worth in fee-simple, with
those of the Grand Canal of Venice to boot. As if this were not enough,
he was an hereditary patron of internal navigation; and although perhaps
in his two palaces, three castles, four halls, and lodges _ad libitum_,
there were more fires burnt than in any other establishment in the
empire, this was of no consequence, because the coals were his own. His
rent-roll exhibited a sum total, very neatly written, of two hundred
thousand pounds; but this was independent of half a million in the
funds, which we had nearly forgotten, and which remained from the
accumulations occasioned by the unhappy death of his father.

The late Duke of St. James had one sister, who was married to the Earl
of Fitz-pompey. To the great surprise of the world, to the perfect
astonishment of the brother-in-law, his Lordship was not appointed
guardian to the infant minor. The Earl of Fitz-pompey had always been on
the best possible terms with his Grace: the Countess had, only the year
before his death, accepted from his fraternal hand a diamond bracelet;
the Lord Viscount St. Maurice, future chief of the house of Fitz-pompey,
had the honour not only of being his nephew, but his godson. Who could
account, then, for an action so perfectly unaccountable? It was quite
evident that his Grace had no intention of dying.

The guardian, however, that he did appoint was a Mr. Dacre, a Catholic
gentleman of ancient family and large fortune, who had been the
companion of his travels, and was his neighbour in his county. Mr. Dacre
had not been honoured with the acquaintance of Lord Fitz-pompey previous
to the decease of his noble friend; and after that event such an
acquaintance would probably not have been productive of agreeable
reminiscences; for from the moment of the opening of the fatal will
the name of Dacre was wormwood to the house of St. Maurice. Lord
Fitz-pompey, who, though the brother-in-law of a Whig magnate, was a
Tory, voted against the Catholics with renewed fervour.

Shortly after the death of his friend, Mr. Dacre married a beautiful and
noble lady of the house of Howard, who, after having presented him with
a daughter, fell ill, and became that common character, a confirmed
invalid. In the present day, and especially among women, one would
almost suppose that health was a state of unnatural existence. The
illness of his wife and the non-possession of parliamentary duties
rendered Mr. Dacre’s visits to his town mansion rare, and the mansion in
time was let.

The young Duke, with the exception of an occasional visit to his uncle,
Lord Fitz-pompey, passed the early years of his life at Castle Dacre.
At seven years of age he was sent to a preparatory school at Richmond,
which was entirely devoted to the early culture of the nobility, and
where the principal, the Reverend Doctor Coronet, was so extremely
exclusive in his system that it was reported that he had once refused
the son of an Irish peer. Miss Coronet fed her imagination with the hope
of meeting her father’s noble pupils in after-life, and in the meantime
read fashionable novels.

The moment that the young Duke was settled at Richmond, all the
intrigues of the Fitz-pompey family were directed to that quarter; and
as Mr. Dacre was by nature unsuspicious, and was even desirous that
his ward should cultivate the friendship of his only relatives, the St.
Maurice family had the gratification, as they thought, of completely
deceiving him. Lady Fitz-pompey called twice a week at Crest House with
a supply of pine-apples or bonbons, and the Rev. Dr. Coronet bowed in
adoration. Lady Isabella St. Maurice gave a china cup to Mrs. Coronet,
and Lady Augusta a paper-cutter to Miss. The family was secured. All
discipline was immediately set at defiance, and the young Duke passed
the greater part of the half-year with his affectionate relations.
His Grace, charmed with the bonbons of his aunt and the kisses of his
cousins, which were even sweeter than the sugar-plums; delighted
with the pony of St. Maurice, which immediately became his own; and
inebriated by the attentions of his uncle,--who, at eight years of age,
treated him, as his Lordship styled it, ‘like a man’--contrasted this
life of early excitement with what now appeared the gloom and the
restraint of Castle Dacre, and he soon entered into the conspiracy,
which had long been hatching, with genuine enthusiasm. He wrote to his
guardian, and obtained permission to spend his vacation with his uncle.
Thus, through the united indulgence of Dr. Coronet and Mr. Dacre, the
Duke of St. James became a member of the family of St. Maurice.

No sooner had Lord Fitz-pompey secured the affections of the ward than
he entirely changed his system towards the guardian. He wrote to
Mr. Dacre, and in a manner equally kind and dignified courted his
acquaintance. He dilated upon the extraordinary, though extremely
natural, affection which Lady Fitz-pompey entertained for the only
offspring of her beloved brother, upon the happiness which the young
Duke enjoyed with his cousins, upon the great and evident advantages
which his Grace would derive from companions of his own age, of the
singular friendship which he had already formed with St. Maurice; and
then, after paying Mr. Dacre many compliments upon the admirable manner
in which he had already fulfilled the duties of his important office,
and urging the lively satisfaction that a visit from their brother’s
friend would confer both upon Lady Fitz-pompey and himself, he requested
permission for his nephew to renew the visit in which he had been ‘so
happy!’ The Duke seconded the Earl’s diplomatic scrawl in the most
graceful round-text. The masterly intrigues of Lord Fitz-pompey,
assisted by Mrs. Dacre’s illness, which daily increased, and which
rendered perfect quiet indispensable, were successful, and the young
Duke arrived at his twelfth year without revisiting Dacre. Every year,
however, when Mr. Dacre made a short visit to London, his ward spent
a few days in his company, at the house of an old-fashioned Catholic
nobleman; a visit which only afforded a dull contrast to the gay society
and constant animation of his uncle’s establishment.

It would seem that fate had determined to counteract the intentions
of the late Duke of St. James, and to achieve those of the Earl of
Fitz-pompey. At the moment that the noble minor was about to leave Dr.
Coronet for Eton, Mrs. Dacre’s state was declared hopeless, except from
the assistance of an Italian sky, and Mr. Dacre, whose attachment to his
lady was romantic, determined to leave England immediately.

It was with deep regret that he parted from his ward, whom he tenderly
loved; but all considerations merged in the paramount one; and he was
consoled by the reflection that he was, at least, left to the care of
his nearest connections. Mr. Dacre was not unaware of the dangers
to which his youthful pledge might be exposed by the indiscriminate
indulgence of his uncle, but he trusted to the impartial and inviolable
system of a public school to do much; and he anticipated returning to
England before his ward was old enough to form those habits which are
generally so injurious to young nobles. In this hope Mr. Dacre was
disappointed. Mrs. Dacre lingered, and revived, and lingered, for nearly
eight years; now filling the mind of her husband and her daughter with
unreasonable hope, now delivering them to that renewed anguish, that
heart-rending grief, which the attendant upon a declining relative can
alone experience, additionally agonizing because it cannot be indulged.
Mrs. Dacre died, and the widower and his daughter returned to England.
In the meantime, the Duke of St. James had not been idle.



CHAPTER II.

     _Tender Relatives_

THE departure and, at length, the total absence of Mr. Dacre from
England yielded to Lord Fitz-pompey all the opportunity he had long
desired. Hitherto he had contented himself with quietly sapping the
influence of the guardian: now that influence was openly assailed. All
occasions were seized of depreciating the character of Mr. Dacre,
and open lamentations were poured forth on the strange and unhappy
indiscretion of the father who had confided the guardianship of his son,
not to his natural and devoted friends, but to a harsh and repulsive
stranger. Long before the young Duke had completed his sixteenth year
all memory of the early kindness of his guardian, if it had ever
been imprinted on his mind, was carefully obliterated from it. It was
constantly impressed upon him that nothing but the exertions of his aunt
and uncle had saved him from a life of stern privation and irrational
restraint: and the man who had been the chosen and cherished confidant
of the father was looked upon by the son as a grim tyrant, from whose
clutches he had escaped, and in which he determined never again to find
himself. ‘Old Dacre,’ as Lord Fitz-pompey described him, was a phantom
enough at any time to frighten his youthful ward. The great object
of the uncle was to teaze and mortify the guardian into resigning his
trust, and infinite were the contrivances to bring about this desirable
result; but Mr. Dacre was obstinate, and, although absent, contrived to
carry on and complete the system for the management of the Hauteville
property which he had so beneficially established and so long pursued.

In quitting England, although he had appointed a fixed allowance for
his noble ward, Mr. Dacre had thought proper to delegate a discretionary
authority to Lord Fitz-pompey to furnish him with what might be called
extraordinary necessaries. His Lordship availed himself with such
dexterity of this power that his nephew appeared to be indebted for
every indulgence to his uncle, who invariably accompanied every act of
this description with an insinuation that he might thank Mrs. Dacre’s
illness for the boon.

‘Well, George,’ he would say to the young Etonian, ‘you shall have
the boat, though I hardly know how I shall pass the account at
head-quarters; and make yourself easy about Flash’s bill, though I
really cannot approve of such proceedings. Thank your stars you have not
got to present that account to old Dacre. Well, I am one of those who
are always indulgent to young blood. Mr. Dacre and I differ. He is your
guardian, though. Everything is in his power; but you shall never want
while your uncle can help you; and so run off to Caroline, for I see you
want to be with her.’

The Lady Isabella and the Lady Augusta, who had so charmed Mrs. and Miss
Coronet, were no longer in existence. Each had knocked down her earl.
Brought up by a mother exquisitely adroit in female education, the
Ladies St. Maurice had run but a brief, though a brilliant, career.
Beautiful, and possessing every accomplishment which renders beauty
valuable, under the unrivalled chaperonage of the Countess they had
played their popular parts without a single blunder. Always in the best
set, never flirting with the wrong man, and never speaking to the wrong
woman, all agreed that the Ladies St. Maurice had fairly won their
coronets. Their sister Caroline was much younger; and although she did
not promise to develop so unblemished a character as themselves, she
was, in default of another sister, to be the Duchess of St. James.

Lady Caroline St. Maurice was nearly of the same age as her cousin, the
young Duke. They had been play-fellows since his emancipation from
the dungeons of Castle Dacre, and every means had been adopted by her
judicious parents to foster and to confirm the kind feelings which had
been first engendered by being partners in the same toys and sharing
the same sports. At eight years old the little Duke was taught to call
Caroline his ‘wife;’ and as his Grace grew in years, and could better
appreciate the qualities of his sweet and gentle cousin, he was not
disposed to retract the title. When George rejoined the courtly Coronet,
Caroline invariably mingled her tears with those of her sorrowing
spouse; and when the time at length arrived for his departure for Eton,
Caroline knitted him a purse and presented him with a watch-ribbon. At
the last moment she besought her brother, who was two years older, to
watch over him, and soothed the moment of final agony by a promise to
correspond. Had the innocent and soft-hearted girl been acquainted with,
or been able to comprehend, the purposes of her crafty parents, she
could not have adopted means more calculated to accomplish them. The
young Duke kissed her a thousand times, and loved her better than all
the world.

In spite of his private house and his private tutor, his Grace did not
make all the progress in his classical studies which means so calculated
to promote abstraction and to assist acquirement would seem to promise.
The fact is, that as his mind began to unfold itself he found a
perpetual and a more pleasing source of study in the contemplation of
himself. His early initiation in the school of Fitz-pompey had not been
thrown away. He had heard much of nobility, and beauty, and riches,
and fashion, and power; he had seen many individuals highly, though
differently, considered for the relative quantities which they possessed
of these qualities; it appeared to the Duke of St. James that among the
human race he possessed the largest quantity of them all: he cut his
private tutor. His private tutor, who had been appointed by Mr. Dacre,
remonstrated to Lord Fitz-pompey, and with such success that he thought
proper shortly after to resign his situation. Dr. Coronet begged to
recommend his son, the Rev. Augustus Granville Coronet. The Duke of St.
James now got on rapidly, and also found sufficient time for his boat,
his tandem, and his toilette.

The Duke of St. James appeared at Christ Church. His conceit kept him
alive for a few terms. It is delightful to receive the homage of two
thousand young men of the best families in the country, to breakfast
with twenty of them, and to cut the rest. In spite, however, of the
glories of the golden tuft and a delightful private establishment which
he and his followers maintained in the chaste suburbs of Alma Mater, the
Duke of St. James felt ennuied. Consequently, one clear night, they set
fire to a pyramid of caps and gowns in Peckwater. It was a silly thing
for any one: it was a sad indiscretion for a Duke; but it was done. Some
were expelled; his Grace had timely notice, and having before cut the
Oxonians, now cut Oxford.

Like all young men who get into scrapes, the Duke of St. James
determined to travel. The Dacres returned to England before he did. He
dexterously avoided coming into contact with them in Italy. Mr. Dacre
had written to him several times during the first years of his absence;
and although the Duke’s answers were short, seldom, and not very
satisfactory, Mr. Dacre persisted in occasionally addressing him. When,
however, the Duke had arrived at an age when he was at least morally
responsible for his own conduct, and entirely neglected answering his
guardian’s letters, Mr. Dacre became altogether silent.

The travelling career of the young Duke may be conceived by those who
have wasted their time, and are compensated for that silliness by being
called men of the world. He gamed a little at Paris; he ate a good deal
at Vienna; and he studied the fine arts in Italy. In all places his
homage to the fair sex was renowned. The Parisian duchess, the Austrian
princess, and the Italian countess spoke in the most enthusiastic terms
of the English nobility. At the end of three years the Duke of St. James
was of opinion that he had obtained a great knowledge of mankind. He was
mistaken; travel is not, as is imagined, the best school for that sort
of science. Knowledge of mankind is a knowledge of their passions. The
traveller is looked upon as a bird of passage, whose visit is short, and
which the vanity of the visited wishes to make agreeable. All is
show, all false, and all made up. Coterie succeeds coterie, equally
smiling--the explosions take place in his absence. Even a grand passion,
which teaches a man more, perhaps, than anything else, is not very
easily excited by the traveller. The women know that, sooner or later,
he must disappear; and though this is the case with all lovers, they do
not like to miss the possibility of delusion. Thus the heroines keep in
the background, and the visitor, who is always in a hurry, falls into
the net of the first flirtation that offers.

The Duke of St. James had, however, acquired a great knowledge; if
not of mankind, at any rate of manners. He had visited all Courts, and
sparkled in the most brilliant circles of the Continent. He returned to
his own country with a taste extremely refined, a manner most polished,
and a person highly accomplished.



CHAPTER III.

     _The Duke Returns_

A SORT of scrambling correspondence had been kept up between the young
Duke and his cousin, Lord St. Maurice, who had for a few months been his
fellow-traveller. By virtue of these epistles, notice of the movements
of their interesting relative occasionally reached the circle at
Fitz-pompey House, although St. Maurice was scanty in the much-desired
communications; because, like most young Englishmen, he derived
singular pleasure from depriving his fellow-creatures of all that small
information which every one is so desirous to obtain. The announcement,
however, of the approaching arrival of the young Duke was duly made.
Lord Fitz-pompey wrote and offered apartments at Fitz-pompey House. They
were refused. Lord Fitz-pompey wrote again to require instructions for
the preparation of Hauteville House. His letter was unanswered. Lord
Fitz-pompey was quite puzzled.

‘When does your cousin mean to come, Charles?’ ‘Where does your cousin
mean to go, Charles?’ ‘What does your cousin mean to do, Charles?’ These
were the hourly queries of the noble uncle.

At length, in the middle of January, when no one expected him, the Duke
of St. James arrived at Mivart’s.

He was attended by a French cook, an Italian valet, a German jäger, and
a Greek page. At this dreary season of the year this party was, perhaps,
the most distinguished in the metropolis.

Three years’ absence and a little knowledge of life had somewhat changed
the Duke of St. James’s feelings with regard to his noble relatives.
He was quite disembarrassed of that Panglossian philosophy which had
hitherto induced him to believe that the Earl of Fitz-pompey was the
best of all possible uncles. On the contrary, his Grace rather doubted
whether the course which his relations had pursued towards him was
quite the most proper and the most prudent; and he took great credit
to himself for having, with such unbounded indulgence, on the whole
deported himself with so remarkable a temperance. His Grace, too, could
no longer innocently delude himself with the idea that all the attention
which had been lavished upon him was solely occasioned by the impulse
of consanguinity. Finally, the young Duke’s conscience often misgave him
when he thought of Mr. Dacre. He determined, therefore, on returning to
England, not to commit himself too decidedly with the Fitz-pompeys, and
he had cautiously guarded himself from being entrapped into becoming
their guest. At the same time, the recollection of old intimacy, the
general regard which he really felt for them all, and the sincere
affection which he entertained for his cousin Caroline, would have
deterred him from giving any outward signs of his altered feelings, even
if other considerations had not intervened.

And other considerations did intervene. A Duke, and a young Duke, is
an important personage; but he must still be introduced. Even our
hero might make a bad tack on his first cruise. Almost as important
personages have committed the same blunder. Talk of Catholic
emancipation! O! thou Imperial Parliament, emancipate the forlorn
wretches who have got into a bad set! Even thy omnipotence must fail
there!

Now, the Countess of Fitz-pompey was a brilliant of the first water.
Under no better auspices could the Duke of St. James bound upon the
stage. No man in town could arrange his club affairs for him with
greater celerity and greater tact than the Earl; and the married
daughters were as much like their mother as a pair of diamond ear-rings
are like a diamond necklace.

The Duke, therefore, though he did not choose to get caged in
Fitz-pompey House, sent his page, Spiridion, to the Countess, on a
special embassy of announcement on the evening of his arrival, and on
the following morning his Grace himself made his appearance at an early
hour.

Lord Fitz-pompey, who was as consummate a judge of men and manners as he
was an indifferent speculator on affairs, and who was almost as finished
a man of the world as he was an imperfect philosopher, soon perceived
that considerable changes had taken place in the ideas as well as in the
exterior of his nephew. The Duke, however, was extremely cordial, and
greeted the family in terms almost of fondness. He shook his uncle by
the hand with a fervour with which few noblemen had communicated for
a considerable period, and he saluted his aunt on the cheek with a
delicacy which did not disturb the rouge. He turned to his cousin.

Lady Caroline St. Maurice was indeed a right beautiful being. She, whom
the young Duke had left merely a graceful and kind-hearted girl, three
years had changed into a somewhat dignified but most lovely woman. A
little perhaps of her native ease had been lost; a little perhaps of a
manner rather too artificial had supplanted that exquisite address
which Nature alone had prompted; but at this moment her manner was as
unstudied and as genuine as when they had gambolled together in the
bowers of Malthorpe. Her white and delicate arm was extended with
cordial grace, her full blue eye beamed with fondness, and the soft
blush that rose on her fair cheek exquisitely contrasted with the
clusters of her dark brown hair.

The Duke was struck, almost staggered. He remembered their infant
loves; he recovered with ready address. He bent his head with graceful
affection and pressed her lips. He almost repented that he had not
accepted his uncle’s offer of hospitality.



CHAPTER IV.

     _A Social Triumph_

LORD FITZ-POMPEY was a little consoled for the change which he had
observed in the character of the Duke by the remembrance of the embrace
with which his Grace had greeted Lady Caroline. Never indeed did a
process which has, through the lapse of so many ages, occasioned so much
delight, produce more lively satisfaction than the kiss in question.
Lord Fitz-pompey had given up his plan of managing the Duke after the
family dinner which his nephew had the pleasure to join the first day
of his first visit. The Duke and he were alone, and his Lordship availed
himself of the rare opportunity with that adroitness for which he was
celebrated. Nothing could be more polite, more affable, more kind,
than his Grace’s manner! but the uncle cared little for politeness, or
affability, or kindness. The crafty courtier wanted candour, and that
was absent. That ingenuous openness of disposition, that frank and
affectionate demeanour, for which the Duke of St. James had been
so remarkable in his early youth, and with the aid of which Lord
Fitz-pompey had built so many Spanish castles, had quite disappeared.

Nothing could be more artificial, more conventional, more studied, than
his whole deportment. In vain Lord Fitz-pompey pumped; the empty bucket
invariably reminded him of his lost labour. In vain his Lordship laid
his little diplomatic traps to catch a hint of the purposes or an
intimation of the inclinations of his nephew; the bait was never seized.
In vain the Earl affected unusual conviviality and boundless affection;
the Duke sipped his claret and admired his pictures. Nothing would
do. An air of habitual calm, a look of kind condescension, and an
inclination to a smile, which never burst into a beam, announced that
the Duke of St. James was perfectly satisfied with existence, and
conscious that he was himself, of that existence, the most distinguished
ornament. In fact, he was a sublime coxcomb; one of those rare
characters whose finished manner and shrewd sense combined prevent
their conceit from being contemptible. After many consultations it was
determined between the aunt and uncle that it would be most prudent to
affect a total non-interference with their nephew’s affairs, and in
the meantime to trust to the goodness of Providence and the charms of
Caroline.

Lady Fitz-pompey determined that the young Duke should make his debut at
once, and at her house. Although it was yet January, she did not despair
of collecting a select band of guests, Brahmins of the highest caste.
Some choice spirits were in office, like her lord, and therefore in
town; others were only passing through; but no one caught a flying-fish
with more dexterity than the Countess. The notice was short, the whole
was unstudied. It was a felicitous impromptu, and twenty guests were
assembled, who were the Corinthian capitals of the temple of fashion.

There was the Premier, who was invited, not because he was a minister,
but because he was a hero. There was another Duke not less celebrated,
whose palace was a breathing shrine which sent forth the oracles of
mode. True, he had ceased to be a young Duke; but he might be consoled
for the vanished lustre of youth by the recollection that he had enjoyed
it, and by the present inspiration of an accomplished manhood. There
were the Prince and the Princess Protocoli: his Highness a first-rate
diplomatist, unrivalled for his management of an opera; and his consort,
with a countenance like Cleopatra and a tiara like a constellation,
famed alike for her shawls and her snuff. There were Lord and Lady
Bloomerly, who were the best friends on earth: my Lord a sportsman, but
soft withal, his talk the Jockey Club, filtered through White’s; my Lady
a little blue, and very beautiful. Their daughter, Lady Charlotte, rose
by her mother’s side like a tall bud by a full-blown flower. There were
the Viscountess Blaze, a peeress in her own right, and her daughter,
Miss Blaze Dash-away, who, besides the glory of the future coronet,
moved in all the confidence of independent thousands. There was the
Marquess of Macaroni, who was at the same time a general, an ambassador,
and a dandy; and who, if he had liked, could have worn twelve orders;
but this day, being modest, only wore six. There, too, was the
Marchioness, with a stomacher stiff with brilliants extracted from the
snuff-boxes presented to her husband at a Congress.

There were Lord Sunium, who was not only a peer but a poet; and his
lady, a Greek, who looked just finished by Phidias. There, too, was
Pococurante, the epicurean and triple millionaire, who in a political
country dared to despise politics, in the most aristocratic of kingdoms
had refused nobility, and in a land which showers all its honours upon
its cultivators invested his whole fortune in the funds. He lived in a
retreat like the villa of Hadrian, and maintained himself in an elevated
position chiefly by his wit and a little by his wealth. There, too, were
his noble wife, thoroughbred to her fingers’ tips, and beaming like the
evening star; and his son, who was an M.P., and thought his father a
fool. In short, our party was no common party, but a band who formed the
very core of civilisation; a high court of last appeal, whose word was
a fiat, whose sign was a hint, whose stare was death, and
sneer----damnation!

The Graces befriend us! We have forgotten the most important personage.
It is the first time in his life that Charles Annesley has been
neglected. It will do him good.

Dandy has been voted vulgar, and beau is now the word. It may be doubted
whether the revival will stand; and as for the exploded title, though it
had its faults at first, the muse of Byron has made it not only English,
but classical. Charles Annesley could hardly be called a dandy or a
beau. There was nothing in his dress--though some mysterious arrangement
in his costume, some rare simplicity, some curious happiness, always
made it distinguished--there was nothing, however, in his dress, which
could account for the influence which he exercised over the manners of
his contemporaries. Charles Annesley was about thirty. He had inherited
from his father, a younger brother, a small estate; and, though heir
to a wealthy earldom, he had never abused what the world called ‘his
prospects.’ Yet his establishment, his little house in Mayfair, his
horses, his moderate stud at Melton, were all unique, and everything
connected with him was unparalleled for its elegance, its invention, and
its refinement. But his manner was his magic. His natural and subdued
nonchalance, so different from the assumed non-emotion of a mere dandy;
his coldness of heart, which was hereditary, not acquired; his cautious
courage, and his unadulterated self-love, had permitted him to mingle
much with mankind without being too deeply involved in the play of their
passions; while his exquisite sense of the ridiculous quickly revealed
those weaknesses to him which his delicate satire did not spare, even
while it refrained from wounding. All feared, marry admired, and none
hated him. He was too powerful not to dread, too dexterous not to
admire, too superior to hate. Perhaps the great secret of his manner
was his exquisite superciliousness, a quality which, of all, is the most
difficult to manage. Even with his intimates he was never confidential,
and perpetually assumed his public character with the private coterie
which he loved to rule. On the whole, he was unlike any of the leading
men of modern days, and rather reminded one of the fine gentlemen of our
old brilliant comedy, the Dorimants, the Bellairs, and the Mirabels.

Charles Annesley was a member of the distinguished party who were this
day to decide the fate of the young Duke. Let him come forward!

His Grace moved towards them, tall and elegant in figure, and with that
air of affable dignity which becomes a noble, and which adorns a court;
none of that affected indifference which seems to imply that nothing can
compensate for the exertion of moving, and ‘which makes the dandy, while
it mars the man.’ His large and somewhat sleepy grey eye, his clear
complexion, his small mouth, his aquiline nose, his transparent
forehead, his rich brown hair, and the delicacy of his extremities,
presented, when combined, a very excellent specimen of that style of
beauty for which the nobility of England are remarkable. Gentle, for
he felt the importance of the tribunal, never loud, ready, yet a little
reserved, he neither courted nor shunned examination. His finished
manner, his experience of society, his pretensions to taste, the
gaiety of his temper, and the liveliness of his imagination, gradually
developed themselves with the developing hours.

The banquet was over: the Duke of St. James passed his examination with
unqualified approval; and having been stamped at the mint of fashion as
a sovereign of the brightest die, he was flung forth, like the rest
of his golden brethren, to corrupt the society of which he was the
brightest ornament.



CHAPTER V.

     _Sweeping Changes_

THE morning after the initiatory dinner the young Duke drove to
Hauteville House, his family mansion, situated in his family square. His
Grace particularly prided himself on his knowledge of the arts; a taste
for which, among other things, he intended to introduce into England.
Nothing could exceed the horror with which he witnessed the exterior of
his mansion, except the agony with which he paced through the interior.

‘Is this a palace?’ thought the young Duke; ‘this hospital a palace!’

He entered. The marble hall, the broad and lofty double staircase
painted in fresco, were not unpromising, in spite of the dingy gilding;
but with what a mixed feeling of wonder and disgust did the Duke roam
through clusters of those queer chambers which in England are called
drawing-rooms!

‘Where are the galleries, where the symmetrical saloons, where the
lengthened suite, where the collateral cabinets, sacred to the statue of
a nymph or the mistress of a painter, in which I have been customed to
reside? What page would condescend to lounge in this ante-chamber? And
is this gloomy vault, that you call a dining-room, to be my hall of
Apollo? Order my carriage.’

The Duke sent immediately for Sir Carte Blanche, the successor, in
England, of Sir Christopher Wren. His Grace communicated at the same
time his misery and his grand views. Sir Carte was astonished with his
Grace’s knowledge, and sympathised with his Grace’s feelings. He offered
consolation and promised estimates. They came in due time. Hauteville
House, in the drawing of the worthy Knight, might have been mistaken for
the Louvre. Some adjoining mansions were, by some magical process for
which Sir Carte was famous, to be cleared of their present occupiers,
and the whole side of the square was in future to be the site of
Hauteville House. The difficulty was great, but the object was greater.
The expense, though the estimate made a bold assault on the half
million, was a mere trifle, ‘considering.’ The Duke was delighted. He
condescended to make a slight alteration in Sir Carte’s drawing, which
Sir Carte affirmed to be a great improvement. Now it was Sir Carte’s
turn to be delighted. The Duke was excited by his architect’s
admiration, and gave him a dissertation on Schönbrunn.

Although Mr. Dacre had been disappointed in his hope of exercising a
personal influence over the education of his ward, he had been more
fortunate in his plans for the management of his ward’s property.
Perhaps there never was an instance of the opportunities afforded by
a long minority having been used to greater advantage. The estates had
been increased and greatly improved, all and very heavy mortgages had
been paid off, and the rents been fairly apportioned. Mr. Dacre, by his
constant exertions and able dispositions since his return to England,
also made up for the neglect with which an important point had been a
little treated; and at no period had the parliamentary influence of the
house of Hauteville been so extensive, so decided, and so well bottomed
as when our hero became its chief.

In spite of his proverbial pride, it seemed that Mr. Dacre was
determined not to be offended by the conduct of his ward. The Duke had
not yet announced his arrival in England to his guardian; but about a
month after that event he received a letter of congratulation from Mr.
Dacre, who at the same time expressed a desire to resign a trust into
his Grace’s hand which, he believed, had not been abused. The Duke,
who rather dreaded an interview, wrote in return that he intended very
shortly to visit Yorkshire, when he should have the pleasure of availing
himself of the kind invitation to Castle Dacre; and having thus, as he
thought, dexterously got rid of the old gentleman for the present, he
took a ride with Lady Caroline St. Maurice.



CHAPTER VI.

     _The Duke Visits Hauteville_

PARLIAMENT assembled, the town filled, and every moment in the day of
the Duke of St. James was occupied. Sir Carte and his tribe filled
up the morning. Then there were endless visits to endless visitors;
dressing; riding, chiefly with Lady Caroline; luncheons, and the bow
window at White’s. Then came the evening with all its crash and glare;
the banquet, the opera, and the ball.

The Duke of St. James took the oaths and his seat. He was introduced
by Lord Fitz-pompey. He heard a debate. We laugh at such a thing,
especially in the Upper House; but, on the whole, the affair is
imposing, particularly if we take part in it. Lord Ex-Chamberlain
thought the nation going on wrong, and he made a speech full of currency
and constitution. Baron Deprivyseal seconded him with great effect,
brief but bitter, satirical and sore. The Earl of Quarterday answered
these, full of confidence in the nation and in himself. When the debate
was getting heavy, Lord Snap jumped up to give them something light. The
Lords do not encourage wit, and so are obliged to put up with pertness.
But Viscount Memoir was very statesmanlike, and spouted a sort
of universal history. Then there was Lord Ego, who vindicated his
character, when nobody knew he had one, and explained his motives,
because his auditors could not understand his acts. Then there was a
maiden speech, so inaudible that it was doubted whether, after all, the
young orator really did lose his virginity. In the end, up started the
Premier, who, having nothing to say, was manly, and candid, and liberal;
gave credit to his adversaries and took credit to himself, and then the
motion was withdrawn.

While all this was going on, some made a note, some made a bet, some
consulted a book, some their ease, some yawned, a few slept; yet, on the
whole, there was an air about the assembly which can be witnessed in no
other in Europe. Even the most indifferent looked as if he would come
forward if the occasion should demand him, and the most imbecile as if
he could serve his country if it required him. When a man raises his
eyes from his bench and sees his ancestor in the tapestry, he begins to
understand the pride of blood.

The young Duke had not experienced many weeks of his career before he
began to sicken of living in an hotel. Hitherto he had not reaped any of
the fruits of the termination of his minority. He was a _cavalier seul_,
highly considered, truly, but yet a mere member of society. He had been
this for years. This was not the existence to enjoy which he had hurried
to England. He aspired to be society itself. In a word, his tastes were
of the most magnificent description, and he sighed to be surrounded by
a court. As Hauteville House, even with Sir Carte’s extraordinary
exertions, could not be ready for his reception for three years,
which to him appeared eternity, he determined to look about for an
establishment. He was fortunate. A nobleman who possessed an hereditary
mansion of the first class, and much too magnificent for his resources,
suddenly became diplomatic, and accepted an embassy. The Duke of St.
James took everything off his hands: house, furniture, wines, cooks,
servants, horses. Sir Carte was sent in to touch up the gilding and make
a few temporary improvements; and Lady Fitz-pompey pledged herself to
organise the whole establishment ere the full season commenced and the
early Easter had elapsed, which had now arrived.

It had arrived, and the young Duke had departed to his chief family
seat, Hauteville Castle, in Yorkshire. He intended at the same time
to fulfil his long-pledged engagement at Castle Dacre. He arrived at
Hauteville amid the ringing of bells, the roasting of oxen, and the
crackling of bonfires. The Castle, unlike most Yorkshire castles, was a
Gothic edifice, ancient, vast, and strong; but it had received numerous
additions in various styles of architecture, which were at the same time
great sources of convenience and great violations of taste. The young
Duke was seized with a violent desire to live in a genuine Gothic
castle: each day his refined taste was outraged by discovering Roman
windows and Grecian doors. He determined to emulate Windsor, and he sent
for Sir Carte.

Sir Carte came as quick as thunder after lightning. He was immediately
struck with Hauteville, particularly with its capabilities. It was a
superb place, certainly, and might be rendered unrivalled. The situation
seemed made for the pure Gothic. The left wing should decidedly be
pulled down, and its site occupied by a Knight’s hall; the old terrace
should be restored; the donjon keep should be raised, and a gallery,
three hundred feet long, thrown through the body of the castle.
Estimates, estimates, estimates! But the time? This was a greater point
than the expense. Wonders should be done. There were now five hundred
men working for Hauteville House; there should be a thousand for
Hauteville Castle. Carte Blanche, Carte Blanche, Carte Blanche!

On his arrival in Yorkshire the Duke had learnt that the Dacres were
in Norfolk on a visit. As the Castle was some miles off, he saw no
necessity to make a useless exertion, and so he sent his jäger with his
card. He had now been ten days in his native county. It was dull, and he
was restless. He missed the excitement of perpetual admiration, and his
eye drooped for constant glitter. He suddenly returned to town, just
when the county had flattered itself that he was about to appoint his
public days.



CHAPTER VII.

     _The First Fancy_

EASTER was over, the sun shone, the world was mad, and the young Duke
made his début at Almack’s. He determined to prove that he had profited
by a winter at Vienna. His dancing was declared consummate. He galloped
with grace and waltzed with vigour. It was difficult to decide which
was more admirable, the elegance of his prance or the precision of his
whirl. A fat Russian Prince, a lean Austrian Count, a little German
Baron, who, somehow or other, always contrived to be the most marked
characters of the evening, disappeared in despair.

There was a lady in the room who attracted the notice of our hero. She
was a remarkable personage. There are some sorts of beauty which defy
description, and almost scrutiny. Some faces rise upon us in the tumult
of life like stars from out the sea, or as if they had moved out of a
picture. Our first impression is anything but fleshly. We are struck
dumb, we gasp, our limbs quiver, a faintness glides over our frame,
we are awed; instead of gazing upon the apparition, we avert the eyes,
which yet will feed upon its beauty. A strange sort of unearthly pain
mixes with the intense pleasure. And not till, with a struggle, we call
back to our memory the commonplaces of existence, can we recover our
commonplace demeanour. These, indeed, are rare visions, early feelings,
when our young existence leaps with its mountain torrents; but as the
river of our life rolls on, our eyes grow dimmer or our blood more cold.

Some effect of this kind was produced on the Duke of St. James by the
unknown dame. He turned away his head to collect his senses. His eyes
again rally; and this time, being prepared, he was more successful in
his observations.

The lady was standing against the wall; a young man was addressing some
remarks to her which apparently were not very interesting. She was tall
and young, and, as her tiara betokened, married; dazzling fair, but
without colour; with locks like night and features delicate, but
precisely defined. Yet all this did not at first challenge the
observation of the young Duke. It was the general and peculiar
expression of her countenance which had caused in him such emotion.
There was an expression of resignation, or repose, or sorrow, or
serenity, which in these excited chambers was strange, and singular, and
lone. She gazed like some genius invisible to the crowd, and mourning
over its degradation.

He stopped St. Maurice, as his cousin passed by, to inquire her name,
and learnt that she was Lady Aphrodite Grafton, the wife of Sir Lucius
Grafton.

‘What, Lucy Grafton!’ exclaimed the Duke. ‘I remember; I was his fag
at Eton. He was a handsome dog; but I doubt whether he deserves such a
wife. Introduce me.’

Lady Aphrodite received our hero with a gentle bow, and did not seem
quite as impressed with his importance as most of those to whom he had
been presented in the course of the evening. The Duke had considerable
tact with women, and soon perceived that the common topics of a hack
flirtation would not do in the present case. He was therefore mild and
modest, rather piquant, somewhat rational, and apparently perfectly
unaffected. Her Ladyship’s reserve wore away. She refused to dance,
but conversed with more animation. The Duke did not leave her side. The
women began to stare, the men to bet: Lady Aphrodite against the
field. In vain his Grace laid a thousand plans to arrange a tea-room
tête-à-tête. He was unsuccessful. As he was about to return to the
charge her Ladyship desired a passer-by to summon her carriage. No time
was to be lost. The Duke began to talk hard about his old friend and
schoolfellow, Sir Lucius. A greenhorn would have thought it madness to
take an interest in such a person of all others; but women like you to
enter their house as their husband’s friend. Lady Aphrodite could not
refrain from expressing her conviction that Sir Lucius would be most
happy to renew his acquaintance with the Duke of St. James, and the
Duke of St. James immediately said that he would take the earliest
opportunity of giving him that pleasure.



CHAPTER VIII.

     _A Noble Reprobate_

SIR LUCIUS GRAFTON was five or six years older than the Duke of St.
James, although he had been his contemporary at Eton. He, too, had been
a minor, and had inherited an estate capable of supporting the becoming
dignity of an ancient family. In appearance he was an Antinous. There
was, however, an expression of firmness, almost of ferocity, about his
mouth, which quite prevented his countenance from being effeminate, and
broke the dreamy voluptuousness of the rest of his features. In mind he
was a roué. Devoted to pleasure, he had racked the goblet at an early
age; and before he was five-and-twenty procured for himself a reputation
which made all women dread and some men shun him. In the very wildest
moment of his career, when he was almost marked like Cain, he had met
Lady Aphrodite Maltravers. She was the daughter of a nobleman who justly
prided himself, in a degenerate age, on the virtue of his house. Nature,
as if in recompense for his goodness, had showered all her blessings on
his only daughter. Never was daughter more devoted to a widowed sire;
never was woman influenced by principles of purer morality.

This was the woman who inspired Sir Lucius Grafton with an ungovernable
passion. Despairing of success by any other method, conscious that,
sooner or later, he must, for family considerations, propagate future
baronets of the name of Grafton, he determined to solicit her hand. But
for him to obtain it, he was well aware, was difficult. Confident in
his person, his consummate knowledge of the female character, and
his unrivalled powers of dissimulation, Sir Lucius arranged his
dispositions. The daughter feared, the father hated him. There was
indeed much to be done; but the remembrance of a thousand triumphs
supported the adventurer. Lady Aphrodite was at length persuaded that
she alone could confirm the reformation which she alone had originated.
She yielded to a passion which her love of virtue had alone kept in
subjection. Sir Lucius and Lady Aphrodite knelt at the feet of the old
Earl. The tears of his daughter, ay! and of his future son-in-law--for
Sir Lucius knew when to weep--were too much for his kind and generous
heart. He gave them his blessing, which faltered on his tongue.

A year had not elapsed ere Lady Aphrodite woke to all the wildness of a
deluded woman. The idol on whom she had lavished all the incense of
her innocent affections became every day less like a true divinity.
At length even the ingenuity of a passion could no longer disguise the
hideous and bitter truth. She was no longer loved. She thought of her
father. Ah, what was the madness of her memory!

The agony of her mind disappointed her husband’s hope of an heir, and
the promise was never renewed.

In vain she remonstrated with the being to whom she was devoted: in vain
she sought by meek endurance again to melt his heart. It was cold; it
was callous. Most women would have endeavoured to recover their lost
influence by different tactics; some, perhaps, would have forgotten
their mortification in their revenge. But Lady Aphrodite had been the
victim of passion, and now was its slave. She could not dissemble.

Not so her spouse. Sir Lucius knew too well the value of a good
character to part very easily with that which he had so unexpectedly
regained. Whatever were his excesses, they were prudent ones. He felt
that boyhood could alone excuse the folly of glorying in vice; and he
knew that, to respect virtue, it was not absolutely necessary to be
virtuous. No one was, apparently, more choice in his companions than Sir
Lucius Grafton; no husband was seen oftener with his wife; no one paid
more respect to age, or knew better when to wear a grave countenance.
The world praised the magical influence of Lady Aphrodite; and Lady
Aphrodite, in private, wept over her misery. In public she made an
effort to conceal all she felt; and, as it is a great inducement to
every woman to conceal that she is neglected by the man whom she adores,
her effort was not unsuccessful. Yet her countenance might indicate that
she was little interested in the scene in which she mixed. She was too
proud to weep, but too sad to smile. Elegant and lone, she stood among
her crushed and lovely hopes like a column amid the ruins of a beautiful
temple.

The world declared that Lady Aphrodite was desperately virtuous, and the
world was right. A thousand fireflies had sparkled round this myrtle,
and its fresh and verdant hue was still unsullied and un-scorched. Not
a very accurate image, but pretty; and those who have watched a glancing
shower of these glittering insects will confess that, poetically, the
bush might burn. The truth is, that Lady Aphrodite still trembled when
she recalled the early anguish of her broken sleep of love, and had not
courage enough to hope that she might dream again. Like the old Hebrews,
she had been so chastened for her wild idolatry that she dared not again
raise an image to animate the wilderness of her existence. Man she at
the same time feared and despised. Compared with her husband, all who
surrounded her were, she felt, in appearance inferior, and were, she
believed, in mind the same.

We know not how it is, but love at first sight is a subject of constant
ridicule; but, somehow, we suspect that it has more to do with the
affairs of this world than the world is willing to own. Eyes meet which
have never met before, and glances thrill with expression which is
strange. We contrast these pleasant sights and new emotions with
hackneyed objects and worn sensations. Another glance and another
thrill, and we spring into each other’s arms. What can be more natural?

Ah, that we should awake so often to truth so bitter! Ah, that charm
by charm should evaporate from the talisman which had enchanted our
existence!

And so it was with this sweet woman, whose feelings grow under the pen.
She had repaired to a splendid assembly to play her splendid part
with the consciousness of misery, without the expectation of hope.
She awaited without interest the routine which had been so often
uninteresting; she viewed without emotion the characters which had never
moved. A stranger suddenly appeared upon the stage, fresh as the morning
dew, and glittering like the morning star. All eyes await, all tongues
applaud him. His step is grace, his countenance hope, his voice music!
And was such a being born only to deceive and be deceived? Was he to run
the same false, palling, ruinous career which had filled so many hearts
with bitterness and dimmed the radiancy of so many eyes? Never! The
nobility of his soul spoke from his glancing eye, and treated the foul
suspicion with scorn. Ah, would that she had such a brother to warn, to
guide, to love!

So felt the Lady Aphrodite! So felt; we will not say so reasoned. When
once a woman allows an idea to touch her heart, it is miraculous with
what rapidity the idea is fathered by her brain. All her experience, all
her anguish, all her despair, vanished like a long frost, in an instant,
and in a night. She felt a delicious conviction that a knight had at
length come to her rescue, a hero worthy of an adventure so admirable.
The image of the young Duke filled her whole mind; she had no ear for
others’ voices; she mused on his idea with the rapture of a votary on
the mysteries of a new faith.

Yet strange, when he at length approached her, when he addressed her,
when she replied to that mouth which had fascinated even before it had
spoken, she was cold, reserved, constrained. Some talk of the burning
cheek and the flashing eye of passion; but a wise man would not,
perhaps, despair of the heroine who, when he approaches her, treats him
almost with scorn, and trembles while she affects to disregard him.

Lady Aphrodite has returned home: she hurries to her apartment, she
falls in a sweet reverie, her head leans upon her hand. Her soubrette, a
pretty and chattering Swiss, whose republican virtue had been corrupted
by Paris, as Rome by Corinth, endeavours to divert Mer lady’s ennui: she
excruciates her beautiful mistress with tattle about the admiration of
Lord B------and the sighs of Sir Harry. Her Ladyship reprimands her for
her levity, and the soubrette, grown sullen, revenges herself for her
mistress’s reproof by converting the sleepy process of brushing into
lively torture.

The Duke of St. James called upon Lady Aphrodite Grafton the next
day, and at an hour when he trusted to find her alone. He was not
disappointed. More than once the silver-tongued pendule sounded during
that somewhat protracted but most agreeable visit. He was, indeed,
greatly interested by her, but he was an habitual gallant, and always
began by feigning more than he felt. She, on the contrary, who was
really in love, feigned much less. Yet she was no longer constrained,
though calm. Fluent, and even gay, she talked as well as listened, and
her repartees more than once called forth the resources of her guest.
She displayed a delicate and even luxurious taste, not only in her
conversation, but (the Duke observed it with delight) in her costume.
She had a passion for music and for flowers; she sang a romance, and she
gave him a rose. He retired perfectly fascinated.



CHAPTER IX.

     _Old Friends Meet_

SIR LUCIUS GRAFTON called on the Duke of St. James. They did not
immediately swear an eternal friendship, but they greeted each other
with considerable warmth, talked of old times and old companions, and
compared their former sensations with their present. No one could be a
more agreeable companion than Sir Lucius, and this day he left a very
favourable impression with his young friend. From this day, too, the
Duke’s visits at the Baronet’s were frequent; and as the Graftons were
intimate with the Fitz-pompeys, scarcely a day elapsed without his
having the pleasure of passing a portion of it in the company of Lady
Aphrodite: his attentions to her were marked, and sometimes mentioned.
Lord Fitz-pompey was rather in a flutter. George did not ride so often
with Caroline, and never alone with her. This was disagreeable; but the
Earl was a man of the world, and a sanguine man withal. These things
will happen. It is of no use to quarrel with the wind; and, for
his part, he was not sorry that he had the honour of the Grafton
acquaintance; it secured Caroline her cousin’s company; and as for
the _liaison_, if there were one, why it must end, and probably the
difficulty of terminating it might even hasten the catastrophe which he
had so much at heart. ‘So, Laura, dearest! let the Graftons be asked to
dinner.’

In one of those rides to which Caroline was not admitted, for Lady
Aphrodite was present, the Duke of St. James took his way to the
Regent’s Park, a wild sequestered spot, whither he invariably repaired
when he did not wish to be noticed; for the inhabitants of this pretty
suburb are a distinct race, and although their eyes are not unobserving,
from their inability to speak the language of London they are unable to
communicate their observations.

The spring sun was setting, and flung a crimson flush over the blue
waters and the white houses. The scene was rather imposing, and reminded
our hero of days of travel. A sudden thought struck him. Would it not be
delightful to build a beautiful retreat in this sweet and retired land,
and be able in an instant to fly from the formal magnificence of a
London mansion? Lady Aphrodite was charmed with the idea; for the
enamoured are always delighted with what is fanciful. The Duke
determined immediately to convert the idea into an object. To lose no
time was his grand motto. As he thought that Sir Carte had enough upon
his hands, he determined to apply to an artist whose achievements had
been greatly vaunted to him by a distinguished and noble judge.

M. Bijou de Millecolonnes, Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and member
of the Academy of St. Luke’s, except in his title, was the antipodes
of Sir Carte Blanche. Sir Carte was all solidity, solemnity, and
correctness; Bijou de Millecolonnes all lightness, gaiety, and
originality. Sir Carte was ever armed with the Parthenon, Palladio,
and St. Peter’s; Bijou de Millecolonnes laughed at the ancients, called
Palladio and Michel barbarians of the middle ages, and had himself
invented an order. Bijou was not so plausible as Sir Carte; but he was
infinitely more entertaining. Far from being servile, he allowed no one
to talk but himself, and made his fortune by his elegant insolence. How
singular it is that those who love servility are always the victims of
impertinence!

Gaily did Bijou de Millecolonnes drive his pea-green cabriolet to the
spot in question. He formed his plan in an instant. ‘The occasional
retreat of a noble should be something picturesque and poetical. The
mind should be led to voluptuousness by exquisite associations, as well
as by the creations of art. It is thus their luxury is rendered more
intense by the reminiscences that add past experience to present
enjoyment! For instance, if you sail down a river, imitate the progress
of Cleopatra. And here, here, where the opportunity is so ample, what
think you of reviving the Alhambra?’

Splendid conception! The Duke already fancied himself a Caliph. ‘Lose no
time, Chevalier! Dig, plant, build!’

Nine acres were obtained from the Woods and Forests; mounds were thrown
up, shrubs thrown in; the paths emulated the serpent; the nine acres
seemed interminable. All was surrounded by a paling eight feet high,
that no one might pierce the mystery of the preparations.

A rumour was soon current that the Zoological Society intended to keep
a Bengal tiger _au naturel_, and that they were contriving a residence
which would amply compensate him for his native jungle. The Regent’s
Park was in despair, the landlords lowered their rents, and the
tenants petitioned the King. In a short time some hooded domes and some
Saracenic spires rose to sight, and the truth was then made known that
the young Duke of St. James was building a villa. The Regent’s Park was
in rapture, the landlords raised their rents, and the tenants withdrew
their petition.



CHAPTER X. His Grace Entertains.

MR. DACRE again wrote to the Duke of St. James. He regretted that he had
been absent from home when his Grace had done him the honour of calling
at Castle Dacre. Had he been aware of that intended gratification, he
could with ease, and would with pleasure, have postponed his visit to
Norfolk. He also regretted that it would not be in his power to visit
London this season; and as he thought that no further time should be
lost in resigning the trust with which he had been so honoured, he
begged leave to forward his accounts to the Duke, and with them some
notes which he believed would convey some not unimportant information
to his Grace for the future management of his property. The young Duke
took a rapid glance at the sum total of his rental, crammed all the
papers into a cabinet with a determination to examine them the first
opportunity, and then rolled off to a morning concert of which he was
the patron.

The intended opportunity for the examination of the important papers
was never caught, nor was it surprising that it escaped capture. It is
difficult to conceive a career of more various, more constant, or more
distracting excitement than that in which the Duke of St. James was now
engaged. His life was an ocean of enjoyment, and each hour, like each
wave, threw up its pearl. How dull was the ball in which he did not
bound! How dim the banquet in which he did not glitter! His presence in
the Gardens compensated for the want of flowers; his vision in the Park
for the want of sun. In public breakfasts he was more indispensable
than pine-apples; in private concerts more noticed than an absent
prima donna. How fair was the dame on whom he smiled! How dark was the
tradesman on whom he frowned! Think only of prime ministers and princes,
to say nothing of princesses; nay! think only of managers of operas
and French actors, to say nothing of French actresses; think only of
jewellers, milliners, artists, horse-dealers, all the shoals who hurried
for his sanction; think only of the two or three thousand civilised
beings for whom all this population breathed, and who each of them had
claims upon our hero’s notice! Think of the statesmen, who had so much
to ask and so much to give; the dandies to feed with and to be fed; the
dangerous dowagers and the desperate mothers; the widows, wild as early
partridges; the budding virgins, mild as a summer cloud and soft as an
opera hat! Think of the drony bores, with their dull hum; think of
the chivalric guardsmen, with their horses to sell and their bills to
discount; think of Willis, think of Crockford, think of White’s, think
of Brooks’, and you may form a faint idea how the young Duke had to
talk, and eat, and flirt, and cut, and pet, and patronise!

You think it impossible for one man to do all this. There is yet much
behind. You may add to the catalogue Melton and Newmarket; and if to
hunt without an appetite and to bet without an object will not sicken
you, why, build a yacht!

The Duke of St. James gave his first grand entertainment for the season.
It was like the assembly of the immortals at the first levee of Jove.
All hurried to pay their devoirs to the young king of fashion; and each
who succeeded in becoming a member of the Court felt as proud as a
peer with a new title, or a baronet with an old one. An air of
regal splendour, an almost imperial assumption, was observed in the
arrangements of the fête. A troop of servants in rich liveries filled
the hall; grooms lined the staircase; Spiridion, the Greek page, lounged
on an ottoman in an ante-chamber, and, with the assistance of six young
gentlemen in crimson-and-silver uniforms, announced the coming of
the cherished guests. Cartloads of pine-apples were sent up from the
Yorkshire Castle, and waggons of orange-trees from the Twickenham Villa.

A brilliant coterie, of which his Grace was a member, had amused
themselves a few nights before by representing in costume the Court of
Charles the First. They agreed this night to reappear in their splendid
dresses; and the Duke, who was Villiers, supported his character, even
to the gay shedding of a shower of diamonds. In his cap was observed an
hereditary sapphire, which blazed like a volcano, and which was rumoured
to be worth his rent-roll.

There was a short concert, at which the most celebrated Signora made
her début; there was a single vaudeville, which a white satin play-bill,
presented to each guest as they entered the temporary theatre, indicated
to have been written for the occasion; there was a ball, in which
was introduced a new dance. Nothing for a moment was allowed to lag.
_Longueurs_ were skilfully avoided, and the excitement was so rapid that
every one had an appetite for supper.

A long gallery lined with bronzes and _bijouterie_, with cabinets and
sculpture, with china and with paintings, all purchased for the future
ornament of Hauteville House, and here stowed away in unpretending, but
most artificial, confusion, offered accommodation to all the guests.
To a table covered with gold, and placed in a magnificent tent upon the
stage, his Grace loyally led two princes of the blood and a child of
France. Madame de Protocoli, Lady Aphrodite Grafton, the Duchess of
Shropshire, and Lady Fitz-pompey, shared the honours of the pavilion,
and some might be excused for envying a party so brilliant and a
situation so distinguished. Yet Lady Aphrodite was an unwilling member
of it; and nothing but the personal solicitation of Sir Lucius would
have induced her to consent to the wish of their host.

A pink _carte_ succeeded to the satin play-bill. Vi-tellius might have
been pleased with the banquet. Ah, how shall we describe those soups,
which surely must have been the magical elixir! How paint those ortolans
dressed by the inimitable artist, à la St. James, for the occasion, and
which look so beautiful in death that they must surely have preferred
such an euthanasia even to flying in the perfumed air of an Auso-nian
heaven!

Sweet bird! though thou hast lost thy plumage, thou shalt fly to my
mistress! Is it not better to be nibbled by her than mumbled by a
cardinal? I, too, will feed on thy delicate beauty. Sweet bird! thy
companion has fled to my mistress; and now thou shalt thrill the nerves
of her master! Oh! doff, then, thy waistcoat of wine-leaves, pretty
rover! and show me that bosom more delicious even than woman’s. What
gushes of rapture! What a flavour! How peculiar! Even how sacred I
Heaven at once sends both manna and quails. Another little wanderer!
Pray follow my example! Allow me. All Paradise opens! Let me die eating
ortolans to the sound of soft music!

Even the supper was brief, though brilliant; and again the cotillon and
the quadrille, the waltz and the galoppe! At no moment of his life had
the young Duke felt existence so intense. Wherever he turned his eye he
found a responding glance of beauty and admiration; wherever he turned
his ear the whispered tones were soft and sweet as summer winds. Each
look was an offering, each word adoration! His soul dilated; the glory
of the scene touched all his passions. He almost determined not again
to mingle in society; but, like a monarch, merely to receive the
world which worshipped him. The idea was sublime: was it even to him
impracticable? In the midst of his splendour he fell into a reverie, and
mused on his magnificence. He could no longer resist the conviction
that he was a superior essence, even to all around him. The world seemed
created solely for his enjoyment. Nor man nor woman could withstand him.
From this hour he delivered himself up to a sublime selfishness. With
all his passions and all his profusion, a callousness crept over his
heart. His sympathy for those he believed his inferiors and his vassals
was slight. Where we do not respect we soon cease to love; when we
cease to love, virtue weeps and flies. His soul wandered in dreams of
omnipotence.

This picture perhaps excites your dislike; perchance your contempt.
Pause! Pity him! Pity his fatal youth!



CHAPTER XI.

     _Love at a Bazaar_

THE Lady Aphrodite at first refused to sit in the Duke’s pavilion. Was
she, then, in the _habit_ of refusing? Let us not forget our Venus of
the Waters. Shall we whisper where the young Duke first dared to hope?
No, you shall guess. _Je vous le donne en trois_. The Gardens? The
opera? The tea-room? No! no! no! You are conceiving a locality much more
romantic. Already you have created the bower of a Parisina, where the
waterfall is even more musical than the birds, more lulling than the
evening winds; where all is pale, except the stars; all hushed, except
their beating pulses! Will this do? No! What think you, then, of a
_Bazaar_?

O thou wonderful nineteenth century! thou that believest in no miracles
and doest so many, hast thou brought this, too, about, that ladies’
hearts should be won, and gentlemen’s also, not in courts of tourney or
halls of revel, but over a counter and behind a stall? We are, indeed, a
nation of shopkeepers!

The king of Otaheite, though a despot, was a reformer. He discovered
that the eating of bread-fruit was a barbarous custom, which would
infallibly prevent his people from being a great nation. He determined
to introduce French rolls. A party rebelled; the despot was energetic;
some were executed; the rest ejected. The vagabonds arrived in England.
As they had been banished in opposition to French rolls, they were
declared to be a British interest. They professed their admiration of
civil and religious liberty, and also of a subscription. When they had
drunk a great deal of punch, and spent all their money, they discovered
that they had nothing to eat, and would infallibly have been starved,
had not an Hibernian Marchioness, who had never been in Ireland, been
exceedingly shocked that men should die of hunger; and so, being one of
the bustlers, she got up a fancy sale and a _Sandwich Isle Bazaar_.

All the world was there and of course our hero. Never was the arrival of
a comet watched by astronomers who had calculated its advent with more
anxiety than was the appearance of the young Duke. Never did man pass
through such dangers. It was the fiery ordeal. St. Anthony himself was
not assailed by more temptations. Now he was saved from the lustre of
a blonde face by the superior richness of a blonde lace. He would
infallibly have been ravished by that ringlet had he not been nearly
reduced by that ring which sparkled on a hand like the white cat’s. He
was only preserved from his unprecedented dangers by their number. No,
no! He had a better talisman: his conceit.

‘Ah, Lady Balmont!’ said his Grace to a smiling artist, who offered him
one of her own drawings of a Swiss cottage, ‘for me to be a tenant, it
must be love and a cottage!’

‘What! am I to buy this ring, Mrs. Abercroft? _Point de jour_. Oh!
dreadful phrase! Allow me to present it to you, for you are the only one
whom such words cannot make tremble.’

‘This chain, Lady Jemima, for my glass! It will teach me where to direct
it.’

‘Ah! Mrs. Fitzroy!’ and he covered his face with affected fear. ‘Can you
forgive me? Your beautiful note has been half an hour unanswered. The
box is yours for Tuesday.’

He tried to pass the next stall with a smiling bow, but he could not
escape. It was Lady de Courcy, a dowager, but not old. Once beautiful,
her charms had not yet disappeared. She had a pair of glittering eyes,
a skilfully-carmined cheek, and locks yet raven. Her eloquence made
her now as conspicuous as once did her beauty. The young Duke was her
constant object and her occasional victim. He hated above all things a
talking woman; he dreaded above all others Lady de Courcy.

He could not shirk. She summoned him by name so loud that crowds of
barbarians stared, and a man called to a woman, and said, ‘My dear! make
haste; here’s a Duke!’

Lady de Courcy was prime confidant of the Irish Marchioness. She
affected enthusiasm about the poor sufferers. She had learnt Otaheitan,
she lectured about the bread-fruit, and she played upon a barbarous
thrum-thrum, the only musical instrument in those savage wastes,
ironically called the Society Islands, because there is no society. She
was dreadful. The Duke in despair took out his purse, poured forth from
the pink and silver delicacy, worked by the slender fingers of Lady
Aphrodite, a shower of sovereigns, and fairly scampered off. At length
he reached the lady of his heart.

‘I fear,’ said the young Duke with a smile, and in a soft sweet voice,
‘that you will never speak to me again, for I am a ruined man.’

A beam of gentle affection reprimanded him even for badinage on such a
subject.

‘I really came here to buy up all your stock, but that gorgon, Lady de
Courcy, captured me, and my ransom has sent me here free, but a beggar.
I do not know a more ill-fated fellow than myself. Now, if you had only
condescended to take me prisoner, I might have saved my money; for I
should have kissed my chain.’

‘My chains, I fear, are neither very alluring nor very strong.’ She
spoke with a thoughtful air, and he answered her only with his eye.

‘I must bear off something from your stall,’ he resumed in a more rapid
and gayer tone, ‘and, as I cannot purchase you must present. Now for a
gift!’

‘Choose!’

‘Yourself.’

‘Your Grace is really spoiling my sale. See! poor Lord Bagshot. What a
valuable purchaser.’

‘Ah! Bag, my boy!’ said the Duke to a slang young nobleman whom he
abhorred, but of whom he sometimes made a butt, ‘am I in your way? Here!
take this, and this, and this, and give me your purse. I’ll pay Lady
Aphrodite.’ And so the Duke again showered some sovereigns, and returned
the shrunken silk to its defrauded owner, who stared, and would have
remonstrated, but the Duke turned his back upon him.

‘There now,’ he continued to Lady Aphrodite; ‘there is two hundred per
cent, profit for you. You are not half a _marchande_. I will stand here
and be your shopman. Well, Annesley,’ said he, as that dignitary passed,
‘what will you buy? I advise you to get a place. ‘Pon my soul, ‘tis
pleasant! Try Lady de Courcy. You know you are a favourite.’

‘I assure your Grace,’ said Mr. Annesley, speaking slowly, ‘that that
story about Lady de Courcy is quite untrue and very rude. I never turn
my back on any woman; only my heel. We are on the best possible terms.
She is never to speak to me, and I am always to bow to her. But I really
must purchase. Where did you get that glass-chain, St. James? Lady Afy,
can you accommodate me?’

‘Here is one prettier! But are you near-sighted, too, Mr. Annesley?’

‘Very. I look upon a long-sighted man as a brute who, not being able to
see with his mind, is obliged to see with his body. The price of this?’

‘A sovereign,’ said the Duke; ‘cheap; but we consider you as a friend.’

‘A sovereign! You consider me a young Duke rather. Two shillings, and
that a severe price; a charitable price. Here is half-a-crown; give me
sixpence. I was not a minor. Farewell! I go to the little Pomfret. She
is a sweet flower, and I intend to wear her in my button-hole. Good-bye,
Lady Afy!’

The gay morning had worn away, and St. James never left his fascinating
position. Many a sweet and many a soft thing he uttered. Sometimes he
was baffled, but never beaten, and always returned to the charge with
spirit. He was confident, because he was reckless: the lady had less
trust in herself, because she was anxious. Yet she combated well, and
repressed the feelings which she could hardly conceal.

Many of her colleagues had already departed. She requested the Duke to
look after her carriage. A bold plan suddenly occurred to him, and he
executed it with rare courage and rarer felicity.

‘Lady Aphrodite Grafton’s carriage!’

‘Here, your Grace!’

‘Oh! go home. Your lady will return with Madame de Protocoli.’

He rejoined her.

‘I am sorry, that, by some blunder, your carriage has gone. What could
you have told them?’

‘Impossible! How provoking! How stupid!’

‘Perhaps you told them that you would return with the Fitz-pompeys, but
they are gone; or Mrs. Aberleigh, and she is not here; or perhaps--but
they have gone too. Everyone has gone.’

‘What shall I do? How distressing! I had better send. Pray send; or I
will ask Lady de Courcy.’

‘Oh! no, no! I really did not like to see you with her. As a favour--as
a favour to me, I pray you not.’

‘What can I do? I must send. Let me beg your Grace to send.’

‘Certainly, certainly; but, ten to one, there will be some mistake.
There always is some mistake when you send these strangers. And,
besides, I forgot all this time my carriage is here. Let it take you
home.’

‘No, no!’

‘Dearest Lady Aphrodite, do not distress yourself. I can wait here till
the carriage returns, or I can walk; to be sure, I can walk. Pray, pray
take the carriage! As a favour--as a favour to me!’

‘But I cannot bear you to walk. I know you dislike walking.’

‘Well, then, I will wait.’

‘Well, if it must be so; but I am ashamed to inconvenience you. How
provoking of these men! Pray, then, tell the coachman to drive fast,
that you may not have to wait. I declare there is scarcely a human being
in the room; and those odd people are staring so!’

He pressed her arm as he led her to his carriage. She is in; and yet,
before the door shuts, he lingers.

‘I shall certainly walk,’ said he. ‘I do not think the easterly wind
will make me very ill. Good-bye! Oh, what a _coup-de-vent_!’

‘Let me get out, then; and pray, pray take the carriage. I would much
sooner do anything than go in it. I would much rather walk. I am sure
you will be ill!’

‘Not if I be with you.’



CHAPTER XII.

     _Royal Favour_

THERE was a brilliant levee, all stars and garters; and a splendid
drawing-room, all plumes and _séduisantes_. Many a bright eye, as its
owner fought his way down St. James’s Street, shot a wistful glance at
the enchanted bow-window where the Duke and his usual companions, Sir
Lucius, Charles Annesley, and Lord Squib, lounged and laughed, stretched
themselves and sneered: many a bright eye, that for a moment pierced the
futurity that painted her going in state as Duchess of St. James.

His Majesty summoned a dinner party, a rare but magnificent event, and
the chief of the house of Hauteville appeared among the chosen
vassals. This visit did the young Duke good; and a few more might have
permanently cured the conceit which the present one momentarily calmed.
His Grace saw the plate, and was filled with envy; his Grace listened to
his Majesty, and was filled with admiration. O, father of thy people! if
thou wouldst but look a little oftener on thy younger sons, their morals
and their manners might be alike improved.

His Majesty, in the course of the evening, with his usual good-nature,
signalled out for his notice the youngest, and not the least
distinguished, of his guests. He complimented the young Duke on the
accession to the ornaments of his court, and said, with a smile, that
he had heard of conquests in foreign ones. The Duke accounted for his
slight successes by reminding his Majesty that he had the honour of
being his godson, and this he said in a slight and easy way, not smart
or quick, or as a repartee to the royal observation; for ‘it is not
decorous to bandy compliments with your Sovereign.’ His Majesty asked
some questions about an Emperor or an Archduchess, and his Grace
answered to the purpose, but short, and not too pointed. He listened
rather than spoke, and smiled more assents than he uttered. The King was
pleased with his young subject, and marked his approbation by conversing
with that unrivalled affability which is gall to a Roundhead and
inspiration to a Cavalier. There was a _bon mot_, which blazed with all
the soft brilliancy of sheet lightning. What a contrast to the forky
flashes of a regular wit! Then there was an anecdote of Sheridan--the
royal Sheridaniana are not thrice-told tales--recounted with that
curious felicity which has long stamped the illustrious narrator as a
consummate _raconteur_. Then----but the Duke knew when to withdraw; and
he withdrew with renewed loyalty.



CHAPTER XIII.

     _A Lover’s Trick_

ONE day, looking in at his jeweller’s, to see some models of a shield
and vases which were executing for him in gold, the young Duke met Lady
Aphrodite and the Fitz-pompeys. Lady Aphrodite was speaking to the
jeweller about her diamonds, which were to be reset for her approaching
fête. The Duke took the ladies upstairs to look at the models, and while
they were intent upon them and other curiosities, his absence for a
moment was unperceived. He ran downstairs and caught Mr. Garnet.

‘Mr. Garnet! I think I saw Lady Aphrodite give you her diamonds?’ ‘Yes,
your Grace.’

‘Are they valuable?’ in a careless tone. ‘Hum! pretty stones; very
pretty stones, indeed. Few Baronets’ ladies have a prettier set; worth
perhaps a 1000L.; say 1200L. Lady Aphrodite Grafton is not the
Duchess of St. James, you know,’ said Mr. Garnet, as if he anticipated
furnishing that future lady with a very different set of brilliants.

‘Mr. Garnet, you can do me the greatest favour.’ ‘Your Grace has only to
command me at all times.’

‘Well, then, in a word, for time presses, can you contrive, without
particularly altering--that is, without altering the general appearance
of these diamonds--can you contrive to change the stones, and substitute
the most valuable that you have; consistent, as I must impress upon you,
with maintaining their general appearance as at present?’

‘The most valuable stones,’ musingly repeated Mr. Garnet; ‘general
appearance as at present? Your Grace is aware that we may run up some
thousands even in this set?’

‘I give you no limit.’

‘But the time,’ rejoined Mr. Garnet. ‘They must be ready for her
Ladyship’s party. We shall be hard pressed. I am afraid of the time.’

‘Cannot the men work all night? Pay them anything.’

‘It shall be done, your Grace. Your Grace may command me in anything.’

‘This is a secret between us, Garnet. Your partners------’

‘Shall know nothing. And as for myself, I am as close as an emerald in a
seal-ring.’



CHAPTER XIV.

     _Close of the Season_

HUSSEIN PACHA, ‘the favourite,’ not only of the Marquess of Mash, but of
Tattersall’s, unaccountably sickened and died. His noble master, full of
chagrin took to his bed, and followed his steed’s example. The death
of the Marquess caused a vacancy in the stewardship of the approaching
Doncaster. Sir Lucius Grafton was the other steward, and he proposed to
the Duke of St. James, as he was a Yorkshireman, to become his
colleague. His Grace, who wished to pay a compliment to his county,
closed with the proposition. Sir Lucius was a first-rate jockey; his
colleague was quite ignorant of the noble science in all its details;
but that was of slight importance. The Baronet was to be the working
partner, and do the business; the Duke the show member of the concern,
and do the magnificence; as one banker, you may observe, lives always in
Portland Place, reads the Court Journal all the morning, and has an
opera-box, while his partner lodges in Lombard Street, thumbs a
price-current, and only has a box at Clapham.

The young Duke, however, was ambitious of making a good book; and, with
all the calm impetuosity which characterises a youthful Hauteville,
determined to have a crack stud at once. So at Ascot, where he spent
a few pleasant hours, dined at the Cottage, was caught in a shower, in
return caught a cold, a slight influenza for a week, and all the world
full of inquiries and anxiety; at Ascot, I say, he bought up all the
winning horses at an average of three thousand guineas for each pair of
ears. Sir Lucius stared, remonstrated, and, as his remonstrances were in
vain, assisted him.

As people at the point of death often make a desperate rally, so
this, the most brilliant of seasons, was even more lively as it nearer
approached its end. The _déjeûner_ and the _villa fête_ the water party
and the rambling ride, followed each other with the bright rapidity of
the final scenes in a pantomime. Each _dama_ seemed only inspired with
the ambition of giving the last ball; and so numerous were the parties
that the town really sometimes seemed illuminated. To breakfast at
Twickenham, and to dine in Belgrave Square; to hear,’ or rather to
honour, half an act of an opera; to campaign through half a dozen
private balls, and to finish with a romp at the rooms, as after our wine
we take a glass of liqueur; all this surely required the courage of
an Alexander and the strength of a Hercules, and, indeed, cannot be
achieved without the miraculous powers of a Joshua. So thought the young
Duke, as with an excited mind and a whirling head he threw himself at
half-past six o’clock on a couch which brought him no sleep.

Yet he recovered, and with the aid of the bath, the soda, and the
coffee, and all the thousand remedies which a skilful valet has ever at
hand, at three o’clock on the same day he rose and dressed, and in an
hour was again at the illustrious bow-window, sneering with Charles
Annesley, or laughing downright with Lord Squib.

The Duke of St. James gave a water party, and the astounded Thames
swelled with pride as his broad breast bore on the ducal barges. St.
Maurice, who was in the Guards, secured his band; and Lord Squib, who,
though it was July, brought a furred great coat, secured himself. Lady
Afy looked like Amphitrite, and Lady Caroline looked in love. They
wandered in gardens like Calypso’s; they rambled over a villa which
reminded them of Baise; they partook of a banquet which should have been
described by Ariosto. All were delighted; they delivered themselves to
the charms of an unrestrained gaiety. Even Charles Annesley laughed and
romped.

This is the only mode in which public eating is essentially agreeable.
A banqueting-hall is often the scene of exquisite pleasure; but that is
not so much excited by the gratification of a delicate palate as by
the magnificent effect of light and shade; by the beautiful women, the
radiant jewels, the graceful costume, the rainbow glass, the glowing
wines, the glorious plate. For the rest, all is too hot, too crowded,
and too noisy, to catch a flavour; to analyse a combination, to dwell
upon a gust. To eat, _really_ to eat, one must eat alone, with a soft
light, with simple furniture, an easy dress, and a single dish, at a
time. Hours of bliss! Hours of virtue! for what is more virtuous than to
be conscious of the blessings of a bountiful Nature? A good eater must
be a good man; for a good eater must have a good digestion, and a good
digestion depends upon a good conscience.

But to our tale. If we be dull, skip: time will fly, and beauty will
fade, and wit grow dull, and even the season, although it seems, for the
nonce, like the existence of Olympus, will nevertheless steal away. It
is the hour when trade grows dull and tradesmen grow duller; it is the
hour that Howell loveth not and Stultz cannot abide; though the first
may be consoled by the ghosts of his departed millions of _mouchoirs_,
and the second by the vision of coming millions of shooting-jackets. Oh,
why that sigh, my gloomy Mr. Gunter? Oh, why that frown, my gentle Mrs.
Grange?

One by one the great houses shut; shoal by shoal the little people sail
away. Yet beauty lingers still. Still the magnet of a straggling ball
attracts the remaining brilliants; still a lagging dinner, like a
sumpter-mule on a march, is a mark for plunder. The Park, too, is not
yet empty, and perhaps is even more fascinating; like a beauty in a
consumption, who each day gets thinner and more fair. The young Duke
remained to the last; for we linger about our first season, as we
do about our first mistress, rather wearied, yet full of delightful
reminiscences.



BOOK II.



CHAPTER I.

     _His Grace Meets an Early Love_

LADY APHRODITE and the Duke of St. James were for the first time parted;
and with an absolute belief on the lady’s side, and an avowed conviction
on the gentleman’s, that it was impossible to live asunder, they
separated, her Ladyship shedding some temporary tears, and his Grace
vowing eternal fidelity.

It was the crafty Lord Fitz-pompey who brought about this catastrophe.
Having secured his nephew as a visitor to Malthorpe, by allowing him
to believe that the Graftons would form part of the summer coterie,
his Lordship took especial care that poor Lady Aphrodite should not be
invited. ‘Once part them, once get him to Malthorpe alone,’ mused the
experienced Peer, ‘and he will be emancipated. I am doing him, too, the
greatest kindness. What would I have given, when a young man, to have
had such an uncle!’

The Morning Post announced with a sigh the departure of the Duke of St.
James to the splendid festivities of Malthorpe; and also apprised the
world that Sir Lucius and Lady Aphrodite were entertaining a numerous
and distinguished party at their seat, Cleve Park, Cambridgeshire.

There was a constant bustle kept up at Malthorpe, and the young Duke was
hourly permitted to observe that, independent of all private feeling, it
was impossible for the most distinguished nobleman to ally himself with
a more considered family. There was a continual swell of guests dashing
down and dashing away, like the ocean; brilliant as its foam, numerous
as its waves. But there was one permanent inhabitant of this princely
mansion far more interesting to our hero than the evanescent crowds who
rose like bubbles, glittered, broke, and disappeared.

Once more wandering in that park of Malthorpe where had passed the
innocent days of his boyhood, his thoughts naturally recurred to
the sweet companion who had made even those hours of happiness more
felicitous. Here they had rambled, here they had first tried their
ponies, there they had nearly fallen, there he had quite saved her; here
were the two very elms where St. Maurice made for them a swing, here was
the very keeper’s cottage of which she had made for him a drawing, and
which he still retained. Dear girl! And had she disappointed the romance
of his boyhood; had the experience the want of which had allowed him
then to be pleased so easily, had it taught him to be ashamed of those
days of affection? Was she not now the most gentle, the most graceful,
the most beautiful, the most kind? Was she not the most wife-like woman
whose eyes had ever beamed with tenderness? Why, why not at once close a
career which, though short, yet already could yield reminiscences which
might satisfy the most craving admirer of excitement? But there was Lady
Aphrodite; yet that must end. Alas! on his part, it had commenced in
levity; he feared, on hers, it must terminate in anguish. Yet, though he
loved his cousin; though he could not recall to his memory the woman
who was more worthy of being his wife, he could not also conceal from
himself that the feelings which impelled him were hardly so romantic as
he thought should have inspired a youth of one-and-twenty when he mused
on the woman he loved best. But he knew life, and he felt convinced that
a mistress and a wife must always be different characters. A combination
of passion with present respect and permanent affection he supposed to
be the delusion of romance writers. He thought he must marry Caroline,
partly because he must marry sooner or later; partly because he had
never met a woman whom he had loved so much, and partly because he felt
he should be miserable if her destiny in life were not, in some way or
other, connected with his own. ‘Ah! if she had but been my sister!’

After a little more cogitation, the young Duke felt much inclined to
make his cousin a Duchess; but time did not press. After Doncaster he
must spend a few weeks at Cleve, and then he determined to come to
an explanation with Lady Aphrodite. In the meantime, Lord Fitz-pompey
secretly congratulated himself on his skilful policy, as he perceived
his nephew daily more engrossed with his daughter. Lady Caroline, like
all unaffected and accomplished women, was seen to great effect in the
country.

There, while they feed their birds, tend their flowers, and tune their
harp, and perform those more sacred, but not less pleasing, duties which
become the daughter of a great proprietor, they favourably contrast with
those more modish damsels who, the moment they are freed from the Park
and from Willis’s, begin fighting for silver arrows and patronising
county balls.

September came, and brought some relief to those who were suffering in
the inferno of provincial ennui; but this is only the purgatory to the
Paradise of _battues_. Yet September has its days of slaughter; and
the young Duke gained some laurels, with the aid of friend Egg, friend
Purdy, and Manton. And the Premier galloped down sixty miles in one
morning. He sacked his cover, made a light bet with St. James on the
favourite, lunched standing, and was off before night; for he had only
three days’ holiday, and had to visit Lord Protest, Lord Content, and
Lord Proxy. So, having knocked off four of his crack peers, he galloped
back to London to flog up his secretaries.

And the young Duke was off too. He had promised to spend a week with
Charles Annesley and Lord Squib, who had taken some Norfolk Baronet’s
seat for the autumn, and while he was at Spa were thinning his
preserves. It was a week! What fantastic dissipation! One day, the
brains of three hundred hares made a _pâté_ for Charles Annesley.
Oh, Heliogabalus! you gained eternal fame for what is now ‘done in a
corner!’



CHAPTER II.

     _A New Charmer_

THE Carnival of the North at length arrived. All civilised eyes were on
the most distinguished party of the most distinguished steward, who
with his horse Sanspareil seemed to share universal favour. The
French Princes and the Duke of Burlington; the Protocolis, and the
Fitz-pompeys, and the Bloomerlys; the Duke and Duchess of Shropshire,
and the three Ladies Wrekin, who might have passed for the Graces; Lord
and Lady Vatican on a visit from Rome, his Lordship taking hints for a
heat in the Corso, and her Ladyship, a classical beauty with a face like
a cameo; St. Maurice, and Annesley, and Squib, composed the party. The
Premier was expected, and there was murmur of an Archduke. Seven houses
had been prepared, a party-wall knocked down to make a dining-room, the
plate sent down from London, and venison and wine from Hauteville.

The assemblage exceeded in quantity and quality all preceding years,
and the Hauteville arms, the Hauteville liveries, and the Hauteville
outriders, beat all hollow in blazonry, and brilliancy, and number. The
North countrymen were proud of their young Duke and his carriages and
six, and longed for the Castle to be finished. Nothing could exceed the
propriety of the arrangements, for Sir Lucius was an unrivalled hand,
and, though a Newmarket man, gained universal approbation even in
Yorkshire. Lady Aphrodite was all smiles and new liveries, and the Duke
of St. James reined in his charger right often at her splendid equipage.

The day’s sport was over, and the evening’s sport begun, to a quiet man,
who has no bet more heavy than a dozen pair of gloves, perhaps not the
least amusing. Now came the numerous dinner-parties, none to be compared
to that of the Duke of St. James. Lady Aphrodite was alone wanting, but
she had to head the _ménage_ of Sir Lucius. Every one has an appetite
after a race: the Duke of Shropshire attacked the venison as Samson the
Philistines; and the French princes, for once in their life, drank real
champagne.

Yet all faces were not so serene as those of the party of Hauteville.
Many a one felt that strange mixture of fear and exultation which
precedes a battle. To-morrow was the dreaded St. Leger.

‘Tis night, and the banquet is over, and all are hastening to the ball.

In spite of the brilliant crowd, the entrance of the Hauteville party
made a sensation. It was the crowning ornament to the scene, the stamp
of the sovereign, the lamp of the Pharos, the flag of the tower. The
party dispersed, and the Duke, after joining a quadrille with Lady
Caroline, wandered away to make himself generally popular.

As he was moving along, he turned his head; he started.

‘Ah!’ exclaimed his Grace.

The cause of this sudden and ungovernable exclamation can be no other
than a woman. You are right. The lady who had excited it was advancing
in a quadrille, some ten yards from her admirer. She was very young;
that is to say, she had, perhaps, added a year or two to sweet
seventeen, an addition which, while it does not deprive the sex of the
early grace of girlhood, adorns them with that indefinable dignity which
is necessary to constitute a perfect woman. She was not tall, but as she
moved forward displayed a figure so exquisitely symmetrical that for a
moment the Duke forgot to look at her face, and then her head was turned
away; yet he was consoled a moment for his disappointment by watching
the movements of a neck so white, and round, and long, and delicate,
that it would have become Psyche, and might have inspired Praxiteles.
Her face is again turning towards him. It stops too soon; yet his eye
feeds upon the outline of a cheek not too full, yet promising of beauty,
like hope of Paradise.

She turns her head, she throws around a glance, and two streams of
liquid light pour from her hazel eyes on his. It was a rapid, graceful
movement, unstudied as the motion of a fawn, and was in a moment
withdrawn, yet was it long enough to stamp upon his memory a memorable
countenance. Her face was quite oval, her nose delicately aquiline, and
her high pure forehead like a Parian dome. The clear blood coursed under
her transparent cheek, and increased the brilliancy of her dazzling
eyes. His never left her. There was an expression of decision about her
small mouth, an air of almost mockery in her curling lip, which, though
in themselves wildly fascinating, strangely contrasted with all
the beaming light and beneficent lustre of the upper part of her
countenance. There was something, too, in the graceful but rather
decided air with which she moved, that seemed to betoken her
self-consciousness of her beauty or her rank; perhaps it might be her
wit; for the Duke observed that while she scarcely smiled, and conversed
with lips hardly parted, her companion, with whom she was evidently
intimate, was almost constantly convulsed with laughter, although, as he
never spoke, it was clearly not at his own jokes.

Was she married? Could it be? Impossible! Yet there was a richness in
her costume which was not usual for unmarried women. A diamond arrow had
pierced her clustering and auburn locks; she wore, indeed, no necklace;
with such a neck it would have been sacrilege; no ear-rings, for
her ears were too small for such a burthen; yet her girdle was of
brilliants; and a diamond cross worthy of Belinda and her immortal bard
hung upon her breast.

The Duke seized hold of the first person he knew: it was Lord Bagshot.

‘Tell me,’ he said, in the stern, low voice of a despot; ‘tell me who
that creature is.’

‘Which creature?’ asked Lord Bagshot.

‘Booby! brute! Bag, that creature of light and love!’

‘Where?’

‘There!

‘What, my mother?’

‘Your mother! cub! cart-horse! answer me, or I will run you through.’

‘Who do you mean?’

‘There, there, dancing with that raw-boned youth with red hair.’

‘What, Lord St. Jerome! Lor! he is a Catholic. I never speak to them. My
governor would be so savage.’

‘But the girl?’

‘Oh! the girl! Lor! she is a Catholic, too.’

‘But who is she?’

‘Lor! don’t you know?’

‘Speak, hound; speak!’

‘Lor! that is the beauty of the county; but then she is a Catholic. How
shocking! Blow us all up as soon as look at us.’

‘If you do not tell me who she is directly, you shall never get into
White’s. I will black-ball you regularly.’

‘Lor! man, don’t be in a passion. I will tell. But then I know you know
all the time. You are joking. Everybody knows the beauty of the county;
everybody knows May Dacre.’

‘May Dacre!’ said the Duke of St. James, as if he were shot.

‘Why, what is the matter now?’ asked Lord Bag-shot.

‘What, the daughter of Dacre of Castle Dacre?’ pursued his Grace.

‘The very same; the beauty of the county. Everybody knows May Dacre. I
knew you knew her all the time. You did not take me in. Why, what is the
matter?’

‘Nothing; get away!’

‘Civil! But you will remember your promise about White’s?’

‘Ay! ay! I shall remember you when you are proposed.’

‘Here, here is a business!’ soliloquized the young Duke. ‘May Dacre!
What a fool I have been! Shall I shoot myself through the head, or
embrace her on the spot? Lord St. Jerome, too! He seems mightily
pleased. And my family have been voting for two centuries to emancipate
this fellow! Curse his grinning face! I am decidedly anti-Catholic. But
then she is a Catholic! I will turn Papist. Ah! there is Lucy. I want a
counsellor.’

He turned to his fellow-steward. ‘Oh, Lucy! such a woman! such an
incident!’

‘What! the inimitable Miss Dacre, I suppose. Everybody speaking of her;
wherever I go, one subject of conversation. Burlington wanting to
waltz with her, Charles Annesley being introduced, and Lady Bloomerly
decidedly of opinion that she is the finest creature in the county.
Well, have you danced with her?’

‘Danced, my dear fellow! Do not speak to me.’

‘What is the matter?’

‘The most diabolical matter that you ever heard of.’

‘Well, well?’

‘I have not even been introduced.’

‘Well! come on at once.’

‘I cannot.’

‘Are you mad?’

‘Worse than mad. Where is her father?’

‘Who cares?’

‘I do. In a word, my dear Lucy, her father is that guardian whom I have
perhaps mentioned to you, and to whom I have behaved so delicately.’

‘Why! I thought your guardian was an old curmudgeon.’

‘What does that signify, with such a daughter!’

‘Oh! here is some mistake. This is the only child of Dacre of Castle
Dacre, a most delightful fellow; one of the first fellows in the county;
I was introduced to him to-day on the course. I thought you knew them.
You were admiring his outriders to-day, the green and silver.’

‘Why, Bag told me they were old Lord Sunderland’s.’

‘Bag! How can you believe a word that booby says? He always has an
answer. To-day, when Afy drove in, I asked Bag who she was, and he said
it was his aunt, Lady de Courcy. I begged to be introduced, and took
over the blushing Bag and presented him.’

‘But the father; the father, Lucy! How shall I get out of this scrape?’

‘Oh! put on a bold face. Here! give him this ring, and swear you
procured it for him at Genoa, and then say that, now you are here, you
will try his pheasants.’

‘My dear fellow, you always joke. I am in agony. Seriously, what shall I
do?’

‘Why, seriously, be introduced to him, and do what you can.’

‘Which is he?’

‘At the extreme end, next to the very pretty woman, who, by-the-bye, I
recommend to your notice: Mrs. Dallington Vere. She is amusing. I know
her well. She is some sort of relation to your Dacres. I will present
you to both at once.’

‘Why! I will think of it.’

‘Well, then! I must away. The two stewards knocking their heads together
is rather out of character. Do you know it is raining hard? I am
cursedly nervous about to-morrow.’

‘Pooh! pooh! If I could get through to-night, I should not care for
to-morrow.’



CHAPTER III.


     _The Duke Apologises_

AS SIR LUCIUS hurried off his colleague advanced towards the upper end
of the room, and, taking up a position, made his observations, through
the shooting figures of the dancers, on the dreaded Mr. Dacre. The late
guardian of the Duke of St. James was in the perfection of manhood;
perhaps five-and-forty by age; but his youth had lingered long. He
was tall, thin, and elegant, with a mild and benevolent expression of
countenance, not unmixed, however, with a little reserve, the ghost of
youthly pride. Listening with polished and courtly bearing to the pretty
Mrs. Dallington Vere, assenting occasionally to her piquant observations
by a slight bow, or expressing his dissent by a still slighter smile,
seldom himself speaking, yet always with that unembarrassed manner which
makes a saying listened to, Mr. Dacre was altogether, in appearance, one
of the most distinguished personages in this distinguished assembly. The
young Duke fell into an attitude worthy of Hamlet: ‘This, then, is _old_
Dacre! O deceitful Fitz-pompey! O silly St. James! Could I ever forget
that tall, mild man, who now is perfectly fresh in my memory? Ah! that
memory of mine; it has been greatly developed to-night. Would that I had
cultivated that faculty with a little more zeal! But what am I to do?
The case is urgent. What must the Dacres think of me? What must May
Dacre think? On the course the whole day, and I the steward, and not
conscious of the presence of the first family in the Riding! Fool, fool!
Why, why did I accept an office for which I was totally unfitted? Why,
why must I flirt away a whole morning with that silly Sophy Wrekin? An
agreeable predicament, truly, this! What would I give now once more to
be in St. James’s Street! Confound my Yorkshire estates! How they
must dislike, how they must despise me! And now, truly, I am to be
_introduced_ to him! The Duke of St. James, Mr. Dacre! Mr. Dacre,
the Duke of St. James! What an insult to all parties! How supremely
ludicrous! What a mode of offering my gratitude to the man to whom I
am under solemn and inconceivable obligations! A choice way, truly, to
salute the bosom-friend of my sire, the guardian of my interests, the
creator of my property, the fosterer of my orphan infancy! It is
useless to conceal it; I am placed in the most disagreeable, the most
inextricable situation. ‘Inextricable! Am I, then, the Duke of St.
James? Am I that being who, two hours ago, thought that the world was
formed alone for my enjoyment, and I quiver and shrink here like a
common hind? Out, out on such craven cowardice! I am no Hauteville! I
am bastard! Never! I will not be crushed. I will struggle with this
emergency; I will conquer it. Now aid me, ye heroes of my house! On
the sands of Palestine, on the plains of France, ye were not in a more
difficult situation than is your descendant in a ball-room in his own
county. My mind elevates itself to the occasion, my courage expands with
the enterprise; I will right myself with these Dacres with honour, and
without humiliation.’

The dancing ceased, the dancers disappeared. There was a blank between
the Duke of St. James on one side of the broad room, and Mr. Dacre and
those with whom he was conversing on the other. Many eyes were on his
Grace, and he seized the opportunity to execute his purpose. He advanced
across the chamber with the air of a young monarch greeting a victorious
general. It seemed that, for a moment, his Majesty wished to destroy
all difference of rank between himself and the man that he honoured. So
studied and so inexpressibly graceful were his movements that the
gaze of all around involuntarily fixed upon him. Mrs. Dallington Vere
unconsciously refrained from speaking as he approached; and one or two,
without actually knowing his purpose, made way. They seemed awed by his
dignity, and shuffled behind Mr. Dacre, as if he were the only person
who was the Duke’s match.

‘Mr. Dacre,’ said his Grace, in the softest but still audible tones, and
he extended, at the same time, his hand; ‘Mr. Dacre, our first meeting
should have been neither here nor thus; but you, who have excused so
much, will pardon also this!’

Mr. Dacre, though a calm personage, was surprised by this sudden
address. He could not doubt who was the speaker. He had left his ward
a mere child. He saw before him the exact and breathing image of the
heart-friend of his ancient days. He forgot all but the memory of a
cherished friendship.

He was greatly affected; he pressed the offered hand; he advanced; he
moved aside. The young Duke followed up his advantage, and, with an air
of the greatest affection, placed Mr. Dacre’s arm in his own, and then
bore off his prize in triumph.

Right skilfully did our hero avail himself of his advantage. He spoke,
and he spoke with emotion. There is something inexpressibly captivating
in the contrition of a youthful and a generous mind. Mr. Dacre and his
late ward soon understood each other; for it was one of those meetings
which sentiment makes sweet.

‘And now,’ said his Grace, ‘I have one more favour to ask, and that is
the greatest: I wish to be recalled to the recollection of my oldest
friend.’

Mr. Dacre led the Duke to his daughter; and the Earl of St. Jerome, who
was still laughing at her side, rose.

‘The Duke of St. James, May, wishes to renew his acquaintance with you.’

She bowed in silence. Lord St. Jerome, who was the great oracle of the
Yorkshire School, and who had betted desperately against the favourite,
took Mr. Dacre aside to consult him about the rain, and the Duke of
St. James dropped into his chair. That tongue, however, which had never
failed him, for once was wanting. There was a momentary silence, which
the lady would not break; and at last her companion broke it, and not
felicitously.

‘I think there is nothing more delightful than meeting with old
friends.’

‘Yes! that is the usual sentiment; but I half suspect that it is
a commonplace, invented to cover our embarrassment under such
circumstances; for, after all, “an old friend” so situated is a person
whom we have not seen for many years, and most probably not cared to
see.’

[Illustration: frontis-p79]

‘You are indeed severe.’

‘Oh! no. I think there is nothing more painful than parting with old
friends; but when we have parted with them, I am half afraid they are
lost.’

‘Absence, then, with you is fatal?’

‘Really, I never did part with any one I greatly loved; but I suppose it
is with me as with most persons.’

‘Yet you have resided abroad, and for many years?’

‘Yes; but I was too young then to have many friends; and, in fact, I
accompanied perhaps all that I possessed.’

‘How I regret that it was not in my power to accept your kind invitation
to Dacre in the Spring!’

‘Oh! My father would have been very glad to see you; but we really are
dull kind of people, not at all in your way, and I really do not think
that you lost much amusement.’

‘What better amusement, what more interesting occupation, could I have
had than to visit the place where I passed my earliest and my happiest
hours? ‘Tis nearly fifteen years since I was at Dacre.’

‘Except when you visited us at Easter. We regretted our loss.’

‘Ah! yes! except that,’ exclaimed the Duke, remembering his jäger’s
call; ‘but that goes for nothing. I of course saw very little.’

‘Yet, I assure you, you made a great impression. So eminent a personage,
of course, observes less than he himself is observed. We had a graphical
description of you on our return, and a very accurate one, too; for I
recognised your Grace to-night merely from the report of your visit.’

The Duke shot a shrewd glance at his companion’s face, but it betrayed
no indication of badinage, and so, rather puzzled, he thought it best to
put up with the parallel between himself and his servant. But Miss Dacre
did not quit this agreeable subject with all that promptitude which he
fondly anticipated.

‘Poor Lord St. Jerome,’ said she, ‘who is really the most unaffected
person I know, has been complaining most bitterly of his deficiency in
the _air noble_. He is mistaken for a groom perpetually; and once, he
says, had a _douceur_ presented to him in his character of an ostler.
Your Grace must be proud of your advantage over him. You would have been
gratified by the universal panegyric of our household. They, of course,
you know, are proud of their young Duke, a real Yorkshire Duke, and they
love to dwell upon your truly imposing appearance. As for myself, who
am true Yorkshire also, I take the most honest pride in hearing them
describe your elegant attitude, leaning back in your britzska, with your
feet on the opposite cushions, your hat arranged aside with that air of
undefinable grace characteristic of the Grand Seigneur, and, which is
the last remnant of the feudal system, your reiterated orders to drive
over an old woman. You did not even condescend to speak English, which
made them quite enthusiastic--’

‘Oh, Miss Dacre, spare me!’

‘Spare you! I have heard of your Grace’s modesty; but this excessive
sensibility, under well-earned praise, surprises me!’

‘But, Miss Dacre, you cannot indeed really believe that this vulgar
ruffian, this grim scarecrow, this Guy Faux, was--was--myself.’

‘Not yourself! Really, I am a simple personage. I believe in my eyes and
trust to my ears. I am at a loss for your meaning.’

‘I mean, then,’ said the Duke, who had gained time to rally, ‘that this
monster was some impostor, who must have stolen my carriage, picked my
pocket, and robbed me of my card, which, next to his reputation, is a
man’s most delicate possession.’

‘Then you never called upon us?’

‘I blush to confess it, never; but I will call, in future, every day.’

‘Your ingenuousness really rivals your modesty.’

‘Now, after these confessions and compliments, may I suggest a waltz?’

‘No one is waltzing now.’

‘When the quadrille, then, is finished?’

‘Then I am engaged.’

‘After your engagement?’

‘That is indeed making a business of pleasure. I have just refused
a similar request of your fellow-steward. We damsels shall soon be
obliged to carry a book to enrol our engagements as well as our bets, if
this system of reversionary dancing be any longer encouraged.’

‘But you must dance with me!’ said the Duke, imploringly.

‘Oh! you will stumble upon me in the course of the evening, and I shall
probably be more fortunate.

I suppose you feel nervous about to-morrow?’

‘Not at all.’

‘Ah! I forgot. Your Grace’s horse is the favourite. Favourites always
win.’

‘Have I a horse?’

‘Why, Lord St. Jerome says he doubts whether it be one.’

‘Lord St. Jerome seems a vastly amusing personage; and, as he is so
often taken for an ostler, I have no doubt is an exceedingly good judge
of horse-flesh.’

Miss Dacre smiled. It was that wild, but rather wicked, gleam which
sometimes accompanies the indulgence of innocent malice. It seemed to
insinuate, ‘I know you are piqued, and I enjoy it’ But here her hand was
claimed for the waltz.

The young Duke remained musing.

‘There she swims away! By heavens! unrivalled! And there is Lady Afy
and Burlington; grand, too. Yet there is something in this little Dacre
which touches my fancy more. What is it? I think it is her impudence.
That confounded scrape of Carlstein! I will cashier him to-morrow.
Confound his airs! I think I got out of it pretty well. To-night, on
the whole, has been a night of triumph; but if I do not waltz with the
little Dacre I will only vote myself an ovation. But see, here comes Sir
Lucius. Well! how fares my brother consul?’

‘I do not like this rain. I have been hedging with Hounslow, having
previously set Bag at his worthy sire with a little information. We
shall have a perfect swamp, and then it will be strength against speed;
the old story. Damn the St. Leger. I am sick of it.’

‘Pooh! pooh! think of the little Dacre!’

‘Think of her, my dear fellow! I think of her too much. I should
absolutely have diddled Hounslow, if it had not been for her confounded
pretty face flitting about my stupid brain. I saw you speaking to
Guardy. You managed that business well.’

‘Why, as I do all things, I flatter myself, Lucy. Do you know Lord St.
Jerome?’

‘Verbally. We have exchanged monosyllables; but he is of the other set.’

‘He is cursedly familiar with the little Dacre. As the friend of her
father, I think I shall interfere. Is there anything in it, think you?’

‘Oh! no; she is engaged to another.’

‘Engaged!’ said the Duke, absolutely turning pale.

‘Do you remember a Dacre at Eton?’

‘A Dacre at Eton!’ mused the Duke. At another time it would not have
been in his power to have recalled the stranger to his memory; but this
evening the train of association had been laid, and after struggling a
moment with his mind he had the man. ‘To be sure I do: Arundel Dacre, an
odd sort of a fellow; but he was my senior.’

‘Well, that is the man; a nephew of Guardy, and cousin, of course, to La
Bellissima. He inherits, you know, all the property. She will not have
a sou; but old Dacre, as you call him, has managed pretty well, and
Monsieur Arundel is to compensate for the entail by presenting him with
a grandson.’

‘The deuce!’

‘The deuce, indeed! Often have I broken his head. Would that I had to a
little more purpose!’

‘Let us do it now!’

‘He is not here, otherwise----One dislikes a spooney to be successful.’

‘Where are our friends?’

‘Annesley with the Duchess, and Squib with the Duke at écarté.’

‘Success attend them both!’

‘Amen!’



CHAPTER IV.

     _Innocence and Experience_

TO FEEL that the possessions of an illustrious ancestry are about to
slide from out your line for ever; that the numerous tenantry, who look
up to you with the confiding eye that the most liberal parvenu cannot
attract, will not count you among their lords; that the proud park,
filled with the ancient and toppling trees that your fathers planted,
will yield neither its glory nor its treasures to your seed, and that
the old gallery, whose walls are hung with pictures more cherished than
the collections of kings, will not breathe with your long posterity; all
these are feelings sad and trying, and are among those daily pangs which
moralists have forgotten in their catalogue of miseries, but which
do not the less wear out those heart-strings at which they are so
constantly tugging.

This was the situation of Mr. Dacre. The whole of his large property was
entailed, and descended to his nephew, who was a Protestant; and yet,
when he looked upon the blooming face of his enchanting daughter, he
blessed the Providence which, after all his visitations, had doomed him
to be the sire of a thing so lovely. An exile from her country at an
early age, the education of May Dacre had been completed in a foreign
land; yet the mingling bloods of Dacre and of Howard would not in a
moment have permitted her to forget The inviolate island of the sage and
free! even if the unceasing and ever-watchful exertions of her father
had been wanting to make her worthy of so illustrious an ancestry.

But this, happily, was not the case; and to aid the development of the
infant mind of his young child, to pour forth to her, as she grew
in years and in reason, all the fruits of his own richly-cultivated
intellect, was the solitary consolation of one over whose conscious head
was impending the most awful of visitations. May Dacre was gifted with
a mind which, even if her tutor had not been her father, would have
rendered tuition a delight. Her lively imagination, which early unfolded
itself; her dangerous yet interesting vivacity; the keen delight, the
swift enthusiasm, with which she drank in knowledge, and then panted for
more; her shrewd acuteness, and her innate passion for the excellent and
the beautiful, filled her father with rapture which he repressed, and
made him feel conscious how much there was to check, to guide, and to
form, as well as to cherish, to admire, and to applaud.

As she grew up the bright parts of her character shone with increased
lustre; but, in spite of the exertions of her instructor, some less
admirable qualities had not yet disappeared. She was still too often
the dupe of her imagination, and though perfectly inexperienced, her
confidence in her theoretical knowledge of human nature was unbounded.
She had an idea that she could penetrate the characters of individuals
at a first meeting; and the consequence of this fatal axiom was, that
she was always the slave of first impressions, and constantly the victim
of prejudice. She was ever thinking individuals better or worse than
they really were, and she believed it to be out of the power of anyone
to deceive her. Constant attendance during many years on a dying and
beloved mother, and her deeply religious feelings, had first broken, and
then controlled, a spirit which nature had intended to be arrogant and
haughty. Her father she adored; and she seemed to devote to him all
that consideration which, with more common characters, is generally
distributed among their acquaintance. We hint at her faults. How
shall we describe her virtues? Her unbounded generosity, her dignified
simplicity, her graceful frankness, her true nobility of thought and
feeling, her firmness, her courage and her truth, her kindness to
her inferiors, her constant charity, her devotion to her parents, her
sympathy with sorrow, her detestation of oppression, her pure unsullied
thoughts, her delicate taste, her deep religion. All these combined
would have formed a delightful character, even if unaccompanied with
such brilliant talents and such brilliant beauty. Accustomed from an
early age to the converse of courts and the forms of the most polished
circles, her manner became her blood, her beauty, and her mind. Yet
she rather acted in unison with the spirit of society than obeyed its
minutest decree. She violated etiquette with a wilful grace which made
the outrage a precedent, and she mingled with princes without feeling
her inferiority. Nature, and art, and fortune were the graces which had
combined to form this girl. She was a jewel set in gold, and worn by a
king.

Her creed had made her, in ancient Christendom, feel less an alien; but
when she returned to that native country which she had never forgotten,
she found that creed her degradation. Her indignant spirit clung with
renewed ardour to the crushed altars of her faith; and not before those
proud shrines where cardinals officiate, and a thousand acolytes fling
their censers, had she bowed with half the abandonment of spirit with
which she invoked the Virgin in her oratory at Dacre.

The recent death of her mother rendered Mr. Dacre and herself little
inclined to enter society; and as they were both desirous of residing on
that estate from which they had been so long and so unwillingly absent,
they had not yet visited London. The greater part of their time had been
passed chiefly in communication with those great Catholic families with
whom the Dacres were allied, and to which they belonged. The modern race
of the Howards and the Cliffords, the Talbots, the Arundels, and the
Jerninghams, were not unworthy of their proud progenitors. Miss Dacre
observed with respect, and assuredly with sympathy, the mild
dignity, the noble patience, the proud humility, the calm hope, the
uncompromising courage, with which her father and his friends sustained
their oppression and lived as proscribed in the realm which they had
created. Yet her lively fancy and gay spirit found less to admire in the
feelings which influenced these families in their intercourse with the
world, which induced them to foster but slight intimacies out of the
pale of the proscribed, and which tinged their domestic life with
that formal and gloomy colouring which ever accompanies a monotonous
existence. Her disposition told her that all this affected
non-interference with the business of society might be politic, but
assuredly was not pleasant; her quick sense whispered to her it was
unwise, and that it retarded, not advanced, the great result in which
her sanguine temper dared often to indulge. Under any circumstances,
it did not appear to her to be wisdom to second the efforts of their
oppressors for their degradation or their misery, and to seek no
consolation in the amiable feelings of their fellow-creatures for the
stern rigour of their unsocial government. But, independently of all
general principles, Miss Dacre could not but believe that it was
the duty of the Catholic gentry to mix more with that world which so
misconceived their spirit. Proud in her conscious knowledge of
their exalted virtues, she felt that they had only to be known to be
recognised as the worthy leaders of that nation which they had so often
saved and never betrayed.

She did not conceal her opinions from the circle in which they had grown
up. All the young members were her disciples, and were decidedly of
opinion that if the House of Lords would but listen to May Dacre,
emancipation would be a settled thing. Her logic would have destroyed
Lord Liverpool’s arguments; her wit extinguished Lord Eldon’s jokes.
But the elder members only shed a solemn smile, and blessed May Dacre’s
shining eyes and sanguine spirit.

Her greatest supporter was Mrs. Dallington Vere. This lady was a distant
relation of Mr. Dacre. At seventeen she, herself a Catholic, had married
Mr. Dallington Vere, of Dallington House, a Catholic gentleman of
considerable fortune, whose age resembled his wealth. No sooner had this
incident taken place than did Mrs. Dallington Vere hurry to London, and
soon evinced a most laudable determination to console herself for her
husband’s political disabilities. Mrs. Dallington Vere went to Court;
and Mrs. Dallington Vere gave suppers after the opera, and concerts
which, in number and brilliancy, were only equalled by her balls. The
dandies patronised her, and selected her for their Muse. The Duke of
Shropshire betted on her always at écarté; and, to crown the whole
affair, she made Mr. Dallington Vere lay claim to a dormant peerage. The
women were all pique, the men all patronage. A Protestant minister
was alarmed; and Lord Squib supposed that Mrs. Dallington must be the
Scarlet Lady of whom they had heard so often.

Season after season she kept up the ball; and although, of course, she
no longer made an equal sensation, she was not less brilliant, nor
her position less eminent. She had got into the best set, and was more
quiet, like a patriot in place. Never was there a gayer lady than Mrs.
Dallington Vere, but never a more prudent one. Her virtue was only
equalled by her discretion; but, as the odds were equal, Lord Squib
betted on the last. People sometimes indeed did say--they always
will--but what is talk? Mere breath. And reputation is marble, and iron,
and sometimes brass; and so, you see, talk has no chance. They did say
that Sir Lucius Grafton was about to enter into the Romish communion;
but then it turned out that it was only to get a divorce from his wife,
on the plea that she was a heretic.

The fact was, Mrs. Dallington Vere was a most successful woman, lucky in
everything, lucky even in her husband; for he died. He did not only die;
he left his whole fortune to his wife. Some said that his relations
were going to set aside the will, on the plea that it was written with a
crow-quill on pink paper; but this was false; it was only a codicil.

All eyes were on a very pretty woman, with fifteen thousand a year, and
only twenty-three. The Duke of Shropshire wished he were disembarrassed.
Such a player of écarté might double her income. Lord Raff advanced,
trusting to his beard, and young Amadée de Rouerie mortgaged his
dressing-case, and came post from Paris; but in spite of his sky-blue
nether garments and his Hessians, he followed my Lord’s example, and
re-crossed the water. It is even said that Lord Squib was sentimental;
but this must have been the malice of Charles Annesley.

All, however, failed. The truth is, Mrs. Dallington Vere had nothing to
gain by re-entering Paradise, which matrimony, of course, is; and so she
determined to remain mistress of herself. She had gained fashion, and
fortune, and rank; she was young, and she was pretty. She thought it
might be possible for a discreet, experienced little lady to lead a very
pleasant life without being assisted in her expenses or disturbed in her
diversion by a gentleman who called himself her husband, occasionally
asked her how she slept in a bed which he did not share, or munificently
presented her with a necklace purchased with her own money. Discreet
Mrs. Dallington Vere!

She had been absent from London during the past season, having taken it
also into her head to travel.

She was equally admired and equally plotted for at Rome, at Paris, and
at Vienna, as at London; but the bird had not been caught, and, flying
away, left many a despairing prince and amorous count to muse over their
lean visages and meagre incomes.

Dallington House made its fair mistress a neighbour of her relations,
the Dacres. No one could be a more fascinating companion than Mrs.
Dallington Vere. May Dacre read her character at once, and these ladies
became great allies. She was to assist Miss Dacre in her plans for
rousing their Catholic friends, as no one was better qualified to be
her adjutant. Already they had commenced their operations, and balls at
Dallington and Dacre, frequent, splendid, and various, had already made
the Catholic houses the most eminent in the Riding, and their brilliant
mistresses the heroines of all the youth.



CHAPTER V.

     _Ruined Hopes_

IT RAINED all night without ceasing yet the morrow was serene.
Nevertheless the odds had shifted. On the evening, thy had not been more
than two to one against the first favourite, the Duke of St. James’s ch.
c. Sanspareil, by Ne Plus Ultra; while they were five to one against the
second favourite, Mr. Dash’s gr. c. The Dandy, by Banker, and nine and
ten to one against the next in favour. This morning, however, affairs
were altered. Mr. Dash and his Dandy were at the head of the poll; and
as the owner rode his own horse, being a jockey and a fit rival for the
Duke of St. James, his backers were sanguine. Sanspareil, was, however,
the second favourite.

The Duke, however, was confident as an universal conqueror, and came on
in his usual state, rode round the course, inspirited Lady Aphrodite,
who was all anxiety, betted with Miss Dacre, and bowed to Mrs.
Dallington.

There were more than ninety horses, and yet the start was fair. But the
result? Pardon me! The fatal remembrance overpowers my pen. An effort
and some _Eau de Portingale_, and I shall recover. The first favourite
was never heard of, the second favourite was never seen after the
distance post, all the ten-to-oners were in the rear, and a _dark_
horse, which had never been thought of, and which the careless St. James
had never even observed in the list, rushed past the grand stand in
sweeping triumph. The spectators were almost too surprised to cheer; but
when the name of the winner was detected there was a deafening shout,
particularly from the Yorkshiremen. The victor was the Earl of St.
Jerome’s b. f. May Dacre, by Howard.

Conceive the confusion! Sanspareil was at last discovered, and
immediately shipped off for Newmarket, as young gentlemen who get into
scrapes are sent to travel. The Dukes of Burlington and Shropshire
exchanged a few hundreds; the Duchess and Charles Annesley a few gloves.
The consummate Lord Bloomerly, though a backer of the favourite, in
compliment to his host, contrived to receive from all parties, and
particularly from St. Maurice. The sweet little Wrekins were absolutely
ruined. Sir Lucius looked blue, but he had hedged; and Lord Squib looked
yellow, but some doubted. Lord Hounslow was done, and Lord Bagshot was
diddled.

The Duke of St. James was perhaps the heaviest sufferer on the field,
and certainly bore his losses the best. Had he seen the five-and-twenty
thousand he was minus counted before him, he probably would have been
staggered; but as it was, another crumb of his half-million was gone.
The loss existed only in idea. It was really too trifling to think
of, and he galloped up to Miss Dacre, and was among the warmest of her
congratulators.

‘I would offer your Grace my sympathy for your congratulations,’ said
Miss Dacre, in a rather amiable tone; ‘but’ (and here she resumed her
air of mockery) ‘you are too great a man to be affected by so light a
casualty. And, now that I recollect myself, did you run a horse?’

‘Why, no; the fault was, I believe, that he would not run; but
Sanspareil is as great a hero as ever. He has only been conquered by the
elements.’

The dinner at the Duke of St. James’s was this day more splendid even
than the preceding. He was determined to show that the disappointment
had produced no effect upon the temper of so imperial a personage
as himself, and he invited several of the leading gentry to join his
coterie. The Dacres were among the solicited; but they were, during the
races, the guests of Mrs. Dallington Vere, whose seat was only a mile
off, and therefore were unobtainable.

Blazed the plate, sparkled the wine, and the aromatic venison sent forth
its odourous incense to the skies. The favourite cook had done wonders,
though a Sanspareil pâté, on which he had been meditating for a week,
was obliged to be suppressed, and was sent up as a tourte à la Bourbon,
in compliment to his Royal Highness. It was a delightful party: all the
stiffness of metropolitan society disappeared. All talked, and laughed,
and ate, and drank; and the Protocolis and the French princes, who were
most active members of a banquet, ceased sometimes, from want of breath,
to moralize on the English character. The little Wrekins, with their
well-acted lamentations over their losses, were capital; and Sophy
nearly smiled and chattered her head this day into the reversion of the
coronet of Fitz-pompey. May she succeed! For a wilder little partridge
never yet flew. Caroline St. Maurice alone was sad, and would not be
comforted; although St. James, observing her gloom, and guessing at its
cause, had in private assured her that, far from losing, on the whole he
was perhaps even a winner.

None, however, talked more agreeable nonsense and made a more elegant
uproar than the Duke of St. James.

‘These young men,’ whispered Lord Squib to Annesley, ‘do not know the
value of money. We must teach it them. I know too well; I find it very
dear.’

If the old physicians are correct in considering from twenty-five to
thirty-five as the period of lusty youth, Lord Squib was still a lusty
youth, though a very corpulent one indeed. The carnival of his life,
however, was nearly over, and probably the termination of the race-week
might hail him a man. He was the best fellow in the world; short and
sleek, half bald, and looked fifty; with a waist, however, which had not
yet vanished, and where Art successfully controlled rebellious Nature,
like the Austrians the Lombards. If he were not exactly a wit, he was
still, however, full of unaffected fun, and threw out the results of a
_roué_ life with considerable ease and point. He had inherited a fair
and peer-like property, which he had contrived to embarrass in so
complicated and extraordinary a manner that he had been a ruined man for
years, and yet lived well on an income allowed him by his creditors to
manage his estate for their benefit. The joke was, he really managed
it well. It was his hobby, and he prided himself especially upon his
character as a man of business.

The banquet is certainly the best preparative for the ball, if its
blessings be not abused, for then you get heavy. Your true votary of
Terpsichore, and of him we only speak, requires, particularly in a land
of easterly winds, which cut into his cab-head at every turn of every
street, some previous process to make his blood set him an example in
dancing. It is strong Burgundy and his sparkling sister champagne that
make a race-ball always so amusing a _divertissement_. One enters the
room with a gay elation which defies rule without violating etiquette,
and in these county meetings there is a variety of character, and
classes, and manners, which is interesting, and affords an agreeable
contrast to those more brilliant and refined assemblies the members of
which, being educated by exactly the same system and with exactly the
same ideas, think, look, move, talk, dress, and even eat, alike; the
only remarkable personage being a woman somewhat more beautiful than
the beauties who surround her, and a man rather more original in his
affectations than the puppies that surround him. The proof of the
general dulness of polite circles is the great sensation that is always
produced by a new face. The season always commences briskly, because
there are so many. Ball, and dinner, and concert collect then plentiful
votaries; but as we move on the dulness will develop itself, and
then come the morning breakfast, and the water party, and the _fête
champêtre_, all desperate attempts to produce variety with old
materials, and to occasion a second effect by a cause which is already
exhausted.

These philosophical remarks precede another introduction to the public
ball-room at Doncaster. Mrs. Dallington Vere and Miss Dacre are walking
arm in arm at the upper end of the room.

‘You are disappointed, love, about Arundel?’ said Mrs. Dallington.

‘Bitterly; I never counted on any event more certainly than on his
return this summer.’

‘And why tarrieth the wanderer? unwillingly of course?’

‘Lord Darrell, who was to have gone over as _Chargé d’affaires_, has
announced to his father the impossibility of his becoming a diplomatist,
so our poor _attaché_ suffers, and is obliged to bear the _portefeuille
ad interim_.’

‘Does your cousin like Vienna?’

‘Not at all. He is a regular John Bull; and, if I am to judge from his
correspondence, he will make an excellent ambassador in one sense, for
I think his fidelity and his patriotism may be depended on. We seldom
serve those whom we do not love; and, if I am to believe Arundel, there
is neither a person nor a place on the whole Continent that affords him
the least satisfaction.’

‘How singular, then, that he should have fixed on such a _métier_; but,
I suppose, like other young men, his friends fixed for him?’

‘Not at all. No step could be less pleasing to my father than his
leaving England; but Arundel is quite unmanageable, even by papa. He is
the oddest but the dearest person in the world!’

‘He is very clever, is he not?’

‘I think so. I have no doubt he will distinguish himself, whatever
career he runs; but he is so extremely singular in his manner that I do
not think his general reputation harmonises with my private opinion.’

‘And will his visit to England be a long one?’

‘I hope that it will be a permanent one. I, you know, am his confidant,
and entrusted with all his plans. If I succeed in arranging something
according to his wishes, I hope that he will not again quit us.’

‘I pray you may, sweet! and wish, love, for your sake, that he would
enter the room this moment.’

‘This is the most successful meeting, I should think, that ever was
known at Doncaster,’ said Miss Dacre. ‘We are, at least, indebted to the
Duke of St. James for a very agreeable party, to say nothing of all the
gloves we have won.’

‘How do you like the Duke of Burlington?’

‘Much. There is a calm courtliness about him which I think very
imposing. He is the only man I ever saw who, without being very young,
was not an unfit companion for youth. And there is no affectation of
juvenility about him. He involuntarily reminds you of youth, as an empty
orchestra does of music.’

‘I shall tell him this. He is already your devoted; and I have no
doubt that, inspired at the same time by your universal charms and
our universal hints, I shall soon hail you Duchess of Burlington. Don
Arundel will repent his diplomacy.’

‘I thought I was to be another Duchess this morning.’

‘You deserve to be a triple one. But dream not of the unhappy patron of
Sanspareil. There is something in his eyes which tells me he is not a
marrying man.’

There was a momentary pause, and Miss Dacre spoke.

‘I like his brother steward, Bertha. Sir Lucius is witty and candid. It
is an agreeable thing to see a man who had been so gay, and who has had
so many temptations to be gay, turn into a regular domestic character,
without losing any of those qualities which made him an ornament to
society. When men of the world terminate their career as prudently as
Sir Lucius, I observe that they are always amusing companions, because
they are perfectly unaffected.’

‘No one is more unaffected than Lucius Grafton. I am quite happy to find
you like him; for he is an old friend of mine, and I know that he has a
good heart.’

‘I like him especially because he likes you.’

‘Dearest!’

‘He introduced me to Lady Afy. I perceive that she is very attached to
her husband.’

‘Lady Afy is a charming woman. I know no woman so truly elegant as Lady
Afy. The young Duke, you know they say, greatly admires Lady Afy.’

‘Oh! does he? Well now, I should have thought her rather a sentimental
and serious donna; one very unlikely------’

‘Hush! here come two cavaliers.’

The Dukes of Burlington and St. James advanced.

‘We are attracted by observing two nymphs wandering in this desert,’
said his Grace of Burlington. This was the Burgundy.

‘And we wish to know whether there be any dragon to destroy, any ogre to
devour, any magician to massacre, or how, when, and where we can testify
our devotion to the ladies of our love,’ added his Grace of St. James.
This was the champagne.

‘The age of chivalry is past,’ said Miss Dacre. ‘Bores have succeeded
to dragons, and I have shivered too many lances in vain ever to hope for
their extirpation; and as for enchantments----’

‘They depend only upon yourself,’ gallantly interrupted the Duke of
Burgundy. Psha!--Burlington.

‘Our spells are dissolved, our wands are sunk five fathom deep; we had
retired to this solitude, and we were moralising,’ said Mrs. Dallington
Vere.

‘Then you were doing an extremely useless and not very magnanimous
thing,’ said the Duke of St. James; ‘for to moralise in a desert is no
great exertion of philosophy. You should moralise in a drawing-room; and
so let me propose our return to that world which must long have missed
us. Let us do something to astound these elegant barbarians. Look at
that young gentleman: how stiff he is! A Yorkshire Apollo! Look at that
old lady; how elaborately she simpers! The Venus of the Riding! They
absolutely attempt to flirt. Let us give them a gallop!’

He was advancing to salute this provincial couple; but his more mature
companion repressed him.

‘Ah! I forgot,’ said the young Duke. ‘I am Yorkshire. If I were a
western, like yourself, I might compromise my character. Your Grace
monopolises the fun.’

‘I think you may safely attack them,’ said Miss Dacre. ‘I do not think
you will be recognised. People entertain in this barbarous country, such
vulgar, old-fashioned notions of a Duke of St. James, that I have not
the least doubt your Grace might have a good deal of fun without being
found out.’

‘There is no necessity,’ said the Duke, ‘to fly from Miss Dacre for
amusement. By-the-bye, you make a good repartee. You must permit me to
introduce you to my friend, Lord Squib. I am sure you would agree so.’

‘I have been introduced to Lord Squib.’

‘And you found him most amusing? Did he say anything which vindicates my
appointment of him as my court jester?’

‘I found him modest. He endeavoured to excuse his errors by being your
companion; and to prove his virtues by being mine.’

‘Treacherous Squib! I positively must call him out. Duke, bear him a
cartel.’

‘The quarrel is ours, and must be decided here,’ said Mrs. Dallington
Vere. ‘I second Miss Dacre.’

‘We are in the way of some good people here, I think,’ said the Duke of
Burlington, who, though the most dignified, was the most considerate of
men; ‘at least, here are a stray couple or two staring as if they wished
us to understand we prevented a set.’

‘Let them stare,’ said the Duke of St. James; ‘we were made to be looked
at. ‘Tis our vocation, Hal, and they are gifted with vision purposely to
behold us.’

‘Your Grace,’ said Miss Dacre, ‘reminds me of my old friend, Prince
Rubarini, who told me one day that when he got up late he always gave
orders to have the sun put back a couple of hours.’

‘And you, Miss Dacre, remind me of my old friend, the Duchess of Nevers,
who told me one day that in the course of her experience she had only
met one man who was her rival in repartee.’

‘And that man,’ asked Mrs. Vere.

‘Was your slave, Mrs. Dallington,’ said the young Duke, bowing
profoundly, with his hand on his heart.

‘I remember she said the same thing to me,’ said the Duke of Burlington,
‘about ten years before.’

‘That was her grandmother, Burley,’ said the Duke of St. James.

‘Her grandmother!’ said Mrs. Dallington, exciting the contest.

‘Decidedly,’ said the young Duke. ‘I remember my friend always spoke of
the Duke of Burlington as grandpapa.’

‘You will profit, I have no doubt, then, by the company of so venerable
a friend,’ said Miss Dacre.

‘Why,’ said the young Duke, ‘I am not a believer in the perfectibility
of the species; and you know, that when we come to a certain point----’

‘We must despair of improvement,’ said the Duke of Burlington.

‘Your Grace came forward, like a true knight, to my rescue,’ said Miss
Dacre, bowing to the Duke of Burlington.

‘Beauty can inspire miracles,’ said the Duke of St. James.

‘This young gentleman has been spoiled by travel, Miss Dacre,’ said the
Duke of Burlington. ‘You have much to answer for, for he tells every one
that you were his guardian.’

The eyes of Miss Dacre and the Duke of St. James met. He bowed with that
graceful impudence which is, after all, the best explanation for every
possible misunderstanding.

‘I always heard that the Duke of St. James was born of age,’ said Miss
Dacre.

‘The report was rife on the Continent when I travelled,’ said Mrs.
Dallington Vere.

‘That was only a poetical allegory, which veiled the precocious results
of my fair tutor’s exertions.’

‘How discreet he is!’ said the Duke of Burlington. ‘You may tell
immediately that he is two-and-forty.’

‘We are neither of us, though, off the _pavé_ yet, Burlington; so what
say you to inducing these inspiring muses to join the waltz which is
just now commencing?’

The young Duke offered his hand to Miss Dacre, and, followed by
their companions, they were in a few minutes lost in the waves of the
waltzers.



CHAPTER VI.

     _A Complaisant Spouse_

THE gaieties of the race-week closed with a ball at Dallington House.
As the pretty mistress of this proud mansion was acquainted with all the
members of the ducal party, our hero and his noble band were among those
who honoured it with their presence.

We really have had so many balls both in this and other as immortal
works that, in a literary point of view, we think we must give up
dancing; nor would we have introduced you to Dallington House if there
had been no more serious business on hand than a flirtation with a lady
or a lobster salad. Ah! why is not a little brief communion with the
last as innocent as with the first?

Small feet are flitting in the mazy dance and music winds with inspiring
harmony through halls whose lofty mirrors multiply beauty and add fresh
lustre to the blazing lights. May Dacre there is wandering like a peri
in Paradise, and Lady Aphrodite is glancing with her dazzling brow, yet
an Asmodeus might detect an occasional gloom over her radiant face.
It is but for an instant, yet it thrills. She looks like some favoured
sultana, who muses for a moment amid her splendour on her early love.

And she, the sparkling mistress of this scene; say, where is she? Not
among the dancers, though a more graceful form you could scarcely look
upon; not even among her guests, though a more accomplished hostess
it would be hard to find. Gaiety pours forth its flood, and all
are thinking of themselves, or of some one sweeter even than
self-consciousness, or else perhaps one absent might be missed.

Leaning on the arm of Sir Lucius Grafton, and shrouded in her cashmere,
Mrs. Dallington Vere paces the terrace in earnest conversation.

‘If I fail in this,’ said Sir Lucius, ‘I shall be desperate. Fortune
seems to have sent him for the very purpose. Think only of the state of
affairs for a moment. After a thousand plots on my part; after having
for the last two years never ceased my exertions to make her commit
herself; when neither a love of pleasure, nor a love of revenge, nor the
thoughtlessness to which women in her situation generally have recourse,
produced the slightest effect; this stripling starts upon the stage, and
in a moment the iceberg melts. Oh! I never shall forget the rapture of
the moment when the faithful Lachen announced the miracle!’

‘But why not let the adventure take the usual course? You have your
evidence, or you can get it. Finish the business. The _exposés_, to be
sure, are disagreeable enough; but to be the talk of the town for a week
is no great suffering. Go to Baden, drink the waters, and it will be
forgotten. Surely this is an inconvenience not to be weighed for a
moment against the great result.’

[Illustration: page106]

‘Believe me, my dearest friend, Lucy Grafton cares very little about the
babble of the million, provided it do not obstruct him in his objects.
Would to Heaven I could proceed in the summary and effectual mode you
point out; but that I much doubt. There is about Afy, in spite of
all her softness and humility, a strange spirit, a cursed courage or
obstinacy, which sometimes has blazed out, when I have over-galled her,
in a way half-awful. I confess I dread her standing at bay. I am in her
power, and a divorce she could successfully oppose if I appeared to be
the person who hastened the catastrophe and she were piqued to show that
she would not fall an easy victim. No, no! I have a surer, though a more
difficult, game. She is intoxicated with this boy. I will drive her into
his arms.’

‘A probable result, forsooth! I do not think your genius has
particularly brightened since we last met. I thought your letters were
getting dull. You seem to forget that there is a third person to be
consulted in this adventure. And why in the name of Doctors’ Commons,
the Duke is to close his career by marrying a woman of whom, with your
leave, he is already, if experience be not a dream, half-wearied, is
really past my comprehension, although as Yorkshire, Lucy, I should not,
you know, be the least apprehensive of mortals.’

‘I depend upon my unbounded influence over St. James.’

‘What! do you mean to recommend the step, then?’

‘Hear me! At present I am his confidential counsellor on all
subjects----’

‘But one.’

‘Patience, fair dame; and I have hitherto imperceptibly, but
efficiently, exerted my influence to prevent his getting entangled with
any other nets.’

‘Faithful friend!’

‘_Point de moquerie!_ Listen. I depend further upon his perfect
inexperience of women; for, in spite of his numerous gallantries, he
has never yet had a grand passion, and is quite ignorant, even at this
moment, how involved his feelings are with his mistress. He has not yet
learnt the bitter lesson that, unless we despise a woman when we
cease to love her, we are still a slave, without the consolement of
intoxication. I depend further upon his strong feelings; for strong
I perceive they are, with all his affectation; and on his weakness
of character, which will allow him to be the dupe of his first great
emotion. It is to prevent that explosion from taking place under any
other roof than my own that I now require your advice and assistance;
that advice and assistance which already have done so much for me. I
like not this sudden and uncontemplated visit to Castle Dacre. I fear
these Dacres; I fear the revulsion of his feelings. Above all, I fear
that girl.’

‘But her cousin; is he not a talisman? She loves him.’

‘Pooh! a cousin! Is not the name an answer? She loves him as she loves
her pony; because he was her companion when she was a child, and kissed
her when they gathered strawberries together. The pallid, moonlight
passion of a cousin, and an absent one, too, has but a sorry chance
against the blazing beams that shoot from the eyes of a new lover. Would
to Heaven that I had not to go down to my boobies at Cleve! I should
like nothing better than to amuse myself an autumn at Dallington with
the little Dacre, and put an end to such an unnatural and irreligious
connection. She is a splendid creature! Bring her to town next season.’

‘But to the point. You wish me, I imagine, to act the same part with the
lady as you have done with the gentleman. I am to step in, I suppose,
as the confidential counsellor on all subjects of sweet May. I am to
preserve her from a youth whose passions are so impetuous and whose
principles are so unformed.’

‘Admirable Bertha! You read my thoughts.’

‘But suppose I endanger, instead of advance, your plans. Suppose, for
instance, I captivate his Grace. As extraordinary things have happened,
as you know. High place must be respected, and the coronet of a Duchess
must not be despised.’

‘All considerations must yield to you, as do all men,’ said Sir Lucius,
with ready gallantry, but not free from anxiety.

‘No, no; there is no danger of that. I am not going to play traitress
to my system, even for the Duke of St. James; therefore, anything that
occurs between us shall be merely an incident _pour passer le temps
seulement_, and to preserve our young friend from the little Dacre. I
have no doubt he will behave very well, and that I shall send him safe
to Cleve Park in a fortnight with a good character. I would recommend
you, however, not to encourage any unreasonable delay.’

‘Certainly not; but I must, of course, be guided by circumstances.’ Sir
Lucius observed truly. There were other considerations besides getting
rid of his spouse which cemented his friendship with the young Duke. It
will be curious if lending a few thousands to the husband save our hero
from the wife. There is no such thing as unmixed evil. A man who loses
his money gains, at least, experience, and sometimes something better.
But what the Duke of St. James gained is not yet to be told.

‘And you like Lachen?’ asked Mrs. Dallington.

‘Very much.’

‘I formed her with great care, but you must keep her in good humour.’

‘That is not difficult. _Elle est très jolie_; and pretty women, like
yourself, are always good-natured.’

‘But has she really worked herself into the confidence of the virtuous
Aphrodite?’

‘Entirely. And the humour is, that Lachen has persuaded her that Lachen
herself is on the best possible terms with my confidential valet, and
can make herself at all times mistress of her master’s secrets. So it is
always in my power, apparently without taking the slightest interest in
Afy’s conduct, to regulate it as I will. At present she believes that my
affairs are in a distracted state, and that I intend to reside solely on
the Continent, and to bear her off from her Cupidon. This thought haunts
her rest, and hangs heavy on her waking mind. I think it will do the
business.’

‘We have been too long absent. Let us return.’

‘I accompany you, my charming friend. What should I do without such an
ally? I only wish that I could assist you in a manner equally friendly.
Is there no obdurate hero who wants a confidential adviser to dilate
upon your charms, or to counsel him to throw himself at your feet; or
are that beautiful in face and lovely form, as they must always be,
invincible?’

‘I assure you quite disembarrassed of any attentions whatever. But, I
suppose, when I return to Athens, I must get Platonic again.’

‘Let me be the philosopher!’

‘No, no; we know each other too well. I have been free ever since that
fatal affair of young Darrell, and travel has restored my spirits a
little. They say his brother is just as handsome. He was expected at
Vienna, but I could not meet him, although I suppose, as I made him a
Viscount, I am rather popular than not with him.’

‘Pooh! pooh! think not of this. No one blames you. You are still a
universal favourite. But I would recommend you, nevertheless, to take me
as your cavalier.’

‘You are too generous, or too bold. No, man! I am tired of flirtation,
and really think, for variety’s sake, I must fall in love. After all,
there is nothing like the delicious dream, though it be but a dream.
Spite of my discretion, I sometimes tremble lest I should end by making
myself a fool, with some grand passion. You look serious. Fear not for
the young Duke. He is a dazzling gentleman, but not a hero exactly to my
taste.’



CHAPTER VII.

     _At Castle Dacre_

THE moment that was to dissolve the spell which had combined and
enchanted so many thousands of human beings arrived. Nobles and
nobodies, beauties and blacklegs, dispersed in all directions. The Duke
of Burlington carried off the French princes and the Protocolis, the
Bloomerlys and the Vaticans, to his Paradise of Marringworth. The
Fitz-pompeys cantered off with the Shropshires; omen of felicity to
the enamoured St. Maurice and the enamouring Sophy. Annesley and Squib
returned to their pâtés. Sir Lucius and Lady Aphrodite, neither of them
with tempers like summer skies, betook their way to Cambridgeshire, like
Adam and Eve from the glorious garden. The Duke of St. James, after a
hurried visit to London, found himself, at the beginning of October, on
his way to Dacre.

As his carriage rolled on he revelled in delicious fancies. The young
Duke built castles not only at Hauteville, but in less substantial
regions. Reverie, in the flush of our warm youth, generally indulges in
the future. We are always anticipating the next adventure and clothe the
coming heroine with a rosy tint. When we advance a little on our limited
journey, and an act or two of the comedy, the gayest in all probability,
are over, the wizard Memory dethrones the witch Imagination, and ‘tis
the past on which the mind feeds in its musings. ‘Tis then we ponder
on each great result which has stolen on us without the labour of
reflection; ‘tis then we analyse emotions which, at the time, we could
not comprehend, and probe the action which passion inspired, and which
prejudice has hitherto defended. Alas! who can strike these occasional
balances in life’s great ledger without a sigh! Alas! how little do
they promise in favour of the great account! What whisperings of final
bankruptcy! what a damnable consciousness of present insolvency! My
friends! what a blunder is youth! Ah! why does Truth light her torch but
to illume the ruined temple of our existence! Ah! why do we know we are
men only to be conscious of our exhausted energies!

And yet there is a pleasure in a deal of judgment which your judicious
man alone can understand. It is agreeable to see some younkers falling
into the same traps which have broken our own shins; and, shipwrecked
on the island of our hopes, one likes to mark a vessel go down full in
sight. ‘Tis demonstration that we are not branded as Cains among the
favoured race of man. Then giving advice: that _is_ delicious, and
perhaps repays one all. It is a privilege your grey-haired signors
solely can enjoy; but young men now-a-days may make some claims to it.
And, after all, experience is a thing that all men praise. Bards sing
its glories, and proud Philosophy has long elected it her favourite
child. ‘Tis the ‘_rò Kaxàv_’, in spite of all its ugliness, and the
_elixir vitæ_, though we generally gain it with a shattered pulse.

No more! no more! it is a bitter cheat, the consolation of blunderers,
the last refuge of expiring hopes, the forlorn battalion that is to
capture the citadel of happiness; yet, yet impregnable! Oh! what is
wisdom, and what is virtue, without youth! Talk not to me of knowledge
of mankind; give, give me back the sunshine of the breast which they
o’erclouded! Talk not to me of proud morality; oh! give me innocence!

Amid the ruins of eternal Rome I scribble pages lighter than the wind,
and feed with fancies volumes which will be forgotten ere I can hear
that they are even published. Yet am I not one insensible to the magic
of my memorable abode, and I could pour my passion o’er the land; but I
repress my thoughts, and beat their tide back to their hollow caves!

The ocean of my mind is calm, but dim, and ominous of storms that may
arise. A cloud hangs heavy o’er the horizon’s verge, and veils the
future. Even now a star appears, steals into light, and now again
‘tis gone! I hear the proud swell of the growing waters; I hear the
whispering of the wakening winds; but reason lays her trident on the
cresting waves, and all again is hushed.

For I am one, though young, yet old enough to know ambition is a demon;
and I fly from what I fear. And fame has eagle wings, and yet she mounts
not so high as man’s desires. When all is gained, how little then is
won! And yet to gain that little how much is lost! Let us once aspire
and madness follows. Could we but drag the purple from the hero’s heart;
could we but tear the laurel from the poet’s throbbing brain, and read
their doubts, their dangers, their despair, we might learn a greater
lesson than we shall ever acquire by musing over their exploits or
their inspiration. Think of unrecognised Caesar, with his wasting youth,
weeping over the Macedonian’s young career! Could Pharsalia compensate
for those withering pangs? View the obscure Napoleon starving in
the streets of Paris! What was St. Helena to the bitterness of
such existence? The visions of past glory might illumine even that
dark-imprisonment; but to be conscious that his supernatural energies
might die away without creating their miracles: can the wheel or the
rack rival the torture of such a suspicion? Lo! Byron bending o’er his
shattered lyre, with inspiration in his very rage. And the pert taunt
could sting even this child of light! To doubt of the truth of the
creed in which you have been nurtured is not so terrific as to doubt
respecting the intellectual vigour on whose strength you have staked
your happiness. Yet these were mighty ones; perhaps the records of the
world will not yield us threescore to be their mates! Then tremble, ye
whose cheek glows too warmly at their names! Who would be more than man
should fear lest he be less.

Yet there is hope, there should be happiness, for them, for all. Kind
Nature, ever mild, extends her fond arms to her truant children, and
breathes her words of solace. As we weep on her indulgent and maternal
breast, the exhausted passions, one by one, expire like gladiators in
yon huge pile that has made barbarity sublime. Yes! there is hope and
joy; and it is here!

Where the breeze wanders through a perfumed sky, and where the beautiful
sun illumines beauty.

On the poet’s farm and on the conqueror’s arch thy beam is lingering!
It lingers on the shattered porticoes that once shrouded from thy
o’erpowering glory the lords of earth; it lingers upon the ruined
temples that even in their desolation are yet sacred! ‘Tis gone, as
if in sorrow! Yet the woody lake still blushes with thy warm kiss; and
still thy rosy light tinges the pine that breaks the farthest heaven!

A heaven all light, all beauty, and all love! What marvel men should
worship in these climes? And lo! a small and single cloud is sailing in
the immaculate ether, burnished with twilight, like an Olympian chariot
from above, with the fair vision of some graceful god!

It is the hour that poets love; but I crush thoughts that rise from out
my mind, like nymphs from out their caves, when sets the sun. Yes, ‘tis
a blessing here to breathe and muse. And cold his clay, indeed, who does
not yield to thy Ausonian beauty! Clime where the heart softens and the
mind expands! Region of mellowed bliss! O most enchanting land!

But we are at the park gates.

They whirled along through a park which would have contained half a
hundred of those Patagonian paddocks of modern times which have usurped
the name. At length the young Duke was roused from his reverie
by Carlstein, proud of his previous knowledge, leaning over and
announcing--

‘Château de Dacre, your Grace!’

The Duke looked up. The sun, which had already set, had tinged with a
dying crimson the eastern sky, against which rose a princely edifice.
Castle Dacre was the erection of Vanbrugh, an imaginative artist,
whose critics we wish no bitterer fate than not to live in his splendid
creations. A spacious centre, richly ornamented, though broken, perhaps,
into rather too much detail, was joined to wings of a corresponding
magnificence by fanciful colonnades. A terrace, extending the whole
front, was covered with orange trees, and many a statue, and many an
obelisk, and many a temple, and many a fountain, were tinted with
the warm twilight. The Duke did not view the forgotten scene of youth
without emotion. It was a palace worthy of the heroine on whom he had
been musing. The carriage gained the lofty portal. Luigi and Spiridion,
who had preceded their master, were ready to receive the Duke, who was
immediately ushered to the rooms prepared for his reception. He was
later than he had intended, and no time was to be unnecessarily lost in
his preparation for his appearance.

His Grace’s toilet was already prepared: the magical dressing-box
had been unpacked, and the shrine for his devotions was covered
with richly-cut bottles of all sizes, arranged in all the elegant
combinations which the picturesque fancy of his valet could devise,
adroitly intermixed with the golden instruments, the china vases, and
the ivory and rosewood brushes, which were worthy even of Delcroix’s
exquisite inventions.

The Duke of St. James was master of the art of dress, and consequently
consummated that paramount operation with the decisive rapidity of one
whose principles are settled. He was cognisant of all effects, could
calculate in a second all consequences, and obtained his result with
that promptitude and precision which stamp the great artist. For a
moment he was plunged in profound abstraction, and at the same time
stretched his legs after his drive. He then gave his orders with the
decision of Wellington on the arrival of the Prussians, and the battle
began.

His Grace had a taste for magnificence in costume; but he was handsome,
young, and a duke. Pardon him. Yet to-day he was, on the whole, simple.
Confident in a complexion whose pellucid lustre had not yielded to a
season of dissipation, his Grace did not dread the want of relief which
a white face, a white cravat, and a white waistcoat would seem to imply.

A hair chain set in diamonds, worn in memory of the absent Aphrodite,
and to pique the present Dacre, is annexed to a glass, which reposes
in the waistcoat pocket. This was the only weight that the Duke of St.
James ever carried. It was a bore, but it was indispensable.

It is done. He stops one moment before the long pier-glass, and shoots
a glance which would have read the mind of Talleyrand. It will do.
He assumes the look, the air that befit the occasion: cordial, but
dignified; sublime, but sweet. He descends like a deity from Olympus to
a banquet of illustrious mortals.



CHAPTER VIII.

     _‘Fair Women and Brave Men.’_

MR. DACRE received him with affection: his daughter with a cordiality
which he had never yet experienced from her. Though more simply dressed
than when she first met his ardent gaze, her costume again charmed his
practised eye. ‘It must be her shape,’ thought the young Duke; ‘it is
magical!’

The rooms were full of various guests, and some of these were presented
to his Grace, who was, of course, an object of universal notice, but
particularly by those persons who pretended not to be aware of his
entrance. The party assembled at Castle Dacre consisted of some thirty
or forty persons, all of great consideration, but of a different
character from any with whom the Duke of St. James had been acquainted
during his short experience of English society. They were not what are
called fashionable people. We have no princes and no ambassadors, no
duke who is a gourmand, no earl who is a jockey, no manoeuvring mothers,
no flirting daughters, no gambling sons, for your entertainment. There
is no superfine gentleman brought down specially from town to gauge
the refinement of the manners of the party, and to prevent them, by
his constant supervision and occasional sneer, from losing any of the
beneficial results of their last campaign. We shall sadly want, too,
a Lady Patroness to issue a decree or quote her code of consolidated
etiquette. We are not sure that Almack’s will ever be mentioned: quite
sure that Maradan has never yet been heard of. The Jockey Club may be
quoted, but Crockford will be a dead letter. As for the rest, Boodle’s
is all we can promise; miserable consolation for the bow-window. As for
buffoons and artists, to amuse a vacant hour or sketch a vacant face, we
must frankly tell you at once that there is not one. Are you frightened?
Will you go on? Will you trust yourself with these savages? Try. They
are rude, but they are hospitable.

The party, we have said, were all persons of great consideration; some
were noble, most were rich, all had ancestors. There were the Earl
and Countess of Faulconcourt. He looked as if he were fit to reconquer
Palestine, and she as if she were worthy to reward him for his valour.
Misplaced in this superior age, he was _sans peur_ and she _sans
reproche_. There was Lord Mildmay, an English peer and a French colonel.
Methinks such an incident might have been a better reason for a late
measure than an Irishman being returned a member of our Imperial
Parliament. There was our friend Lord St. Jerome; of course his
stepmother, yet young, and some sisters, pretty as nuns. There were some
cousins from the farthest north, Northumbria’s bleakest bound, who came
down upon Yorkshire like the Goths upon Italy, and were revelling in
what they considered a southern clime.

There was an M.P. in whom the Catholics had hopes. He had made a great
speech; not only a great speech, but a great impression. His matter
certainly was not new, but well arranged, and his images not singularly
original, but appositely introduced; in short, a bore, who, speaking
on a subject in which a new hand is indulged, and connected with the
families whose cause he was pleading, was for once courteously listened
to by the very men who determined to avenge themselves for their
complaisance by a cough on the first opportunity. But the orator was
prudent; he reserved himself, and the session closed with his fame yet
full-blown.

Then there were country neighbours in great store, with wives that
were treasures, and daughters fresh as flowers. Among them we would
particularise two gentlemen. They were great proprietors, and Catholics
and Baronets, and consoled themselves by their active maintenance of the
game-laws for their inability to regulate their neighbours by any other.
One was Sir Chetwode Chetwode of Chetwode; the other was Sir Tichborne
Tichborne of Tichborne. It was not easy to see two men less calculated
to be the slaves of a foreign and despotic power, which we all know
Catholics are. Tall, and robust, and rosy, with hearts even stouter
than their massy frames, they were just the characters to assemble in
Runnymede, and probably, even at the present day, might have imitated
their ancestors, even in their signatures. In disposition they were
much the same, though they were friends. In person there were some
differences, but they were slight. Sir Chetwode’s hair was straight and
white; Sir Tichborne’s brown and curly. Sir Chetwode’s eyes were blue;
Sir Tichborne’s grey.

Sir Chetwode’s nose was perhaps a snub; Sir Tichborne’s was certainly a
bottle. Sir Chetwode was somewhat garrulous, and was often like a man at
a play, in the wrong box! Sir Tichborne was somewhat taciturn; but when
he spoke, it was always to the purpose, and made an impression, even if
it were not new. Both were kind hearts; but Sir Chetwode was jovial,
Sir Tichborne rather stern. Sir Chetwode often broke into a joke; Sir
Tichborne sometimes backed into a sneer. .

A few of these characters were made known by Mr. Dacre to his young
friend, but not many, and in an easy way; those that stood nearest.
Introduction is a formality and a bore, and is never resorted to by your
well-bred host, save in a casual way. When proper people meet at proper
houses, they give each other credit for propriety, and slide into an
acquaintance by degrees. The first day they catch a name; the next, they
ask you whether you are the son of General----. ‘No; he was my uncle.’
‘Ah! I knew him well. A worthy soul!’ And then the thing is settled. You
ride together, shoot, or fence, or hunt. A game of billiards will do no
great harm; and when you part, you part with a hope that you may meet
again.

Lord Mildmay was glad to meet with the son of an old friend. He knew the
late Duke well, and loved him better. It is pleasant to hear our fathers
praised. We, too, may inherit their virtues with their lands, or
cash, or bonds; and, scapegraces as we are, it is agreeable to find a
precedent for the blood turning out well. And, after all, there is no
feeling more thoroughly delightful than to be conscious that the kind
being from whose loins we spring, and to whom we cling with an innate
and overpowering love, is viewed by others with regard, with reverence,
or with admiration. There is no pride like the pride of ancestry, for it
is a blending of all emotions. How immeasurably superior to the herd is
the man whose father only is famous! Imagine, then, the feelings of
one who can trace his line through a thousand years of heroes and of
princes!

‘Tis dinner! hour that I have loved as loves the bard the twilight; but
no more those visions rise that once were wont to spring in my quick
fancy. The dream is past, the spell is broken, and even the lore on
which I pondered in my first youth is strange as figures in Egyptian
tombs.

No more, no more, oh! never more to me, that hour shall bring its
rapture and its bliss! No more, no more, oh! never more for me, shall
Flavour sit upon her thousand thrones, and, like a syren with a sunny
smile, win to renewed excesses, each more sweet! My feasting days are
over: me no more the charms of fish, or flesh, still less of fowl, can
make the fool of that they made before. The fricandeau is like a dream
of early love; the fricassee, with which I have so often flirted, is
like the tattle of the last quadrille; and no longer are my dreams
haunted with the dark passion of the rich ragoût. Ye soups! o’er whose
creation I have watched, like mothers o’er their sleeping child! Ye
sauces! to which I have even lent a name, where are ye now? Tickling,
perchance, the palate of some easy friend, who quite forgets the boon
companion whose presence once lent lustre even to his ruby wine and
added perfume to his perfumed hock!

Our Duke, however, had not reached the age of retrospection. He pecked
as prettily as any bird. Seated on the right hand of his delightful
hostess, nobody could be better pleased; supervised by his jäger, who
stood behind his chair, no one could be better attended. He smiled,
with the calm, amiable complacency of a man who feels the world is quite
right.



CHAPTER IX.

     _The Châtelaine of Castle Dacre_

HOW is your Grace’s horse, Sans-pareil?’ asked Sir Chetwode Chetwode
of Chetwode of the Duke of St. James, shooting at the same time a sly
glance at his opposite neighbour, Sir Tichborne Tichborne of Tichborne.

‘Quite well, sir,’ said the Duke in his quietest tone, but with an air
which, he flattered himself, might repress further inquiry.

‘Has he got over his fatigue?’ pursued the dogged Baronet, with a short,
gritty laugh, that sounded like a loose drag-chain dangling against the
stones. ‘We all thought the Yorkshire air would not agree with him.’

‘Yet, Sir Chetwode, that could hardly be your opinion of Sanspareil,’
said Miss Dacre, ‘for I think, if I remember right, I had the pleasure
of making you encourage our glove manufactory.’

Sir Chetwode looked a little confused. The Duke of St. James, inspirited
by his fair ally, rallied, and hoped Sir Chetwode did not back his steed
to a fatal extent. ‘If,’ continued he, ‘I had had the slightest idea
that any friend of Miss Dacre was indulging in such an indiscretion, I
certainly would have interfered, and have let him known that the horse
was not to win.’

‘Is that a fact?’ asked Sir Tichborne Tichborne of Tichborne, with a
sturdy voice.

‘Can a Yorkshireman doubt it?’ rejoined the Duke. ‘Was it possible for
anyone but a mere Newmarket dandy to have entertained for a moment the
supposition that anyone but May Dacre should be the Queen of the St.
Leger?’

‘I have heard something of this before,’ said Sir Tichborne, ‘but I did
not believe it. A young friend of mine consulted me upon the subject.
“Would you advise me,” said he, “to settle?” “Why,” said I, “if you
can prove any bubble, my opinion is, don’t; but if you cannot prove
anything, my opinion is, do.”’

‘Very just! very true!’ were murmured by many in the neighbourhood of
the oracle; by no one with more personal sincerity than Lady Tichborne
herself.

‘I will write to my young friend,’ continued the Baronet.

‘Oh, no!’ said Miss Dacre. ‘His Grace’s candour must not be abused. I
have no idea of being robbed of my well-earned honours. Sir Tichborne,
private conversation must be respected, and the sanctity of domestic
life must not be profaned. If the tactics of Doncaster are no longer to
be fair war, why, half the families in the Riding will be ruined!’

‘Still,’--said Sir Tichborne.

But Mr. Dacre, like a deity in a Trojan battle, interposed, and asked
his opinion of a keeper.

‘I hope you are a sportsman,’ said Miss Dacre to the Duke, ‘for this is
the palace of Nimrod!’

‘I have hunted; it was not very disagreeable. I sometimes shoot; it is
not very stupid.’

‘Then, in fact, I perceive that you are a heretic. Lord Faulconcourt,
his Grace is moralising on the barbarity of the chase.’

‘Then he has never had the pleasure of hunting in company with Miss
Dacre.’

‘Do you indeed follow the hounds?’ asked the Duke.

‘Sometimes do worse, ride over them; but Lord Faulconcourt is fast
emancipating me from the trammels of my frippery foreign education,
and I have no doubt that, in another season, I shall fling off quite in
style.’

‘You remember Mr. Annesley?’ asked the Duke.

‘It is difficult to forget him. He always seemed to me to think that the
world was made on purpose for him to have the pleasure of “cutting” it.’

‘Yet he was your admirer!’

‘Yes, and once paid me a compliment. He told me it was the only one that
he had ever uttered.’

‘Oh, Charley, Charley! this is excellent. We shall have a tale when we
meet. What was the compliment?’

‘It would be affectation in me to pretend that I have forgotten it.
Nevertheless, you must excuse me.’

‘Pray, pray let me have it!’

‘Perhaps you will not like it?’

‘Now, I must hear it.’

‘Well then, he said that talking to me was the only thing that consoled
him for having to dine with you and to dance with Lady Shropshire.’

‘Charles is jealous,’ drawled the Duke.

‘Of her Grace?’ asked Miss Dacre, with much anxiety.

‘No; but Charles is aged, and once, when he dined with me, was taken for
my uncle.’

The ladies retired, and the gentlemen sat barbarously long. Sir Chetwode
Chetwode of Chetwode and Sir Tichborne Tichborne of Tichborne were two
men who drank wine independent of fashion, and exacted, to the last
glass, the identical quantity which their fathers had drunk half a
century before, and to which they had been used almost from their
cradle. The only subject of conversation was sporting. Terrible shots,
more terrible runs, neat barrels, and pretty fencers. The Duke of St.
James was not sufficiently acquainted with the geography of the mansion
to make a premature retreat, an operation which is looked upon with an
evil eye, and which, to be successful, must be prompt and decisive,
and executed with supercilious nonchalance. So he consoled himself by
a little chat with Lord Mildmay, who sat smiling, handsome, and
mustachioed, with an empty glass, and who was as much out of water as he
was out of wine. The Duke was not very learned in Parisian society; but
still, with the aid of the Duchess de Berri and the Duchess de Duras,
Léontine Fay, and Lady Stuart de Rothesay, they got on, and made out the
time until Purgatory ceased and Paradise opened.

For Paradise it was, although there were there assembled some thirty or
forty persons not less dull than the majority of our dull race, and in
those little tactics that make society less burdensome perhaps even less
accomplished. But a sunbeam will make even the cloudiest day break into
smiles; a bounding fawn will banish monotony even from a wilderness; and
a glass of claret, or perchance some stronger grape, will convert even
the platitude of a goblet of water into a pleasing beverage, and so May
Dacre moved among her guests, shedding light, life, and pleasure.

She was not one who, shrouded in herself, leaves it to chance or fate
to amuse the beings whom she has herself assembled within her halls.
Nonchalance is the _métier_ of your modern hostess; and so long as
the house be not on fire, or the furniture not kicked, you may be
even ignorant who is the priestess of the hospitable fane in which you
worship.

They are right; men shrink from a fussy woman. And few can aspire to
regulate the destinies of their species, even in so slight a point as an
hour’s amusement, without rare powers. There is no greater sin than to
be _trop prononcée_. A want of tact is worse than a want of virtue.
Some women, it is said, work on pretty well against the tide without the
last: I never knew one who did not sink who ever dared to sail without
the first.

Loud when they should be low, quoting the wrong person, talking on
the wrong subject, teasing with notice, excruciating with attentions,
disturbing a tête-à-tête in order to make up a dance; wasting eloquence
in persuading a man to participate in amusement whose reputation depends
on his social sullenness; exacting homage with a restless eye, and
not permitting the least worthy knot to be untwined without their
divinityships’ interference; patronising the meek, anticipating the
slow, intoxicated with compliment, plastering with praise, that you in
return may gild with flattery; in short, energetic without elegance,
active without grace, and loquacious without wit; mistaking bustle
for style, raillery for badinage, and noise for gaiety, these are the
characters who mar the very career they think they are creating, and who
exercise a fatal influence on the destinies of all those who have the
misfortune to be connected with them.

Not one of these was she, the lady of our tale. There was a quiet
dignity lurking even under her easiest words and actions which made you
feel her notice a compliment: there was a fascination in her calm smile
and in her sunlit eye which made her invitation to amusement itself
a pleasure. If you refused, you were not pressed, but left to that
isolation which you appeared to admire; if you assented, you were
rewarded with a word which made you feel how sweet was such society!
Her invention never flagged, her gaiety never ceased; yet both were
spontaneous, and often were unobserved. All felt amused, and all were
unconsciously her agents. Her word and her example seemed, each instant,
to call forth from her companions new accomplishments, new graces, new
sources of joy and of delight. All were surprised that they were so
agreeable.



CHAPTER X.

     _Love’s Young Dream_

MORNING came, and the great majority of the gentlemen rose early as
Aurora. The chase is the favourite pastime of man and boy; yet some
preferred plundering their host’s preserves, by which means their
slumbers were not so brief and their breakfast less disturbed. The
_battue_, however, in time, called forth its band, and then one by one,
or two by two, or sometimes even three, leaning on each other’s arms
and smiling in each other’s faces, the ladies dropped into the
breakfast-room at Castle Dacre. There, until two o’clock, a lounging
meal might always be obtained, but generally by twelve the coast was
clear; for our party were a natural race of beings, and would have
blushed if flaming noon had caught them napping in their easy couches.
Our bright bird, May Dacre, too, rose from her bower, full of the memory
of the sweetest dreams, and fresh as lilies ere they kiss the sun.

She bends before her ivory crucifix, and gazes on her blessed mother’s
face, where the sweet Florentine had tinged with light a countenance

     Too fair for worship, too divine for love!

And innocence has prayed for fresh support, and young devotion told her
holy beads. She rises with an eye of mellowed light, and her soft cheek
is tinted with the flush that comes from prayer. Guard over her, ye
angels! wheresoe’er and whatsoe’er ye are! For she shall be your meet
companion in an after-day. Then love your gentle friend, this sinless
child of clay!

The morning passed as mornings ever pass where twenty women, for the
most part pretty, are met together. Some read, some drew, some worked,
all talked. Some wandered in the library, and wondered why such great
books were written. One sketched a favourite hero in the picture
gallery, a Dacre, who had saved the State or Church, had fought at
Cressy, or flourished at Windsor: another picked a flower out of the
conservatory, and painted its powdered petals. Here, a purse, half-made,
promised, when finished quite, to make some hero happy. Then there was
chat about the latest fashions, caps and bonnets, _séduisantes_, and
sleeves. As the day grew’ old, some rode, some walked, some drove. A
pony-chair was Lady Faulconcourt’s delight, whose arm was roundly turned
and graced the whip; while, on the other hand, Lady St. Jerome rather
loved to try the paces of an ambling nag, because her figure was of the
sublime; and she looked not unlike an Amazonian queen, particularly when
Lord Mildmay was her Theseus.

He was the most consummate, polished gentleman that ever issued from the
court of France. He did his friend Dacre the justice to suppose that he
was a victim to his barbarous guests; but for the rest of the galloping
crew, who rode and shot all day, and in the evening fell asleep just
when they were wanted, he shrugged his shoulders, and he thanked his
stars! In short, Lord Mildmay was the ladies’ man; and in their morning
dearth of beaux, to adopt their unanimous expression, ‘quite a host!’

Then there was archery for those who could draw a bow or point an
arrow; and we are yet to learn the sight that is more dangerous for your
bachelor to witness, or the ceremony which more perfectly develops all
that the sex would wish us to remark, than this ‘old English’ custom.

With all these resources, all was, of course, free and easy as the air.
Your appearance was your own act. If you liked, you might have remained,
like a monk or nun, in your cell till dinner-time, but no later. Privacy
and freedom are granted you in the morning, that you may not exhaust
your powers of pleasing before night, and that you may reserve for those
favoured hours all the new ideas that you have collected in the course
of your morning adventures.

But where was he, the hero of our tale? Fencing? Craning? Hitting?
Missing? Is he over, or is he under? Has he killed, or is he killed? for
the last is but the chance of war, and pheasants have the pleasure
of sometimes seeing as gay birds as themselves with plumage quite as
shattered. But there is no danger of the noble countenance of the Duke
of St. James bearing to-day any evidence of the exploits of himself or
his companions. His Grace was in one of his sublime fits, and did not
rise. Luigi consoled himself for the bore of this protracted attendance
by diddling the page-in-waiting at dominos.

The Duke of St. James was in one of his sublime fits. He had commenced
by thinking of May Dacre, and he ended by thinking of himself. He was
under that delicious and dreamy excitement which we experience when the
image of a lovely and beloved object begins to mix itself up with our
own intense self-love. She was the heroine rather of an indefinite
reverie than of definite romance. Instead of his own image alone playing
about his fancy, her beautiful face and springing figure intruded their
exquisite presence. He no longer mused merely on his own voice and wit:
he called up her tones of thrilling power; he imagined her in all the
triumph of her gay repartee. In his mind’s eye, he clearly watched all
the graces of her existence. She moved, she gazed, she smiled. Now he
was alone, and walking with her in some rich wood, sequestered,
warm, solemn, dim, feeding on the music of her voice, and gazing with
intenseness on the wakening passion of her devoted eye. Now they rode
together, scudded over champaign, galloped down hills, scampered through
valleys, all life, and gaiety, and vivacity, and spirit. Now they were
in courts and crowds; and he led her with pride to the proudest kings.
He covered her with jewels; but the world thought her brighter than his
gems. Now they met in the most unexpected and improbable manner: now
they parted with a tenderness which subdued their souls even more than
rapture. Now he saved her life: now she blessed his existence. Now his
reverie was too vague and misty to define its subject. It was a stream
of passion, joy, sweet voices, tender tones, exulting hopes, beaming
faces, chaste embraces, immortal transports!

It was three o’clock, and for the twentieth time our hero made an effort
to recall himself to the realities of life. How cold, how tame, how
lifeless, how imperfect, how inconsecutive, did everything appear! This
is the curse of reverie. But they who revel in its pleasures must bear
its pains, and are content. Yet it wears out the brain, and unfits us
for social life. They who indulge in it most are the slaves of solitude.
They wander in a wilderness, and people it with their voices. They sit
by the side of running waters, with an eye more glassy than the stream.
The sight of a human being scares them more than a wild beast does a
traveller; the conduct of life, when thrust upon their notice, seems
only a tissue of adventures without point; and, compared with the
creatures of their imagination, human nature seems to send forth only
abortions.

‘I must up,’ said the young Duke; ‘and this creature on whom I have
lived for the last eight hours, who has, in herself, been to me the
universe, this constant companion, this cherished friend, whose voice
was passion and whose look was love, will meet me with all the formality
of a young lady, all the coldness of a person who has never even thought
of me since she saw me last. Damnable delusion! To-morrow I will get up
and hunt.’

He called Luigi, and a shower-bath assisted him in taking a more healthy
view of affairs. Yet his faithful fancy recurred to her again. He must
indulge it a little. He left off dressing and flung himself in a chair.

‘And yet,’ he continued, ‘when I think of it again, there surely can
be no reason that this should not turn into a romance of real life. I
perceived that she was a little piqued when we first met at Don-caster.
Very natural! Very flattering! I should have been piqued. Certainly,
I behaved decidedly ill. But how, in the name of Heaven, was I to know
that she was the brightest little being that ever breathed! Well, I am
here now! She has got her wish. And I think an evident alteration has
already taken place. But she must not melt too quickly. She will not;
she will do nothing but what is exquisitely proper. How I do love this
child! I dote upon her very image. It is the very thing that I have
always been wanting. The women call me inconstant. I have never been
constant. But they will not listen to us without we feign feelings, and
then they upbraid us for not being influenced by them. I have sighed, I
have sought, I have wept, for what I now have found. What would she give
to know what is passing in my mind! By Heavens! there is no blood in
England that has a better chance of being a Duchess!’



CHAPTER XI.

     _Le Roi S’Amuse_

A CANTER is the cure for every evil, and brings the mind back to itself
sooner than all the lessons of Chrysippus and Crantor. It is the only
process that at the same time calms the feelings and elevates the
spirits, banishes blue devils and raises one to the society of ‘angels
ever bright and fair.’ It clears the mind; it cheers the heart. It is
the best preparation for all enterprises, for it puts a man in good
humour both with the world and himself; and, whether you are going to
make a speech or scribble a scene, whether you are about to conquer the
world or yourself, order your horse. As you bound along, your wit will
brighten and your eloquence blaze, your courage grow more adamantine,
and your generous feelings burn with a livelier flame. And when the
exercise is over the excitement does not cease, as when it grows from
music, for your blood is up, and the brilliancy of your eye is fed by
your bubbling pulses. Then, my young friend, take my advice: rush into
the world, and triumph will grow out of your quick life, like Victory
bounding from the palm of Jove!

Our Duke ordered his horses, and as he rattled along recovered from the
enervating effects of his soft reverie. On his way home he fell in with
Mr. Dacre and the two Baronets, returning on their hackneys from a hard
fought field.

‘Gay sport?’ asked his Grace.

‘A capital run. I think the last forty minutes the most splitting thing
we have had for a long time!’ answered Sir Chetwode. ‘I only hope Jack
Wilson will take care of poor Fanny. I did not half like leaving her.
Your Grace does not join us?’

‘I mean to do so; but I am, unfortunately, a late riser.’

‘Hem!’ said Sir Tichborne. The monosyllable meant much.

‘I have a horse which I think will suit your Grace,’ said Mr. Dacre,
‘and to which, in fact, you are entitled, for it bears the name of your
house. You have ridden Hauteville, Sir Tichborne?’

‘Yes; fine animal!’

‘I shall certainly try his powers,’ said the Duke. ‘When is your next
field-day?’

‘Thursday,’ said Sir Tichborne; ‘but we shall be too early for you, I am
afraid,’ with a gruff smile.

‘Oh, no!’ said the young Duke, who saw his man; ‘I assure you I have
been up to-day nearly two hours. Let us get on.’

The first person that his Grace’s eye met, when he entered the room in
which they assembled before dinner, was Mrs. Dallington Vere.

Dinner was a favourite moment with the Duke of St. James during this
visit at Castle Dacre, since it was the only time in the day that,
thanks to his rank, which he now doubly valued, he could enjoy a
tête-à-tête with its blooming mistress.

‘I am going to hunt,’ said the Duke, ‘and I am to ride Hauteville. I
hope you will set me an example on Thursday, and that I shall establish
my character with Sir Tichborne.’

‘I am to lead on that day a bold band of archers. I have already too
much neglected my practising, and I fear that my chance of the silver
arrow is slight.’

‘I have betted upon you with everybody,’ said the Duke of St. James.

‘Remember Doncaster! I am afraid that May Dacre will again be the
occasion of your losing your money.’

‘But now I am on the right side. Together we must conquer.’

‘I have a presentiment that our union will not be a fortunate one.’

‘Then I am ruined,’ said his Grace with rather a serious tone.

‘I hope you have not really staked anything upon such nonsense?’ said
Miss Dacre.

‘I have staked everything,’ said his Grace.

‘Talking of stakes,’ said Lord St. Jerome, who pricked up his ears at
a congenial subject, ‘do you know what they are going to do about that
affair of Anderson’s?’

‘What does he say for himself?’ asked Sir Chetwode.

‘He says that he had no intention of embezzling the money, but that, as
he took it for granted the point could never be decided, he thought it
was against the usury laws to allow money to lie idle.’

‘That fellow has always got an answer,’ said Sir Tichborne. ‘I hate men
who have always got an answer. There is no talking common sense with
them.’

The Duke made his escape to-day, and, emboldened by his illustrious
example, Charles Faulcon, Lord St. Jerome, and some other heroes
followed, to the great disgust of Sir Chetwode and Sir Tichborne.

As the evening glided on conversation naturally fell upon the amusements
of society.

‘I am sure we are tired of dancing every night,’ said Miss Dacre. ‘I
wonder if we could introduce any novelty. What think you, Bertha? You
can always suggest.’

‘You remember the _tableaux vivants_?’ said Mrs. Dallington Vere.

‘Beautiful! but too elaborate a business, I fear, for us. We want
something more impromptu. The _tableaux_ are nothing without brilliant
and accurate costume, and to obtain that we must work at least for a
week, and then, after all, in all probability, a failure. _Ils sont trop
recherchés_,’ she said, lowering her voice to Mrs. Dallington, ‘_pour
nous ici_. They must spring out of a society used to such exhibitions.’

‘I have a costume dress here,’ said the Duke of

St. James.

‘And I have a uniform,’ said Lord Mildmay.

‘And then,’ said Mrs. Dallington, ‘there are cashmeres, and scarfs, and
jewels to be collected. I see, however, you think it impossible.’

‘I fear so. However, we will think of it. In the meantime, what shall we
do now? Suppose we act a fairy tale?’

‘None of the girls can act,’ said Mrs. Dallington, with a look of kind
pity.

‘Let us teach them. That itself will be an amusement. Suppose we act
Cinderella? There is the music of Cendrillon, and you can compose, when
necessary, as you go on. Clara Howard!’ said May Dacre, ‘come here,
love! We want you to be Cinderella in a little play.’

‘I act! oh! dear May! How can you laugh at me so! I cannot act.’

‘You will not have to speak. Only just move about as I direct you while
Bertha plays music.’

‘Oh! dear May, I cannot, indeed! I never did act. Ask Eugenia!’

‘Eugenia! If you are afraid, I am sure she will faint. I asked you
because I thought you were just the person for it.’

‘But only think,’ said poor Clara, with an imploring voice, ‘to act,
May! Why, acting is the most difficult thing in the world. Acting is
quite a dreadful thing. I know many ladies who will not act.’

‘But it is not acting, Clara. Well! I will be Cinderella, and you shall
be one of the sisters.’

‘No, dear May!’

‘Well, then, the Fairy?’ ‘No, dear, dear, dear May!’

‘Well, Duke of St. James, what am I to do with this rebellious troop?’

‘Let me be Cinderella!’

‘It is astonishing,’ said Miss Dacre, ‘the difficulty which you
encounter in England, if you try to make people the least amusing or
vary the regular dull routine, which announces dancing as the beautiful
of diversions and cards as the sublime.’

‘We are barbarians,’ said the Duke. ‘We were not,’ said May Dacre. ‘What
are _tableaux_, or acted charades, or romances, to masques, which were
the splendid and various amusement of our ancestors. Last Christmas we
performed “Comus” here with great effect; but then we had Arundel, and
he is an admirable actor.’

‘Curse Arundel!’ thought the Duke. ‘I had forgotten him.’

‘I do not wonder,’ said Mrs. Dallington Vere, ‘at people objecting to
act regular plays, for, independently of the objections, not that
I think anything of them myself, which are urged against “private
theatricals,” the fact is, to get up a play is a tremendous business,
and one or two is your bound. But masques, where there is so little
to learn by rote, a great consideration, where music and song are so
exquisitely introduced, where there is such an admirable opportunity
for brilliant costume, and where the scene may be beautiful without
change--such an important point--I cannot help wondering that this
national diversion is not revived.’

‘Suppose we were to act a romance without the costume?’ said the Duke.
‘Let us consider it a rehearsal. And perhaps the Misses Howard will have
no objection to sing?’

‘It is difficult to find a suitable romance,’ said Miss Dacre. ‘All our
modern English ones are too full of fine poetry. We tried once an old
ballad, but it was too long. Last Christmas we got up a good many, and
Arundel, Isabella, and myself used to scribble some nonsense for the
occasion. But I am afraid they are all either burnt or taken away. I
will look in the music-case.’

She went to the music-case with the Duke and Mrs. Dallington.

‘No,’ she continued; ‘not one, not a single one. But what are these?’
She looked at some lines written in pencil in a music-book. ‘Oh! here is
something; too slight, but it will do. You see,’ she continued, reading
it to the Duke, ‘by the introduction of the same line in every verse,
describing the same action, a back-scene is, as it were, created, and
the story, if you can call it such, proceeds in front. Really, I think,
we might make something of this.’

Mr. Dacre and some others were at whist. The two Baronets were together,
talking over the morning’s sport. Ecarté covered a flirtation between
Lord Mildmay and Lady St. Jerome. Miss Dacre assembled her whole troop;
and, like a manager with a new play, read in the midst of them the
ballad, and gave them directions for their conduct. A japan screen was
unfolded at the end of the room. Two couches indicated the limits of
the stage. Then taking her guitar, she sang with a sweet voice and arch
simplicity these simpler lines:--

     I.

     Childe Dacre stands in his father’s hall,
     While all the rest are dancing;
     Childe Dacre gazes on the wall,
     While brightest eyes are glancing.
     Then prythee tell me, gentles gay!
     What makes our Childe so dull to-day?

Each verse was repeated.

In the background they danced a cotillon.

In the front, the Duke of St. James, as Childe Dacre, leant against the
wall, with arms folded and eyes fixed; in short, in an attitude which
commanded great applause.

     II.

     I cannot tell, unless it be,
     While all the rest are dancing,
     The Lady Alice, on the sea,
     With brightest eyes is glancing,
     Or muses on the twilight hour
     Will bring Childe Dacre to her bower.

Mrs. Dallington Vere advances as the Lady Alice. Her walk is abrupt, her
look anxious and distracted; she seems to be listening for some signal.
She falls into a musing attitude, motionless and graceful as a statue.
Clara Howard alike marvels at her genius and her courage.

     III.

     Childe Dacre hears the curfew chime,
     While all the rest are dancing;
     Unless I find a fitting rhyme,
     Oh! here ends my romancing!
     But see! her lover’s at her feet!
     Oh! words of joy! oh! meeting sweet!

The Duke advances, chivalric passion in his every gesture. The Lady
Alice rushes to his arms with that look of trembling transport which
tells the tale of stolen love. They fall into a group which would have
made the fortune of an Annual.

     IV.

     Then let us hope, when next I sing,
     And all the rest are dancing,
     Our Childe a gentle bride may bring,
     All other joys enhancing.
     Then we will bless the twilight hour
     That call’d him to a lady’s bower.

The Duke led Mrs. Dallington to the dancers with courtly grace. There
was great applause, but the spirit of fun and one-and-twenty inspired
him, and he led off a gallop. In fact, it was an elegant romp. The
two Baronets started from their slumbers, and Lord Mildmay called for
Mademoiselle Dacre. The call was echoed. Miss Dacre yielded to the
public voice, and acted to the life the gratified and condescending air
of a first-rate performer. Lord Mildmay called for Madame Dallington.
Miss Dacre led on her companion as Sontag would Malibran. There was no
wreath at hand, but the Duke of St. James robbed his coat of its rose,
and offered it on his knee to Mademoiselle, who presented it with
Parisian feeling to her rival. The scene was as superb as anything at
the _Académie_.



CHAPTER XII.

     _An Impromptu Excursion_

‘WE CERTAINLY must have a masque,’ said the young Duke, as he threw
himself into his chair, satisfied with his performance.

‘You must open Hauteville with one,’ said Mrs. Dallington.

‘A capital idea; but we will practise at Dacre first.’

‘When is Hauteville to be finished?’ asked Mrs. Dallington. ‘I shall
really complain if we are to be kept out of it much longer. I believe I
am the only person in the Riding who has not been there.’

‘I have been there,’ said the Duke, ‘and am afraid I must go again; for
Sir Carte has just come down for a few days, and I promised to meet him.
It is a sad bore. I wish it were finished.’

‘Take me with you,’ said Mrs. Dallington; ‘take us all, and let us make
a party.’

‘An admirable idea,’ exclaimed the young Duke, with a brightening
countenance. ‘What admirable ideas you have, Mrs. Dallington! This is,
indeed, turning business into pleasure! What says our hostess?’

‘I will join you.’

‘To-morrow, then?’ said the Duke.

‘To-morrow! You are rapid!’

‘Never postpone, never prepare: that is your own rule. To-morrow,
to-morrow, all must go.’

‘Papa, will you go to-morrow to Hauteville?’

‘Are you serious?’

‘Yes,’ said Miss Dacre: ‘we never postpone; we never prepare.’

‘But do not you think a day, at least, had better intervene?’ urged Mr.
Dacre; ‘we shall be unexpected.’

‘I vote for to-morrow,’ said the Duke.

‘To-morrow!’ was the universal exclamation. Tomorrow was carried.

‘I will write to Blanche at once,’ said the Duke.

Mrs. Dallington Vere ran for the writing materials, and his Grace
indicted the following pithy note:--


‘Half-past Ten, Castle Dacre.

‘Dear Sir Carte,

‘Our party here intend to honour Hauteville with a visit to-morrow, and
anticipate the pleasure of viewing the improvements, with yourself for
their cicerone. Let Rawdon know immediately of this. They tell me here
that the sun rises about six. As we shall not be with you till noon, I
have no doubt your united energies will be able to make all requisite
preparations. We may be thirty or forty. Believe me, dear Sir Carte,

‘Your faithful servant,

‘St. James.

‘Carlstein bears this, which you will receive in an hour. Let me have a
line by return.’



CHAPTER XIII.

     _The Charms of Hauteville_

IT WAS a morning all dew and sunshine, soft yet bright, just fit for a
hawking party, for dames of high degree, feathered cavaliers, ambling
palfreys, and tinkling bells. Our friends rose early, and assembled
punctually. All went, and all went on horseback; but they sent before
some carriages for the return, in case the ladies should be wearied
with excessive pleasure. The cavalcade, for it was no less, broke into
parties which were often out of sight of each other. The Duke and
Lord St. Jerome, Clara Howard and Charles Faulcon, Miss Dacre and Mrs.
Dallington, formed one, and, as they flattered themselves, not the least
brilliant. They were all in high spirits, and his Grace lectured on
riding-habits with erudite enthusiasm.

Their road lay through a country wild and woody, where crag and copse
beautifully intermixed with patches of rich cultivation. Halfway, they
passed Rosemount, a fanciful pavilion where the Dukes of St. James
sometimes sought that elegant simplicity which was not afforded by
all the various charms of their magnificent Hauteville. At length they
arrived at the park-gate of the castle, which might itself have passed
for a tolerable mansion. It was ancient and embattled, flanked by a
couple of sturdy towers, and gave a noble promise of the baronial
pile which it announced. The park was a petty principality; and its
apparently illimitable extent, its rich variety of surface, its ancient
woods and numerous deer, attracted the attention and the admiration even
of those who had been born in such magical enclosures.

Away they cantered over the turf, each moment with their blood more
sparkling. A turn in the road, and Hauteville, with its donjon keep and
lordly flag, and many-windowed line of long perspective, its towers, and
turrets, and terraces, bathed with the soft autumnal sun, met their glad
sight.

‘Your Majesty is welcome to my poor castle!’ said the young Duke, bowing
with head uncovered to Miss Dacre.

‘Nay, we are at the best but captive princesses about to be immured in
that fearful keep; and this is the way you mock us!’

‘I am content that you shall be my prisoner.’

‘A struggle for freedom!’ said Miss Dacre, looking back to Mrs.
Dallington, and she galloped towards the castle.

Lord Mildmay and Lady St. Jerome cantered up, and the rest soon
assembled. Sir Carte came forward, all smiles, with a clerk of the
works bearing a portfolio of plans. A crowd of servants, for the Duke
maintained an establishment at Hauteville, advanced, and the fair
equestrians were dismounted. They shook their habits and their curls,
vowed that riding was your only exercise, and that dust in the earthly
economy was a blunder. And then they entered the castle.

Room after room, gallery after gallery; you know the rest. Shall we
describe the silk hangings and the reverend tapestry, the agate tables
and the tall screens, the china and the armour, the state beds and the
curious cabinets, and the family pictures mixed up so quaintly with
Italian and Flemish art? But we pass from meek Madonnas and seraphic
saints, from gleaming Claudes and Guidos soft as Eve, from Rubens’s
satyrs and Albano’s boys, and even from those gay and natural medleys,
paintings that cheer the heart, where fruit and flower, with their
brilliant bloom, call to a feast the butterfly and bee; we pass from
these to square-headed ancestors by Holbein, all black velvet and gold
chains; cavaliers, by Vandyke, all lace and spurs, with pointed beards,
that did more execution even than their pointed swords; patriots and
generals, by Kneller, in Blenheim wigs and Steen-kirk cravats, all
robes and armour; scarlet judges that supported ship-money, and purple
bishops, who had not been sent to the Tower. Here was a wit who had
sipped his coffee at Button’s, and there some mad Alcibiades duke who
had exhausted life ere he had finished youth, and yet might be consoled
for all his flashing follies could he witness the bright eyes that
lingered on his countenance, while they glanced over all the patriotism
and all the piety, all the illustrious courage and all the historic
craft, which, when living, it was daily told him that he had shamed. Ye
dames with dewy eyes that Lely drew! have we forgotten you? No! by that
sleepy loveliness that reminds us that night belongs to beauty, ye were
made for memory! And oh! our grandmothers, that we now look upon as
girls, breathing in Reynolds’s playful canvas, let us also pay our
homage to your grace!

The chapel, where you might trace art from the richly Gothic tomb,
designed by some neighbouring abbot, to the last effort of Flaxman;
the riding-house, where, brightly framed, looked down upon you with a
courtly smile the first and gartered duke, who had been Master of the
Horse, were alike visited, and alike admired. They mounted the summit
of the round tower, and looked around upon the broad county, which they
were proud to call their own. Amid innumerable seats, where blazed the
hearths of the best blood of England, they recognised, with delight, the
dome of Dacre and the woods of Dallington. They walked along a terrace
not unworthy of the promenade of a court; they visited the flower
gardens, where the peculiar style of every nation was in turn imitated;
they loitered in the vast conservatories, which were themselves
a palace; they wandered in the wilderness, where the invention of
consummate art presented them with the ideal of nature. In this poetic
solitude, where all was green, and still, and sweet, or where the only
sound was falling water or fluttering birds, the young Duke recurred to
the feelings which, during the last momentous week, had so mastered his
nature, and he longed to wind his arm round the beautiful being without
whom this enchanting domain was a dreary waste.

They assembled in a green retreat, where the energetic Sir Carte had
erected a marquée, and where a collation greeted the eyes of those
who were well prepared for it. Rawdon had also done his duty, and the
guests, who were aware of the sudden manner in which the whole affair
had arisen, wondered at the magic which had produced a result worthy of
a week’s preparation. But it is a great thing to be a young Duke. The
pasties, and the venison, and the game, the pines, and the peaches, and
the grapes, the cakes, and the confectionery, and the ices, which proved
that the still-room at Hauteville was not an empty name, were all most
popular. But the wines, they were marvellous! And as the finest cellars
in the country had been ransacked for excellence and variety, it is not
wonderful that their produce obtained a panegyric. There was hock of a
century old, which made all stare, though we, for our part, cannot see,
or rather taste, the beauty of this antiquity. Wine, like woman, in
our opinion, should not be too old, so we raise our altar to the infant
Bacchus; but this is not the creed of the million, nor was it the
persuasion of Sir Chetwode Chetwode or of Sir Tichborne Tichborne, good
judges both. The Johannisberger quite converted them. They no longer
disliked the young Duke. They thought him a fool, to be sure, but at the
same time a good-natured one. In the meantime, all were interested, and
Carlstein with his key bugle, from out a neighbouring brake, afforded
the only luxury that was wanting.

It is six o’clock, carriages are ordered, and horses are harnessed.
Back, back to Dacre! But not at the lively rate at which they had left
that lordly hall this morning. They are all alike inclined to move
slowly; they are silent, yet serene and satisfied; they ponder upon the
reminiscences of a delightful morning, and also of a delightful meal.
Perhaps they are a little weary; perhaps they wish to gaze upon the
sunset.

It is eight o’clock, and they enter the park gates. Dinner is
universally voted a bore, even by the Baronets. Coffee covers the
retreat of many a wearied bird to her evening bower. The rest lounge on
a couch or sofa, or chew the cud of memory on an ottoman. It was a day
of pleasure which had been pleasant. That was certain: but that was
past. Who is to be Duchess of St. James? Answer this. May Dacre, or
Bertha Vere, or Clara Howard? Lady St. Jerome, is it to be a daughter
of thy house? Lady Faulconcourt, art thou to be hailed as the unrivalled
mother?’ Tis mystery all, as must always be the future of this world. We
muse, we plan, we hope, but naught is certain but that which is naught;
for, a question answered, a doubt satisfied, an end attained; what are
they but fit companions for clothes out of fashion, cracked china, and
broken fans?

Our hero was neither wearied nor sleepy, for his mind was too full of
exciting fancies to think of the interests of his body. As all were
withdrawing, he threw his cloak about him and walked on the terrace.
It was a night soft as the rhyme that sighs from Rogers’ shell, and
brilliant as a phrase just turned by Moore. The thousand stars smiled
from their blue pavilions, and the moon shed the mild light that makes a
lover muse. Fragrance came in airy waves from trees rich with the golden
orange, and from out the woods there ever and anon arose a sound, deep
and yet hushed, and mystical, and soft. It could not be the wind!

His heart was full, his hopes were sweet, his fate pledged on a die. And
in this shrine, where all was like his love, immaculate and beautiful,
he vowed a faith which had not been returned. Such is the madness of
love! Such is the magic of beauty!

Music rose upon the air. Some huntsmen were practising their horns. The
triumphant strain elevated his high hopes, the tender tone accorded with
his emotions. He paced up and down the terrace in excited reverie, fed
by the music. In imagination she was with him: she spoke, she smiled,
she loved. He gazed upon her beaming countenance: his soul thrilled with
tones which, only she could utter. He pressed her to his throbbing and
tumultuous breast!

The music stopped. He fell from his seventh heaven. He felt all the
exhaustion of his prolonged reverie. All was flat, dull, unpromising.
The moon seemed dim, the stars were surely fading, the perfume of the
trees was faint, the wind of the woods was a howling demon. Exhausted,
dispirited, ay! almost desperate, with a darkened soul and staggering
pace, he regained his chamber.



CHAPTER XIV.

     _Pride Has a Fall_

THERE is nothing more strange, but nothing more certain, than the
different influence which the seasons of night and day exercise upon the
moods of our minds. Him whom the moon sends to bed with a head full of
misty meaning the sun-will summon in the morning with a brain clear and
lucid as his beam. Twilight makes us pensive; Aurora is the goddess of
activity. Despair curses at midnight; Hope blesses at noon.

And the bright beams of Phoebus--why should this good old name be
forgotten?--called up our Duke rather later than a monk at matins, in
a less sublime disposition than that in which he had paced among the
orange-trees of Dacre. His passion remained, but his poetry was gone. He
was all confidence, and gaiety, and love, and panted for the moment when
he could place his mother’s coronet on the only head that was worthy to
share the proud fortunes of the house of Hauteville.

‘Luigi, I will rise. What is going on to-day?’ ‘The gentlemen are all
out, your Grace.’

‘And the ladies?’

‘Are going to the Archery Ground, your Grace.’

‘Ah! she will be there, Luigi?’

‘Yes, your Grace.’

‘My robe, Luigi.’

‘Yes, your Grace.’

‘I forgot what I was going to say. Luigi!’

‘Yes, your Grace.’

‘Luigi, Luigi, Luigi,’ hummed the Duke, perfectly unconscious, and
beating time with his brush. His valet stared, but more when his lord,
with eyes fixed on the ground, fell into a soliloquy, not a word of
which, most provokingly, was audible, except to my reader.

‘How beautiful she looked yesterday upon the keep when she tried to
find Dacre! I never saw such eyes in my life! I must speak to Lawrence
immediately. I think I must have her face painted in four positions,
like that picture of Lady Alice Gordon by Sir Joshua. Her full face
is sublime; and yet there is a piquancy in the profile, which I am not
sure--and yet again, when her countenance is a little bent towards you,
and her neck gently turned, I think that is, after all--but then
when her eyes meet yours, full! oh! yes! yes! yes! That first look at
Doncaster! It is impressed upon my brain like self-consciousness. I
never can forget it. But then her smile! When she sang on Tuesday
night! By Heavens!’ he exclaimed aloud, ‘life with such a creature is
immortality!’

About one o’clock the Duke descended into empty chambers. Not a soul
was to be seen. The birds had flown. He determined to go to the Archery
Ground. He opened the door of the music-room.

He found Miss Dacre alone at a table, writing. She looked up, and his
heart yielded as her eye met his.

‘You do not join the nymphs?’ asked the Duke.

‘I have lent my bow,’ she said, ‘to an able substitute.’

She resumed her task, which he perceived was copying music. He advanced,
he seated himself at the table, and began playing with a pen. He gazed
upon her, his soul thrilled with unwonted sensations, his frame shook
with emotions which, for a moment, deprived him even of speech. At
length he spoke in a low and tremulous tone:--

‘I fear I am disturbing you, Miss Dacre?’

‘By no means,’ she said, with a courteous air; and then, remembering she
was a hostess, ‘Is there anything that you require?’

‘Much; more than I can hope. O Miss Dacre! suffer me to tell you how
much I admire, how much I love you!’

She started, she stared at him with distended eyes, and her small mouth
was open like a ring.

‘My Lord!’

‘Yes!’ he continued in a rapid and impassioned tone. ‘I at length
find an opportunity of giving way to feelings which it has been long
difficult for me to control. O beautiful being! tell me, tell me that I
am blessed!’

‘My Lord! I--I am most honoured; pardon me if I say, most surprised.’

‘Yes! from the first moment that your ineffable loveliness rose on
my vision my mind has fed upon your image. Our acquaintance has only
realised, of your character, all that my imagination had preconceived,
Such unrivalled beauty, such unspeakable grace, could only have been
the companions of that exquisite taste and that charming delicacy which,
even to witness, has added great felicity to my existence. Oh! tell
me--tell me that they shall be for me something better than a transient
spectacle. Condescend to share the fortune and the fate of one who only
esteems his lot in life because it enables him to offer you a station
not utterly unworthy of your transcendent excellence!’

‘I have permitted your Grace to proceed too far. For your--for my own
sake, I should sooner have interfered, but, in truth, I was so astounded
at your unexpected address that I have but just succeeded in recalling
my scattered senses. Let me again express to you my acknowledgments for
an honour which I feel is great; but permit me to regret that for your
offer of your hand and fortune these acknowledgments are all I can
return.’

‘Miss Dacre! am I then to wake to the misery of being rejected?’

‘A little week ago, Duke of St. James, we were strangers. It would be
hard if it were in the power of either of us now to deliver the other to
misery.’

‘You are offended, then, at the presumption which, on so slight an
acquaintance, has aspired to your hand. It is indeed a high possession.
I thought only of you, not of myself. Your perfections require no time
for recognition. Perhaps my imperfections require time for indulgence.
Let me then hope!’

‘You have misconceived my meaning, and I regret that a foolish phrase
should occasion you the trouble of fresh solicitude, and me the pain of
renewed refusal. In a word, it is not in my power to accept your hand.’

He rose from the table, and stifled the groan which struggled in his
throat. He paced up and down the room with an agitated step and a
convulsed brow, which marked the contest of his passions. But he was
not desperate. His heart was full of high resolves and mighty meanings,
indefinite but great, He felt like some conqueror, who, marking the
battle going against him, proud in his infinite resources and invincible
power, cannot credit the madness of a defeat. And the lady, she leant
her head upon her delicate arm, and screened her countenance from his
scrutiny.

He advanced.

‘Miss Dacre! pardon this prolonged intrusion; forgive this renewed
discourse. But let me only hope that a more favoured rival is the cause
of my despair, and I will thank you----’

‘My Lord Duke,’ she said, looking up with a faint blush, but with a
flashing eye, and in an audible and even energetic tone, ‘the question
you ask is neither fair nor manly; but, as you choose to press me, I
will say that it requires no recollection of a third person to make me
decline the honour which you intended me.’

‘Miss Dacre! you speak in anger, almost in bitterness. Believe me,’ he
added, rather with an air of pique, ‘had I imagined from your conduct
towards me that I was an object of dislike, I would have spared you this
inconvenience and myself this humiliation.’

‘At Castle Dacre, my conduct to all its inmates is the same. The Duke
of St. James, indeed, hath both hereditary and personal claims to be
considered here as something better than a mere inmate; but your Grace
has elected to dissolve all connection with our house, and I am not
desirous of assisting you in again forming any.’

‘Harsh words, Miss Dacre!’

‘Harsher truth, my Lord Duke,’ said Miss Dacre, rising from her seat,
and twisting a pen with agitated energy. ‘You have prolonged this
interview, not I. Let it end, for I am not skilful in veiling my mind;
and I should regret, here at least, to express what I have hitherto
succeeded in concealing.’

‘It cannot end thus,’ said his Grace: ‘let me, at any rate, know the
worst. You have, if not too much kindness, at least too much candour, to
part sol’ ‘I am at a loss to understand,’ said Miss Dacre, ‘what other
object our conversation can have for your Grace than to ascertain my
feelings, which I have already declared more than once, upon a point
which you have already more than once urged. If I have not been
sufficiently explicit or sufficiently clear, let me tell you, sir, that
nothing but the request of a parent whom I adore would have induced me
even to speak to the person who had dared to treat him with contempt.’
‘Miss Dacre!’

‘You are moved, or you affect to be moved. ‘Tis well: if a word from a
stranger can thus affect you, you may be better able to comprehend the
feelings of that person whose affections you have so long outraged; your
equal in blood, Duke of St. James, your superior in all other respects.’

‘Beautiful being!’ said his Grace, advancing, falling on his knee, and
seizing her hand. ‘Pardon, pardon, pardon! Like your admirable sire,
forgive; cast into oblivion all remembrance of my fatal youth. Is not
your anger, is not this moment, a bitter, an utter expiation for all
my folly, all my thoughtless, all my inexperienced folly; for it was
no worse? On my knees, and in the face of Heaven, let me pray you to be
mine. I have staked my happiness upon this venture. In your power is my
fate. On you it depends whether I shall discharge my duty to society,
to the country to which I owe so much, or whether I shall move in it
without an aim, an object, or a hope. Think, think only of the sympathy
of our dispositions; the similarity of our tastes. Think, think only of
the felicity that might be ours. Think of the universal good we might
achieve! Is there anything that human reason could require that we could
not command? any object which human mind could imagine that we could not
obtain? And, as for myself, I swear that I will be the creature of your
will. Nay, nay! oaths are mockery, vows are idle! Is it possible to
share existence with you, beloved girl! without watching for your every
wish, without--’

‘My Lord Duke, this must end. You do not recommend yourself to me by
this rhapsody. What do you know of me, that you should feel all this? I
may be different from what you expected; that is all. Another week, and
another woman may command a similar effusion. I do not believe you to
be insincere. There would be more hope for you if you were. You act
from impulse, and not from principle. This is your best excuse for your
conduct to my father. It is one that I accept, but which will certainly
ever prevent me from becoming your wife. Farewell!’ ‘Nay, nay! let us
not part in enmity!’ ‘Enmity and friendship are strong words; words
that are much abused. There is another, which must describe our feelings
towards the majority of mankind, and mine towards you. Substitute for
enmity indifference.’

She quitted the room: he remained there for some minutes, leaning on the
mantelpiece, and then rushed into the park. He hurried for some distance
with the rapid and uncertain step which betokens a tumultuous and
disordered mind. At length he found himself among the ruins of Dacre
Abbey. The silence and solemnity of the scene made him conscious, by the
contrast, of his own agitated existence; the desolation of the beautiful
ruin accorded with his own crushed and beautiful hopes. He sat himself
at the feet of the clustered columns, and, covering his face with his
hands, he wept.

They were the first tears that he had shed since childhood, and they
were agony. Men weep but once, but then their tears are blood. We think
almost their hearts must crack a little, so heartless are they ever
after. Enough of this.

It is bitter to leave our fathers hearth for the first time; bitter is
the eve of our return, when a thousand fears rise in our haunted souls.
Bitter are hope deferred, and self-reproach, and power unrecognised.
Bitter is poverty; bitterer still is debt. It is bitter to be neglected;
it is more bitter to be misunderstood. It is bitter to lose an only
child. It is bitter to look upon the land which once was ours. Bitter is
a sister’s woe, a brother’s scrape; bitter a mother’s tear, and bitterer
still a father’s curse. Bitter are a briefless bag, a curate’s bread, a
diploma that brings no fee. Bitter is half-pay!

It is bitter to muse on vanished youth; it is bitter to lose an
election or a suit. Bitter are rage suppressed, vengeance unwreaked, and
prize-money kept back. Bitter are a failing crop, a glutted market, and
a shattering spec. Bitter are rents in arrear and tithes in kind.
Bitter are salaries reduced and perquisites destroyed. Bitter is a tax,
particularly if misapplied; a rate, particularly if embezzled. Bitter is
a trade too full, and bitterer still a trade that has worn out. Bitter
is a bore!

It is bitter to lose one’s hair or teeth. It is bitter to find our
annual charge exceed our income. It is bitter to hear of others’ fame
when we are boys. It is bitter to resign the seals we fain would keep.
It is bitter to hear the winds blow when we have ships at sea, or
friends. Bitter are a broken friendship and a dying love. Bitter a woman
scorned, a man betrayed!

Bitter is the secret woe which none can share. Bitter are a brutal
husband and a faithless wife, a silly daughter and a sulky son. Bitter
are a losing card, a losing horse. Bitter the public hiss, the private
sneer. Bitter are old age without respect, manhood without wealth, youth
without fame. Bitter is the east wind’s blast; bitter a stepdame’s kiss.
It is bitter to mark the woe which we cannot relieve. It is bitter to
die in a foreign land.

But bitterer far than this, than these, than all, is waking from our
first delusion! For then we first feel the nothingness of self; that
hell of sanguine spirits. All is dreary, blank, and cold. The sun of
hope sets without a ray, and the dim night of dark despair shadows only
phantoms. The spirits that guard round us in our pride have gone. Fancy,
weeping, flies. Imagination droops her glittering pinions and sinks into
the earth. Courage has no heart, and love seems a traitor. A busy demon
whispers in our ear that all is vain and worthless, and we among the
vainest of a worthless crew!

And so our young friend here now depreciated as much as he had before
exaggerated his powers. There seemed not on the earth’s face a more
forlorn, a more feeble, a less estimable wretch than himself, but just
now a hero. O! what a fool, what a miserable, contemptible fool was he!
With what a light tongue and lighter heart had he spoken of this woman
who despised, who spurned him! His face blushed, ay! burnt, at
the remembrance of his reveries and his fond monologues! the very
recollection made him shudder with disgust. He looked up to see if any
demon were jeering him among the ruins.

His heart was so crushed that hope could not find even one desolate
chamber to smile in. His courage was so cowed that, far from indulging
in the distant romance to which, under these circumstances, we sometimes
fly, he only wondered at the absolute insanity which, for a moment, had
permitted him to aspire to her possession. ‘Sympathy of dispositions!
Similarity of tastes, forsooth! Why, we are different existences! Nature
could never have made us for the same world or with the same clay! O
consummate being! why, why did we meet? Why, why are my eyes at
length unsealed? Why, why do I at length feel conscious of my utter
worthlessness? O God! I am miserable!’ He arose and hastened to the
house. He gave orders to Luigi and his people to follow him to Rosemount
with all practicable speed, and having left a note for his host with the
usual excuse, he mounted his horse, and in half an hour’s time, with a
countenance like a stormy sea, was galloping through the park gates of
Dacre.



BOOK III.



CHAPTER I.

     _‘If She Be Not Fair For Me.’_

THE day after the arrival of the Duke of St. James at Cleve Park,
his host, Sir Lucius Grafton, received the following note from Mrs.
Dallington Vere:


‘Castle Dacre,-------, 182--.

‘My dear Baronet,

‘Your pigeon has flown, otherwise I should have tied this under his
wing, for I take it for granted he is trained too dexterously to alight
anywhere but at Cleve.

‘I confess that in this affair your penetration has exceeded mine.
I hope throughout it will serve you as well. I kept my promise, and
arrived here only a few hours after him. The prejudice which I had long
observed in the little Dacre against your protégé was too marked
to render any interference on my part at once necessary, nor did I
anticipate even beginning to give her good advice for a month to come.
Heaven knows what a month of his conduct might have done! A month
achieves such wonders! And, to do him justice, he was most agreeable;
but our young gentleman grew impetuous, and so the day before yesterday
he vanished, and in the most extraordinary manner! Sudden departure,
unexpected business, letter and servants both left behind; Monsieur
grave, and a little astonished; and the demoiselle thoughtful at the
least, but not curious. Very suspicious this last circumstance! A flash
crossed my mind, but I could gain nothing, even with my most dexterous
wiles, from the little Dacre, who is a most unmanageable heroine.
However, with the good assistance of a person who in a French tragedy
would figure as my confidante, and who is the sister of your Lachen,
something was learnt from Monsieur le valet, to say nothing of the page.
All agree; a countenance pale as death, orders given in a low voice
of suppressed passion and sundry oaths. I hear he sulked the night at
Rosemount.

‘Now, my good Lucy, listen to me. Lose no time about the great object.
If possible, let this autumn be distinguished. You have an idea that our
friend is a very manageable sort of personage; in phrase less courteous,
is sufficiently weak for all reasonable purposes. I am not quite so
clear about this. He is at present very young, and his character is
not formed; but there is a something about him which makes me half fear
that, if you permit his knowledge of life to increase too much, you may
quite fear having neglected my admonitions. At present his passions are
high. Use his blood while it is hot, and remember that if you count on
his rashness you may, as nearly in the present instance, yourself rue
it. In a word, despatch. The deed that is done, you know--

‘My kindest remembrances to dear Lady Afy, and tell her how much
I regret I cannot avail myself of her most friendly invitation.
Considering, as I know, she hates me, I really do feel flattered.

‘You cannot conceive what Vandals I am at present among! Nothing but my
sincere regard for you, my much-valued friend, would induce me to stay
here a moment. I have received from the countenance of the Dacres all
the benefit which a marked connection with so respectable and so moral
a family confers, and I am tired to death. But it is a well-devised plan
to have a reserve in the battles of society. You understand me; and I
am led to believe that it has had the best effect, and silenced even the
loudest. “Confound their politics!” as dear little Squib says, from whom
I had the other day the funniest letter, which I have half a mind to
send you, only you figure in it so much!

‘Burlington is at Brighton, and all my friends, except yourself. I
have a few barbarians to receive at Dallington, and then I shall be off
there. Join us as quickly as you can. Do you know, I think that it would
be an excellent _locale_ for the _scena_. We might drive them over to
Dieppe: only do not put off your visit too long, or else there will be
no steamers.

‘The Duke of Shropshire has had a fit, but rallied. He vows he was only
picking up a letter, or tying his shoestring, or something of that kind;
but Ruthven says he dined off _boudins à la Sefton_, and that, after a
certain age, you know--

‘Lord Darrell is with Annesley and Co. I understand, most friendly
towards me, which is pleasant; and Charles, who is my firm ally, takes
care to confirm the kind feeling. I am glad about this.

‘Felix Crawlegh, or Crawl_ey_, as some say, has had an affair with Tommy
Seymour, at Grant’s. Felix was grand about porter, or something, which
he never drank, and all that. Tommy, Who knew nothing about the brewing
father, asked him, very innocently, why malt liquors had so degenerated.
Conceive the agony, particularly as Lady Selina is said to have no
violent aversion to quartering her arms with a mash-tub, argent.

‘The Macaronis are most hospitable this year; and the Marquess says that
the only reason that they kept in before was because he was determined
to see whether economy was practicable. He finds it is not; so now
expense is no object.

‘Augustus Henley is about to become a senator! What do you think of
this? He says he has tried everything for an honest livelihood, and even
once began a novel, but could not get on; which, Squib says, is odd,
because there is a receipt going about for that operation which saves
all trouble:

‘“Take a pair of pistols and a pack of cards, a cookery-book and a
set of new quadrilles; mix them up with half an intrigue and a whole
marriage, and divide them into three equal portions.” Now, as Augustus
has both fought and gamed, dined and danced, I suppose it was the
morality which posed him, or perhaps the marriage.

‘They say there is something about Lady Flutter, but, I should think,
all talk. Most probably a report set about by her Ladyship. Lord Flame
has been blackballed, that is certain. But there is no more news, except
that the Wiltshires are going to the Continent: we know why; and that
the Spankers are making more dash than ever: God knows how! Adieu!

‘B. D. V.’


The letter ended; all things end at last. A she-correspondent for our
money; provided always that she does not _cross_.

Our Duke--in spite of his disgrace, he still is ours, and yours too, I
hope, gentlest reader--our Duke found himself at Cleve Park again, in a
different circle from the one to which he had been chiefly accustomed.
The sporting world received him with open arms. With some of these
worthies, as owner of Sanspareil, he had become slightly acquainted.
But what is half a morning at Tattersall’s, or half a week at Doncaster,
compared with a meeting at Newmarket? There your congenial spirits
congregate. Freemasons every man of them! No uninitiated wretch there
dares to disturb, with his profane presence, the hallowed mysteries.
There the race is not a peg to hang a few days of dissipation on, but
a sacred ceremony, to the celebration of which all men and all
circumstances tend and bend. No balls, no concerts, no public
breakfasts, no bands from Litolf, no singers from Welsh, no pineapples
from Gunter, are there called for by thoughtless thousands, who have
met, not from any affection for the turfs delights or their neighbour’s
cash, but to sport their splendid liveries and to disport their showy
selves.

The house was full of men, whose talk was full of bets. The women were
not as bad, but they were not plentiful. Some lords and signors were
there without their dames. Lord Bloomerly, for instance, alone, or
rather with his eldest son, Lord Bloom, just of age, and already a
knowing hand. His father introduced him to all his friends with that
smiling air of self-content which men assume when they introduce a
youth who may show the world what they were at his years; so the Earl
presented the young Viscount as a lover presents his miniature to his
mistress. Lady Afy shone in unapproached perfection. A dull Marchioness,
a _gauche_ Viscountess, and some other dames, who did not look like the
chorus of this Diana, acted as capital foils, and permitted her to meet
her cavalier under what are called the most favourable auspices.

They dined, and discussed the agricultural interest in all its exhausted
ramifications. Wheat was sold over again, even at a higher price;
poachers were recalled to life, or from beyond seas, to be re-killed or
re-transported. The poor-laws were a very rich topic, and the poor lands
a very ruinous one. But all this was merely the light conversation, just
to vary, in an agreeable mode, which all could understand, the regular
material of discourse, and that was of stakes and stallions, pedigrees
and plates.

Our party rose early, for their pleasure was their business. Here were
no lounging dandies and no exclusive belles, who kept their bowers until
hunger, which also drives down wolves from the Pyrenees, brought them
from their mystical chambers to luncheon and to life. In short, an
air of interest, a serious and a thoughtful look, pervaded every
countenance. Fashion was kicked to the devil, and they were all too much
in earnest to have any time for affectation. Breakfast was over, and
it was a regular meal at which all attended, and they hurried to
the course. It seems, when the party arrive, that they are the only
spectators. A party or two come on to keep them company. A club
discharges a crowd of gentlemen, a stable a crowd of grooms. At length
a sprinkling of human beings is collected, but all is wondrous still and
wondrous cold. The only thing that gives sign of life is Lord Breedall’s
movable stand; and the only intimation that fire is still an element is
the sailing breath of a stray cigar.

‘This, then, is Newmarket!’ exclaimed the young Duke. ‘If it required
five-and-twenty thousand pounds to make Doncaster amusing, a plum, at
least, will go in rendering Newmarket endurable.’

But the young Duke was wrong. There was a fine race, and the
connoisseurs got enthusiastic. Sir Lucius Grafton was the winner. The
Duke sympathised with his friend’s success.

He began galloping about the course, and his blood warmed. He paid a
visit to Sanspareil. He heard his steed was still a favourite for a
coming race. He backed his steed, and Sanspareil won. He began to find
Newmarket not so disagreeable. In a word, our friend was in an entirely
new scene, which was exactly the thing he required. He was interested,
and forgot, or rather forcibly expelled from his mind, his late
overwhelming adventure. He grew popular with the set. His courteous
manners, his affable address, his gay humour, and the facility with
which he adopted their tone and temper, joined with his rank and wealth,
subdued the most rugged and the coldest hearts. Even the jockeys were
civil to him, and welcomed him with a sweet smile and gracious nod,
instead of the sour grin and malicious wink with which those characters
generally greet a stranger; those mysterious characters who, in their
influence over their superiors, and their total want of sympathy with
their species, are our only match for the oriental eunuch.

He grew, we say, popular with the set. They were glad to see among them
a young nobleman of spirit. He became a member of the Jockey Club, and
talked of taking a place in the neighbourhood. All recommended the
step, and assured him of their readiness to dine with him as often as
he pleased. He was a universal favourite; and even Chuck Farthing,
the gentleman jockey, with a cock-eye and a knowing shake of his head,
squeaked out, in a sporting treble, one of his monstrous fudges about
the Prince in days of yore, and swore that, like his Royal Highness, the
young Duke made the Market all alive.

The heart of our hero was never insensible to flattery. He could not
refrain from comparing his present with his recent situation. The
constant consideration of all around him, the affectionate cordiality of
Sir Lucius, and the unobtrusive devotion of Lady Afy, melted his soul.
These agreeable circumstances graciously whispered to him each hour that
he could scarcely be the desolate and despicable personage which lately,
in a moment of madness, he had fancied himself. He began to indulge the
satisfactory idea, that a certain person, however unparalleled in form
and mind, had perhaps acted with a little precipitation. Then his eyes
met those of Lady Aphrodite; and, full of these feelings, he exchanged a
look which reminded him of their first meeting; though now, mellowed by
gratitude, and regard, and esteem, it was perhaps even more delightful.
He was loved, and he was loved by an exquisite being, who was the object
of universal admiration. What could he desire more? Nothing but the
wilfulness of youth could have induced him for a moment to contemplate
breaking chains which had only been formed to secure his felicity. He
determined to bid farewell for ever to the impetuosity of youth. He
had not been three days under the roof of Cleve before he felt that his
happiness depended upon its fairest inmate. You see, then, that absence
is not always fatal to love!



CHAPTER II.

     _Fresh Entanglements_

HIS Grace completed his stud, and became one of the most distinguished
votaries of the turf. Sir Lucius was the inspiring divinity upon this
occasion. Our hero, like all young men, and particularly young nobles,
did everything in extremes; and extensive arrangements were made by
himself and his friend for the ensuing campaign. Sir Lucius was to reap
half the profit, and to undertake the whole management. The Duke was to
produce the capital and to pocket the whole glory. Thus rolled on some
weeks, at the end of which our hero began to get a little tired. He
had long ago recovered all his self-complacency, and if the form of May
Dacre ever flitted before his vision for an instant, he clouded it
over directly by the apparition of a bet, or thrust it away with that
desperate recklessness with which we expel an ungracious thought. The
Duke sighed for a little novelty. Christmas was at hand. He began to
think that a regular country Christmas must be a sad bore. Lady Afy,
too, was rather _exigeante_. It destroys one’s nerves to be amiable
every day to the same human being. She was the best creature in the
world; but Cambridgeshire was not a pleasant county. He was most
attached; but there was not another agreeable woman in the house. He
would not hurt her feelings for the world; but his own were suffering
desperately. He had no idea that he ever should get so entangled.
Brighton, they say, is a pleasant place.

To Brighton he went; and although the Graftons were to follow him in
a fortnight, still even these fourteen days were a holiday. It is
extraordinary how hourly, and how violently, change the feelings of an
inexperienced young man.

Sir Lucius, however, was disappointed in his Brighton trip. Ten days
after the departure of the young Duke the county member died. Sir Lucius
had been long maturing his pretensions to the vacant representation. He
was strongly supported; for he was a personal favourite, and his
family had claims; but he was violently opposed; for a _novus homo_ was
ambitious, and the Baronet was poor. Sir Lucius was a man of violent
passions, and all feelings and considerations immediately merged in
his paramount ambition. His wife, too, at this moment, was an important
personage. She was generally popular; she was beautiful, highly
connected, and highly considered. Her canvassing was a great object. She
canvassed with earnestness and with success; for since her consolatory
friendship with the Duke of St. James her character had greatly changed,
and she was now as desirous of conciliating her husband and the opinion
of society as she was before disdainful of the one and fearless of the
other. Sir Lucius and Lady Aphrodite Grafton were indeed on the best
possible terms, and the whole county admired his conjugal attentions and
her wifelike affections.

The Duke, who had no influence in this part of the world, and who was
not at all desirous of quitting Brighton, compensated for his absence at
this critical moment by a friendly letter and the offer of his purse.
By this good aid, his wife’s attractions, and his own talents, Sir Lucy
succeeded, and by the time Parliament had assembled he was returned
member for his native county.

In the meantime, his friend had been spending his time at Brighton in a
far less agitated manner, but, in its way, not less successful; for he
was amused, and therefore gained his object as much as the Baronet. The
Duke liked Brighton much. Without the bore of an establishment, he found
himself among many agreeable friends, living in an unostentatious and
impromptu, though refined and luxurious, style. One day a new face,
another day a new dish, another day a new dance, successively interested
his feelings, particularly if the face rode, which they all do; the
dish was at Sir George Sauceville’s, and the dance at the Duke of
Burlington’s. So time flew on, between a canter to Rottindean, the
flavours of a Perigord, and the blunders of the mazurka.

But February arrived, and this agreeable life must end. The philosophy
of society is so practical that it is not allowed, even to a young Duke,
absolutely to trifle away existence. Duties will arise, in spite of our
best endeavours; and his Grace had to roll up to town, to dine with the
Premier, and to move the Address.



CHAPTER III.

     _A New Star Rises_

ANOTHER season had arrived, another of those magical periods of which
one had already witnessed his unparalleled triumphs, and from which
he had derived such exquisite delight. To his surprise, he viewed its
arrival without emotion; if with any feeling, with disgust.

He had quaffed the cup too eagerly. The draught had been delicious; but
time also proved that it had been satiating. Was it possible for his
vanity to be more completely gratified than it had been? Was it possible
for victories to be more numerous and more unquestioned during the
coming campaign than during the last? Had not his life, then, been one
long triumph? Who had not offered their admiration? Who had not paid
homage to his all-acknowledged empire? Yet, even this career, however
dazzling, had not been pursued, even this success, however brilliant,
had not been attained, without some effort and some weariness, also some
exhaustion. Often, as he now remembered, had his head ached; more than
once, as now occurred to him, had his heart faltered. Even his first
season had not passed over without his feeling lone in the crowded
saloon, or starting at the supernatural finger in the banqueting-hall.
Yet then he was the creature of excitement, who pursued an end which
was as indefinite as it seemed to be splendid. All had now happened that
could happen. He drooped. He required the impulse which we derive from
an object unattained.

Yet, had he exhausted life at two-and-twenty? This must not be. His
feelings must be more philosophically accounted for. He began to suspect
that he had lived too much for the world and too little for himself;
that he had sacrificed his ease to the applause of thousands, and
mistaken excitement for enjoyment. His memory dwelt with satisfaction on
the hours which had so agreeably glided away at Brighton, in the choice
society of a few intimates. He determined entirely to remodel the system
of his life; and with the sanguine impetuosity which characterised him,
he, at the same moment, felt that he had at length discovered the road
to happiness, and determined to pursue it without the loss of a precious
moment.

The Duke of St. James was seen less in the world, and he appeared but
seldom at the various entertainments which he had once so adorned. Yet
he did not resign his exalted position in the world of fashion; but,
on the contrary, adopted a course of conduct which even increased
his consideration. He received the world not less frequently or less
splendidly than heretofore; and his magnificent mansion, early in the
season, was opened to the favoured crowd. Yet in that mansion, which had
been acquired with such energy and at such cost, its lord was almost as
strange, and certainly not as pleased, an inmate as the guests, who felt
their presence in his chambers a confirmation, or a creation, of their
claims to the world’s homage. The Alhambra was finished, and there
the Duke of St. James entirely resided; but its regal splendour was
concealed from the prying eye of public curiosity with a proud reserve,
a studied secrecy, and stately haughtiness becoming a caliph. A small
band of initiated friends alone had the occasional entrée, and the
mysterious air which they provokingly assumed whenever they were
cross-examined on the internal arrangements of this mystical structure,
only increased the number and the wildness of the incidents which
daily were afloat respecting the fantastic profusion and scientific
dissipation of the youthful sultan and his envied viziers.

The town, ever since the season commenced, had been in feverish
expectation of the arrival of a new singer, whose fame had heralded her
presence in all the courts of Christendom. Whether she were an Italian
or a German, a Gaul or a Greek, was equally unknown. An air of mystery
environed the most celebrated creature in Europe. There were odd
whispers of her parentage. Every potentate was in turn entitled to the
gratitude of mankind for the creation of this marvel. Now it was an
emperor, now a king. A grand duke then put in his claim, and then an
archduke. To-day she was married, tomorrow she was single. To-day her
husband was a prince incog., to-morrow a drum-major well known. Even
her name was a mystery; and she was known and worshipped throughout the
whole civilised world by the mere title of ‘_The Bird of Paradise!_’

About a month before Easter telegraphs announced her arrival. The
Admiralty yacht was too late. She determined to make her first
appearance at the opera: and not only the young Duke, but even a
far more exalted personage, was disappointed in the sublime idea of
anticipating the public opinion by a private concert. She was to appear
for the first time on Tuesday; the House of Commons adjourned.

The curtain is drawn up, and the house is crowded. Everybody is there
who is anybody. Protocoli, looking as full of fate as if the French were
again on the Danube; Macaroni, as full of himself as if no other being
were engrossing universal attention. The Premier appears far more
anxious than he does at Council, and the Duke of Burlington arranges his
fanlike screen with an agitation which, for a moment, makes him forget
his unrivalled nonchalance. Even Lady Bloomerly is in suspense, and
even Charles Annesley’s heart beats. But ah! (or rather, bah!) the
enthusiasm of Lady de Courcy! Even the young Guardsman, who paid her
Ladyship for her ivory franks by his idle presence, even he must have
felt, callous as those young Guardsmen are.

Will that bore of a tenor ever finish that provoking aria, that we have
heard so often? How drawlingly he drags on his dull, deafening--

_Êccola!_

Have you seen the primal dew ere the sun has lipped the pearl? Have you
seen a summer fly, with tinted wings of shifting light, glance in the
liquid noontide air? Have you marked a shooting star, or watched a young
gazelle at play? Then you have seen nothing fresher, nothing brighter,
nothing wilder, nothing lighter, than the girl who stands before you!
She was infinitely small, fair, and bright. Her black hair was braided
in Madonnas over a brow like ivory; a deep pure pink spot gave lustre
to each cheek. Her features were delicate beyond a dream! her nose quite
straight, with a nostril which would have made you crazy, if you had not
already been struck with idiocy by gazing on her mouth. She a singer!
Impossible! She cannot speak. And, now we look again, she must sing with
her eyes, they are so large and lustrous!

The Bird of Paradise curtsied as if she shrunk under the overwhelming
greeting, and crossed her breast with arms that gleamed like moonbeams
and hands that glittered like stars. This gave time to the _cognoscenti_
to remark her costume, which was ravishing, and to try to see her
feet; but they were too small. At last Lord Squib announced that he
had discovered them by a new glass, and described them as a couple of
diamond-claws most exquisitely finished.

She moved her head with a faint smile, as if she distrusted her powers
and feared the assembly would be disappointed, and then she shot forth
a note which thrilled through every heart and nearly cracked the
chandelier. Even Lady Fitz-pompey said ‘Brava!’ As she proceeded the
audience grew quite frantic. It was agreed on all hands that miracles
had recommenced. Each air was sung only to call forth fresh exclamations
of ‘Miracolo!’ and encores were as unmerciful as an usurper.

Amid all this rapture the young Duke was not silent. His box was on the
stage; and ever and anon the syren shot a glance which seemed to tell
him that he was marked out amid this brilliant multitude. Each round of
applause, each roar of ravished senses, only added a more fearful action
to the wild purposes which began to flit about his Grace’s mind. His
imagination was touched. His old passion to be distinguished returned
in full force. This creature was strange, mysterious, celebrated. Her
beauty, her accomplishments, were as singular and as rare as her destiny
and her fame. His reverie absolutely raged; it was only disturbed by her
repeated notice and his returned acknowledgments. He arose in a state
of mad excitation, once more the slave or the victim of his intoxicated
vanity. He hurried behind the scenes. He congratulated her on her
success, her genius, and her beauty; and, to be brief, within a week of
her arrival in our metropolis, the Bird of Paradise was fairly caged in
the Alhambra.



CHAPTER IV.

     _The Bird is Caged_

HITHERTO the Duke of St. James had been a celebrated personage, but his
fame had been confined to the two thousand Brahmins who constitute the
world. His patronage of the Signora extended his celebrity in a manner
which he had not anticipated; and he became also the hero of the ten, or
twelve, or fifteen millions of pariahs for whose existence philosophers
have hitherto failed to adduce a satisfactory cause.

The Duke of St. James was now, in the comprehensive sense of the phrase,
a public character. Some choice spirits took the hint from the public
feeling, and determined to dine on the public curiosity. A Sunday
journal was immediately established. Of this epic our Duke was the hero.
His manners, his sayings, his adventures, regularly regaled, on each
holy day, the Protestant population of this Protestant empire, who in
France or Italy, or even Germany, faint at the sight of a peasantry
testifying their gratitude for a day of rest by a dance or a tune.
‘Sketches of the Alhambra,’ ‘_Soupers_ in the Regent’s Park,’ ‘The Court
of the Caliph,’ ‘The Bird Cage,’ &c, &c, &c, were duly announced and
duly devoured. This journal, being solely devoted to the illustration
of the life of a single and a private individual, was appropriately
entitled ‘The Universe.’ Its contributors were eminently successful.
Their pure inventions and impure details were accepted as delicate
truth; and their ferocious familiarity with persons with whom they were
totally unacquainted demonstrated at the same time their knowledge both
of the forms and the personages of polite society.

At the first announcement of this hebdomadal his Grace was a little
annoyed, and ‘Noctes Hautevillienses’ made him fear treason; but when
he had read a number, he entirely acquitted any person of a breach of
confidence. On the whole he was amused. A variety of ladies in time were
introduced, with many of whom the Duke had scarcely interchanged a bow;
but the respectable editor was not up to Lady Afy.

If his Grace, however, were soon reconciled to this not very agreeable
notoriety, and consoled himself under the activity of his libellers
by the conviction that their prolusions did not even amount to a
caricature, he was less easily satisfied with another performance which
speedily advanced its claims to public notice.

There is an unavoidable reaction in all human affairs. The Duke of
St. James had been so successfully attacked that it became worth while
successfully to defend him, and another Sunday paper appeared, the
object of which was to maintain the silver side of the shield. Here
everything was _couleur de rose_. One week the Duke saved a poor man
from the Serpentine; another a poor woman from starvation; now an orphan
was grateful; and now Miss Zouch, impelled by her necessity and his
reputation, addressed him a column and a half, quite heart-rending.
Parents with nine children; nine children without parents; clergymen
most improperly unbeneficed; officers most wickedly reduced; widows of
younger sons of quality sacrificed to the Colonies; sisters of literary
men sacrificed to national works, which required his patronage to
appear; daughters who had known better days, but somehow or other
had not been so well acquainted with their parents; all advanced with
multiplied petitions, and that hackneyed, heartless air of misery which
denotes the mumper. His Grace was infinitely annoyed, and scarcely
compensated for the inconvenience by the prettiest little creature in
the world, who one day forced herself into his presence to solicit the
honour of dedicating to him her poems.

He had enough on his hands, so he wrote her a cheque and, with a
courtesy which must have made Sappho quite desperate, put her out of the
room.

We forgot to say that the name of the new journal was ‘The New World.’
The new world is not quite so big as the universe, but then it is as
large as all the other quarters of the globe together. The worst of this
business was, ‘The Universe’ protested that the Duke of St. James, like
a second Canning, had called this ‘New World’ into existence, which was
too bad, because, in truth, he deprecated its discovery scarcely less
than the Venetians.

Having thus managed, in the course of a few weeks, to achieve the
reputation of an unrivalled roué, our hero one night betook himself to
Almack’s, a place where his visits, this season, were both shorter and
less frequent.

Many an anxious mother gazed upon him, as he passed, with an eye which
longed to pierce futurity; many an agitated maiden looked exquisitely
unembarrassed, while her fluttering memory feasted on the sweet thought
that, at any rate, another had not captured this unrivalled prize.
Perhaps she might be the Anson to fall upon this galleon. It was worth a
long cruise, and even a chance of shipwreck.

He danced with Lady Aphrodite, because, since the affair of the Signora,
he was most punctilious in his attentions to her, particularly in
public. That affair, of course, she passed over in silence, though it
was bitter. She, however, had had sufficient experience of man to feel
that remonstrance is a last resource, and usually an ineffectual one. It
was something that her rival--not that her ladyship dignified the Bird
by that title--it was something that she was not her equal, that she was
not one with whom she could be put in painful and constant collision.
She tried to consider it a freak, to believe only half she heard, and
to indulge the fancy that it was a toy which would soon tire. As for
Sir Lucius, he saw nothing in this adventure, or indeed in the Alhambra
system at all, which militated against his ulterior views. No one more
constantly officiated at the ducal orgies than himself, both because he
was devoted to self-gratification, and because he liked ever to have
his protégé in sight. He studiously prevented any other individual from
becoming the Petronius of the circle. His deep experience also taught
him that, with a person of the young Duke’s temper, the mode of life
which he was now leading was exactly the one which not only would
insure, but even hurry, the catastrophe his faithful friend so eagerly
desired. His pleasures, as Sir Lucius knew, would soon pall; for he
easily perceived that the Duke was not heartless enough for a roué. When
thorough satiety is felt, young men are in the cue for desperate deeds.
Looking upon happiness as a dream, or a prize which, in life’s lottery,
they have missed; worn, hipped, dissatisfied, and desperate, they often
hurry on a result which they disapprove, merely to close a miserable
career, or to brave the society with which they cannot sympathise.

The Duke, however, was not yet sated. As after a feast, when we have
despatched a quantity of wine, there sometimes, as it were, arises a
second appetite, unnatural to be sure, but very keen; so, in a career of
dissipation, when our passion for pleasure appears to be exhausted, the
fatal fancy of man, like a wearied hare, will take a new turn, throw off
the hell-hounds of ennui, and course again with renewed vigour.

And to-night the Duke of St. James was, as he had been for some weeks,
all life, and fire, and excitement; and his eye was even now wandering
round the room in quest of some consummate spirit whom he might summon
to his Saracenic Paradise.

A consummate spirit his eye lighted on. There stood May Dacre. He gasped
for breath. He turned pale. It was only for a moment, and his emotion
was unperceived. There she stood, beautiful as when she first glanced
before him; there she stood, with all her imperial graces; and all
surrounding splendour seemed to fade away before her dazzling presence,
like mournful spirits of a lower world before a radiant creature of the
sky.

She was speaking with her sunlight smile to a young man whose appearance
attracted his notice. He was dressed entirely in black, rather short,
but slenderly made; sallow, but clear, with long black curls and a
Murillo face, and looked altogether like a young Jesuit or a Venetian
official by Giorgone or Titian. His countenance was reserved and his
manner not easy: yet, on the whole, his face indicated intellect and his
figure blood. The features haunted the Duke’s memory. He had met this
person before. There are some countenances which when once seen can
never be forgotten, and the young man owned one of these. The Duke
recalled him to his memory with a pang.

Our hero--let him still be ours, for he is rather desolate, and he
requires the backing of his friends--our hero behaved pretty well. He
seized the first favourable opportunity to catch Miss Dacre’s eye, and
was grateful for her bow. Emboldened, he accosted her, and asked after
Mr. Dacre. She was courteous, but unembarrassed. Her calmness, however,
piqued him sufficiently to allow him to rally. He was tolerably easy,
and talked of calling. Their conversation lasted only for a few minutes,
and was fortunately terminated without his withdrawal, which would have
been awkward. The young man whom we have noticed came up to claim her
hand.

‘Arundel Dacre, or my eyes deceive me?’ said the young Duke. ‘I always
consider an old Etonian a friend, and therefore I address you without
ceremony.’

The young man accepted, but not with readiness, the offered hand. He
blushed and spoke, but in a hesitating and husky voice. Then he cleared
his throat, and spoke again, but not much more to the purpose. Then he
looked to his partner, whose eyes were on the ground, and rose as he
endeavoured to catch them. For a moment he was silent again; then he
bowed slightly to Miss Dacre and solemnly to the Duke, and then he
carried off his cousin.

‘Poor Dacre!’ said the Duke; ‘he always had the worst manner in the
world. Not in the least changed.’

His Grace wandered into the tea-room. A knot of dandies were in deep
converse. He heard his own name and that of the Duke of Burlington; then
came ‘Doncaster beauty.’ ‘Don’t you know?’ ‘Oh! yes.’ ‘All quite mad,’
&c, &c, &c. As he passed he was invited in different ways to join the
coterie of his admirers, but he declined the honour, and passed them
with that icy hauteur which he could assume, and which, judiciously
used, contributed not a little to his popularity.

He could not conquer his depression; and, although it was scarcely
past midnight, he determined to disappear. Fortunately his carriage was
waiting. He was at a loss what to do with himself. He dreaded even to be
alone. The Signora was at a private concert, and she was the last
person whom, at this moment, he cared to see. His low spirits rapidly
increased. He got terribly nervous, and felt miserable. At last he drove
to White’s.

The House had just broken up, and the political members had just
entered, and in clusters, some standing and some yawning, some
stretching their arms and some stretching their legs, presented symptoms
of an escape from boredom. Among others, round the fire, was a young man
dressed in a rough great coat all cords and sables, with his hat bent
aside, a shawl tied round his neck with boldness, and a huge oaken staff
clenched in his left hand. With the other he held the ‘Courier,’ and
reviewed with a critical eye the report of the speech which he had made
that afternoon. This was Lord Darrell.

We have always considered the talents of younger brothers as an
unanswerable argument in favour of a Providence. Lord Darrell was the
younger son of the Earl of Darleyford, and had been educated for a
diplomatist. A report some two years ago had been very current that
his elder brother, then Lord Darrell, was, against the consent of his
family, about to be favoured with the hand of Mrs. Dallington Vere.
Certain it is he was a devoted admirer of that lady. Of that lady,
however, a less favoured rival chose one day to say that which staggered
the romance of the impassioned youth. In a moment of rashness, impelled
by sacred feelings, it is reported, at least, for the whole is a
mystery, he communicated what he had heard with horror to the mistress
of his destinies. Whatever took place, certain it is Lord Darrell
challenged the indecorous speaker, and was shot through the heart. The
affair made a great sensation, and the Darleyfords and their connections
said bitter things of Mrs. Dallington, and talked much of rash youth and
subtle women of discreeter years, and passions shamefully inflamed and
purposes wickedly egged on. We say nothing of all this; nor will we
dwell upon it. Mrs. Dallington Vere assuredly was no slight sufferer.
But she conquered the cabal that was formed against her, for the dandies
were her friends, and gallantly supported her through a trial under
which some women would have sunk. As it was, at the end of the season
she did travel, but all is now forgotten; and Hill Street, Berkeley
Square, again contains, at the moment of our story, its brightest
ornament.

The present Lord Darrell gave up all idea of being an ambassador, but he
was clever; and though he hurried to gratify a taste for pleasure
which before had been too much mortified, he could not relinquish the
ambitious prospects with which he had, during the greater part of his
life, consoled himself for his cadetship. He piqued himself upon being
at the same time a dandy and a statesman. He spoke in the House, and not
without effect. He was one of those who make themselves masters of great
questions; that is to say, who read a great many reviews and newspapers,
and are full of others’ thoughts without ever having thought themselves.
He particularly prided himself upon having made his way into the
Alhambra set. He was the only man of business among them. The Duke
liked him, for it is agreeable to be courted by those who are themselves
considered.

Lord Darrell was a favourite with women. They like a little intellect.
He talked fluently on all subjects. He was what is called ‘a talented
young man.’ Then he had mind, and soul, and all that. The miracles of
creation have long agreed that body without soul will not do; and even
a coxcomb in these days must be original, or he is a bore. No longer is
such a character the mere creation of his tailor and his perfumer. Lord
Darrell was an avowed admirer of Lady Caroline St. Maurice, and a great
favourite with her parents, who both considered him an oracle on
the subjects which respectively interested them. You might dine at
Fitz-pompey House and hear his name quoted at both ends of the table; by
the host upon the state of Europe, and by the hostess upon the state of
the season. Had it not been for the young Duke, nothing would have
given Lady Fitz-pompey greater pleasure than to have received him as
a son-in-law; but, as it was, he was only kept in store for the second
string to Cupid’s bow.

Lord Darrell had just quitted the House in a costume which, though
rough, was not less studied than the finished and elaborate toilet
which, in the course of an hour, he will exhibit in the enchanted halls
of Almack’s. There he will figure to the last, the most active and the
most remarked; and though after these continued exertions he will not
gain his couch perhaps till seven, our Lord of the Treasury, for he
is one, will resume his official duties at an earlier hour than any
functionary in the kingdom.

Yet our friend is a little annoyed now. What is the matter? He dilates
to his uncle, Lord Seymour Temple, a greyheaded placeman, on the
profligacy of the press. What is this? The Virgilian line our orator
introduced so felicitously is omitted. He panegyrizes the ‘Mirror of
Parliament,’ where, he has no doubt, the missing verse will appear. The
quotation was new, ‘Timeo Danaos.’

Lord Seymour Temple begins a long story about Fox and General
Fitzpatrick. This is a signal for a general retreat; and the bore, as
Sir Boyle Roche would say, like the last rose of summer, remains talking
to himself.



CHAPTER V.

     _His Grace’s Rival_

ARUNDEL DACRE was the only child of Mr. Dacre’s only and deceased
brother, and the heir to the whole of the Dacre property. His father,
a man of violent passions, had married early in life, against the
approbation of his family, and had revolted from the Catholic communion.
The elder brother, however mortified by this great deed, which passion
had prompted, and not conscience, had exerted his best offices to
mollify their exasperated father, and to reconcile the sire to the son.
But he had exerted them ineffectually; and, as is not unusual, found,
after much harrowing anxiety and deep suffering, that he was not even
recompensed for his exertions and his sympathy by the gratitude of his
brother. The younger Dacre was not one of those minds whose rashness and
impetuosity are counterbalanced, or rather compensated, by a generous
candour and an amiable remorse. He was headstrong, but he was obstinate:
he was ardent, but he was sullen: he was unwary, but he was suspicious.
Everyone who opposed him was his enemy: all who combined for his
preservation were conspirators. His father, whose feelings he had
outraged and never attempted to soothe, was a tyrant; his brother, who
was devoted to his interests, was a traitor.

These were his living and his dying thoughts. While he existed, he was
one of those men who, because they have been imprudent, think themselves
unfortunate, and mistake their diseased mind for an implacable destiny.
When he died, his deathbed was consoled by the reflection that his
persecutors might at last feel some compunction; and he quitted the
world without a pang, because he flattered himself that his departure
would cost them one.

His father, who died before him, had left him no fortune, and even had
not provided for his wife or child. His brother made another ineffectual
attempt to accomplish a reconciliation; but his proffers of love and
fortune were alike scorned and himself insulted, and Arundel Dacre
seemed to gloat on the idea that he was an outcast and a beggar.

Yet even this strange being had his warm feelings. He adored his wife,
particularly because his father had disowned her. He had a friend whom
he idolised, and who, treating his occasional conduct as a species
of insanity, had never deserted him. This friend had been his college
companion, and, in the odd chapter of circumstances, had become a
powerful political character. Dacre was a man of talent, and his friend
took care that he should have an opportunity of displaying it. He was
brought into Parliament, and animated by the desire, as he thought, of
triumphing over his family, he exerted himself with success. But his
infernal temper spoiled all. His active quarrels and his noisy brawls
were even more endurable than his sullen suspicions, his dark hints, and
his silent hate. He was always offended and always offending. Such a
man could never succeed as a politician, a character who, of all others,
must learn to endure, to forget, and to forgive. He was soon universally
shunned; but his first friend was faithful, though bitterly tried, and
Dacre retired from public life on a pension.

His wife had died, and during the latter years of his life almost his
only companion was his son. He concentrated on this being all that
ardent affection which, had he diffused among his fellow-creatures,
might have ensured his happiness and his prosperity. Yet even sometimes
he would look in his child’s face with an anxious air, as if he read
incubating treason, and then press him to his bosom with unusual
fervour, as if he would stifle the idea, which alone was madness.

This child was educated in an hereditary hate of the Dacre family. His
uncle was daily painted as a tyrant, whom he classed in his young mind
with Phalaris or Dionysius. There was nothing that he felt keener than
his father’s wrongs, and nothing which he believed more certain than his
uncle’s wickedness. He arrived at his thirteenth year when his father
died, and he was to be consigned to the care of that uncle.

Arundel Dacre had left his son as a legacy to his friend; but that
friend was a man of the world; and when the elder brother not only
expressed his willingness to maintain the orphan, but even his desire to
educate and adopt him as his son, he cheerfully resigned all his claims
to the forlorn boy, and felt that, by consigning him to his uncle, he
had most religiously discharged the trust of his confiding friend.

The nephew arrived at Castle Dacre with a heart equally divided between
misery and hatred. It seemed to him that a fate more forlorn than
his had seldom been awarded to mortal. Although he found his uncle
diametrically opposite to all that his misled imagination had painted
him, although he was treated with a kindness and indulgence which tried
to compensate for their too long estranged affections, Arundel Dacre
could never conquer the impressions of his boyhood; and had it not been
for his cousin, May, a creature of whom he had not heard, and of whom no
distorted image had therefore haunted his disturbed imagination; had it
not been for this beautiful girl, who greeted him with affection which
warmed and won his heart, so morbid were his feelings, that he would
in all probability have pined away under the roof which he should have
looked upon as his own.

His departure for Eton was a relief. As he grew up, although his
knowledge of life and man had long taught him the fallacy of his early
feelings, and although he now yielded a tear of pity, rather than of
indignation, to the adored manes of his father, his peculiar temper and
his first education never allowed him entirely to emancipate himself
from his hereditary feelings. His character was combined of many and
even of contrary qualities.

His talents were great, but his want of confidence made them more
doubtful to himself than to the world; yet, at times, in his solitary
musings, he perhaps even exaggerated his powers. He was proud, and yet
worldly. He never forgot that he was a Dacre; but he desired to be the
architect of his own fortune; and his very love of independence made
him, at an early period, meditate on the means of managing mankind. He
was reserved and cold, for his imagination required much; yet he panted
for a confidant and was one of those youths with whom friendship is a
passion. To conclude, he was a Protestant among Catholics; and although
this circumstance, inasmuch as it assisted him in the views which he
had early indulged, was not an ungracious one, he felt that, till he
was distinguished, it had lessened his consideration, since he could
not count upon the sympathy of hereditary connections and ancient party.
Altogether, he was one who, with the consciousness of ancient blood, the
certainty of future fortune, fine talents, great accomplishments, and
not slight personal advantages, was unhappy. Yet, although not of a
sanguine temper, and occasionally delivered to the darkest spleen, his
intense ambition sustained him, and he lived on the hope, and sometimes
on the conviction, that a bright era would, some day, console him for
the bitterness of his past and present life.

At school and at college he equally distinguished himself, and was
everywhere respected and often regarded; yet he had never found that
friend on whom his fancy had often busied itself, and which one whose
alternations of feeling were so violent peremptorily required. His
uncle and himself viewed each other with mutual respect and regard, but
confidence did not exist between them. Mr. Dacre, in spite of his long
and constant efforts, despaired of raising in the breast of his nephew
the flame of filial love; and had it not been for his daughter, who was
the only person in the world to whom Arundel ever opened his mind, and
who could, consequently, throw some light upon his wants and wishes,
it would not have been in his power to evince to his nephew that this
disappointment had not affected his uncle’s feelings in his favour.

When his education was completed, Mr. Dacre had wished him to take up
his residence in Yorkshire, and, in every sense, to act as his son, as
he was his successor. But Arundel declined this proposition. He obtained
from his father’s old political connection the appointment of _attaché_
to a foreign embassy, and he remained on the Continent, with the
exception of a yearly visit to Yorkshire, three or four years. But his
views were not in the diplomatic line, and this appointment only served
as a political school until he could enter Parliament. May Dacre had
wormed from him his secret, and worked with energy in his cause. An
opportunity appeared to offer itself, and, under the patronage of a
Catholic nobleman, he was to appear as a candidate for an open borough.
It was on this business that he had returned to England.



CHAPTER VI.

     _Birds of a Feather_

WE WILL go and make a morning call. The garish light of day, that never
suits a chamber, was broken by a muslin veil, which sent its softened
twilight through a room of moderate dimensions but of princely
decoration, and which opened into a conservatory. The choice saloon was
hung with rose-coloured silk, which diffused a delicate tint over the
inlaid and costly cabinets. It was crowded with tables covered with
_bijouterie_. Apparently, however, a road had been cut through the
furniture, by which you might wind your way up to the divinity of the
temple. A ravishing perfume, which was ever changing, wandered through
the apartment. Now a violet breeze made you poetical; now a rosy gale
called you to love. And ever and anon the strange but thrilling breath
of some rare exotic summoned you, like an angel, to opening Eden. All
was still and sweet, save that a fountain made you, as it were, more
conscious of silence; save that the song of birds made you, as it were,
more sensible of sweetness.

Upon a couch, her small head resting upon an arm covered with bracelets,
which blazed like a Sol-dan’s treasure, reclined Mrs. Dallington Vere.

She is in thought. Is her abstracted eye fixed in admiration upon that
twinkling foot which, clothed in its Russian slipper, looks like a
serpent’s tongue, small, red, and pointed; or does a more serious
feeling than self-admiration inspire this musing? Ah! a cloud courses
over that pellucid brow. Tis gone, but it frowned like the harbinger of
a storm. Again! A small but blood-red blush rises into that clear cheek.
It was momentary, but its deep colour indicated that it came from the
heart. Her eye lights up with a wild and glittering fire, but the flash
vanishes into darkness, and gloom follows the unnatural light. She
clasps her hands; she rises from an uneasy seat, though supported by a
thousand pillows, and she paces the conservatory.

A guest is announced. It is Sir Lucius Grafton.

He salutes her with that studied courtesy which shows they are only
friends, but which, when maintained between intimate acquaintance,
sometimes makes wicked people suspect that they once perhaps were more.
She resumes her seat, and he throws himself into an easy chair which is
opposite.

‘Your note I this moment received, Bertha, and I am here. You perceive
that my fidelity is as remarkable as ever.’

‘We had a gay meeting last night.’

‘Very much so. So Lady Araminta has at last shown mercy.’

‘I cannot believe it.’

‘I have just had a note from Challoner, preliminary, I suppose, to
my trusteeship. You are not the only person who holds my talents for
business in high esteem.’

‘But Ballingford; what will he say?’

‘That is his affair; and as he never, to my knowledge, spoke to the
purpose, his remarks now, I suppose, are not fated to be much more
apropos.’

‘Yet he can say things. We all know----’

‘Yes, yes, we all know; but nobody believes. That is the motto of the
present day; and the only way to neutralise scandal, and to counteract
publicity.’

Mrs. Dallington was silent, and looked uneasy; and her friend perceiving
that, although she had sent to him so urgent a billet, she did not
communicate, expressed a little surprise.

‘But you wish to see me, Bertha?’

‘I do very much, and to speak to you. For these many days I have
intended it; but I do not know how it is, I have postponed and postponed
our interview. I begin to believe,’ she added, looking up with a faint
smile, ‘I am half afraid to speak.’

‘Good God!’ said the Baronet, really alarmed, ‘you are in no trouble?’

‘Oh, no! make yourself easy. Trouble, trouble! No, no! I am not exactly
in trouble. I am not in debt; I am not in a scrape; but--but--but I am
in something--something worse, perhaps: I am in love.’

The Baronet looked puzzled. He did not for a moment suspect himself to
be the hero; yet, although their mutual confidence was illimitable, he
did not exactly see why, in the present instance, there had been
such urgency to impart an event not altogether either unnatural or
miraculous.

‘In love!’ said Sir Lucius; ‘a very proper situation for the prettiest
woman in London. Everybody is in love with you; and I heartily rejoice
that some one of our favoured sex is about to avenge our sufferings.’

‘_Point de moquerie_, Lucy! I am miserable.’

‘Dear little pigeon, what is the matter?’

‘Ah, me!’

‘Speak,-speak,’ said he, in a gay tone; ‘you were not made for sighs,
but smiles. Begin----’

‘Well, then, the young Duke----’

‘The deuce!’ said Sir Lucius, alarmed.

‘Oh! no! make yourself easy,’ said Mrs. Dallington, smiling; ‘no
counterplot, I assure you, although really you do not deserve to
succeed.’

‘Then who is it?’ eagerly asked Sir Lucius.

‘You will not let me speak. The young Duke----’

‘Damn the Duke!’

‘How impatient you are, Lucy! I must begin with the beginning. Well, the
young Duke has something to do with it.’

‘Pray be explicit.’

‘In a word, then,’ said Mrs. Dallington, in a low voice, but with an
expression of earnestness which Sir Lucius had never before remarked, ‘I
am in love, desperately in love, with one whom hitherto, in accordance
with your wishes, I have been driving into the arms of another.
Our views, our interests are opposite; but I wish to act fairly, if
possible; I wish to reconcile them; and it is for this purpose that I
have summoned you this morning.’

‘Arundel Dacre!’ said Sir Lucius, quietly, and he rapped his cane on his
boot. The blood-red spot again rose in his companion’s cheek.

There was silence for a moment. Sir Lucius would not disturb it, and
Mrs. Dallington again spoke.

‘St. James and the little Dacre have again met. You have my secret. I do
not ask your good services with Arundel, which I might at another time;
but you cannot expect me to work against myself. Depend, then, no longer
on my influence with May Dacre; for to be explicit, as we have always
been, most heartily should I rejoice to see her a duchess.’

‘The point, Bertha,’ said Sir Lucius, very quietly, ‘is not that I can
no longer count upon you as an ally; but I must, I perceive, reckon you
an opponent.’

‘Cannot we prevent this?’ asked Mrs. Dallington with energy.

‘I see no alternative,’ said Sir Lucius, shaking his head with great
unconcern. ‘Time will prove who will have to congratulate the other.’

‘My friend,’ said Mrs. Dallington, with briskness and decision, ‘no
affectation between us. Drop this assumed unconcern. You know, you know
well, that no incident could occur to you at this moment more mortifying
than the one I have communicated, which deranges your plans, and
probably may destroy your views. You cannot misconceive my motives in
making this not very agreeable communication. I might have pursued my
object without your knowledge and permission. In a word, I might have
betrayed you. But with me every consideration has yielded to friendship.
I cannot forget how often, and how successfully, we have combined. I
should grieve to see our ancient and glorious alliance annulled. I am
yet in hopes that we may both obtain our objects through its medium.’

‘I am not aware,’ said Sir Lucius, with more feeling, ‘that I have given
you any cause to complain of my want of candour. We are in a difficult
position. I have nothing to suggest, but I am ready to listen. You know
how ready I am to adopt all your suggestions; and I know how seldom you
have wanted an expedient.’

‘The little Dacre, then, must not marry her cousin; but we cannot
flatter ourselves that such a girl will not want to marry some one;
I have a conviction that this is her decisive season. She must be
occupied. In a word, Lucy, some one must be found.’

The Baronet started from his chair, and nearly knocked down a table.

‘Confound your tables, Bertha,’ said he, in a pettish tone; ‘I can never
consult in a room full of tables.’ He walked into the conservatory, and
she followed him. He seemed plunged in thought. They were again silent.
Suddenly he seized her hand and led her back to the sofa, on which they
both sat down.

‘My dear friend,’ he said, in a tone of agitated solemnity. ‘I will
conceal no longer from you what I have sometimes endeavoured to conceal
from myself: I love that girl to distraction.’ ‘You!’

‘Yes; to distraction. Ever since we first met her image has haunted me.
I endeavoured to crush a feeling which promised only to plunge me into
anxiety, and to distract my attention from my important objects; but
in vain, in vain. Her unexpected appearance yesterday has revived my
passion with triple fervour. I have passed a sleepless night, and rise
with the determination to obtain her.’

‘You know your own power, Lucius, better perhaps than I do, or the
world. We rank it high; none higher; yet, nevertheless, I look upon this
declaration as insanity.’

He raised her hand to his lips, and pressed it with delicate warmth, and
summoned his most insinuating tone. ‘With your aid, Bertha, I should not
despair!’

‘Lucy, I am your friend; perhaps your best friend: but these Dacres!
Would it were anyone but a Dacre! No, no, this cannot be.’

‘Bertha, you know me better than the world: I am a roué, and you are
my friend; but, believe me, I am not quite so vain as to indulge for
a moment in the idea that May Dacre should be aught to me but what all
might approve and all might honour. Yes, I intend her for my wife.’

‘Your wife! You are, indeed, premature.’

‘Not quite so premature as you perhaps imagine. Know, then, that the
great point is on the eve of achievement. Urged by the information which
Afy thinks she unconsciously obtains from Lachen, and harrowed by the
idea that I am about to tear her from England, she has appealed to the
Duke in a manner to which they were both unused. Hitherto her docile
temper has not permitted her to abuse her empire. Now she exerts
her power with an energy to which he believed her a stranger. He is
staggered by his situation. He at the same time repents having so rashly
engaged the feelings of a woman, and is flattered that he is so loved.
They have more than once consulted upon the expediency of an elopement.’

‘This is good news.’

‘O! Bertha, you must feel like me before you can estimate it. Yes!’
he clenched his fist with horrible energy, ‘there is no hell like a
detested wife!’

They were again silent; but when she thought that his emotion had
subsided, she again recalled their consideration to the object of their
interview.

‘You play a bold game, indeed; but it shall not fail from any deficiency
on my part. But how are we to proceed at present? Who is to interest the
feelings of the little Dacre at once?’

‘Who but her future husband? What I want you to do is this: we shall
call; but prepare the house to receive us not only as acquaintances, but
as desirable intimates. You know what to say. I have an idea that the
divine creature entertains no very unfavourable opinion of your obedient
slave; and with her temper I care not for what she will not probably
hear, the passing opinion of a third person. I stand at present, thanks
to Afy, very high with the public; and you know, although my life
has not the least altered, that my indiscretions have now a dash
of discretion in them; and a reformed rake, as all agree, is the
personification of morality. Prepare my way with the Dacres, and all
will go right. And as for this Arundel, I know him not; but you have
told me enough to make me consider him the most fortunate of men. As for
love between cousins, I laugh at it. A glance from you will extinguish
the feeble flame, as a sunbeam does a fire: and for the rest, the world
does me the honour to believe that, if Lucius Grafton be remarkable for
one thing more than another, it is for the influence he attains over
young minds. I will get acquainted with this boy; and, for once, let
love be unattended by doubt.’

Long was their counsel. The plans we have hinted at were analysed,
canvassed, weighed, and finally matured. They parted, after a long
morning, well aware of the difficulties which awaited their fulfilment,
but also full of hope.



CHAPTER VII.

     _A Dangerous Guide_

SUCH able and congenial spirits as Mrs. Dallington Vere and Sir Lucius
Grafton prosecuted their plans with the success which they had a
right to anticipate. Lady Aphrodite, who was proud of her previous
acquaintance, however slight, with the most distinguished girl
in London, and eager to improve it, unconsciously assisted their
operations. Society is so constituted that it requires no little
talent and no slight energy to repel the intimacy even of those whose
acquaintance is evidently not desirable; and there are many people in
this world mixing, apparently, with great spirit and self-esteem in
its concerns, who really owe their constant appearance and occasional
influence in circles of consideration to no other qualities than their
own callous impudence, and the indolence and the irresolution of their
victims. They, who at the same time have no delicacy and no shame, count
fearful odds; and, much as is murmured about the false estimation of
riches, there is little doubt that the parvenus as often owe their
advancement in society to their perseverance as to their pelf.

When, therefore, your intimacy is courted by those whose intimacy is
an honour, and that, too, with an art, which conceals its purpose, you
often find that you have, and are a devoted friend, really before you
have felt sufficient gratitude for the opera-box which has been so often
lent, the carriage which has been ever at hand, the brother who has
received such civilities, or the father who has been requested to accept
some of the unattainable tokay which he has charmed you by admiring at
your own table.

The manoeuvres and tactics of society are infinitely more numerous and
infinitely finer than those of strategy. Woe betide the rash knight
who dashes into the thick of the polished melée without some slight
experience of his barb and his lance! Let him look to his arms! He will
do well not to appear before his helm be plumed with some reputation,
however slight. He may be very rich, or even very poor. We have seen
that answer with a Belisarius-like air; and more than one hero without
an obolus has stumbled upon a fortune merely from his contempt of
riches. If to fight, or write, or dress be above you, why, then, you can
ride, or dance, or even skate; but do not think, as many young gentlemen
are apt to believe, that _talking_ will serve your purpose. That is the
quicksand of your young beginners. All can talk in a public assembly;
that is to say, all can give us exhortations which do not move, and
arguments which do not convince; but to converse in a private assembly
is a different affair, and rare are the characters who can be endured if
they exceed a whisper to their neighbours. But though mild and silent,
be ever ready with the rapier of repartee, and be ever armed with the
breastplate of good temper. You will infallibly gather laurels if you
add to these the spear of sarcasm and the shield of nonchalance.

The high style of conversation where eloquence and philosophy emulate
each other, where principles are profoundly expounded and felicitously
illustrated, all this has ceased. It ceased in this country with Johnson
and Burke, and it requires a Johnson and a Burke for its maintenance.
There is no mediocrity in such discourse, no intermediate character
between the sage and the bore. The second style, where men, not things,
are the staple, but where wit, and refinement, and sensibility invest
even personal details with intellectual interest, does flourish at
present, as it always must in a highly civilised society. S. is, or
rather was, a fine specimen of this school, and M. and L. are his worthy
rivals. This style is indeed, for the moment, very interesting. Then
comes your conversation man, who, we confess, is our aversion. His talk
is a thing apart, got up before he enters the company from whose conduct
it should grow out. He sits in the middle of a large table, and, with a
brazen voice, bawls out his anecdotes about Sir Thomas or Sir Humphry,
Lord Blank, or my Lady Blue. He is incessant, yet not interesting; ever
varying, yet always monotonous. Even if we were amused, we are no more
grateful for the entertainment than we are to the lamp over the table
for the light which it universally sheds, and to yield which it was
obtained on purpose. We are more gratified by the slight conversation
of one who is often silent, but who speaks from his momentary feelings,
than by all this hullaballoo. Yet this machine is generally a favourite
piece of furniture with the hostess. You may catch her eye as he
recounts some adventure of the morning, which proves that he not only
belongs to every club, but goes to them, light up with approbation;
and then, when the ladies withdraw, and the female senate deliver their
criticism upon the late actors, she will observe, with a gratified
smile, to her confidante, that the dinner went off well, and that Mr.
Bellow was very strong to-day.

All this is horrid, and the whole affair is a delusion. A variety of
people are brought together, who all come as late as possible, and
retire as soon, merely to show they have other engagements. A dinner is
prepared for them, which is hurried over, in order that a certain number
of dishes should be, not tasted, but seen: and provided that there is
no moment that an absolute silence reigns; provided that, besides the
bustling of the servants, the clattering of the plates and knives,
a stray anecdote is told, which, if good, has been heard before, and
which, if new, is generally flat; provided a certain number of certain
names of people of consideration are introduced, by which some stranger,
for whom the party is often secretly given, may learn the scale of
civilisation of which he this moment forms a part; provided the senators
do not steal out too soon to the House, and their wives to another
party, the hostess is congratulated on the success of her entertainment.

And this glare, and heat, and noise, these _congeries_ of individuals
without sympathy and dishes without flavour; this is society! What an
effect without a cause! A man must be green indeed to stand this for two
seasons. One cannot help thinking that one consequence of the increased
intelligence of the present day will be a great change in the habits of
our intercourse.

To our tale; we linger. Few who did not know too much of Sir Lucius
Grafton could refrain from yielding him their regard when he chose to
challenge it, and with the Dacres he was soon an acknowledged favourite.
As a new M.P., and hitherto doubtful supporter of the Catholic cause,
it was grateful to Mr. Dacre’s feelings to find in him an ally, and
flattering to Mr. Dacre’s judgment when that ally ventured to consult
him on his friendly operations. With Miss Dacre he was a mild, amiable
man, who knew the world; thoroughly good, but void of cant, and owner of
a virtue not less to be depended on because his passions had once been
strong, and he had once indulged them. His experience of life made him
value domestic felicity; because he knew that there was no other source
of happiness which was at once so pure and so permanent. But he was not
one of those men who consider marriage as an extinguisher of all those
feelings and accomplishments which throw a lustre on existence; and he
did not consider himself bound, because he had plighted his faith to
a beautiful woman, immediately to terminate the very conduct which had
induced her to join him in the sacred and eternal pledge. His gaiety
still sparkled, his wit still flashed; still he hastened to be foremost
among the courteous; and still his high and ready gallantry indicated
that he was not prepared to yield the fitting ornament of his still
blooming youth. A thousand unobtrusive and delicate attentions which
the innocent now received from him without a thought, save of Lady
Aphrodite’s good fortune; a thousand gay and sentimental axioms, which
proved not only how agreeable he was, but how enchanting he must have
been; a thousand little deeds which struggled to shun the light, and
which palpably demonstrated that the gaiety of his wit, the splendour of
his accomplishments, and the tenderness of his soul were only equalled
by his unbounded generosity and unparalleled good temper; all these
combined had made Sir Lucius Grafton, to many, always a delightful,
often a dangerous, and sometimes a fatal, companion. He was one of those
whose candour is deadly. It was when he least endeavoured to conceal his
character that its hideousness least appeared. He confessed sometimes
so much, that you yielded that pity which, ere the shrived culprit could
receive, by some fatal alchemy was changed into passion. His smile was a
lure, his speech was a spell; but it was when he was silent, and almost
gloomy, when you caught his serious eye, charged, as it were, with
emotion, gazing on yours, that if you had a guardian sylph you should
have invoked its aid; and we pray, if ever you meet the man of whom we
write, your invocation may not be forgotten, or be, what is more likely,
too late.

The Dacres, this season, were the subject of general conversation. She
was the distinguished beauty, and the dandies all agreed that his
dinner was worthy of his daughter. Lady Fitz-pompey was not behind the
welcoming crowd. She was too politic a leader not to feel anxious to
enlist under her colours a recruit who was so calculated to maintain the
reputation of her forces. Fitz-pompey House must not lose its character
for assembling the most distinguished, the most agreeable, and the most
refined, and May Dacre was a divinity who would summon many a crowd to
her niche in this Pantheon of fashion.

If any difficulty were for a moment anticipated in bringing about this
arrangement, a fortunate circumstance seemed sufficient to remove it.
Lord St. Maurice and Arundel Dacre had been acquainted at Vienna, and,
though the intimacy was slight, it was sweet. St. Maurice had received
many favours from the _attaché_, and, as he was a man of family and
reputation, had been happy to greet him on his arrival in London. Before
the Dacres made their appearance in town for the season Arundel had been
initiated in the mysteries of Fitz-pompey House, and therefore a desire
from that mansion to cultivate the good graces of his Yorkshire relation
seemed not only not forced, but natural. So, the families met, and, to
the surprise of each other, became even intimate, for May Dacre and Lady
Caroline soon evinced a mutual regard for each other. Female friendships
are of rapid growth, and in the present instance, when there was nothing
on either side which was not lovable, it was quite miraculous, and the
friendship, particularly on the part of Lady Caroline, shot up in one
night, like a blooming aloe.

Perhaps there is nothing more lovely than the love of two beautiful
women, who are not envious of each other’s charms. How delightfully they
impart to each other the pattern of a cap, or flounce, or frill! how
charmingly they entrust some slight, slender secret about tinting a
flower or netting a purse! Now one leans over the other, and guides her
inexperienced hand, as it moves in the mysteries of some novel work,
and then the other looks up with an eye beaming with devotion; and
then again the first leans down a little lower, and gently presses her
aromatic lips upon her friend’s polished forehead.

These are sights which we quiet men, who, like ‘little Jack Horner,’
know where to take up a safe position, occasionally enjoy, but which
your noisy fellows, who think that women never want to be alone--a sad
mistake--and consequently must be always breaking or stringing a guitar,
or cutting a pencil, or splitting a crowquill, or overturning the gold
ink, or scribbling over a pattern, or doing any other of the thousand
acts of mischief, are debarred from.

Not that these bright flowers often bloomed alone; a blossom not less
brilliant generally shared with them the same parterre. Mrs. Dallington
completed the bouquet, and Arundel Dacre was the butterfly, who, she was
glad to perceive, was seldom absent when her presence added beauty to
the beautiful. Indeed, she had good reason to feel confidence in her
attractions. Independently of her charms, which assuredly were great,
her fortune, which was even greater, possessed, she was well aware,
no slight allurement to one who ever trembled when he thought of his
dependence, and often glowed when he mused over his ambition. His
slight but increasing notice was duly estimated by one who was
perfectly acquainted with his peculiar temper, and daily perceived how
disregardful he was of all others, except her and his cousin. But a
cousin! She felt confidence in the theory of Sir Lucius Grafton.

And the young Duke; have we forgotten him? Sooth to say, he was seldom
with our heroine or heroines. He had called on Mr. Dacre, and had
greeted him with marked cordiality, and he had sometimes met him and his
daughter in society. But although invited, he had hitherto avoided being
their visitor; and the comparatively secluded life which he now led
prevented him from seeing them often at other houses. Mr. Dacre, who
was unaware of what had passed between him and his daughter, thought his
conduct inexplicable; but his former guardian remembered that it was not
the first time that his behaviour had been unusual, and it was never the
disposition of Mr. Dacre to promote explanations.

Our hero felt annoyed at his own weakness. It would have been infinitely
more worthy of so celebrated, so unrivalled a personage as the Duke of
St. James not to have given the woman who had rejected him this evidence
of her power. According to etiquette, he should have called there daily
and have dined there weekly, and yet never have given the former object
of his adoration the slightest idea that he cared a breath for her
presence. According to etiquette, he should never have addressed her but
in a vein of persiflage, and with a smile which indicated his perfect
heartease and her bad taste. According to etiquette, he should have
flirted with every woman in her company, rode with her in the Park,
walked with her in the Gardens, chatted with her at the opera, and drunk
wine with her at a water party; and finally, to prove how sincere he
was in his former estimation of her judgment, have consulted her on the
presents which he should make to some intimate friend of hers, whom he
announces as his future bride. This is the way to manage a woman; and
the result may be conceived. She stares, she starts, she sighs, she
weeps; feels highly offended at her friend daring to accept him; writes
a letter of rejection herself to the affianced damsel, which she makes
him sign, and then presents him with the hand which she always meant to
be his.

But this was above our hero. The truth is, whenever he thought of May
Dacre his spirit sank. She had cowed him; and her arrival in London had
made him as dissatisfied with his present mode of life as he had been
with his former career. They had met again, and under circumstances
apparently, to him, the most unfavourable. Although he was hopeless, yet
he dreaded to think what she might hear of him. Her contempt was bitter;
her dislike would even be worse. Yet it seemed impossible to retrieve.
He was plunged deeper than he imagined. Embarrassed, entangled,
involved, he flew to Lady Afy, half in pique and half in misery. Passion
had ceased to throw a glittering veil around this idol; but she was
kind, and pure, and gentle, and devoted. It was consoling to be loved to
one who was so wretched. It seemed to him that life must ever be a blank
without the woman who, a few months ago, he had left an encumbrance. The
recollection of past happiness was balm to one who was so forlorn. He
shuddered at the thought of losing his only precious possession, and he
was never more attached to his mistress than when the soul of friendship
rose from the body of expired love.



CHAPTER VIII.

     _An Epicurean Feast_

THE Duke of St. James dines to-day with Mr. Annesley. Men and things
should be our study; and it is universally acknowledged that a dinner
is the most important of affairs, and a dandy the most important of
individuals. If we liked, we could give you a description of the fête
which should make all your mouths water; but everyone cooks now, and
ekes out his page by robbing Jarrin and by rifling Ude.

Charles Annesley was never seen to more advantage than when a host. Then
his superciliousness would, if not vanish, at least subside. He was not
less calm, but somewhat less cold, like a summer lake. Therefore we will
have an eye upon his party; because, to dine with dandies should be a
prominent feature in your career, and must not be omitted in this sketch
of the ‘Life and Times’ of our young hero. The party was of that
number which at once secures a variety of conversation and the
impossibility of two persons speaking at the same time. The guests were
his Grace, Lord Squib, and Lord Darrell. The repast, like everything
connected with Mr. Annesley, was refined and exquisite, rather slight
than solid, and more novel than various. There was no affectation of
_gourmandise_, the vice of male dinners. Your imagination and your sight
were not at the same time dazzled and confused by an agglomeration of
the peculiar luxuries of every clime and every season. As you mused over
a warm and sunny flavour of a brown soup, your host did not dilate upon
the milder and moonlight beauties of a white one. A gentle dallying with
a whiting, that chicken of the ocean, was not a signal for a panegyric
of the darker attraction of a _matelotte à la royale_. The disappearance
of the first course did not herald a catalogue of discordant dainties.
You were not recommended to neglect the _croquettes_ because the
_boudins_ might claim attention; and while you were crowning your
important labours with a quail you were not reminded that the _pâté de
Troyes_, unlike the less reasonable human race, would feel offended if
it were not cut. Then the wines were few. Some sherry, with a pedigree
like an Arabian, heightened the flavour of the dish, not interfered with
it; as a toady keeps up the conversation which he does not distract. A
goblet of Graffenburg, with a bouquet like woman’s breath, made you,
as you remembered some liquid which it had been your fate to fall
upon, suppose that German wines, like German barons, required some
discrimination, and that hock, like other titles, was not always the
sign of the high nobility of its owner. A glass of claret was the third
grace. But, if we had been there, we should have devoted ourselves
to one of the sparkling sisters; for one wine, like one woman, is
sufficient to interest one’s feelings for four-and-twenty hours.
Fickleness we abhor.

‘I observed you riding to-day with the gentle Leonora, St. James,’ said
Mr. Annesley.

‘No! her sister.’

‘Indeed! Those girls are uncommonly alike. The fact is, now, that
neither face nor figure depends upon nature.’

‘No,’ said Lord Squib; ‘all that the artists of the present day want is
a model. Let a family provide one handsome sister, and the hideousness
of the others will not prevent them, under good management, from being
mistaken, by the best judges, for the beauty, six times in the same
hour.’

‘You are trying, I suppose, to account for your unfortunate error at
Cleverley’s, on Monday, Squib?’ said Lord Darrell, laughing.

‘Pooh! all nonsense.’

‘What was it?’ said Mr. Annesley.

‘Not a word true,’ said Lord Squib, stifling curiosity.

‘I believe it,’ said the Duke, without having heard a syllable. ‘Come,
Darrell, out with it!’

‘It really is nothing very particular, only it is whispered that Squib
said something to Lady Clever-ley which made her ring the bell, and
that he excused himself to his Lordship by protesting that, from their
similarity of dress and manner and strong family likeness, he had
mistaken the Countess for her sister.’

_Omnes_. ‘Well done, Squib! And were you introduced to the right
person?’

‘Why,’ said his Lordship, ‘fortunately I contrived to fall out about the
settlements, and so I escaped.’

‘So the chaste Diana is to be the new patroness?’ said Lord Darrell.

‘So I understand,’ rejoined Mr. Annesley. ‘This is the age of unexpected
appointments.’

‘_On dit_ that when it was notified to the party most interested, there
was a rider to the bill, excluding my Lord’s relations.’

‘Ha, ha, ha,’ faintly laughed Mr. Annesley. ‘What have they been doing
so remarkable?’

‘Nothing,’ said Lord Squib. ‘That is just their fault. They have
every recommendation; but when any member of that family is in a room,
everybody feels so exceedingly sleepy that they all sink to the ground.
That is the reason that there are so many ottomans at Heavyside House.’

‘Is it true,’ asked the Duke, ‘that his Grace really has a flapper?’

‘Unquestionably,’ said Lord Squib. ‘The other day I was announced,
and his attendant was absent. He had left his instrument on a sofa. I
immediately took it up, and touched my Lord upon his hump. I never knew
him more entertaining. He really was quite lively.’

‘But Diana is a favourite goddess of mine,’ said Annesley; ‘taste that
hock.’

‘Superb! Where did you get it?’

‘A present from poor Raffenburg.’

‘Ah! where is he now?’

‘At Paris, I believe.’

‘Paris! and where is she?’

‘I liked Raffenburg,’ said Lord Squib; ‘he always reminded me of a
country innkeeper who supplies you with pipes and tobacco gratis,
provided that you will dine with him.’

‘He had unrivalled meerschaums,’ said Mr. Annesley, ‘and he was most
liberal. There are two. You know I never use them, but they are handsome
furniture.’

‘Those Dalmaines are fine girls,’ said the Duke of St. James.

‘Very pretty creatures! Do you know, Duke,’ said Annesley, ‘I think the
youngest one something like Miss Dacre.’

‘Indeed! I cannot say the resemblance struck me.’

‘I see old mother Dalmaine dresses her as much like the Doncaster belle
as she possibly can.’

‘Yes, and spoils her,’ said Lord Squib; ‘but old mother Dalmaine, with
all her fuss, was ever a bad cook, and overdid everything.’

‘Young Dalmaine, they say,’ observed Lord Darrell, ‘is in a sort of a
scrape.’

‘Ah! what?’

‘Oh! some confusion at head-quarters. A great tallow-chandler’s son got
into the regiment, and committed some heresy at mess.’

‘I do not know the brother,’ said the Duke.

‘You are fortunate, then. He is unendurable. To give you an idea of him,
suppose you met him here (which you never will), he would write to you
the next day, “My dear St. James.”’

‘My tailor presented me his best compliments, the other morning,’ said
the Duke.

‘The world is growing familiar,’ said Mr. Annesley.

‘There must be some remedy,’ said Lord Darrell.

‘Yes!’ said Lord Squib, with indignation. ‘Tradesmen now-a-days console
themselves for not getting their bills paid by asking their customers to
dinner.’

‘It is shocking,’ said Mr. Annesley, with a forlorn air. ‘Do you know,
I never enter society now without taking as many preliminary precautions
as if the plague raged in all our chambers. In vain have I hitherto
prided myself on my existence being unknown to the million. I never now
stand still in a street, lest my portrait be caught for a lithograph;
I never venture to a strange dinner, lest I should stumble upon a
fashionable novelist; and even with all this vigilance, and all this
denial, I have an intimate friend whom I cannot cut, and who, they say,
writes for the Court Journal.’

‘But why cannot you cut him?’ asked Lord Darrell.

‘He is my brother; and, you know, I pride myself upon my domestic
feelings.’

‘Yes!’ said Lord Squib, ‘to judge from what the world says, one would
think, Annesley, you were a Brummel!’

‘Squib, not even in jest couple my name with one whom I will not call a
savage, merely because he is unfortunate.’

‘What did you think of little Eugenie, Annesley, last night?’ asked the
Duke.

‘Well, very well, indeed; something like Brocard’s worst.’

‘I was a little disappointed in her début, and much interested in her
success. She was rather a favourite of mine in Paris, so I invited her
to the Alhambra yesterday, with Claudius Piggott and some more. I had
half a mind to pull you in, but I know you do not much admire Piggott.’

‘On the contrary, I have been in Piggott’s company without being much
offended.’

‘I think Piggott improves,’ said Lord Darrell. ‘It was those waistcoats
which excited such a prejudice against him when he first came over.’

‘What! a prejudice against Peacock Piggott!’ said Lord Squib; ‘pretty
Peacock Piggott! Tell it not in Gath, whisper it not in Ascalon; and,
above all, insinuate it not to Lady de Courcy.’

‘There is not much danger of my insinuating anything to her,’ said Mr.
Annesley.

‘Your compact, I hope, is religiously observed,’ said the Duke.

‘Yes, very well. There was a slight infraction once, but I sent Charles
Fitzroy as an ambassador, and war was not declared.’

‘Do you mean,’ asked Lord Squib, ‘when your cabriolet broke down before
her door, and she sent out to request that you would make yourself quite
at home?’

‘I mean that fatal day,’ replied Mr. Annesley. ‘I afterwards discovered
she had bribed my tiger.’

‘Do you know Eugenie’s sister, St. James?’ asked Lord Darrell.

‘Yes: she is very clever; very popular at Paris. But I like Eugenie,
because she is so good-natured. Her laugh is so hearty.’

‘So it is,’ said Lord Squib. ‘Do you remember that girl at Madrid,
Annesley, who used to laugh so?’

‘What, Isidora? She is coming over.’

‘But I thought it was high treason to plunder the grandees’ dovecotes?’

‘Why, all our regular official negotiations have failed. She is not
permitted to treat with a foreign manager; but the new ambassador has
a secretary, and that secretary has some diplomatic ability, and so
Isidora is to be smuggled over.’

‘In a red box, I suppose,’ said Lord Squib.

‘I rather admire our Adèle,’ said the Duke of St. James. ‘I really think
she dances with more _aplomb_ than any of them.’

‘Oh! certainly; she is a favourite of mine.’

‘But I like that wild little Ducis,’ said Lord Squib. ‘She puts me in
mind of a wild cat.’

‘And Marunia of a Bengal tiger,’ said his Grace.

‘She is a fine woman, though,’ said Lord Darrell.

‘I think your cousin, St. James,’ said Lord Squib, ‘will get into a
scrape with Marunia. I remember Chetwynd telling me, and he was not apt
to complain on that score, that he never should have broken up if it had
not been for her.’

‘But he was an extravagant fellow,’ said Mr. Annesley: ‘he called me in
at his _bouleversement_ for advice, as I have the reputation of a
good economist. I do not know how it is, though I see these things
perpetually happen; but why men, and men of small fortunes, should
commit such follies, really exceeds my comprehension. Ten thousand
pounds for trinkets, and nearly as much for old furniture!’

‘Chetwynd kept it up a good many years, though, I think,’ said Lord
Darrell. ‘I remember going to see his rooms when I first came over. You
recollect his pearl fountain of Cologne water?’

‘Millecolonnes fitted up his place, I think?’ asked the young Duke; ‘but
it was before my time.’

‘Oh! yes; little Bijou,’ said Annesley. ‘He has done you justice, Duke.
I think the Alhambra much the prettiest thing in town.’

‘I was attacked the other day most vigorously by Mrs. Dallington to
obtain a sight,’ said Lord Squib. ‘I referred her to Lucy Grafton. Do
you know, St. James, I have half a strange idea that there is a renewal
in that quarter?’

‘So they say,’ said the Duke; ‘if so, I confess I am surprised.’ But
they remembered Lord Darrell, and the conversation turned.

‘Those are clever horses of Lincoln Graves,’ said Mr. Annesley.

‘Neat cattle, as Bagshot says,’ observed Lord Squib.

‘Is it true that Bag is going to marry one of the Wrekins?’ asked the
Duke.

‘Which?’ asked Lord Squib; ‘not Sophy, surely I thought she was to be
your cousin. I dare say,’ he added, ‘a false report. I suppose, to use
a Bagshotism, his governor wants it; but I should think Lord Cub would
not yet be taken in. By-the-bye, he says you have promised to propose
him at White’s, St. James.’

‘Oppose him, I said,’ rejoined the Duke. ‘Bag really never understands
English. However, I think it as probable that he will lounge there as on
the Treasury bench. That was his “governor’s” last shrewd plan.’

‘Darrell,’ said Lord Squib, ‘is there any chance of my being a
commissioner for anything? It struck me last night that I had never been
in office.’

‘I do not think, Squib, that you ever will be in office, if even you be
appointed.’

‘On the contrary, my good fellow, my punctuality should surprise you. I
should like very much to be a lay lord, because I cannot afford to
keep a yacht, and theirs, they say, are not sufficiently used, for the
Admirals think it spooney, and the landlubbers are always sick.’

‘I think myself of having a yacht this summer,’ said the Duke of St.
James. ‘Be my captain, Squib.’

‘If you be serious I will commence my duties tomorrow.’

‘I am serious. I think it will be amusing. I give you full authority
to do exactly what you like, provided, in two months’ time, I have the
crack vessel in the club.’

‘I begin to press. Annesley, your dinner is so good that you shall be
purser; and Darrell, you are a man of business, you shall be his clerk.
For the rest, I think St. Maurice may claim a place, and----’

‘Peacock Piggott, by all means,’ said the Duke. ‘A gay sailor is quite
the thing.’

‘And Charles Fitzroy,’ said Annesley, ‘because I am under obligations to
him, and promised to have him in my eye.’

‘And Bagshot for a butt,’ said the Duke.

‘And Backbite for a buffoon,’ said Mr. Annesley.

‘And for the rest,’ said the young Duke, ‘the rest of the crew, I vote,
shall be women. The Dalmaines will just do.’

‘And the little Trevors,’ said Lord Darrell.

‘And Long Harrington,’ said Lord Squib. ‘She is my beauty.’

‘And the young Ducie,’ said Annesley. ‘And Mrs. Dallington of course,
and Caroline St. Maurice, and Charlotte Bloomerly; really, she was
dressed most prettily last night; and, above all, the queen bee of the
hive, May Dacre, eh! St. James? And I have another proposition,’ said
Annesley, with unusual animation. ‘May Dacre won the St. Leger, and
ruled the course; and May Dacre shall win the cup, and rule the waves.
Our yacht shall be christened by the Lady Bird of Yorkshire.’

‘What a delightful thing it would be,’ said the Duke of St. James, ‘if,
throughout life, we might always choose our crew; cull the beauties, and
banish the bores.’

‘But that is impossible,’ said Lord Darrell. ‘Every ornament of society
is counterbalanced by some accompanying blur. I have invariably observed
that the ugliness of a chaperon is exactly in proportion to the charms
of her charge; and that if a man be distinguished for his wit, his
appearance, his style, or any other good quality, he is sure to be
saddled with some family or connection, who require all his popularity
to gain them a passport into the crowd.’

‘One might collect an unexceptionable coterie from our present crowd,’
said Mr. Annesley. ‘It would be curious to assemble all the pet lambs of
the flock.’

‘Is it impossible?’ asked the Duke.

‘Burlington is the only man who dare try,’ said Lord Darrell.

‘I doubt whether any individual would have sufficient pluck,’ said Lord
Squib.

‘Yes,’ said the Duke, ‘it must, I think, be a joint-stock company to
share the glory and the odium. Let us do it!’

There was a start, and a silence, broken by Annesley in a low voice:

‘By Heavens it would be sublime, if practicable; but the difficulty does
indeed seem insurmountable.’

‘Why, we would not do it,’ said the young Duke, ‘if it were not
difficult. The first thing is to get a frame for our picture, to hit
upon some happy pretence for assembling in an impromptu style the young
and gay. Our purpose must not be too obvious. It must be something
to which all expect to be asked, and where the presence of all is
impossible; so that, in fixing upon a particular member of a family,
we may seem influenced by the wish that no circle should be neglected.
Then, too, it should be something like a water-party or a fête
champêtre, where colds abound and fits are always caught, so that a
consideration for the old and the infirm may authorise us not to invite
them; then, too----’

_Omnes_. ‘Bravo! bravo! St. James. It shall be! it shall be!’

‘It must be a fête champêtre,’ said Annesley, decidedly, ‘and as far
from town as possible.’

‘Twickenham is at your service,’ said the Duke.

‘Just the place, and just the distance. The only objection is, that, by
being yours, it will saddle the enterprise too much upon you. We must
all bear our share in the uproar, for, trust me, there will be one; but
there are a thousand ways by which our responsibility may be insisted
upon. For instance, let us make a list of all our guests, and then let
one of us act as secretary, and sign the invitations, which shall be
like tickets. No other name need appear, and the hosts will indicate
themselves at the place of rendezvous.’

‘My Lords,’ said Lord Squib, ‘I rise to propose the health of Mr.
Secretary Annesley, and I think if anyone carry the business through, it
will be he.’

‘I accept the trust. At present be silent as night; for we have much to
mature, and our success depends upon our secrecy.’



CHAPTER IX.

     _The Fête of Youth and Beauty_

ARUNDEL DACRE, though little apt to cultivate an acquaintance with
anyone, called on the young Duke the morning after their meeting. The
truth is, his imagination was touched by our hero’s appearance. His
Grace possessed all that accomplished manner of which Arundel painfully
felt the want, and to which he eagerly yielded his admiration. He
earnestly desired the Duke’s friendship, but, with his usual _mauvaise
honte_, their meeting did not advance his wishes. He was as shy
and constrained as usual, and being really desirous of appearing to
advantage, and leaving an impression in his favour, his manner was even
divested of that somewhat imposing coldness which was not altogether
ineffective. In short, he was rather disagreeable. The Duke was
courteous, as he usually was, and ever to the Da-cres, but he was not
cordial. He disliked Arundel Dacre; in a word, he looked upon him as
his favoured rival. The two young men occasionally met, but did not grow
more intimate. Studiously polite the young Duke ever was both to him
and to his lovely cousin, for his pride concealed his pique, and he was
always afraid lest his manner should betray his mind.

In the meantime Sir Lucius Grafton apparently was running his usual
course of triumph. It is fortunate that those who will watch and wonder
about everything are easily satisfied with a reason, and are ever quick
in detecting a cause; so Mrs. Dallington Vere was the fact that duly
accounted for the Baronet’s intimacy with the Dacres. All was right
again between them. It was unusual, to be sure, these _rifacimentos_;
still she was a charming woman; and it was well known that Lucius had
spent twenty thousand on the county. Where was that to come from, they
should like to know, but from old Dallington Vere’s Yorkshire estates,
which he had so wisely left to his pretty wife by the pink paper
codicil?

And this lady of so many loves, how felt she? Most agreeably, as all
dames do who dote upon a passion which they feel convinced will be
returned, but which still waits for a response. Arundel Dacre would
yield her a smile from a face more worn by thought than joy; and Arundel
Dacre, who was wont to muse alone, was now ever ready to join his cousin
and her friends in the ride or the promenade. Miss Dacre, too, had
noticed to her a kindly change in her cousin’s conduct to her father. He
was more cordial to his uncle, sought to pay him deference, and seemed
more desirous of gaining his good-will. The experienced eye, too, of
this pretty woman allowed her often to observe that her hero’s presence
was not particularly occasioned, or particularly inspired, by his
cousin. In a word, it was to herself that his remarks were addressed,
his attentions devoted, and often she caught his dark and liquid eye
fixed upon her beaming and refulgent brow.

Sir Lucius Grafton proceeded with that strange mixture of craft and
passion which characterised him. Each day his heart yearned more for the
being on whom his thoughts should never have pondered. Now exulting in
her increased confidence, she seemed already his victim; now awed by her
majestic spirit, he despaired even of her being his bride. Now melted
by her unsophisticated innocence, he cursed even the least unhallowed of
his purposes; and now enchanted by her consummate loveliness, he forgot
all but her beauty and his own passion.

Often had he dilated to her, with the skill of an arch deceiver, on the
blessings of domestic joy; often, in her presence, had his eye sparkled,
when he watched the infantile graces of some playful children. Then he
would embrace them with a soft care and gushing fondness, enough to melt
the heart of any mother whom he was desirous to seduce, and then, with
a half-murmured sigh, he regretted, in broken accents, that he, too, was
not a father.

In due time he proceeded even further. Dark hints of domestic infelicity
broke unintentionally from his ungoverned lips. Miss Dacre stared.
He quelled the tumult of his thoughts, struggled with his outbreaking
feelings, and triumphed; yet not without a tear, which forced its way
down a face not formed for grief, and quivered upon his fair and downy
cheek. Sir Lucius Grafton was well aware of the magic of his beauty, and
used his charms to betray, as if he were a woman.

Miss Dacre, whose soul was sympathy, felt in silence for this excellent,
this injured, this unhappy, this agreeable man. Ill could even her
practised manner check the current of her mind, or conceal from Lady
Aphrodite that she possessed her dislike. As for the young Duke, he
fell into the lowest abyss of her opinions, and was looked upon as alike
frivolous, heartless, and irreclaimable.

But how are the friends with whom we dined yesterday? Frequent were the
meetings, deep the consultations, infinite the suggestions, innumerable
the expedients. In the morning they met and breakfasted with Annesley;
in the afternoon they met and lunched with Lord Squib; in the evening
they met and dined with Lord Darrell; and at night they met and supped
at the Alhambra. Each council only the more convinced them that the
scheme was feasible, and must be glorious. At last their ideas were
matured, and Annesley took steps to break a great event to the world,
who were on the eve of being astonished.

He repaired to Lady Bloomerly. The world sometimes talked of her
Ladyship and Mr. Annesley; the world were quite wrong, as they often are
on this subject. Mr. Annesley knew the value of a female friend. By
Lady Bloomerly’s advice, the plan was entrusted in confidence to about a
dozen dames equally influential. Then a few of the most considered male
friends heard a strange report. Lord Darrell dropped a rumour at the
Treasury; but with his finger on the mouth, and leaving himself out
of the list, proceeded to give his favourable opinion of the project,
merely as a disinterested and expected guest. Then the Duke promised
Peacock Piggott one night at the Alhambra, but swore him to solemn
secrecy over a vase of sherbet. Then Squib told his tailor, in
consideration that his bill should not be sent in; and finally, the Bird
of Paradise betrayed the whole affair to the musical world, who were,
of course, all agog. Then, when rumour began to wag its hundred tongues,
the twelve peeresses found themselves bound in honour to step into the
breach, yielded the plan their decided approbation, and their avowed
patronage puzzled the grumblers, silenced the weak, and sneered down the
obstinate.

The invitations began to issue, and the outcry against them burst forth.
A _fronde_ was formed, but they wanted a De Retz; and many kept back,
with the hope of being bribed from joining it. The four cavaliers soon
found themselves at the head of a strong party, and then, like a
faction who have successfully struggled for toleration, they now openly
maintained their supremacy. It was too late to cabal. The uninvited
could only console themselves by a passive sulk or an active sneer;
but this would not do, and their bilious countenances betrayed their
chagrin.

The difficulty now was, not to keep the bores away, but to obtain a
few of the beauties, who hesitated. A chaperon must be found for one;
another must be added on to a party, like a star to the cluster of a
constellation. Among those whose presence was most ardently desired, but
seemed most doubtful, was Miss Dacre. An invitation had been sent to her
father; but he was out of town, and she did not like to join so peculiar
a party without him: but it was unanimously agreed that, without her,
the affair would be a failure; and Charles Annesley was sent, envoy
extraordinary, to arrange. With the good aid of his friend Mrs.
Dallington all was at length settled; and fervid prayers that the
important day might be ushered in by a smiling sun were offered up
during the next fortnight, at half-past six every morning, by all
civilised society, who then hurried to their night’s rest.



CHAPTER X.

     _Sir Lucius Drops the Mask_

THE fête at ‘the Pavilion,’ such was the title of the Twickenham Villa,
though the subject of universal interest, was anticipated by no one
with more eager anxiety than by Sir Lucius Grafton; for that day, he
determined, should decide the fate of the Duke of St. James. He was
sanguine as to the result, nor without reason. For the last month he
had, by his dark machinery, played desperately upon the feelings of
Lady Aphrodite; and more than once had she despatched rapid notes to her
admirer for counsel and for consolation. The Duke was more skilful in
soothing her griefs than in devising expedients for their removal. He
treated the threatened as a distant evil! and wiped away her tears in a
manner which is almost an encouragement to weep.

At last the eventful morn arrived, and a scorching sun made those exult
to whom the barge and the awning promised a progress equally calm
and cool. Woe to the dusty britzska! woe to the molten furnace of the
crimson cabriolet!

They came, as the stars come out from the heavens, what time the sun
is in his first repose: now a single hero, brilliant as a planet; now a
splendid party, clustering like a constellation. Music is on the
waters and perfume on the land; each moment a barque glides up with its
cymbals, each moment a cavalcade bright with bouquets!

Ah, gathering of brightness! ah, meeting of lustre! why, why are you to
be celebrated by one so obscure and dull as I am? Ye Lady Carolines
and ye Lady Franceses, ye Lady Barbaras and ye Lady Blanches, is it my
fault?

O, graceful Lord Francis, why, why have you left us; why, why have you
exchanged your Ionian lyre for an Irish harp? You were not made for
politics; leave them to clerks. Fly, fly back to pleasure, to frolic,
and fun! Confess, now, that you sometimes do feel a little queer. We say
nothing of the difference between May Fair and Donnybrook.

And thou, too, Luttrell, gayest bard that ever threw off a triplet amid
the clattering of cabs and the chattering of clubs, art thou, too, mute?
Where, where dost thou linger? Is our Druid among the oaks of Ampthill;
or, like a truant Etonian, is he lurking among the beeches of Burnham?
What! has the immortal letter, unlike all other good advice, absolutely
not been thrown away? or is the jade incorrigible? Whichever be the
case, you need not be silent. There is yet enough to do, and yet enough
to instruct. Teach us that wealth is not elegance; that profusion is not
magnificence; and that splendour is not beauty. Teach us that taste is
a talisman which can do greater wonders than the millions of the
loanmonger. Teach us that to vie is not to rival, and to imitate not
to invent. Teach us that pretension is a bore. Teach us that wit is
excessively good-natured, and, like champagne, not only sparkles, but
is sweet. Teach us the vulgarity of malignity. Teach us that envy
spoils our complexions, and that anxiety destroys our figure. Catch the
fleeting colours of that sly chameleon, Cant, and show what excessive
trouble we are ever taking to make ourselves miserable and silly. Teach
us all this, and Aglaia shall stop a crow in its course and present
you with a pen, Thalia hold the golden fluid in a Sèvres vase, and
Euphrosyne support the violet-coloured scroll.

The four hosts greeted the arrivals and assisted the disembarkations,
like the famous four sons of Aymon.

They were all dressed alike, and their costume excited great attention.
At first it was to have been very plain, black and white and a single
rose; but it was settled that simplicity had been overdone, and, like
a country girl after her first season, had turned into a most affected
baggage, so they agreed to be regal; and fancy uniforms, worthy of the
court of Oberon, were the order of the day. We shall not describe them,
for the description of costume is the most inventive province of our
historical novelists, and we never like to be unfair, or trench upon
our neighbour’s lands or rights; but the Alhambra button indicated a
mystical confederacy, and made the women quite frantic with curiosity.

The guests wandered through the gardens, always various, and now a
paradise of novelty. There were four brothers, fresh from the wildest
recesses of the Carpathian Mount, who threw out such woodnotes wild that
all the artists stared; and it was universally agreed that, had they not
been French chorus-singers, they would have been quite a miracle. But
the Lapland sisters were the true prodigy, who danced the Mazurka in
the national style. There was also a fire-eater; but some said he would
never set the river in flames, though he had an antidote against all
poisons! But then our Mithridates always tried its virtues on a stuffed
poodle, whose bark evinced its vitality. There also was a giant in the
wildest part of the shrubbery, and a dwarf, on whom the ladies showered
their sugarplums, and who, in return, offered them tobacco. But it
was not true that the giant sported stilts, or that the dwarf was a
sucking-babe. Some people are so suspicious. Then a bell rang, and
assembled them in the concert-room; and the Bird of Paradise who to-day
was consigned to the cavaliership of Peacock Piggott, condescended to
favour them with a new song, which no one had ever heard, and which,
consequently, made them feel more intensely all the sublimity of
exclusiveness. Shall we forget the panniers of shoes which Melnotte had
placed in every quarter of the gardens? We will say nothing of
Maradan’s cases of caps, because, for this incident, Lord Bagshot is our
authority.

On a sudden, it seemed that a thousand bugles broke the blue air,
and they were summoned to a déjeûner in four crimson tents worthy of
Sardanapalus.

Over each waved the scutcheon of the president. Glittering were the
glories of the hundred quarterings of the house of Darrell. ‘_Si non è
vero è ben trovato_,’ was the motto. Lord Darrell’s grandfather had been
a successful lawyer. Lord Squib’s emblazonry was a satire on its owner.
‘_Holdfast_’ was the motto of a man who had let loose. Annesley’s
simple shield spoke of the Conquest; but all paled before the banner of
the house of Hauteville, for it indicated an alliance with royalty. The
attendants of each pavilion wore the livery of its lord.

Shall we attempt to describe the delicacy of this banquet, where
imagination had been racked for novel luxury? Through the centre of each
table ran a rivulet of rose-water, and gold and silver fish glanced in
its unrivalled course. The bouquets were exchanged every half-hour, and
music soft and subdued, but constant and thrilling, wound them up by
exquisite gradations to that pitch of refined excitement which is so
strange a union of delicacy and voluptuousness, when the soul, as it
were, becomes sensual, and the body, as it were, dissolves into spirit.
And in this choice assembly, where all was youth, and elegance, and
beauty, was it not right that every sound should be melody, every sight
a sight of loveliness, and every thought a thought of pleasure?

They arose and re-assembled on the lawn, where they found, to their
surprise, had arisen in their absence a Dutch Fair. Numerous were the
booths, innumerable were the contents. The first artists had arranged
the picture and the costumes; the first artists had made the trinkets
and the toys. And what a very agreeable fair, where all might suit their
fancy without the permission of that sulky tyrant, a purse! All were in
excellent humour, and no false shame prevented them from plundering
the stalls. The noble proprietors set the example. Annesley offered a
bouquet of precious stones to Charlotte Bloomerly, and it was accepted,
and the Duke of St. James showered a sack of whimsical breloques among a
scrambling crowd of laughing beauties. Among them was Miss Dacre. He had
not observed her. Their eyes met, and she smiled. It seemed that he had
never felt happiness before.

Ere the humours of the fair could be exhausted they were summoned to the
margin of the river, where four painted and gilded galleys, which
might have sailed down the Cydmus, and each owning its peculiar chief,
prepared to struggle for pre-eminence in speed. All betted; and the
Duke, encouraged by the smile, hastened to Miss Dacre to try to win back
some of his Doncaster losses, but Arundel Dacre had her arm in his,
and she was evidently delighted with his discourse. His Grace’s blood
turned, and he walked away.

It was sunset when they returned to the lawn, and then the ball-room
presented itself; but the twilight was long, and the night was warm;
there were no hateful dews, no odious mists, and therefore a great
number danced on the lawn. The fair was illuminated, and all the little
_marchandes_ and their lusty porters walked about in their costume.

The Duke again rallied his courage, and seeing Arundel Dacre with
Mrs. Dallington Vere, he absolutely asked Miss Dacre to dance. She was
engaged. He doubted, and walked into the house disconsolate; yet, if he
had waited one moment, he would have seen Sir Lucius Grafton rejoin
her, and lead her to the cotillon that was forming on the turf. The Duke
sauntered to Lady Aphrodite, but she would not dance; yet she did
not yield his arm, and proposed a stroll. They wandered away to the
extremity of the grounds. Fainter and fainter grew the bursts of the
revellers, yet neither of them spoke much, for both were dull.

[Illustration: page243]

Yet at length her Ladyship did speak, and amply made up for her previous
silence. All former scenes, to this, were but as the preface to the
book. All she knew and all she dreaded, all her suspicions, all her
certainties, all her fears, were poured forth in painful profusion. This
night was to decide her fate. She threw herself on his mercy, if he had
forgotten his love. Out dashed all those arguments, all those
appeals, all those assertions, which they say are usual under these
circumstances. She was a woman; he was a man. She had staked her
happiness on this venture; he had a thousand cards to play. Love, and
first love, with her, as with all women, was everything; he and all men,
at the worst, had a thousand resources. He might plunge into politics,
he might game, he might fight, he might ruin himself in innumerable
ways, but she could only ruin herself in one. Miserable woman! Miserable
sex! She had given him her all. She knew it was little: would she had
more! She knew she was unworthy of him: would she were not! She did not
ask him to sacrifice himself to her: she could not expect it; she did
not even desire it. Only, she thought he ought to know exactly the state
of affairs and of consequences, and that certainly if they were parted,
which assuredly they would be, most decidedly she would droop, and fade,
and die. She wept, she sobbed; his entreaties alone seemed to prevent
hysterics.

These scenes are painful at all times, and even the callous, they say,
have a twinge; but when the actress is really beautiful and pure, as
this lady was, and the actor young and inexperienced and amiable, as
this actor was, the consequences are more serious than is usual. The
Duke of St. James was unhappy, he was discontented, he was dissatisfied
with himself. He did not love this lady, if love were the passion which
he entertained for Miss Dacre, but she loved him. He knew that she was
beautiful, and he was convinced that she was excellent. The world
is malicious, but the world had agreed that Lady Aphrodite was an
unblemished pearl: yet this jewel was reserved for him! Intense
gratitude almost amounted to love. In short, he had no idea at this
moment that feelings are not in our power. His were captive, even if
entrapped. It was a great responsibility to desert this creature, the
only one from whom he had experienced devotion. To conclude: a season
of extraordinary dissipation, to use no harsher phrase, had somewhat
exhausted the nervous powers of our hero; his energies were deserting
him; he had not heart or heartlessness enough to extricate himself from
this dilemma. It seemed that if this being to whom he was indebted for
so much joy were miserable, he must be unhappy; that if she died, life
ought to have, could have, no charms for him. He kissed away her tears,
he pledged his faith, and Lady Aphrodite Grafton was his betrothed!

She wonderfully recovered. Her deep but silent joy seemed to repay him
even for this bitter sacrifice. Compared with the late racking of his
feelings, the present calm, which was merely the result of suspense
being destroyed, seemed happiness. His conscience whispered approbation,
and he felt that, for once, he had sacrificed himself to another.

They re-entered the villa, and he took the first opportunity of
wandering alone to the least frequented parts of the grounds: his mind
demanded solitude, and his soul required soliloquy.

‘So the game is up! truly a most lame and impotent conclusion! And this,
then, is the result of all my high fancies and indefinite aspirations!
Verily, I am a very distinguished hero, and have not abused my
unrivalled advantages in the least. What! am I bitter on myself? There
will be enough to sing my praises without myself joining in this chorus
of congratulation. O! fool! fool! Now I know what folly is. But barely
fifteen months since I stepped upon these shores, full of hope and full
of pride; and now I leave them; how? O! my dishonoured fathers! Even my
posterity, which God grant I may not have, will look on my memory with
hatred, and on hers with scorn!

‘Well, I suppose we must live for ourselves. We both of us know the
world; and Heaven can bear witness that we should not be haunted by any
uneasy hankering after what has brought us such a heartache. If it were
for love, if it were for--but away! I will not profane her name; if
it were for her that I was thus sacrificing myself. I could bear it,
I could welcome it. I can imagine perfect and everlasting bliss in the
sole society of one single being, but she is not that being. Let me not
conceal it; let me wrestle with this bitter conviction!

‘And am I, indeed, bound to close my career thus; to throw away all
hope, all chance of felicity, at my age, for a point of honour? No, no;
it is not that. After all, I have experienced that with her, and from
her, which I have with no other woman; and she is so good, so gentle,
and, all agree, so lovely! How infinitely worse would her situation be
if deserted, than mine is as her perpetual companion! The very thought
makes my heart bleed. Yes! amiable, devoted, dearest Afy, I throw aside
these morbid feelings; you shall never repent having placed your trust
in me. I will be proud and happy of such a friend, and you shall be mine
for ever!’

A shriek broke on the air: he started. It was near: he hastened after
the sound. He entered into a small green glade surrounded by shrubs,
where had been erected a fanciful hermitage. There he found Sir Lucius
Grafton on his knees, grasping the hand of the indignant but terrified
Miss Dacre. The Duke rushed forward; Miss Dacre ran to meet him; Sir
Lucius rose.

‘This lady, Sir Lucius Grafton, is under my protection,’ said the young
Duke, with a flashing eye but a calm voice. She clung to his arm; he
bore her away. The whole was the affair of an instant.

The Duke and his companion proceeded in silence. She tried to hasten,
but he felt her limbs shake upon his arm. He stopped: no one, not even
a servant, was near. He could not leave her for an instant. There she
stood trembling, her head bent down, and one hand clasping the other,
which rested on his arm. Terrible was her struggle, but she would not
faint, and at length succeeded in repressing her emotions. They were yet
a considerable way from the house. She motioned with her left hand
to advance; but still she did not speak. On they walked, though more
slowly, for she was exhausted, and occasionally stopped for breath or
strength.

At length she said, in a faint voice, ‘I cannot join the party. I must
go home directly. How can it be done?’

‘Your companions?’ said the Duke.

‘Are of course engaged, or not to be found; but surely somebody I know
is departing. Manage it: say I am ill.’

‘O, Miss Dacre! if you knew the agony of my mind!’

‘Do not speak; for Heaven’s sake, do not speak!’

He turned off from the lawn, and approached by a small circuit the gate
of the ground. Suddenly he perceived a carriage on the point of going
off. It was the Duchess of Shropshire’s.

‘There is the Duchess of Shropshire! You know her; but not a minute is
to be lost. There is such a noise, they will not hear. Are you afraid to
stop here one instant by yourself? I shall not be out of sight, and not
away a second. I run very quick.’

‘No, no, I am not afraid. Go, go!’

Away rushed the Duke of St. James as if his life were on his speed. He
stopped the carriage, spoke, and was back in an instant.

‘Lean, lean on me with all your strength. I have told everything
necessary to Lady Shropshire. Nobody will speak a word, because they
believe you have a terrible headache. I will say everything necessary
to Mrs. Dallington and your cousin. Do not give yourself a moment’s
uneasiness. And, oh! Miss Dacre! if I might say one word!’

She did not stop him.

‘If,’ continued he, ‘it be your wish that the outrage of to-night should
be known only to myself and him, I pledge my word it shall be so; though
willingly, if I were authorised, I would act a different part in this
affair.’

‘It is my wish.’ She spoke in a low voice, with her eyes still upon the
ground. ‘And I thank you for this, and for all.’

They had now joined the Shropshires; but it was now discovered Miss
Dacre had no shawl: and sundry other articles were wanting, to the
evident dismay of the Ladies Wrekin. They offered theirs, but their
visitor refused, and would not allow the Duke to fetch her own. Off they
drove; but when they had proceeded above half a mile, a continued shout
on the road, which the fat coachman for a long time would not hear,
stopped them, and up came the Duke of St. James, covered with dust, and
panting like a racer, with Miss Dacre’s shawl.



CHAPTER XI.

     _Grim Preparations_

SO MUCH time was occupied by this adventure of the shawl, and by making
requisite explanations to Mrs. Dallington Vere, that almost the whole of
the guests had retired, when the Duke found himself again in the saloon.
His brother-hosts, too, were off with various parties, to which they had
attached themselves. He found the Fitz-pompeys and a few still lingering
for their carriages, and Arundel Dacre and his fair admirer. His Grace
had promised to return with Lady Afy, and was devising some scheme
by which he might free himself from this, now not very suitable,
engagement, when she claimed his arm. She was leaning on it, and talking
to Lady Fitz-pompey, when Sir Lucius approached, and, with his usual
tone, put a note into the Duke’s hand, saying at the same time, ‘This
appears to belong to you. I shall go to town with Piggott;’ and then he
walked away.

With the wife leaning on his arm, the young Duke had the pleasure of
reading the following lines, written with the pencil of the husband:--

‘After what has just occurred, only one more meeting can take place
between us, and the sooner that takes place the better for all parties.
This is no time for etiquette. I shall be in Kensington Gardens, in the
grove on the right side of the summer-house, at half-past six to-morrow
morning, and shall doubtless find you there.’

Sir Lucius was not out of sight when the Duke had finished reading his
cartel. Making some confused excuse to Lady Afy, which was not expected,
he ran after the Baronet, and soon reached him.

‘Grafton, I shall be punctual: but there is one point on which I wish to
speak to you at once. The cause of this meeting may be kept, I hope, a
secret?’

‘So far as I am concerned, an inviolable one,’ bowed the Baronet,
stiffly; and they parted.

The Duke returned satisfied, for Sir Lucius Grafton ever observed his
word, to say nothing of the great interest which he surely had this time
in maintaining his pledge.

Our hero thought that he never should reach London. The journey seemed
a day; and the effort to amuse Lady Afy, and to prevent her from
suspecting, by his conduct, that anything had occurred, was most
painful. Silent, however, he at last became; but her mind, too, was
engaged, and she supposed that her admirer was quiet only because, like
herself, he was happy. At length they reached her house, but he excused
himself from entering, and drove on immediately to Annesley. He was at
Lady Bloomerly’s. Lord Darrell had not returned, and his servant did not
expect him. Lord Squib was never to be found.

The Duke put on a great coat over his uniform and drove to White’s; it
was really a wilderness. Never had he seen fewer men there in his life,
and there were none of his set. The only young-looking man was old
Colonel Carlisle, who, with his skilfully enamelled cheek, flowing
auburn locks, shining teeth, and tinted whiskers, might have been
mistaken for gay twenty-seven, instead of grey seventy-two; but the
Colonel had the gout, to say nothing of any other objections.

The Duke took up the ‘Courier’ and read three or four advertisements
of quack medicines, but nobody entered. It was nearly midnight: he
got nervous. Somebody came in; Lord Hounslow for his rubber. Even his
favoured child, Bagshot, would be better than nobody. The Duke protested
that the next acquaintance who entered should be his second, old or
young. His vow had scarcely been registered when Arundel Dacre came in
alone. He was the last man to whom the Duke wished to address himself,
but Fate seemed to have decided it, and the Duke walked up to him.

‘Mr. Dacre, I am about to ask of you a favour to which I have no claim.’

Mr. Dacre looked a little confused, and murmured his willingness to do
anything.

‘To be explicit, I am engaged in an affair of honour of an urgent
nature. Will you be my friend?’

‘Willingly.’ He spoke with more ease. ‘May I ask the name of the other
party, the--the cause of the meeting?’

‘The other party is Sir Lucius Grafton.’

‘Hum!’ said Arundel Dacre, as if he were no longer curious about the
cause. ‘When do you meet?’

‘At half-past six, in Kensington Gardens, to-morrow; I believe I should
say this morning.’

‘Your Grace must be wearied,’ said Arundel, with unusual ease and
animation. ‘Now, follow my advice. Go home at once and get some rest.
Give yourself no trouble about preparations; leave everything to me.
I will call upon you at half-past five precisely, with a chaise and
post-horses, which will divert suspicion. Now, good night!’

‘But really, your rest must be considered; and then all this trouble!’

‘Oh! I have been in the habit of sitting up all night. Do not think of
me; nor am I quite inexperienced in these matters, in too many of which
I have unfortunately been engaged in Germany.’

The young men shook hands, and the Duke hastened home. Fortunately the
Bird of Paradise was at her own establishment in Baker Street, a bureau
where her secretary, in her behalf, transacted business with the various
courts of Europe and the numerous cities of Great Britain. Here many a
negotiation was carried on for opera engagements at Vienna, or Paris,
or Berlin, or St. Petersburg. Here many a diplomatic correspondence
conducted the fate of the musical festivals of York, or Norwich, or
Exeter.

CHAPTER XII.

An Affair of Honour.

LET us return to Sir Lucius Grafton. He is as mad as any man must be
who feels that the imprudence of a moment has dashed the ground all the
plans, and all the hopes, and all the great results, over which he had
so often pondered. The great day from which he had expected so much had
passed, nor was it possible for four-and-twenty hours more completely
to have reversed all his feelings and all his prospects. Miss Dacre had
shared the innocent but unusual and excessive gaiety which had properly
become a scene of festivity at once so agreeable, so various, and so
novel. Sir Lucius Grafton had not been insensible to the excitement. On
the contrary his impetuous passions seemed to recall the former and
more fervent days of his career, and his voluptuous mind dangerously
sympathised with the beautiful and luxurious scene. He was elated, too,
with the thought that his freedom would perhaps be sealed this evening,
and still more by his almost constant attendance on his fascinating
companion. As the particular friend of the Dacre family, and as the
secret ally of Mrs. Dallington Vere, he in some manner contrived always
to be at Miss Dacre’s side. With the laughing but insidious pretence
that he was now almost too grave and staid a personage for such scenes,
he conversed with few others, and humourously maintaining that his
‘dancing days were over,’ danced with none but her. Even when her
attention was engaged by a third person, he lingered about, and with
his consummate knowledge of the world, easy wit, and constant resources,
generally succeeded in not only sliding into the conversation, but
engrossing it. Arundel Dacre, too, although that young gentleman had not
departed from his usual coldness in favour of Sir Lucius Grafton, the
Baronet would most provokingly consider as his particular friend; never
seemed to be conscious that his reserved companion was most punctilious
in his address to him; but on the contrary, called him in return
‘Dacre,’ and sometimes ‘Arundel.’ In vain young Dacre struggled to
maintain his position. His manner was no match for that of Sir Lucius
Grafton. Annoyed with himself, he felt confused, and often quitted his
cousin that he might be free of his friend. Thus Sir Lucius Grafton
contrived never to permit Miss Dacre to be alone with Arundel, and to
her he was so courteous, so agreeable, and so useful, that his absence
seemed always a blank, or a period in which something ever went wrong.

The triumphant day rolled on, and each moment Sir Lucius felt more
sanguine and more excited. We will not dwell upon the advancing
confidence of his desperate mind. Hope expanded into certainty,
certainty burst into impatience. In a desperate moment he breathed his
passion.

May Dacre was the last girl to feel at a loss in such a situation. No
one would have rung him out of a saloon with an air of more contemptuous
majesty. But the shock, the solitary strangeness of the scene, the
fear, for the first time, that none were near, and perhaps, also, her
exhausted energy, frightened her, and she shrieked. One only had heard
that shriek, yet that one was legion. Sooner might the whole world know
the worst than this person suspect the least. Sir Lucius was left silent
with rage, mad with passion, desperate with hate.

He gasped for breath. Now his brow burnt, now the cold dew ran off his
countenance in streams. He clenched his fist, he stamped with agony, he
found at length his voice, and he blasphemed to the unconscious woods.

His quick brain flew to the results like lightning. The Duke had escaped
from his mesh; his madness had done more to win this boy Miss Dacre’s
heart than an age of courtship. He had lost the idol of his passion; he
was fixed for ever with the creature of his hate. He loathed the idea.
He tottered into the hermitage, and buried his face in his hands.

Something must be done. Some monstrous act of energy must repair this
fatal blunder. He appealed to the mind which had never deserted him. The
oracle was mute. Yet vengeance might even slightly redeem the bitterness
of despair. This fellow should die; and his girl, for already he hated
Miss Dacre, should not triumph in her minion. He tore a leaf from his
tablets, and wrote the lines we have already read.

The young Duke reached home. You expect, of course, that he sat up all
night making his will and answering letters. By no means. The first
object that caught his eye was an enormous ottoman. He threw himself
upon it without undressing, and without speaking a word to Luigi, and
in a moment was fast asleep. He was fairly exhausted. Luigi stared, and
called Spiridion to consult. They agreed that they dare not go to bed,
and must not leave their lord; so they played écarté, till at last they
quarrelled and fought with the candles over the table. But even this did
not wake their unreasonable master; so Spiridion threw down a few chairs
by accident; but all in vain. At half-past five there was a knocking at
the gate, and they hurried away.

Arundel Dacre entered with them, woke the Duke, and praised him for his
punctuality. His Grace thought that he had only dozed a few minutes; but
time pressed; five minutes arranged his toilet, and they were first on
the field.

In a moment Sir Lucius and Mr. Piggott appeared. Arundel Dacre, on the
way, had anxiously enquired as to the probability of reconciliation, but
was told at once it was impossible, so now he measured the ground and
loaded the pistols with a calmness which was admirable. They fired at
once; the Duke in the air, and the Baronet in his friend’s side. When
Sir Lucius saw his Grace fall his hate vanished. He ran up with real
anxiety and unfeigned anguish.

‘Have I hit you? by h-ll!’

His Grace was magnanimous, but the case was urgent. A surgeon gave a
favourable report, and extracted the ball on the spot. The Duke was
carried back to his chaise, and in an hour was in the state bed, not of
the Alhambra, but of his neglected mansion.

Arundel Dacre retired when he had seen his friend home, but gave urgent
commands that he should be kept quiet. No sooner was the second out
of sight than the principal ordered the room to be cleared, with the
exception of Spiridion, and then, rising in his bed, wrote this note,
which the page was secretly to deliver.

‘----House, ----, 182-.

‘Dear Miss Dacre,

‘A very unimportant but somewhat disagreeable incident has occurred.
I have been obliged to meet Sir Lucius Grafton, and our meeting has
fortunately terminated without any serious consequences. Yet I wish that
you should hear of this first from me, lest you might imagine that I had
not redeemed my pledge of last night, and that I had placed for a moment
my own feelings in competition with yours. This is not the case, and
never shall be, dear Miss Dacre, with one whose greatest pride is to
subscribe himself

‘Your most obedient and faithful servant,

‘St. James.’



CHAPTER XIII.

     _A Mind Distraught_

THE world talked of nothing but the duel between the Duke of St. James
and Sir Lucius Grafton.

It was a thunderbolt; and the phenomenon was accounted for by every
cause but the right one. Yet even those who most confidently solved the
riddle were the most eagerly employed in investigating its true meaning.
The seconds were of course applied to. Arundel Dacre was proverbially
unpumpable; but Peacock Piggott, whose communicative temper was an
adage, how came he on a sudden so diplomatic? Not a syllable oozed from
a mouth which was ever open; not a hint from a countenance which never
could conceal its mind. He was not even mysterious, but really looked
just as astonished and was just as curious as themselves. Fine times
these for ‘The Universe’ and ‘The New World!’ All came out about Lady
Afy; and they made up for their long and previous ignorance, or, as they
now boldly blustered, their long and considerate forbearance. Sheets
given away gratis, edition on Saturday night for the country, and
woodcuts of the Pavilion fête: the when, the how, and the wherefore.
A. The summer-house, and Lady Aphrodite meeting the young Duke. B.
The hedge behind which Sir Lucius Grafton was concealed. C. Kensington
Gardens, and a cloudy morning; and so on. Cruikshank did wonders.

But let us endeavour to ascertain the feelings of the principal agents
in this odd affair. Sir Lucius now was cool, and, the mischief being
done, took a calm review of the late mad hours. As was his custom, he
began to enquire whether any good could be elicited from all this
evil. He owed his late adversary sundry moneys, which he had never
contemplated the possibility of repaying to the person who had eloped
with his wife. Had he shot his creditor the account would equally have
been cleared; and this consideration, although it did not prompt, had
not dissuaded, the late desperate deed. As it was, he now appeared still
to enjoy the possession both of his wife and his debts, and had lost
his friend. Bad generalship, Sir Lucy! Reconciliation was out of the
question. The Duke’s position was a good one. Strongly entrenched with a
flesh wound, he had all the sympathy of society on his side; and, after
having been confined for a few weeks, he could go to Paris for a few
months, and then return, as if the Graftons had never crossed his eye,
rid of a troublesome mistress and a troublesome friend. His position was
certainly a good one; but Sir Lucius was astute, and he determined to
turn this Shumla of his Grace. The quarrel must have been about her
Ladyship. Who could assign any other cause for it? And the Duke must now
be weak with loss of blood and anxiety, and totally unable to resist
any appeal, particularly a personal one, to his feelings. He determined,
therefore, to drive Lady Afy into his Grace’s arms. If he could only get
her into the house for an hour, the business would be settled.

These cunning plans were, however, nearly being crossed by a very simple
incident. Annoyed at finding that her feelings could be consulted only
by sacrificing those of another woman, Miss Dacre, quite confident that,
as Lady Aphrodite was innocent in the present instance, she must be
immaculate, told everything to her father, and, stifling her tears,
begged him to make all public; but Mr. Dacre, after due consideration,
enjoined silence.

In the meantime the young Duke was not in so calm a mood as Sir Lucius.
Rapidly the late extraordinary events dashed through his mind, and
already those feelings which had prompted his soliloquy in the garden
were no longer his. All forms, all images, all ideas, all memory, melted
into Miss Dacre. He felt that he loved her with a perfect love: that she
was to him what no other woman had been, even in the factitious delirium
of early passion. A thought of her seemed to bring an entirely novel
train of feelings, impressions, wishes, hopes. The world with her must
be a totally different system, and his existence in her society a new
and another life. Her very purity refined the passion which raged even
in his exhausted mind. Gleams of virtue, morning streaks of duty, broke
upon the horizon of his hitherto clouded soul; an obscure suspicion
of the utter worthlessness of his life whispered in his hollow ear;
he darkly felt that happiness was too philosophical a system to be the
result or the reward of impulse, however unbounded, and that principle
alone could create and could support that bliss which is our being’s end
and aim.

But when he turned to himself, he viewed his situation with horror,
and yielded almost to despair. What, what could she think of the impure
libertine who dared to adore her? If ever time could bleach his own soul
and conciliate hers, what, what was to become of Aphrodite? Was his new
career to commence by a new crime? Was he to desert this creature of his
affections, and break a heart which beat only for him? It seemed that
the only compensation he could offer for a life which had achieved
no good would be to establish the felicity of the only being whose
happiness seemed in his power. Yet what a prospect! If before he had
trembled, now----

But his harrowed mind and exhausted body no longer allowed him even
anxiety. Weak, yet excited, his senses fled; and when Arundel Dacre
returned in the evening he found his friend delirious. He sat by his bed
for hours. Suddenly the Duke speaks. Arundel Dacre rises: he leans over
the sufferer’s couch.

Ah! why turns the face of the listener so pale, and why gleam those eyes
with terrible fire? The perspiration courses down his clear but sallow
cheek: he throws his dark and clustering curls aside, and passes his
hand over his damp brow, as if to ask whether he, too, had lost his
senses from this fray.

The Duke is agitated. He waves his arm in the air, and calls out in a
tone of defiance and of hate. His voice sinks: it seems that he breathes
a milder language, and speaks to some softer being. There is no sound,
save the long-drawn breath of one on whose countenance is stamped
infinite amazement. Arundel Dacre walks the room disturbed; often he
pauses, plunged in deep thought. ‘Tis an hour past midnight, and he
quits the bedside of the young Duke.

He pauses at the threshold, and seems to respire even the noisome air
of the metropolis as if it were Eden. As he proceeds down Hill Street he
stops, and gazes for a moment on the opposite house. What passes in
his mind we know not. Perhaps he is reminded that in that mansion dwell
beauty, wealth, and influence, and that all might be his. Perhaps love
prompts that gaze, perhaps ambition. Is it passion, or is it power? or
does one struggle with the other?

As he gazes the door opens, but without servants; and a man, deeply
shrouded in his cloak, comes out. It was night, and the individual
was disguised; but there are eyes which can pierce at all seasons and
through all concealments, and Arundel Dacre marked with astonishment Sir
Lucius Grafton.



CHAPTER XIV.

     _Reconciliation_

WHEN it was understood that the Duke of St. James had been delirious,
public feeling reached what is called its height; that is to say, the
curiosity and the ignorance of the world were about equal. Everybody was
indignant, not so much because the young Duke had been shot, but because
they did not know why. If the sympathy of the women could have consoled
him, our hero might have been reconciled to his fate. Among these, no
one appeared more anxious as to the result, and more ignorant as to
the cause, than Mrs. Dallington Vere. Arundel Dacre called on her the
morning ensuing his midnight observation, but understood that she had
not seen Sir Lucius Grafton, who, they said, had quitted London, which
she thought probable. Nevertheless Arundel thought proper to walk down
Hill Street at the same hour, and, if not at the same minute, yet in due
course of time, he discovered the absent man.

In two or three days the young Duke was declared out of immediate
danger, though his attendants must say he remained exceedingly restless,
and by no means in a satisfactory state; yet, with their aid, they had
a right to hope the best. At any rate, if he were to go off, his friends
would have the satisfaction of remembering that all had been done
that could be; so saying, Dr. X. took his fee, and Surgeons Y. and Z.
prevented his conduct from being singular.

Now began the operations on the Grafton side. A letter from Lady
Aphrodite full of distraction. She was fairly mystified. What could
have induced Lucy suddenly to act so, puzzled her, as well it might. Her
despair, and yet her confidence in his Grace, seemed equally great. Some
talk there was of going off to Cleve at once. Her husband, on the whole,
maintained a rigid silence and studied coolness. Yet he had talked of
Vienna and Florence, and even murmured something about public disgrace
and public ridicule. In short, the poor lady was fairly worn out, and
wished to terminate her harassing career at once by cutting the Gordian
knot. In a word, she proposed coming on to her admirer and, as she
supposed, her victim, and having the satisfaction of giving him his
cooling draughts and arranging his bandages.

If the meeting between the young Duke and Sir Lucius Grafton had been
occasioned by any other cause than the real one, it is difficult to say
what might have been the fate of this proposition. Our own opinion is,
that this work would have been only in one volume; for the requisite
morality would have made out the present one; but, as it was, the
image of Miss Dacre hovered above our hero as his guardian genius. He
despaired of ever obtaining her; but yet he determined not wilfully to
crush all hope. Some great effort must be made to right his position.
Lady Aphrodite must not be deserted: the very thought increased his
fever. He wrote, to gain time; but another billet, in immediate answer,
only painted increased terrors, and described the growing urgency of her
persecuted situation. He was driven into a corner, but even a stag at
bay is awful: what, then, must be a young Duke, the most noble animal in
existence?

Ill as he was, he wrote these lines, not to Lady Aphrodite, but to her
husband:--


‘My Dear Grafton,

‘You will be surprised at hearing from me. Is it necessary for me to
assure you that my interference on a late occasion was accidental? And
can you, for a moment, maintain that, under the circumstances, I could
have acted in a different manner? I regret the whole business; but most
I regret that we were placed in collision.

‘I am ready to cast all memory of it into oblivion; and, as I
unintentionally offended, I indulge the hope that, in this conduct, you
will bear me company.

‘Surely, men like us are not to be dissuaded from following our
inclinations by any fear of the opinion of the world. The whole affair
is, at present, a mystery; and I think, with our united fancies,
some explanation may be hit upon which will render the mystery quite
impenetrable, while it professes to offer a satisfactory solution.

‘I do not know whether this letter expresses my meaning, for my mind is
somewhat agitated and my head not very clear; but, if you be inclined
to understand it in the right spirit, it is sufficiently lucid. At any
rate, my dear Grafton, I have once more the pleasure of subscribing
myself, faithfully yours,

‘St. James.’


This letter was marked ‘Immediate,’ consigned to the custody of Luigi,
with positive orders to deliver it personally to Sir Lucius; and, if not
at home, to follow till he found him.

He was not at home, and he was found at----‘s Clubhouse. Sullen,
dissatisfied with himself, doubtful as to the result of his fresh
manouvres, and brooding over his infernal debts, Sir Lucius had stepped
into----, and passed the whole morning playing desperately with Lord
Hounslow and Baron de Berghem. Never had he experienced such a smashing
morning. He had long far exceeded his resources, and was proceeding with
a vague idea that he should find money somehow or other, when this note
was put into his hand, as it seemed to him by Providence. The signature
of Semiramis could not have imparted more exquisite delight to a
collector of autographs. Were his long views, his complicated objects,
and doubtful results to be put in competition a moment with so decided,
so simple, and so certain a benefit? certainly not, by a gamester. He
rose from the table, and with strange elation wrote these lines:--


‘My Dearest Friend,

‘You forgive me, but can I forgive myself? I am plunged in overwhelming
grief. Shall I come on? Your mad but devoted friend,

‘Lucius Grafton.

‘The Duke of St. James.’


They met the same day. After a long consultation, it was settled that
Peacock Piggott should be entrusted, in confidence, with the secret
of the affair: merely a drunken squabble, ‘growing out’ of the Bird of
Paradise. Wine, jealousy, an artful woman, and headstrong youth will
account for anything; they accounted for the present affair. The story
was believed, because the world were always puzzled at Lady Aphrodite
being the cause. The Baronet proceeded with promptitude to make the
version pass current: he indicted ‘The Universe’ and ‘The New World;’
he prosecuted the caricaturists; and was seen everywhere with his wife.
‘The Universe’ and ‘The New World’ revenged themselves on the Signora;
and then she indicted them. They could not now even libel an opera
singer with impunity; where was the boasted liberty of the press?

In the meantime the young Duke, once more easy in his mind, wonderfully
recovered; and on the eighth day after the Ball of Beauty he returned to
the Pavilion, which had now resumed its usual calm character, for fresh
air and soothing quiet.



CHAPTER XV.

     _Arundel’s Warning_

IN THE morning of the young Duke’s departure for Twickenham, as Miss
Dacre and Lady Caroline St. Maurice were sitting together at the house
of the former, and moralising over the last night’s ball, Mr. Arundel
Dacre was announced.

‘You have just arrived in time to offer your congratulations, Arundel,
on an agreeable event,’ said Miss Dacre. ‘Lord St. Maurice is about to
lead to the hymeneal altar----’

‘Lady Sophy Wrekin; I know it.’

‘How extremely diplomatic! The _attaché_ in your very air. I thought,
of course, I was to surprise you; but future ambassadors have such
extraordinary sources of information.’

‘Mine is a simple one. The Duchess, imagining, I suppose, that my
attentions were directed to the wrong lady, warned me some weeks past.
However, my congratulations shall be duly paid. Lady Caroline St.
Maurice, allow me to express----’

‘All that you ought to feel,’ said Miss Dacre. ‘But men at the present
day pride themselves on insensibility.’

‘Do you think I am insensible, Lady Caroline?’ asked Arundel.

‘I must protest against unfair questions,’ said her Ladyship.

‘But it is not unfair. You are a person who have now seen me more than
once, and therefore, according to May, you ought to have a perfect
knowledge of my character. Moreover, you do not share the prejudices of
my family. I ask you, then, do you think I am so heartless as May would
insinuate?’

‘Does she insinuate so much?’

‘Does she not call me insensible, because I am not in raptures that your
brother is about to marry a young lady, who, for aught she knows, may be
the object of my secret adoration?’

‘Arundel, you are perverse,’ said Miss Dacre.

‘No, May; I am logical.’

‘I have always heard that logic is much worse than wilfulness,’ said
Lady Caroline.

‘But Arundel always was both,’ said Miss Dacre. ‘He is not only
unreasonable, but he will always prove that he is right. Here is your
purse, sir!’ she added with a smile, presenting him with the result of
her week’s labour.

‘This is the way she always bribes me, Lady Caroline. Do you approve of
this corruption?’

‘I must confess, I have a slight though secret kindness for a little
bribery. Mamma is now on her way to Mortimer’s, on a corrupt embassy.
The _nouvelle mariée_, you know, must be reconciled to her change of lot
by quite a new set of playthings. I can give you no idea of the necklace
that our magnificent cousin, in spite of his wound, has sent Sophy.’

‘But then, such a cousin!’ said Miss Dacre. ‘A young Duke, like the
young lady in the fairy tale, should scarcely ever speak without
producing brilliants.’

‘Sophy is highly sensible of the attention. As she amusingly observed,
except himself marrying her, he could scarcely do more. I hear the
carriage. Adieu, love! Good morning, Mr. Dacre.’

‘Allow me to see you to your carriage. I am to dine at Fitz-pompey House
to-day, I believe.’

Arundel Dacre returned to his cousin, and, seating himself at the table,
took up a book, and began reading it the wrong side upwards; then he
threw down a ball of silk, then he cracked a knitting-needle, and then
with a husky sort of voice and a half blush, and altogether an air of
infinite confusion, he said, ‘This has been an odd affair, May, of the
Duke of St. James and Sir Lucius Grafton?’

‘A very distressing affair, Arundel.’

‘How singular that I should have been his second, May?’

‘Could he have found anyone more fit for that office, Arundel?’

‘I think he might. I must say this: that, had I known at the time the
cause of the fray, I should have refused to accompany him.’

She was silent, and he resumed:

‘An opera singer, at the best! Sir Lucius Grafton showed more
discrimination. Peacock Piggott was just the character for his place,
and I think my principal, too, might have found a more congenial spirit.
What do you think, May?’

‘Really, Arundel, this is a subject of which I know nothing.’

‘Indeed! Well, it is odd, May; but do you know I have a queer suspicion
that you know more about it than anybody else.’

‘I! Arundel?’ she exclaimed, with marked confusion.

‘Yes, you, May,’ he repeated with firmness, and looked her in the face
with a glance which would read her soul. ‘Ay! I am sure you do.’

‘Who says so?’

‘Oh! do not fear that you have been betrayed. No one says it; but I know
it. We future ambassadors, you know, have such extraordinary sources of
information.’

‘You jest, Arundel, on a grave subject.’

‘Grave! yes, it is grave, May Dacre. It is grave that there should
be secrets between us; it is grave that our house should have been
insulted; it is grave that you, of all others, should have been
outraged; but oh! it is much more grave, it is bitter, that any other
arm than this should have avenged the wrong.’ He rose from his chair,
he paced the room in agitation, and gnashed his teeth with a vindictive
expression that he tried not to suppress.

‘O! my cousin, my dear, dear cousin! spare me!’ She hid her face in her
hands, yet she continued speaking in a broken voice: ‘I did it for
the best. It was to suppress strife, to prevent bloodshed. I knew your
temper, and I feared for your life; yet I told my father; I told him
all: and it was by his advice that I have maintained throughout the
silence which I, perhaps too hastily, at first adopted.’

‘My own dear May! spare me! I cannot mark a tear from you without a
pang. How I came to know this you wonder. It was the delirium of that
person who should not have played so proud a part in this affair, and
who is yet our friend; it was his delirium that betrayed all. In the
madness of his excited brain he reacted the frightful scene, declared
the outrage, and again avenged it. Yet, believe me, I am not tempted by
any petty feeling of showing I am not ignorant of what is considered
a secret to declare all this. I know, I feel your silence was for the
best; that it was prompted by sweet and holy feelings for my sake.
Believe me, my dear cousin, if anything could increase the infinite
affection with which I love you, it would be the consciousness that at
all times, whenever my image crosses your mind, it is to muse for my
benefit, or to extenuate my errors.

‘Dear May, you, who know me better than the world, know well my heart is
not a mass of ice; and you, who are ever so ready to find a good reason
even for my most wilful conduct, and an excuse for my most irrational,
will easily credit that, in interfering in an affair in which you
are concerned, I am not influenced by an unworthy, an officious, or a
meddling spirit. No, dear May! it is because I think it better for you
that we should speak upon this subject that I have ventured to treat
upon it. Perhaps I broke it in a crude, but, credit me, not in an
unkind, spirit. I am well conscious I have a somewhat ungracious manner;
but you, who have pardoned it so often, will excuse it now. To be brief,
it is of your companion to that accursed fête that I would speak.’

‘Mrs. Dallington?’

‘Surely she. Avoid her, May. I do not like that woman. You know I seldom
speak at hazard; if I do not speak more distinctly now, it is because I
will never magnify suspicions into certainties, which we must do even if
we mention them. But I suspect, greatly suspect. An open rupture would
be disagreeable, would be unwarrantable, would be impolitic. The season
draws to a close. Quit town somewhat earlier than usual, and, in the
meantime, receive her, if necessary; but, if possible, never alone. You
have many friends; and, if no other, Lady Caroline St. Maurice is worthy
of your society.’

He bent down his head and kissed her forehead: she pressed his faithful
hand.

‘And now, dear May, let me speak of a less important object, of myself.
I find this borough a mere delusion. Every day new difficulties arise;
and every day my chance seems weaker. I am wasting precious time for one
who should be in action. I think, then, of returning to Vienna, and at
once. I have some chance of being appointed Secretary of Embassy, and
I then shall have achieved what was the great object of my life,
independence.’

‘This is always a sorrowful subject to me, Arundel. You have cherished
such strange, do not be offended if I say such erroneous, ideas on the
subject of what you call independence, that I feel that upon it we
can consult neither with profit to you nor satisfaction to myself.
Independence! Who is independent, if the heir of Dacre bow to anyone?
Independence! Who can be independent, if the future head of one of
the first families in this great country, will condescend to be the
secretary even of a king?’

‘We have often talked of this, May, and perhaps I have carried a morbid
feeling to some excess; but my paternal blood flows in these veins, and
it is too late to change. I know not how it is, but I seem misplaced in
life. My existence is a long blunder.’

‘Too late to change, dearest Arundel! Oh! thank you for those words. Can
it, can it ever be too late to acknowledge error? Particularly if, by
that very acknowledgment, we not only secure our own happiness, but that
of those we love and those who love us?’

‘Dear May! when I talk with you, I talk with my good genius; but I am
in closer and more constant converse with another mind, and of that I am
the slave. It is my own. I will not conceal from you, from whom I have
concealed nothing, that doubts and dark misgivings of the truth and
wisdom of my past feelings and my past career will ever and anon flit
across my fancy, and obtrude themselves upon my consciousness. Your
father--yes! I feel that I have not been to him what nature intended,
and what he deserved.’

‘O Arundel!’ she said, with streaming eyes, ‘he loves you like a son.
Yet, yet be one!’

He seated himself on the sofa by her side, and took her small hand and
bathed it with his kisses.

‘My sweet and faithful friend, my very sister! I am overpowered with
feelings to which I have hitherto been a stranger. There is a cause for
all this contest of my passions. It must out. My being has changed. The
scales have fallen from my sealed eyes, and the fountain of my heart
o’erflows. Life seems to have a new purpose, and existence a new cause.
Listen to me, listen; and if you can, May, comfort me!’



CHAPTER XVI.

     _Three Graces_

AT TWICKENHAM the young Duke recovered rapidly. Not altogether
displeased with his recent conduct, his self-complacency assisted his
convalescence. Sir Lucius Grafton visited him daily. Regularly, about
four or five o’clock, he galloped down to the Pavilion with the last _on
dit_: some gay message from White’s, a _mot_ of Lord Squib, or a trait
of Charles Annesley. But while he studied to amuse the wearisome hours
of his imprisoned friend, in the midst of all his gaiety an interesting
contrition was ever breaking forth, not so much by words as looks. It
was evident that Sir Lucius, although he dissembled his affliction,
was seriously affected by the consequence of his rash passion; and his
amiable victim, whose magnanimous mind was incapable of harbouring an
inimical feeling, and ever respondent to a soft and generous sentiment,
felt actually more aggrieved for his unhappy friend than for himself.
Of Arundel Dacre the Duke had not seen much. That gentleman never
particularly sympathised with Sir Lucius Grafton, and now he scarcely
endeavoured to conceal the little pleasure which he received from the
Baronet’s society. Sir Lucius was the last man not to detect this mood;
but, as he was confident that the Duke had not betrayed him, he could
only suppose that Miss Dacre had confided the affair to her family, and
therefore, under all circumstances, he thought it best to be unconscious
of any alteration in Arundel Dacre’s intercourse with him. Civil,
therefore, they were when they met; the Baronet was even courteous; but
they both mutually avoided each other.

At the end of three weeks the Duke of St. James returned to town in
perfect condition, and received the congratulations of his friends.
Mr. Dacre had been of the few who had been permitted to visit him at
Twickenham. Nothing had then passed between them on the cause of his
illness; but his Grace could not but observe that the manner of his
valued friend was more than commonly cordial. And Miss Dacre, with
her father, was among the first to hail his return to health and the
metropolis.

The Bird of Paradise, who, since the incident, had been several times in
hysterics, and had written various notes, of three or four lines each,
of enquiries and entreaties to join her noble friend, had been kept off
from Twickenham by the masterly tactics of Lord Squib. She, however,
would drive to the Duke’s house the day after his arrival in town, and
was with him when sundry loud knocks, in quick succession, announced an
approaching levée. He locked her up in his private room, and hastened
to receive the compliments of his visitors. In the same apartment, among
many others, he had the pleasure of meeting, for the first time, Lady
Aphrodite Grafton, Lady Caroline St. Maurice, and Miss Dacre, all women
whom he had either promised, intended, or offered to marry. A curious
situation this! And really, when our hero looked upon them once
more, and viewed them, in delightful rivalry, advancing with their
congratulations, he was not surprised at the feelings with which they
had inspired him. Far, far exceeding the _bonhomie_ of Macheath, the
Duke could not resist remembering that, had it been his fortune to have
lived in the land in which his historiographer will soon be wandering;
in short, to have been a pacha instead of a peer, he might have married
all three.

A prettier fellow and three prettier women had never met since the
immortal incident of Ida.

It required the thorough breeding of Lady Afy to conceal the anxiety of
her passion; Miss Dacre’s eyes showered triple sunshine, as she extended
a hand not too often offered; but Lady Caroline was a cousin, and
consanguinity, therefore, authorised as well as accounted for the warmth
of her greeting.



CHAPTER XVII.

     _A Second Refusal_

A VERY few days after his return the Duke of St. James dined with Mr.
Dacre. It was the first time that he had dined with him during the
season. The Fitz-pompeys were there; and, among others, his Grace had
the pleasure of again meeting a few of his Yorkshire friends.

Once more he found himself at the right hand of Miss Dacre. All
his career, since his arrival in England, flitted across his mind.
Doncaster, dear Don-caster, where he had first seen her, teemed only
with delightful reminiscences to a man whose favourite had bolted. Such
is the magic of love! Then came Castle Dacre and the orange terrace, and
their airy romps, and the delightful party to Hauteville; and then Dacre
Abbey. An involuntary shudder seemed to damp all the ardour of his soul;
but when he turned and looked upon her beaming face, he could not feel
miserable.

He thought that he had never been at so agreeable a party in his life:
yet it was chiefly composed of the very beings whom he daily execrated
for their powers of boredom. And he himself was not very entertaining.
He was certainly more silent than loquacious, and found himself often
gazing with mute admiration on the little mouth, every word breathed
forth from which seemed inspiration. Yet he was happy. Oh! what
happiness is his who dotes upon a woman! Few could observe from his
conduct what was passing in his mind; yet the quivering of his softened
tones and the mild lustre of his mellowed gaze; his subdued and quiet
manner; his un-perceived yet infinite attentions; his memory of little
incidents that all but lovers would have forgotten; the total absence
of all compliment, and gallantry, and repartee; all these, to a fine
observer, might have been gentle indications of a strong passion; and
to her to whom they were addressed sufficiently intimated that no change
had taken place in his feelings since the warm hour in which he first
whispered his o’erpowering love.

The ladies retired, and the Duke of St. James fell into a reverie. A
political discourse of elaborate genius now arose. Lord Fitz-pompey
got parliamentary. Young Faulcon made his escape, having previously
whispered to another youth, not unheard by the Duke of St. James, that
his mother was about to depart, and he was convoy. His Grace, too,
had heard Lady Fitz-pompey say that she was going early to the opera.
Shortly afterwards parties evidently retired. But the debate still
raged. Lord Fitz-pompey had caught a stout Yorkshire squire, and was
delightedly astounding with official graces his stern opponent. A sudden
thought occurred to the Duke; he stole out of the room, and gained the
saloon.

He found it almost empty. With sincere pleasure he bid Lady Balmont, who
was on the point of departure, farewell, and promised to look in at her
box. He seated himself by Lady Greville Nugent, and dexterously made her
follow Lady Balmont’s example. She withdrew with the conviction that
his Grace would not be a moment behind her. There were only old Mrs.
Hungerford and her rich daughter remaining. They were in such raptures
with Miss Dacre’s singing that his Grace was quite in despair; but
chance favoured him. Even old Mrs. Hungerford this night broke through
her rule of not going to more than one house, and she drove off to Lady
de Courcy’s.

They were alone. It is sometimes an awful thing to be alone with those
we love.

‘Sing that again!’ asked the Duke, imploringly. ‘It is my favourite air;
it always reminds me of Dacre.’

She sang, she ceased; she sang with beauty, and she ceased with grace;
but all unnoticed by the tumultuous soul of her adoring guest. His
thoughts were intent upon a greater object. The opportunity was sweet;
and yet those boisterous wassailers, they might spoil all.

‘Do you know that this is the first time that I have seen your rooms lit
up?’ said the Duke.

‘Is it possible! I hope they gain the approbation of so distinguished a
judge.’

‘I admire them exceedingly. By-the-bye, I see a new cabinet in the
next room. Swaby told me, the other day, that you were one of his
lady-patronesses. I wish you would show it me. I am very curious in
cabinets.’

She rose, and they advanced to the end of another and a longer room.

‘This is a beautiful saloon,’ said the Duke. ‘How long is it?’

‘I really do not know; but I think between forty and fifty feet.’

‘Oh! you must be mistaken. Forty or fifty feet! I am an excellent
judge of distances. I will try. Forty or fifty feet! Ah! the next room
included. Let us walk to the end of the next room. Each of my paces
shall be one foot and a half.’

They had now arrived at the end of the third room.

‘Let me see,’ resumed the Duke; ‘you have a small room to the right. Oh!
did I not hear that you had made a conservatory? I see, I see it;
lit up, too! Let us go in. I want to gain some hints about London
conservatories.’

It was not exactly a conservatory; but a balcony of large dimensions
had been fitted up on each side with coloured glass, and was open to the
gardens. It was a rich night of fragrant June. The moon and stars
were as bright as if they had shone over the terrace of Dacre, and the
perfume of the flowers reminded him of his favourite orange-trees. The
mild, cool scene was such a contrast to the hot and noisy chamber they
had recently quitted, that for a moment they were silent.

‘You are not afraid of this delicious air?’ asked his Grace.

‘Midsummer air,’ said Miss Dacre, ‘must surely be harmless.’

Again there was silence; and Miss Dacre, after having plucked a flower
and tended a plant, seemed to express an intention of withdrawing.
Suddenly he spoke, and in a gushing voice of heartfelt words:

‘Miss Dacre, you are too kind, too excellent to be offended, if I dare
to ask whether anything could induce you to view with more indulgence
one who sensibly feels how utterly he is unworthy of you.’

‘You are the last person whose feelings I should wish to hurt. Let us
not revive a conversation to which, I can assure you, neither of us
looks back with satisfaction.’

‘Is there, then, no hope? Must I ever live with the consciousness of
being the object of your scorn?’

‘Oh, no, no! As you will speak, let us understand each other. However I
may approve of my decision, I have lived quite long enough to repent the
manner in which it was conveyed. I cannot, without the most unfeigned
regret, I cannot for a moment remember that I have addressed a
bitter word to one to whom I am under the greatest obligations. If my
apologies----’

‘Pray, pray be silent!’

‘I must speak. If my apologies, my complete, my most humble apologies,
can be any compensation for treating with such lightness feelings which
I now respect, and offers by which I now consider myself honoured,
accept them!’

‘O, Miss Dacre! that fatal word, respect!’

‘We have warmer words in this house for you. You are now our friend.’

‘I dare not urge a suit which may offend you; yet, if you could read my
heart, I sometimes think that we might be happy. Let me hope!’

‘My dear Duke of St. James, I am sure you will not ever offend me,
because I am sure you will not ever wish to do it. There are few people
in this world for whom I entertain a more sincere regard than yourself.
I am convinced, I am conscious, that when we met I did sufficient
justice neither to your virtues nor your talents. It is impossible for
me to express with what satisfaction I now feel that you have resumed
that place in the affections of this family to which you have an
hereditary right. I am grateful, truly, sincerely grateful, for all
that you feel with regard to me individually; and believe me, in again
expressing my regret that it is not in my power to view you in any other
light than as a valued friend, I feel that I am pursuing that conduct
which will conduce as much to your happiness as my own.’

‘My happiness, Miss Dacre!’

‘Indeed, such is my opinion. I will not again endeavour to depreciate
the feelings which you entertain for me, and by which, ever remember,
I feel honoured; but these very feelings prevent you from viewing their
object so dispassionately as I do.’

‘I am at a loss for your meaning; at least, favour me by speaking
explicitly: you see I respect your sentiments, and do not presume to
urge that on which my very happiness depends.’

‘To be brief, then, I will not affect to conceal that marriage is a
state which has often been the object of my meditations. I think it the
duty of all women that so important a change in their destiny should
be well considered. If I know anything of myself, I am convinced that I
should never survive an unhappy marriage.’

‘But why dream of anything so utterly impossible?’

‘So very probable, so very certain, you mean. Ay! I repeat my words, for
they are truth. If I ever marry, it is to devote every feeling and every
thought, each hour, each instant of existence, to a single being for
whom I alone live. Such devotion I expect in return; without it I should
die, or wish to die; but such devotion can never be returned by you.’

‘You amaze me! I! who live only on your image.’

‘Your education, the habits in which you are brought up, the maxims
which have been instilled into you from your infancy, the system which
each year of your life has more matured, the worldly levity with which
everything connected with woman is viewed by you and your companions;
whatever may be your natural dispositions, all this would prevent you,
all this would render it a perfect impossibility, all this will ever
make you utterly unconscious of the importance of the subject on which
we are now conversing. Pardon me for saying it, you know not of what you
speak. Yes! however sincere may be the expression of your feelings to me
this moment, I shudder to think on whom your memory dwelt even this hour
but yesterday. I never will peril my happiness on such a chance; but
there are others who do not think as I do.’

‘Miss Dacre! save me! If you knew all, you would not doubt. This moment
is my destiny.’

‘My dear Duke of St. James, save yourself. There is yet time. You have
my prayers.’

‘Let me then hope----’

‘Indeed, indeed, it cannot be. Here our conversation on this subject
ends for ever.’

‘Yet we part friends!’ He spoke in a broken voice.

‘The best and truest!’ She extended her arm; he pressed her hand to his
impassioned lips, and quitted the house, mad with love and misery.



CHAPTER XVIII.

     _Joys of the Alhambra_

THE Duke threw himself into his carriage in that mood which fits us
for desperate deeds. What he intended to do, indeed, was doubtful,
but something very vigorous, very decided, perhaps very terrible. An
indefinite great effort danced, in misty magnificence, before the vision
of his mind. His whole being was to be changed, his life was to be
revolutionised. Such an alteration was to take place that even she could
not doubt the immense yet incredible result. Then despair whispered its
cold-blooded taunts, and her last hopeless words echoed in his ear. But
he was too agitated to be calmly miserable, and, in the poignancy of his
feelings, he even meditated death. One thing, however, he could obtain;
one instant relief was yet in his power, solitude. He panted for the
loneliness of his own chamber, broken only by his agitated musings.

The carriage stopped; the lights and noise called him to life. This,
surely, could not be home? Whirled open the door, down dashed the steps,
with all that prompt precision which denotes the practised hand of an
aristocratic retainer. (284)

‘What is all this, Symmons? Why did you not drive home?’

‘Your Grace forgets that Mr. Annesley and some gentlemen sup with your
Grace to-night at the Alhambra.’

‘Impossible! Drive home.’

‘Your Grace perhaps forgets that your Grace is expected?’ said the
experienced servant, who knew when to urge a master, who, to-morrow,
might blame him for permitting his caprice.

‘What am I to do? Stay here. I will run upstairs, and put them off.’

He ran up into the crush-room. The opera was just over, and some parties
who were not staying the ballet, had already assembled there. As he
passed along he was stopped by Lady Fitz-pompey, who would not let such
a capital opportunity escape of exhibiting Caroline and the young Duke
together.

‘Mr. Bulkley,’ said her Ladyship, ‘there must be something wrong about
the carriage.’ An experienced, middle-aged gentleman, who jobbed on in
society by being always ready and knowing his cue, resigned the arm of
Lady Caroline St. Maurice and disappeared.

‘George,’ said Lady Fitz-pompey, ‘give your arm to Carry just for one
moment.’

If it had been anybody but his cousin, the Duke would easily have
escaped; but Caroline he invariably treated with marked regard; perhaps
because his conscience occasionally reproached him that he had not
treated her with a stronger feeling. At this moment, too, she was
the only being in the world, save one, whom he could remember with
satisfaction: he felt that he loved her most affectionately, but somehow
she did not inspire him with those peculiar feelings which thrilled his
heart at the recollection of May Dacre.

In this mood he offered an arm, which was accepted; but he could not in
a moment assume the tone of mind befitting his situation and the scene.
He was silent; for him a remarkable circumstance.

‘Do not stay here,’ said Lady Caroline is a soft voice, which her mother
could not overhear. ‘I know you want to be away. Steal off.’

‘Where can I be better than with you, Carry?’ said the young Duke,
determined not to leave her, and loving her still more for her modest
kindness; and thereon he turned round, and, to show that he was sincere,
began talking with his usual spirit. Mr. Bulkley of course never
returned, and Lady Fitz-pompey felt as satisfied with her diplomatic
talents as a plenipotentiary who has just arranged an advantageous
treaty.

Arundel Dacre came up and spoke to Lady Fitz-pompey. Never did two
persons converse together who were more dissimilar in their manner and
their feelings; and yet Arundel Dacre did contrive to talk; a result
which he could not always accomplish, even with those who could
sympathise with him. Lady Fitz-pompey listened to him with attention;
for Arundel Dacre, in spite of his odd manner, or perhaps in some degree
in consequence of it, had obtained a distinguished reputation both among
men and women; and it was the great principle of Lady Fitz-pompey to
attach to her the distinguished youth of both sexes. She was pleased
with this public homage of Arundel Dacre; because he was one who, with
the reputation of talents, family, and fashion, seldom spoke to anyone,
and his attentions elevated their object. Thus she maintained her
empire.

St. Maurice now came up to excuse himself to the young Duke for not
attending at the Alhambra to-night. ‘Sophy could not bear it,’ he
whispered: ‘she had got her head full of the most ridiculous fancies,
and it was in vain to speak: so he had promised to give up that, as well
as Crockford’s.’

This reminded our hero of his party, and the purpose of his entering the
opera. He determined not to leave Caroline till her carriage was called;
and he began to think that he really must go to the Alhambra, after all.
He resolved to send them off at an early hour.

‘Anything new to-night, Henry?’ asked his Grace, of Lord St. Maurice. ‘I
have just come in.’

‘Oh! then you have seen them?’

‘Seen whom?’

‘The most knowing _forestieri_ we ever had. We have been speaking of
nothing else the whole evening. Has not Caroline told you? Arundel Dacre
introduced me to them.’

‘Who are they?’

‘I forget their names. Dacre, how do you call the heroes of the night?
Dacre never answers. Did you ever observe that? But, see! there they
come.’

The Duke turned, and observed Lord Darrell advancing with two gentlemen
with whom his Grace was well acquainted. These were Prince Charles de
Whiskerburg and Count Frill.

M. de Whiskerburg was the eldest son of a prince, who, besides being
the premier noble of the empire, possessed, in his own country, a very
pretty park of two or three hundred miles in circumference, in the
boundaries of which the imperial mandate was not current, but hid its
diminished head before the supremacy of a subject worshipped under the
title of John the Twenty-fourth. M. de Whiskerburg was a young man,
tall, with a fine figure, and fine features. In short, a sort of
Hungarian Apollo; only his beard, his mustachios, his whiskers,
his _favoris_, his _padishas_, his sultanas, his mignonettas, his
dulcibellas, did not certainly entitle him to the epithet of _imberbis_,
and made him rather an apter representative of the Hungarian Hercules.

Count Frill was a different sort of personage. He was all rings and
ringlets, ruffles, and a little rouge. Much older than his companion,
short in stature, plump in figure, but with a most defined waist, fair,
blooming, with a multiplicity of long light curls, and a perpetual smile
playing upon his round countenance, he looked like the Cupid of an opera
Olympus.

The Duke of St. James had been intimate with these distinguished
gentlemen in their own country, and had received from them many and
distinguished attentions. Often had he expressed to them his sincere
desire to greet them in his native land. Their mutual anxiety of never
again meeting was now removed. If his heart, instead of being bruised,
had been absolutely broken, still honour, conscience, the glory of his
house, his individual reputation, alike urged him not to be cold or
backward at such a moment. He advanced, therefore, with a due mixture
of grace and warmth, and congratulated them on their arrival. At this
moment, Lady Fitz-pompey’s carriage was announced. Promising to return
to them in an instant, he hastened to his cousin; but Mr. Arundel Dacre
had already offered his arm, which, for Arundel Dacre, was really pretty
well.

The Duke was now glad that he had a small reunion this evening, as he
could at once pay a courtesy to his foreign friends. He ran into the
Signora’s dressing-room, to assure her of his presence. He stumbled
upon Peacock Piggott as he came out, and summoned him to fill the vacant
place of St. Maurice, and then sent him with a message to some friends
who yet lingered in their box, and whose presence, he thought, might be
an agreeable addition to the party.

You entered the Alhambra by a Saracenic cloister, from the ceiling of
which an occasional lamp threw a gleam upon some Eastern arms hung up
against the wall. This passage led to the armoury, a room of moderate
dimensions, but hung with rich contents. Many an inlaid breastplate,
many a Mameluke scimitar and Damascus blade, many a gemmed pistol
and pearl-embroidered saddle, might there be seen, though viewed in a
subdued and quiet light. All seemed hushed, and still, and shrouded in
what had the reputation of being a palace of pleasure.

In this chamber assembled the expected guests. And having all arrived,
they proceeded down a small gallery to the banqueting-room. The room
was large and lofty. It was fitted up as an Eastern tent. The walls
were hung with scarlet cloth, tied up with ropes of gold. Round the room
crouched recumbent lions richly gilt, who grasped in their paws a lance,
the top of which was a coloured lamp. The ceiling was emblazoned with
the Hauteville arms, and was radiant with burnished gold. A cresset lamp
was suspended from the centre of the shield, and not only emitted an
equable flow of soft though brilliant light, but also, as the aromatic
oil wasted away, distilled an exquisite perfume.

The table blazed with golden plate, for the Bird of Paradise loved
splendour. At the end of the room, under a canopy and upon a throne, the
shield and vases lately executed for his Grace now appeared. Everything
was gorgeous, costly, and imposing; but there was no pretence, save
in the original outline, at maintaining the Oriental character. The
furniture was French; and opposite the throne Canova’s Hebe, bounded
with a golden cup from a pedestal of ormolu.

The guests are seated; but after a few minutes the servants withdraw.
Small tables of ebony and silver, and dumb waiters of ivory and gold,
conveniently stored, are at hand, and Spiridion never leaves the room.
The repast was refined, exquisite, various. It was one of those meetings
where all eat. When a few persons, easy and unconstrained, unencumbered
with cares, and of dispositions addicted to enjoyment, get together at
past midnight, it is extraordinary what an appetite they evince. Singers
also are proverbially prone to gourmandise; and though the Bird of
Paradise unfortunately possessed the smallest mouth in all Singingland,
it is astonishing how she pecked! But they talked as well as feasted,
and were really gay.

‘Prince,’ said the Duke, ‘I hope Madame de Harestein approves of your
trip to England?’

The Prince only smiled, for he was of a silent disposition, and
therefore wonderfully well suited his travelling companion.

‘Poor Madame de Harestein!’ exclaimed Count Frill. ‘What despair she was
in, when you left Vienna, my dear Duke. I did what I could to amuse her.
I used to take my guitar, and sing to her morning and night, but without
effect. She certainly would have died of a broken heart, if it had not
been for the dancing-dogs.’

‘Did they bite her?’ asked a lady who affected the wit of Lord Squib,
‘and so inoculate her with gaiety.’

‘Everybody was mad about the dancing-dogs. They came from Peru, and
danced the mazurka in green jackets with a _jabot_. Oh! what a _jabot!_’

‘I dislike animals excessively,’ remarked another lady, who was as
refined as Mr. Annesley, her model.

‘Dislike the dancing-dogs!’ said Count Frill. ‘Ah! my good lady, you
would have been enchanted. Even the Kaiser fed them with pistachio nuts.
Oh! so pretty! Delicate leetle things, soft shining little legs, and
pretty little faces! so sensible, and with such _jabots!_’

‘I assure you they were excessively amusing,’ said the Prince, in a
soft, confidential undertone to his neighbour, Mrs. Montfort, who was as
dignified as she was beautiful, and who, admiring his silence, which she
took for state, smiled and bowed with fascinating condescension.

‘And what else has happened very remarkable, Count, since I left you?’
asked Lord Darrell.

‘Nothing, nothing, my dear Darrell. This _bêtise_ of a war has made
us all serious. If old Clamstandt had not married that gipsy, little
Dugiria, I really think I should have taken a turn to Belgrade.’

‘You should not eat so much, Poppet!’ drawled Charles Annesley to
a Spanish danseuse, tall, dusky and lithe, glancing like a lynx and
graceful as a jennet. She was very silent, but no doubt indicated
the possession of Cervantic humour by the sly calmness with which she
exhausted her own waiter, and pillaged her neighbours.

‘Why not?’ said a little French actress, highly finished like a
miniature, who scarcely ate anything, but drank champagne and chatted
with equal rapidity and composure, and who was always ready to fight
anybody’s battle, provided she could get an opportunity to talk. ‘Why
not, Mr. Annesley? You never will let anybody eat. I never eat myself,
because every night, having to talk so much, I am dry, dry, dry; so
I drink, drink, drink. It is an extraordinary thing that there is no
language which makes you so thirsty as French.’

‘What can be the reason?’ asked a sister of Mrs. Montfort, a tall fair
girl, who looked sentimental, but was only silly.

‘Because there is so much salt in it,’ said Lord Squib.

‘Delia,’ drawled Mr. Annesley, ‘you look very pretty to-night!’

‘I am charmed to charm you, Mr. Annesley. Shall I tell you what Lord Bon
Mot said of you?’

‘No, _ma mignonne!_ I never wish to hear my own good things.’

‘Spoiled, you should add,’ said the fair rival of Lord Squib, ‘if Bon
Mot be in the case.’

‘Lord Bon Mot is a most gentlemanlike man,’ said Delia, indignant at
an admirer being attacked. ‘He always wants to be amusing. Whenever he
dines out, he comes and sits with me for half an hour to catch the air
of the Parisian badinage.’

‘And you tell him a variety of little things?’ asked Lord Squib,
insidiously drawing out the secret tactics of Bon Mot.

‘_Beaucoup, beaucoup_,’ said Delia, extending two little white hands
sparkling with gems. ‘If he come in ever so, how do you call it? heavy,
not that: in the domps. Ah! it is that. If ever he come in the domps, he
goes out always like a _soufflée_.’

‘As empty, I have no doubt,’ said the witty lady.

‘And as sweet, I have no doubt,’ said Lord Squib; ‘for Delcroix
complains sadly of your excesses, Delia.’

‘Mr. Delcroix complain of me! That, indeed, is too bad. Just because I
recommend Montmorency de Versailles to him for an excellent customer,
ever since he abuses me, merely because Montmorency has forgot, in the
hurry of going off, to pay his little account.’

‘But he says you have got all the things,’ said Lord Squib, whose great
amusement was to put Delia in a passion.

‘What of that?’ screamed the little lady. ‘Montmorency gave them me.’

‘Don’t make such a noise,’ said the Bird of Paradise. ‘I never can eat
when there is a noise. Duke,’ continued she in a fretful tone, ‘they
make such a noise!’

‘Annesley, keep Squib quiet.’

‘Delia, leave that young man alone. If Isidora would talk a little
more, and you eat a little more, I think you would be the most agreeable
little ladies I know. Poppet! put those bonbons in your pocket. You
should never eat sugarplums in company.’

Thus, talking agreeable nonsense, tasting agreeable dishes, and sipping
agreeable wines, an hour ran on. Sweetest music from an unseen source
ever and anon sounded, and Spiridion swung a censer full of perfumes
round the chamber. At length the Duke requested Count Frill to give them
a song. The Bird of Paradise would never sing for pleasure, only for
fame and a slight cheque. The Count begged to decline, and at the same
time asked for a guitar. The Signora sent for hers; and his Excellency,
preluding with a beautiful simper, gave them some slight thing to this
effect.

     I.

     Charming Bignetta! charming Bignetta!
     What a gay little girl is charming Bignetta!
     She dances, she prattles,
     She rides and she rattles;
     But she always is charming, that charming Bignetta!


     II

     Charming Bignetta! charming Bignetta!
     What a wild little witch is charming Bignetta!
     When she smiles, I’m all madness;
     When she frowns, I’m all sadness;
     But she always is smiling, that charming Bignetta!


     III.

     Charming Bignetta! charming Bignetta!
     What a wicked young rogue is charming Bignetta!
     She laughs at my shyness,
     And flirts with his Highness;
     Yet still she is charming, that charming Bignetta!


     IV.

     Charming Bignetta! charming Bignetta!
     What a dear little girl is charming Bignetta!
     ‘Think me only a sister,’
     Said she trembling: I kissed her.
     What a charming young sister is charming Bignetta!


To choicer music chimed his gay guitar ‘In Este’s Halls,’ yet still his
song served its purpose, for it raised a smile.

‘I wrote that for Madame Sapiepha, at the Congress of Verona,’ said
Count Frill. ‘It has been thought amusing.’

‘Madame Sapiepha!’ exclaimed the Bird of Paradise. ‘What! that pretty
little woman, who has such pretty caps?’

‘The same! Ah! what caps! what taste!’

‘You like caps, then?’ asked the Bird of Paradise, with a sparkling eye.

‘Oh! if there be anything more than another that I know most, it is the
cap. Here,’ said he, rather oddly unbuttoning his waistcoat, ‘you see
what lace I have got.’

‘Ah me! what lace!’ exclaimed the Bird, in rapture. ‘Duke, look at his
lace. Come here, sit next to me. Let me look at that lace.’ She examined
it with great attention, then turned up her beautiful eyes with a
fascinating smile. ‘_Ah! c’est jolie, n’est-ce pas?_ But you like caps.
I tell you what, you shall see my caps. Spiridion, go, _mon cher_, and
tell Ma’amselle to bring my caps, all my caps, one of each set.’

In due time entered the Swiss, with the caps, all the caps, one of each
set. As she handed them in turn to her mistress, the Bird chirped a
panegyric upon each.

‘That is pretty, is it not, and this also? but this is my favourite.
What do you think of this border? _c’est belle cette garniture? et
ce jabot, c’est très-séduisant, n’est-ce pas? Mais voici_, the cap of
Princess Lichtenstein. _C’est superb, c’est mon favori_. But I also love
very much this of the Duchess de Berri. She gave me the pattern herself.
And, after, all, this _cornette à petite santé_ of Lady Blaze is a dear
little thing; then, again, this _coiffe à dentelle_ of Lady Macaroni is
quite a pet.’

‘Pass them down,’ said Lord Squib; ‘we want to look at them.’
Accordingly they were passed down. Lord Squib put one on.

‘Do I look superb, sentimental, or only pretty?’ asked his Lordship. The
example was contagious, and most of the caps were appropriated. No one
laughed more than their mistress, who, not having the slightest idea of
the value of money, would have given them all away on the spot; not from
any good-natured feeling, but from the remembrance that tomorrow she
might amuse half an hour in buying others.

Whilst some were stealing, and she remonstrating, the Duke clapped
his hands like a caliph. The curtain at the end of the apartment was
immediately withdrawn, and the ball-room stood revealed.

It was the same size as the banqueting-hall. Its walls exhibited a long
perspective of golden pilasters, the frequent piers of which were of
looking-glass, save where, occasionally, a picture had been, as it were,
inlaid in its rich frame. Here was the Titian Venus of the Tribune,
deliciously copied by a French artist: there, the Roman Fornarina, with
her delicate grace, beamed like the personification of Raf-faelle’s
genius. Here, Zuleikha, living in the light and shade of that magician
Guercino, in vain summoned the passions of the blooming Hebrew: and
there, Cleopatra, preparing for her last immortal hour, proved by what
we saw that Guido had been a lover.

The ceiling of this apartment was richly painted, and richly gilt: from
it were suspended three lustres by golden cords, which threw a softened
light upon the floor of polished and curiously inlaid woods. At the end
of the apartment was an orchestra.

Round the room waltzed the elegant revellers. Softly and slowly, led by
their host, they glided along like spirits of air; but each time that
the Duke passed the musicians, the music became livelier, and the motion
more brisk, till at length you might have mistaken them for a college of
spinning dervishes. One by one, an exhausted couple retreated from the
lists. Some threw themselves on a sofa, some monopolised an easy chair;
but in twenty minutes the whirl had ceased. At length Peacock Piggott
gave a groan, which denoted returning energy, and raised a stretching
leg in air, bringing up, though most unwittingly, upon his foot, one of
the Bird’s sublime and beautiful caps.

‘Halloa! Piggott, armed _cap-au-pied_, I see,’ said Lord Squib. This
joke was a signal for general resuscitation.

The Alhambra formed a quadrangle: all the chambers were on the basement
story. In the middle of the court of the quadrangle was a beautiful
fountain; and the court was formed by a conservatory, which was built
along each side of the interior square, and served, like a cloister
or covered way, for a communication between the different parts of the
building. To this conservatory they now repaired. It was broad, full
of rare and delicious plants and flowers, and brilliantly illuminated.
Busts and statues were intermingled with the fairy grove; and a rich,
warm hue, by a skilful arrangement of coloured lights, was thrown over
many a nymph and fair divinity, many a blooming hero and beardless god.
Here they lounged in different parties, talking on such subjects as
idlers ever fall upon; now and then plucking a flower, now and then
listening to the fountain, now and then lingering over the distant
music, and now and then strolling through a small apartment which opened
to their walks, and which bore the title of the Temple of Gnidus. Here,
Canova’s Venus breathed an atmosphere of perfume and of light; that
wonderful statue, whose full-charged eye is not very classical, to be
sure; but then, how true!

While they were thus whiling away their time, Lord Squib proposed a
visit to the theatre, which he had ordered to be lit up. To the theatre
they repaired. They rambled over every part of the house, amused
themselves with a visit to the gallery, and then collected behind the
scenes. They were excessively amused with the properties; and Lord Squib
proposed they should dress themselves. In a few minutes they were all
in costume. A crowd of queens and chambermaids, Jews and chimney-sweeps,
lawyers and Charleys, Spanish Dons, and Irish officers, rushed upon
the stage. The little Spaniard was Almaviva, and fell into magnificent
attitudes, with her sword and plume. Lord Squib was the old woman of
Brentford, and very funny. Sir Lucius Grafton, Harlequin; and Darrell,
Grimaldi. The Prince, and the Count without knowing it, figured as
watchmen. Squib whispered Annesley, that Sir Lucius O’Trigger might
appear in character, but was prudent enough to suppress the joke.

The band was summoned, and they danced quadrilles with infinite spirit,
and finished the night, at the suggestion of Lord Squib, by breakfasting
on the stage. By the time this meal was despatched the purple light of
morn had broken into the building, and the ladies proposed an immediate
departure.



BOOK IV.



CHAPTER I.

     _Pen Bronnock Palace_

THE arrival of the two distinguished foreigners reanimated the dying
season. All vied in testifying their consideration, and the Duke of St.
James exceeded all. He took them to see the alterations at Hauteville
House, which no one had yet witnessed; and he asked their opinion of his
furniture, which no one had yet decided on. Two fêtes in the same week
established, as well as maintained, his character as the Archduke of
fashion. Remembering, however, the agreeable month which he had spent in
the kingdom of John the Twenty-fourth, he was reminded, with annoyance,
that his confusion at Hauteville prevented him from receiving his
friends _en grand seigneur_ in his hereditary castle. Metropolitan
magnificence, which, if the parvenu could not equal, he at least could
imitate, seemed a poor return for the feudal splendour and impartial
festivity of an Hungarian magnate. While he was brooding over these
reminiscences, it suddenly occurred to him that he had never made a
progress into his western territories. Pen Bronnock Palace was the boast
of Cornwall, though its lord had never paid it a visit. The Duke of St.
James sent for Sir Carte Blanche.

Besides entertaining the foreign nobles, the young Duke could no longer
keep off the constantly-recurring idea that something must be done to
entertain himself. He shuddered to think where and what he should have
been been, had not these gentlemen so providentially arrived. As for
again repeating the farce of last year, he felt that it would no longer
raise a smile. Yorkshire he shunned. Doncaster made him tremble. A
week with the Duke of Burlington at Marringworth; a fortnight with the
Fitz-pompeys at Malthorpe; a month with the Graftons at Cleve; and so
on: he shuddered at the very idea. Who can see a pantomime more than
once? Who could survive a pantomime the twentieth time? All the shifting
scenes, and flitting splendour; all the motley crowds of sparkling
characters; all the quick changes, and full variety, are, once,
enchantment. But when the splendour is discovered to be monotony; the
change, order, and the caprice a system; when the characters play ever
the same part, and the variety never varies; how dull, how weary, how
infinitely flat, is such a world to that man who requires from its
converse, not occasional relaxation, but constant excitement!

Pen Bronnock was a new object. At this moment in his life, novelty was
indeed a treasure. If he could cater for a month, no expense should be
grudged; as for the future, he thrust it from his mind. By taking up his
residence, too, at Pen Bronnock, he escaped from all invitations;
and so, in a word, the worthy Knight received orders to make all
preparations at the palace for the reception of a large party in the
course of three weeks.

Sir Carte, as usual, did wonders. There was, fortunately for his
employer, no time to build or paint, but some dingy rooms were hung with
scarlet cloth; cart-loads of new furniture were sent down; the theatre
was re-burnished; the stables put in order; and, what was of infinitely
more importance in the estimation of all Englishmen, the neglected pile
was ‘well aired.’



CHAPTER II.

     _A Dandy From Vienna_

WE ARE in the country, and such a country, that even in Italy we think
of thee, native Hesperia! Here, myrtles grow, and fear no blasting
north, or blighting east. Here, the south wind blows with that soft
breath which brings the bloom to flesh. Here, the land breaks in gentle
undulations; and here, blue waters kiss a verdant shore. Hail! to thy
thousand bays, and deep-red earth, thy marble quarries, and thy silver
veins! Hail! to thy far-extending landscape, whose sparkling villages
and streaky fields no clime can match!

Some gales we owe to thee of balmy breath, some gentle hours when life
had fewest charms. And we are grateful for all this, to say nothing of
your cider and your junkets.

The Duke arrived just as the setting sun crowned the proud palace with
his gleamy rays. It was a pile which the immortal Inigo had raised in
sympathy with the taste of a noble employer, who had passed his
earliest years in Lombardy. Of stone, and sometimes even of marble, with
pediments and balustrades, and ornamental windows, and richly-chased
keystones, and flights of steps, and here and there a statue, the
structure was quite Palladian, though a little dingy, and, on the whole,
very imposing.

There were suites of rooms which had no end, and staircases which had no
beginning. In this vast pile, nothing was more natural than to lose your
way, an agreeable amusement on a rainy morning. There was a collection
of pictures, very various, by which phrase we understand not select.
Yet they were amusing; and the Canalettis were unrivalled. There was a
regular ball-room, and a theatre; so resources were at hand. The scenes,
though dusty, were numerous; and the Duke had provided new dresses. The
park was not a park; by which we mean, that it was rather a chase than
the highly-finished enclosure which we associate with the first title.
In fact, Pen Bronnock Chase was the right name of the settlement; but
some monarch travelling, having been seized with a spasm, recruited his
strength under the roof of his loyal subject, then the chief seat of the
House of Hauteville, and having in his urgency been obliged to hold a
privy council there, the supreme title of palace was assumed by right.

The domain was bounded on one side by the sea; and here a yacht and
some slight craft rode at anchor in a small green bay, and offered an
opportunity for the adventurous, and a refuge for the wearied. When you
have been bored for an hour or two on earth, it sometimes is a change to
be bored for an hour or two on water.

The house was soon full, and soon gay. The guests, and the means
of amusing them, were equally numerous. But this was no common
_villeggiatura_, no visit to a family with their regular pursuits and
matured avocations. The host was as much a guest as any other. The young
Duke appointed Lord Squib master of the ceremonies, and gave orders
for nothing but constant excitement. Constant excitement his Lordship
managed to maintain, for he was experienced, clever, careless and gay,
and, for once in his life, had the command of unbounded resources. He
ordered, he invented, he prepared, and he expended. They acted, they
danced, they sported, they sailed, they feasted, they masqueraded; and
when they began to get a little wearied of themselves, and their own
powers of diversion gradually vanished, then a public ball was given
twice a week at the palace, and all the West of England invited. New
faces brought new ideas; new figures brought new fancies. All were
delighted with the young Duke, and flattery from novel quarters will for
a moment whet even the appetite of the satiated. Simplicity, too, can
interest. There were some Misses Gay-weather who got unearthed, who
never had been in London, though nature had given them sparkling eyes
and springing persons. This tyranny was too bad. Papa was quizzed, mamma
flattered, and the daughters’ simplicity amused these young lordlings.
Rebellion was whispered in the small ears of the Gay weathers. The
little heads, too, of the Gay-weathers were turned. They were the
constant butt, and the constant resource, of every lounging dandy.

The Bird of Paradise also arranged her professional engagements so as
to account with all possible propriety for her professional visit at Pen
Bronnock. The musical meeting at Exeter over, she made her appearance,
and some concerts were given, which electrified all Cornwall. Count
Frill was very strong here; though, to be sure, he also danced, and
acted, in all varieties. He was the soul, too, of a masqued ball; but
when complimented on his accomplishments, and thanked for his exertions,
he modestly depreciated his worth, and panegyrised the dancing-dogs.

As for the Prince, on the whole, he maintained his silence; but it
was at length discovered by the fair sex that he was not stupid, but
sentimental. When this was made known he rather lost ground with the
dark sex, who, before thinking him thick, had vowed that he was a
devilish good fellow; but now, being really envious, had their tale
and hint, their sneer and sly joke. M. de Whiskerburg had one active
accomplishment; this was his dancing. His gallopade was declared to
be divine: he absolutely sailed in air. His waltz, at his will, either
melted his partner into a dream, or whirled her into a frenzy! Dangerous
M. de Whiskerburg!



CHAPTER III.

     _‘A Little Rift.’_

IT IS said that the conduct of refined society, in a literary point of
view, is, on the whole, productive but of slight interest; that all we
can aspire to is, to trace a brilliant picture of brilliant manners;
and that when the dance and the festival have been duly inspired by the
repartee and the sarcasm, and the gem, the robe, and the plume adroitly
lighted up by the lamp and the lustre, our cunning is exhausted. And so
your novelist generally twists this golden thread with some substantial
silken cord, for use, and works up, with the light dance, and with the
heavy dinner, some secret marriage, and some shrouded murder. And thus,
by English plots and German mysteries, the page trots on, or jolts,
till, in the end, Justice will have her way, and the three volumes are
completed.

A plan both good and antique, and also popular, but not our way. We
prefer trusting to the slender incidents which spring from out our
common intercourse. There is no doubt that that great pumice-stone,
Society, smooths down the edges of your thoughts and manners. Bodies of
men who pursue the same object must ever resemble each other: the life
of the majority must ever be imitation. Thought is a labour to which few
are competent; and truth requires for its development as much courage as
acuteness. So conduct becomes conventional, and opinion is a legend; and
thus all men act and think alike.

But this is not peculiar to what is called fashionable life, it is
peculiar to civilisation, which gives the passions less to work upon.
Mankind are not more heartless because they are clothed in ermine; it is
that their costume attracts us to their characters, and we stare because
we find the prince or the peeress neither a conqueror nor a heroine. The
great majority of human beings in a country like England glides through
existence in perfect ignorance of their natures, so complicated and so
controlling is the machinery of our social life! Few can break the bonds
that tie them down, and struggle for self-knowledge; fewer, when
the talisman is gained, can direct their illuminated energies to the
purposes with which they sympathise.

A mode of life which encloses in its circle all the dark and deep
results of unbounded indulgence, however it may appear to some who
glance over the sparkling surface, does not exactly seem to us one
either insipid or uninteresting to the moral speculator; and, indeed, we
have long been induced to suspect that the seeds of true sublimity lurk
in a life which, like this book, is half fashion and half passion.

We know not how it was, but about this time an unaccountable, almost
an imperceptible, coolness seemed to spring up between our hero and the
Lady Aphrodite. If we were to puzzle our brains for ever, we could not
give you the reason. Nothing happened, nothing had been said or done,
which could indicate its origin. Perhaps this _was_ the origin; perhaps
the Duke’s conduct had become, though unexceptionable, too negative.
But here we only throw up a straw. Perhaps, if we must go on suggesting,
anxiety ends in callousness.

His Grace had thought so much of her feelings, that he had quite
forgotten his own, or worn them out. Her Ladyship, too, was perhaps
a little disappointed at the unexpected reconciliation. When we have
screwed our courage up to the sticking point, we like not to be baulked.
Both, too, perhaps--we go on _perhapsing_--both, too, we repeat,
perhaps, could not help mutually viewing each other as the cause of much
mutual care and mutual anxiousness. Both, too, perhaps, were a little
tired, but without knowing it. The most curious thing, and which would
have augured worst to a calm judge, was, that they silently seemed
to agree not to understand that any alteration had really taken place
between them, which, we think, was a bad sign: because a lover’s
quarrel, we all know, like a storm in summer, portends a renewal of warm
weather or ardent feelings; and a lady is never so well seated in her
admirer’s heart as when those betters are interchanged which express so
much, and those explanations entered upon which explain so little.

And here we would dilate on greater things than some imagine; but,
unfortunately, we are engaged. For Newmarket calls Sir Lucius and his
friends. We will not join them, having lost enough. His Grace half
promised to be one of the party; but when the day came, just remembered
the Shropshires were expected, and so was very sorry, and the rest. Lady
Aphrodite and himself parted with warmth which remarkably contrasted
with their late intercourse, and which neither of them could decide
whether it were reviving affection or factitious effort. M. de
Whiskerburg and Count Frill departed with Sir Lucius, being extremely
desirous to be initiated in the mysteries of the turf, and, above all,
to see a real English jockey.



CHAPTER IV.

     _Satiety._

THE newspapers continued to announce the departures of new visitors to
the Duke of St. James, and to dilate upon the protracted and princely
festivity of Pen Bron-nock. But while thousands were envying his lot,
and hundreds aspiring to share it, what indeed was the condition of our
hero?

A month or two had rolled on and if he had not absolutely tasted
enjoyment, at least he had thrown off reflection; but as the autumn wore
away, and as each day he derived less diversion or distraction from the
repetition of the same routine, carried on by different actors, he
could no longer control feelings which would be predominant, and those
feelings were not such as perhaps might have been expected from one who
was receiving the homage of an admiring world. In a word, the Duke of
St. James was the most miserable wretch that ever lived.

‘Where is this to end?’ he asked himself. ‘Is this year to close, to
bring only a repetition of the past? Well, I have had it all, and what
is it? My restless feelings are at last laid, my indefinite appetites
are at length exhausted. I have known this mighty world, and where am
I? Once, all prospects, all reflections merged in the agitating, the
tremulous and panting lust with which I sighed for it. Have I been
deceived? Have I been disappointed? Is it different from what I
expected? Has it fallen short of my fancy? Has the dexterity of my
musings deserted me? Have I under-acted the hero of my reveries? Have
I, in short, mismanaged my début? Have I blundered? No, no, no! Far, far
has it gone beyond even my imagination, and _my_ life has, if no other,
realised its ideas!

‘Who laughs at me? Who does not burn incense before my shrine? What
appetite have I not gratified? What gratification has proved bitter? My
vanity! Has it been, for an instant, mortified? Am I not acknowledged
the most brilliant hero of the most brilliant society in Europe? Intense
as is my self-love, has it not been gorged? Luxury and splendour were my
youthful dreams, and have I not realised the very romance of indulgence
and magnificence? My career has been one long triumph. My palaces, and
my gardens, and my jewels, my dress, my furniture, my equipages, my
horses, and my festivals, these used to occupy my meditations, when I
could only meditate; and have my determinations proved a delusion? Ask
the admiring world.

‘And now for the great point to which all this was to tend, which all
this was to fascinate and subdue, to adorn, to embellish, to delight,
to honour. Woman! Oh! when I first dared, among the fields of Eton,
to dwell upon the soft yet agitating fancy, that some day my existence
might perhaps be rendered more intense, by the admiration of these
maddening but then mysterious creatures; could, could I have dreamt of
what has happened? Is not this the very point in which my career has
most out-topped my lofty hopes?

‘I have read, and sometimes heard, of _satiety_. It must then be satiety
that I feel; for I do feel more like a doomed man, than a young noble
full of blood and youth. And yet, satiety; it is a word. What then? A
word is breath, and am I wiser? Satiety! Satiety! Satiety! Oh! give me
happiness! Oh! give me love!

‘Ay! there it is, I feel it now. Too well I feel that happiness must
spring from purer fountains than self-love. We are not born merely for
ourselves, and they who, full of pride, make the trial, as I have done,
and think that the world is made for them, and not for mankind, must
come to as bitter results, perhaps as bitter a fate; for, by Heavens! I
am half tempted at this moment to fling myself from off this cliff, and
so end all.

‘Why should I live? For virtue, and for duty; to compensate for all
my folly, and to achieve some slight good end with my abused and
unparalleled means. Ay! it is all vastly rational, and vastly sublime,
but it is too late. I feel the exertion above me. I am a lost man.

‘We cannot work without a purpose and an aim. I had mine, although it
was a false one, and I succeeded. Had I one now I might succeed again,
but my heart is a dull void. And Caroline, that gentle girl, will not
give me what I want; and to offer her but half a heart may break hers,
and I would not bruise that delicate bosom to save my dukedom. Those
sad, silly parents of hers have already done mischief enough; but I will
see Darrell, and will at least arrange that. I like him, and will make
him my friend for her sake. God! God! why am I not loved! A word from
her, and all would change. I feel a something in me which could put all
right. I have the will, and she could give the power.

‘Now see what a farce life is! I shall go on, Heaven knows how! I cannot
live long. Men like me soon bloom and fade. What I may come to, I dread
to think. There is a dangerous facility in my temper; I know it well,
for I know more of myself than people think; there is a dangerous
facility which, with May Dacre, might be the best guaranty of virtue;
but with all others, for all others are at the best weak things, will as
certainly render me despicable, perhaps degraded. I hear the busy devil
whispering even now. It is my demon. Now, I say, see what a farce life
is! I shall die like a dog, as I have lived like a fool; and then my
epitaph will be in everybody’s mouth. Here are the consequences of
self-indulgence: here is a fellow, forsooth, who thought only of the
gratification of his vile appetites; and by the living Heaven, am I not
standing here among my hereditary rocks, and sighing to the ocean, to be
virtuous!

‘She knew me well, she read me in a minute, and spoke more truth at that
last meeting than is in a thousand sermons. It is out of our power to
redeem ourselves. Our whole existence is a false, foul state, totally
inimical to love and purity, and domestic gentleness, and calm delight.
Yet are we envied! Oh! could these fools see us at any other time except
surrounded by our glitter, and hear of us at any other moment save in
the first bloom of youth, which is, even then, often wasted; could they
but mark our manhood, and view our hollow marriages, and disappointed
passions; could they but see the traitors that we have for sons, the
daughters that own no duty; could they but watch us even to our grave,
tottering after some fresh bauble, some vain delusion, which, to the
last, we hope may prove a substitute for what we have never found
through life, a contented mind, they would do something else but envy
us.

‘But I stand prating when I am wanted. I must home. Home! O sacred word!
and then comes night! Horrible night! Horrible day! It seems to me I am
upon the eve of some monstrous folly, too ridiculous to be a crime, and
yet as fatal. I have half a mind to go and marry the Bird of Paradise,
out of pure pique with myself, and with the world.’



CHAPTER V.

     _A Startling Letter_

SOUTHEY, that virtuous man, whom Wisdom calls her own, somewhere thanks
God that he was not born to a great estate. We quite agree with the
seer of Keswick; it is a bore. Provided a man can enjoy every personal
luxury, what profits it that your flag waves on castles you never visit,
and that you count rents which you never receive? And yet there are some
things which your miserable, moderate incomes cannot command, and which
one might like to have; for instance, a band.

A complete, a consummate band, in uniforms of uncut white velvet, with
a highly-wrought gold button, just tipped with a single pink topaz,
appears to me [Greek phrase]. When we die, ‘Band’ will be found
impressed upon our heart, like ‘Frigate’ on the core of Nelson. The
negroes should have their noses bored, as well as their ears, and hung
with rings of rubies. The kettle-drums should be of silver. And with
regard to a great estate, no doubt it brings great cares; or, to get
free of them, the estate must be neglected, and then it is even worse.

Elections come on, and all your members are thrown out; so much for
neglected influence. Agricultural distress prevails, and all your
farms are thrown up; so much for neglected tenants. Harassed by leases,
renewals, railroads, fines, and mines, you are determined that life
shall not be worn out by these continual and petty cares. Thinking it
somewhat hard, that, because you have two hundred thousand a-year, you
have neither ease nor enjoyment, you find a remarkably clever man, who
manages everything for you. Enchanted with his energy, his acuteness,
and his foresight, fascinated by your increasing rent-roll, and the
total disappearance of arrears, you dub him your right hand, introduce
him to all your friends, and put him into Parliament; and then, fired
by the ambition of rivalling his patron, he disburses, embezzles, and
decamps.

But where is our hero? Is he forgotten? Never! But in the dumps, blue
devils, and so on. A little bilious, it may be, and dull. He scarcely
would amuse you at this moment. So we come forward with a graceful bow;
the Jack Pudding of our doctor, who is behind.

In short, that is to say, in long--for what is true use of this affected
brevity? When this tale is done, what have you got? So let us make it
last. We quite repent of having intimated so much: in future, it is our
intention to develop more, and to describe, and to delineate, and to
define, and, in short, to bore. You know the model of this kind of
writing, Richardson, whom we shall revive. In future, we shall, as a
novelist, take Clarendon’s Rebellion for our guide, and write our hero’s
notes, or heroine’s letters, like a state paper, or a broken treaty.

The Duke, and the young Duke--oh! to be a Duke, and to be young, it is
too much--was seldom seen by the gay crowd who feasted in his hall. His
mornings now were lonely, and if, at night, his eye still sparkled, and
his step still sprang, why, between us, wine gave him beauty, and wine
gave him grace.

It was the dreary end of dull November, and the last company were
breaking off. The Bird of Paradise, according to her desire, had gone
to Brighton, where his Grace had presented her with a tenement, neat,
light, and finished; and though situated amid the wilds of Kemp Town,
not more than one hyæna on a night ventured to come down from the
adjacent heights. He had half promised to join her, because he thought
he might as well be there as here, and consequently he had not invited
a fresh supply of visitors from town, or rather from the country. As he
was hesitating about what he should do, he received a letter from his
bankers, which made him stare. He sent for the groom of the chambers,
and was informed the house was clear, save that some single men still
lingered, as is their wont. They never take a hint. His Grace ordered
his carriage; and, more alive than he had been for the last two months,
dashed off to town.



CHAPTER VI.

     _The Cost of Pleasure_

THE letter from his bankers informed the Duke of St. James that not only
was the half-million exhausted, but, in pursuance of their powers, they
had sold out all his stock, and, in reliance on his credit, had advanced
even beyond it. They were ready to accommodate him in every possible
way, and to advance as much more as he could desire, at five per cent.!
Sweet five per cent.! Oh! magical five per cent.! Lucky the rogue now
who gets three. Nevertheless, they thought it but proper to call his
Grace’s attention to the circumstance, and to put him in possession of
the facts. Something unpleasant is coming when men are anxious to tell
the truth.

The Duke of St. James had never affected to be a man of business; still,
he had taken it for granted that pecuniary embarrassment was not ever
to be counted among his annoyances. He wanted something to do, and
determined to look into his affairs, merely to amuse himself.

The bankers were most polite. They brought their books, also several
packets of papers neatly tied up, and were ready to give every
information. The Duke asked for results. He found that the turf,
the Alhambra, the expenses of his outfit in purchasing the lease and
furniture of his mansion, and the rest, had, with his expenditure,
exhausted his first year’s income; but he reconciled himself to this,
because he chose to consider them extraordinary expenses. Then the
festivities of Pen Bronnock counterbalanced the economy of his more
scrambling life the preceding year; yet he had not exceeded his income
much. Then he came to Sir Carte’s account. He began to get a little
frightened. Two hundred and fifty thousand had been swallowed by
Hauteville Castle: one hundred and twenty thousand by Hauteville House.
Ninety-six thousand had been paid for furniture. There were also some
awkward miscellanies which, in addition, exceeded the half-million.

This was smashing work; but castles and palaces, particularly of the
correctest style of architecture, are not to be had for nothing. The
Duke had always devoted the half-million to this object; but he had
intended that sum to be sufficient. What puzzled and what annoyed him
was a queer suspicion that his resources had been exhausted without
his result being obtained. He sent for Sir Carte, who gave every
information, and assured him that, had he had the least idea that a
limit was an object, he would have made his arrangements accordingly. As
it was, he assured the young Duke that he would be the Lord of the most
sumptuous and accurate castle, and of the most gorgeous and tasteful
palace, in Europe. He was proceeding with a cloud of words, when his
employer cut him short by a peremptory demand of the exact sum requisite
for the completion of his plans. Sir Carte was confused, and requested
time. The estimates should be sent in as quickly as possible. The clerks
should sit up all night, and even his own rest should not be an object,
any more than the Duke’s purse. So they parted.

The Duke determined to run down to Brighton for change of scene.
He promised his bankers to examine everything on his return; in the
meantime, they were to make all necessary advances, and honour his
drafts to any amount.

He found the city of chalk and shingles not quite so agreeable as last
year. He discovered that it had no trees. There was there, also, just
everybody that he did not wish to see. It was one great St. James’
Street, and seemed only an anticipation of that very season which he
dreaded. He was half inclined to go somewhere else, but could not fix
upon any spot. London might be agreeable, as it was empty; but then
those confounded accounts awaited him. The Bird of Paradise was a sad
bore. He really began to suspect that she was little better than an
idiot: then, she ate so much, and he hated your eating women. He gladly
shuffled her off on that fool Count Frill, who daily brought his guitar
to Kemp Town. They just suited each other. What a madman he had been, to
have embarrassed himself with this creature! It would cost him a pretty
ransom now before he could obtain his freedom. How we change! Already
the Duke of St. James began to think of pounds, shillings, and pence. A
year ago, so long as he could extricate himself from a scrape by force
of cash, he thought himself a lucky fellow.

The Graftons had not arrived, but were daily expected. He really could
not stand them. As for Lady Afy, he execrated the greenhornism which had
made him feign a passion, and then get caught where he meant to capture.
As for Sir Lucius, he wished to Heaven he would just take it into
his head to repay him the fifteen thousand he had lent him at that
confounded election, to say nothing of anything else.

Then there was Burlington, with his old loves and his new dances. He
wondered how the deuce that fellow could be amused with such frivolity,
and always look so serene and calm. Then there was Squib: that man never
knew when to leave off joking; and Annesley, with his false refinement;
and Darrell, with his petty ambition. He felt quite sick, and took a
solitary ride: but he flew from Scylla to Charybdis. Mrs. Montfort could
not forget their many delightful canters last season to Rottingdean,
and, lo! she was at his side. He wished her down the cliff.

In this fit of the spleen he went to the theatre: there were eleven
people in the boxes. He listened to the ‘School for Scandal.’ Never
was slander more harmless. He sat it all out, and was sorry when it was
over, but was consoled by the devils of ‘Der Freischutz.’ How sincerely,
how ardently did he long to sell himself to the demon! It was eleven
o’clock, and he dreaded the play to be over as if he were a child. What
to do with himself, or where to go, he was equally at a loss. The
door of the box opened, and entered Lord Bagshot. If it must be an
acquaintance, this cub was better than any of his refined and lately
cherished companions.

‘Well, Bag, what are you doing with yourself?’

‘Oh! I don’t know; just looking in for a lark. Any game?’

‘On my honour, I can’t say.’

‘What’s that girl? Oh! I see; that’s little Wilkins. There’s Moll Otway.
Nothing new. I shall go and rattle the bones a little; eh! my boy?’

‘Rattle the bones? what is that?’

‘Don’t you know?’ and here this promising young peer manually explained
his meaning.

‘What do you play at?’ asked the Duke.

‘Hazard, for my money; but what you like.’

‘Where?’

‘We meet at De Berghem’s. There is a jolly set of us. All crack men.
When my governor is here, I never go. He is so jealous. I suppose there
must be only one gamester in the family; eh! my covey?’ Lord Bagshot,
excited by the unusual affability of the young Duke, grew quite
familiar.

‘I have half a mind to look in with you,’ said his Grace with a careless
air.

‘Oh! come along, by all means. They’ll be devilish glad to see you. De
Berghem was saying the other day what a nice fellow you were, and how he
should like to know you. You don’t know De Berghem, do you?’

‘I have seen him. I know enough of him.’

They quitted the theatre together, and under the guidance of Lord
Bagshot, stopped at a door in Brunswick Terrace. There they found
collected a numerous party, but all persons of consideration. The Baron,
who had once been a member of the diplomatic corps, and now lived in
England, by choice, on his pension and private fortune, received them
with marked courtesy. Proud of his companion, Lord Bagshot’s hoarse,
coarse, idiot voice seemed ever braying. His frequent introductions
of the Duke of St. James were excruciating, and it required all the
freezing of a finished manner to pass through this fiery ordeal. His
Grace was acquainted with most of the guests by sight, and to some he
even bowed. They were chiefly men of a certain age, with the exception
of two or three young peers like himself.

There was the Earl of Castlefort, plump and luxurious, with a youthful
wig, who, though a sexagenarian, liked no companion better than a minor.
His Lordship was the most amiable man in the world, and the most lucky;
but the first was his merit, and the second was not his fault. There was
the juvenile Lord Dice, who boasted of having done his brothers out of
their miserable 5,000L. patrimony, and all in one night. But the wrinkle
that had already ruffled his once clear brow, his sunken eye, and his
convulsive lip, had been thrown, we suppose, into the bargain, and, in
our opinion, made it a dear one. There was Temple Grace, who had run
through four fortunes, and ruined four sisters. Withered, though only
thirty, one thing alone remained to be lost, what he called his honour,
which was already on the scent to play booty. There was Cogit, who, when
he was drunk, swore that he had had a father; but this was deemed the
only exception to _in vino Veritas_. Who he was, the Goddess of Chance
alone could decide; and we have often thought that he might bear the
same relation to her as Æneas to the Goddess of Beauty. His age was as
great a mystery as anything else. He dressed still like a boy, yet some
vowed he was eighty. He must have been Salathiel. Property he never had,
and yet he contrived to live; connection he was not born with, yet he
was upheld by a set. He never played, yet he was the most skilful dealer
going. He did the honours of a _rouge et noir_ table to a miracle; and
looking, as he thought, most genteel in a crimson waistcoat and a
gold chain, raked up the spoils, or complacently announced après. Lord
Castlefort had few secrets from him: he was the jackal to these prowling
beasts of prey; looked out for pigeons, got up little parties to
Richmond or Brighton, sang a song when the rest were too anxious to make
a noise, and yet desired a little life, and perhaps could cog a die,
arrange a looking-glass, or mix a tumbler.

Unless the loss of an occasional napoleon at a German watering-place
is to be so stigmatised, gaming had never formed one of the numerous
follies of the Duke of St. James. Rich, and gifted with a generous,
sanguine, and luxurious disposition, he had never been tempted by
the desire of gain, or as some may perhaps maintain, by the desire of
excitement, to seek assistance or enjoyment in a mode of life which
stultifies all our fine fancies, deadens all our noble emotions, and
mortifies all our beautiful aspirations.

We know that we are broaching a doctrine which many will start at, and
which some will protest against, when we declare our belief that no
person, whatever his apparent wealth, ever yet gamed except from the
prospect of immediate gain. We hear much of want of excitement, of
ennui, of satiety; and then the gaming-table is announced as a sort
of substitute for opium, wine, or any other mode of obtaining a more
intense vitality at the cost of reason. Gaming is too active, too
anxious, too complicated, too troublesome; in a word, _too sensible_ an
affair for such spirits, who fly only to a sort of dreamy and indefinite
distraction.

The fact is, gaming is a matter of business. Its object is tangible,
clear, and evident. There is nothing high, or inflammatory, or exciting;
no false magnificence, no visionary elevation, in the affair at all. It
is the very antipodes to enthusiasm of any kind. It pre-supposes in its
votary a mind essentially mercantile. All the feelings that are in its
train are the most mean, the most commonplace, and the most annoying
of daily life, and nothing would tempt the gamester to experience them
except the great object which, as a matter of calculation, he is willing
to aim at on such terms. No man flies to the gaming-table in a paroxysm.
The first visit requires the courage of a forlorn hope. The first stake
will make the lightest mind anxious, the firmest hand tremble, and the
stoutest heart falter. After the first stake, it is all a matter of
calculation and management, even in games of chance. Night after night
will men play at _rouge et noir_, upon what they call a system, and for
hours their attention never ceases, any more than it would if they were
in the shop or oh the wharf. No manual labour is more fatiguing, and
more degrading to the labourer, than gaming. Every gamester feels
ashamed. And this vice, this worst vice, from whose embrace, moralists
daily inform us, man can never escape, is just the one from which
the majority of men most completely, and most often, free themselves.
Infinite is the number of men who have lost thousands in their youth,
and never dream of chance again. It is this pursuit which, oftener
than any other, leads man to self-knowledge. Appalled by the absolute
destruction on the verge of which he finds his early youth just
stepping; aghast at the shadowy crimes which, under the influence of
this life, seem, as it were, to rise upon his soul; often he hurries to
emancipate himself from this fatal thraldom, and with a ruined fortune,
and marred prospects, yet thanks his Creator that his soul is still
white, his conscience clear, and that, once more, he breathes the sweet
air of heaven.

And our young Duke, we must confess, gamed, as all other men have
gamed, for money. His satiety had fled the moment that his affairs were
embarrassed. The thought suddenly came into his head while Bag-shot was
speaking. He determined to make an effort to recover; and so completely
was it a matter of business with him, that he reasoned that, in the
present state of his affairs, a few thousands more would not signify;
that these few thousands might lead to vast results, and that, if they
did, he would bid adieu to the gaming-table with the same coolness with
which he had saluted it.

Yet he felt a little odd when he first ‘rattled the bones;’ and his
affected nonchalance made him constrained. He fancied every one was
watching him; while, on the contrary, all were too much interested in
their own different parties. This feeling, however, wore off.

According to every novelist, and the moralists ‘our betters,’ the Duke
of St. James should have been fortunate at least to-night. You always
win at first, you know. If so, we advise said children of fancy and of
fact to pocket their gains, and not play again. The young Duke had not
the opportunity of thus acting. He lost fifteen hundred pounds, and at
half-past five he quitted the Baron’s.

Hot, bilious, with a confounded twang in his mouth, and a cracking pain
in his head, he stood one moment and sniffed in the salt sea breeze.
The moon was unfortunately on the waters, and her cool, beneficent light
reminded him, with disgust, of the hot, burning glare of the Baron’s
saloon. He thought of May Dacre, but clenched his fist, and drove her
image from his mind.



CHAPTER VII.

     _Dangerous Friends_

HE ROSE late, and as he was lounging over his breakfast, entered Lord
Bagshot and the Baron. Already the young Duke began to experience one
of the gamester’s curses, the intrusive society of those of whom you
are ashamed. Eight-and-forty hours ago, Lord Bagshot would no more have
dared to call on the Duke of St. James than to call at the Pavilion; and
now, with that reckless want of tact which marks the innately vulgar,
he seemed to triumph in their unhallowed intimacy, and lounging into
his Grace’s apartment with that half-shuffling, hair-swaggering air
indicative of the ‘cove,’ hat cocked, and thumbs in his great-coat
pockets, cast his complacent eye around, and praised his Grace’s
‘rooms.’ Lord Bagshot, who for the occasional notice of the Duke of St.
James had been so long a ready and patient butt, now appeared to assume
a higher character, and addressed his friend in a tone and manner which
were authorised by the equality of their rank and the sympathy of their
tastes. If this change had taken place in the conduct of the Viscount,
it was not a singular one. The Duke also, to his surprise, found himself
addressing his former butt in a very different style from that which he
had assumed in the ballroom of Doncaster. In vain he tried to rally, in
vain he tried to snub. It was indeed in vain. He no longer possessed any
right to express his contempt of his companion. That contempt, indeed,
he still felt. He despised Lord Bagshot still, but he also despised
himself.

The soft and silky Baron was a different sort of personage; but
there was something sinister in all his elaborate courtesy and highly
artificial manner, which did not touch the feelings of the Duke, whose
courtesy was but the expression of his noble feelings, and whose grace
was only the impulse of his rich and costly blood. Baron de Berghem was
too attentive, and too deferential. He smiled and bowed too much.
He made no allusion to the last night’s scene, nor did his tutored
companion, but spoke of different and lighter subjects, in a manner
which at once proved his experience of society, the liveliness of his
talents, and the cultivation of his taste. He told many stories, all
short and poignant, and always about princes and princesses. Whatever
was broached, he always had his _apropos_ of Vienna, and altogether
seemed an experienced, mild, tolerant man of the world, not bigoted to
any particular opinions upon any subject, but of a truly liberal and
philosophic mind.

When they had sat chatting for half-an-hour, the Baron developed the
object of his visit, which was to endeavour to obtain the pleasure of
his Grace’s company at dinner, to taste some wild boar and try some
tokay. The Duke, who longed again for action, accepted the invitation;
and then they parted.

Our hero was quite surprised at the feverish anxiety with which he
awaited the hour of union. He thought that seven o’clock would never
come. He had no appetite at breakfast, and after that he rode, but
luncheon was a blank. In the midst of the operation, he found himself
in a brown study, calculating chances. All day long his imagination had
been playing hazard, or _rouge et noir_. Once he thought that he had
discovered an infallible way of winning at the latter. On the long run,
he was convinced it must answer, and he panted to prove it.

Seven o’clock at last arrived, and he departed to Brunswick Terrace.
There was a brilliant party to meet him: the same set as last night,
but select. He was faint, and did justice to the _cuisine_ of his host,
which was indeed remarkable. When we are drinking a man’s good wine, it
is difficult to dislike him. Prejudice decreases with every draught.
His Grace began to think the Baron as good-hearted as agreeable. He was
grateful for the continued attentions of old Castlefort, who, he now
found out, had been very well acquainted with his father, and once even
made a trip to Spa with him. Lord Dice he could not manage to endure,
though that worthy was, for him, remarkably courteous, and grinned with
his parchment face, like a good-humoured ghoul. Temple Grace and the
Duke became almost intimate. There was an amiable candour in that
gentleman’s address, a softness in his tones, and an unstudied and
extremely interesting delicacy in his manner, which in this society was
remarkable. Tom Cogit never presumed to come near the young Duke, but
paid him constant attention. He sat at the bottom of the table, and
was ever sending a servant with some choice wine, or recommending him,
through some third person, some choice dish. It is pleasant to be ‘made
much of,’ as Shakspeare says, even by scoundrels. To be king of your
company is a poor ambition, yet homage is homage, and smoke is smoke,
whether it come out of the chimney of a palace or of a workhouse.

The banquet was not hurried. Though all wished it finished, no one liked
to appear urgent. It was over at last, and they walked up-stairs, where
the tables were arranged for all parties, and all play. Tom Cogit went
up a few minutes before them, like the lady of the mansion, to review
the lights, and arrange the cards. Feminine Tom Cogit!

The events of to-night were much the same as of the preceding one. The
Duke was a loser, but his losses were not considerable. He retired about
the same hour, with a head not so hot, or heavy: and he never looked
at the moon, or thought of May Dacre. The only wish that reigned in his
soul was a longing for another opportunity, and he had agreed to dine
with the Baron, before he left Brunswick Terrace.

Thus passed a week, one night the Duke of St. James redeeming himself,
another falling back to his old position, now pushing on to Madrid, now
re-crossing the Tagus. On the whole, he had lost four or five thousand
pounds, a mere trifle to what, as he had heard, had been lost and gained
by many of his companions during only the present season. On the whole,
he was one of the most moderate of these speculators, generally played
at the large table, and never joined any of those private coteries, some
of which he had observed, and of some of which he had heard. Yet this
was from no prudential resolve or temperate resolution. The young Duke
was heartily tired of the slight results of all his anxiety, hopes, and
plans, and ardently wished for some opportunity of coming to closer and
more decided action. The Baron also had resolved that an end should
be put to this skirmishing; but he was a calm head, and never hurried
anything.

‘I hope your Grace has been lucky to-night!’ said the Baron one evening,
strolling up to the Duke: ‘as for myself, really, if Dice goes on
playing, I shall give up banking. That fellow must have a talisman. I
think he has broken more banks than any man living. The best thing he
did of that kind was the roulette story at Paris. You have heard of
that?’

‘Was that Lord Dice?’

‘Oh yes! he does everything. He must have cleared his hundred thousand
last year. I have suffered a good deal since I have been in England.
Castlefort has pulled in a great deal of my money. I wonder to whom he
will leave his property?’

‘You think him rich?’

‘Oh! he will cut up large!’ said the Baron, elevating his eyebrows. ‘A
pleasant man too! I do not know any man that I would sooner play with
than Castlefort; no one who loses his money with better temper.’

‘Or wins it,’ said his Grace.

‘That we all do,’ said the Baron, faintly laughing. ‘Your Grace has
lost, and you do not seem particularly dull. You will have your revenge.
Those who lose at first are always the children of fortune. I always
dread a man who loses at first. All I beg is, that you will not break my
bank.’

‘Why! you see I am not playing now.’ ‘I am not surprised. There is too
much heat and noise here,’ said he. ‘We will have a quiet dinner some
day, and play at our ease. Come to-morrow, and I will ask Castlefort
and Dice. I should uncommonly like, _entre nous_, to win some of their
money. I will take care that nobody shall be here whom you would not
like to meet. By-the-bye, whom were you riding with this morning? Fine
woman!’



CHAPTER VIII.

     _Birds of Prey_

THE young Duke had accepted the invitation of the Baron de Berg-hem
for to-morrow, and accordingly, himself, Lords Castlefort and Dice,
and Temple Grace assembled in Brunswick Terrace at the usual hour.
The dinner was studiously plain, and very little wine was drunk; yet
everything was perfect. Tom Cogit stepped in to carve in his usual
silent manner. He always came in and went out of a room without anyone
observing him. He winked familiarly to Temple Grace, but scarcely
presumed to bow to the Duke. He was very busy about the wine, and
dressed the wild fowl in a manner quite unparalleled. Tom Cogit was the
man for a sauce for a brown bird. What a mystery he made of it! Cayenne
and Burgundy and limes were ingredients, but there was a magic in the
incantation with which he alone was acquainted. He took particular care
to send a most perfect portion to the young Duke, and he did this, as
he paid all attentions to influential strangers, with the most marked
consciousness of the sufferance which permitted his presence: never
addressing his Grace, but audibly whispering to the servant, ‘Take this
to the Duke;’ or asking the attendant, ‘whether his Grace would try the
Hermitage?’

After dinner, with the exception of Cogit, who was busied in compounding
some wonderful liquid for the future refreshment, they sat down to
_écarté_. Without having exchanged a word upon the subject, there seemed
a general understanding among all the parties that to-night was to be a
pitched battle, and they began at once, briskly. Yet, in spite of their
universal determination, midnight arrived without anything decisive.
Another hour passed over, and then Tom Cogit kept touching the Baron’s
elbow and whispering in a voice which everybody could understand. All
this meant that supper was ready. It was brought into the room.

Gaming has one advantage, it gives you an appetite; that is to say,
so long as you have a chance remaining. The Duke had thousands; for
at present his resources were unimpaired, and he was exhausted by
the constant attention and anxiety of five hours. He passed over the
delicacies and went to the side-table, and began cutting himself some
cold roast beef. Tom Cogit ran up, not to his Grace, but to the Baron,
to announce the shocking fact that the Duke of St. James was enduring
great trouble; and then the Baron asked his Grace to permit Mr. Cogit to
serve him. Our hero devoured--we use the word advisedly, as fools say
in the House of Commons--he devoured the roast beef, and rejecting the
Hermitage with disgust, asked for porter.

They set to again fresh as eagles. At six o’clock accounts were so
complicated that they stopped to make up their books. Each played with
his memoranda and pencil at his side. Nothing fatal had yet happened.
The Duke owed Lord Dice about five thousand pounds, and Temple Grace
owed him as many hundreds. Lord Castlefort also was his debtor to the
tune of seven hundred and fifty, and the Baron was in his books, but
slightly. Every half-hour they had a new pack of cards, and threw the
used one on the floor. All this time Tom Cogit did nothing but snuff the
candles, stir the fire, bring them a new pack, and occasionally make a
tumbler for them. At eight o’clock the Duke’s situation was worsened.
The run was greatly against him, and perhaps his losses were doubled. He
pulled up again the next hour or two; but nevertheless, at ten o’clock,
owed everyone something. No one offered to give over; and everyone,
perhaps, felt that his object was not obtained. They made their toilets
and went down-stairs to breakfast. In the meantime the shutters were
opened, the room aired, and in less than an hour they were at it again.

They played till dinner-time without intermission; and though the Duke
made some desperate efforts, and some successful ones, his losses were,
nevertheless, trebled. Yet he ate an excellent dinner and was not at
all depressed; because the more he lost, the more his courage and his
resources seemed to expand. At first he had limited himself to ten
thousand; after breakfast it was to have been twenty thousand; then
thirty thousand was the ultimatum; and now he dismissed all thoughts of
limits from his mind, and was determined to risk or gain everything.

At midnight, he had lost forty-eight thousand pounds. Affairs now began
to be serious. His supper was not so hearty. While the rest were eating,
he walked about the room, and began to limit his ambition to recovery,
and not to gain. When you play to win back, the fun is over: there is
nothing to recompense you for your bodily tortures and your degraded
feelings; and the very best result that can happen, while it has no
charms, seems to your cowed mind impossible.

[Illustration: page338]

On they played, and the Duke lost more. His mind was jaded. He
floundered, he made desperate efforts, but plunged deeper in the slough.
Feeling that, to regain his ground, each card must tell, he acted on
each as if it must win, and the consequences of this insanity (for a
gamester at such a crisis is really insane) were, that his losses were
prodigious.

Another morning came, and there they sat, ankle-deep in cards. No
attempt at breakfast now, no affectation of making a toilet or airing
the room. The atmosphere was hot, to be sure, but it well became such a
Hell. There they sat, in total, in positive forgetfulness of everything
but the hot game they were hunting down. There was not a man in the
room, except Tom Cogit, who could have told you the name of the town
in which they were living. There they sat, almost breathless, watching
every turn with the fell look in their cannibal eyes which showed their
total inability to sympathise with their fellow-beings. All forms of
society had been long forgotten. There was no snuff-box handed
about now, for courtesy, admiration, or a pinch; no affectation of
occasionally making a remark upon any other topic but the all-engrossing
one. Lord Castlefort rested with his arms on the table: a false tooth
had got unhinged. His Lordship, who, at any other time, would have been
most annoyed, coolly put it in his pocket. His cheeks had fallen, and
he looked twenty years older. Lord Dice had torn off his cravat, and
his hair hung down over his callous, bloodless cheeks, straight as silk.
Temple Grace looked as if he were blighted by lightning; and his deep
blue eyes gleamed like a hyaena’s. The Baron was least changed. Tom
Cogit, who smelt that the crisis was at hand, was as quiet as a bribed
rat.

On they played till six o’clock in the evening, and then they agreed
to desist till after dinner. Lord Dice threw himself on a sofa. Lord
Castlefort breathed with difficulty. The rest walked about. While they
were resting on their oars, the young Duke roughly made up his accounts.
He found that he was minus about one hundred thousand pounds.

Immense as this loss was, he was more struck, more appalled, let us say,
at the strangeness of the surrounding scene, than even by his own ruin.
As he looked upon his fellow gamesters, he seemed, for the first time in
his life, to gaze upon some of those hideous demons of whom he had read.
He looked in the mirror at himself. A blight seemed to have fallen
over his beauty, and his presence seemed accursed. He had pursued a
dissipated, even more than a dissipated career. Many were the nights
that had been spent by him not on his couch; great had been the
exhaustion that he had often experienced; haggard had sometimes even
been the lustre of his youth. But when had been marked upon his brow
this harrowing care? when had his features before been stamped with
this anxiety, this anguish, this baffled desire, this strange unearthly
scowl, which made him even tremble? What! was it possible? it could not
be, that in time he was to be like those awful, those unearthly, those
unhallowed things that were around him. He felt as if he had fallen from
his state, as if he had dishonoured his ancestry, as if he had betrayed
his trust. He felt a criminal. In the darkness of his meditations a
flash burst from his lurid mind, a celestial light appeared to dissipate
this thickening gloom, and his soul felt as if it were bathed with the
softening radiancy. He thought of May Dacre, he thought of everything
that was pure, and holy, and beautiful, and luminous, and calm. It was
the innate virtue of the man that made this appeal to his corrupted
nature. His losses seemed nothing; his dukedom would be too slight a
ransom for freedom from these ghouls, and for the breath of the sweet
air.

He advanced to the Baron, and expressed his desire to play no more.
There was an immediate stir. All jumped up, and now the deed was done.
Cant, in spite of their exhaustion, assumed her reign. They begged him
to have his revenge, were quite annoyed at the result, had no doubt he
would recover if he proceeded. Without noticing their remarks, he seated
himself at the table, and wrote cheques for their respective amounts,
Tom Cogit jumping up and bringing him the inkstand. Lord Castlefort,
in the most affectionate manner, pocketed the draft; at the same time
recommending the Duke not to be in a hurry, but to send it when he was
cool. Lord Dice received his with a bow, Temple Grace with a sigh, the
Baron with an avowal of his readiness always to give him his revenge.

The Duke, though sick at heart, would not leave the room with any
evidence of a broken spirit; and when Lord Castlefort again repeated,
‘Pay us when we meet again,’ he said, ‘I think it very improbable that
we shall meet again, my Lord. I wished to know what gaming was. I had
heard a great deal about it. It is not so very disgusting; but I am a
young man, and cannot play tricks with my complexion.’

He reached his house. The Bird was out. He gave orders for himself not
to be disturbed, and he went to bed; but in vain he tried to sleep. What
rack exceeds the torture of an excited brain and an exhausted body? His
hands and feet were like ice, his brow like fire; his ears rung with
supernatural roaring; a nausea had seized upon him, and death he would
have welcomed. In vain, in vain he courted repose; in vain, in vain he
had recourse to every expedient to wile himself to slumber. Each minute
he started from his pillow with some phrase which reminded him of his
late fearful society. Hour after hour moved on with its leaden pace;
each hour he heard strike, and each hour seemed an age. Each hour was
only a signal to cast off some covering, or shift his position. It was,
at length, morning. With a feeling that he should go mad if he remained
any longer in bed, he rose, and paced his chamber. The air refreshed
him. He threw himself on the floor; the cold crept over his senses, and
he slept.



CHAPTER IX.

     _A Duke Without A Friend_

O YE immortal Gods! ye are still immortal, although no longer ye hover
o’er Olympus. The Crescent glitters on your mountain’s base, and Crosses
spring from out its toppling crags. But in vain the Mufti, and the
Patriarch, and the Pope flout at your past traditions. They are married
to man’s memory by the sweetest chain that ever Fancy wove for Love. The
poet is a priest, who does not doubt the inspiration of his oracles; and
your shrines are still served by a faithful band, who love the beautiful
and adore the glorious! In vain, in vain they tell us your divinity is
a dream. From the cradle to the grave, our thoughts and feelings take
their colour from you! O! Ægiochus, the birch has often proved thou
art still a thunderer; and, although thy twanging bow murmur no longer
through the avenging air, many an apple twig still vindicates thy
outraged dignity, _pulcher_ Apollo.

O, ye immortal Gods! nothing so difficult as to begin a chapter, and
therefore have we flown to you. In literature, as in life, it is the
first step; you know the rest. After a paragraph or so our blood Is up,
and even our jaded hackneys scud along, and warm up into friskiness.

The Duke awoke: another day of his eventful life is now to run its
course. He found that the Bird of Paradise had not returned from an
excursion to a neighbouring park: he left a note for her, apprising her
of his departure to London, and he despatched an affectionate letter to
Lady Aphrodite, which was the least that he could do, considering that
he perhaps quitted Brighton the day of her arrival. And having done all
this, he ordered his horses, and before noon was on his first stage.

It was his birthday. He had completed his twenty-third year. This was
sufficient, even if he had no other inducement, to make him indulge in
some slight reflection. These annual summings up are awkward things,
even to the prosperous and the happy, but to those who are the reverse,
who are discontented with themselves, and find that youth melting away
which they believe can alone achieve anything, I think a birthday is
about the most gloomy four-and-twenty hours that ever flap their damp
dull wings over melancholy man.

Yet the Duke of St. James was rather thoughtful than melancholy. His
life had been too active of late to allow him to indulge much in that
passive mood. ‘I may never know what happiness is,’ thought his Grace,
as he leaned back in his whirling britzska, ‘but I think I know what
happiness is not. It is not the career which I have hitherto pursued.
All this excitement which they talk of so much wears out the mind,
and, I begin to believe, even the body, for certainly my energies
seem deserting me. But two years, two miserable years, four-and-twenty
months, eight-and-forty times the hours, the few hours, that I have been
worse than wasting here, and I am shipwrecked, fairly bulged. Yet I have
done everything, tried everything, and my career has been an eminent
career. Woe to the wretch who trusts to his pampered senses for
felicity! Woe to the wretch who flies from the bright goddess Sympathy,
to sacrifice before the dark idol Self-love! Ah! I see too late, we were
made for each other. Too late, I discover the beautiful results of this
great principle of creation. Oh! the blunders of an unformed character!
Oh! the torture of an ill-regulated mind!

‘Give me a life with no fierce alternations of rapture and anguish, no
impossible hopes, no mad depression. Free me from the delusions which
succeed each other like scentless roses, that are ever blooming. Save me
from the excitement which brings exhaustion, and from the passion that
procreates remorse. Give me the luminous mind, where recognised and
paramount duty dispels the harassing, ascertains the doubtful, confirms
the wavering, sweetens the bitter. Give me content. Oh! give me love!

‘How is it to end? What is to become of me? Can nothing rescue me? Is
there no mode of relief, no place of succour, no quarter of refuge, no
hope of salvation? I cannot right myself, and there is an end of it.
Society, society, society! I owe thee much; and perhaps in working in
thy service, those feelings might be developed which I am now convinced
are the only source of happiness; but I am plunged too deep in the quag.
I have no impulse, no call. I know not how it is, but my energies, good
and evil, seem alike vanishing. There stares that fellow at my carriage!
God! willingly would I break the stones upon the road for a year, to
clear my mind of all the past!’

A carriage dashed by, and a lady bowed. It was Mrs. Dallington Vere.

The Duke had appointed his banker to dine with him, as not a moment must
be lost in preparing for the reception of his Brighton drafts. He was
also to receive, this evening, a complete report of all his affairs. The
first thing that struck his eye on his table was a packet from Sir Carte
Blanche. He opened it eagerly, stared, started, nearly shrieked. It
fell from his hands. He was fortunately alone. The estimates for the
completion of his works, and the purchase of the rest of the furniture,
exactly equalled the sum already expended. Sir Carte added, that the
works might of course be stopped, but that there was no possible way
of reducing them, with any deference to the original design, scale, and
style; that he had already given instructions not to proceed with the
furniture until further notice, but regretted to observe that the orders
were so advanced that he feared it was too late to make any sensible
reduction. It might in some degree reconcile his Grace to this report
when he concluded by observing that the advanced state of the works
could permit him to guarantee that the present estimates would not be
exceeded.

The Duke had sufficiently recovered before the arrival of his
confidential agent not to appear agitated, only serious. The awful
catastrophe at Brighton was announced, and his report of affairs
was received. It was a very gloomy one. Great agricultural distress
prevailed, and the rents could not be got in. Five-and-twenty per cent,
was the least that must be taken off his income, and with no prospect
of being speedily added on. There was a projected railroad which would
entirely knock up his canal, and even if crushed must be expensively
opposed. Coals were falling also, and the duties in town increasing.
There was sad confusion in the Irish estates. The missionaries, who were
patronised on the neighbouring lands of one of the City Companies, had
been exciting fatal confusion. Chapels were burnt, crops destroyed,
stock butchered, and rents all in arrear. Mr. Dacre had contrived with
great prudence to repress the efforts of the new reformation, and had
succeeded in preventing any great mischief. His plans for the pursual
of his ideas and feelings upon this subject had been communicated to his
late ward in an urgent and important paper, which his Grace had never
seen, but one day, unread, pushed into a certain black cabinet, which
perhaps the reader may remember. His Grace’s miscellaneous debts
had also been called in, and amounted to a greater sum than they had
anticipated, which debts always do. One hundred and forty thousand
pounds had crumbled away in the most imperceptible manner. A great slice
of this was the portion of the jeweller. His shield and his vases would
at least be evidence to his posterity of the splendour and the taste
of their imprudent ancestor; but he observed the other items with less
satisfaction. He discovered that in the course of two years he had given
away one hundred and thirty-seven necklaces and bracelets; and as for
rings, they must be counted by the bushel. The result of this gloomy
interview was, that the Duke had not only managed to get rid of the
immortal half-million, but had incurred debts or engagements to the
amount of nearly eight hundred thousand pounds, incumbrances which were
to be borne by a decreased and perhaps decreasing income. His Grace was
once more alone. ‘Well! my brain is not turned; and yet I think it has
been pretty well worked these last few days. It cannot be true: it must
all be a dream. He never could have dined here, and said all this. Have
I, indeed, been at Brighton? No, no, no; I have been sleeping after
dinner. I have a good mind to ring and ask whether he really was here.
It must be one great delusion. But no! there are those cursed accounts.
Well! what does it signify? I was miserable before, and now I am only
contemptible in addition. How the world will laugh! They were made
forsooth for my diversion. O, idiot! you will be the butt of everyone!
Talk of Bagshot, indeed! Why, he will scarcely speak to me!

‘Away with this! Let me turn these things in my mind. Take it at one
hundred and fifty thousand. It is more, it must be more, but we will
take it at that. Now, suppose one hundred thousand is allotted every
year to meet my debts; I suppose, in nine or ten years I shall be free.
Not that freedom will be worth much then; but still I am thinking of the
glory of the House I have betrayed. Well, then, there is fifty thousand
a-year left. Let me see; twenty thousand have always been spent in
Ireland, and ten at Pen Bronnock, and they must not be cut down. The
only thing I can do now is, not to spare myself. I am the cause, and
let me meet the consequences. Well, then, perhaps twenty thousand a-year
remain to keep Hauteville Castle and Hauteville House; to maintain the
splendour of the Duke of St. James. Why, my hereditary charities alone
amount to a quarter of my income, to say nothing of incidental charges:
I too, who should and who would wish to rebuild, at my own cost, every
bridge that is swept away, and every steeple that is burnt, in my
county.

‘And now for the great point. Shall I proceed with my buildings? My own
personal convenience whispers no! But I have a strong conviction that
the advice is treasonable. What! the young Duke’s folly for every gazer
in town and country to sneer at! Oh! my fathers, am I indeed your child,
or am I bastard? Never, never shall your shield be sullied while I bear
it! Never shall your proud banner veil while I am chieftain! They shall
be finished; certainly, they shall be finished, if I die an exile! There
can be no doubt about this; I feel the deep propriety.

‘This girl, too, something must be done for her. I must get Squib to
run down to Brighton for me: and Afy, poor dear Afy, I think she will be
sorry when she hears it all!

‘My head is weak: I want a counsellor. This man cannot enter into my
feelings. Then there is my family lawyer; if I ask him for advice, he
will ask me for instructions. Besides, this is not a matter of pounds,
shillings, and pence; it is an affair as much of sentiment as economy;
it involves the honour of my family, and I want one to unburden myself
to, who can sympathise with the tortured feelings of a noble, of a Duke
without a dukedom, for it has come to that. But I will leave sneers to
the world.

‘There is Annesley. He is clever, but so coldblooded. He has no heart.
There is Squib; he is a good fellow, and has heart enough; and I
suppose, if I wanted to pension off a mistress, or compound with a few
rascally tradesmen, he would manage the affair to a miracle. There is
Darrell; but he will be so fussy, and confidential, and official. Every
meeting will be a cabinet council, every discussion a debate, every
memorandum a state paper. There is Burlington; he is experienced, and
clever, and kind-hearted, and, I really think, likes me; but, no, no, it
is too ridiculous. We who have only met for enjoyment, whose countenance
was a smile, and whose conversation was badinage; we to meet, and
meditate on my broken fortunes! Impossible! Besides, what right have I
to compel a man, the study of whose life is to banish care, to take
all my anxieties on his back, or refuse the duty at the cost of my
acquaintance and the trouble of his conscience. Ah! I once had a friend,
the best, the wisest; but no more of that. What is even the loss of
fortune and of consideration to the loss of his--his daughter’s love?’

His voice faltered, yet it was long before he retired; and he rose on
the morrow only to meditate over his harassing embarrassments. As if the
cup of his misery were not o’erflowing, a new incident occurred about
this time, which rendered his sense of them even keener. But this is
important enough to commence a new chapter.



CHAPTER X.

     _A New Star Rises_

WILLIAM HENRY, MARQUESS OF MARYLEBONE, completed his twenty-first year:
an event which created a greater sensation among the aristocracy of
England, even, than the majority of George Augustus Frederick, Duke
of St. James. The rent-roll of his Grace was great: but that of his
Lordship was incalculable. He had not indeed so many castles as our
hero; but then, in the metropolis, a whole parish owned him as Lord,
and it was whispered that, when a few miles of leases fell in, the very
Civil List must give him the wall. Even in the duration of his minority,
he had the superiority over the young Duke, for the Marquess was a
posthumous son.

Lord Marylebone was a short, thick, swarthy young gentleman, with
wiry black hair, a nose somewhat flat, sharp eyes, and tusky mouth;
altogether not very unlike a terrier. His tastes were unknown: he had
not travelled, nor done anything very particular, except, with a
few congenial spirits, beat the Guards in a rowing-match, a
pretty diversion, and almost as conducive to a small white hand as
almond-paste.

But his Lordship was now of age, and might be seen every day at a
certain hour rattling up Bond Street in a red drag, in which he drove
four or five particular friends who lived at Stevens’ Hotel, and
therefore, we suppose, were the partners of his glory in his victory
over his Majesty’s household troops. Lord Marylebone was the universal
subject of conversation. Pursuits which would have devoted a shabby Earl
of twelve or fifteen thousand a year to universal reprobation, or, what
is much worse, to universal sneers, assumed quite a different character
when they constituted the course of life of this fortunate youth. He
was a delightful young man. So unaffected! No super-refinement, no false
delicacy. Everyone, each sex, everything, extended his, her, or its hand
to this cub, who, quite puzzled, but too brutal to be confused, kept
driving on the red van, and each day perpetrating some new act
of profligacy, some new instance of coarse profusion, tasteless
extravagance, and inelegant eccentricity.

But, nevertheless, he was the hero of the town. He was the great point
of interest in ‘The Universe,’ and ‘The New World’ favoured the old one
with weekly articles on his character and conduct. The young Duke
was quite forgotten, if really young he could be longer called. Lord
Marylebone was in the mouth of every tradesman, who authenticated his
own vile inventions by foisting them on his Lordship. The most grotesque
fashions suddenly inundated the metropolis; and when the Duke of St.
James ventured to express his disapprobation, he found his empire was
over. ‘They were sorry that it did not meet his Grace’s taste, but
really what his Grace had suggested was quite gone by. This was the only
hat, or cane, or coat which any civilised being could be seen with. Lord
Marylebone wore, or bore, no other.’

In higher circles, it was much the same. Although the dandies would not
bate an inch, and certainly would not elect the young Marquess for their
leader, they found, to their dismay, that the empire which they were
meditating to defend, had already slipped away from their grasp. A
new race of adventurous youths appeared upon the stage. Beards, and
greatcoats even rougher, bull-dogs instead of poodles, clubs instead of
canes, cigars instead of perfumes, were the order of the day. There was
no end to boat-racing; Crockford’s sneered at White’s; and there was
even a talk of reviving the ring. Even the women patronised the young
Marquess, and those who could not be blind to his real character, were
sure, that, if well managed, he would not turn out ill.

Assuredly our hero, though shelved, did not envy his successful rival.
Had he been, instead of one for whom he felt a sovereign contempt, a
being even more accomplished than himself, pity and not envy would have
been the sentiment he would have yielded to his ascendant star.
But, nevertheless, he could not be insensible to the results of this
incident; and the advent of the young Marquess seemed like the sting in
the epigram of his life. After all his ruinous magnificence, after
all the profuse indulgence of his fantastic tastes, he had sometimes
consoled himself, even in the bitterness of satiety, by reminding
himself, that he at least commanded the admiration of his
fellow-creatures, although it had been purchased at a costly price. Not
insensible to the power of his wealth, the magic of his station, he had,
however, ventured to indulge in the sweet belief that these qualities
were less concerned in the triumphs of his career than his splendid
person, his accomplished mind, his amiable disposition, and his finished
manner; his beauty, his wit, his goodness, and his grace. Even from this
delusion, too, was he to waken, and, for the first time in his life, he
gauged the depth and strength of that popularity which had been so dear
to him, and which he now found to be so shallow and so weak.

‘What will they think of me when they know all? What they will: I care
not. I would sooner live in a cottage with May Dacre, and work for our
daily bread, than be worshipped by all the beauty of this Babylon.’

Gloomy, yet sedate, he returned home. His letters announced two
extraordinary events. M. de Whiskerburg had galloped off with Lady
Aphrodite, and Count Frill had flown away with the Bird of Paradise.



CHAPTER XI.

     _‘Lovely Woman Stoops to Folly.’_

THE last piece of information was a relief; but the announcement of the
elopement cost him a pang. Both surprised, and the first shocked him.
We are unreasonable in love, and do not like to be anticipated even in
neglect. An hour ago Lady Aphrodite Grafton was to him only an object of
anxiety and a cause of embarrassment. She was now a being to whom he was
indebted for some of the most pleasing hours of his existence, and who
could no longer contribute to his felicity. Everybody appeared deserting
him.

He had neglected her, to be sure; and they must have parted, it was
certain. Yet, although the present event saved him from the most
harrowing of scenes, he could not refrain shedding a tear. So good! and
so beautiful! and was this her end? He who knew all knew how bitter had
been the lot of her life.

It is certain that when one of your very virtuous women ventures to be
a little indiscreet, we say it is certain, though we regret it, that
sooner or later there is an explosion. And the reason is this, that they
are always in a hurry to make up for lost time, and so love with them
becomes a business instead of being a pleasure. Nature had intended Lady
Aphrodite Grafton for a Psyche, so spiritual was her soul, so pure her
blood! Art--that is, education, which at least should be an art, though
it is not--art had exquisitely sculptured the precious gem that Nature
had developed, and all that was wanting was love to stamp an impression.
Lady Aphrodite Grafton might have been as perfect a character as was
ever the heroine of a novel. And to whose account shall we place her
blighted fame and sullied lustre? To that animal who seems formed
only to betray woman. Her husband was a traitor in disguise. She found
herself betrayed; but like a noble chieftain, when her capital was lost,
maintained herself among the ruins of her happiness, in the citadel of
her virtue. She surrendered, she thought, on terms; and in yielding her
heart to the young Duke, though never for a moment blind to her conduct,
yet memory whispered extenuation, and love added all that was necessary.

Our hero (we are for none of your perfect heroes) did not behave much
better than her husband. The difference between them was, Sir Lucius
Grafton’s character was formed, and formed for evil; while the Duke
of St. James, when he became acquainted with Lady Aphrodite, possessed
none. Gallantry was a habit, in which he had been brought up. To protest
to woman what he did not believe, and to feign what he did not feel,
were, as he supposed, parts in the character of an accomplished
gentleman; and as hitherto he had not found his career productive of
any misery, we may perhaps view his conduct with less severity. But at
length he approaches, not a mere woman of the world, who tries to delude
him into the idea that he is the first hero of a romance that has been
a hundred times repeated. He trembles at the responsibility which he
has incurred by engaging the feelings of another. In the conflict of
his emotions, some rays of moral light break upon his darkened soul.
Profligacy brings its own punishment, and he feels keenly that man is
the subject of sympathy, and not the slave of self-love.

This remorse protracts a connection which each day is productive of more
painful feelings; but the heart cannot be overstrung, and anxiety
ends in callousness. Then come neglect, remonstrance, explanations,
protestations, and, sooner or later, a catastrophe.

But love is a dangerous habit, and when once indulged, is not easily
thrown off, unless you become devout, which is, in a manner, giving the
passion a new direction. In Catholic countries, it is surprising how
many adventures end in a convent. A dame, in her desperation, flies to
the grate, which never reopens; but in Protestant regions she has time
to cool, and that’s the deuce; so, instead of taking the veil, she takes
a new lover.

Lady Aphrodite had worked up her mind and the young Duke to a step the
very mention of which a year before would have made him shudder. What an
enchanter is Passion! No wonder Ovid, who was a judge, made love so much
connected with his Metamorphoses. With infinite difficulty she had dared
to admit the idea of flying with his Grace; but when the idea was once
admitted, when she really had, once or twice, constantly dwelt on the
idea of at length being free from her tyrant, and perhaps about to
indulge in those beautiful affections for which she was formed, and of
which she had been rifled; when, I say, all this occurred, and her hero
diplomatised, and, in short, kept back; why, she had advanced one step,
without knowing it, to running away with another man.

It was unlucky that De Whiskerburg stepped in. An Englishman would not
have done. She knew them well, and despised them all; but he was new
(dangerous novelty), with a cast of feelings which, because they were
strange, she believed to be unhackneyed; and he was impassioned. We need
not go on.

So this star has dropped from out the heaven; so this precious pearl no
longer gleams among the jewels of society, and there she breathes in a
foreign land, among strange faces and stranger customs, and, when she
thinks of what is past, laughs at some present emptiness, and tries to
persuade her withering heart that the mind is independent of country,
and blood, and opinion. And her father’s face no longer shines with its
proud love, and her mother’s voice no longer whispers to her with sweet
anxiety. Clouded is the brow of her bold brother, and dimmed is the
radiancy of her budding sister’s bloom.

Poor creature! that is to say, wicked woman! for we are not of those who
set themselves against the verdict of society, or ever omit to expedite,
by a gentle kick, a falling friend. And yet, when we just remember
beauty is beauty, and grace is grace, and kindness is kindness, although
the beautiful, the graceful, and the amiable do get in a scrape, we
don’t know how it is, we confess it is a weakness, but, under these
circumstances, we do not feel quite inclined to sneer.

But this is wrong. We should not pity or pardon those who have yielded
to great temptation, or perchance great provocation. Besides, it is
right that our sympathy should be kept for the injured.

To stand amid the cold ashes of your desolate hearth, with all your
Penates shivered at your feet; to find no smiling face meet your return,
no brow look gloomy when you leave your door; to eat and sleep alone;
to be bored with grumbling servants and with weekly bills; to have your
children asking after mamma; and no one to nurse your gout, or cure the
influenza that rages in your household: all this is doubtless hard to
digest, and would tell in a novel, particularly if written by my friends
Mr. Ward or Mr. Bulwer.



CHAPTER XII.

     _Kindly Words_

THE Duke had passed a stormy morning with his solicitor, who wished him
to sell the Pen Bronnock property, which, being parliamentary, would
command a price infinitely greater than might be expected from its
relative income. The very idea of stripping his coronet of this
brightest jewel, and thus sacrificing for wealth the ends of riches,
greatly disordered him, and he more and more felt the want of a
counsellor who could sympathise with his feelings as well as arrange his
fortunes. In this mood he suddenly seized a pen, and wrote the following
letter:--


‘----House, Feb. 5, 182--.

‘My dear Mr. Dacre,

‘I keenly feel that you are the last person to whom I should apply for
the counsels or the consolation of friendship. I have long ago forfeited
all claims to your regard, and your esteem I never possessed. Yet,
if only because my career ought to end by my being an unsuccessful
suppliant to the individual whom both virtue and nature pointed out to
me as my best friend, and whose proffered and parental support I have so
wantonly, however thoughtlessly, rejected, I do not regret that this is
written. No feeling of false delicacy can prevent me from applying to
one to whom I have long ago incurred incalculable obligations, and no
feeling of false delicacy will, I hope, for a moment, prevent you from
refusing the application of one who has acknowledged those obligations
only by incalculable ingratitude.

‘In a word, my affairs, are, I fear, inextricably involved. I will not
dwell upon the madness of my life; suffice that its consequences appall
me. I have really endeavoured to examine into all details, and am
prepared to meet the evil as becomes me; but, indeed, my head turns with
the complicated interests which solicit my consideration, and I tremble
lest, in the distraction of my mind, I may adopt measures which may
baffle the very results I would attain. For myself, I am ready to pay
the penalty of my silly profligacy; and if exile, or any other personal
infliction, can redeem the fortunes of the House that I have betrayed, I
shall cheerfully submit to my destiny. My career has been productive of
too little happiness to make me regret its termination.

‘But I want advice: I want the counsel of one who can sympathise with
my distracted feelings, who will look as much, or rather more, to the
honour of my family than to the convenience of myself. I cannot obtain
this from what are called men of business, and, with a blush I confess,
I have no friend. In this situation my thoughts recur to one on whom,
believe me, they have often dwelt; and although I have no right to
appeal to your heart, for my father’s sake you will perhaps pardon this
address. Whatever you may resolve, my dearest sir, rest assured that you
and your family will always command the liveliest gratitude of one who
regrets he may not subscribe himself

‘Your obliged and devoted friend,

‘St. James.

‘I beg that you will not answer this, if your determination be what I
anticipate and what I deserve. ‘Dacre Dacre, Esq., &c, &c, &c.’


It was signed, sealed, and sent. He repented its transmission when it
was gone. He almost resolved to send a courier to stop the post. He
continued walking up and down his room for the rest of the day; he
could not eat, or read, or talk. He was plunged in a nervous reverie.
He passed the next day in the same state. Unable to leave his house, and
unseen by visitors, he retired to his bed feverish and dispirited. The
morning came, and he woke from his hot and broken sleep at an early
hour; yet he had not energy to rise. At last the post arrived, and his
letters were brought up to him. With a trembling hand and sinking breath
he read these lines:--


‘Castle Dacre, February 6, 182--.

‘My dear young Friend,

‘Not only for your father’s sake, but your own, are my services ever at
your command. I have long been sensible of your amiable disposition, and
there are circumstances which will ever make me your debtor.

‘The announcement of the embarrassed state of your affairs fills me with
sorrow and anxiety, yet I will hope the best. Young men, unconsciously,
exaggerate adversity as well as prosperity. If you are not an habitual
gamester, and I hope you have not been even an occasional one, unbounded
extravagance could scarcely in two years have permanently injured your
resources. However, bring down with you all papers, and be careful to
make no arrangement, even of the slightest nature, until we meet.

‘We expect you hourly. May desires her kindest regards, and begs me to
express the great pleasure which she will feel at again finding you our
guest. It is unnecessary for me to repeat how very sincerely

‘I am your friend,

‘Dacre Dacre.’


He read the letter three times to be sure he did not mistake the
delightful import. Then he rang the bell with a vivacity which had not
characterised him for many a month.

‘Luigi! prepare to leave town to-morrow morning for an indefinite
period. I shall only take you. I must dress immediately, and order
breakfast and my horses.’

The Duke of St. James had communicated the state of his affairs to Lord
Fitz-pompey, who was very shocked, offered his best services, and also
asked him to dinner, to meet the Marquess of Marylebone. The young
Duke had also announced to his relatives, and to some of his particular
friends, that he intended to travel for some time, and he well knew that
their charitable experience would understand the rest. They understood
everything. The Marquess’s party daily increased, and ‘The Universe’ and
‘The New World’ announced that the young Duke was ‘done up.’

There was one person to whom our hero would pay a farewell visit before
he left London. This was Lady Caroline St. Maurice. He had called at
Fitz-pompey House one or two mornings in the hope of finding her alone,
and to-day he determined to be more successful. As he stopped his horse
for the last time before his uncle’s mansion, he could not help calling
to mind the first visit which he had paid after his arrival. But the
door opens, he enters, he is announced, and finds Lady Caroline alone.

Ten minutes passed away, as if the morning ride or evening ball were
again to bring them together. The young Duke was still gay and still
amusing. At last he said with a smile,

‘Do you know, Caroline, this is a farewell visit, and to you?’

She did not speak, but bent her head as if she were intent upon some
work, and so seated herself that her countenance was almost hid.

‘You have heard from my uncle,’ continued he, laughing; ‘and if you
have not heard from him, you have heard from somebody else, of my little
scrape. A fool and his money, you know, Caroline, and a short reign and
a merry one. When we get prudent we are wondrous fond of proverbs. My
reign has certainly been brief enough; with regard to the merriment,
that is not quite so certain. I have little to regret except your
society, sweet coz!’

‘Dear George, how can you talk so of such serious affairs! If you knew
how unhappy, how miserable I am, when I hear the cold, callous world
speak of such things with indifference, you would at least not imitate
their heartlessness.’

‘Dear Caroline!’ said he, seating himself at her side.

‘I cannot help thinking,’ she continued, ‘that you have not sufficiently
exerted yourself about these embarrassments. You are, of course, too
harassed, too much annoyed, too little accustomed to the energy and the
detail of business, to interfere with any effect; but surely a friend
might. You will not speak to my father, and perhaps you have your
reasons; but is there no one else? St. Maurice, I know, has no head. Ah!
George, I often feel that if your relations had been different people,
your fate might have been different. We are the fault.’

He kissed her hand.

‘Among all your intimates,’ she continued, ‘is there no one fit to be
your counsellor, no one worthy of your confidence?’

‘None,’ said the Duke, bitterly, ‘none, none. I have no friend among
those intimates: there is not a man of them who cares to serve or is
capable of serving me.’

‘You have well considered?’ asked Lady Caroline.

‘Well, dear, well. I know them all by rote, head and heart. Ah! my dear,
dear Carry, if you were a man, what a nice little friend you would be!’

‘You will always laugh, George. But I--I have no heart to laugh. This
breaking up of your affairs, this exile, this losing you whom we all
love, love so dearly, makes me quite miserable.’

He kissed her hand again.

‘I dare say,’ she continued, ‘you have thought me as heartless as the
rest, because I never spoke. But I knew; that is, I feared; or, rather,
hoped that a great part of what I heard was false; and so I thought
notice was unnecessary, and might be painful. Yet, heaven knows, there
are few subjects that have been oftener in my thoughts, or cost me more
anxiety. Are you sure you have no friend?’

‘I have you, Caroline. I did not say I had no friends: I said I had none
among those intimates you talked of; that there was no man among them
capable of the necessary interference, even if he were willing to
undertake it. But I am not friendless, not quite forlorn, dear! My fate
has given me a friend that I but little deserve: one whom, if I had
prized better, I should not perhaps have been obliged to put his
friendship to so severe a trial. To-morrow, Caroline, I depart for
Castle Dacre; there is my friend. Alas! how little have I deserved such
a boon!’

‘Dacre!’ exclaimed Lady Caroline, ‘Mr. Dacre! Oh! you have made me so
happy, George! Mr. Dacre is the very, very person; that is, the very
best person you could possibly have applied to.’

‘Good-bye, Caroline,’ said his Grace, rising.

She burst into tears.

Never, never had she looked so lovely: never, never had he loved her
so entirely! Tears! tears shed for him! Oh! what, what is grief when
a lovely woman remains to weep over our misfortunes! Could he be
miserable, could his career indeed be unfortunate, when this was
reserved for him? He was on the point of pledging his affection, but to
leave her under such circumstances was impossible: to neglect Mr. Dacre
was equally so. He determined to arrange his affairs with all possible
promptitude, and then to hasten up, and entreat her to share his
diminished fortunes. But he would not go without whispering hope,
without leaving some soft thought to lighten her lonely hours. He caught
her in his arms; he covered her sweet small mouth with kisses, and
whispered, in the midst of their pure embrace,

‘Dearest Carry! I shall soon return, and we will yet be happy.’



BOOK V.



CHAPTER I.

     _Once More at Dacre_

MISS DACRE, although she was prepared to greet the Duke of St. James
with cordiality, did not anticipate with equal pleasure the arrival
of the page and the jäger. Infinite had been the disturbances they had
occasioned during their first visit, and endless the complaints of the
steward and the housekeeper. The men-servants were initiated in
the mysteries of dominoes, and the maid-servants in the tactics of
flirtation. Karlstein was the hero of the under-butlers, and even the
trusty guardian of the cellar himself was too often on the point of
obtaining the German’s opinion of his master’s German wines. Gaming, and
drunkenness, and love, the most productive of all the teeming causes
of human sorrow, had in a week sadly disordered the well-regulated
household of Castle Dacre, and nothing but the impetuosity of our hero
would have saved his host’s establishment from utter perdition. Miss
Dacre was, therefore, not less pleased than surprised when the britzska
of the Duke of St. James discharged on a fine afternoon, its noble
master, attended only by the faithful Luigi, at the terrace of the
Castle.

A few country cousins, fresh from Cumberland, who knew nothing of the
Duke of St. James except from a stray number of ‘The Universe,’ which
occasionally stole down to corrupt the pure waters of their lakes, were
the only guests. Mr. Dacre grasped our hero’s hand with a warmth and
expression which were unusual with him, but which conveyed, better than
words, the depth of his friendship; and his daughter, who looked more
beautiful than ever, advanced with a beaming face and joyous tone, which
quite reconciled the Duke of St. James to being a ruined man.

The presence of strangers limited their conversation to subjects of
general interest. At dinner, the Duke took care to be agreeable: he
talked in an unaffected manner, and particularly to the cousins, who
were all delighted with him, and found him ‘quite a different person
from what they had fancied.’ The evening passed over, and even lightly,
without the aid of _écarté_, romances, or gallops. Mr. Dacre chatted
with old Mr. Montingford, and old Mrs. Montingford sat still admiring
her ‘girls,’ who stood still admiring May Dacre singing or talking, and
occasionally reconciled us to their occasional silence by a frequent
and extremely hearty laugh; that Cumberland laugh which never outlives a
single season in London.

And the Duke of St. James, what did he do? It must be confessed that in
some points he greatly resembled the Misses Montingford, for he was both
silent and admiring; but he never laughed. Yet he was not dull, and
was careful not to show that he had cares, which is vulgar. If a man be
gloomy, let him keep to himself. No one has a right to go croaking
about society, or, what is worse, looking as if he stifled grief. These
fellows should be put in the pound. We like a good broken heart or so
now and then; but then one should retire to the Sierra Morena mountains,
and live upon locusts and wild honey, not ‘dine out’ with our cracked
cores, and, while we are meditating suicide, the Gazette, or the
Chiltern Hundreds, damn a vintage or eulogise an _entrée_.

And as for cares, what are cares when a man is in love? Once more they
had met; once more he gazed upon that sunny and sparkling face; once
more he listened to that sweet and thrilling voice, which sounded like
a bird-like burst of music upon a summer morning. She moved, and each
attitude was fascination. She was still, and he regretted that she
moved. Now her neck, now her hair, now her round arm, now her tapering
waist, ravished his attention; now he is in ecstasies with her twinkling
foot; now he is dazzled with her glancing hand.

Once more he was at Dacre! How different was this meeting to their
first! Then, she was cold, almost cutting; then she was disregardful,
almost contemptuous; but then he had hoped; ah! madman, he had more than
hoped. Now she was warm, almost affectionate; now she listened to him
with readiness, ay! almost courted his conversation. And now he could
only despair. As he stood alone before the fire, chewing this bitter
cud, she approached him.

‘How good you were to come directly!’ she said with a smile, which
melted his heart. ‘I fear, however, you will not find us so merry as
before. But you can make anything amusing. Come, then, and sing to these
damsels. Do you know they are half afraid of you? and I cannot persuade
them that a terrible magician has not assumed, for the nonce, the air
and appearance of a young gentleman of distinction.’

He smiled, but could not speak. Repartee sadly deserts the lover; yet
smiles, under those circumstances, are eloquent; and the eye, after all,
speaks much more to the purpose than the tongue. Forgetting everything
except the person who addressed him, he offered her his hand, and
advanced to the group which surrounded the piano.



CHAPTER II.

     _The Moth and the Flame_

THE next morning was passed by the Duke of St. James in giving Mr.
Dacre his report of the state of his affairs. His banker’s accounts,
his architect’s estimates, his solicitor’s statements, were all brought
forward and discussed. A ride, generally with Miss Dacre and one of her
young friends, dinner, and a short evening, and eleven o’clock, sent
them all to repose. Thus glided on a fortnight. The mornings continued
to be passed in business. Affairs were more complicated than his Grace
had imagined, who had no idea of detail. He gave all the information
that he could, and made his friend master of his particular feelings.
For the rest, Mr. Dacre was soon involved in much correspondence; and
although the young Duke could no longer assist him, he recommended and
earnestly begged that he would remain at Dacre; for he could perceive,
better than his Grace, that our hero was labouring under a great deal of
excitement, and that his health was impaired. A regular course of life
was therefore as necessary for his constitution as it was desirable for
all other reasons.

Behold, then, our hero domesticated at Dacre; rising at nine, joining
a family breakfast, taking a quiet ride, or moderate stroll, sometimes
looking into a book, but he was no great reader; sometimes fortunate
enough in achieving a stray game at billiards, usually with a Miss
Montingford, and retiring to rest about the time that in London his most
active existence generally began. Was he dull? was he wearied? He was
never lighter-hearted or more contented in his life. Happy he could not
allow himself to be styled, because the very cause which breathed this
calm over his existence seemed to portend a storm which could not be
avoided. It was the thought, the presence, the smile, the voice of May
Dacre that imparted this new interest to existence: that being who never
could be his. He shuddered to think that all this must end; but although
he never indulged again in the great hope, his sanguine temper allowed
him to thrust away the future, and to participate in all the joys of the
flowing hour.

At the end of February the Montingfords departed, and now the Duke was
the only guest at Dacre; nor did he hear that any others were expected.
He was alone with her again; often was he alone with her, and never
without a strange feeling coming over his frame, which made him tremble.
Mr. Dacre, a man of active habits, always found occupation in his public
duties and in the various interests of a large estate, and usually
requested, or rather required, the Duke of St. James to be his
companion. He was desirous that the Duke should not be alone, and ponder
too much over the past; nor did he conceal his wishes from his daughter,
who on all occasions, as the Duke observed with gratification, seconded
the benevolent intentions of her parent. Nor did our hero indeed wish
to be alone, or to ponder over the past. He was quite contented with
the present; but he did not want to ride with papa, and took every
opportunity to shirk; all of which Mr. Dacre set down to the indolence
of exhaustion, and the inertness of a mind without an object.

‘I am going to ride over to Doncaster, George,’ said Mr. Dacre one
morning at breakfast. ‘I think that you had better order your horse too.
A good ride will rouse you, and you should show yourself there.’

‘Oh! very well, sir; but, but I think that----’

‘But what?’ asked Mr. Dacre, smiling.

The Duke looked to Miss Dacre, who seemed to take pity on his idleness.

‘You make him ride too much, papa. Leave him at home with me. I have
a long round to-day, and want an escort. I will take him instead of my
friend Tom Carter. You must carry a basket though,’ said she, turning to
the Duke, ‘and run for the doctor if he be wanted, and, in short, do any
odd message that turns up.’

So Mr. Dacre departed alone, and shortly after his daughter and the Duke
of St. James set out on their morning ramble. Many were the cottages at
which they called; many the old dames after whose rheumatisms, and many
the young damsels after whose fortunes they enquired. Old Dame Rawdon
was worse or better; worse last night, but better this morning. She was
always better when Miss called. Miss’s face always did her good. And
Fanny was very comfortable at Squire Wentworth’s, and the housekeeper
was very kind to her, thanks to Miss saying a word to the great Lady.
And old John Selby was quite about again. Miss’s stuff had done him a
world of good, to say nothing of Mr. Dacre’s generous old wine.

‘And is this your second son, Dame Rishworth?’ ‘No; that bees our
fourth,’ said the old woman, maternally arranging the urchin’s thin,
white, flat, straight, unmanageable hair. ‘We are thinking what to do
with him, Miss. He wants to go out to service. Since Jem Eustace got on
so, I don’t know what the matter is with the lads; but I think we shall
have none of them in the fields soon. He can clean knives and shoes very
well, Miss. Mr. Bradford, at the Castle, was saying t’other day that
perhaps he might want a young hand. You haven’t heard anything, I
suppose, Miss?’

‘And what is your name, sir?’ asked Miss Dacre. ‘Bobby Rishworth, Miss!’
‘Well, Bobby, I must consult Mr. Bradford.’ ‘We be in great trouble,
Miss,’ said the next cottager. ‘We be in great trouble. Tom, poor Tom,
was out last night, and the keepers will give him up. The good man has
done all he can, we have all done all we can, Miss, and you see how it
ends. He is the first of the family that ever went out. I hope that will
be considered, Miss. Seventy years, our fathers before us, have we
been on the ‘state, and nothing ever sworn agin us. I hope that will
be considered, Miss. I am sure if Tom had been an underkeeper, as Mr.
Roberts once talked of, this would never have happened. I hope that will
be considered, Miss. We are in great trouble surely. Tom, you see, was
our first, Miss.’

‘I never interfere about poaching, you know, Mrs. Jones. Mr. Dacre is
the best judge of such matters. But you can go to him, and say that I
sent you. I am afraid, however, that he has heard of Tom before.’

‘Only that night at Milwood, Miss; and then you see he had been drinking
with Squire Ridge’s people. I hope that will be considered, Miss.’

‘Well, well, go up to the Castle.’

‘Pray be seated, Miss,’ said a neat-looking mistress of a neat little
farmhouse. ‘Pray be seated, sir. Let me dust it first. Dust will get
everywhere, do what we can. And how’s Pa, Miss? He has not given me
a look-in for many a day, not since he was a-hunting: bless me, if it
ayn’t a fortnight. This day fortnight he tasted our ale, sure enough.
Will you take a glass, sir?’

‘You are very good. No, I thank you; not today.’

‘Yes, give him a glass, nurse. He is unwell, and it will do him good.’

She brought the sparkling amber fluid, and the Duke did justice by his
draught.

‘I shall have fine honey for you, Miss, this year,’ said the old nurse.
‘Are you fond of honey, sir? Our honey is well known about. I don’t know
how it is, but we do always contrive to manage the bees. How fond some
people are of honey, good Lord! Now, when you were a little girl (I knew
this young lady, sir, before you did), you always used to be fond of
honey. I remember one day: let me see, it must be, ay! truly, that it
is, eighteen years ago next Martinmas: I was a-going down the nursery
stairs, just to my poor mistress’s room, and I had you in my arms (for I
knew this young lady, sir, before you did). Well! I was a-going down the
stairs, as I just said, to my poor dear mistress’s room with you, who
was then a little-un indeed (bless your smiling face! you cost me many
a weary hour when you were weaned, Miss. That you did! Some thought you
would never get through it; but I always said, while there is life there
is hope; and so, you see I were right); but, as I was saying, I was
a-going down the stairs to my poor dear mistress, and I had a gallipot
in my hand, a covered gallipot, with some leeches. And just as I had
got to the bottom of the stairs, and was a-going into my poor dear
mistress’s room, said you (I never shall forget it), said you, “Honey,
honey, nurse.” She thought it were honey, sir. So you see she were
always very fond of honey (for I knew this young lady long before you
did, sir).’

‘Are you quite sure of that, nurse?’ said Miss Dacre; ‘I think this is
an older friend than you imagine. You remember the little Duke; do not
you? This is the little Duke. Do you think he has grown?’

‘Now! bless my life! is it so indeed? Well, be sure, he has grown. I
always thought he would turn out well, Miss, though Dr. Pretyman were
always a-preaching, and talking his prophecycations. I always thought he
would turn out well at last. Bless me! how he has grown, indeed! Perhaps
he grows too fast, and that makes him weak. Nothing better than a glass
of ale for weak people. I remember when Dr. Pretyman ordered it for my
poor dear mistress. “Give her ale,” said the Doctor, “as strong as it
can be brewed;” and sure enough, my poor dear master had it brewed! Have
you done growing, sir? You was ever a troublesome child. Often and often
have I called George, George, Georgy, Georgy Porgy, and he never would
come near me, though he heard all the time as plainly as he does now.
Bless me! he has grown indeed!’

‘But I have turned out well at last, nurse, eh?’ asked the Duke.

‘Ay! sure enough; I always said so. Often and often have I said, he will
turn out well at last. You be going, Miss? I thank you for looking in.
My duty to my master. I was thinking of bringing up one of those cheeses
he likes so.’

‘Ay! do, nurse. He can eat no cheese but yours.’

As they wandered home, they talked of Lady Caroline, to whom the Duke
mentioned that he must write. He had once intended distinctly to have
explained his feelings to her in a letter from Dacre; but each day he
postponed the close of his destiny, although without hope. He lingered
and he lingered round May Dacre, as a bird flutters round the fruit
which is already grasped by a boy. Circumstances, which we shall
relate, had already occurred, which confirmed the suspicion he had long
entertained that Arundel Dacre was his favoured rival. Impressed with
the folly of again encouraging hope, yet unable to harden his heart
against her continual fascination, the softness of his manner indicated
his passion, and his calm and somewhat languid carriage also told her it
was hopeless. Perhaps, after all, there is no demeanour more calculated
to melt obdurate woman. The gratification he received from her society
was evident, yet he never indulged in that gallantry of which he was
once so proud. When she approached him, a mild smile lit up his pensive
countenance; he adopted her suggestions, but made none; he listened to
her remarks with interest, but no longer bandied repartee. Delicately he
impressed her with the absolute power which she might exercise over his
mind.

‘I write myself to Caroline to-morrow,’ said Miss Dacre.

‘Ah! Then I need not write. I talked of going up sooner. Have the
kindness to explain why I do not: peremptory orders from Mr. Dacre;
fresh air, and----’

‘Arithmetic. I understand you get on admirably.’

‘My follies,’ said the Duke with a serious air, ‘have at least been
productive of one good end, they have amused you.’

‘Nay! I have done too many foolish things myself any more to laugh at
my neighbours. As for yourself, you have only committed those which were
inseparable from your situation; and few, like the Duke of St. James,
would so soon have opened their eyes to the truth of their conduct.’

‘A compliment from you repays me for all.’

‘Self-approbation does, which is much better than compliments from
anyone. See! there is papa, and Arundel too: let us run up!’



CHAPTER III.

     _Again the Rival_

THE Duke of St. James had, on his arrival at Dacre, soon observed that
a constant correspondence was maintained between Miss Dacre and her
cousin. There was no attempt to conceal the fact from any of the guests,
and, as that young gentleman was now engaged in an affair interesting to
all his friends, every letter generally contained some paragraph almost
as interesting to the Montingfords as to herself, which was
accordingly read aloud. Mr. Arundel Dacre was candidate for the vacant
representation of a town in a distant county. He had been disappointed
in his views on the borough, about which he had returned to England, but
had been nevertheless persuaded by his cousin to remain in his native
country. During this period, he had been a great deal at Castle Dacre,
and had become much more intimate and unreserved with his uncle, who
observed with great satisfaction this change in his character, and lost
no opportunity of deserving and increasing the confidence for which
he had so long unavailingly yearned, and which was now so unexpectedly
proffered.

The borough for which Arundel Dacre was about to stand was in Sussex, a
county in which his family had no property, and very slight connection.
Yet at the place, the Catholic interest was strong, and on that, and
the usual Whig influence, he ventured. His desire to be a member of
the Legislature, at all and from early times extreme, was now greatly
heightened by the prospect of being present at the impending Catholic
debate. After an absence of three weeks, he had hurried to Yorkshire for
four-and-twenty hours, to give a report of the state of his canvass,
and the probability of his success. In that success all were greatly
interested, but none more so than Miss Dacre, whose thoughts indeed
seemed to dwell on no other subject, and who expressed herself with a
warmth which betrayed her secret feelings. Had the place only been
in Yorkshire, she was sure he must have succeeded. She was the best
canvasser in the world, and everybody agreed that Harry Grey-stoke owed
his election merely to her insinuating tongue and unrivalled powers
of scampering, by which she had completely baffled the tactics of Lady
Amarantha.

Germain, who thought that a canvass was only a long morning call, and
might be achieved in a cashmere and a britzska.

The young Duke, who had seen little of his second since the eventful
day, greeted him with warmth, and was welcomed with a frankness which
he had never before experienced from his friend. Excited by rapid
travel and his present course of life, and not damped by the unexpected
presence of any strangers, Arundel Dacre seemed quite a changed man, and
talked immensely.

‘Come, May, I must have a kiss! I have been kissing as pretty girls as
you. There now! You all said I never should be a popular candidate. I
get regularly huzzaed every day, so they have been obliged to hire a
band of butchers’ boys to pelt me. Whereupon I compare myself to Cæsar
set upon in the Senate House, and get immense cheering in “The County
Chronicle,” which I have bribed. If you knew the butts of wine, the
Heidelberg tuns of ale, that I have drank during the last fortnight,
you would stare indeed. As much as the lake: but then I have to talk
so much, that the ardour of my eloquence, like the hot flannels of the
Humane Society, save me from the injurious effects of all this liquid.’

‘But will you get in; but will you get in?’ exclaimed his cousin.

‘‘Tis not in mortals to command success; but---’

‘Pooh! pooh! you must command it!’ ‘Well, then, I have an excellent
chance; and the only thing against me is, that my committee are quite
sure. But really I think that if the Protestant overseers, whom,
by-the-bye, May, I cannot persuade that I am a heretic (it is very hard
that a man is not believed when he says he shall be damned), if they
do not empty the workhouse, we shall do. But let us go in, for I have
travelled all night, and must be off to-morrow morning.’

They entered the house, and the Duke quitted the family group. About an
hour afterwards, he sauntered to the music-room. As he opened the door,
his eyes lighted upon May Dacre and her cousin. They were standing
before the fire, with their backs to the door. His arm was wound
carelessly round her waist, and with his other hand he supported, with
her, a miniature, at which she was looking.

The Duke could not catch her countenance, which was completely hid; but
her companion was not gazing on the picture: his head, a little turned,
indicated that there was a living countenance more interesting to him
than all the skill of the most cunning artist. Part of his cheek was
alone perceptible, and that was burning red.

All this was the work of a moment. The Duke stared, turned pale, closed
the door without a sound, and retired unperceived. When he was sure that
he could no longer be observed, he gasped for breath, a cold dew covered
his frame, his joints loosened, and his sinking heart gave him that
sickening sensation when life appears utterly worthless, and ourselves
utterly contemptible. Yet what had he witnessed? A confirmation of what
he had never doubted. What was this woman to him? Alas! how supreme was
the power with which she ruled his spirit! And this Dacre, this Arundel
Dacre, how he hated him! Oh! that they were hand to hand, and sword to
sword, in some fair field, and there decide it! He must conquer; he felt
that. Already his weapon pierced that craven heart, and ripped open that
breast which was to be the pillow of---. Hell! hell! He rushed to his
room, and began a letter to Caroline St. Maurice; but he could not
write; and after scribbling over a quire of paper, he threw the sheets
to the flames, and determined to ride up to town to-morrow.

The dinner bell sounded. Could he meet them? Ay! meet them! Defy them!
Insult them! He descended to the dining-room. He heard her musical
and liquid voice; the scowl upon his brow melted away; but, gloomy and
silent, he took his seat, and gloomy and silent he remained. Little he
spoke, and that little was scarcely courteous. But Arundel had enough to
say. He was the hero of the party. Well he might be. Story after
story of old maids and young widows, sturdy butchers and corrupt coal
merchants, sparkled away; but a faint smile was all the tribute of the
Duke, and a tribute that was seldom paid.

‘You are not well!’ said Miss Dacre to him, in a low voice.

‘I believe I am,’ answered he shortly.

‘You do not seem quite so,’ she replied, with an air of surprise.

‘I believe I have got a headache,’ he retorted with little more
cordiality. She did not again speak, but she was evidently annoyed.



CHAPTER IV.

     _Bitter is Jealousy_

THERE certainly is a dark delight in being miserable, a sort of strange
satisfaction in being savage, which is uncommonly fascinating. One of
the greatest pests of philosophy is, that one can no longer be sullen,
and most sincerely do I regret it. To brood over misery, to flatter
yourself that there is not a single being who cares for your existence,
and not a single circumstance to make that existence desirable: there
is wild witchery in it, which we doubt whether opium can reach, and are
sure that wine cannot.

And the Duke! He soon left the uncle and nephew to their miserable
speculations about the state of the poll, and took his sullen way,
with the air of Ajax, to the terrace. Here he stalked along in a fierce
reverie; asked why he had been born; why he did not die; why he should
live, and so on. His wounded pride, which had borne so much, fairly
got the mastery, and revenged itself for all insults on Love, whom it
ejected most scurvily. He blushed to think how he had humiliated
himself before her. She was the cause of that humiliation, and of every
disagreeable sensation that he was experiencing. He began, therefore, to
imprecate vengeance, walked himself into a fair, cold-hearted, malicious
passion, and avowed most distinctly that he hated her. As for him, most
ardently he hoped that, some day or other, they might again meet at
six o’clock in the morning in Kensington Gardens, but in a different
relation to each other.

It was dark when he entered the Castle. He was about ascending to his
own room, when he determined not to be cowed, and resolved to show
himself the regardless witness of their mutual loves: so he repaired to
the drawing-room. At one end of this very spacious apartment, Mr. Dacre
and Arundel were walking in deep converse; at the other sat Miss Dacre
at a table reading. The Duke seized a chair without looking at her,
dragged it along to the fireplace, and there seating himself, with his
arms folded, his feet on the fender, and his chair tilting, he appeared
to be lost in the abstracting contemplation of the consuming fuel.

Some minutes had passed, when a slight sound, like a fluttering bird,
made him look up: Miss Dacre was standing at his side.

‘Is your head better?’ she asked him, in a soft voice.

‘Thank you, it is quite well,’ he replied, in a sullen one.

There was a moment’s pause, and then she again spoke.

‘I am sure you are not well.’

‘Perfectly, thank you.’

‘Something has happened, then,’ she said, rather imploringly.

‘What should have happened?’ he rejoined, pettishly.

‘You are very strange; very unlike what you always are.’

‘What I always am is of no consequence to myself, or to anyone else;
and as for what I am now, I cannot always command my feelings, though I
shall take care that they are not again observed.’

‘I have offended you?’

‘Then you have shown your discretion, for you should always offend the
forlorn.’

‘I did not think before that you were bitter.’

‘That has made me bitter which has made all others so.’

‘What?’

‘Disappointment.’

Another pause, yet she did not go.

‘I will not quarrel, and so you need not try. You are consigned to my
care, and I am to amuse you. What shall we do?’

‘Do what you like, Miss Dacre; but spare, oh! spare me your pity!’

‘You do indeed surprise me. Pity! I was not thinking of pity! But you
are indeed serious, and I leave you.’

He turned; he seized her hand.

‘Nay! do not go. Forgive me,’ he said, ‘forgive me, for I am most
miserable.’

‘Why, why are you?’

‘Oh! do not ask; you agonise me.’

‘Shall I sing? Shall I charm the evil spirit?’

‘Anything?’

She tripped to the piano, and an air, bursting like the spring, and gay
as a village feast, filled the room with its delight. He listened, and
each instant the chilly weight loosened from his heart. Her balmy voice
now came upon his ear, breathing joy and cheerfulness, content and love.
Could love be the savage passion which lately subjugated his soul? He
rose from his seat; he walked about the room; each minute his heart
was lighter, his brow more smooth. A thousand thoughts, beautiful and
quivering like the twilight, glanced o’er his mind in indistinct but
exquisite tumult, and hope, like the voice of an angel in a storm, was
heard above all. He lifted a chair gently from the ground, and, stealing
to the enchantress, seated himself at her side. So softly he reached
her, that for a moment he was unperceived. She turned her head, and her
eyes met his. Even the ineffable incident was forgotten, as he marked
the strange gush of lovely light, that seemed to say---- what to think
of was, after all, madness.



CHAPTER V.

     _Arundel’s Disappointment_

THE storm was past. He vowed that a dark thought should not again cross
his mind. It was fated that she should not be his; but it was some
miserable satisfaction that he was only rejected in favour of an
attachment which had grown with her years, and had strengthened with her
stature, and in deference to an engagement hallowed by time as well as
by affection. It was deadly indeed to remember that Fate seemed to have
destined him for that happy position, and that his folly had rejected
the proffered draught of bliss. He blasphemed against the Fitz-pompeys.
However, he did not leave Dacre at the same time as Arundel, but
lingered on. His affairs were far from being arranged. The Irish
business gave great trouble, and he determined therefore to remain.

It was ridiculous to talk of feeding a passion which was not susceptible
of increase. Her society was Heaven; and he resolved to enjoy it,
although he was to be expelled. As for his loss of fortune, it gave him
not a moment’s care. Without her, he felt he could not live in England,
and, even ruined, he would be a match for an Italian prince.

So he continued her companion, each day rising with purer feelings and
a more benevolent heart; each day more convinced of the falseness of his
past existence, and of the possibility of happiness to a well-regulated
mind; each day more conscious that duty is nothing more than
self-knowledge, and the performance of it consequently the development
of feelings which are the only true source of self-gratification. He
mourned over the opportunities which he had forfeited of conducing to
the happiness of others and himself. Sometimes he had resolved to remain
in England and devote himself to his tenantry; but passion blinded him,
and he felt that he had erred too far ever to regain the right road.

The election for which Arundel Dacre was a candidate came on. Each day
the state of the poll arrived. It was nearly equal to the last. Their
agitation was terrible, but forgotten in the deep mortification which
they experienced at the announcement of his defeat. He talked to the
public boldly of petitioning, and his certainty of ultimate success; but
he let them know privately that he had no intention of the first, and
no chance of the second. Even Mr. Dacre could mot conceal his deep
disappointment; but May was quite in despair. Even if her father could
find means of securing him a seat another time, the present great
opportunity was lost.

‘Surely we can make some arrangement for next session,’ said the Duke,
whispering hope to her.

‘Oh! no, no, no; so much depended upon this. It is not merely his taking
a part in the debate, but--but Arundel is so odd, and everything was
staked upon this. I cannot tell you what depended upon it. He will leave
England directly.’

She did not attempt to conceal her agitation. The Duke rose, and paced
the room in a state scarcely less moved. A thought had suddenly flashed
upon him. Their marriage doubtless depended upon this success. He knew
something of Arundel Dacre, and had heard more. He was convinced of the
truth of his suspicion. Either the nephew would not claim her hand
until he had carved out his own fortunes, or perhaps the uncle made his
distinction the condition of his consent. Yet this was odd. It was all
odd. A thousand things had occurred which equally puzzled him. Yet he
had seen enough to weigh against a thousand thoughts.



CHAPTER VI.

     _A Generous Action_

ANOTHER fortnight glided away, and he was still at the Castle, still the
constant and almost sole companion of May Dacre. It is breakfast; the
servant is delivering the letter-bag to Mr. Dacre. Interesting moment!
when you extend your hand for the billet of a mistress, and receive your
tailor’s bill! How provokingly slow are most domestic chieftains in this
anxious operation! They turn the letters over and over, and upside and
down; arrange, confuse, mistake, assort; pretend, like Champollion, to
decipher illegible franks, and deliver with a slight remark, which is
intended as a friendly admonition, the documents of the unlucky wight
who encourages unprivileged correspondents.

A letter was delivered to Miss Dacre. She started, exclaimed, blushed,
and tore it open.

‘Only you, only you,’ she said, extending her hand to the young Duke,
‘only you were capable of this!’

It was a letter from Arundel Dacre, not only written but franked by him.

It explained everything that the Duke of St. James might have told them
before; but he preferred hearing all himself, from the delighted and
delightful lips of Miss Dacre, who read to her father her cousin’s
letter.

The Duke of St. James had returned him for one of his Cornish boroughs.
It appeared that Lord St. Maurice was the previous member, who had
accepted the Chiltern Hundreds in his favour.

‘You were determined to surprise, as well as delight us,’ said Mr.
Dacre.

‘I am no admirer of mysteries,’ said the Duke; ‘but the fact is, in
the present case, it was not in my power to give you any positive
information, and I had no desire to provide you, after your late
disappointment, with new sources of anxiety. The only person I could
take the liberty with, at so short a notice, was St. Maurice. He, you
know, is a Liberal; but he cannot forget that he is the son of a Tory,
and has no great ambition to take any active part in affairs at present.
I anticipated less difficulty with him than with his father. St. Maurice
can command me again when it suits him; but, I confess to you, I have
been surprised at my uncle’s kindness in this affair. I really have not
done justice to his character before, and regret it. He has behaved
in the most kind-hearted and the most liberal manner, and put me under
obligations which I never shall forget. He seems as desirous of serving
my friend as myself; and I assure you, sir, it would give you pleasure
to know in what terms of respect he speaks of your family, and
particularly of Arundel.’

‘Arundel says he shall take his seat the morning of the debate. How very
near! how admirably managed! Oh! I never shall recover my surprise and
delight! How good you are!’

‘He takes his seat, then, to-morrow,’ said Mr. Dacre, in a musing tone.
‘My letters give a rather nervous account of affairs. We are to win it,
they hope, but by two only. As for the Lords, the majority against
us will, it is said, be somewhat smaller than usual. We shall never
triumph, George, till May is M.P. for the county. Cannot you return her
for Pen Bronnock too?’

They talked, as you may suppose, of nothing else. At last Mr. Dacre
remembered an appointment with his bailiff, and proposed to the Duke to
join him, who acceded.

‘And I to be left alone this morning, then!’ said Miss Dacre. ‘I am
sure, as they say of children, I can set to nothing.’

‘Come and ride with us, then!’

‘An excellent idea! Let us canter over to Hauteville! I am just in the
humour for a gallop up the avenue, and feel half emancipated already
with a Dacre in the House! Oh! to-morrow, how nervous I shall be!’

‘I will despatch Barrington, then,’ said Mr. Dacre, ‘and join you in ten
minutes.’

‘How good you are!’ said Miss Dacre to the Duke. ‘How can we thank you
enough? What can we do for you?’

‘You have thanked me enough. What have I done after all? My opportunity
to serve my friends is brief. Is it wonderful that I seize the
opportunity?’

‘Brief! brief! Why do you always say so? Why do you talk so of leaving
us?’

‘My visit to you has been already too long. It must soon end, and I
remain not in England when it ceases.’

‘Come and live at Hauteville, and be near us?’

He faintly smiled as he said, ‘No, no; my doom is fixed. Hauteville is
the last place that I should choose for my residence, even if I remained
in England. But I hear the horses.’

The important night at length arrived, or rather the important
messenger, who brought down, express, a report of its proceedings to
Castle Dacre.

Nothing is more singular than the various success of men in the House of
Commons. Fellows who have been the oracles of coteries from their
birth; who have gone through the regular process of gold medals,
senior wranglerships, and double firsts, who have nightly sat down
amid tumultuous cheering in debating societies, and can harangue
with unruffled foreheads and unfaltering voice, from one end of a
dinner-table to the other, who, on all occasions, have something to say,
and can speak with fluency on what they know nothing about, no sooner
rise in the House than their spells desert them. All their effrontery
vanishes. Commonplace ideas are rendered even more uninteresting by
monotonous delivery; and keenly alive as even boobies are in those
sacred walls to the ridiculous, no one appears more thoroughly aware of
his unexpected and astounding deficiencies than the orator himself. He
regains his seat hot and hard, sultry and stiff, with a burning cheek
and an icy hand, repressing his breath lest it should give evidence of
an existence of which he is ashamed, and clenching his fist, that
the pressure may secretly convince him that he has not as completely
annihilated his stupid body as his false reputation.

On the other hand, persons whom the women have long deplored, and the
men long pitied, as having ‘no manner,’ who blush when you speak to
them, and blunder when they speak to you, suddenly jump up in the House
with a self-confidence, which is only equalled by their consummate
ability. And so it was with Arundel Dacre. He rose the first night
that he took his seat (a great disadvantage, of which no one was more
sensible than himself), and for an hour and a half he addressed the
fullest House that had long been assembled, with the self-possession of
an habitual debater. His clenching argument, and his luminous detail,
might have been expected from one who had the reputation of having been
a student. What was more surprising was, the withering sarcasm that
blasted like the simoom, the brilliant sallies of wit that flashed like
a sabre, the gushing eddies of humour that drowned all opposition and
overwhelmed those ponderous and unwieldy arguments which the producers
announced as rocks, but which he proved to be porpoises. Never was there
such a triumphant début; and a peroration of genuine eloquence, because
of genuine feeling, concluded amid the long and renewed cheers of all
parties.

The truth is, Eloquence is the child of Knowledge. When a mind is full,
like a wholesome river, it is also clear. Confusion and obscurity are
much oftener the results of ignorance than of inefficiency. Few are
the men who cannot express their meaning, when the occasion demands
the energy; as the lowest will defend their lives with acuteness,
and sometimes even with eloquence. They are masters of their subject.
Knowledge must be gained by ourselves. Mankind may supply us with facts;
but the results, even if they agree with previous ones, must be the work
of our own mind. To make others feel, we must feel ourselves; and to
feel ourselves, we must be natural. This we can never be, when we
are vomiting forth the dogmas of the schools. Knowledge is not a mere
collection of words; and it is a delusion to suppose that thought can
be obtained by the aid of any other intellect than our own. What is
repetition, by a curious mystery ceases to be truth, even if it were
truth when it was first heard; as the shadow in a mirror, though it move
and mimic all the actions of vitality, is not life. When a man is not
speaking, or writing, from his own mind, he is as insipid company as a
looking-glass.

Before a man can address a popular assembly with command, he must know
something of mankind; and he can know nothing of mankind without knowing
something of himself. Self-knowledge is the property of that man whose
passions have their play, but who ponders over their results. Such a man
sympathises by inspiration with his kind. He has a key to every heart.
He can divine, in the flash of a single thought, all that they require,
all that they wish. Such a man speaks to their very core. All feel that
a master-hand tears off the veil of cant, with which, from necessity,
they have enveloped their souls; for cant is nothing more than
the sophistry which results from attempting to account for what is
unintelligible, or to defend what is improper.

Perhaps, although we use the term, we never have had oratory in England.
There is an essential difference between oratory and debating. Oratory
seems an accomplishment confined to the ancients, unless the French
preachers may put in their claim, and some of the Irish lawyers. Mr.
Shiel’s speech in Kent was a fine oration; and the boobies who taunted
him for having got it by rote, were not aware that in doing so he only
wisely followed the example of Pericles, Demosthenes, Lysias, Isocrates,
Hortensius, Cicero, Cæsar, and every great orator of antiquity. Oratory
is essentially the accomplishment of antiquity: it was their most
efficient mode of communicating thought; it was their substitute for
printing.

I like a good debate; and, when a stripling, used sometimes to be
stifled in the Gallery, or enjoy the easier privileges of a member’s
son. I like, I say, a good debate, and have no objection to a due
mixture of bores, which are a relief. I remember none of the giants of
former days; but I have heard Canning. He was a consummate rhetorician;
but there seemed to me a dash of commonplace in all that he said, and
frequent indications of the absence of an original mind. To the last,
he never got clear of ‘Good God, sir!’ and all the other hackneyed
ejaculations of his youthful debating clubs. The most commanding speaker
that I ever listened to is, I think, Sir Francis Burdett. I never heard
him in the House; but at an election. He was full of music, grace» and
dignity, even amid all the vulgar tumult; and, unlike all mob orators,
raised the taste of the populace to him, instead of lowering his own to
theirs. His colleague, Mr. Hobhouse, seemed to me ill qualified for a
demagogue, though he spoke with power. He is rather too elaborate, and
a little heavy, but fluent, and never weak. His thoughtful and
highly-cultivated mind maintains him under all circumstances; and his
breeding never deserts him. Sound sense comes recommended from his lips
by the language of a scholar and the urbanity of a gentleman.

Mr. Brougham, at present, reigns paramount in the House of Commons. I
think the lawyer has spoiled the statesman. He is said to have great
powers of sarcasm. From what I have observed there, I should think very
little ones would be quite sufficient. Many a sneer withers in those
walls, which would scarcely, I think, blight a currant-bush out of
them; and I have seen the House convulsed with raillery which, in other
society, would infallibly settle the rallier to be a bore beyond all
tolerance. Even an idiot can raise a smile. They are so good-natured, or
find it so dull. Mr. Canning’s badinage was the most successful, though
I confess I have listened to few things more calculated to make a man
gloomy. But the House always ran riot, taking everything for granted,
and cracked their universal sides before he opened his mouth. The fault
of Mr. Brougham is, that he holds no intellect at present in great
dread, and, consequently, allows himself on all occasions to run wild.
Few men hazard more unphilosophical observations; but he is safe,
because there is no one to notice them. On all great occasions, Mr.
Brougham has come up to the mark; an infallible test of a man of genius.

I hear that Mr. Macaulay is to be returned. If he speaks half as well as
he writes, the House will be in fashion again. I fear that he is one of
those who, like the individual whom he has most studied, will ‘give up
to party what was meant for mankind.’

At any rate, he must get rid of his rabidity. He writes now on all
subjects, as if he certainly intended to be a renegade, and was
determined to make the contrast complete.

Mr. Peel is the model of a minister, and improves as a speaker; though,
like most of the rest, he is fluent without the least style. He should
not get so often in a passion either, or, if he do, should not get out
of one so easily. His sweet apologies are cloying. His candour--he
will do well to get rid of that. He can make a present of it to Mr.
Huskisson, who is a memorable instance of the value of knowledge, which
maintains a man under all circumstances and all disadvantages, and will.

In the Lords, I admire the Duke. The readiness with which he has adopted
the air of a debater, shows the man of genius. There is a gruff, husky
sort of a downright Montaignish naïveté about him, which is quaint,
unusual, and tells. You plainly perceive that he is determined to be a
civilian; and he is as offended if you drop a hint that he occasionally
wears an uniform, as a servant on a holiday if you mention the word
_livery_.

Lord Grey speaks with feeling, and is better to hear than to read,
though ever strong and impressive. Lord Holland’s speeches are like a
_refacimento_ of all the suppressed passages in Clarendon, and the
notes in the new edition of Bishop Burnet’s Memoirs: but taste throws a
delicate hue over the curious medley, and the candour of a philosophic
mind shows that in the library of Holland House he can sometimes cease
to be a partisan.

One thing is clear, that a man may speak very well in the House of
Commons, and fail very completely in the House of Lords. There are two
distinct styles requisite: I intend, in the course of my career, if I
have time, to give a specimen of both. In the Lower House Don Juan may
perhaps be our model; in the Upper House, Paradise Lost.



BOOK V [CONTINUED]



CHAPTER VII.

     _‘To See Ourselves as Others See Us.’_

NOTHING was talked of in Yorkshire but Mr. Arundel Dacre’s speech. All
the world flocked to Castle Dacre to compliment and to congratulate; and
an universal hope was expressed that he might come in for the county,
if indeed the success of his eloquence did not enable his uncle to
pre-occupy that honour. Even the calm Mr. Dacre shared the general
elation, and told the Duke of St. James regularly every day that it was
all owing to him. May Dacre was enthusiastic; but her gratitude to him
was synonymous with her love for Arundel, and valued accordingly. The
Duke, however, felt that he had acted at once magnanimously, generously,
and wisely. The consciousness of a noble action is itself ennobling.
His spirit expanded with the exciting effects which his conduct
had produced; and he felt consolation under all his misery from
the conviction that he had now claims to be remembered, and perhaps
regarded, when he was no more among them.

The Bill went swimmingly through the Commons, the majority of two
gradually swelling into eleven; and the important night in the Lords was
at hand.

‘Lord Faulconcourt writes,’ said Mr. Dacre, ‘that they expect only
thirty-eight against us.’

‘Ah! that terrible House of Lords!’ said Miss Dacre. ‘Let us see: when
does it come on, the day after to-morrow? Scarcely forty-eight hours
and all will be over, and we shall be just where we were. You and your
friends manage very badly in your House,’ she added, addressing herself
to the Duke.

‘I do all I can,’ said his Grace, smiling. ‘Burlington has my proxy.’

‘That is exactly what I complain of. On such an occasion, there should
be no proxies. Personal attendance would indicate a keener interest in
the result. Ah! if I were Duke of St. James for one night!’

‘Ah! that you would be Duchess of St. James!’ thought the Duke; but
a despairing lover has no heart for jokes, and so he did not give
utterance to the wish. He felt a little agitated, and caught May Dacre’s
eye. She smiled, and slightly blushed, as if she felt the awkwardness of
her remark, though too late.

The Duke retired early, but not to sleep. His mind was busied on a great
deed. It was past midnight before he could compose his agitated feelings
to repose, and by five o’clock he was again up. He dressed himself, and
then put on a rough travelling coat, which, with a shawl, effectually
disguised his person; and putting in one pocket a shirt, and in the
other a few articles from his dressing-case, the Duke of St. James stole
out of Castle Dacre, leaving a note for his host, accounting for his
sudden departure by urgent business at Hauteville, and promising a
return in a day or two.

The fresh morn had fully broke. He took his hurried way through the long
dewy grass, and, crossing the Park, gained the road, which, however, was
not the high one. He had yet another hour’s rapid walk, before he could
reach his point of destination; and when that was accomplished, he found
himself at a small public-house, bearing for a sign his own arms, and
situated in the high road opposite his own Park. He was confident that
his person was unknown to the host, or to any of the early idlers who
were lingering about the mail, then breakfasting.

‘Any room, guard, to London?’

‘Room inside, sir: just going off.’

The door was opened, and the Duke of St. James took his seat in the
Edinburgh and York Mail. He had two companions: the first, because
apparently the most important, was a hard-featured, grey-headed
gentleman, with a somewhat supercilious look, and a mingled air of
acuteness and conceit; the other was a humble-looking widow in
her weeds, middle-aged, and sad. These persons had recently roused
themselves from their nocturnal slumbers, and now, after their welcome
meal and hurried toilet, looked as fresh as birds.

‘Well! now we are off,’ said the gentleman. ‘Very neat, cleanly little
house this, ma’am,’ continued he to his companion. ‘What is the sign?’
‘The Hauteville Arms.’ ‘Oh! Hauteville; that is--that is, let me see!
the St. James family. Ah! a pretty fool that young man has made of
himself, by all accounts. Eh! sir?’

‘I have reason to believe so,’ said the Duke.

‘I suppose this is his park, eh? Hem! going to London, sir?’

‘I am.’

‘Ah! hem! Hauteville Park, I suppose, this. Fine ground wasted. What the
use of parks is, I can’t say.’

‘The place seems well kept up,’ said the widow.

‘So much the worse; I wish it were in ruins.’

‘Well, for my part,’ continued the widow in a low voice, ‘I think a park
nearly the most beautiful thing we have. Foreigners, you know, sir----’

‘Ah! I know what you are going to say,’ observed the gentleman in a
curt, gruffish voice. ‘It is all nonsense. Foreigners are fools. Don’t
talk to me of beauty; a mere word. What is the use of all this? It
produces about as much benefit to society as its owner does.’

‘And do you think his existence, then, perfectly useless?’ asked the
Duke.

‘To be sure, I do. So the world will, some day or other. We are
opening our eyes fast. Men begin to ask themselves what the use of an
aristocracy is. That is the test, sir.’

‘I think it not very difficult to demonstrate the use of an
aristocracy,’ mildly observed the Duke.

‘Pooh! nonsense, sir! I know what you are going to say; but we have
got beyond all that. Have you read this, sir? This article on the
aristocracy in “The Screw and Lever Review?”’

‘I have not, sir.’

‘Then I advise you to make yourself master of it, and you will talk no
more of the aristocracy. A few more articles like this, and a few more
noblemen like the man who has got this park, and people will open their
eyes at last.’

‘I should think,’ said his Grace, ‘that the follies of the man who had
got this park have been productive of evil only to himself. In fact,
sir, according to your own system, a prodigal noble seems to be a very
desirable member of the commonwealth and a complete leveller.’

‘We shall get rid of them all soon, sir,’ said his companion, with a
malignant smile.

‘I have heard that he is very young, sir,’ remarked the widow.

‘What is that to you or me?’

‘Ah! youth is a trying time. Let us hope the best! He may turn out well
yet, poor soul!’

‘I hope not. Don’t talk to me of poor souls. There is a poor soul,’ said
the utilitarian, pointing to an old man breaking stones on the highway.
‘That is what I call a poor soul, not a young prodigal, whose life has
been one long career of infamous debauchery.’

‘You appear to have heard much of this young nobleman,’ said the Duke;
‘but it does not follow, sir, that you have heard truth.’

‘Very true, sir,’ said the widow. ‘The world is very foul-mouthed. Let
us hope he is not so very bad.’

‘I tell you what, my friends; you know nothing about what you are
talking of. I don’t speak without foundation. You have not the least
idea, sir, how this fellow has lived. Now, what I am going to tell you
is a fact: I know it to be a fact. A very intimate friend of mine, who
knows a person, who is a very intimate friend of an intimate friend of a
person, who knows the Duke of St. James, told me himself, that one night
they had for supper--what do you think ma’am?--Venison cutlets, each
served up in a hundred pound note!’

‘Mercy!’ exclaimed the widow.

‘And do you believe it?’ asked the Duke.

‘Believe it! I know it!’

‘He is very young,’ said the widow. ‘Youth is a very trying time.’

‘Nothing to do with his youth. It’s the system, the infernal system. If
that man had to work for his bread, like everybody else, do you think he
would dine off bank notes? No! to be sure he wouldn’t! It’s the system.’

‘Young people are very wild!’ said the widow.

‘Pooh! ma’am. Nonsense! Don’t talk cant. If a man be properly educated,
he is as capable at one-and-twenty of managing anything, as at any time
in his life; more capable. Look at the men who write “The Screw and
Lever;” the first men in the country. Look at them. Not one of age.
Look at the man who wrote this article on the aristocracy: young Duncan
Macmorrogh. Look at him, I say, the first man in the country by far.’

‘I never heard his name before,’ calmly observed the Duke.

‘Not heard his name? Not heard of young Duncan Macmorrogh, the first
man of the day, by far; not heard of him? Go and ask the Marquess of
Sheepshead what he thinks of him. Go and ask Lord Two and Two what he
thinks of him. Duncan dines with Lord Two and Two every week.’

The Duke smiled, and his companion proceeded.

‘Well, again, look at his friends. There is young First Principles.
What a «head that fellow has got! Here, this article on India is by him.
He’ll knock up their Charter. He is a clerk in the India House. Up to
the detail, you see. Let me read you this passage on monopolies. Then
there is young Tribonian Quirk. By G--, what a mind that fellow has got!
By G--, nothing but first principles will go down with these
fellows! They laugh at anything else. By G--, sir, they look upon the
administration of the present day as a parcel of sucking babes! When I
was last in town, Quirk told me that he would not give that for all the
public men that ever existed! He is keeping his terms at Gray’s Inn.
This article on a new Code is by him. Shows as plain as light, that,
by sticking close to first principles, the laws of the country might be
carried in every man’s waistcoat pocket.’

The coach stopped, and a colloquy ensued.

‘Any room to Selby?’

‘Outside or in?’

‘Out, to be sure.’

‘Room inside only.’

‘Well! in then.’

The door opened, and a singularly quaint-looking personage presented
himself. He was very stiff and prim in his appearance; dressed in a blue
coat and scarlet waistcoat, with a rich bandanna handkerchief tied very
neatly round his neck, and a very new hat, to which his head seemed
little habituated.

‘Sorry to disturb you, ladies and gentlemen: not exactly the proper
place for me. Don’t be alarmed. I’m always respectful wherever I am. My
rule through life is to be respectful.’

‘Well, now, in with you,’ said the guard.

‘Be respectful, my friend, and don’t talk so to an old soldier who has
served his king and his country.’

Off they went.

‘Majesty’s service?’ asked the stranger of the Duke.

‘I have not that honour.’

‘Hum! Lawyer, perhaps?’

‘Not a lawyer.’

‘Hum! A gentleman, I suppose?’

The Duke was silent; and so the stranger addressed himself to the
anti-aristocrat, who seemed vastly annoyed by the intrusion of so low a
personage.

‘Going to London, sir?’

‘I tell you what, my friend, at once; I never answer impertinent
questions.’

‘No offence, I hope, sir! Sorry to offend. I’m always respectful. Madam!
I hope I don’t inconvenience you; I should be sorry to do that. We
sailors, you know, are always ready to accommodate the ladies.’

‘Sailor!’ exclaimed the acute utilitarian, his curiosity stifling his
hauteur. ‘Why! just now, I thought you were a soldier.’

‘Well! so I am.’

‘Well, my friend, you are a conjuror then.’

‘No, I ayn’t; I’m a marine.’

‘A very useless person, then.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean to say, that if the sailors were properly educated, such an
amphibious corps would never have been formed, and some of the most
atrocious sinecures ever tolerated would consequently not have existed.’

‘Sinecures! I never heard of him. I served under Lord Combermere. Maybe
you have heard of him, ma’am? A nice man; a beautiful man. I have seen
him stand in a field like that, with the shot falling about him like
hail, and caring no more for them than peas.’

‘If that were for bravado,’ said the utilitarian, ‘I think it a very
silly thing.’

‘Bravado! I never heard of him. It was for his king and country.’

‘Was it in India?’ asked the widow.

‘In a manner, ma’am,’ said the marine, very courteously. ‘At Bhurtpore,
up by Pershy, and thereabouts; the lake of Cashmere, where all the
shawls come from. Maybe you have heard of Cashmere, ma’am?’

‘“Who has not heard of the vale of Cashmere!’” hummed the Duke to
himself.

‘Ah! I thought so,’ said the marine; ‘all people know much the same; for
some have seen, and some have read. I can’t read, but I have served my
king and country for five-and-twenty years, and I have used my eyes.’

‘Better than reading,’ said the Duke, humouring the character.

‘I’ll tell you what,’ said the marine, with a knowing look. ‘I suspect
there is a d--d lot of lies in your books. I landed in England last
seventh of June, and went to see St. Paul’s. “This is the greatest
building in the world,” says the man. Thinks I, “You lie.” I did not
tell him so, because I am always respectful. I tell you what, sir; maybe
you think St. Paul’s the greatest building in the world, but I tell you
what, it’s a lie. I have seen one greater. Maybe, ma’am, you think I am
telling you a lie too; but I am not. Go and ask Captain Jones, of the
58th. I went with him: I give you his name: go and ask Captain Jones, of
the 58th, if I be telling you a lie. The building I mean is the
palace of the Sultan Acber; for I have served my king and country
five-and-twenty years last seventh of June, and have seen strange
things; all built of precious stones, ma’am. What do you think of that?
All built of precious stones; carnelian, of which you make your seals;
as sure as I’m a sinner saved. If I ayn’t speaking the truth, I am not
going to Selby. Maybe you’d like to know why I am going to Selby? I’ll
tell you what. Five-and-twenty years have I served my king and country
last seventh of June. Now I begin with the beginning. I ran away from
home when I was eighteen, you see! and, after the siege of Bhurtpore, I
was sitting on a bale of silk alone, and I said to myself, I’ll go and
see my mother. Sure as I am going to Selby, that’s the whole. I landed
in England last seventh of June, absent five-and-twenty years, serving
my king and country. I sent them a letter last night. I put it in the
post myself. Maybe I shall be there before my letter now.’

‘To be sure you will,’ said the utilitarian; ‘what made you do such a
silly thing? Why, your letter is in this coach.’

‘Well! I shouldn’t wonder. I shall be there before my letter now. All
nonsense, letters: my wife wrote it at Falmouth.’

‘You are married, then?’ said the widow.

‘Ayn’t I, though? The sweetest cretur, madam, though I say it before
you, that ever lived.’

‘Why did you not bring your wife with you?’ asked the widow.

‘And wouldn’t I be very glad to? but she wouldn’t come among strangers
at once; and so I have got a letter, which she wrote for me, to put in
the post, in case they are glad to see me, and then she will come on.’

‘And you, I suppose, are not sorry to have a holiday?’ said the Duke.

‘Ayn’t I, though? Ayn’t I as low about leaving her as ever I was in my
life; and so is the poor cretur. She won’t eat a bit of victuals till
I come back, I’ll be sworn; not a bit, I’ll be bound to say that; and
myself, although I am an old soldier and served my king and country for
five-and-twenty years, and so got knocked about, and used to anything,
as it were, I don’t know how it is, but I always feel queer whenever I
am away from her. I shan’t make a hearty meal till I see her. Somehow or
other, when I am away from her, everything feels dry in the throat.’

‘You are very fond of her, I see,’ said the Duke.

‘And ought I not to be? Didn’t I ask her three times before she said
_yes_? Those are the wives for wear, sir. None of the fruit that falls
at a shaking for me! Hasn’t she stuck by me in every climate, and
in every land I was in? Not a fellow in the company had such a wife.
Wouldn’t I throw myself off this coach this moment, to give her a
moment’s peace? That I would, though; d----me if I wouldn’t.’

‘Hush! hush!’ said the widow; ‘never swear. I am afraid you talk too
much of your love,’ she added, with a faint smile.

‘Ah! you don’t know my wife, ma’am. Are you married, sir?’

‘I have not that happiness,’ said the Duke.

‘Well, there is nothing like it! but don’t take the fruit that falls at
a shake. But this, I suppose, is Selby?’

The marine took his departure, having stayed long enough to raise in the
young Duke’s mind curious feelings.

As he was plunged into reverie, and as the widow was silent,
conversation was not resumed until the coach stopped for dinner.

‘We stop here half-an-hour, gentlemen,’ said the guard. ‘Mrs. Burnet,’
he continued, to the widow, ‘let me hand you out.’

They entered the parlour of the inn. The Duke, who was ignorant of the
etiquette of the road, did not proceed to the discharge of his
duties, as the youngest guest, with all the promptness desired by his
fellow-travellers.

‘Now, sir,’ said an outside, ‘I will thank you for a slice of that
mutton, and will join you, if you have no objection in a bottle of
sherry.’

‘What you please, sir. May I have the pleasure of helping you, ma’am?’

After dinner the Duke took advantage of a vacant outside place.

Tom Rawlins was the model of a guard. Young, robust, and gay, he had a
letter, a word, or a wink for all he met. All seasons were the same to
him; night or day he was ever awake, and ever alive to all the interest
of the road; now joining in conversation with a passenger, shrewd,
sensible, and respectful; now exchanging a little elegant badinage with
the coachman; now bowing to a pretty girl; now quizzing a passer-by; he
was off and on his seat in an instant, and, in the whiff of his cigar,
would lock a wheel, or unlock a passenger.

From him the young Duke learned that his fellow-inside was Mr. Duncan
Macmorrogh, senior, a writer at Edinburgh, and, of course, the father of
the first man of the day. Tom Rawlins could not tell his Grace as much
about the principal writer in ‘The Screw and Lever Review’ as we can;
for Tom was no patron of our periodical literature, farther than a
police report in the Publican’s Journal. Young Duncan Macmorrogh was a
limb of the law, who had just brought himself into notice by a series
of articles in ‘The Screw and Lever,’ in which he had subjected the
universe piecemeal to his critical analysis. Duncan Macmorrogh cut
up the creation, and got a name. His attack upon mountains was most
violent, and proved, by its personality, that he had come from the
Lowlands. He demonstrated the inutility of all elevation, and declared
that the Andes were the aristocracy of the globe. Rivers he rather
patronised; but flowers he quite pulled to pieces, and proved them to
be the most useless of existences. Duncan Macmorrogh informed us that we
were quite wrong in supposing ourselves to be the miracle of creation.
On the contrary, he avowed that already there were various pieces of
machinery of far more importance than man; and he had no doubt, in
time, that a superior race would arise, got by a steam-engine on a
spinning-jenny.

The other ‘inside’ was the widow of a former curate of a Northumbrian
village. Some friend had obtained for her only child a clerkship in
a public office, and for some time this idol of her heart had gone on
prospering; but unfortunately, of late, Charles Burnet had got into
a bad set, was now involved in a terrible scrape, and, as Tom Rawlins
feared, must lose his situation and go to ruin.

‘She was half distracted when she heard it first, poor creature! I have
known her all my life, sir. Many the kind word and glass of ale I have
had at her house, and that’s what makes me feel for her, you see. I
do what I can to make the journey easy to her, for it is a pull at her
years. God bless her! there is not a better body in this world; that I
will, say for her. When I was a boy, I used to be the playfellow in a
manner with Charley Burnet: a gay lad, sir, as ever you’d wish to see
in a summer’s day, and the devil among the girls always, and that’s been
the ruin of him; and as open-a-hearted fellow as ever lived. D----me!
I’d walk to the land’s end to save him, if it were only for his mother’s
sake, to say nothing of himself.’

‘And can nothing be done?’ asked the Duke.

‘Why, you see, he is back in £ s. d.; and, to make it up, the poor body
must sell her all, and he won’t let her do it, and wrote a letter like a
prince (No room, sir), as fine a letter as ever you read (Hilloa, there!
What! are you asleep?)--as ever you read on a summer’s day. I didn’t
see it, but my mother told me it was as good as e’er a one of the old
gentleman’s sermons. “Mother,” said he, “my sins be upon my own head. I
can bear disgrace (How do, Mr. Wilkins?), but I cannot bear to see you a
beggar!”’

‘Poor fellow!’

‘Ay! sir, as good-a-hearted fellow as ever you’d wish to meet!’

‘Is he involved to a great extent, think you?’

‘Oh! a long figure, sir (I say, Betty, I’ve got a letter for you from
your sweetheart), a very long figure, sir (Here, take it!); I should be
sorry (Don’t blush; no message?)--I should be sorry to take two hundred
pounds to pay it. No, I wouldn’t take two hundred pounds, that I
wouldn’t (I say, Jacob, stop at old Bag Smith’s).’

Night came on, and the Duke resumed his inside place. Mr. Macmorrogh
went to sleep over his son’s article; and the Duke feigned slumber,
though he was only indulging in reverie. He opened his eyes, and a
light, which they passed, revealed the countenance of the widow. Tears
were stealing down her face.

‘I have no mother; I have no one to weep for me,’ thought the Duke; ‘and
yet, if I had been in this youth’s station, my career probably would
have been as fatal. Let me assist her. Alas! how I have misused my
power, when, even to do this slight deed, I am obliged to hesitate, and
consider whether it be practicable.’

The coach again stopped for a quarter of an hour. The Duke had, in
consideration of the indefinite period of his visit, supplied himself
amply with money on repairing to Dacre. Besides his purse, which was
well stored for the road, he had somewhat more than three hundred pounds
in his notebook. He took advantage of their tarrying, to inclose it and
its contents in a sheet of paper with these lines:

‘An unknown friend requests Mrs. Burnet to accept this token of his
sympathy with suffering virtue.’

Determined to find some means to put this in her possession before
their parting, he resumed his place. The Scotchman now prepared for his
night’s repose. He produced a pillow for his back, a bag for his feet,
and a cap for his head. These, and a glass of brandy-and-water, in time
produced a due effect, and he was soon fast asleep. Even to the widow,
night brought some solace. The Duke alone found no repose. Unused to
travelling in public conveyances at night, and unprovided with any of
the ingenious expedients of a mail coach adventurer, he felt all the
inconveniences of an inexperienced traveller. The seat was unendurably
hard, his back ached, his head whirled, the confounded sherry, slight as
was his portion, had made him feverish, and he felt at once excited
and exhausted. He was sad, too; very depressed. Alone, and no longer
surrounded with that splendour which had hitherto made solitude
precious, life seemed stripped of all its ennobling spirit. His energy
vanished. He repented his rashness; and the impulse of the previous
night, which had gathered fresh power from the dewy moon, vanished. He
felt alone, and without a friend, and night passed without a moment’s
slumber, watching the driving clouds.

The last fifteen miles seemed longer than the whole journey. At St.
Alban’s he got out, took a cup of coffee with Tom Rawlins, and, although
the morning was raw, again seated himself by his side. In the first
gloomy little suburb Mrs. Burnet got out. The Duke sent Rawlins after
her with the parcel, with peremptory instructions to leave it. He
watched the widow protesting it was not hers, his faithful emissary
appealing to the direction, and with delight he observed it left in
her hands. They rattled into London, stopped in Lombard Street, reached
Holborn, entered an archway; the coachman threw the whip and reins from
his now careless hands. The Duke bade farewell to Tom Rawlins, and was
shown to a bed.



CHAPTER VIII.

     _The Duke Makes a Speech_

THE return of morning had in some degree dissipated the gloom that had
settled on the young Duke during the night. Sound and light made him
feel less forlorn, and for a moment his soul again responded to his high
purpose. But now he was to seek necessary repose. In vain. His heated
frame and anxious mind were alike restless. He turned, he tossed in his
bed, but he could not banish from his ear the whirling sound of his late
conveyance, the snore of Mr. Macmorrogh, and the voice of Tom Rawlins.
He kept dwelling on every petty incident of his journey, and repeating
in his mind every petty saying. His determination to slumber made him
even less sleepy. Conscious that repose was absolutely necessary to
the performance of his task, and dreading that the boon was now
unattainable, he became each moment more feverish and more nervous; a
crowd of half-formed ideas and images flitted over his heated brain.
Failure, misery, May Dacre, Tom Rawlins, boiled beef, Mrs. Burnet, the
aristocracy, mountains and the marine, and the tower of St. Alban’s
cathedral, hurried along in infinite confusion. But there is nothing
like experience. In a state of distraction, he remembered the hopeless
but refreshing sleep he had gained after his fatal adventure at
Brighton. He jumped out of bed, and threw himself on the floor, and in
a few minutes, from the same cause, his excited senses subsided into
slumber.

He awoke; the sun was shining through his rough shutter. It was noon. He
jumped up, rang the bell, and asked for a bath. The chambermaid did not
seem exactly to comprehend his meaning, but said she would speak to the
waiter. He was the first gentleman who ever had asked for a bath at the
Dragon with Two Tails. The waiter informed him that he might get a bath,
he believed, at the Hum-mums. The Duke dressed, and to the Hummums he
then took his way. As he was leaving the yard, he was followed by an
ostler, who, in a voice musically hoarse, thus addressed him:

‘Have you seen missis, sir?’

‘Do you mean me? No, I have not seen your missis;’ and the Duke
proceeded.

‘Sir, sir,’ said the ostler, running after him, ‘I think you said you
had not seen missis?’

‘You think right,’ said the Duke, astonished; and again he walked on.

‘Sir, sir,’ said the pursuing ostler, ‘I don’t think you have got any
luggage?’

‘Oh! I beg your pardon,’ said the Duke; ‘I see it. I am in your debt;
but I meant to return.’

‘No doubt on’t, sir; but when gemmen don’t have no luggage, they sees
missis before they go, sir.’

‘Well, what am I in your debt? I can pay you here.’

‘Five shillings, sir.’

‘Here!’ said the Duke; ‘and tell me when a coach leaves this place
to-morrow for Yorkshire.’

‘Half-past six o’clock in the morning precisely,’ said the ostler.

‘Well, my good fellow, I depend upon your securing me a place; and that
is for yourself,’ added his Grace, throwing him a sovereign. ‘Now, mind;
I depend upon you.’

The man stared as if he had been suddenly taken into partnership with
missis; at length he found his tongue.

‘Your honour may depend upon me. Where would you like to sit? In or out?
Back to your horses, or the front? Get you the box if you like. Where’s
your great coat, sir? I’ll brush it for you.’

The bath and the breakfast brought our hero round a good deal, and
at half-past two he stole to a solitary part of St. James’s Park, to
stretch his legs and collect his senses. We must now let our readers
into a secret, which perhaps they have already unravelled. The Duke
had hurried to London with the determination, not only of attending the
debate, but of participating in it. His Grace was no politician; but the
question at issue was one simple in its nature and so domestic in its
spirit, that few men could have arrived at his period of life without
having heard its merits, both too often and too amply discussed. He was
master of all the points of interest, and he had sufficient confidence
in himself to believe that he could do them justice. He walked up and
down, conning over in his mind not only the remarks which he intended
to make, but the very language in which he meant to offer them. As he
formed sentences, almost for the first time, his courage and his fancy
alike warmed: his sanguine spirit sympathised with the nobility of the
imaginary scene, and inspirited the intonations of his modulated voice.

About four o’clock he repaired to the House. Walking up one of the
passages his progress was stopped by the back of an individual bowing
with great civility to a patronising peer, and my-lording him with
painful repetition. The nobleman was Lord Fitz-pompey; the bowing
gentleman, Mr. Duncan Macmorrogh, the anti-aristocrat, and father of the
first man of the day.

‘George! is it possible!’ exclaimed Lord Fitz-pompey. ‘I will speak to
you in the House,’ said the Duke, passing on, and bowing to Mr. Duncan
Macmorrogh.

He recalled his proxy from the Duke of Burlington, and accounted for
his presence to many astonished friends by being on his way to the
Continent; and, passing through London, thought he might as well
be present, particularly as he was about to reside for some time in
Catholic countries. It was the last compliment that he could pay his
future host. ‘Give me a pinch of snuff.’

The debate began. Don’t be alarmed. I shall not describe it. Five or six
peers had spoken, and one of the ministers had just sat down when the
Duke of St. James rose. He was extremely nervous, but he repeated to
himself the name of May Dacre for the hundredth time, and proceeded. He
was nearly commencing ‘May Dacre’ instead of ‘My Lords,’ but he escaped
this blunder. For the first five or ten minutes he spoke in almost as
cold and lifeless a style as when he echoed the King’s speech; but he
was young and seldom troubled them, and was listened to therefore with
indulgence. The Duke warmed, and a courteous ‘hear, hear,’ frequently
sounded; the Duke became totally free from embarrassment, and spoke
with eloquence and energy. A cheer, a stranger in the House of Lords,
rewarded and encouraged him. As an Irish landlord, his sincerity could
not be disbelieved when he expressed his conviction of the safety of
emancipation; but it was as an English proprietor and British noble
that it was evident that his Grace felt most keenly upon this important
measure. He described with power the peculiar injustice of the situation
of the English Catholics. He professed to feel keenly upon this subject,
because his native county had made him well acquainted with the temper
of this class; he painted in glowing terms the loyalty, the wealth, the
influence, the noble virtues of his Catholic neighbours; and he closed a
speech of an hour’s duration, in which he had shown that a worn subject
was susceptible of novel treatment, and novel interest, amid loud
and general cheers. The Lords gathered round him, and many personally
congratulated him upon his distinguished success. The debate took
its course. At three o’clock the pro-Catholics found themselves in
a minority, but a minority in which the prescient might have well
discovered the herald of future justice. The speech of the Duke of St.
James was the speech of the night.

The Duke walked into White’s. It was crowded. The first man who welcomed
him was Annesley. He congratulated the Duke with a warmth for which the
world did not give him credit.

‘I assure you, my dear St. James, that I am one of the few people whom
this display has not surprised. I have long observed that you were
formed for something better than mere frivolity. And between ourselves
I am sick of it. Don’t be surprised if you hear that I go to Algiers.
Depend upon it that I am on the point of doing something dreadful.’
‘Sup with me, St. James,’ said Lord Squib; ‘I will ask O’Connell to meet
you.’

Lord Fitz-pompey and Lord Darrell were profuse in congratulations; but
he broke away from them to welcome the man who now advanced. He was one
of whom he never thought without a shudder, but whom, for all that, he
greatly liked.

‘My dear Duke of St. James,’ said Arundel Dacre, ‘how ashamed I am
that this is the first time I have personally thanked you for all your
goodness!’

‘My dear Dacre, I have to thank you for proving for the first time to
the world that I was not without discrimination.’

‘No, no,’ said Dacre, gaily and easily; ‘all the congratulations and all
the compliments to-night shall be for you. Believe me, my dear friend, I
share your triumph.’

They shook hands with earnestness.

‘May will read your speech with exultation,’ said Arundel. ‘I think we
must thank her for making you an orator.’

The Duke faintly smiled and shook his head.

‘And how are all our Yorkshire friends?’ continued Arundel. ‘I am
disappointed again in getting down to them; but I hope in the course of
the month to pay them a visit.’

‘I shall see them in a day or two,’ said the Duke. ‘I pay Mr. Dacre one
more visit before my departure form England.’

‘Are you then indeed going?’ asked Arundel, in a kind voice.

‘For ever.’

‘Nay, nay, _ever_ is a strong word.’

‘It becomes, then, my feelings. However, we will not talk of this. Can I
bear any letter for you?’

‘I have just written,’ replied Arundel, in a gloomy voice, and with a
changing countenance, ‘and therefore will not trouble you. And yet----’

‘What!’

‘And yet the letter is an important letter: to me. The post, to be sure,
never does miss; but if it were not troubling your Grace too much, I
almost would ask you to be its bearer.’

‘It will be there as soon,’ said the Duke, ‘for I shall be off in an
hour.’

‘I will take it out of the box then,’ said Arundel; and he fetched it.
‘Here is the letter,’ said he on his return: ‘pardon me if I impress
upon you its importance. Excuse this emotion, but, indeed, this letter
decides my fate. My happiness for life is dependent on its reception!’

He spoke with an air and voice of agitation.

The Duke received the letter in a manner scarcely less disturbed; and
with a hope that they might meet before his departure, faintly murmured
by one party, and scarcely responded to by the other, they parted.

‘Well, now,’ said the Duke, ‘the farce is complete; and I have come to
London to be the bearer of his offered heart! I like this, now. Is there
a more contemptible, a more ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous ass
than myself? Fear not for its delivery, most religiously shall it be
consigned to the hand of its owner. The fellow has paid a compliment to
my honour or my simplicity: I fear the last, and really I feel rather
proud. But away with these feelings! Have I not seen her in his arms?
Pah! Thank God! I spoke. At least, I die in a blaze. Even Annesley does
not think me quite a fool. O, May Dacre, May Dacre! if you were but
mine, I should be the happiest fellow that ever breathed!’

He breakfasted, and then took his way to the Dragon with Two Tails. The
morning was bright, and fresh, and beautiful, even in London. Joy came
upon his heart, in spite of all his loneliness, and he was glad and
sanguine. He arrived just in time. The coach was about to start. The
faithful ostler was there with his great-coat, and the Duke found that
he had three fellow-passengers. They were lawyers, and talked for the
first two hours of nothing but the case respecting which they were
going down into the country. At Woburn, a despatch arrived with the
newspapers. All purchased one, and the Duke among the rest. He was
well reported, and could now sympathise with, instead of smile at, the
anxiety of Lord Darrell.

‘The young Duke of St. James seems to have distinguished himself very
much,’ said the first lawyer.

‘So I observe,’ said the second one. ‘The leading article calls our
attention to his speech as the most brilliant delivered.’

‘I am surprised,’ said the third. ‘I thought he was quite a different
sort of person.’

‘By no means,’ said the first: ‘I have always had a high opinion of him.
I am not one of those who think the worse of a young man because he is a
little wild.’

‘Nor I,’ said the second. ‘Young blood, you know, is young blood.’

‘A very intimate friend of mine, who knows the Duke of St. James well,
once told me,’ rejoined the first, ‘that I was quite mistaken about him;
that he was a person of no common talents; well read, quite a man of the
world, and a good deal of wit, too; and let me tell you that in these
days wit is no common thing.’

‘Certainly not,’ said the third. ‘We have no wit now.’

‘And a kind-hearted, generous fellow,’ continued the first, ‘and _very_
unaffected.’

‘I can’t bear an affected man,’ said the second, without looking off his
paper. ‘He seems to have made a very fine speech indeed.’

‘I should not wonder at his turning out something great,’ said the
third.

‘I have no doubt of it,’ said the second.

‘Many of these wild fellows do.’

‘He is not so wild as we think,’ said the first.

‘But he is done up,’ said the second.

‘Is he indeed?’ said the third. ‘Perhaps by making a speech he wants a
place?’

‘People don’t make speeches for nothing,’ said the third.

‘I shouldn’t wonder if he is after a place in the Household,’ said the
second.

‘Depend upon it, he looks to something more active,’ said the first.

‘Perhaps he would like to be head of the Admiralty?’ said the second.

‘Or the Treasury?’ said the third.

‘That is impossible!’ said the first. ‘He is too young.’

‘He is as old as Pitt,’ said the third.

‘I hope he will resemble him in nothing but his age, then,’ said the
first.

‘I look upon Pitt as the first man that ever lived,’ said the third.

‘What!’ said the first. ‘The man who worked up the national debt to
nearly eight hundred millions!’

‘What of that?’ said the third. ‘I look upon the national debt as the
source of all our prosperity.’

‘The source of all our taxes, you mean.’

‘What is the harm of taxes?’

‘The harm is, that you will soon have no trade; and when you have no
trade, you will have no duties; and when you have no duties, you will
have no dividends; and when you have no dividends, you will have no law;
and then, where is your source of prosperity?’ said the first.

But here the coach stopped, and the Duke got out for an hour.

By midnight they had reached a town not more than thirty miles from
Dacre. The Duke was quite exhausted, and determined to stop. In half an
hour he enjoyed that deep, dreamless slumber, with which no luxury can
compete. One must have passed restless nights for years, to be able to
appreciate the value of sound sleep.



CHAPTER IX.

     _A Last Appeal_

HE ROSE early, and managed to reach Dacre at the breakfast hour of the
family. He discharged his chaise at the Park gate, and entered the house
unseen. He took his way along a corridor lined with plants, which led
to the small and favourite room in which the morning meetings of May and
himself always took place when they were alone. As he lightly stepped
along, he heard a voice that he could not mistake, as it were in
animated converse. Agitated by sounds which ever created in him emotion,
for a moment he paused. He starts, his eye sparkles with strange
delight, a flush comes over his panting features, half of modesty, half
of triumph. He listens to his own speech from the lips of the woman he
loves. She is reading to her father with melodious energy the passage
in which he describes the high qualities of his Catholic neighbours. The
intonations of the voice indicate the deep sympathy of the reader. She
ceases. He hears the admiring exclamation of his host. He rallies his
strength, he advances, he stands before them. She utters almost a shriek
of delightful surprise as she welcomes him.

How much there was to say! how much to ask! how much to answer! Even Mr.
Dacre poured forth questions like a boy. But May: she could not
speak, but leant forward in her chair with an eager ear, and a look of
congratulation, that rewarded him for all his exertion. Everything was
to be told. How he went; whether he slept in the mail; where he went;
what he did; whom he saw; what they said; what they thought; all must be
answered. Then fresh exclamations of wonder, delight, and triumph.
The Duke forgot everything but his love, and for three hours felt the
happiest of men.

At length Mr. Dacre rose and looked at his watch with a shaking head. ‘I
have a most important appointment,’ said he, ‘and I must gallop to keep
it. God bless you, my dear St. James! I could stay talking with you for
ever; but you must be utterly wearied. Now, my dear boy, go to bed.’

‘To bed!’ exclaimed the Duke. ‘Why, Tom Rawlins would laugh at you!’

‘And who is Tom Rawlins?’

‘Ah! I cannot tell you everything; but assuredly I am not going to bed.’

‘Well, May, I leave him to your care; but do not let him talk any more.’

‘Oh! sir,’ said the Duke, ‘I really had forgotten. I am the bearer to
you, sir, of a letter from Mr. Arundel Dacre.’ He gave it him.

As Mr. Dacre read the communication, his countenance changed, and
the smile which before was on his face, vanished. But whether he were
displeased, or only serious, it was impossible to ascertain, although
the Duke watched him narrowly. At length he said, ‘May! here is a letter
from Arundel, in which you are much interested.’

‘Give it me, then, papa!’

‘No, my love; we must speak of this together. But I am pressed for time.
When I come home. Remember.’ He quitted the room.

They were alone: the Duke began again talking, and Miss Dacre put her
finger to her mouth, with a smile.

‘I assure you,’ said he, ‘I am not wearied. I slept at----y, and the
only thing I now want is a good walk. Let me be your companion this
morning!’

‘I was thinking of paying nurse a visit. What say you?’

‘Oh! I am ready; anywhere.’

She ran for her bonnet, and he kissed her handkerchief, which she left
behind, and, I believe, everything else in the room which bore the
slightest relation to her. And then the recollection of Arundel’s letter
came over him, and his joy fled. When she returned, he was standing
before the fire, gloomy and dull.

‘I fear you are tired,’ she said.

‘Not in the least.’

‘I shall never forgive myself if all this exertion make you ill.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because, although I will not tell papa, I am sure my nonsense is the
cause of your having gone to London.’

‘It is probable; for you are the cause of all that does not disgrace
me.’ He advanced, and was about to seize her hand; but the accursed
miniature occurred to him, and he repressed his feelings, almost with
a groan. She, too, had turned away her head, and was busily engaged in
tending a flower.

‘Because she has explicitly declared her feelings to me, and, sincere
in that declaration, honours me by a friendship of which alone I am
unworthy, am I to persecute her with my dishonoured overtures--the twice
rejected? No, no!’

They took their way through the park, and he soon succeeded in
re-assuming the tone that befitted their situation. Traits of the
debate, and the debaters, which newspapers cannot convey, and which
he had not yet recounted; anecdotes of Annesley and their friends, and
other gossip, were offered for her amusement. But if she were amused,
she was not lively, but singularly, unusually silent. There was only one
point on which she seemed interested, and that was his speech. When he
was cheered, and who particularly cheered; who gathered round him,
and what they said after the debate: on all these points she was most
inquisitive.

They rambled on: nurse was quite forgotten; and at length they found
themselves in the beautiful valley, rendered more lovely by the ruins of
the abbey. It was a place that the Duke could never forget, and which he
ever avoided. He had never renewed his visit since he first gave vent,
among its reverend ruins, to his overcharged and most tumultuous heart.

They stood in silence before the holy pile with its vaulting arches and
crumbling walls, mellowed by the mild lustre of the declining sun. Not
two years had fled since here he first staggered after the breaking
glimpses of self-knowledge, and struggled to call order from out the
chaos of his mind. Not two years, and yet what a change had come over
his existence! How diametrically opposite now were all his thoughts, and
views, and feelings, to those which then controlled his fatal soul! How
capable, as he firmly believed, was he now of discharging his duty to
his Creator and his fellow-men! and yet the boon that ought to have been
the reward for all this self-contest, the sweet seal that ought to have
ratified this new contract of existence, was wanting.

‘Ah!’ he exclaimed aloud, and in a voice of anguish, ‘ah! if I ne’er had
left the walls of Dacre, how different might have been my lot!’

A gentle but involuntary pressure reminded him of the companion whom,
for once in his life, he had for a moment forgotten.

‘I feel it is madness; I feel it is worse than madness; but must I yield
without a struggle, and see my dark fate cover me without an effort? Oh!
yes, here, even here, where I have wept over your contempt, even here,
although I subject myself to renewed rejection, let--let me tell you,
before we part, how I adore you!’

She was silent; a strange courage came over his spirit; and, with
a reckless boldness, and rapid voice, a misty sight, and total
unconsciousness of all other existence, he resumed the words which had
broken out, as if by inspiration.

‘I am not worthy of you. Who is? I was worthless. I did not know it.
Have not I struggled to be pure? have not I sighed on my nightly pillow
for your blessing? Oh! could you read my heart (and sometimes, I think,
you can read it, for indeed, with all its faults, it is without guile) I
dare to hope that you would pity me. Since we first met, your image
has not quitted my conscience for a second. When you thought me least
worthy; when you thought me vile, or mad, oh! by all that is sacred,
I was the most miserable wretch that ever breathed, and flew to
dissipation only for distraction!

‘Not--not for a moment have I ceased to think you the best, the most
beautiful, the most enchanting and endearing creature that ever graced
our earth. Even when I first dared to whisper my insolent affection,
believe me, even then, your presence controlled my spirit as no other
woman had. I bent to you then in pride and power. The station that I
could then offer you was not utterly unworthy of your perfection. I am
now a beggar, or, worse, an insolvent noble, and dare I--dare I to ask
you to share the fortunes that are broken, and the existence that is
obscure?’

She turned; her arm fell over his shoulder; she buried her head in his
breast.



CHAPTER X.

    _‘Love is Like a Dizziness.’_

MR. DACRE returned home with an excellent appetite, and almost as keen a
desire to renew his conversation with his guest; but dinner and the Duke
were neither to be commanded. Miss Dacre also could not be found. No
information could be obtained of them from any quarter. It was nearly
seven o’clock, the hour of dinner. That meal, somewhat to Mr. Dacre’s
regret, was postponed for half an hour, servants were sent out, and the
bell was rung, but no tidings. Mr. Dacre was a little annoyed and more
alarmed; he was also hungry, and at half-past seven he sat down to a
solitary meal.

About a quarter-past eight a figure rapped at the dining-room window:
it was the young Duke. The fat butler seemed astonished, not to say
shocked, at this violation of etiquette; nevertheless, he slowly opened
the window.

‘Anything the matter, George? Where is May?’

‘Nothing. We lost our way. That is all. May--Miss Dacre desired me to
say, that she would not join us at dinner.’

‘I am sure, something has happened.’

‘I assure you, my dear sir, nothing, nothing at all the least
unpleasant, but we took the wrong turning. All my fault.’

‘Shall I send for the soup?’

‘No. I am not hungry, I will take some wine.’ So saying, his Grace
poured out a tumbler of claret.

‘Shall I take your Grace’s hat?’ asked the fat butler.

‘Dear me! have I my hat on?’

This was not the only evidence afforded by our hero’s conduct that his
presence of mind had slightly deserted him. He was soon buried in a deep
reverie, and sat with a full plate, but idle knife and fork before him,
a perfect puzzle to the fat butler, who had hitherto considered his
Grace the very pink of propriety.

‘George, you have eaten no dinner,’ said Mr. Dacre.

‘Thank you, a very good one indeed, a remarkably good dinner. Give me
some red wine, if you please.’

At length they were left alone.

‘I have some good news for you, George.’

‘Indeed.’

‘I think I have let Rosemount.’

‘So!’

‘And exactly to the kind of person that you wanted, a man who will take
a pride, although merely a tenant, in not permitting his poor neighbours
to feel the _want_ of a landlord. You will never guess: Lord Mildmay!’

‘What did you say of Lord Mildmay, sir?’

‘My dear fellow, your wits are wool-gathering; I say I think I have let
Rosemount.’

‘Oh! I have changed my mind about letting Rosemount.’

‘My dear Duke, there is no trouble which I will grudge, to further your
interests; but really I must beg, in future, that you will, at least,
apprise me when you change your mind. There is nothing, as we have both
agreed, more desirable than to find an eligible tenant for Rosemount.
You never can expect to have a more beneficial one than Lord Mildmay;
and really, unless you have positively promised the place to another
person (which, excuse me for saying, you were not authorised to do) I
must insist, after what has passed, upon his having the preference.’

‘My dear sir, I only changed my mind this afternoon: I couldn’t tell
you before. I have promised it to no one; but I think of living there
myself.’

‘Yourself! Oh! if that be the case, I shall be quite reconciled to the
disappointment of Lord Mildmay. But what in the name of goodness, my
dear fellow, has produced this wonderful revolution in all your plans in
the course of a few hours? I thought you were going to mope away life on
the Lake of Geneva, or dawdle it away in Florence or Rome.’

‘It is very odd, sir. I can hardly believe it myself: and yet it must be
true. I hear her voice even at this moment. Oh! my dear Mr. Dacre, I am
the happiest fellow that ever breathed!’

‘What is all this?’

‘Is it possible, my dear sir, that you have not long before detected
the feelings I ventured to entertain for your daughter? In a word, she
requires only your sanction to my being the most fortunate of men.’

‘My dear friend, my dear, dear boy!’ cried Mr. Dacre, rising from his
chair and embracing him, ‘it is out of the power of man to impart to me
any event which could afford me such exquisite pleasure! Indeed, indeed,
it is to me most surprising! for I had been induced to suspect, George,
that some explanation had passed between you and May, which, while
it accounted for your mutual esteem, gave little hope of a stronger
sentiment.’

‘I believe, sir,’ said the young Duke, with a smile, ‘I was obstinate.’

‘Well, this changes all our plans. I have intended, for this fortnight
past, to speak to you finally on your affairs. No better time than the
present; and, in the first place----’

But, really, this interview is confidential.



CHAPTER XI.

     _‘Perfection in a Petticoat.’_

THEY come not: it is late. He is already telling all! She relapses into
her sweet reverie. Her thought fixes on no subject; her mind is
intent on no idea; her soul is melted into dreamy delight; her only
consciousness is perfect bliss! Sweet sounds still echo in her ear, and
still her pure pulse beats, from the first embrace of passion.

The door opens, and her father enters, leaning upon the arm of her
beloved. Yes, he has told all! Mr. Dacre approached, and, bending down,
pressed the lips of his child. It was the seal to their plighted faith,
and told, without speech, that the blessing of a parent mingled with the
vows of a lover! No other intimation was at present necessary;’ but she,
the daughter, thought now only of her father, that friend of her long
life, whose love had ne’er been wanting: was she about to leave him? She
arose, she threw her arms around his neck and wept.

The young Duke walked away, that his presence might not control the full
expression of her hallowed soul. ‘This jewel is mine,’ was his thought;
‘what, what have I done to be so blessed?’

In a few minutes he again joined them, and was seated by her side; and
Mr. Dacre considerately remembered that he wished to see his steward,
and they were left alone. Their eyes meet, and their soft looks tell
that they were thinking of each other. His arm steals round the back of
her chair, and with his other hand he gently captures hers.

First love, first love! how many a glowing bard has sung thy beauties!
How many a poor devil of a prosing novelist, like myself, has echoed
all our superiors, the poets, teach us! No doubt, thou rosy god of young
Desire, thou art a most bewitching little demon; and yet, for my part,
give me last love.

Ask a man which turned out best, the first horse he bought, or the one
he now canters on? Ask--but in short there is nothing in which knowledge
is more important and experience more valuable than in love. When we
first love, we are enamoured of our own imaginations. Our thoughts are
high, our feelings rise from out the deepest caves of the tumultuous
tide of our full life. We look around for one to share our exquisite
existence, and sanctify the beauties of our being.

But those beauties are only in our thoughts. We feel like heroes,
when we are but boys. Yet our mistress must bear a relation, not to
ourselves, but to our imagination. She must be a real heroine, while our
perfection is but ideal. And the quick and dangerous fancy of our race
will, at first, rise to the pitch. She is all we can conceive. Mild and
pure as youthful priests, we bow down before our altar. But the idol to
which we breathe our warm and gushing vows, and bend our eager knees,
all its power, does it not exist only in our idea; all its beauty, is
it not the creation of our excited fancy? And then the sweetest of
superstitions ends. The long delusion bursts, and we are left like
men upon a heath when fairies vanish; cold and dreary, gloomy, bitter,
harsh, existence seems a blunder.

But just when we are most miserable, and curse the poet’s cunning and
our own conceits, there lights upon our path, just like a ray fresh
from the sun, some sparkling child of light, that makes us think we are
premature, at least, in our resolves. Yet we are determined not to be
taken in, and try her well in all the points in which the others failed.
One by one, her charms steal on our warming soul, as, one by one, those
of the other beauty sadly stole away, and then we bless our stars, and
feel quite sure that we have found perfection in a petticoat.

But our Duke--where are we? He had read woman thoroughly, and
consequently knew how to value the virgin pages on which his thoughts
now fixed. He and May Dacre wandered in the woods, and nature seemed to
them more beautiful from their beautiful loves. They gazed upon the
sky; a brighter light fell o’er the luminous earth. Sweeter to them the
fragrance of the sweetest flowers, and a more balmy breath brought on
the universal promise of the opening year.

They wandered in the woods, and there they breathed their mutual
adoration. She to him was all in all, and he to her was like a new
divinity. She poured forth all that she long had felt, and scarcely
could suppress. From the moment he tore her from the insulter’s arms,
his image fixed in her heart, and the struggle which she experienced
to repel his renewed vows was great indeed. When she heard of
his misfortunes, she had wept; but it was the strange delight she
experienced when his letter arrived to her father that first convinced
her how irrevocably her mind was his.

And now she does not cease to blame herself for all her past obduracy;
now she will not for a moment yield that he could have been ever
anything but all that was pure, and beautiful, and good.



CHAPTER XII.

     _Another Betrothal_

BUT although we are in love, business must not be utterly neglected, and
Mr. Dacre insisted that the young Duke should for one morning cease to
wander in his park, and listen to the result of his exertions during the
last three months. His Grace listened. Rents had not risen, but it was
hoped that they had seen their worst; the railroad had been successfully
opposed; and coals had improved. The London mansion and the Alhambra had
both been disposed of, and well: the first to the new French Ambassador,
and the second to a grey-headed stock-jobber, very rich, who, having
no society, determined to make solitude amusing. The proceeds of these
sales, together with sundry sums obtained by converting into cash the
stud, the furniture, and the _bijouterie,_ produced a most respectable
fund, which nearly paid off the annoying miscellaneous debts. For the
rest, Mr. Dacre, while he agreed that it was on the whole advisable that
the buildings should be completed, determined that none of the estates
should be sold, or even mortgaged. His plan was to procrastinate the
termination of these undertakings, and to allow each year itself to
afford the necessary supplies. By annually setting aside one hundred
thousand pounds, in seven or eight years he hoped to find everything
completed and all debts cleared. He did not think that the extravagance
of the Duke could justify any diminution in the sum which had hitherto
been apportioned for the maintenance of the Irish establishments; but
he was of opinion that the decreased portion which they, as well as
the western estates, now afforded to the total income, was a sufficient
reason. Fourteen thousand a-year were consequently allotted to Ireland,
and seven to Pen Bronnock. There remained to the Duke about thirty
thousand per annum; but then Hauteville was to be kept up with this.
Mr. Dacre proposed that the young people should reside at Rosemount, and
that consequently they might form their establishment from the Castle,
without reducing their Yorkshire appointments, and avail themselves,
without any obligation, or even the opportunity, of great expenses, of
all the advantages afforded by the necessary expenditure. Finally, Mr.
Dacre presented his son with his town mansion and furniture; and as
the young Duke insisted that the settlements upon her Grace should be
prepared in full reference to his inherited and future income, this
generous father at once made over to him the great bulk of his personal
property amounting to upwards of a hundred thousand pounds, a little
ready money, of which he knew the value.

The Duke of St. James had duly informed his uncle, the Earl of
Fitz-pompey, of the intended change in his condition, and in answer
received the following letter:--


‘Fitz-pompey Hall, May, 18--.

‘My dear George,--Your letter did not give us so much surprise as you
expected; but I assure you it gave us as much pleasure. You have shown
your wisdom and your taste in your choice; and I am free to confess that
I am acquainted with no one more worthy of the station which the
Duchess of St. James must always fill in society, and more calculated to
maintain the dignity of your family, than the lady whom you are about
to introduce to us as our niece. Believe me, my dear George, that the
notification of this agreeable event has occasioned even additional
gratification both to your aunt and to myself, from the reflection that
you are about to ally yourself with a family in whose welfare we must
ever take an especial interest, and whom we may in a manner look upon as
our own relatives. For, my dear George, in answer to your flattering and
most pleasing communication, it is my truly agreeable duty to inform you
(and, believe me, you are the first person out of our immediate family
to whom this intelligence is made known) that our Caroline, in whose
happiness we are well assured you take a lively interest, is about to
be united to one who may now be described as your near relative, namely,
Mr. Arundel Dacre.

‘It has been a long attachment, though for a considerable time, I
confess, unknown to us; and indeed at first sight, with Caroline’s rank
and other advantages, it may not appear, in a mere worldly point of
view, so desirable a connection as some perhaps might expect. And to
be quite confidential, both your aunt and myself were at first a little
disinclined (great as our esteem and regard have ever been for him), a
little disinclined, I say, to the union. But Dacre is certainly the most
rising man of the day. In point of family, he is second to none; and his
uncle has indeed behaved in the most truly liberal manner. I assure you,
he considers him as a son; and even if there were no other inducement,
the mere fact of your connection with the family would alone not
only reconcile, but, so to say, make us perfectly satisfied with the
arrangement. It is unnecessary to speak to you of the antiquity of the
Dacres. Arundel will ultimately be one of the richest Commoners, and I
think it is not too bold to anticipate, taking into consideration the
family into which he marries, and above all, his connection with you,
that we may finally succeed in having him called up to us. You are of
course aware that there was once a barony in the family.

‘Everybody talks of your speech. I assure you, although I ever gave you
credit for uncommon talents, I was astonished. So you are to have the
vacant ribbon! Why did you not tell me? I learnt it to-day, from
Lord Bobbleshim. But we must not quarrel with men in love for not
communicating.

‘You ask me for news of all your old friends. You of course saw the
death of old Annesley. The new Lord took his seat yesterday; he was
introduced by Lord Bloomerly. I was not surprised to hear in the evening
that he was about to be married to Lady Charlotte, though the world
affect to be astonished.

I should not forget to say that Lord Annesley asked most particularly
after you. For him, quite warm, I assure you.

‘The oddest thing has happened to your friend, Lord Squib. Old Colonel
Carlisle is dead, and has left his whole fortune, some say half a
million, to the oddest person, merely because she had the reputation
of being his daughter. Quite an odd person, you understand me: Mrs.
Montfort. St. Maurice says you know her; but we must not talk of these
things now. Well, Squib is going to be married to her. He says that he
knows all his old friends will cut him when they are married, and so he
is determined to give them an excuse. I understand she is a fine woman.
He talks of living at Rome and Florence for a year or two.

‘Lord Darrell is about to marry Harriet Wrekin; and between ourselves
(but don’t let this go any further at present) I have very little doubt
that young Pococurante will shortly be united to Isabel. Connected as we
are with the Shropshires, these excellent alliances are gratifying.

‘I see very little of Lucius Grafton. He seems ill.

I understand, for certain, that her Ladyship opposes the divorce. _On
dit_, she has got hold of some letters, through the treachery of her
soubrette, whom he supposed quite his creature, and that your friend
is rather taken in. But I should not think this true. People talk very
loosely. There was a gay party at Mrs. Dallington’s the other night, who
asked very kindly after you.

‘I think I have now written you a very long letter. I once more
congratulate you on your admirable selection, and with the united
remembrance of our circle, particularly Caroline, who will write
perhaps by this post to Miss Dacre, believe me, dear George, your truly
affectionate uncle,

‘FITZ-POMPEY.

‘P.S.--Lord Marylebone is very unpopular, quite a brute. We all miss
you.’


It is not to be supposed that this letter conveyed the first intimation
to the Duke of St. James of the most interesting event of which it
spoke. On the contrary, he had long been aware of the whole affair; but
we have been too much engaged with his own conduct to find time to let
the reader into the secret, which, like all secrets, it is to be hoped
was no secret. Next to gaining the affections of May Dacre, it was
impossible for any event to occur more delightful to our hero than
the present. His heart had often misgiven him when he had thought of
Caroline. Now she was happy, and not only happy, but connected with
him for life, just as he wished. Arundel Dacre, too, of all men he most
wished to like, and indeed most liked. One feeling alone had prevented
them from being bosom friends, and that feeling had long triumphantly
vanished.

May had been almost from the beginning the _confidante_ of her cousin.
In vain, however, had she beseeched him to entrust all to her father.
Although he now repented his past feelings he could not be induced to
change; and not till he had entered Parliament and succeeded and gained
a name, which would reflect honour on the family with which he wished to
identify himself, would he impart to his uncle the secret of his heart,
and gain that support without which his great object could never have
been achieved. The Duke of St. James, by returning him to Parliament,
had been the unconscious cause of all his happiness, and ardently did
he pray that his generous friend might succeed in what he was well aware
was his secret aspiration, and that his beloved cousin might yield her
hand to the only man whom Arundel Dacre considered worthy of her.



CHAPTER XIII.

     _Joy’s Beginning_

ANOTHER week brought another letter from the Earl of Fitz-pompey.

The Earl of Fitz-pompey to the Duke of St. James. [Read this alone.]

‘My dear George,

‘I beg you will not be alarmed by the above memorandum, which I thought
it but prudent to prefix. A very disagreeable affair has just taken
place, and to a degree exceedingly alarming; but it might have turned
out much more distressing, and, on the whole, we may all congratulate
ourselves at the result. Not to keep you in fearful suspense, I beg to
recall your recollection to the rumour which I noticed in my last, of
the intention of Lady Aphrodite Grafton to oppose the divorce. A
few days back, her brother Lord Wariston, with whom I was previously
unacquainted, called upon me by appointment, having previously requested
a private interview. The object of his seeing me was no less than to
submit to my inspection the letters by aid of which it was anticipated
that the divorce might be successfully opposed. You will be astounded
to hear that these consist of a long series of correspondence of Mrs.
Dallington Vere’s, developing, I am shocked to say, machinations of a
very alarming nature, the effect of which, my dear George, was no less
than very materially to control your fortunes in life, and those of that
charming and truly admirable lady whom you have delighted us all so much
by declaring to be our future relative.

‘From the very delicate nature of the disclosures, Lord Wariston felt
the great importance of obtaining all necessary results without making
them public; and, actuated by these feelings, he applied to me, both
as your nearest relative, and an acquaintance of Sir Lucius, and, as he
expressed it, and I may be permitted to repeat, as one whose experience
in the management of difficult and delicate negotiations was not
altogether unknown, in order that I might be put in possession of the
facts of the case, advise and perhaps interfere for the common good.

‘Under these circumstances, and taking into consideration the extreme
difficulty attendant upon a satisfactory arrangement of the affair,
I thought fit, in confidence, to apply to Arundel, whose talents I
consider of the first order, and only equalled by his prudence and calm
temper. As a relation, too, of more than one of the parties concerned,
it was perhaps only proper that the correspondence should be submitted
to him.

‘I am sorry to say, my dear George, that Arundel behaved in a very
odd manner, and not at all with that discretion which might have been
expected both from one of his remarkably sober and staid disposition,
and one not a little experienced in diplomatic life. He exhibited the
most unequivocal signs of his displeasure at the conduct of the parties
principally concerned, and expressed himself in so vindictive a manner
against one of them, that I very much regretted my application, and
requested him to be cool.

‘He seemed to yield to my solicitations, but I regret to say his
composure was only feigned, and the next morning he and Sir Lucius
Grafton met. Sir Lucius fired first, without effect, but Arundel’s aim
was more fatal, and his ball was lodged in the thigh of his adversary.
Sir Lucius has only been saved by amputation; and I need not remark to
you that to such a man life on such conditions is scarcely desirable.
All idea of a divorce is quite given over. The letters in question were
stolen from his cabinet by his valet, and given to a soubrette of his
wife, whom Sir Lucius considered in his interest, but who, as you see,
betrayed him.

‘For me remained the not very agreeable office of seeing Mrs. Dallington
Vere. I made known to her, in a manner as little offensive as possible,
the object of my visit. The scene, my dear George, was trying; and I
think it hard that the follies of a parcel of young people should really
place me in such a distressing position. She fainted, &c, and wished
the letters to be given up, but Lord Wariston would not consent to this,
though he promised to keep their contents secret provided she quitted
the country. She goes directly; and I am well assured, which is not the
least surprising part of this strange history, that her affairs are in a
state of great distraction. The relatives of her late husband are
about again to try the will, and with prospect of success. She has been
negotiating with them for some time through the agency of Sir Lucius
Grafton, and the late _exposé_ will not favour her interests.

‘If anything further happens, my dear George, depend upon my writing;
but Arundel desires me to say that on Saturday he will run down to Dacre
for a few days, as he very much wishes to see you and all. With our
united remembrance to Mr. and Miss Dacre,

‘Ever, my dear George,

‘Your very affectionate uncle,

‘Fitz-pompey.’


The young Duke turned with trembling and disgust from these dark
terminations of unprincipled careers; and these fatal evidences of
the indulgence of unbridled passions. How nearly, too, had he been
shipwrecked in this moral whirlpool! With what gratitude did he not
invoke the beneficent Providence that had not permitted the innate seeds
of human virtue to be blighted in his wild and neglected soul! With
what admiration did he not gaze upon the pure and beautiful being whose
virtue and whose loveliness were the causes of his regeneration, the
sources of his present happiness, and the guarantees of his future joy!

Four years have now elapsed since the young Duke of St. James was united
to May Dacre; and it would not be too bold to declare, that during
that period he has never for an instant ceased to consider himself
the happiest and the most fortunate of men. His life is passed in the
agreeable discharge of all the important duties of his exalted station,
and his present career is by far a better answer to the lucubrations of
young Duncan Macmorrogh than all the abstract arguments that ever yet
were offered in favour of the existence of an aristocracy.

Hauteville House and Hauteville Castle proceed in regular course. These
magnificent dwellings will never erase simple and delightful Rosemount
from the grateful memory of the Duchess of St. James. Parliament, and
in a degree society, invite the Duke and Duchess each year to the
metropolis, and Mr. Dacre is generally their guest. Their most intimate
and beloved friends are Arundel and his wife, and as Lady Caroline now
heads the establishment of Castle Dacre, they are seldom separated.
But among their most agreeable company is a young gentleman styled by
courtesy Dacre, Marquess of Hauteville, and his young sister, who has
not yet escaped from her beautiful mother’s arms, and who beareth the
blooming title of the Lady May.

[Illustration: coverplate]





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