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Title: Lewis Arundel - Or, The Railroad Of Life
Author: Smedley, Frank E. (Frank Edward)
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 "Lewis Arundel - Or, The Railroad Of Life" ***

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LEWIS ARUNDEL

Or, The Railroad Of Life

By Frank E. Smedley,

Author Of “Frank Fairlegh.”

With Illustrations By “Phiz”

The Walter Scott Publishing Co., Ltd.

London And Newcastle-On-Tyne.

1852


[Illustration: 0009]


[Illustration: 0010]



CHAPTER I.--IN WHICH THE TRAIN STARTS, AND THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO
THREE FIRST-CLASS PASSENGERS.

“Surely he ought to be here by this time, Rose; it must be past nine
o’clock!”

“Scarcely so much, mamma; indeed, it wants a quarter of nine yet. The
coach does not arrive till half-past eight, and he has quite four miles
to walk afterwards.”

“Oh! this waiting, it destroys me,” rejoined the first speaker, rising
from her seat and pacing the room with agitated steps. “How you can
contrive to sit there, drawing so quietly, I do not comprehend!”

“Does it annoy you, dear mamma? Why did you not tell me so before?”
 returned Rose gently, putting away her drawing-apparatus as she spoke.
No one would have called Rose Arundel handsome, or even pretty, and yet
her face had a charm about it--a charm that lurked in the depths of her
dreamy grey eyes, and played about the corners of her mouth when she
smiled, and sat like a glory upon her high, smooth forehead. Both she
and her mother were clad in the deepest mourning, and the traces of some
recent heartfelt sorrow might be discerned in either face. A stranger
would have taken them for sisters, rather than for mother and daughter;
for there were lines of thought on Rose’s brow which her twenty years
scarcely warranted, while Mrs. Arundel, at eight-and-thirty, looked full
six years younger, despite her widow’s cap.

“I have been thinking, Rose,” resumed the elder lady, after a short
pause, during which she continued pacing the room most assiduously, “I
have been thinking that if we were to settle near some large town, I
could give lessons in music and singing: my voice is as good as ever it
was--listen;” and, seating herself at a small cottage piano, she began
to execute some difficult solfeggi in a rich, clear soprano, with a
degree of ease and grace which proved her to be a finished singer;
and, apparently carried away by the feeling the music had excited, she
allowed her voice to flow, as it were unconsciously, into the words of
an Italian song, which she continued for some moments, without noticing
a look of pain which shot across her daughter’s pale features. At
length, suddenly breaking off, she exclaimed in a voice broken
with emotion, “Ah! what am I singing?” and, burying her face in her
handkerchief, she burst into a flood of tears: it had been her husband’s
favourite song.

Recovering herself more quickly than from the violence of her grief
might have been expected, she was about to resume her walk, when,
observing for the first time the expression of her daughter’s face, she
sprang towards her, and placing her arm caressingly round her waist,
kissed her tenderly, exclaiming in a tone of the fondest affection,
“Rose, my own darling, I have distressed you by my heedlessness, but
I forget everything now!” She paused; then added, in a calmer tone,
“Really, love, I have been thinking seriously of what I said just now
about teaching. If I could but get a sufficient number of pupils, it
would be much better than allowing you to go out as governess, for we
could live together then; and I know I shall never be able to part with
you. Besides, you would be miserable, managing naughty children all
day long--throwing away your talents on a set of stupid little
wretches,--such drudgery would _ennui_ you to death.”

“And do you think, mamma, that I could be content to live in idleness
and allow you to work for my support?” replied Rose, while a faint smile
played over her expressive features. “Oh, no! Lewis will try to obtain
some appointment: you shall live with him and keep his house, while I go
out as governess for a few years; and we must save all we can, until we
are rich enough to live together again.”

“And perhaps some day we may be able to come back and take the dear old
cottage, if Lewis is very lucky and should make a fortune,” returned
Mrs. Arundel. “How shall we be able to bear to leave it!” she added,
glancing round the room regretfully.

“How, indeed!” replied Rose, with a sigh; “but it must be done. Lewis
will not feel it as we shall--he has been away so long.”

“It seems an age,” resumed Mrs. Arundel, musing. “How old was he when he
left Westminster?”

“Sixteen, was he not?” replied Rose.

“And he has been at Bonn three years. Why, Rose, he must be a man by
this time!”

“Mr. Frere wrote us word he was the taller of the two by half a head
last year, if you recollect,” returned Rose.

“Hark!” exclaimed Mrs. Arundel, starting up and going to the window,
which opened in the French fashion upon a small flower-garden. As she
spoke, the gate-bell rang smartly, and in another moment the person
outside, having apparently caught sight of the figure at the window,
sprang lightly over the paling, crossed the lawn in a couple of bounds,
and ere the slave of the bell had answered its impatient summons, Lewis
was in his mother’s arms.

After the first greeting, in which smiles and tears had mingled in
strange fellowship, Mrs. Arundel drew her son towards a table, on which
a lamp was burning, saying as she did so, “Why, Rose, can this be
our little Lewis? He is as tall as a grenadier! Heads up,
sir!--Attention!--You are going to be inspected. Do you remember when
the old sergeant used to drill us all, and wanted to teach Rose to
fence?”

Smiling at his mother’s caprice, Lewis Arundel drew himself up to
his full height, and, placing his back against the wall, stood in the
attitude of a soldier on parade--his head just touching the frame of a
picture which hung above him. The light of the lamp shone full upon the
spot where he had stationed himself, displaying a face and figure
on which a mother’s eye might well rest with pride and admiration.
Considerably above the middle height, his figure was slender, but
singularly graceful; his head small and intellectual looking. The
features, exquisitely formed, were, if anything, too delicately cut and
regular; which, together with a brilliant complexion and long silken
eyelashes, tended to impart an almost feminine character to his beauty.
The expression of his face, however, effectually counteracted any
such tendency; no one could observe the flashing of the dark eyes, the
sarcastic curl of the short upper lip, the curved nostril slightly drawn
back, the stern resolution of the knitted brow, without tracing signs
of pride unbroken, stormy feelings and passions unsubdued, and an iron
will, which, according as it might be directed, must prove all-powerful
for good or evil. His hair, which he wore somewhat long, was, like his
mother’s, of that jet black colour characteristic of the inhabitants
of a southern clime rather than of the descendants of the fair-haired
Saxons, while a soft down of the same dark hue as his clustering curls
fringed the sides of his face, affording promise of a goodly crop of
whiskers. Despite the differences of feature and expression,--and they
were great,--there was a decided resemblance between the brother
and sister, and the same indescribable charm, which made it next to
impossible to watch Rose Arundel without loving her, shed its sunshine
also over Lewis’s face when he smiled.

After surveying her son attentively, with eyes which sparkled with
surprise and pleasure, Mrs. Arundel exclaimed, “Why, how the boy is
altered! Is he not improved, Rose?” As she spoke, she involuntarily
glanced from Lewis to the picture under which he stood. It was a
half-length portrait of a young man, in what appeared to be some foreign
uniform, the hand resting on the hilt of a cavalry sabre. The features,
though scarcely so handsome, were strikingly like those of Lewis
Arundel, the greatest difference being in the expression, which was more
joyous, and that the hair in the portrait was of a rich brown instead
of black. After comparing the two for a moment, Mrs Arundel attempted
to speak, but her voice failing from emotion, she burst into tears, and
hastily left the room.

“Why, Rose, what is it?” exclaimed Lewis in surprise; “is my mother
ill?”

“No; it is your likeness to that picture, Lewis love, that has overcome
her: you know it is a portrait of our dearest father” (her voice
faltered as she pronounced his name), “taken just after they were
married, I believe.”

Lewis regarded the picture attentively, then averting his head as if he
could not bear that even Rose should witness his grief, he threw himself
on a sofa and concealed his face with his hands. Recovering himself
almost immediately, he drew his sister gently towards him, and placing
her beside him, asked, as he stroked her glossy hair--

“Rose, dearest, how is it that I was not informed of our poor father’s
illness? Surely a letter must have miscarried!”

“Did not mamma explain to you, then, how sudden it was?”

“Not a word: she only wrote a few hurried lines, leading me to prepare
for a great shock; then told me that my father was dead; and entreating
me to return immediately, broke off abruptly, saying she could write no
more.”

“Poor mamma! she was quite overcome by her grief, and yet she was so
excited and so anxious to save me, she _would_ do everything herself. I
wished her to let me write to you, but she objected, and I was afraid of
annoying her.”

“It was most unfortunate,” returned Lewis; “in her hurry she misdirected
the letter; and, as I told you when I wrote, I was from home at the
time, and did not receive it till three weeks after it should have
reached me. I was at a rifle-match got up by some of the students, and
had just gained the prize, a pair of silver-mounted pistols, when her
letter was put into my hand. Fancy receiving such news in a scene of
gaiety!”

“How exquisitely painful! My poor brother!” said Rose, while the tears
she could no longer repress dimmed her bright eyes. After a moment
she continued, “But I was going to tell you,--it was more than a month
ago,--poor papa had walked over to Warlington to negotiate about selling
one of his paintings. Did you know that he had lately made his talent
for painting serve as a means of adding to our income?”

“Richard Frere told me of it last year,” replied Lewis.

“Oh yes, Mr. Frere was kind enough to get introductions to several
picture-dealers, and was of the greatest use,” continued Rose. “Well,
when papa came in, he looked tired and harassed; and in answer to my
questions, he said he had received intelligence which had excited him
a good deal, and added something about being called upon to take a
very important step. I left him to fetch a glass of wine, and when I
returned, to my horror, his head was leaning forward on his breast, and
he was both speechless and insensible. We instantly sent for the nearest
medical man, but it was of no use; he pronounced it to be congestion of
the brain, and gave us no hope: his opinion was but too correct; my dear
father never spoke again, and in less than six hours all was over.”

“How dreadful!” murmured Lewis. “My poor Rose, how shocked you must have
been!” After a few minutes’ silence he continued, “And what was this
news which produced such an effect upon my father?”

“Strange to say,” replied Rose, “we have not the slightest notion. No
letter or other paper has been found which could at all account for
it, nor can we learn that papa met any one at Warlington likely to have
brought him news. The only clue we have been able to gain is that Mr.
Bowing, who keeps the library there, remarked that papa came in as usual
to look at the daily papers, and as he was reading, suddenly uttered
an exclamation of surprise and put his hand to his brow. Mr. Bowing was
about to inquire whether anything was the matter, when he was called
away to attend to a customer; and when he was again at liberty papa
had left the shop. Mr. Bowing sent us the paper afterwards, but neither
mamma nor I could discover in it anything we could imagine at all likely
to have affected papa so strongly.”

“How singular!” returned Lewis, musing. “What could it possibly have
been? You say my father’s papers have been examined?”

“Yes, mamma wrote to Mr. Coke, papa’s man of business in London, and
he came down directly, but nothing appeared to throw any light on the
matter. Papa had not even made a will.” She paused to dry the tears
which had flowed copiously during this narration, then continued: “But
oh! Lewis, do you know we are so very, very poor?”

“I suspected as much, dear Rose; I knew my father’s was a life income.
But why speak in such a melancholy tone? Surely my sister has not grown
mercenary?”

“Scarcely that, I hope,” returned Rose, smiling; “but there is some
difference between being mercenary and regretting that we are so poor
that we shall be unable to live together: is there not, Lewis dear?”

“Unable to live together?” repeated Lewis slowly. “Yes, well, I may of
course be obliged to leave you, but I shall not accept any employment
which will necessitate my quitting England, so I shall often come and
take a peep at you.”

“Oh! but, Lewis love, it is worse than that--we shall not be able to----
Hush! here comes mamma; we will talk about this another time.”

“Why, Lewis,” exclaimed Mrs. Arundel, entering the room with a light
elastic step, without a trace of her late emotion visible on her
animated countenance, “what is this? Here’s Rachel complaining that
you have brought a wild beast with you, which has eaten up all the
tea-cakes.”

“Let alone fright’ning the blessed cat so that she’s flowed up the
chimley like a whirlpool, and me a’most in fits all the time, the brute!
But I’ll not sleep in the house with it, to be devoured like a cannibal
in my quiet bed, if there was not another sitivation in Sussex!” And
here Rachel, a stout serving-woman, with a face which, sufficiently red
by nature, had become the deepest crimson from fear and anger, burst
into a flood of tears, which, mingling with a tolerably thick deposit of
soot, acquired during the hurried rise and progress of the outraged
cat, imparted to her the appearance of some piebald variety of female
Ethiopian Serenader.

“Rachel, have you forgotten me?” inquired Lewis, as soon as he could
speak for laughing. “What are you crying about? You are not so silly
as to be afraid of a dog? Here, Faust, where are you?” As he spoke
he uttered a low, peculiar whistle; and in obedience to his signal a
magnificent Livonian wolf-hound, which bore sufficient likeness to the
animal it was trained to destroy to have alarmed a more discriminating
zoologist than poor Rachel, sprang into the room, and, delighted at
rejoining his master, began to testify his joy so roughly as not only
to raise the terror of that damsel to screaming point, but to cause Mrs.
Arundel to interpose a chair between herself and the intruder, while
Rose, pale but silent, shrank timidly into a corner of the apartment. In
an instant the expression of Lewis’s face changed; his brow contracted,
his mouth grew stern, and fixing his flashing eyes upon those of the
dog, he uttered in a deep, low voice some German word of command; and
as he spoke the animal dropped at his feet, where it crouched in a
suppliant attitude, gazing wistfully at his master’s countenance,
without offering to move.

“You need not have erected a barricade to defend yourself, my dear
mother,” said Lewis, as a smile chased the cloud which had for a moment
shaded his features; “the monster is soon quelled. Rose, you must learn
to love Faust--he is my second self; come and stroke him.”

Thus exhorted, Rose approached and patted the dog’s shaggy head, at
first timidly, but more boldly when she found that he still retained his
crouching posture, merely repaying her caresses by fixing his bright,
truthful eyes upon her face lovingly, and licking his lips with his long
red tongue.

“Now, Rachel,” continued Lewis, “it is your turn; come, I must have you
good friends with Faust.”

“No, I’m much obliged to you, sir, I couldn’t do it, indeed--no
disrespect to you, Mr. Lewis, though you have growed a man in foreign
parts. I may be a servant of all work, but I didn’t engage myself to
look after wild beasts, sir. No! nor wouldn’t, if you was to double my
wages, and put the washin’ out--I can’t abear them.”

“Foolish girl! it’s the most good-natured dog in the world. Here, he’ll
give you his paw; come and shake hands with him.”

“I couldn’t do it, sir; I’m jest a-going to set the tea-things. I won’t,
then, that’s flat,” exclaimed Rachel, waxing rebellious in the extremity
of her terror, and backing rapidly towards the door.

“Yes, you will,” returned Lewis quietly; “every one does as I bid them.”
 And grasping her wrist, while he fixed his piercing glance sternly
upon her, he led her up to the dog, and in spite of a faint show of
resistance, a half-frightened, half-indignant “I dare say, indeed,” and
a muttered hint of her conviction “that he had lately been accustomed to
drive black nigger slaves in Guinea,” with an intimation “that he’d find
white flesh and blood wouldn’t stand it, and didn’t ought to, neither,”
 succeeded in making her shake its great paw, and finally (as she
perceived no symptoms of the _humanivorous_ propensities with which her
imagination had endowed it), pat its shaggy sides. “There, now you’ve
made up your quarrel, Faust shall help you to carry my things upstairs,”
 said Lewis; and slinging a small travelling valise round the dog’s neck,
he again addressed him in German, when the well-trained animal left the
room with the astonished but no longer refractory Rachel.

[Illustration: 0020]

“You must be a conjurer, Lewis,” exclaimed his mother, who had remained
a silent but amused spectator of the foregoing scene. “Why, Rachel
manages the whole house. Rose and I do exactly what she tells us, don’t
we, Rose? What did you do to her? was it mesmerism?”

“I made use of one of the secrets of the mesmerist, certainly,” replied
Lewis; “I managed her by the power of a strong will over a weak one.”

“I should hardly call Rachel’s a weak will,” observed Rose, with a quiet
smile.

“You must confess, at all events, mine is a stronger,” replied Lewis.
“When I consider it necessary to carry a point, I usually find some
way of doing it; it was necessary for the sake of Faust’s well-being to
manage Rachel, and I did so.”

He spoke carelessly, but there was something in his bearing and manner
which told of conscious power and inflexible resolution, and you felt
instinctively that you were in the presence of a masterspirit.

Tea made its appearance; Rachel, upon whom the charm still appeared to
operate, seeming in the highest possible good humour,--a frame of mind
most unusual with that exemplary woman, who belonged to that trying
class of servants who, on the strength of their high moral character
and intense respectability, see fit to constitute themselves a kind of
domestic scourges, household horse-hair shirts (if we may be allowed the
expression), and, bent on fulfilling their mission to the _enth_, keep
their martyred masters and mistresses in a constant state of mental
soreness and irritation from morning till night.

Tea came,--the cakes demolished by the reprobate Faust in the agitation
of his arrival (he was far too well-bred a dog to have done such a thing
had he had time for reflection) having been replaced by some marvellous
impromptu resulting from Rachel’s unhoped-for state of mind. The candles
burned brightly; the fire (for though it was the end of May, a fire was
still an agreeable companion) blazed and sparkled cheerily, but yet
a gloom hung over the little party. One feeling was uppermost in each
mind, and saddened every heart. He whom they had loved with a deep and
tender affection, such as but few of us are so fortunate as to call
forth, the kind and indulgent husband and father, the dear _friend_
rather than the master of that little household, had been taken from
amongst them; and each word, each look, each thought of the past, each
hope for the future, served to realise in its fullest bitterness the
heavy loss they had sustained. Happy are the dead whose virtues are
chronicled, not on sculptured stone, but in the faithful hearts of those
whom they have loved on earth!

During the evening, in the course of conversation, Mrs. Arundel again
referred to the project of teaching music and singing. Lewis made no
remark on the matter at the time, though his sister fancied, from his
compressed lip and darkened brow, that it had not passed him unobserved.
When the two ladies were about to retire for the night, Lewis signed to
his sister to remain; and having lighted his mother’s candle, kissed her
affectionately, and wished her good-night, he closed the door. There was
a moment’s silence, which was broken by Lewis saying abruptly, “Rose,
what did my mother mean about giving singing lessons?”

“Dear, unselfish mamma!” replied Rose, “always ready to sacrifice her
own comfort for those she loves! She wants, when we leave the cottage,
to settle near some large town, that she may be able to teach music and
singing (you know what a charming voice she has), in order to save me
from the necessity of going out as governess.”

“Leave the cottage! go out as governess!” repeated Lewis in a low voice,
as if he scarcely understood the purport of her words. “Are you mad?”

“I told you, love, we are too poor to continue living here, or indeed
anywhere, in idleness; we must, at all events for a few years, work for
our living; and you cannot suppose I would let mamma----”

“Hush!” exclaimed Lewis sternly, “you will distract me.” He paused for
some minutes in deep thought; then asked, in a cold, hard tone of
voice, which, to one skilled in reading the human heart, told of intense
feelings and stormy passions kept down by the power of an iron will,
“Tell me, what is the amount of the pittance that stands between us and
beggary?”

“Dear Lewis, do not speak so bitterly; we have still each other’s love
remaining, and Heaven to look forward to; and with such blessings, even
poverty need not render us unhappy.” And as she uttered these words,
Rose leaned fondly upon her brother’s shoulder, and gazed up into his
face with a look of such deep affection, such pure and holy confidence,
that even his proud spirit, cruelly as it had been wounded by the
unexpected shock, could not withstand it. Placing his arm round her, he
drew her towards him, and kissing her high, pale brow, murmured--

“Forgive me, dear Rose; I have grown harsh and stern of late--all are
not true and good as you are. Believe me, it was for your sake and my
mother’s that I felt this blow: for myself, I heed it not, save as it
impedes freedom of action. And now answer my question, What have we left
to live upon?”

“About £100 a year was what Mr. Coke told mamma.”

“And, on an average, what does it cost living in this cottage as
comfortably as you have been accustomed to do?”

“Poor papa used to reckon we spent £200 a year here.”

“No more, you are certain?”

“Quite.”

Again Lewis paused in deep thought, his brow resting on his hand. At
length he said, suddenly--

“Yes, it no doubt can be done, and shall. Now, Rose, listen to me. While
I live and can work, neither my mother nor you shall do anything for
your own support, or leave the rank you have held in society. You shall
retain this cottage, and live as you have been accustomed to do, and as
befits the widow and daughter of him that is gone.”

“But, Lewis----”

“Rose, you do not know me. When I left England I was a boy: in years,
perhaps, I am little else even yet; but circumstances have made me older
than my years, and in mind and disposition I am a man, and a determined
one. I feel strongly and deeply in regard to the position held by my
mother and sister, and therefore on this point it is useless to oppose
me.”

Rose looked steadily in his face, and saw that what he said was true;
therefore, exercising an unusual degree of common sense for a woman, she
held her tongue, and let a wilful man have his way.

Reader, would you know the circumstances which had changed Lewis
Arundel from a boy to a man? They are soon told. He had loved, foolishly
perhaps, but with all the pure and ardent passion, the fond and trusting
confidence of youth--he had loved, and been deceived.

Lewis had walked some miles that day, and had travelled both by sea
and land; it may therefore reasonably be supposed that he was tolerably
sleepy. Nevertheless, before he went to bed he sat down and wrote the
following letter:--

“My dear Frere,--There were but two men in the world of whom I would
have asked a favour, or from whom I would accept assistance--my poor
father was one, you are the other. A week since I received a letter to
tell me of my father’s death: to-day I have returned to England to
learn that I am a beggar. Had I no tie to bind me, no one but myself to
consider, I should instantly quit a country in which poverty is a deadly
sin. In Germany or Italy I could easily render myself independent,
either as painter or musician; and the careless freedom of the artist
life suits me well; but the little that remains from my father’s scanty
fortune is insufficient to support my mother and sister. Therefore I
apply to you, and if you can help me, you may--your willingness to do
so, I _know_. I must obtain, immediately, some situation or employment
which will bring me in £200 a year; though, if my purchaser (for I
consider that I am selling myself) will lodge and feed me, as he does
his horse or his dog, £50 less would do. I care not what use I am put
to, so that no moral degradation is attached to it. You know what I am
fit for, as well 01-better than I do myself. I have not forgotten the
Greek and Latin flogged into us at Westminster, and have added thereto
French, Italian, and, of course, German; besides picking up sundry small
accomplishments, which may induce somebody to offer a higher price for
me; and as the more I get, the sooner I shall stand a chance of becoming
my own master again, I feel intensely mercenary. Write as soon as
possible, for, in my present frame of mind, inaction will destroy me.
I long to see you again, old fellow. I have not forgotten the merry
fortnight we spent together last year, when I introduced you to
student-life in the ‘Vaterland’; nor the good advice you gave me, which
if I had acted on---- Well, regrets are useless, if not worse. Of course
I shall have to come up to town, in which case we can talk; so, as I
hate writing, and am as tired as a dog, I may as well wind up. Good-bye
till we meet.

“Your affectionate Friend,

“Lewis Arundel.

“P.S.--Talking of dogs, you don’t know Faust--I picked him up after you
came away last year; but wherever I go, or whoever takes me, Faust must
go also. He is as large as a calf, which is inconvenient, and I doubt
whether he is full-grown yet. I dare say you think this childish, and
very likely you are right, but I _must_ have my dog. I can’t live among
strangers without something to love, and that loves me; so don’t worry
me about it, there’s a good fellow. Can’t you write to me to-morrow?”

Having in some measure relieved his mind by finishing this letter, Lewis
undressed, and sleep soon effaced the lines which bitter thoughts and an
aching heart had stamped upon his fair young brow.



CHAPTER II.--SHOWING HOW LEWIS LOSES HIS TEMPER, AND LEAVES HIS HOME.

“Has the post come in yet, Rose?” inquired Mrs. Arundel, as she made
her appearance in the breakfast-room the following morning.

“No, mamma; it is late to-day, I think.”

“It is always late when I particularly expect a letter; that old
creature Richards the postman has a spite against me, I am certain,
because I once said in his hearing that he looked like an owl--the
imbecile!”

“Oh, mamma! he’s a charming old man, with his venerable white hair.”

“Very likely, my dear, but he’s extremely like an owl, nevertheless,”
 replied Mrs. Arundel, cutting bread and butter with the quickness and
regularity of a steam-engine as she spoke.

“Here’s the letters, ma’am,” exclaimed Rachel, entering with a polished
face beaming out of a marvellous morning cap, composed of a species of
opaque muslin (or some analogous female fabric), which appeared to
be labouring under a violent eruption of little thick dots, strongly
suggestive of small-pox. “Here’s the letters, ma’am. If you please, I
can’t get Mr. Lewis out of bed nohow, though I’ve knocked at his door
three times this here blessed morning; and the last time he made a noise
at me in French, or some other wicked foreigneering lingo; which is
what I won’t put up with--no! not if you was to go down upon your bended
knees to me without a hassock.”

“Give me the letters, Rachel,” said Mrs. Arundel eagerly.

“Letters, indeed!” was the reply, as, with an indignant toss of the
head, Rachel, whose temper appeared to have been soaked in vinegar
during the night, flung the wished-for missives upon the table.
“Letters, indeed! them’s all as you care about, and not a poor gal
as slaves and slaves, and gets insulted for her trouble; but I’m come
to----”

“You’re come to bring the toast just at the right moment,” said Lewis,
who had approached unobserved, “and you’re going down to give Faust his
breakfast; and he is quite ready for it, too, poor fellow!”

As he spoke, a marvellous change seemed to come over the temper and
countenance of Rachel: her ideas, as she turned to leave the room, may
be gathered from the following soliloquy, which appeared to escape her
unawares:--“He’s as ’andsome as a duke, let alone his blessed father;
but them was shocking words for a Christian with a four years’ carikter
to put up with.”

During Rachel’s little attempt at an _émeute_, which the appearance of
Lewis had so immediately quelled, Mrs. Arundel had been eagerly perusing
a letter, which she now handed to Rose, saying, with an air of triumph,
“Read that, my dear.”

“Good news, I hope, my dear mother, from your manner?” observed Lewis,
interrogatively.

“Excellent news,” replied Mrs. Arundel gaily. “Show your brother the
letter, Rose. Oh! that good, kind Lady Lombard!” Rose did as she was
desired, but from the anxiety with which she scanned her brother’s
countenance, as he hastily ran his eye over the writing, it was evident
she doubted whether the effect the letter might produce upon him would
be altogether of an agreeable nature. Nor was her suspicion unfounded,
for as he became acquainted with its contents a storm-cloud gathered
upon Lewis’s brow. The letter was as follows:--

“My dear Mrs. Arundel,--To assist the afflicted, and to relieve the
unfortunate, as well by the influence of the rank and station which have
been graciously entrusted to me, as by the judicious employment of such
pecuniary superfluity as the munificence of my poor dear late husband
has placed me in a position to disburse, has always been my motto
through life. The many calls of the numerous dependents on the
liberality of the late lamented Sir Pinchbeck, with constant
applications from the relatives of his poor dear predecessor (the
Girkins are a very large family, and some of the younger branches have
turned out shocking pickles), reduce the charitable fund at my disposal
to a smaller sum than, from the noble character of my last lamented
husband’s will, may generally be supposed. I am, therefore, all the more
happy to be able to inform you that, owing to the too high estimation in
which my kind neighbours in and about Comfortown hold any recommendation
of mine, I can, should you determine on settling near our pretty little
town, promise you six pupils to begin with, and a prospect of many more
should youi method of imparting instruction in the delightful science of
music realise the very high expectations raised by my eulogium on your
talents, vocal and instrumental. That such will be the case I cannot
doubt, from my recollection of the touching manner in which, when we
visited your sweet little cottage on our (alas! too happy) wedding trip,
you and your dear departed sang, at my request, that lovely thing, ‘La
ci darem la mano.’ (What a fine voice Captain Arundel had!) I dare say,
with such a good memory as yours, you will remember how the late Sir
Pinchbeck observed that it put him in mind of the proudest moment of
his life, when at St. George’s, Hanover Square, his friend, the Very
Reverend the Dean of Dinnerton, made him the happy husband of the
relict of the late John Girkin. Ah! my dear madam, we widows learn to
sympathise with misfortune; one does not survive two such men as the
late Mr. Girkin, though he was somewhat peppery at times, and the late
lamented Sir Pinchbeck Lombard, in spite of his fidgety ways and chronic
cough, without feeling that a vale of tears is not desirable for a
permanency. If it would be any convenience to you when you part with
your cottage (I am looking out for a tenant for it) to stay with me for
a week or ten days, I shall be happy to receive you, and would ask a few
influential families to hear you sing some evening, which might prove
useful to you. Of course I cannot expect you to part with your daughter,
as she will so soon have to quit you (I mentioned her to my friend
Lady Babbycome, but she was provided with a governess), and wish you to
understand my invitation extends to her also.

“I am, dear Madam, ever your very sincere friend,

“Sarah Matilda Lombard.

“P.S.--Would your son like to go to Norfolk Island for fourteen years?
I think I know a way of sending him free of expense. The climate is said
to produce a very beneficial effect on the British constitution; and
with a salary of sixty pounds a year, and an introduction to the best
society the Island affords, a young man in your son’s circumstances
would scarcely be justified in refusing the post of junior secretary to
the governor.”

“Is the woman mad?” exclaimed Lewis impetuously, as he finished reading
the foregoing letter, “or what right has she to insult us in this
manner?”

“Insult us, my dear,” replied Mrs. Arundel quickly, disregarding a
deprecatory look from Rose. “Lady Lombard has answered my note
informing her that I wished for musical pupils with equal kindness and
promptitude. Mad, indeed! she is considered a very superior woman by
many people, I can assure you, and her generosity and good nature know
no bounds.”

“Perish such generosity!” was Lewis’s angry rejoinder. “Is it not
bitterness enough to have one’s energies cramped, one’s free-will
fettered by the curse of poverty, but you must advertise our
wretchedness to the world, and put it in the power of a woman, whose
pride of purse and narrowness of mind stand forth in every line of that
hateful letter, to buy a right to insult us with her patronage? You
might at least have waited till you knew you had no other alternative
left. What right have you to degrade _me_, by letting yourself down to
sue for the charity of _any one?_”

“Dearest Lewis,” murmured Rose, imploringly, “remember it is mamma you
are speaking to.”

“Rose, I do remember it; but it is the thought that it _is_ my mother,
my honoured father’s widow, who, by her own imprudence, to use the
mildest term, has brought this insult upon us, that maddens me.”

“But, Lewis,” interposed Mrs. Arundel, equally surprised and alarmed
at this unexpected outburst, “I cannot understand what all this fuss
is about; I see no insult; on the contrary, Lady Lombard writes as
kindly----”

An exclamation of ungovernable anger burst from Lewis, and he appeared
on the point of losing all self-control, when Rose, catching his eye,
glanced for a moment towards her father’s portrait. Well did she read
the generous though fiery nature of him with whom she had to deal: no
sooner did Lewis perceive the direction of her gaze, than, by a strong
effort, he checked all further expression of his feelings, and turning
towards the window, stood apparently looking out for some minutes. At
length he said abruptly--

“Mother, you must forgive me; I am hot and impetuous, and all this has
taken me so completely by surprise. After all, it was only my affection
for you and Rose which made me resent your patronising friend’s
impertinent benevolence; but the fact is, I hope and believe you have
been premature in asking her assistance. I have little doubt I shall
succeed in obtaining a situation or employment of some kind, which will
be sufficiently lucrative to prevent the necessity of your either giving
up the cottage, or being separated from Rose. I have written to Frere
about it, and expect to hear from him in a day or two.”

“My dear boy, would you have us live here in idleness and luxury, while
you are working yourself to death to enable us to do so?” said Mrs.
Arundel, her affection for her son overcoming any feeling of anger which
his opposition to her pet scheme had excited.

“I do not see that the working need involve my death,” replied Lewis.
“Perhaps,” he added, with a smile, “you would prefer my embracing our
Lady Patroness’s scheme of a fourteen years’ sojourn in Norfolk Island.
I think I could accomplish that object without troubling anybody: I
have only to propitiate the Home Office by abstracting a few silver
spoons,--and Government, in its fatherly care, would send me there free
of expense, and probably introduce me to the best society the Island
affords, into the bargain.”

“Poor dear Lady Lombard! I must confess that part of her letter was
rather absurd,” returned Mrs. Arundel; “but we must talk more about this
plan of yours, Lewis; I never can consent to it.”

“You both can and will, my dear mother,” replied Lewis, playfully but
firmly; “however, we will leave this matter in abeyance till I hear from
Frere.”

And thus, peace being restored, they sat down to breakfast forthwith,

Lewis feeling thankful that he had restrained his anger ere it had led
him to say words to his mother which he would have regretted deeply
afterwards, and amply repaid for any effort it might have cost him by
the bright smile and grateful pressure of the hand with which his sister
rewarded him. Happy the man whose guardian angel assumes the form of
such a sister and friend as Rose Arundel!

Rachel was spared the trouble of calling her young master the following
morning, as, when that worthy woman, animated with the desperate courage
of the leader of a forlorn hope, approached his room, determined to have
him up in spite of any amount of the languages of modern Europe to which
she might be exposed, she found the door open and the bird flown;
the fact being that Lewis and Faust were taking a scamper across the
country, to their mutual delectation, and the alarming increase of their
respective appetites. Moreover, Faust, in his ignorance of the Game Laws
and the Zoology of the land of his adoption, would persist in looking
for a wolf in the preserves of Squire Tilbury, and while thus engaged
could not resist the temptation of killing a hare, just by way of
keeping his jaws in practice; owing to which little escapade he got his
master into a row with an underkeeper, who required first knocking down
and then propitiating by a half-sovereign before he could be brought to
see the matter in a reasonable light.

This gave a little interest and excitement to his morning ramble, and
Lewis returned to breakfast in a high state of health and spirits. A
letter from his friend Frere awaited his arrival; it ran as follows:--

“Dear Lewis,--If you really mean what you say (and you are not the man I
take you to be if you don’t), I know of just the thing to suit you. The
pay is above your mark, so that’s all right; and as to the work--well,
it has its disagreeables, that’s not to be gainsaid; but life is not
exactly a bed of roses--or, if it is, the thorns have got the start of
the flowers nine times out of ten, as you will know before long, if you
have not found it out already. In these sort of matters (not that you
know anything about the matter yet, but I do, which is all the same) it
is half the battle to be first in the field; _ergo_, if £300 a year will
suit your complaint, get on the top of the first coach that will bring
you to town, and be with me in time for dinner. I have asked a man to
meet you, who knows all about the thing I have in view for you. Pray
remember me to Mrs. Arundel and your sister, although I have not as
yet the pleasure of their personal acquaintance. Don’t get into the
dolefuls, and fancy yourself a victim; depend upon it, you are nothing
of the kind. Mutton on table at half-past six, and Faust is specially
invited to eat the bone.

“So good-bye till we meet.

“Yours for ever and a day,

“Richard Frere.”

“There!” said Lews, handing the epistle to his mother, “now that’s
something like a letter: Frere’s a thorough good fellow, every inch of
him, and a real true friend into the bargain. I’ll take whatever it is
he has found for me, if it is even to black shoes all day; you and Rose
shall remain here, and Lady Lombard may go to----”

“Three hundred a year! Why, my dear Lewis, it’s quite a little fortune
for you!” interrupted Mrs. Arundel delightedly.

“I wonder what the situation can be?” said Rose, regarding her brother
with a look of affection and regret, as she thought how his proud spirit
and sensitive nature unfitted him to contend with the calculating policy
and keen-eyed selfishness of worldly men. Rose had of late been her
father’s confidante, and even adviser, in some of his matters
of business, and had observed the tone of civil indifference or
condescending familiarity which the denizens of Vanity Fair assume
towards men of broken fortunes.

“Yes,” resumed Mrs. Arundel, “as you say, Rose, what can it be?
something in one of the Government offices, perhaps.”

“Curator of Madame Tussaud’s Exhibition, and Master of the Robes to the
waxwork figures, more likely,” replied Lewis, laughing. “Or what say
you to a civic appointment? Mace-bearer to the Lord Mayor, for instance;
though I believe it requires a seven years’ apprenticeship to eating
turtle soup and venison to entitle one to such an honour. Seriously,
though, if Frere wishes me to take it, I will, whatever it may be, after
all his kindness to me, and Faust too. Faust, _mein kind!_ here’s an
invitation for you, and a mutton bone in prospect--hold up your head, my
dog, you are come to honour.” And thus Lewis rattled on, partly because
the ray of sunshine that gleamed on his darkened fortunes had sufficed
to raise his naturally buoyant spirits, and partly to prevent the
possibility of his mother offering any effectual resistance to his
wish--or, more properly speaking, his resolution--to devote himself to
the one object of supporting her and Rose in their present position.

It was well for the success of his scheme that Mrs. Arundel had, on the
strength of the £300 per annum, allowed her imagination to depict some
distinguished appointment (of what nature she had not the most distant
notion), which, with innumerable prospective advantages, was about to be
submitted to her son’s consideration. Dazzled by this brilliant phantom,
she allowed herself to be persuaded to write a civil rejection of Lady
Lombard’s patronage, and took leave of her son with an April face, in
which, after a short struggle, the smiles had it all their own way.

Rose neither laughed nor cried, but she clung to her brother’s neck
(standing on tiptoe to do it, for she was so good, every bit of her,
that Nature could not afford to make a very tall woman out of such
precious materials), and whispered to him, in her sweet, silvery voice,
if he should not quite like this appointment, or if he ever for a
moment wished to change his plan, how very happy it would make her to be
allowed to go out and earn money by teaching, just for a few years, till
they grew richer; and Lewis pressed her to his heart, and loved her so
well for saying it, ay, and meaning it too, that he felt he would die
rather than let her do it. And so two people who cared for each other
more than for all the world beside, parted, having, after a three years’
separation, enjoyed each other’s society for two days. Not that
there was anything remarkable in this, it being a notorious though
inexplicable fact that the more we like people, the less we are certain
to see of them.

We have wearied our brain in the vain endeavour to find a reason for
this phenomenon, and should feel greatly indebted to any philosophical
individual who would write a treatise on “The perversity of remote
contingencies, and the aggravating nature of things in general,” whereby
some light might be thrown upon this obscure subject. We recommend the
matter more particularly to the notice of the British Association of
Science.

And having seated Lewis on the box of a real good old-fashioned stage
coach (alas! that, Dodo-like, the genus should be all but extinct, and
nothing going, nowadays, but those wonderful, horrible, convenient,
stupendous nuisances, railroads; rattling, with their “resonant
steam-eagles,” as Mrs. Browning calls the locomotives), with Faust
between his knees, apparently studying with the air of a connoisseur the
“get up” of a spanking team of greys, we will leave him to prosecute his
journey to London; reserving for another chapter the adventures which
befell him in the modern Babylon.



CHAPTER III.--IN WHICH RICHARD FRERE MENDS THE BACK OF ST. THOMAS
AQUINAS, AND THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO CHARLEY LEICESTER.

Richard Frere lived in a moderate-sized house in a street in the
vicinity of Bedford Square. It was not exactly a romantic situation,
neither was it aristocratic nor fashionable; but it was respectable and
convenient, and therefore had Frere chosen it; for he was a practical
man in the proper sense of the term--by which we do not mean that he
thought James Watt greater than Shakespeare, but that he possessed that
rare quality, good common sense, and regulated his conduct by it; and
as in the course of this veracious history we shall hear and see a good
deal of Richard Frere, it may tend to elucidate matters if we tell the
reader at once who and what he was, and “in point of fact,” as Cousin
Phoenix would say, all about him.

Like Robinson Crusoe, Richard Frere was born of respectable parents. His
father was the representative of a family who in Saxon days would have
been termed “Franklins”--_i.e_., a superior class of yeomen, possessed
of certain broad acres, which they farmed themselves. The grandfather
Frere having, in a moment of ambition, sent his eldest son to Eton,
was made aware of his error when the young hopeful on leaving school
declared his intention of going to college, and utterly repudiated
the plough-tail. Having a very decided will of his own, and a zealous
supporter in his mother, to college he went, and thence to a special
pleader, to read for the bar. Being really clever, and determined
to prove to his father the wisdom of the course he had adopted,
sufficiently industrious also, he got into very tolerable practice. On
one occasion, having been retained in a well-known contested peerage
case, by his acuteness and eloquence he gained his cause, and at the
same time the affections of the successful disputant’s younger sister.
His noble client very ungratefully opposed the match, but love and law
together proved too powerful for his lordship. One fine evening the
young lady made a moonlight flitting of it, and before twelve o’clock
on the following morning had become Mrs. Frere. Within a year from this
event Richard Frere made his appearance at the cradle terminus of the
railroad of life. When he was six years old, his father, after speaking
for three hours, in a cause in which he was leader, more eloquently than
he had ever before done, broke a blood-vessel, and was carried home a
dying man. His wife loved him as woman alone can love--for his sake
she had given up friends, fortune, rank, and the pleasures and
embellishments of life; for his sake she now gave up life itself. Grief
does not always kill quickly, yet Richard’s ninth birthday was spent
among strangers. His noble uncle, who felt that by neglecting his sister
on her death-bed he had done his duty to his pedigree handsomely, and
might now give way to family affection, sent the orphan to school at
Westminster, and even allowed him to run wild at Bellefield Park during
the holidays.

The _agrémens_ of a public school, acting on a sensitive disposition,
gave a tone of bitterness to the boy’s mind, which would have rendered
him a misanthrope but for a strong necessity for loving something (the
only inheritance his poor mother had left him), which developed itself
in attachment to unsympathising silkworms and epicurean white mice
during his early boyhood, and in a _bizarre_ but untiring benevolence
in after-life, leading him to take endless trouble for the old and
unattractive, and to devote himself, body and soul, to forward the
interest of those who were fortunate enough to possess his friendship.
Of the latter class Lewis Arundel had been one since the day when Frere,
a stripling of seventeen, fought his rival, the cock of the school, for
having thrashed the new-comer in return for his accidental transgression
of some sixth-form etiquette. Ten years had passed over their heads
since that day: the cock of the school was a judge in Ceylon, weighed
sixteen stone, and had a wife and six little children; Richard Frere was
secretary to a scientific institution, with a salary of £400 a year, and
a general knowledge of everything of which other people were ignorant;
and little Lewis Arundel was standing six feet high, waiting to be let
in at the door of his friend’s house, in the respectable and convenient
street near Bedford Square, to which he and Faust had found their way,
after a prosperous journey by the coach, on the roof of which we left
them at the end of the last chapter.

A woman ugly enough to frighten a horse, and old enough for _anything_,
replied in the affirmative to Lewis’s inquiry whether her master was at
home, and led the way upstairs, glancing suspiciously at Faust as she
did so. On reaching the first landing she tapped at the door; a full,
rich, but somewhat gruff voice shouted “Come in,” and Lewis, passing his
ancient conductress, entered.

“What, Lewis, old boy! how are you? Don’t touch me, I can’t shake hands,
I’m all over paste; I have been mending the backs of two of the old
Fathers that I picked up, dirt cheap, at a bookstall as I was coming
home to-day: one of them is a real _editio princeps_--Why, man, how you
are grown! Is that Faust? Come here, dog--what a beauty! Ah! you brute,
keep your confounded nose out of the paste-pot, do! I must give Aquinas
another dab yet. Sit down, man, if you can find a chair--bundle those
books under the table. There we are.”

The speaker, who, as the reader has probably conjectured, was none
other than Mr. Richard Frere, presented at that moment as singular an
appearance as any gentleman not an Ojibbeway Indian, or other natural
curiosity for public exhibition in the good city of London, need to do.
His apparent age was somewhat under thirty. His face would have been
singularly ugly but for three redeeming points--a high, intellectual
forehead; full, restless blue eyes, beaming with intelligence; and a
bright benevolent smile, which disclosed a brilliant set of white, even
teeth, compensating for the disproportioned width of the mouth which
contained them. His hair and whiskers, of a rich brown, hung in elf
locks about his face and head, which were somewhat too large for his
height; his chest and shoulders were also disproportionately broad,
giving him an appearance of great strength, which indeed he possessed.
He was attired in a chintz dressing-gown that had once rejoiced in a
pattern of gaudy colours, but was now reduced to a neutral tint of (we
may as well confess it at once) London smoke. He was, moreover, for the
greater convenience of the pasting operation, seated cross-legged on the
floor, amidst a hecatomb of ponderous volumes.

“I received your letter this morning,” began Lewis, “and, as you see,
lost no time in being with you; and now what is it you have heard of,
Frere? But first let me thank you----”

“Thank me!” was the reply, “for what? I have done nothing yet, except
writing a dozen lines to tell you to take a dusty journey, and leave
green trees and nightingales for smoke and bustle--nothing very kind in
that, is there? Just look at the dog’s-ears--St. Augustine’s, I mean,
not Faust’s.”

“Don’t tease me, there’s a good fellow,” returned Lewis; “I’m not in a
humour for jesting at present. I have gone through a good deal in
one way or other since you and I last met, and am no longer the
light-hearted boy you knew me, but a man, and well-nigh a desperate
one.”

“Ay!” rejoined Frere, “that’s the style of thing, is it? Yes; I know
all about it. I met Kirschberg the other day, with a beard like a cow’s
tail, and he told me that Gretchen had bolted with the Baron.”

“Never mention her name, if you would not drive me mad,” exclaimed
Lewis, springing from his chair and pacing the room impatiently. His
friend regarded him attentively for a moment, and then uncrossing his
legs, and muttering to himself that he had got the cramp, and should
make a shocking bad Turk, rose, approached Lewis, and laying his hand on
his shoulder, said gravely--

“Listen to me, Lewis: you trusted, and have been deceived; and, by a not
unnatural revulsion of feeling, your faith in man’s honour and woman’s
constancy is for the time being destroyed; and just at the very moment
when you most require the assistance of your old friends, and
the determination to gain new ones, you dislike and despise your
fellow-creatures, and are at war in your heart with society. Now this
must not be, and at the risk of paining you, I am going to tell you the
truth.”

“I know what you would say,” interrupted Lewis vehemently: “you would
tell me that my affection was misplaced--that I loved a girl beneath me
in mind and station--that I trusted a man whom I deemed my friend, but
who, with a specious exterior, was a cold-hearted, designing villain. It
was so; I own it; I see it _now_, when it is too late; but I did not see
it at the time when the knowledge might have availed me. And why may not
this happen again? There is but one way to prevent it: I will avoid the
perfidious sex--except Rose, no woman shall ever----”

“My dear boy, don’t talk such rubbish,” interposed his friend; “there
are plenty of right-minded, lovable women in the world, I don’t doubt,
though I can’t say I have much to do with them, seeing that they are not
usually addicted to practical science, and therefore don’t come in my
way--household angels, with their wings clipped, and their manners and
their draperies modernised, but with all the brightness and purity of
heaven still lingering about them,--that’s my notion of women as they
should be, and as I believe many are, despite your having been jilted by
as arrant a little coquette as ever I had the luck to behold; and as to
the Baron, it would certainly be a satisfaction to kick him well; but we
can’t obtain all we wish for in this life. What are you grinning at? You
don’t mean to say you _have_ polished him off?”

In reply, Lewis drew his left arm out of his coat, and rolling up his
shirt-sleeve above the elbow, exposed to view a newly-healed wound in
the fleshy part of his arm, then said quietly, “We fought with small
swords in a ring formed by the students; we were twenty minutes at it;
he marked me as you see; at length I succeeded in disarming him--in the
struggle he fell, and placing my foot upon his neck and my sword point
to his heart, I forced him to confess his treachery, and beg his hateful
life of me before them all.”

Frere’s face grew dark. “Duelling!” he said. “I thought your principles
would have preserved you from that vice--I thought----”

A growl from Faust, whose quick ear had detected a footstep on the
stairs, interrupted him, and in another moment a voice exclaimed,
“Hello, Frere! where are you, man?” and the speaker, without waiting for
an answer, opened the door and entered.

The new-comer was a fashionably-dressed young man, with a certain air
about him as if he were somebody, and knew it--he was good-looking,
had dark hair, most desirably curling whiskers; and, though he was in a
morning costume, was evidently “got up” regardless of expense.

He opened his large eyes and stared with a look of languid wonder at
Lewis, then, turning to Frere, he said, “Ah! I did not know you were
engaged, Richard, or I would have allowed your old lady to announce me
in due form; as it was, I thought, in my philanthropy, to save her a
journey upstairs was a good deed, for she is getting a little touched in
the wind. May I ask,” he continued, glancing at Lewis’s bare arm, “were
you literally, and not figuratively, bleeding your friend?”

“Not exactly,” replied Frere, laughing. “But you must know each other:
this is my particular friend, Lewis Arundel, whom I was telling you
of,--Lewis, my cousin Charles Leicester, Lord Ashford’s youngest son.”

“Worse luck,” replied the gentleman thus introduced; “younger sons being
one of those unaccountable mistakes of Nature which it requires an
immense amount of faith to acquiesce in with proper orthodoxy: the
popular definition of a younger son’s portion, ‘A good set of teeth, and
nothing to eat,’ shows the absurdity of the thing. Where do you find any
other animal in such a situation? Where----But perhaps we have scarcely
time to do the subject proper justice at present; I have some faint
recollection of your having asked me to dine at half-past six, on the
strength of which I cut short my canter in the park, and lost a chance
of inspecting a prize widow, whom Sullivan had marked down for me!”

“Why, you don’t mean to say it is as late as that?” exclaimed Frere.
“Thomas Aquinas has taken longer to splice than I was aware of; to be
sure, his back was dreadfully shattered. Excuse me half a minute; I’ll
just wash the paste off my hands, make myself decent, and be with you in
no time.” As he spoke he left the room.

“What a life for a reasonable being to lead!” observed Leicester,
flinging himself back in Frere’s reading-chair. “Now that fellow was as
happy with his paste-pot as I should be if some benevolent individual in
the Fairy Tale and Good Genius line were to pay my debts and marry me to
an heiress with £10,000 a year. An inordinate affection for books will
be that man’s destruction. You have known him some years, I think, Mr.
Arundel?”

Lewis replied in the affirmative, and Leicester continued--

“Don’t you perceive that he is greatly altered? He stoops like an old
man, sir; his eyes are getting weak,--it’s an even chance whether he is
shaved or not; he looks upon brushes as superfluities, and eschews
bears’ grease entirely, not to mention a very decided objection to the
operations of the hair-cutter; then the clothes he wears,--where he
contrives to get such things I can’t conceive, unless they come out of
Monmouth Street, and then they would be better cut; but the worst of it
is, he has no proper feeling about it,--perfectly callous!” He sighed,
and then resumed. “It was last Saturday, I think,-- ’pon my word, you
will scarcely believe it, but it’s true, I do assure you: I had given my
horse to the groom, and was lounging by the Serpentine, with Egerton of
the Guards, and Harry Vain, who is about the best dressed man in London,
a little after five o’clock, and the park as full as it could hold, when
who should I see, striding along like a postman among the swells, but
Master Richard Frere! And how do you suppose he was dressed? We’ll begin
at the top, and take him downwards: Imprimis, a shocking bad hat, set on
the back of his head, after the fashion of the _he_ peasants in a
pastoral chorus at the Opera House; a seedy black coat, with immense
flaps, and a large octavo edition of St. Senanus, or some of them,
sticking out of the pocket; a white choker villainously tied, which
looked as if he had slept in it the night before; a most awful
waistcoat, black-and-white plaid trousers guiltless of straps, worsted
stockings, and a clumsy species of shooting shoes; and because all this
was not enough, he had a large umbrella, although the day was lovely,
and a basket in his hand, with the neck of a black bottle peeping out of
it, containing port wine, which it seems he was conveying to a
superannuated nurse of his who hangs out at Kensington. I turned my head
away, hoping that as he was staring intently at something in the water,
he might not recognise me; but it was of no use. Just as Egerton, who
did not know him, exclaimed, ‘Here’s a natural curiosity! Did you ever
see such a Guy in your life?’ he looked up and saw me: in another minute
his great paw was laid upon my shoulder, and I was accosted thus:--‘Ah,
Leicester! you here? Just look at that duck with the grey bill; that’s a
very rare bird indeed; it comes from Central Asia. I did not
know they had a specimen in this country; it is one of the Teal
family,--_Querquedula Glocitans_, the bimaculated teal,--so called from
two bright spots near the eye. Look, you can see them now,--very rare
bird,--very rare bird indeed!’ And so he ran on, till suddenly
recollecting that he was in a hurry, he shook my hand till my arm ached
(dropping the umbrella on Vain’s toes as he did so) and posted off,
leaving me to explain to my companions how it was possible such an
apparition should have been seen in any place except Bedlam. Richard
Frere’s a right good fellow, and I have an immense respect for him, but
he is a very trying relative to meet in Hyde Park during the London
season.”

Having delivered himself of this sentiment, the Honourable Charles, or,
as he was more commonly denominated by his intimates, Charley Leicester,
leaned back in his chair, apparently overcome by the recollections his
tale had excited, in which position he remained, cherishing his
whiskers, till their host reappeared.

The dinner was exactly such a meal as one gentleman of moderate income
should give to two others, not particularly gourmands; that is, there
was enough to eat and drink, and everything was excellent of its kind;
one of those mysterious individuals who exist only in large cities and
fairy tales having provided the entire affair, and waited at table like
a duke’s butler into the bargain. When the meal was concluded, and the
good genius had vanished, after placing before them a most inviting
magnum of claret, and said “Yessir” for the last time, Frere turned to
Lewis, and observed, “By the way, Arundel, I dare say you are anxious to
hear about this appointment, or situation, or whatever the correct term
may be,--the thing I mentioned to you. My cousin Charles can tell you
all there is to hear concerning the matter, for the good folks are his
friends, and not mine; indeed, I scarcely know them.”

Thus appealed to, Charley Leicester filled a bumper of claret, seated
himself in an easy attitude, examined his well-turned leg and
unexceptionable boot with a full appreciation of their respective
merits, and then sipping his wine and addressing Lewis, began as
follows:--

“Well, Mr. Arundel, this is the true state of the case, as far as I know
about it. You may perhaps be acquainted with the name of General Grant?”

Lewis replied in the negative, and Leicester continued--

“Ah! yes, I forgot, you have been on the Continent for some time;
however, the General is member for A--------, and a man very well known
about town. Now, he happens to be a sort of cousin of mine--my mother,
Lady Ashford, was a Grant; and for that reason, or some other, the
General has taken a liking to me, and generously affords me his
countenance and protection. So, when I have nothing better to do, I go
and vegetate at Broadhurst, an old rambling place in H------shire, that
has been in his family since the flood--splendid shooting, though; he
preserves strictly, and transports a colony of poachers every year. I
was sitting with him the other day, when he suddenly began asking about
Frere, where he was, what he was doing, and all the rest of it. So I
related that he was secretary to a learned society, and was popularly
supposed to know more than all the _scavans_ in Europe and the Dean of
Dustandstir put together. Whereupon he began muttering, ‘Unfortunate!--
he was just the person--learned man--good family--well connected--most
unlucky!’ ‘What’s the matter, General?’ said I. ‘A very annoying affair,
Charles--a very great responsibility has devolved upon me, a matter of
extreme moment--clear;£ 12,000 a year, and a long minority.’
‘Has;£12,000 a year devolved upon you, sir?’ returned I. ‘I wish Dame
Fortune would try me with some such responsibility.’ In reply he gave me
the following account:--

“It appeared that one of his most intimate friends and neighbours,
an old baronet, had lately departed this life; the title and estates
descend to a grandson, a minor, and General Grant had been appointed
guardian. All this was bad enough, but the worst was yet to come--he had
promised his dying friend that the boy should reside in his house. Now
it seems that, as a sort of set-off against his luck in coming into the
world with a gold spoon in his mouth, the said boy was born with even
less brains than usually fall to the lot of Fortune’s favourites--in
plain English, he is half an idiot. Accordingly, the General’s first
care was to provide the young bear with a leader, and in his own mind
he had fixed on Frere, whom he knew by reputation, as the man, and was
grievously disappointed when he found he was bespoke. I suggested that,
although he could not undertake the duty himself, he might possibly know
some one who could, and offered to ascertain. The General jumped at the
idea--_hinc illae lachrymae_--hence the whole business.”

“Just as I received your letter,” began Frere, “Leicester came in to
make the inquiry. In fact the thing fitted like the advertisements in
_The Times_--‘Wants a situation as serious footman in a pious family;
wages not so much an object as moral cultivation.’--‘Wanted in a pious
family, a decidedly serious footman, wages moderate, but the spiritual
advantages unexceptionable.’--‘If A. B. is not utterly perfidious, and
lost to all the noblest feelings of humanity, he will forward a small
enclosure to C. D. at Mrs. Bantam’s, oilman, Tothill Street.’--‘A. B. is
desirous of communicating with C. D.; if forgiven, he will never do
so no more, at any price.’ You may see lots of them in the advertising
sheet; they are like angry women, sure to answer one another if you
leave them alone. And now, what do you think of the notion, Lewis?”

“Why, there are one or two points to be considered,” replied Lewis.
“In the first place, what would be the duties of the situation? In the
second, am I fitted to perform them? In the third---- But, however, I
have named the most important.”

“As to the duties,” replied Leicester, “I should fancy they would be
anything but overpowering--rather in the nothing-to-do-and-a-man-to
help-you style than otherwise. All the General said was, ‘Mind, I must
have a _gentleman_, a person who is accustomed to the rank of life in
which he will have to move--he must be a young man, or he will not
readily fall into my habits and wishes. As he is to live in my family,
he must be altogether presentable. His chief duty will be to endeavour
to develop my ward’s mind, and fit him for the position which his rank
and fortune render it incumbent on him to occupy.’ To which speech,
delivered in a very stately manner, I merely said, ‘Yes, exactly;’ a
style of remark to which no exception could reasonably be taken, unless
on the score of want of originality.”

“Is the General in town, Charley?” asked Frere.

“Yes; he is waiting about this very business,” was the reply.

“Well then, the best thing will be for you to take Arundel there
to-morrow morning, and bring them face to face; that is the way to do
business, depend upon it.”

“Will not that be giving Mr. Leicester a great deal of trouble?”
 suggested Lewis.

“Not at all, my dear sir,” replied Leicester, good-naturedly; “I’ll call
for you at twelve o’clock, and drive you up to Park Crescent in my cab.
Having once taken the matter in hand, I am anxious to bring it to a
satisfactory conclusion--besides, a man must lunch, and the General’s
pale ale is by no means to be despised.”

At this moment the servant entered, and handing Frere a card, informed
him the gentleman wished to speak with him.

“Tell him to walk in. Say that I have one or two friends taking wine
with me, and that I hope he will join us. Now, Lewis, I will introduce
you to an original--you know him, Leicester--Marmaduke Grandeville.”

“_De_ Grandeville, my dear fellow--don’t forget the _De_ unless you
intend him to call you out. What, is ‘the Duke’ coming? Yes, I certainly
do know him, _rather_--just a very little.” Then, speaking in an
affected yet pompous tone, he continued--“Ar--really--yes--_the_ De
Grandevilles--very old Yorkshire family in the West Riding--came in with
the Conqueror.”

“That’s exactly like him,” exclaimed Frere, laughing. “Hush! here he
is.”

As he spoke the door opened slowly, and a head with a hat on first
appeared, then followed a pair of broad shoulders, and lastly the whole
man entered bodily. Drawing himself up with a stiff military air, he
closed the door, and slightly raising his hat, shaded his eyes with it,
while he reconnoitred the company.

“There, come along in, man; you know Charles Leicester--this is an old
Westminster friend of mine, Lewis Arundel: now here’s a clean glass;
take some claret.”

The individual thus addressed made the slightest possible acknowledgment
on being introduced to Lewis, favoured Leicester with a military salute,
laid a large heavy hand adorned with a ring of strange and antique
fashion patronisingly on Frere’s shoulder, poured himself out a glass of
wine, and then wheeling round majestically to the fire, and placing
his glass on the chimney-piece, faced the company with an air equally
dignified and mysterious, thereby affording Lewis a good opportunity of
examining his appearance. He was above the middle height and powerfully
made, so much so as to give his clothes, which were fashionably cut, the
air of being a size too small for him. He wore his coat buttoned tightly
across his chest, which he carried well forward after the manner of a
cuirassier; indeed, his whole gait and bearing were intensely military.
His age might be two or three-and-thirty; he had dark hair and whiskers,
good though rather coarse features, and a more ruddy complexion
than usually falls to the lot of a Londoner. After sipping his wine
leisurely, he folded his arms with an air of importance, and fixing his
eyes significantly on the person addressed, said, “Ar--Leicester, how is
it Lord Ashford happens to be out of town just now?”

“’Pon my word, I don’t know,” was the reply; “my father is not usually
in the habit of explaining his movements, particularly to such an
unimportant individual as myself. I have a vague idea Bellefield wrote
to beg him to come down for something--he’s at the Park, at all events.”

“Ar--yes, you must not be surprised if you see him in Belgrave Square
to-morrow; _we_ want him; he’s been--ar--written to to-night.”

“How the deuce do you know that?” inquired Frere. “I never can make out
where you contrive to pick up those things.”

“Who are _we?_” inquired Lewis in an undertone of Leicester, near whom
he was seated. “Does Mr. Grandeville belong to the Government?”

“Not really, only in imagination,” was the reply. “_We_ means himself
and the other Whig magnates of the land, in this instance.”

“Then you did not really know Graves was dead?” continued Grandeville.

“I am not quite certain that I even knew he was alive,” replied
Leicester. “Who was he?”

A significant smile, saying plainly, “Don’t fancy I am going to believe
you as ignorant as you pretend,” floated across Grandeville’s face ere
he continued: “You need not be so cautious with me, I can assure you.
The moment I heard Graves was given over, I wrote--ar--that is, I gave
the hint to a man who wrote to Lord Bellefield to say the county was
his; he had only to declare himself, and he would walk over the course.”

“Extremely kind of you, I’m sure,” replied Leicester; then turning to
Lewis, while Grandeville was making some mysterious communication to
Frere, he added in an undertone, “That’s a lie from beginning to end.
I had a note from Bellefield (he’s my _frere aîné_, you know) this
morning, in which he says, ‘Our county member has been dangerously ill,
but is now better;’ and he adds, ‘Some of the fools about here wanted me
to put up for the county if he popped oft, but I am not going to thrust
my neck into the collar to please any of them.’ Bell’s too lazy by half
for an M.P., and small blame to him either.” Frere having listened to
De Grandeville’s whispered communication, appeared for a moment
embarrassed, and then observed--but an adventure so important as that to
which his observation related deserves a fresh chapter.



CHAPTER IV.--LEWIS ENLISTS UNDER A “CONQUERING HERO,” AND STARTS ON A
DANGEROUS EXPEDITION.

“I should be happy to join you, but you see I am engaged to my friends
here,” observed Frere to Grandeville.

“You would never dream of standing on ceremony with me, Frere, I hope,”
 interposed Lewis.

“Why should we not all go together?” inquired Frere; “the more the
merrier, particularly if it should come to a shindy.”

“What’s the nature of the entertainment?” asked Leicester.

“Tell them, De Grandeville,” said Frere, looking hard at his cousin, as
he slightly emphasised the _De_.

“Ar--well, you won’t let it go further, I’m sure, but there’s a meeting
to be held to-night at a kind of Mechanics’ Institute, a place I and one
or two other influential men have had our eyes on for some time past,
where they promulgate very unsound opinions; and we have been only
waiting our opportunity to give the thing a check, and show them that
the landed gentry are united in their determination not to tolerate
sedition, or in fact anything of the sort; and I have had a hint from
a very sure quarter (I walked straight from Downing Street here) that
to-night they are to muster in force--a regular showoff; so a party
of us are going to be present and watch the proceedings, and if
there should be seditious language used, we shall make a decided
demonstration, let them feel the power they are arraying themselves
against, and the utter madness of provoking such an unequal struggle.”

“Then we have a very fair chance of a row, I should hope,” interposed
Lewis eagerly, his eyes sparkling with excitement; “ ’twill put us in
mind of old sixth-form days, eh, Frere?”

“Leicester, what say you? Do you mind dirtying your kid gloves in the
good cause?” asked Frere.

“There is no time to put on an old coat, I suppose?” was the reply. “A
broken head I don’t mind occasionally, it gives one a new sensation; but
to sacrifice good clothes verges too closely on the wantonly extravagant
to suit either my pocket or my principles.”

“I will lend you one of mine,” returned Frere.

“Heaven forfend!” was the horrified rejoinder. “I have too much regard
for the feelings of my family, let alone those of my tailor, to dream of
such a thing for a minute. Only suppose anything were to happen to me,
just see how it would read in the papers: ‘The body of the unfortunate
deceased was enveloped in a threadbare garment of mysterious fashion;
in the enormous pockets which undermined its voluminous skirts was
discovered, amongst other curiosities, the leg-bone of a fossil
Iguanodon.’”

“Gently there!” cried Frere; “how some people are given to exaggeration!
Because I happened accidentally one day to pull out two of the vertebræ
of----”

“Ar--if you’ll allow me to interrupt you,” began Grandeville, “I don’t
think you need apprehend any display of physical force; our object is,
if possible, to produce a moral effect--in fact, by weight of character
and position, to impress them with a deep sense of the power and
resources of the upper classes.”

“Still a good licking is a very effectual argument where other means of
persuasion fail. I have great faith in fists,” said Frere.

“Ar--in the event of our being obliged to have recourse to such extreme
measures, I must impress upon you the necessity of discipline,” returned
Grandeville. “Look to me for orders, ar--I am not exactly--ar--regular
profession--ar--military, though when I was at the headquarters of
the ----th in Ireland last year, they did me the honour to say that I
had naturally a very unusual strategic turn--a good officer spoiled--ha!
ha!”

“I always thought you had a sort of Life-guardsman-like look about you,”
 said Leicester, with a sly glance at the others. “You often hear of
a man being one of ‘Nature’s gentlemen,’ now I should call you one of
‘Nature’s guardsmen.’”

“Ar--yes, not so bad that,” returned Grandeville, the possibility of
Leicester’s meaning to laugh at him faintly occurring to him, and being
instantly rejected as utterly inconceivable. “Here, sir,” he continued,
turning abruptly to Lewis, “feel my arm; there’s muscle for you! I don’t
say it by way of a boast, but there is not such an arm as that in her
Majesty’s ~*--th; there was not one of their crack men that could hold
up so heavy a weight as I could, for I tried the thing when I was over
at Killandrum last autumn, and beat them all.”

“At what time does your entertainment commence, may I ask?” inquired
Leicester.

“Ar--I promised to join the others at a quarter before nine; the meeting
was to commence at nine, and we shall have some little way to walk.”

“Then the sooner we are off the better,” said Frere. “But you expect a
reinforcement, do you?”

“Ar--some men, some of our set, you understand, very first-rate fellows
who have the cause at heart, have agreed to come and carry the matter
through with a high hand. Failure might produce very serious results,
but the right measures have been taken; I dropped a hint at the Horse
Guards.”

“I suppose I had better not take Faust,” observed Lewis. “If there is a
crowd he will get his toes trodden on, and he is apt to show fight under
these circumstances. May I leave him here?”

“Yes, certainly,” replied Frere; “that is, if you can persuade him to
stay quietly, and bind him over to keep the peace till we return.”

“That is soon accomplished,” rejoined Lewis, and calling the dog to him,
he dropped a glove on the floor and uttered some German word of command,
when the well-trained animal immediately laid down with the glove
between his huge paws.

“Caution your old lady not to interfere with the glove,” he continued,
“or Faust will assuredly throttle her.”

“What, is he touchy on that head?” inquired Grandeville, poising himself
on one leg while he endeavoured to kick the glove away with the other. A
growl like that of an angry tiger, and the display of a set of teeth of
which a dentist or a crocodile might equally have been proud, induced
him to draw back his foot with rather more celerity than was altogether
in keeping with the usual dignity of his movements.

“The dog has not such a bad notion of producing a moral impression,”
 said Leicester, laughing. “Don’t you think he might be useful to us
to-night?”

“Ar--now, there is nothing I should like better than to take that glove
away from him,” observed Grandeville, casting a withering glance on
Faust. “Ar--I wish I had time.”

“I wish you had,” returned Lewis dryly.

“Why, do you think it would be so mighty difficult?” retorted
Grandeville.

“When Rudolph Arnheim, a fellow-student of mine, tried the experiment, I
had some trouble in choking Faust off before the dog had quite throttled
him,” was the reply. “Rudolph is no child, and had a heavy wager
depending on it.”

“Ar--well, I can’t see any great difficulty in the thing, but it depends
on a man’s nerve, of course. Now, are we ready?”

So saying, Marmaduke Grandeville, Esq., placed his hat firmly on his
head, and with the gait of a heavy dragoon and the air of a conquering
hero, marched nobly out of the apartment. Leicester held back to allow
Lewis to follow, then drawing Frere on one side, he said--

“Richard, I like your friend Arundel; he is a manly, intelligent young
fellow, much too good to be bear-leader to a half-witted cub like this
precious ward of old Grant’s; and if I were as rich as I am poor, I
would do something better for him. Now, if he had but a few hundreds to
go on with, matrimony would be the dodge for him. With such a face and
figure as his, he might secure no end of a prize in the wife market;
there’s a thoroughbred look about him which would tell with women
amazingly.”

“He has all the makings of a fine character in him,” replied Frere, “but
he is proud and impetuous; and pride and poverty are ill companions,
though they often go together.”

“Do they?” replied Leicester. “Well, I am poor enough for anything, as
a very large majority of the metropolitan tradesmen know to their cost,
but, upon my word, I am not proud. Any man may give me a good dinner,
and I’ll eat it,--good wine, and I’ll drink it; I never refuse a stall
at the Opera, though the bone may belong to an opulent tallow-chandler;
and there is not a woman in England with £150,000 that I would not marry
to-morrow if she would have me. No! I may be poor, but you can’t call me
proud.” And placing his arm through that of his cousin, they descended
to the street together, and rejoined Lewis and his companion.



CHAPTER V.--IS OF A DECIDEDLY WARLIKE CHARACTER.

The place of rendezvous for the “gallant defenders of the British
constitution,” as Leicester had designated the little party, was a cigar
shop in the immediate vicinity of the building in which the meeting was
to be held. On their arrival they perceived that the shop was already
occupied by several young men, who were lounging over the counter,
bandying jests and compliments with a ringleted young lady, who appeared
thoroughly self-possessed and quite equal to the part she had to
perform, having through all her pretty coquetries a shrewd eye to
business, and reserving her most fascinating smiles for the most
inveterate smokers.

As Grandeville entered the shop, which he did with a most lordly and
dignified air, he was welcomed with general acclamation.

“All hail, Macbeth!” exclaimed a thin young man, with a white greatcoat
and a face to match, throwing himself into a tragedy attitude.

“Most noble commander!” began another of the group. “Most illustrious De
Grandeville! how is----”

“Your anxious mother?” interrupted a short, muscular little fellow, with
as rich a brogue as ever claimed Cork for its county.

“Hush! be quiet, Pat; we have no time for nonsense now, man,” cried a
tall youth with a profusion of light curling hair, a prominent hooked
nose, a merry smile, and a pair of wicked grey eyes, which appeared
to possess the faculty of looking in every direction at once. “You are
late, De Grandeville,” he added, coming forward.

“Ar--no, sir; five minutes good by the Horse Guards. Ar--I should have
been here sooner, but I have been--ar--recruiting, you see. Mr. Bracy,
Mr. Frere, Mr. Arundel--you know Leicester?”

“Delighted to see such an addition to our forces,” replied Bracy,
bowing; then shaking hands with Leicester, he added in an undertone,
“Walk with me when we start; I have a word to say to you.” Leicester
nodded in assent, and then proceeded to accost others of the party with
whom he was acquainted.

“Ar--now, gentlemen, will you please to attend to orders?” began
Grandeville, raising his voice.

“Hear, hear!” cried the pale young man, faintly.

“We’ll do it betther if you’d be houldin’ yer tongue, maybe,” interposed
the hero from Cork, who, being interpreted, was none other
than Lieutenant McDermott of the Artillery, believed by the
Commander-in-Chief to be at that very moment on duty at Woolwich.

“Ar--you are to divide yourselves into three or four bodies.”

“Faith, we must get blind drunk, and see double twice over then, before
we can do that,” remarked the son of Erin argumentatively.

“Now, Paddy, be quiet,” said Bracy, soothingly; “you know you never got
so far in your arithmetic as vulgar fractions, so you can’t be supposed
to understand the matter.”

A somewhat forcible rejoinder was drowned by Grandeville, who continued,
in his most sonorous tone: “Ar--you will then proceed to the hall
of meeting, and make your way quietly to the right side, as near the
platform as possible. There--keep together, and attract as little
attention as you can, and Mr. Bracy will transmit such directions to you
as circumstances may render advisable. Do you all clearly understand?”

A general shout of assent, varied by a muttered “Not in the slightest
degree,” from McDermott, was followed by the order, “Then march!” and in
another moment the party were _en route_. The pale young man, who was
in his secret soul rather alarmed than otherwise, had attached himself
firmly to Frere, with whom he was slightly acquainted, and who he
thought would take care of him, so Lewis was left to pair off with
Leicester.

As they proceeded, the latter began: “Depend upon it, there’s some trick
in all this, probably intended for Grandeville’s benefit; that fellow
Bracy is one of the most inveterate practical jokers extant, and he
seems particularly busy to-night; he’s a clerk in the Home Office, and
Grandeville believes in him to an immense extent; but here he comes.
Well, Bracy, what is it, man?”

“Is your friend safe?” inquired Bracy aside, glancing at Lewis as he
spoke.

“The most cautious man in London,” was the reply, “and one who
appreciates our noble commander thoroughly; so now allow us a peep
behind the scenes.”

“Well, the matter stands thus,” returned Bracy. “I was walking with
Duke Grandeville one night about three weeks ago, when we chanced to
encounter the good folks coming away from one of these meetings; they
were nothing very formidable--a fair sample of young Newgate Street,
youthful patriots from Snow Hill, embryo republicans of St. Paul’s
Churchyard, Barbican, and other purlieus of Cockaignia, led by a few
choice spirits--copying clerks, who hide their heroism from the light of
day in lawyers’ offices, booksellers’ shopmen from the Row, who regard
themselves as distinguished literary characters, and prate of the
sovereignty of the press, and the like. Well, as might be expected, they
discoursed most ferociously, and the Duke, overhearing some of their
conversation, was deeply scandalised, and fancied he had discovered a
second Cato Street conspiracy. The thing appeared to promise fun, so I
encouraged him in the idea, and we attended the next meeting, when
they talked the usual style of radical clap-trap. Everything was an
abuse--the rich were tyrants, the poor slaves, and property required
transferring (_i.e_., from its present possessors to themselves); they
knew they never should be kings, so they cried down monarchy; but they
trusted that, with strong lungs and good-luck, they might become paid
delegates, therefore they clamoured for a republic. There was much
noise, but no talent; sanguinary theories were discussed, which they had
neither minds nor means to enable them to carry out; in short, the place
is one of those innocent sedition shops which act as safety valves to
carry off popular discontent, and ensure the health and vigour of the
British constitution. Of course, however, Grandeville did not see it in
that point of view, and from that night forth he became positively rabid
on the subject; so it entered the heads of some of us that we might
improve the occasion by persuading him that he might, through me,
communicate information to the Home Office (I need scarcely tell you
that it never reached the authorities there), and we have led him on
sweetly and easily, till he positively believes that he is to be at the
Hall to-night as an accredited government agent, with full powers to
suppress the meeting, and I know not what else.”

“But surely you’ll get into a fearful row,” urged Leicester.

“We are safe for a bit of a shindy, no doubt,” was the cool reply; “in
fact I do not consider that the thing would go off properly without it,
so I brought an Irishman with me to render it inevitable; but I have
bribed a doorkeeper, and let the worst come to the worst, we can easily
fight our way out.”

“To be sure we can,” exclaimed Lewis, “lick a hundred such fellows as
you have described. This is glorious fun; I would not have missed it for
the world.”

Bracy glanced at him for a moment with a look of intense approval, then
shaking him warmly by the hand, he said, “Sir, I’m delighted to make
your acquaintance; your sentiments do you honour, sir. Are you much
accustomed to rows of this nature, may I ask?”

“I have been resident in Germany for the last three years,” was the
reply; “and although they have a very fair notion of an _émeute_ after
their own fashion, they don’t understand the use of the fist as we do.”

“There are two grand rules for crowd-fighting,” returned Bracy. “First,
make play with your elbows, Cockneys’ ribs are as sensitive as niggers’
shins; secondly, if it comes to blows, strike at their faces, and never
waste your strength; but when you _do_ make a hit, drop your man if
possible; it settles him, and frightens the rest. Here we are!” So
saying, he turned into a kind of passage which led to an open door,
through which they passed into the body of the hall.

It was a large room with a vaulted ceiling, and appeared capable of
holding from five to six hundred persons. At the farther end of it was
a platform, raised some feet, and divided from the rest of the hall by
a stout wooden railing. The room was lighted with gas, and considerably
more than half filled. Although the majority of the audience appeared to
answer the description Bracy had given of them, yet along the sides
of the apartment were ranged numbers of sturdy artisans and craftsmen,
amongst whom many a stalwart form and stern determined visage might be
detected.

“There are some rather awkward customers here to-night,” whispered
Leicester. “If we chance to get black eyes, Arundel, we must postpone
our visit to the General to-morrow.”

“The man that gives me a black eye shall have something to remember it
by, at all events,” returned Lewis quickly.

“Hush! that fellow heard you,” said Leicester.

Lewis glanced in the direction indicated, and met the sinister gaze,
of a tall, heavy-built mechanic, in a rough greatcoat, who frowned
menacingly when he found that he was observed. Lewis smiled carelessly
in reply, and proceeded after Bracy up the room. When he had passed, the
man, still keeping his eye upon him, quitted his seat and followed
at some little distance. On reaching the upper end of the room they
perceived Grandeville and two or three others, among whom was McDermott,
on the platform, while Frere and the rest of their party had congregated
on and near a flight of five or six steps leading to it from the body of
the hall.

“Bravo, Grandeville!” observed Bracy, in an undertone, to Leicester. “Do
you mark that! he has secured a retreat--good generalship, very. I shall
have to believe in him if he goes on as well as he has commenced. Hark!
they are beginning to give tongue.”

As he concluded, a little fat man came forward and said a good deal
about the honour which had been done him in being allowed the privilege
of opening the evening’s proceedings, to which he appended a long and
utterly incomprehensible account of the objects of the meeting. His zeal
was evident, but Nature had never intended him for an orator, and the
chances of life had fitted him with a short husky cough, so that nobody
was very sorry when he ceded the rostrum to his “esteemed friend, if he
might be allowed to say so (which he was), Jabez Broadcom.” This Jabez
Broadcom was evidently a great gun, and his coming forward created no
small sensation. He was a tall, gaunt-looking man, with straight weak
hair and an unhealthy complexion; but his great feature, in every sense
of the word, was his mouth.

It _was_ a mouth, not only for mutton, but for every other purpose to
which that useful aperture could be applied; at present it was to
be devoted to the task of conveying its owner’s mighty thoughts, in
appropriate language, to the eager listeners who surrounded him.

This gentleman then, having, by dint of drawing in his lips and
thrusting them out again, and rolling his eyes so fearfully as to
suggest a sudden attack of English cholera, got up his steam to the
required height, proceeded to inform the assembly that they were,
individually and collectively, free and enlightened citizens of the
great metropolis of Europe, prepared to recognise their sacred rights,
and resolved to go forth as one man to assert and maintain them. Having
imparted this information (through his nose, for the greater effect),
he began to ask himself a species of Pinnock’s Catechism, so to speak,
which ran somewhat after the following fashion:--

“And why am I here to-night? Because I love profit? No. Because I love
personal distinction? No. Because I love my country? Yes. Because I
would not see her children slaves? Yes. Because purse-proud oppressors,
revelling in their wealth, trample on the honest poor man? Yes.”

Having said by heart several pages of this, in which he was exceedingly
well up, and which he rattled off most fluently, he continued--

“But such tyranny shall not always be tolerated. British freemen, whose
proud boast it is that they have never borne a foreign yoke, shall no
longer crouch beneath a despotic rule at home. The atrocious barbarities
of a brutal poor-law, which taxes honest householders to furnish
salaried ruffians with power to drag the half-eaten crust from the
famished jaws of helpless poverty----”

(A slight sensation was here occasioned by McDermott mentioning for the
benefit of the meeting in general, and the orator himself in particular,
his conviction that the last sentence was “very pretty indeed,” together
with a polite inquiry as to whether he could not be so kind as to say it
again. Peace being restored after sundry shouts of “Turn him out!”)

“Shame!” etc., the orator resumed--

“Let them build their bastiles, let them tear the wife from her husband,
the mother from her child; let them crowd their prison-houses with the
honest sons of labour whom their brutality has forced into crime--the
poor man need never dread starvation while the hulks hunger and the
gallows gapes for him--but a day of retribution is at hand; let the
tyrants tremble beneath their gilded roofs--those unjust usurpers of
the soil--the poor man’s bitterest foes, the landed gentry, as they
arrogantly style themselves, must be cut off and rooted out.”

“Pretty strong, that!” observed Bracy, in a whisper.

“Ar--this won’t do, you know!” returned Grandeville, in an equally low
voice. “I must, really--ar--interfere.”

“Better hear him out,” rejoined Bracy, “and then get up and address them
yourself.” To which suggestion, after a slight remonstrance, the former
agreed; but such a shining light as Mr. Jabez Broadcom was not to be put
out as quickly as they desired; he was the great card of the evening,
and knew it, and prolonged his speech for a good three-quarters of an
hour, during which time he theoretically dethroned the Queen, abolished
the Lords and Commons, seated a National Convention in St. Stephen’s,
and made all the rich poor, and the poor both rich and happy, whilst he
practically rendered himself so hoarse as to be nearly inaudible;
for which gallant exertions in the cause of liberty he received the
tumultuous applause of the meeting, together with Lieut. McDermott’s
expressed conviction that he was “a broth of a boy entirely,” together
with an anxious inquiry, “whether his mother had many more like him.”

When Broadcom retired from the rostrum there appeared some
misunderstanding and confusion as to his successor; taking advantage
of which, Grandeville looked at Bracy, who nodded, adding, “Now’s your
time! Go in, and win;” then, catching a cadaverous-looking individual
who was about to advance by the shoulders, and twisting him round, he
exclaimed, “Now, my man, stand out of the way, will you? This gentleman
is going to address the company.” He next thrust Grandeville forward,
and patting him encouragingly on the back, left him to his own devices.
That heroic gentleman, having bowed to his audience with much grace and
dignity, waved his hand to command attention, and began as follows:--

“Ar--listen to me, my friends! Ar--hem--I am prepared to admit--that is,
it is impossible to deny--that many great and serious evils exist in the
complicated social fabric of this glorious country. The vast increase of
population----”

“Owing to the introduction of chloroform,” suggested Bracy.

“Though slightly checked by----”

“The alarming consumption of Morrison’s Pills,” interposed the
Irishman----

“The wise facilities afforded for emigration,” continued Grandeville,
not heeding these interruptions, “is one chief cause of the poverty and
distress which, though greatly exaggerated by the false statements of
evil-disposed and designing persons (groans and cries of ‘Hear!’), are
to be found even in this metropolis, beneath the fostering care of
an enlightened and paternal government (increasing murmurs of
dissatisfaction). But if you believe that these evils are likely to be
redressed by such measures as have been pointed out to you this evening,
or that anarchy and rebellion can lead to any other result than misery
and ruin--ar--I tell you, that you are fearfully mistaken! Ar--as a
man, possessed of--ar--no inconsiderable influence--and ar--intimately
connected with those powers against which you are madly arraying
yourselves, I warn you!”

Here the excitement and dissatisfaction, which had been rapidly
increasing, reached a pitch which threatened to render the speaker
inaudible; and amid cries of “Who is he?”--“an informer!”--“government
spy!”--“turn him out!”--“throw him over!” several persons rose from
their seats and attempted to force their way on to the platform, but
were kept back by Lewis and others of Grandeville’s party, who, as has
been already mentioned, had taken possession of the flight of steps,
which afforded the only legitimate means of access from the body of the
hall.

Undisturbed by these hostile demonstrations, Grandeville continued, at
the top of his voice,--“I warn you that you are provoking an unequal
struggle,--that you are bringing upon yourselves a fearful retribution.
Even now I am armed with authority to disperse this meeting--to----”

What more he would have added the reader is not fated to learn, for at
this moment the man in the rough greatcoat, who had followed Lewis from
the entrance of the room, exclaiming, “Come on, we are not going to
stand this, you know; never mind the steps,” seized the railing of
the platform, and drawing himself up, sprang over, followed by several
others. In an instant all was confusion. Grandeville, taken in some
degree by surprise, after knocking down a couple of his assailants, was
overpowered, and, amid cries of “throw him over,” hurried to the edge
of the platform; here, grasping the rail with both hands, he struggled
violently to prevent the accomplishment of their purpose.

“Come along, boys! we must rescue him,” exclaimed Bracy; and suiting
the action to the word, he bounded forward, and hitting right and left,
reached the scene of conflict. Lewis and the others, abandoning the
steps, followed his example, and the row became general. For some
minutes the uproar was terrific; blows were given and received; blood
began to flow from sundry noses; and certain eyes that had begun the
evening blue, brown, or grey, as the case might be, assumed a hue dark
as Erebus. As for Lewis, he knocked down one of the fellows who had
hold of Grandeville; then he picked up the Irishman, who of course had
singled out and attacked the biggest man in the crowd (none other indeed
than the rough-coated patriot, who appeared a sort of leader among
them), and been immediately felled by him to the ground; then
he assisted Frere in extricating the pale-faced youth from three
individuals of questionable honesty, who were availing themselves of the
confusion to empty his pockets; as he did so he felt himself seized
with a grasp of iron, and turning his head, found he was collared by the
gigantic leader. A violent but ineffectual effort to free himself only
served to convince him that in point of strength he was no match for
his antagonist, who, regarding him with a smile of gratified malice,
exclaimed, “Now then, young feller, I’ve been a-waiting to get hold of
you. How about a black eye now?” As he spoke he drew him forward with
one hand and struck at him savagely with the other. Avoiding the blow by
suddenly dodging aside, Lewis closed with his adversary, and inserting
his knuckles within the folds of his neckcloth, tightened it, until in
self-defence, and in order to avoid strangulation, the fellow was forced
to loosen his grasp of Lewis’s collar. The instant he felt himself free,
Lewis, giving the neckcloth a final twist, and at the same time pressing
his knuckles into the man’s throat, so as for the moment almost to
throttle him, stepped back a couple of paces, and springing forward
again before the other had time to recover himself, hit up under his
guard and succeeded in planting a stinging and well-directed blow
exactly between his eyes; this, followed by a similar application rather
lower on the face, settled the matter. Reeling backwards, his antagonist
lost his footing and fell heavily to the ground, dragging one of his
companions down with him in a futile attempt to save himself. The fall
of their leader threw a damp on the spirits of the others; and although
those in the rear were still clamorous with threats and vociferations,
the members of the crowd in more immediate proximity to the little party
showed small inclination to renew the attack.

[Illustration: 0050]

“Now’s our time for getting away,” said Bracy. “Make a bold push for the
door.”

“Ar--I should say,” rejoined Grandeville, one of whose eyes was
completely closed from the effects of a blow, and whose coat was hanging
about him in ribands, “let us despatch one of our party for the police
and military, and stand firm and maintain our ground till they come up,
then capture the ringleaders and clear the room.”

“Nonsense,” said Leicester, who, despite his regard for his wardrobe,
had behaved most spiritedly during the skirmish. “We shall all be
murdered before they appear; besides” (he added aside to Bracy), “it
will be making much too serious a business of it; we should get into
some tremendous scrape.”

“Yes, that’s true,” said Bracy; then turning to Grandeville, he added,
“I don’t think my instructions would bear us out if we were to go any
further. Remember, we were only to make a pacific demonstration.”

“And faith, if breaking heads, and getting a return in kind, comes under
that same denomination, it’s a pretty decent one we’ve made already,
’pon me conscience,” put in McDermott, wiping away the blood that was
still trickling from a cut in his forehead.

While these remarks were bandied from one to another, the party had
contrived to make their way from the platform, and were now in the body
of the room, striving to push through the crowd towards the side door.
This at every step became more and more difficult, till at length they
were so completely hemmed in that further progression became impossible,
and it was evident that a fresh attack upon them was meditated.
Fortunately, however, they were not far from the point of egress, and
Bracy, having caught the eye of his ally the doorkeeper, who was on the
alert, exclaimed, “Now, Grandeville, we must fight our way through these
fellows and gain the door; there’s nothing for it but a spirited charge.
You and I, Frere and his friend, and Paddy had better go first as a sort
of wedge.”

“Ar--head the column and break the enemy’s ranks, ar--yes, are you all
ready? Charge!”

As he gave the word they rushed forward in a compact body, and knocking
down and pushing aside all who opposed them, succeeded in reaching
the door. Here a short delay occurred while Bracy and his friend were
opening it, and several of their late antagonists, irritated at the
prospect of their escape, incited the others to attack them, so that
before their egress was secured even the Irish lieutenant had had
fighting enough to satisfy him, and the pale young man, having long
since given himself up as a lost mutton, actually fainted with fear and
over-exertion, and was dragged from under the feet of the combatants
and carried out by Frere and Lewis, but for whom his mortal career would
then and there have ended.

How, as they emerged into the street, a party of the police arrived and
caused more confusion and more broken heads; and how Grande-ville and
the Irishman on the one hand, and sundry Chartists, with Lewis’s late
antagonist among them, on the other, were jointly and severally taken
into custody and marched to the station-house, where they spent the
night; and how Leicester contrived just in the nick of time to catch an
intelligent cab, into which he, Lewis, Frere, and the fainting victim
with the pallid physiognomy compressed themselves, and were conveyed
rapidly from the scene of action, it boots not to relate: suffice it to
say that a certain barrel of oysters, flanked by a detachment of
pint bottles of stout, which had taken up their position on Frere’s
dining-table during the absence of its master, sustained an attack about
half-past eleven o’clock that night which proved that the mode in which
their assailants had passed the evening had in no way impaired their
respective appetites.



CHAPTER VI.--IN WHICH LEWIS ARUNDEL SKETCHES A COW, AND THE AUTHOR DRAWS
A YOUNG LADY.

It was about noon on the day following the events narrated in the last
chapter. Frere had departed to his office at the scientific institution
some two hours since, and Lewis and Faust were looking out of the
window, when a well-appointed cab dashed round the corner of a cross
street, and a pair of lavender-coloured kid-gloves drew up a splendid
bay horse, who arched his proud neck and champed the bit, impatient of
delay, till a young male child in livery coat and top-boots rolled off
the back of the vehicle and stationed itself before the animal’s nose,
which act of self-devotion appeared to mesmerise him into tranquillity,
and afforded the occupant of the cab time to spring out and knock at
Frere’s door. Five minutes more saw Leicester and Lewis seated side by
side and driving rapidly in the direction of Park Crescent.

“I don’t know how you feel this morning, Arundel,” began Leicester; “but
positively when I first woke I could scarcely move. I’m black and blue
all over, I believe.”

“I must confess to being rather stiff,” was the reply, “and my left hand
is unproducible. I cut my knuckles against the nose of that tall fellow
when I knocked him down, and shall be forced to wear a glove till it
heals.”

“You did that uncommonly well,” returned Leicester; “the man was as
strong as Hercules, and vicious into the bargain. He evidently had heard
what you said about a black eye, and meant mischief. I was coming to
help you when you finished him off.”

“It would have been most provoking to have been disfigured just at this
time,” rejoined Lewis. “One could not very well go to propose oneself as
a mentor for youth with a black eye obtained in something nearly akin to
a street row.”

“No,” said Leicester; “the General would consider our last night’s
exploit as dreadfully _infra dig._ He is quite one of the old school,
and reckons Sir Charles Grandison a model for gentlemen. You must be
careful to avoid the free-and-easy style of the present day with him;
but I think you’ll suit him exactly; there’s naturally something of the
_preux chevalier, héros de roman_ cut about you that will go down with
him amazingly.”

“In plain English, you consider me stiff and affected,” returned Lewis.
“Do not scruple to tell me if it is so.”

“Stiff, yes; affected, no,” was the rejoinder. “Indeed, your manner is
unusually simple and natural when you thaw a little, but at first you
are--well, I hardly know how to describe it; but there is something
about you unlike the men one usually meets. You have a sort of
half-defiant way of looking at people, a sort of ‘you’d better not insult
me, sir’ expression. I don’t know that I should have observed it towards
myself, but it was your manner to Grandeville that particularly struck
me. I have not annoyed you by my frankness?” he added interrogatively,
finding that Lewis did not reply. Regardless of this question, Lewis
remained silent for a minute or two, then suddenly turning to his
companion, and speaking in a low, hurried voice, he said--

“Can you conceive no reason for such a manner? Is there not enough in
my position to account for that, ay, and more? By birth I am any
man’s equal. My father was of an old family, a captain in the Austrian
service, and in the highest sense of the word a gentleman. I have
received a gentleman’s education. Up to the present time I have
associated with gentlemen on terms of equality, and now suddenly,
through no fault of my own, I am in effect a beggar. The very errand we
are upon proves it. Through the kindness of Frere and of yourself,--a
stranger,--I am about to receive a favourable recommendation to some
proud old man as a hired servant; for though in name it may not be so,
in fact I shall be nought but a hireling! Is it strange then that I view
men with suspicion? that I am watchful lest they attempt to refuse me
the amount of courtesy due to those who, having never forfeited their
own self-respect, are entitled to the respect of others?”

He paused, and removing his hat, allowed the cold breeze to blow
freely around his heated brow. Leicester, who, despite his foppery, was
thoroughly kind-hearted, being equally surprised and distressed at the
burst of feeling his words had called forth, hastened to reply.

“My dear fellow, I really am--that is, ’pon my word, I had no idea
you looked upon the affair in this light. I can assure you, I think you
quite mistake the matter; a tutorship is considered a very gentlemanly
occupation. If I had any work in me, I’m not at all sure I might
not--that is, it would be a very sensible thing of me to look out for
something of the kind myself. Stanhope Jones, who was up at Trinity with
me, and about the fastest man of his year, ran through his fortune, got
a tutorship in Lord Puzzletête’s family, went abroad with the eldest
cub, and picked up a prize widow at Pisa, with tin enough to set the
leaning tower straight again, if she’d had a fancy to do so.”

During this well-meant attempt at consolation Lewis had had time to come
to the conclusion that he was in the position of that unwise individual
who wore “his heart upon his sleeve for daws to peck at;” or, in plain
English, that he had been betrayed into a display of feeling before a
man incapable of appreciating or understanding it; and a less agreeable
conviction at which to arrive we scarcely know. Nothing, however,
remained but to make the best of it, which he accordingly did, by
admitting the possibility that there might be much truth in Leicester’s
view of the case, and changing the subject by saying, “Now I want you to
give me a peep at the _carte du pays_ of the unknown region I am about
to explore. I think I pretty well comprehend the General from your
description. Of what other members does the family consist?”

“Ah! yes, of course you must be curious to know. Well, the _dramatis
persono_ is somewhat limited. First and foremost, the General,--you
comprehend him, you say?” Lewis made a sign in the affirmative, and
Leicester continued: “Then we have an awful personage, who I expect will
be a severe trial to you--Miss Livingstone; she is a relation, an aunt
I think, of the General’s late wife, who lives with him and keeps his
house, and was the terror of my boyhood whenever I was staying down
at Broadhurst. She never was over young, I believe; at least I can’t
imagine her anything but middle-aged, and she must now be sixty or
thereabouts. For the rest, she looks as if she had swallowed a poker,
and, by some mysterious process of assimilation, become imbued with its
distinguishing characteristics; for she is very stiff, very cold, and
as far as I know utterly impenetrable, but of a stirring disposition
withal, which leads her to interfere with everybody and everything.
Lastly, there is my cousin Annie, the General’s only daughter; she
inherits her mother’s beauty, her father’s pride, her great-aunt’s
determination to have her own way, and the devil’s own love of teasing.
To set against all this, I believe her to be thoroughly good and
amiable, and everything of that kind; at all events she is a most
bewitching girl, and bids fair, under judicious management, to become
a very charming woman! fancy her mission is to reform my brother
Bellefield and render him a steady married man, and I wish her joy of
it. She comes into her mother’s fortune when she is of age, and the
respective governors have set their hearts upon the match.”

“And what says Lord Bellefield?” inquired Lewis listlessly.

“Oh, Bell reckons she won’t be of age, and that the match can’t come off
these four years, by which time he expects to be so hard up that he must
marry somebody; and as there will be plenty of the needful, she will
suit his book as well as any other.”

“The young lady, of course, approves?” continued Lewis dreamily, untying
a knot in the thong of Leicester’s whip.

“Catch a woman refusing a coronet,” returned Leicester, as he pulled up
at a house in Park Crescent so suddenly as almost to throw the bay on
his haunches.

“General Grant begs you will walk upstairs, Mr. Leicester. He is engaged
at present, but desired me to say he particularly wishes to see you,”
 was the reply made by a most aristocratic butler to Leicester’s inquiry
whether his master was at home. “Keep the bay moving, Tim. Now, Arundel,
turn to the right--that’s it,” and suiting the action to the word,
Charley the indolent leisurely descended from the cab, and crossing the
“marble hall,” lounged up a wide staircase followed by Lewis.

“Silence and solitude,” he continued, opening the door of a large
drawing-room handsomely furnished. “I hope they won’t be long before
they introduce us to the luncheon-table. Oysters are popularly supposed
to give one an appetite; but the natives we demolished at Frere’s last
night must have been sadly degenerate, for I declare to you I could
scarcely get through my breakfast this morning. Ah! what have we
here?--a water-colour landscape in a semi-chaotic condition. Annie has
been sketching, as sure as fate. I’ll introduce a few masterly touches
and surprise her.” So saying he seated himself at the table and began
dabbling with a brush.

“By Jove, I’ve done it now!” he exclaimed in a tone of consternation,
after a minute’s pause. “Just look here; I thought I would insert the
trunk of a tree in the foreground, and the confounded brush had got red
in it, so I have made a thing like a lobster and spoiled the drawing.”

“I think, if you wish, I could turn it into a cow, and so get you out
of the scrape,” suggested Lewis, smiling at his companion’s guilty
countenance.

“My dear fellow, the very thing,” exclaimed Leicester, hastily rising
and thrusting Lewis into his seat; “let’s have a cow, by all means.
That’s famous,” he continued, as with a few graphic strokes Lewis
converted the red daub into the semblance of an animal. “Bravo! make her
an eye--now the horns--what a fascinating quadruped! Where’s the tail to
come?”

“You would not see the tail in the position in which the cow is supposed
to be lying,” remonstrated Lewis.

“Still, it would make it more natural,” urged Leicester. “As a personal
favour, just to oblige me, stretch a point and give her a tail.”

“There, then, I’ve twisted it under her leg,” said Lewis, making the
desired addition; “but depend upon it, there never was a cow’s tail so
situated.”

“All the greater proof of your talent,” was the reply. “The ideal is
what you artists (for I see you are one) are always raving about, and
this is a specimen of it.”

So engrossed had the two young men been with their occupation that they
had not observed the entrance of a third person. The newcomer was that
most charming of all created beings, a very lovely girl of seventeen.

As every poet since Homer has done his utmost to clothe in fitting
language a description of the best specimen of the class which it
may have been his hap to meet with, and as no man in his senses would
exchange half-an-hour of the society of one of the originals for all the
fanciful descriptions of women that ever were written, we would fain be
excused from adding one more to the number; and were all our readers of
what grammarians most ungallantly term “the worthier gender,” we should
cut the matter short by begging each man to imagine the damsel in
question exactly like the “unexpressive she” who is, for the time being,
queen of his soul. But as we flatter ourselves certain bright eyes will
sparkle and coral lips smile over this “o’er true tale,” and as we have
already been asked by “oceans” of young ladies, “What is the heroine to
be like?” we will e’en make a virtue of necessity and give a _catalogue
raisonné_ of her many perfections.

Annie Grant, then (for we’ll have no disguise about the matter, but own
at once that she it _was_ who entered the drawing-room unperceived, and
that she it _is_ who is destined to play the heroine in this our drama
of the Railroad of Life; and be it observed interparenthetically that we
use the theatrical metaphor advisedly, for Shakespeare has told us that
“all the world’s a stage,” and it is a matter of common notoriety that
in the present day all stages have become railroads)--Annie Grant, then,
we say, was rather above the middle height, though no one would
have thought of pronouncing her tall; her gown of _mousseline--poil
de_--psha! what are we thinking of?--she had not a gown on at all; how
should she, when she was going to ride directly after luncheon? No, her
habit, which fitted to perfection, was well calculated to set off her
slight but singularly graceful figure to the best advantage. Her hair,
which was braided in broad plaits for the greater convenience (seeing
that ringlets under a riding-hat are an anomaly, not to say an
abomination), was _really_ auburn,--by which definition we intend to
guard against the pale red, or warm, sand-coloured locks which usually
pass current for the very rare but very beautiful tint we would
particularise,--and if a poet had speculated as to the probability
of some wandering sunbeam being imprisoned in its golden meshes, the
metaphor, though fanciful, would not have been unapt. Delicate, regular
features, large blue eyes, now dancing and sparkling with mischievous
glee, now flashing with pride, a mouth like an expressive rosebud, a
clear skin, with a warm glow of health painting each velvet cheek, but
retreating from the snowy forehead, combined to form a whole on which to
gaze was to admire.

This young lady, being such as we have described her, tripped lightly
across the apartment till she had stationed herself behind her cousin
Charles, and perceiving that both gentlemen were so preoccupied as not
to have observed her approach, contrived, by standing on tiptoe and
peeping over Leicester’s shoulder, to witness the introduction of the
cow of which we have already made honourable mention.

During the animated discussion on the tail question she nearly betrayed
her presence by laughing outright; repressing the inclination, however,
she retraced her steps, and had nearly succeeded in reaching the side
door by which she had entered, when her habit, catching against a table,
caused the overthrow of a piece of ornamental china and revealed her
presence.

On hearing the sound, Lewis, recalled to a sense of his situation, and
for the first time struck by the idea that, in touching the drawing, he
had been guilty of an unwarrantable liberty, rose hastily from his seat,
colouring crimson as he did so, from an agreeable mixture of shyness,
mortification, and proud self-reproach. Leicester, on the other hand,
with the _à-plomb_ and presence of mind of a man of the world, turned
leisurely, and whispering, “Keep your own counsel, there’s no harm
done,” he advanced towards his cousin, saying with a nonchalant air,
“You have stolen a march upon us, Annie. This gentleman and I called to
see the General upon business, and as he seems resolved to afford us a
practical lesson on the virtue of patience. I ventured to while away the
time by showing my friend some of your sketches. By the way, let me
introduce you. My cousin, Miss Grant--Mr. Arundel.” Thus invoked, Lewis,
who in order to atone to his wounded self-respect, had wrapped himself
in his very coldest and haughtiest manner, and resembled a banished
prince rather than an every-day Christian, advanced a few steps and
acknowledged the introduction by a most Grandisonian inclination of the
head.

The lady performed her part of the ceremony with an easy courtesy, into
which perhaps an equal degree of hauteur was infused, although not the
slightest effort was visible.

“Mr. Arundel is doubtless a judge of painting, and my poor sketches are
by no means calculated to bear severe criticism,” remarked Miss Grant
demurely.

As Lewis remained silent, Leicester hastened to reply: “A judge! of
course he is; he’s just returned from Germany, the happy land where
smoking, singing, and painting all come by nature.”

“Indeed!” returned Miss Grant. “Then, if it is not too troublesome,
perhaps I might ask Mr. Arundel’s advice as to a sketch of Broadhurst
I was attempting before your arrival; I left off in despair, because I
could not manage anything for the foreground.”

“Try an elephant,” suggested Leicester; “it would have a grand effect,
besides possessing the advantage of novelty, and filling up lots of
space.”

“Would you bring me the drawing, Charles?” returned his cousin.

“I know too well the style of assistance I may expect from you in
such matters. Who embellished my poor head of Minerva with a pair of
_moustaches?_”

“I did,” rejoined Leicester complacently, “and I am proud of it. Minerva
was the goddess of war, and sported _moustaches_ in virtue of her
profession.”

“Are you never going to give me the drawing, Charles?” asked Annie
impatiently. “Positively, cousins are most uncourteous beings. Mr.
Arundel, might I trouble you to hand me that sketch?”

Thus appealed to, Lewis had nothing for it but to comply, which he did
accordingly, biting his lip with vexation at the _dénouement_ which now
appeared inevitable. But Leicester’s resources were not yet exhausted;
stretching out his hand before his cousin had received the drawing, he
coolly took possession of it, saying, “I know you meant this drawing
as a little surprise for me. You have heard me say how much I coveted a
sketch of dear old Broadhurst, and so you have kindly made one for me.
You have really done it extremely well! Who was it--Fielding--you have
been learning of? Positively, you have caught his style!”

“Don’t flatter yourself that I did you the honour of recollecting any
such wish, even supposing you really uttered it in my hearing, of which
I entertain grave doubts,” returned Annie; “but if you particularly
desire it I will make you a present of it when it is finished--if I
could only manage that tiresome foreground!”

“I like it better without,” was the reply. “There’s nothing to
interfere with the outline of the building, which stands forth in bold
relief--and--eh!--well, what’s the matter?”

During his speech his cousin had risen from her seat, and approaching
him, caught sight of the drawing, which she had no sooner done than,
raising a little white hand, she pointed to the intrusive cow and asked
quietly, “Where did that come from?”

The comic perplexity of Leicester’s face was irresistible to behold, as,
with a glance at Lewis to secure his sympathy and co-operation, he was
evidently about to adopt the cow at all hazards, when the door opened,
and a tall, stately old man, with a military port and erect bearing,
entered, and surveying the group with evident surprise, drew himself
up still more stiffly, ere, with slow and measured steps, he advanced
towards them.

_It was General Grant!_



CHAPTER VII.--WHEREIN THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO MISS LIVINGSTONE, AND
INFORMED WHO IS THE GREATEST MAN OF THE AGE.

“Ah! General,” exclaimed Leicester, as he rose leisurely from the
arm-chair in which he had been reclining, “I hope they have not
disturbed you on our account. I was criticising one of Annie’s sketches
_pour passer le temps_--really she draws very nicely. Let me introduce
Mr. Arundel, Mr. Frere’s friend, about whom I wrote to you yesterday.”

A stiff bow, acknowledged on Lewis’s part by an equally haughty
inclination of the head, was the result of this introduction, when
General Grant observed--

“Mr. Frere is a man of whom I have a very high opinion, both on
account of his unusual intellectual attainments, and his manly, upright
character. Have you been long acquainted with him, sir, may I ask?”

“He was my guide and protector when I first went to Westminster,”
 replied Lewis, “and we have been close friends ever since.”

“A most fortunate circumstance,” remarked the General sententiously.
“The mind of youth is easily impressible for good or evil, and unless
such establishments are greatly altered for the better since my time,
Satan has no lack of emissaries at a public school. Will you allow me a
few minutes’ private conversation with you, Mr. Arundel? The library is
in this direction.” So saying, General Grant opened the door with
frigid courtesy, and signing to Lewis to precede him, followed with a
stateliness of demeanour admirable to behold.

Scarcely had they left the room, when Annie, clapping her hands
joyfully, exclaimed, “What a creature! why, he’s as stiff and dignified
as papa himself. Now then, Charley, tell me who he is, and all about
him: we shall have Aunt Martha or somebody coming, and then I shall
never know, and be obliged to die of curiosity. You are asleep, I
believe.”

“There you go--that’s always the way with women,” returned Leicester,
speaking very slowly and with an exaggeration of his usual mode of
pronunciation, which was something between a lisp and a drawl; “asking
half-a-dozen questions in a breath, and resolved to get up a suicidal
amount of curiosity if they are not as speedily answered. Why, my
dear child, I would not speak as quickly as you do for any amount of
money--at least any amount of money I should be at all likely to get for
doing so.”

“Now, Charley, don’t be tiresome. Who is the man?” rejoined Annie,
half pettishly. Then, seeing that her imperious manner only induced
her cousin still further to tease her, she added, in an imploring tone,
which no heart of any material softer than granite could resist, “You
will tell me--won’t you? I want to know so much, and I have had nothing
to amuse me all day.”

“There, do you hear that?” soliloquised Leicester, appealing to society
in general. “Trust a woman to get her own way. If she can’t scold you
into giving it to her, she’ll coax you. Well, you little torment, I
suppose you must know all about it. The man, as you please to call him,
is seeking the honourable post of bear-leader to the cub your father has
the felicity of being guardian unto.”

“What, a tutor for poor Walter!” rejoined Annie meditatively. “But
surely he’s a gentleman, is he not?”

“Very particularly and decidedly so, as far as I am a judge,” returned
Leicester, hooking a footstool towards him with his cane, and depositing
his feet thereupon. “At least I dined and spent last evening in his
company, and never wish to meet a better fellow.”

“But,” continued Annie, pursuing her train of reasoning, “if he is a
gentleman, why does he want to go out as a tutor?”

“Because, unfortunately, there is a vulgar prejudice extant in this
feeble-minded country that the necessaries of life, such as bread
and cheese, cigars, kid gloves, and the like, must be paid for--this
requires money, whereof Arundel has little or none. Moreover, Richard
Frere hinted at a mother and sister in the case, who likewise have to be
supported.”

As he spoke a shade of deeper thought flitted across Annie’s expressive
features, and after a moment’s pause she resumed.

“Now I understand his strange manner: he was mentally contrasting
himself (he is evidently a proud man) and his position; it must indeed
have been a struggle--and he does this for the sake of his mother and
sister. Charley, do you know, I rather admire him.”

“Yes, I dare say you do; he’s a decidedly good-looking fellow for the
style of man; there’s a thoroughbred air about him, and he carries
himself well.”

“Psha! I am not talking of his appearance: except that he is tall and
dark, I scarcely know what he is like,” returned Annie quickly. “No! I
mean that there is something fine in the idea of a proud mind submitting
to degradations and indignities for the sake of those it loves; bearing
with a martyr-spirit the thousand hourly annoyances-----” Checking
herself suddenly, as she perceived upon her cousin’s face something
nearly akin to a contemptuous smile, Annie continued, “Charles, how
stupid you are! I hate you!”

“Not possible,” was the cool reply. “Moreover, you have really no cause
to do so. I assure you I was not exactly laughing at your sudden plunge
into the sentimental; it was merely a notion which crossed my mind, that
out of the thousand hourly annoyances by which poor Arundel is to be
martyrised, some nine hundred and fifty would originate in the caprices
of a certain young lady who shall be nameless. In the monotony of life
amid the leafy shades of Broadhurst, even teasing a tutor may be deemed
a new and interesting variety, as the botanists have it. Seriously,
though, you can coax the General to let him teach you German.”

“And embellish my water-colour sketches by the insertion of occasional
cows, with impossible tails made to order--eh, cousin Charley?” returned
Annie with an arch smile. “Give me my drawing, sir, and let me look at
the creature. How well he has done it! I know a cow at Broadhurst with
just such a face!”

“There’s a world of speculation in the eye,” rejoined Leicester
carelessly, though he was slightly surprised at the extent of her
information respecting the “tail” debate; “the animal appears to be
ruminating on the advisability of petitioning Parliament against the
veal trade, or some other question of equal interest to the ‘milky
mothers of the herd.’”

While Annie and her cousin thus gaily conversed, a very different scene
was enacting in the library. During a short delay, occasioned by General
Grant’s being obliged to answer a note, Lewis had time to recollect
himself, and to school the rebellious feelings which his conversation
with Leicester and the other events of the morning had called into
action. He thought of Rose and his mother, and of his determination
that they at least should be spared all knowledge of the real evils of
poverty; and this reflection was for the time sufficient to efface
every selfish consideration. Bringing his strength of will into play, he
regained the most complete self-control, and even experienced a sort of
morbid pleasure in the idea of voluntarily humiliating himself before
the proud old man, whose clear, cold eye was occasionally raised from
the note he was employed in writing to fix its scrutinising glance on
Lewis’s features.

Having sealed the missive and given it to a servant, he slowly
approached the spot where Lewis was standing, and after a word or two of
apology for having kept him waiting, began--

“I presume my nephew, Mr. Leicester, has made you in some degree
acquainted with the nature of the circumstances in which I am at present
placed, and of the necessity which renders me anxious to secure the
services of some gentleman as tutor to my ward, Sir Walter Desborough?”

“Mr. Leicester informed me that the young gentleman’s education had been
neglected, and that his mind was singularly undeveloped,” replied
Lewis, choosing the least offensive terms in which he might express his
conviction that the youth in question was rather a fool than otherwise.

“Yes, sir, though it is even worse than you describe,” returned the
General. “In fact it depends upon the degree of success which may attend
the efforts which must now be made whether Sir Walter Desborough can
ever be considered capable of managing his own affairs, or able to take
that place in society to which his rank and fortune would naturally
entitle him. You perceive, therefore, that the post of tutor will be one
of much trust and importance, and the duties attending it most onerous.
Mr. Frere has written so high a character of your various attainments
that I cannot but feel perfectly satisfied of your competency; but you
are very young, and as I should, in the event of your undertaking the
charge, expect a strict performance of your duties, it is only fair to
inform you that I conceive they may be irksome in the extreme. What is
your feeling on the subject?”

Lewis paused for a moment in thought, and then replied--

“I will be frank with you, sir. Were I free to act as I chose, such an
office as you describe would be one of the last I should select; but the
welfare of others depends upon my exertions, and I have determined to
refuse no occupation not unworthy a gentleman which will enable me
to render the necessary assistance to my family. If, therefore, you
consider me fitted to undertake the charge of your ward, I am willing
to do so, and to fulfil the duties of such a situation to the best of my
ability, on one condition.”

“What is that?” inquired General Grant quickly.

“That I may be allowed to pursue whatever system I may deem best fitted
to attain the desired end, without the interference of any one, and may
be accountable for my conduct to you alone.”

“Rather a singular request, young gentleman,” returned the General,
knitting his brows.

“My reason for making it is easily explained, sir,” replied Lewis,
firmly but respectfully. “Unless such permission is accorded me, I feel
certain all my efforts would prove unavailing: I must have full power
to do what I think right, or I could not act at all, and should have
undertaken a duty which I should be incompetent to perform.”

“Well, sir, there is truth in what you say,” replied General Grant,
after a moment’s consideration. “I like you none the worse for speaking
in a manly, straightforward manner. It is my intention to go down to
Broadhurst in a day or two: you shall accompany me; and if, after seeing
my ward, you are still willing to undertake the task of conducting
his education, I shall be happy to entrust him to your care, upon the
conditions you have proposed. Your salary will be £300 a year. This, you
are aware, is unusually high, but the case is a peculiar one, and money,
fortunately, a very secondary consideration. An entire suite of rooms
will be devoted to the use of yourself and your pupil, and a horse kept
for you, that you may accompany him in his rides. Do these arrangements
meet your wishes?”

Lewis bowed his head in token of acknowledgment, and said, “I have one
other request to make. I brought a Livonian wolf-hound with me from
Germany; he is much attached to me, and I should be unwilling to part
from him.”

“Bring him with you, sir,” returned the General, his lip slightly
curling with a sarcastic smile; “a dog more or less will make little
difference in such an establishment as that at Broadhurst. And now, if
you will give me the pleasure of your company at luncheon, I shall be
happy to introduce you to my relative, Miss Livingstone, who does me the
honour to preside over my household. My daughter, I believe, you have
already seen;” and as he spoke he led the way to the dining-room, where
the rest of the party were already assembled.

Miss Livingstone, who scrutinised Lewis as if she suspected him of
belonging to that ingenious fraternity yclept the swell mob, was, in
appearance, a very awful old lady indeed. The nearest approach we can
make to a description of her features is to say that they bore a marked
(with the small-pox) resemblance to those of Minerva _and_ her owl;
the sternness of that utilitarian goddess--the Miss Martineau of
Olympus--and the sapient stupidity of the so-called bird of wisdom,
finding their exact counterpart in Miss Livingstone’s time-honoured
physiognomy. This lady was appareled after a strange and imposing mode,
as behoved a spinster of such orthodox station and ferociously virtuous
propriety as the General’s female commander-in-chief. Minerva’s helmet
was modernised into a stupendous fabric, wherein starch, muslin, and
ribbon of an unnatural harshness struggled upwards in a pyramid, whence
pointing with stiffened ends innumerable, suggestive of any amount of
porcupines, they appeared ready and anxious to repel or impale society
at large. A triangle of spotless lawn supplied the place of the
breastplate beneath which Jove’s daughter was accustomed to conceal her
want of heart; and a silk gown of an uncomfortable shade of grey, made
so scanty as to render at first sight the hypothesis of a mermaid_ic_
termination conceivable, completed the costume of this immaculate old
lady.

Having apparently satisfied herself that Lewis had no immediate
design upon the spoons and forks, she condescended to afford him the
meteorological information that although the sunshine might delude the
unwary into believing it to be a fine day, she had received private
information that the weather was not to be relied upon: after
promulgating which opinion she placed herself at the head, and assumed
the direction of, the luncheon-table.

Charley Leicester appeared to be the only individual of the party
insensible to a certain freezing influence, which might be specified as
one of Miss Livingstone’s most characteristic attributes. Having exerted
himself to supply that lady with every possible adjunct she could
require, and seduced her into an amount of Cayenne pepper which
afterwards subjected her to considerable physical suffering, he began--

“I was present, a day or two ago, Miss Livingstone, when a question was
started as to what man of modern times had been the greatest benefactor
to his race. It opened a mine of very curious speculation, I can assure
you.”

“I do not doubt it, Charles,” returned Miss Livingstone; “and I am glad
to learn that the young men of the present day employ their time in such
profitable discussions. What decision did you arrive at?”

“Well, ma’am,” resumed Leicester gravely, “there was of course much
difference of opinion. James Watt had rather a strong party in his
favour, but an ex-railway director was present who had lost £10,000 on
the Do-em-and-Foot-in-it Line, and he blackballed him. Lord John
was proposed; but some of the men who took in _Punch_ laughed so
immoderately when his name was mentioned that it was immediately
withdrawn. One youth, who is known to be a little bit flighty, not quite
accountable, poor fellow! declared for Lord Brougham, but we soothed
him, and he had sense enough left to see his error almost immediately.
At length it came to my turn----”

“And whom did you mention?” inquired Miss Livingstone, with a degree of
interest most unusual in her.

“I had been pondering the matter deeply,” continued Leicester, “to try
and hit on some worthy against whom no valid objection could be raised.
At one moment I thought of Moses----”

“I fancied it was restricted to men of modern times,” interposed Miss
Livingstone.

“He to whom I referred, ma’am,” returned Leicester, “was not the
Israelitish lawgiver, but the man of the City Mart, that benevolent
individual who clothes poverty in ‘a light paletot at ten-and-six,’ and
enables the honest hearts of free-born Britons to palpitate beneath a
‘gent’s superior vest’ for the trifling remuneration of five shillings.”
 This speech was algebra, or thereabouts, to the lady to whom it was
addressed, but she had a sort of instinctive apprehension that
Leicester was talking nonsense, and accordingly drew herself up stiffly,
completing her resemblance to Minerva by composing her features into
a very satisfactory likeness of the Gorgon. No way affected by this
transformation, Leicester continued--

“On mature reflection, however, I discarded Moses & Son, and was going
to give it up as hopeless, when, all of a sudden, a bright thought
flashed across me, and springing to my feet, I exclaimed in a voice of
thunder, ‘Gentlemen, I have it; the difficulty is one no longer: the
greatest modern benefactor to the human race is--_Bass!_’”

“_Who?_” exclaimed Miss Livingstone, entirely mystified and a good deal
flurried by the narrator’s unusual energy.

“Bass,” resumed Leicester; “that remarkable man whose gigantic intellect
first conceived the project of regenerating society through the medium
of _pale ale!_ The idea was hailed with enthusiasm; we immediately sent
for a dozen; and ere the liquor was disposed of, there was not a man
present but would have staked hundreds on the soundness of my opinion.”

Utterly disgusted and confused by this unexpected termination to the
anecdote, Miss Livingstone rose from her chair, sailed out of the room,
and thus the visit concluded.

Lewis, after a solitary walk, during which he was revolving in his
mind the step he had just taken, and striving to discern in the dull
lead-coloured horizon of his future one ray of light which might yield
promise of brighter times to come, was ascending Frere’s staircase,
when the door of the room above opened suddenly, and a voice, which he
thought he recognised, exclaimed--

“Then I may depend upon you; you’ll be with me by eight at the latest,
and bring your friend, if possible. Ah! here he is! Mr. Arundel,
delighted to see you--none the worse for last night, I hope--wasn’t it
glorious? Grandeville has got such a face on him, he won’t be able to
show for a week to come; and Meeking of the pallid features is so seedy
this morning that I was forced to burthen my conscience by inventing
a fictitious fall from his horse, on the strength of which I sent his
mamma to nurse him. We must book that to the pious fraud account, and
let the charity absolve the lie. Rather shaky divinity, eh, Frere? Well,
_au revoir_; I’m off.”

So saying, Mr. Tom Bracy--for he it was, and none other--dashed down
the stairs, and having deeply scandalised Frere’s ancient domestic by
an anxious inquiry how it was she did not get a husband, took his
departure.

“Frere!” exclaimed Lewis, throwing himself into a chair and coldly
repulsing Faust, who never could imagine himself otherwise than welcome,
“I’ve done it!”

“So have I, man,” was the reply; “and pretty considerably brown, too,
as that nice youth who has just left me would call it. But what have you
done to make you so doleful?”

“Sold myself,” returned Lewis bitterly.

“Not to the old gentleman, I hope,” rejoined Frere, “though your black
looks would almost lead one to imagine so.”

“What weak, inconsistent fools we are!” pursued Lewis.

“Speak for yourself, young man,” observed Frere parenthetically.

“How vacillating and impotent,” continued Lewis, not heeding the
interruption, “is even the strongest will! I have done this morning the
thing I believed I most anxiously desired to do--the thing I came here
hoping to accomplish--I have secured a competence for my mother and
sister. I have done so on better terms than I had deemed possible. I have
met with consideration, if not kindness, from--from my employer.” He
pronounced the word firmly, though his temples throbbed and his lip
quivered with suppressed emotion as he did so. “All this should make
me contented, if not happy. Happy!” he repeated mockingly. “Frere,” he
continued, with a sudden burst of impetuosity, “it has not done so--I am
miserable!”

He rose from his seat and began pacing the room with impatient strides.
Faust followed him for one or two turns, wagging his tail and gazing
up into his face with loving eyes; but finding his efforts to attract
attention unavailing, he uttered a piteous whine, and, retreating to a
corner, crouched down, as perfectly aware that his master was unhappy as
if he had been a human creature and could have “told his love” in
words. Frere would have spoken, but Lewis checked him by a gesture,
and continued his rapid walk for some minutes in silence. At length he
spoke--

“You think me selfish and ungrateful, and you are right; I am so. I
have schooled myself to bear all this, and I _will_ bear it; but bitter
thoughts arise and at times overpower me. I am very young” (“True for
you,” muttered Frere, _sotto voce_), “and I am so unfit for such a life
as lies before me, a life of tame and ceaseless drudgery, in which
to indulge the high aspirations and noble daring that win men honour
becomes misplaced folly; to live with people whose equal, if not
superior, I feel myself, in a semi-menial capacity; to obey when I
would command; to forfeit all that is bright and fair in
existence--intercourse with the higher order of minds, the society
of pure and refined spirits; and, above all, to lose the only thing I
really prize on earth--my independence.

“Well,” he continued, after a pause, “the die is cast, and repining is
worse than useless. I will give this experiment a fair trial; it may
be the harness will set more easily on me than I imagine; and should it
become unbearable, I can but cast it off and start afresh: there is such
a thing as to compel one’s destiny!”



CHAPTER VIII.--LEWIS RECEIVES A LECTURE AND A COLD BATH.

Richard Frere listened to the somewhat grandiloquent remark with which
the last chapter concluded, muttering to himself, “‘Compel destiny,’
indeed; it strikes me you’ll find ‘destiny,’ as you call it, will have
the best of it at that game;” then turning to his companion, he observed
more gravely, “Now, listen to me, Lewis. What you have just said is no
doubt true enough; you _are_ about as unfit in tastes and habits for the
life that is before you as a man well can be, but for that reason it is
exactly the very best thing for you. For what purpose do you suppose we
are sent into this world? Most assuredly not only to please ourselves,
and by following out our own desires and caprices, create a sphere for
the exercise and increase of our natural faults. No; the only true view
of life is as a school, wherein our characters are to be disciplined,
and all the changes and chances, sorrows, trials, and temptations we
meet with are the agents by which the education of the soul is carried
on.”

“And a low, wretched view of life it is,” replied Lewis bitterly; “a
seventy years’ pupilage under the rod of destiny. The heathen sage was
right who said that those whom the gods love die early. If it were not
for Rose and my mother, I would join some regiment bound for India,
volunteer into every forlorn hope, and trust that some Sikh bullet
would rid me of the burthen of life without my incurring the guilt of
suicide.”

“In fact, you would die like an idiot, because you lack moral courage
to face the evils of life like a man,” returned Frere. “But wait a bit:
your argument, such as it is, is founded on a fallacy, or on that still
more dangerous thing, a half-truth. Granting that life were one scene of
bitter experiences,--which would be granting a very large lie,--for what
is this discipline intended to fit us? That is the question. You are
ambitious--how would you regard obstacles in your path to greatness? You
would rejoice in them, would you not, as opportunities for bringing
out the high qualities you fancy you possess? fortitude, courage,
indomitable perseverance, ready wit, aptitude to lead and govern
your fellow-men, and fifty other magnanimous attributes; and deem the
greatness unworthy your notice could it be obtained without a struggle.
But what is human greatness? A triumph for the hour, bringing its
attendant cares and evils with it--mark that,--a bauble, which some
other ambitious genius may possibly wrest from your grasp, which old
age would unfit you to retain, of which death must deprive you in a
few years more or less. Now take the true, the Christian’s view of
life--obstacles to overcome, demanding all our strength of mind,
and then proving too mighty for us without the assistance of a Power
superior to that of man, but which will be given us if we seek it
properly. And the victory won, what is the prize we shall obtain? A
position, according to our advance in righteousness, among the spirits
of just men _made perfect_ intercourse (with reverence be it spoken)
with the Source of all good, Omniscience our teacher, Omnipotence our
only ruler, Perfect Justice our lawgiver, Perfect Wisdom our director,
the Powers of Heaven for our associates, and our own souls, freed
from the trammels of mortality, fitted to appreciate and enjoy these
inestimable blessings; and all this, not for time, but for eternity.
Lewis, you are a reasonable being, and to your own reason I will leave
the question.”

There was silence for some minutes. At length Lewis raised his head,
revealing features on which the traces of deep emotion were visible, and
stretching out his hand to his friend, said in a voice which trembled
from excess of feeling, “God bless you, Frere; you are indeed a
true friend!” He paused; then added suddenly, “Frere, promise me one
thing,--promise me that whatever I may do, whatever rash act or evil
deed my feelings may hurry me into, you will not give me up; that while
we both live you will act by me as you have done to-day--that you will
preserve me from myself, stand between me and my fiery nature; then
shall I feel that I am not utterly deserted--you will be the link that
shall still bind me to virtue.”

“Well, if you fancy it will make you any happier, or better, or more
reasonable, I will promise it,” returned Frere; “more particularly as I
should most probably do it whether I promise it or not.”

“You promise, then?” asked Lewis eagerly.

“I do,” replied Frere.

Lewis once more wrung his friend’s hand with such eagerness as to elicit
a grimace of pain from that excellent individual, and then continued--

“A conversation of this nature regularly upsets me; I must go out and
walk off the excitement before I shall be fit for anything. Come, Faust,
good dog! I spoke up for Faust to-day, Frere, and the General accorded
a dignified assent: ‘A dog more or less will make little difference in
such an establishment as Broadhurst.’”

“Did he say that?” inquired Frere.

“Word for word,” returned Lewis.

“Well, I thought better things of him! ‘Folks is sich fools!’ as my old
lady downstairs says. Are you off? Mind you are at home in good time
for dinner, for I have been seduced into accepting another evening
engagement for us.”

“Any more fighting?” asked Lewis anxiously.

“No; thank goodness for that same!” returned Frere.

“I wish I could meet that long Chartist,” continued Lewis, shaking his
fist; “not that I bear him any ill-will, but it would be such a
relief to me just now to knock somebody down. Mayn’t I set Faust at a
policeman?”

“Not unless you prefer Brixton to Broadhurst, and the treadmill to the
tutorship,” returned Frere.

“Well, good-bye till dinner-time,” responded Lewis, leaving the room. “I
won’t punish your carpet any longer. Come, Faust!”

“That is a most singular young man,” soliloquised Frere as he took down
and unrolled a Persian manuscript; “very like an excitable steam-engine
with an ill-regulated safety-valve in disposition; I only hope he won’t
blow up bodily while I have the care of him. He is a fine fellow,
too, and it’s impossible not to be very fond of him; but he’s an awful
responsibility for a quiet man to have thrust upon him.”

Meanwhile Lewis, walking hurriedly up one street and down another, with
the design of allaying the fever of his mind by bodily exercise, found
himself at length in the neighbourhood of Hyde Park, and, tempted by
the beauty of the afternoon, he continued his stroll till he reached
Kensington Gardens. Here, stretching himself on one of the benches,
he watched the groups of gaily-dressed loungers and listened to the
military band, till he began to fear he might be late for Frere’s
dinner; and retracing his steps, he proceeded along the bank of the
Serpentine towards Hyde Park Corner. As he arrived nearly opposite the
receiving-house of the Humane Society, his attention was attracted
by the lamentations of a small child, whom all the endearments of a
sympathising nursery-maid were powerless to console. The child, being
a fine sturdy boy, and the maid remarkably pretty, Lewis was moved by a
sudden impulse of compassion to stop and inquire the cause of the grief
he beheld. It was soon explained. Master Tom had come to sail a little
boat which his grandpapa had given him; the string by which the length
of its voyage was to have been regulated had broken, and the boat had
drifted farther and farther from its hapless owner, until at last it
had reached a species of buoy, to which the park-keeper’s punt was
occasionally moored, and there it had chosen to stick hard and fast. In
this rebellious little craft was embarked, so to speak, all Master
Tom’s present stock of earthly happiness; thence the sorrow which Mary’s
caresses were unable to assuage, and thence the lamentations which had
attracted Lewis’s attention.

“Don’t cry so, my little man, and we’ll see if we can’t find a way
of getting it for you,” observed Lewis encouragingly, raising the
distressed shipowner in his arms to afford him a better view of his
stranded property. “We must ask my dog to go and fetch it for us. Come
here, Mr. Faust. You are not afraid of him? he won’t hurt you--that’s
right, pat him; there’s a brave boy; now ask him to fetch your boat for
you. Say, ‘Please, Mr. Faust, go and get me my boat!’ say so.” And the
child, half-pleased, half-frightened, but with implicit faith in the
dog’s intellectual powers, and the advisability of conciliating its good
will and imploring its assistance, repeated the desired formula with
great unction.

“That’s well! Now, nurse, take care of Master--what did you say?--ay,
Master Tom, while I show Faust where the boat is.” As he spoke he took
up a stone, and attracting Faust’s attention to his proceedings, jerked
it into the water just beyond the spot where the boat lay, at the same
time directing him to fetch it.

With a bound like the spring of a lion the noble dog dashed into the
water and swam vigorously towards the object of his quest, reached it,
seized it in his powerful jaws, and turned his head towards the bank in
preparation for his homeward voyage, while the delighted child laughed
and shouted with joy at the prospect of regaining his lost treasure.
Instead, however, of proceeding at once towards the shore, the dog
remained stationary, beating the water with his forepaws to keep himself
afloat, and occasionally uttering an uneasy whine.

“Here, Faust! Faust! what in the world’s the matter with him?” exclaimed
Lewis, calling the dog and inciting him by gestures to return, but in
vain; his struggles only became more violent, without his making the
slightest progress through the water.

Attracted by the sight, a knot of loungers gathered round the spot,
and various suggestions were hazarded as to the dog’s unaccountable
behaviour. “I think he must be seized with cramp,” observed a
good-natured, round-faced man in a velveteen jacket, who looked like one
of the park-keepers. “The animal is suicidally disposed, apparently,”
 remarked a tall, aristocratic-looking young man, with a sinister
expression of countenance, to which a pair of thick moustaches imparted
a character of fierceness. “Anxious to submit to the cold-water cure,
more probably,” remarked his companion. “It will be kill rather than
cure with him before long,” returned the former speaker with a half
laugh; “he’s getting lower in the water every minute.”

“He is caught by the string of the boat which is twisted round the
buoy!” exclaimed Lewis, who during the above conversation had seized
the branch of a tree, and raising himself by his hands, had reached a
position from which he was able to perceive the cause of his favourite’s
disaster; “he’ll be drowned if he is not unfastened. Who knows where the
key of the boat-house is kept?”

“I’ll run and fetch it,” cried the good-natured man; “it’s at the
receiving-house, I believe.”

“Quick! or it will be of no use!” said Lewis in the greatest excitement.

The man hurried off, but the crowd round the spot had now become so
dense--even carriages filled with fashionably-dressed ladies having
stopped to learn the catastrophe--that it was no easy matter for him to
make his way through it, and several minutes elapsed without witnessing
his return. In the meantime the poor dog’s struggles were becoming
fainter and fainter; his whining had changed to something between a
hoarse bark and a howl, a sound so clearly indicative of suffering as to
be most distressing to the bystanders; and it was evident that if some
effort were not speedily made for his relief he must sink.

“He shall not perish unassisted!” exclaimed Lewis impetuously; “who will
lend me a knife?”

Several were immediately offered him, from which he selected one with a
broad blade.

“May I inquire how you propose to prevent the impending catastrophe?”
 asked superciliously the moustached gentleman to whom we have before
alluded.

“You shall see directly,” returned Lewis, divesting himself of his coat,
waistcoat, and neckcloth.

“I presume you are aware there is not one man in a hundred who could
swim that distance in his clothes,” resumed the speaker in the
same sneering tone. “Do you actually--I merely ask as a matter of
curiosity--do you really consider it worth while to peril your life for
that of a dog?”

“For such a noble dog as that, yes!” replied Lewis sternly. “I might
not take the trouble for a _mere puppy_;” and he pronounced the last two
words with a marked emphasis, which rendered his meaning unmistakable.
The person he addressed coloured with anger and slightly raised his
cane, but he read that in Lewis’s face which caused him to relinquish
his intention, and smiling scornfully he folded his arms and remained to
observe the event.

This was Lewis’s introduction to Charles Leicester’s elder brother, Lord
Bellefield, the affianced of Annie Grant.

Having completed his preparations, Lewis placed the knife between his
teeth, and motioning to the crowd to stand on one side, gave a short
run, dashed through the shallow water, and then, breasting the stream
gallantly, swain with powerful strokes towards the still struggling
animal. As he perceived his master approaching, the poor dog ceased
howling, and seemingly re-animated by the prospect of assistance,
redoubled his efforts to keep himself afloat.

In order to avoid the stroke of his paws, Lewis swam round him, and
supporting himself by resting one hand upon the buoy, he grasped the
knife with the other, and at one stroke severed the string. The effect
was instantly perceptible: freed from the restraint which had till now
paralysed his efforts, the dog at once rose higher in the water; and
even in that extremity his affection for his master overpowering his
instinct of self-preservation, he swam towards him with the child’s boat
(of which, throughout the whole scene, he had never loosened his hold)
in his mouth.

Merely waiting to assure himself that the animal had yet strength enough
remaining to enable him to regain the shore, Lewis set him the example
by quitting the buoy and striking out lustily for the bank; but now the
weight of his clothes, thoroughly saturated as they had become, began to
tell upon him, and his strokes grew perceptibly weaker, while his breath
came short and thick.

Faust, on the contrary, freed from the string which had entangled him,
proceeded merrily, and reached the shore ere Lewis had performed half
the distance. Depositing the boat in triumph at the feet of one of the
bystanders, the generous animal only stopped to shake the wet from his
ears, and then plunging in again swam to meet his master. It was perhaps
fortunate that he did so, for Lewis’s strength was rapidly deserting
him, his clothes appearing to drag him down like leaden weights.
Availing himself, of the dog’s assistance, he placed one arm across
its back, and still paddling with the other, he was partly dragged and
partly himself swam forward, till his feet touched ground, when, letting
the animal go free, he waded through the shallow water and reached the
bank, exhausted indeed, but in safety.

Rejecting the many friendly offers of assistance with which he was
instantly overwhelmed, he wrang the water from his dripping hair,
stamped it out of his boots, and hastily resuming his coat and
waistcoat, was about to quit a spot where he was the observed of all
observers, when Lord Bellefield, after exchanging a few words with
his companion, made a sign to attract Lewis’s attention, and having
succeeded in so doing, said, “That is a fine dog of yours, sir; will you
take a twenty pound note for him?”

Lewis’s countenance, pale from exhaustion, flushed with anger at these
words; pausing a moment, however, ere he replied, he answered coldly,
“Had he been for sale, sir, I should scarcely have risked drowning in
order to save him; I value my life at more than twenty pounds.” Then
turning on his heel, he whistled Faust to follow him, and walked away at
a rapid pace in the direction of Hyde Park Corner.

Amongst the carriages that immediately drove off was one containing two
ladies who had witnessed the whole proceeding; and as it dashed by him,
Lewis, accidentally looking up, caught a glimpse of the bright eager
face of Annie Grant!



CHAPTER IX.--WHEREIN RICHARD FRERE AND LEWIS TURN MAHOMETANS.

Lewis rather expected a lecture from Richard Frere on account of
his aquatic exploit; but he need not have made himself uneasy on the
subject, for the only remark his friend volunteered was: “Well, you
know, if the dog could not be saved without, of course you were obliged
to go in and fetch him. I should have done the same myself, though I
hate cold water as I hate the old gentleman, and never could swim in my
life.”

When they had concluded dinner, Frere inquired suddenly: “By the way, do
you mean to come with me to-night?”

“Before I can answer that question,” returned Lewis, “you must
condescend to inform me where you are going, and what you mean to do
when you get there.”

“To be sure; I thought I had told you; but the fact is, I have been
working rather hard lately (I read for three hours after you were gone
to bed last night), and my head is not over clear to-day. The case is
this, sir: Tom Bracy, who, as I before told you, is lamentably addicted
to practical jokes, happens to be acquainted with a certain elderly lady
who devotes her life to lion-hunting.”

“To _what?_” inquired Lewis.

“To catching celebrities, otherwise termed lions,” replied Frere,
“and parading them at her parties for the benefit of her friends and
acquaintance. On the last occasion of this kind she confided to Bracy
her longing desire to obtain an introduction to a certain Persian
prince, or thereabouts, who has lately come over to this country to
avoid the somewhat troublesome attentions of his family, his younger
brother being most anxious to put out his eyes, and his grandfather only
waiting a favourable opportunity for bow-stringing him.”

“‘A little more than kin, and less than kind,’” quoted Lewis.

“I knew you would say that,” returned Frere; “in fact, I should have
felt quite surprised if you had not. But to proceed with my account.
Bracy soon found out that his hostess had never seen the aforesaid
Asiatic magnate, and knew next to nothing about him; whereupon he
determined ‘to get a little fun,’ as he calls it, out of the affair, and
accordingly informed her, very gravely, that from his acquaintance with
the Persian language, he was in the habit of accompanying the prince to
evening parties in the character of interpreter, and that if she would
entrust him with an invitation, he should be happy to convey it to his
Highness, and try to induce him to accept it. She joyfully acceded to
the proposal, and this very evening the party is to take place. And now
can you guess the purport of Bracy’s visit to me?”

“He wants you to act as interpreter in his stead, I suppose; his
knowledge of Persian being probably confined to the word ‘bosh.’”

“Wrong!” rejoined Frere, laughing. “A higher destiny awaits me. I am for
the nonce to be elevated to the proud position of one of the Blood Royal
of Persia. In plain English, Bracy knows as much of the Prince as I do
of the Pope; the whole thing is a hoax from beginning to end, and he
wants me to personate his Highness, which I have promised to do, while
you are to represent an attendant satrap, a sort of Mussulman gold
stick-in-waiting, always supposing you have no objection so to employ
yourself.”

“To tell you the truth, I am scarcely in the vein for such fooling,”
 returned Lewis moodily. “I hate practical jokes to begin with, nor can I
see much fun in taking advantage of the absurdities of some weak-minded
old lady. At the same time I am tolerably indifferent about the matter,
and if you have pledged yourself to go, relying upon my accompanying
you, I will put my own tastes out of the question, and do as you wish.”

“Equally sententious and amiable,” returned Frere; “but the truth is, I
have promised Bracy (partly fancying you would like the fun), and go I
must.”

“I’ll accompany you then,” rejoined Lewis. “I’d make a greater sacrifice
than that for you any day, old fellow. And now may I ask who is the lady
to be victimised?”

“An opulent widow, one Lady Lombard, ‘the interesting relict of a
be-knighted pawnbroker,’ as Bracy calls her,” replied Frere.

“_Who_ inquired Lewis, becoming suddenly interested.

“Why, how now?” returned Frere, astonished at his friend’s impetuosity.
Then repeating the name, he continued, “Do you know the lady?”

“Yes, I do,” rejoined Lewis; “know her for a coarse-minded, purse-proud,
wretched old woman!”

“Phew!” whistled Frere. “May I ask how the good lady has been so
fortunate as thus to have excited your bitter indignation against her?”

“Never mind,” returned Lewis, rising hastily and walking to the window;
“it is enough that I know her to be the character I have described.”

“That’s odd now,” muttered Frere, soliloquising. “If I had not been
acquainted with his ‘_antécêdens_’ as the French term it, nearly as well
as I know my own, I should have fancied the late lamented Lombard had,
in bygone hours, refused to negotiate some small loan for him, on the
perishable security of personal clothing. He can’t have popped the
question to the widow at one of the German watering-places, and
encountered a negative?”

“Frere, don’t mention my dislike of Lady Lombard to your facetious
acquaintance,” observed Lewis, turning round. “I have no ambition to
become a butt for his bad puns.”

“Never fear, man, I’ll not betray your confidence,” returned Frere;
“more particularly when, as in the present instance, I don’t happen to
share it.”

“Do you care to know?” asked Lewis.

“Not by no manner of means, as the young lady said, when the parson
asked her whether she was prepared to give up all the pomps and vanities
of this wicked world,” returned Frere. “And now, as we have to be
converted into Pagans before ten o’clock, suppose we start.”

A quarter of an hour’s brisk walking brought them to Bracy’s lodgings,
where they found that gentleman deeply immersed in study, with the fez
which was to assist in changing Frere into a prince stuck rakishly on
one side of his head. On perceiving his visitors he sprang from his
seat, and making a low salaam, in the course of which performance the
fez tumbled off and knocked down a candle, he exclaimed--

“Most illustrious brothers of the Sun, and first-cousins once removed
of the Moon and all the stars, may your shadows never be less! You do me
proud by honouring my poor dwelling with your seraphic presences!”

“I see you have got the wherewithal to make Heathens of us,” returned
Frere, pointing to the couple of Persian dresses which hung against the
wall like a brace of Bluebeard’s headless wives.

“Bude Light of the Universe, yes!” replied Bracy. “Your slave has
procured the ‘_wear_ with all’ necessary to complete your transformation
from infidel Feringhees to true sons of Islam. Would I have had my
prince appear without a khelaut--a dress of honour? Be Cheshm! upon my
eyes be it;--by the way, it’s a remarkable fact that the expression ‘my
eyes’ should be Court lingo in Persia, and bordering upon Billingsgate
in English.”

“You seem particularly well up in the pseudo-oriental metaphor to-night,
Bracy,” observed Frere; “has the fez inspired you?”

“No, there’s nothing miraculous in the affair,” returned Bracy; “it
is very easily explained. I have been reading up for the
occasion--cramming, sir; a process successfully practised upon heavy
Johnians at Cambridge and corpulent turkey poults in Norfolk.”

“Indeed! I was not aware that you are a Persian scholar. May I inquire
what line of study you have adopted?”

“One that I have myself struck out,” responded Bracy, “and which has
been attended, I flatter myself, with the most successful results. I
first subjected myself to a strict course of Hajji Baba, after which I
underwent a very searching self-examination in Morie’s ‘Zohrab’, or the
‘Hostage.’ I next thoroughly confused my mind with ‘Thalaba,’ but brought
myself round again upon ‘Bayley Frazer’s Travels’; after which I made
myself master of ‘Ayesha, or the Maid of Khars.’ And by way of laying
in a fitting stock of the sentimental, finished off with Byron’s
‘Giaour’;--stop, let me give you a specimen.” And replacing the unruly
fez, he sprang upon a chair, and throwing himself into a mock-tragedy
attitude, began bombastically to recite--

               “ ’Twas sweet, where cloudless stars were bright,

               To view the wave of watery light,

               And hear its melody by night;

               And oft had Hassan’s childhood play’d

               Around the verge of that cascade:

               And oft upon his mother’s breast

               That sound had harmonised his rest;

               And oft had Hassan’s youth along

               Its banks been sooth’d by Beauty’s song,

               And softer seem’d each melting tone

               Of music mingled with its own.’

“There now, I call that pretty well for a young beginner; a little of
that will go a great way with my Lady Lombard; it is like a penny bun,
cheap to begin with, and very filling at the price.”

“Turks and Persians are not exactly alike, though you seem to think they
are,” observed Frere dryly. “Have you laid down any plan of operations,
may I ask? You must give me very full and clear directions how to
behave, for, to tell you the truth, my acquaintance with the manners and
customs of the higher ranks of Persia is infinitesimally select.”

“Oh! it’s all plain sailing enough,” returned Bracy; “you have only
to look wise, roll your eyes about, and occasionally jabber a little
Persian, or any other unknown tongue you may prefer, which I, not
understanding, shall translate _ad libitum_ as the occasion may
require.”

“And sweetly you will do it too, or I am much mistaken,” muttered Frere,
divesting himself of his greatcoat.

“Pray inform me, as I am unfortunately ignorant of all the oriental
languages, how do you propose to supply my deficiencies?” inquired
Lewis. “Is my part, like Bottom the weaver’s, to be nothing but
roaring?”

“Why, as you are about to enact a lion, it would appear not
inappropriate,” returned Bracy. “Yes, it never struck me; there seems
a slight difficulty there--you never got up any _Memoria Technica_, did
you?”

Lewis shook his head.

“That’s unlucky,” continued Bracy; “a page or two of that would have
served the purpose beautifully. I met a man the other night who had
struck out a new system for himself, and was perfectly rabid about
it. He had bottled, according to his own account, the whole history of
England into an insinuating little word that sounded to me something
like ‘Humguffinhoggogrificicuana,’ and bagged all Hansard’s Reports,
from Pitt to Peel, in half-a-dozen lines of impossible doggerel. Oh! he
was a wonderful fellow--clearly mad, but intensely funny. I kept him
in tow two good hours, and made him explain his system twice over to
everybody, till the people were ready to cry, he bored them so. I was
nearly being punished for it though, as he was actually weak enough to
believe in me, and called the next day to fraternise.”

“And how did you escape?” asked Lewis.

“Why, I have a sort of tiger (the imp that let you in, in fact), who is
a first-rate liar--most excellent, useful boy, I do assure you, sir; I
sent him down with a message that I had an attack of Asiatic cholera,
but if he would take a glass of wine, and look at the paper till the
crisis should be over, I would come to him if it terminated favourably.
That settled the business; he did not wait the event, but was off like a
shot, thinking the Infection might disagree with his ‘system,’ perhaps.”

“Then he has not repeated his visit?” inquired Frere.

“No; and I hope he will not,” returned Bracy, “for there will be nothing
left for me to have but Elephantiasis or the Plague, and he must be very
far gone in innocence if he can swallow either of them.”

“Am I expected to put on these things?” asked Frere, holding up a most
voluminous pair of Persian trousers, made of a species of silk gauze
enriched with glittering spangles.

“Yea, verily, most emphatically and decidedly yes,” replied Bracy.

“Well, what must be must be, I suppose,” rejoined Frere, with a sigh of
resignation; “but I never thought to see myself in such a garment. ‘Sure
such a pair were never seen!’ One thing is clear, I must stand all the
evening, for there’s no man living could sit down in them.”

“Never fear,” returned Bracy encouragingly; “only do you go into my
bedroom and put on your robes, and I’ll ensure your ‘taking your seat
on your return.’ Never make mountains of molehills, man; there are
worse dresses than that in the world; for instance, it might have been a
kilt.”

“That’s true,” said Frere reflectively, and unhooking the richest Mrs.
Bluebeard, he proceeded after sundry ejaculations of disgust to carry it
into the other room, whither after a minute or two Bracy followed him,
to perform, as he said, the part of lady’s-maid. After a lapse of about
a quarter of an hour the door was again unclosed, and Bracy, exclaiming,
“Now, Mr. Arundel, allow me to have the honour of introducing you to his
Sublime Highness Ree Chard el Freer,” ushered in the person named.

Never was so complete a transformation seen. The Persian dress, rounding
off and concealing the angularities of his figure, gave a sort of
dignity to Frere, quite in keeping with the character he was about
to assume; while moustaches and a flowing beard imparted a degree
of picturesqueness to his countenance which accorded well with his
irregular but expressive features and bright animated eyes. A shawl
of rich pattern confined his waist, while a girdle, studded with
(apparently) precious stones, sustained a sword and dagger, the jewelled
hilts and brilliantly ornamented sheaths of which added not a little to
the magnificence of his appearance.

“_Voilà!_” exclaimed Bracy, patting him on the back. “What do you think
of that by way of a get-up? There’s a ready-made prince for you. Asylum
of the Universe, how do you find yourself? Do your new garments sit
easily?”

“None of your nonsense, sir,” replied Frere. “If I am a prince, behave
to me as _sich_, if you please. I tell you what, I shall be tearing
some of this drapery before the evening is over. Ah! well, it is not for
life, that is one comfort; but I never was properly thankful before for
not having been born a woman. Think of sinking into the vale of years in
a muslin skirt--what a prospect for an intellectual being!”

“Now, Mr. Arundel, your dress awaits you,” said Bracy, “and ‘time is on
the wing.’ We shall have her ladyship in hysterics if she fancies her
prince means to disappoint her.”

Lewis’s toilet was soon completed, and proved eminently successful,
the flowing robe setting off his tall, graceful figure to the utmost
advantage, and the scarlet fez, with its drooping tassel, contrasting
well with his dark curls and enhancing the effect of his delicately cut
and striking features. Bracy making his appearance at the same
moment, most elaborately got up for the occasion, with a blue satin
underwaistcoat and what he was pleased to denominate the Order of the
Holy Poker suspended by a red ribbon from his button-hole, the tiger of
lying celebrity was despatched for a vehicle, and the trio started.

“To a reflective mind,” began Bracy, when an interval of wood-pavement
allowed conversation to become audible,--“to a reflective mind, there
is no section of the zoology of the London streets more interesting
than that which treats of the habits and general economy of the genus
cabman.”

“As to their general economy,” returned Frere, “as far as I am
acquainted with it, it appears to consist in doing you out of more than
their fare, and expending the capital thus acquired at a gin-palace.”

“Sir, you misapply terms, treat an important subject with unbecoming
levity, and libel an interesting race of men,” returned Bracy, with a
countenance of the most immovable gravity.

“Interests, you mean,” rejoined Frere.

“One very striking peculiarity of the species,” continued Bracy, not
heeding the interruption, “is their talent for subtle analysis of
character, and power of discriminating it by the application of unusual
tests.”

“What’s coming now?” inquired Frere. “Keep your ears open, Lewis, my
son, and acquire wisdom from the lips of the descendant of many Bracys.”

“I am aware an assertion of this nature should not be lightly hazarded,”
 resumed Bracy, “as it carries little conviction to the ill-regulated
minds of the sceptical, unless it be verified by some illustrative
example drawn from the actual.”

“You have not got such a thing as a Johnson’s Dictionary about you, I
suppose?” interrupted Frere. “I want to look out a few of those long
words.”

“With this view,” resumed Bracy, “I will relate a little anecdote, which
will at the same time prove my position and display the capacity of the
London cabman for terse and epigrammatic definition. I had been engaged
on committee business at the House of Commons a short time since, and
was returning to my lodgings when, as I emerged into Palace Yard, it
began to rain. Seeing me without an umbrella, a cabman on the stand
hailed me with a view of ascertaining whether I required his services.
While I was debating with myself whether the rain was likely to
increase or not, I was hailed by the cad of an omnibus just turning into
Parliament Street.”

“I never do make puns,” began Frere, “or else I should be inclined to
ask whether being exposed to so much _hail_ and rain at the same time
did not give you cold?”

“It happened that I had just betted a new hat with a man,” continued
Bracy, still preserving the most perfect gravity, “as to how many times
the chairman of the committee would take snuff, and had lost my wager;
this made me feel awfully stingy, and accordingly availing myself of
the lowest of the two estimates, I fraternised with the ’bus fellow, and
metaphorically threw over the cabman. As I was ascending the steps of
the vehicle I had resolved to patronise, the following remark from
the injured Jehu reached my ears; it was addressed to an amphibious
individual, ‘_en sabots et bandeaux de foin_’ (as the _Morning Post_
would have it), yclept the waterman; and if you don’t think it fully
bears out my previous assertions, I can only say that you are an
incompetent judge of evidence. He first attracted his friend’s attention
by pointing to me over his shoulder with his thumb, and winking
significantly; then added in a tone of intense disgust, ‘See that cove;
I thort he worn’t no good.’Stead o’ takin’ a cab to his self, like a
gent, he’s a goin’ to have _threepen’orth of all sorts_’” As Bracy, amid
the laughter of his companions, concluded his recital, the vehicle which
conveyed them drew up at the door of Lady Lombard’s mansion.



CHAPTER X.--CONTAINS A PRACTICAL COMMENTARY ON THE PROVERB, “ALL IS NOT
GOLD WHICH GLITTERS.”

Lady Lombard, being in many senses of the word a great lady, lived in
a great house, which looked out upon that gloomy sight, a London garden,
and had its front door at the back for the sake of appearances. At this
perverted entrance did Bracy’s mendacious tiger, standing on tip-toe
the better to reach the knocker, fulminate like a duodecimo edition
of Olympian Jove, until two colossal footmen, in a great state of
excitement and scarlet plush, opened the door so suddenly as nearly to
cause the prostration of the booted boy, who only saved himself from
falling by stumbling, boots and all, against the tall shin of the
highest footman, thereby eliciting from that noble creature an
ejaculation suggestive of his intense appreciation of the injury done
him, and hinting, not obscurely, at his wishes in regard to the future
destiny of his juvenile assailant. That youth, however, who, we are
forced to confess, was not only as “impudent as he was high,” but,
reckoning by the peculiar standard which the expression aforesaid
indicates, at the very least three feet more so, hastened thus to rebuke
his adversary: “Hit’s lucky for you, Maypole, as I hain’t hon the bench
of majorstraits yet, hor ther’d a been five bob hout o’ your red plush
pockets for swearin’, as sure has heggs is heggs! Hif that’s hall yer
gratitude for me a-bringin’ of ye my honourable master and two noble
Purshun princes, hi’d better horder the carridge to turn round and
take’em back agen.”

Having astonished the disgusted giant by this speech, the imp bounded
down the steps and held open the cab-door with an air of dignified
condescension.

“Is not that boy a treasure?” whispered Bracy to Frere as they alighted.
“How neatly he took the shine out of that thick-witted pyramid of fool’s
flesh! I could not have done the thing better myself.”

“I don’t pretend to any very unusual powers of foresight,” muttered
Frere under his beard, “but I think I could point out that brat’s
residuary legatee.”

“Ah, indeed!” returned Bracy; “and who do you fix upon? the Archbishop
of Canterbury?”

“No, the hangman,” was the gruff reply.

“Well, I’d myself venture to insure him against drowning for a very
moderate premium,” rejoined his master, laughing; “but now I really must
beg you to bear in mind that you are utterly ignorant of the English
language.”

“Inshallah! I’d forgotten my illustrious descent most completely,”
 answered Frere, “but I’ll be careful; so, for the next three hours, ‘my
native’ tongue, ‘good-night.’”

While this conversation had been carried on in an undertone, the
party had been ushered upstairs amidst the wondering gaze of servants
innumerable, of all sorts and sizes, from the little foot-page
staggering under a galaxy of buttons to the mighty butler barely able to
walk beneath the weight of his own dignity.

“What name shall I say, gentlemen?” asked the last-named official in his
most insinuating tone; for a Persian prince was a rarity sufficient to
impress even his imperturbable spirit with a sense of respect.

“His Highness Prince Mustapha Ali Khan and suite,” returned Bracy
authoritatively.

Immediately the door of a well-lighted saloon was flung back on its
hinges, and in a stentorian voice the major domo announced, “His
Highness Prince Mystify-all-I-can and see-it.”

“By Jove! he’s hit it,” whispered Bracy to Lewis, as, following Frere,
they entered the room. “He won’t beat that if he tries till he’s black
in the face.”

As he finished speaking, the guests, who had crowded as near the door as
good breeding would allow to witness the Prince’s _entrée_, drew back as
a rustling of silks and satins announced the approach of their hostess.

Lady Lombard, who, to judge by appearances, would never again celebrate
her forty-fifth birthday, had been a handsome, and still was a
fine-looking woman. She was tall and portly; in fact portly is rather
a mild term to use in speaking of her ladyship, but we don’t like to
stigmatise her as stout, and beyond that we could not go in speaking
of a lady. She had a very bright colour and a very fair skin, in the
display of which she was by no means niggardly, her gown having short
sleeves (so short, indeed, as scarcely to be worth mentioning), and
being----well, we know a French word which would express our meaning,
but we prefer our own language, and must therefore say, being rather too
much off where it would have been better a little more on. She wore a
profusion of light ringlets, which we feel justified in stating, upon
our personal responsibility, to have been her own, for Lady Lombard was
an honourable woman, and paid her bills most punctually. These flaxen
locks rejoiced in one peculiarity--they were not divided in the centre,
after the usual method, but the _in medio tutissimns ibis_ principle had
been abandoned in favour of a new and striking coiffure, which, until we
were introduced to her ladyship, we had believed to be restricted to the
blue-and-silver epicene pages who worship the prima donna and poke fun
at the soubrettes on the opera stage. The page-like parting, then, was
on one side of her head, and across her ample forehead lay a festoon
of hair, arranged so as to suggest, to a speculative mind, a fanciful
resemblance to the drapery at the top of a window curtain. Her features
were by no means without expression; on the contrary, meek pomposity
and innocent self-satisfaction were written in legible characters on her
good-natured countenance.

The most carefully written descriptions usually prove inadequate to
convey to the reader’s mind a just idea of the object they would fain
depict; but as we are especially anxious that others should see Lady
Lombard with our eyes, we must beg their attention to the following
simple process, by which we trust to enable them to realise her.

Let each reader, then, call to mind the last average specimen of fat and
fair babyhood which may have come under his notice; let him imagine it
clothed in the richest sky-blue satin; let him deprive it of its coral,
and substitute in its place a gold watch and appendages; round its fat
little excuse for a neck let him clasp a diamond necklace; let him dress
its hair, or provide it a flaxen wig--if its hair should be as yet a
pleasure to come--made after the fashion we have above described; and
let him, lastly, by a powerful effort of imagination, inflate this baby
until, still preserving its infantine proportions, it shall stand five
feet nine in its satin shoes,--and he will then have arrived at a very
correct idea of Lady Lombard as she appeared when, rustling forward in a
tremor of delight, she advanced to perform the part of gracious hostess
to the Prince of Persia.

“Really, Mr. Bracy,” she began, as that gentleman, with a countenance of
solemn satisfaction, stepped forward to meet her, “really, this is _too_
kind of you; how do you do? So you have positively brought me the _dear_
prince? _Will_ you introduce me to him, and explain to him how _very_
much honoured I am by his condescension in coming this evening?”

Be it observed, by the way, that her ladyship spoke with the greatest
_empressement_, and had a habit of uttering many of her words in
italics, not to say small capitals.

“It will give me much satisfaction to do so,” returned Bracy, with grave
courtesy; “but I can assure you the prince came quite of his own accord.
The moment I had explained your invitation to him he caught the note out
of my hand, pressed it three times to his forehead, and exclaimed in the
court dialect of Iraun, ‘_Hahazyr imeyur manzur_, he did, indeed.”

“No-o-o, _really!_” ejaculated Lady Lombard, more emphatically than she
had ever yet spoken in her life; then, as a faint glimmering came across
her that there was a slight anomaly in appearing so deeply interested in
a remark which she could by no possibility understand, she added: “But
you should recollect, Mr. Bracy, that _every_ one does not possess your
remarkable acquaintance with the Eastern languages.”

“Psha! how forgetful I am!” returned Bracy. “Your ladyship must excuse
me; the prince has been so short a time in this country that I am
scarcely yet accustomed to my new duties. The few words I had the honour
to repeat to you merely signify--you know the Eastern metaphors are
very peculiar--‘I will kiss’--it’s the usual form of accepting any
distinguished invitation--‘I will kiss her ladyship’s door-mat!’
Curious, is it not?”

“Yes, _indeed_,” was the sympathetic reply. At the same moment Bracy,
turning to Frere, presented him to their hostess, saying “Prince, this
is Lady Lombard--_Twygt-hur rhumauld gâl!_”

The first sound that escaped his Highness was a hysterical grunt which,
in an Englishman, might have been deemed indicative of suppressed
laughter, but proceeding from the bearded lips of a Persian potentate,
assumed the character of an Eastern ejaculation. After muttering a few
_real_ Persian words with an appearance of deep respect, Frere took her
ladyship’s plump white hand between both his own and raised it to his
lips; then, relinquishing it, he spoke again, made a low salaam, and
drawing himself up to his full height, crossed his arms on his breast
and stood motionless before her. The appealing looks which she cast upon
Bracy when the prince spoke was a severe trial to his gravity; but by
long experience in practical joking he had acquired wonderful command
of countenance, which stood him now in good stead, and he proceeded
to translate Frere’s sentences into certain flowery and unmeaning
compliments, which were about as unlike their real signification as need
be.

After Lewis had gone through the same ceremony without the speeches, for
which omission Bracy accounted by explaining that it was not etiquette
for the Persian nobles to speak when in attendance on their princes,
they were led to the upper end of the apartment, where Frere seated
himself cross-legged on a sofa and made himself very much at home,
keeping Bracy fully employed in inventing translations to speeches, not
one word of which he, or any one else present, comprehended. Lewis, in
the meantime, who was becoming dreadfully tired of the whole affair,
stood near the end of the sofa, with his arms folded across his breast,
looking especially scornful and very particularly bored.

“Ah!” exclaimed Lady Lombard, as a pretty, graceful girl, very simply
dressed, made her way up the room, “there’s that _dear_ Laura Peyton
arrived. I _must_ go and speak to her, and bring her to be introduced
to the Prince.” She then added, aside to Bracy, “She’s _immensely_ rich;
clear six thousand a year, and does not spend two.”

“A very charming trait in her character,” returned Bracy. “I’ll mention
it to the Prince. I don’t know that there ever _was_ an Englishwoman
queen of Persia; but that’s no reason there never should be one.”

Bracy was accordingly introduced to the young lady, and led her, smiling
and blushing, up to Frere, by whom he seated her, and paved the way for
conversation by the following remark:--

“_Tharmy buoi aintsheaz tunnar?_” which for the damsel’s edification he
translated--“Asylum of the Universe! the maiden, the daughter of roses,
salutes thee!”

After a short interval Lady Lombard again bore down upon them in full
sail, towing in her wake a small, hirsute, baboon-like individual,
evidently one of her menagerie.

“There’s a chimpanzee!” whispered Bracy to Frere. “Now, if that picture
of ugliness turns out an eastern traveller we’re gone ’coons.”

“All right,” returned Frere in the same tone, “he’s only an exiled
something. He came to our shop with a recommendation from some of the
Parisian _savans_ the other day.”

“I must trouble you _once_ again, Mr. Bracy,” insinuated Lady Lombard.
“Professor Malchapeau is _dying_ to be introduced.”

“No trouble, but a pleasure,” returned Bracy. “I shall have the greatest
satisfaction in making two such illustrious individuals known to each
other. Does the Professor speak English?”

“Yas; I vas spik Angleesh von pritté veil,” replied the person alluded
to, strutting forward on tiptoe. “I ave zie honaire to vish you how you
did, my prince?”

Frere made some reply, which Bracy paraphrased into “The descendant of
many Shahs kisses the hem of the mantle of the Father of science.”

The Professor’s “Angleesh” not providing him with a suitable reply
ready made, he was obliged to resort to that refuge for destitute
foreigners--a shrug and a grimace.

Lady Lombard came to his assistance.

“Now, Professor, suppose you were to tell his Highness your affecting
history;” adding in a whisper, “Mr. Bracy, the interpreter, is connected
with government, and might be of the greatest use to you.”

“Ohf, miladi, if all zie bodies had your big heart in dem, zies vicked
vorld should be von eaven,” replied the Professor, gratefully, through
his talented nose. “My littel storie! ohf, zie Prince should not vant to
ear him?”

His Highness, however, being graciously pleased to signify his anxiety
so to do, the small man resumed--

“Ah, _ma Patri!_ vhats I ave come thro’ for him, ven I vill _raconte_
nobody shall not belief.”

“To enable the Prince to understand your account more clearly,”
 interrupted Bracy, “may I ask to what country it relates?”

“Vidout von doubt, saire! you shall tell zie Prince dat my littel tale
is Swish. My fadaire vas vot you call von mayor of zie canton of Zurich.
My brodaire and myselfs vas his only schild; since a long time ve vas
live very appy, _mais enfin_--but on his end--zie _sacré Autriche_--von
bad Oystrish government, did vot you call oppress _ma pauvre patrie_,
and my fadaire, _toujours brave_, got himself into von littel
conspiration, vaire he did commit vat you call zie offence politique;
vas trown to prison, and in his confinement he did die. Ah! ‘_mourir
pour la patrie, c’est doux_,’ to die for zie country is zie--vat you
call _doux_ in Angleesh?”

“You will find the same word in both languages, Professor, only we
pronounce it deuce,” replied Bracy politely.

“Ah! c’est bon, to die for zie country is zie deuce! _Eh bien_, after
my poor fadaire was entombed, my brodaire did run himselfs avay, and vas
converted to _un berger_, a little shepherd of cows, and I, _hélas! Pour
moi, fêtais désolé_--for myself, I was dissolute, left alone in zie
vide vorld, visout von friend to turn against. _Mais le ciel embrace
les orphelins_--eaven embarrasses zie orphans; I marched on my foot to
Paris; I found an unexpected uncle, who had supposed himself dead for
some years; I undervent all zie sciences, and _enfin me voici_--on my
end here I am.”

“A most affecting history indeed,” returned Bracy, covering his mouth
with his hand to conceal a smile. As for Frere, he had for some time
past been nearly suffocated by suppressed laughter, which at length
made itself so apparent that nothing but his beard and an assumed fit of
coughing could have saved him from discovery.

While this conversation had been going on, Miss Peyton called Lady
Lombard’s attention to Lewis by observing: “The interpreter, in
entertaining the Prince, seems entirely to have forgotten that very
handsome young attendant who stands there, looking so haughty and
disconsolate.”

“Dear me! so he does,” exclaimed Lady Lombard anxiously. “How _very_
handsome he is! such a thoroughly Eastern countenance! _He’s_ a man of
very high rank, too, over there. What _could_ we do to amuse him?”

“Perhaps we might show him some prints,” suggested Laura; “at all events
the attention might please him.”

“Oh, _yes!_ how _clever_ of you! I should never have thought of that
now. I’ve a table covered with them in the boudoir,” exclaimed Lady
Lombard delightedly; “but do you think you could turn them over for him?
I’m so foolish, I should be quite _nervous_; you see it’s so awkward his
not understanding English, poor fellow! I know I’m _very_ foolish.”

“I shall be most happy to do anything I can to lessen your
difficulties,” replied the young lady good-naturedly. “Shall I look out
a book of prints?”

“If you _would_ be so kind, my dear, you’ll find _plenty_ in the
boudoir; and I’ll go to Mr. Bracy and get him to speak to him for me.”

The result of this application was the capture of Lewis, who, inwardly
raging, was carried off to the boudoir and seated at a table, while Miss
Peyton, half frightened, half amused, turned over a volume of prints for
his edification. Lady Lombard and sundry of the guests stood round for
some minutes watching the smiles and pantomimic gestures with which
Lewis, or rather Hassan Bey, as Bracy had named him, felt bound to
acknowledge the young lady’s attentions.

Amongst the guests who were thus amusing themselves lounged a young
dandy, who, on the strength of a Mediterranean yacht voyage, set up for
a distinguished traveller. To Lady Lombard’s inquiry whether he spoke
Persian he simpered, “Re’ely--no, not exactly so as to talk to him; but
he’ll do vastly well. They prefer silence, re’ely, those fellows do. You
know I’ve seen so much of ’em.”

“You were in Persia, were you not?” asked one of the company.

“Re’ely--not exactly in his part of Persia. Stamboul, the city of
palaces, was my headquarters: but it’s much the same; indolence, beards,
and tobacco are the characteristics of both races.”

“Don’t you think he is charmingly handsome?” asked an old young lady,
shaking her ringlets after a fashion which five years before had been a
very “telling” manoeuvre.

“Re’ely, I should scarcely have said so,” was the reply; “the boy is
well enough for an Asiatic, I like a more--ahem!--manly style of thing.”
 And as he spoke he passed his hand caressingly over a violent pair of
red whiskers which garnished his own hard-featured physiognomy.

The cool impudence of this remark inspired Lewis with so intense a
sentiment of disgust that his lip curled involuntarily, and he turned
over the print before him with a gesture of impatience. On looking up
he was rather disconcerted to find Laura Peyton’s piercing black eyes
watching him curiously.

“You’ve given us nothing new in the musical way lately, Lady Lombard,”
 observed the “sere and yellow leaf” damsel before alluded to.

“I expect a lady to stay with me soon,” was the reply, “whom I _think_
you’ll be pleased with; she sings and plays in very_ first_-rate style.”

“Indeed! Is she an amateur or professional, may I inquire?”

“Why, _really_, my dear Miss Sparkless, you’ve asked a difficult
question. The fact is,” continued Lady Lombard, sinking her voice, “it’s
one of those _very_ sad cases, reduced fortune--you understand. I mean
to have her here _merely_ out of charity.” Sinking her voice still
lower, the following words only became audible: “Wife of a Captain
Arundel--foreign extraction originally--quite a _mésalliance_, I
believe.”

As she spoke some new arrival attracted her attention, and she and her
confidante left the boudoir together.

It may easily be conceived with what feelings of burning indignation
Lewis had listened to the foregoing remarks; but Frere’s lecture of the
morning had not been without its fruits. With his anger the necessity
for self-control presented itself, and he was congratulating himself at
having checked all outward signs of annoyance when he was startled by
a silvery voice whispering in his ear: “Persian or no Persian, sir,
you understand English as well as I do;” and slightly turning, his eyes
encountered those of Laura Peyton fixed on him with a roguish glance.
His resolution was instantly taken, and he replied in the same tone:
“Having discovered my secret, you must promise to keep it.”

“Agreed, on one condition,” was the rejoinder.

“And that is------?” asked Lewis.

“That you immediately make a full confession and tell me all about it.”

“It is a compact,” was the reply.

“That is good,” rejoined the young lady. “Now move the portfolio, so
that your back will be towards those people. That will do. Hold down
your head as if you were examining the prints, and then answer my
questions truly and concisely. First, you are an English gentleman?”

“Yes, I hope so.”

“Who is the prince?”

“My friend, Richard Frere.”

“And why have you both come here dressed like Persians?”

“To mystify our foolish hostess.”

“For shame, sir! I’m very fond of Lady Lombard.”

“But you know she is a silly woman.”

“Well, never mind. Who planned this hoax?”

“Bracy, the so-called interpreter.”

“Does Prince Frere talk real Persian?”

“Yes.”

“And does the other man understand him?”

“Not a bit.”

“Then he invents all the answers? That’s rather clever of him. I shall
go and listen presently. And you can’t talk either Persian or gibberish,
so you held your tongue and looked sulky. Well, I think it’s all very
wrong; but it’s rather droll. Poor, dear Lady Lombard! she’d never
survive it if she did but know! And now, tell me, lastly, what put you
in a rage just this minute and enabled me to find you out?”

“You would not care to know.”

“But I do care to know, sir, and you have promised to answer all my
questions.”

“You heard the speech that woman made about a Mrs. Arundel?”

“Yes, surely.”

“Learn, then, that my name is Lewis Arundel, and the lady referred to
was my mother. Now do you understand?”

As Lewis uttered these words, in atone of suppressed bitterness, his
companion hastily turned her head and said, in a low, hurried voice--“I
beg your pardon! I fear I have pained you; but I did not know--I could
not guess----”

“Pray do not distress yourself,” returned Lewis kindly, Rose’s smile for
a moment smoothing his haughty brow and playing round his proud mouth.
“I am sure you would not hurt any one’s feelings knowingly; and since
you observed my annoyance, I am glad to have been able to explain its
cause.”

So engrossed had they been by this conversation that they had not
observed Miss Sparkless enter the boudoir by another door; and they were
first made aware of her presence by seeing her standing, breathless with
astonishment, at discovering Miss Peyton in familiar colloquy with a
Persian nobleman utterly ignorant of the English language.

“Do you speak German?” asked Lewis quickly.

“Yes, a little,” returned Miss Peyton.

“She has not caught a word yet,” continued Lewis. “Tell her you found
out by accident that I had picked up a few German sentences when
the Prince was at the court of Prussia. White lies, unhappily, are
inevitable on these occasions,” he continued, seeing his companion
hesitate. “It’s the only way to prevent an _éclaircissementt_; and then,
think of poor Lady Lombard’s feelings!”

“As I seem fairly embarked in the conspiracy, I suppose I must do your
bidding,” was the reply, and Miss Sparkless, the middle-aged young lady,
was accordingly informed of Lewis’s German proficiency, whereat, falling
into an ecstasy, she replied--

“How charming! What a dear creature he is!” On which the dear creature
himself, catching Miss Peyton’s eye, was very near laughing outright.

“Laura, my _love_,” exclaimed Lady Lombard, entering hastily, “the
Prince is going down to supper; will you come?” Then taking her hand
caressingly, she added, “Have you been _very_ much bored by him, poor
fellow?”

“I found he could speak a few words of German, and that helped us on,”
 was the reply.

“Yes, _really_--ah; we might have thought of _that_ before,” returned
Lady Lombard, by no means certain the German language might not form an
important and customary branch of Persian education.

During supper Laura Peyton contrived to be seated between Frere and
Bracy, the latter of whom she kept so constantly engaged in interpreting
for her that he scarcely got anything to eat, and came to the conclusion
that in the whole course of his experience he had never before
encountered such a talking woman. Nor was his annoyance diminished by
observing that Lewis, who was seated opposite, appeared to be deriving
the utmost amusement from his discomfiture. Having exhausted every
possible pretext for breaking off the conversation, and being each time
foiled by the young lady’s quiet tact, he was about to resign himself to
his fate and relinquish all idea of supper, when a project occurred to
him which he immediately hastened to put into execution. Waiting till
Frere had spoken a Persian sentence, he suddenly drew himself up,
looking deeply scandalised, frowned at the speaker, shook his head and
muttered something unintelligible in a tone of grave remonstrance, then
paused for a reply, which Frere, intensely perplexed, and by no means
clear that he had not done something un-Persian and wrong, was forced to
utter. This only seemed to make matters worse: Bracy again remonstrated
in gibberish, then appeared to have determined on his course, and
muttering, “Well, there’s no help for it, I suppose,” he turned to Lady
Lombard, and began in a tone of deep concern--

“I have a most disagreeable duty to perform, and must beg you to believe
that nothing but absolute necessity could have induced me to mention the
matter; but I have remonstrated with his Highness without effect, and I
dare go no further--he is subject to most violent bursts of passion, and
becomes dangerous when opposed. He drew his dagger and attempted to stab
me only yesterday, because I interfered to prevent his having one of the
waiters of the hotel strangled with a bow-string.”

Lady Lombard turned pale on receiving this information, while Bracy
continued--

“It is most unfortunate, but the Prince has been so much delighted with
this young lady’s charming flow of conversation that, in his ignorance
of the customs of this country, he has actually commissioned me to offer
you £500 for her, and declared his determination of taking her home with
him.”

The effect of this communication may be “better imagined than
described.” Miss Peyton, aware of the true state of affairs, hid her
face in her handkerchief in an uncontrollable fit of laughter; Lewis,
sorely tempted to follow her example, bent over his plate till the
flowing tassel of the fez concealed his features; Frere, excessively
annoyed at the false imputation, all but began a flat denial of the
charge in somewhat forcible English, but remembering his assumed
character just in time, clenched his fist and ground his teeth with
impatience, while Lady Lombard, observing these gestures, and construing
them into indications of an approaching burst of fury, was nearly
swooning with terror, when a note was put into her hands by a servant;
hastily casting her eyes over it, she handed it to Bracy, saying--

“This is most fortunate; it may serve to divert his attention.”

As he became aware of its contents his countenance fell, and holding it
so that Frere might read it, he whispered--

“Here’s a treat! We _are_ in for it now, and no mistake!”

The note ran as follows:--

“Dr. --------, Persian Professor at Addiscombe, presents his compliments
to Lady Lombard, and begs to inform her that being only in town for a
few hours, and learning accidentally that his Highness Prince Mustapha
Ali was spending the evening at her house, he has ventured to request
her permission to intrude upon her uninvited, as he is most anxious to
renew his acquaintance with his Highness, whom he had the honour to know
in Persia.”



CHAPTER XI.--TOM BRACY MEETS HIS MATCH.

The position in which we left Lewis and his friends at the conclusion
of the preceding chapter was decidedly more peculiar than agreeable, and
afforded no bad illustration of the American expression, “a pretty
tall fix.” Bracy, the fertile in expedients, was the first to hazard
a suggestion, which he did by whispering to Frere, “You had better be
taken suddenly ill; I shall say you have had too much tongue (if you
have not, I have), and that it has disagreed with you.”

“Wait a bit,” returned Frere; “you have seen the real Prince, haven’t
you?”

Bracy nodded in assent, and Frere continued, “He’s something like me, is
he not?”

“Better looking,” was the uncomplimentary rejoinder.

“Well, never mind that,” resumed Frere. “I don’t set up for a beauty,
but if I am sufficiently like to pass for him I might contrive to humbug
the fellow for a few minutes, and then we could manage to slip away
quietly without any shindy at all.”

“You can try it on if you choose, but he is safe to find you out,
unless he is a perfect fool, and that is too great a mercy to hope for,”
 returned Bracy dejectedly. “If the worst comes to the worst, pretend to
pick a quarrel with him, draw your carving-knife and make a poke at him;
then Arundel and I will bundle him out of the room bodily, and swear we
are doing it to save his life. I can see nothing else for it, for there
go the women, and, by Jove, here’s the learned Pundit himself! Oh! isn’t
he pretty to look at? Why, he is a fac-simile of the picture in the old
editions of Gay’s Fables, of ‘the Monkey who had seen the World.’”

While this dialogue was proceeding, Lady Lombard, having gathered the
ladies under her wing, had marched them off to the drawing-room, Miss
Peyton finding an opportunity as she passed Lewis to say, in German,
“Tell your Prince that when I sell myself I shall want a great deal more
than £500.”

“In fact, that your value is quite inestimable,” returned Lewis.

“Exactly so,” was the reply. “I am glad you have sufficient penetration
to have found it out already.”

The description given by Bracy of the Doctor’s outward man was by no
means inapt. His hair and whiskers were grey, and, still adhering to the
fashions of his younger days, he wore powder and a pig-tail. His dress
consisted of a black single-breasted coat with a stand-up collar,
knee breeches, and silk stockings; a profusion of shirt-frill rushed
impetuously out of the front of his waistcoat, a stiff white neckcloth
appeared thoroughly to deserve the appellation of “choker” which Bracy
applied to it, while a shirt-collar starched to a pitch of savage
harshness invaded the region of his cheeks to an extent which rendered
the tract of country lying between the ears and the corners of the
mouth a complete _terra incognita_. Constant study of the Eastern
hieroglyphics had probably rendered his wearing spectacles a matter of
necessity; at all events a huge pair in a broad tortoiseshell setting
garnished his nose, which, truth compels us to confess, was more than
slightly red, in which particular it afforded a decided contrast to
his general complexion, which was, we say it distinctly and without
compromise, yellow.

To this gentleman, who entered with a hasty step and glanced round him
with a quick, abrupt, and rather startling manner, did Bracy address
himself with much _empressement_.

“My dear sir, this is most fortunate; the Prince is quite delighted at
the rencontre, but you must expect to find his Highness greatly altered.
The cares of life, my dear sir, the anxieties attending--ah! I see you
are impatient; I won’t detain you, but I wished to warn you that if you
should perceive any great change in his appearance, you must not be
surprised, and above all be careful not to show it by your manner. You
have no idea how sensitive he is on the point; quite morbidly so,
really. Don’t let me detain you--how well you are looking!”

A good deal of pantomimic action had accompanied the delivery of this
speech, the Doctor being engaged in making vain and futile attempts to
get past his persecutor, who on his part continued, with an affectation
of the deepest respect, constantly, and with the utmost perseverance, to
frustrate them. The concluding words of his address, however, elicited
the following rejoinder, spoken in a quick, cross manner:--

“You have the advantage of me, sir, for I do not remember ever setting
eyes on you before in my life. I never forget a face I have once seen.”

“Confound his memory!” thought Bracy, “Frere won’t have a chance with
him;” he only said, however, “You are right, Doctor; the fact of your
looking well is so self-evident that I ventured to remark it, without
having any previous data to go upon--but here is his Highness,” and as
he spoke, he at length moved on one side and allowed the man of learning
to pass.

Frere coming forward at the same minute, Bracy whispered, while the
Doctor bent in a low salaam:

“I have bothered his brains sweetly for him, he hardly knows whether
he’s standing on his head or his heels; so now you must take care of
yourself, and joy go with you.”

Frere, thus apostrophised, returned the Doctor’s salute with much
cordiality, and Bracy, feigning some excuse, left them to entertain
each other, having before his eyes a wholesome dread of the newcomer’s
addressing him in Persian, and thereby discovering his deplorable
ignorance of that interesting language.

Time, which does not stand still for princes any more than for private
individuals, passed on with its usual rapidity. Most of the gentlemen
having eaten as much, and drunk probably more (looking at it in a
medical point of view) than was good for them, had rejoined the ladies,
and it became evident to Bracy that a crisis in his evening’s amusement
was approaching. On his return to the drawing-room he must of course
resume his duties as interpreter, and this inconvenient Persian
professor would inevitably discover the imposture. This was the more
provoking, as Frere’s likeness to the Prince must evidently have been
much stronger than he had imagined, and his acquaintance with the rules
of Persian etiquette more extensive than he had believed possible, for
the Doctor continued to converse with the utmost gravity, and appeared
to believe in him implicitly. While he was still pondering the matter
in his anxious mind, the few last remaining guests conveyed themselves
away, and the Prince and his party were left to dispute possession of
the supper-room with empty champagne bottles and half-tipsy waiters.
Frere, when he perceived this to be the case, beckoned Bracy to
approach, and as soon as he was within earshot, whispered--

“I have humbugged the old fellow beautifully on the score of our Persian
recollections, but he has just been questioning me about you,--where you
acquired your knowledge of the language, whether you have been much in
the East, how I became acquainted with you, and all the rest of it. I
put him off with lies as long as I could, but it would not do, and as a
last resource, I have been obliged to refer him to you.”

“The deuce you have!” was the reply; “that is pleasant. He’ll be
jabbering his confounded lingo, and I shall not understand a word he
says to me; besides, my jargon won’t go down with him, you know. I tell
you what, I shall be off, and you must say upstairs (he can interpret
for you) that I have been sent for by the prime minister at a minute’s
notice, _à la_ De Grandeville.”

“’Tis too late,” replied Frere; and at the same instant the Doctor
seized Bracy by the button, and in a stern and impressive manner asked
some apparently searching question in Persian. Few men had enjoyed the
delight of seeing Tom Bracy in the unenviable frame of mind expressed
by the nautical term “taken aback,” but of that favoured few were the
bystanders on the present occasion. Never was an unhappy individual
more thoroughly and completely at a loss; and it must be confessed
the situation was an embarrassing one. To be addressed by an elderly
stranger in an unintelligible language, in which you are expected to
reply, while at the same time you are painfully conscious that your
incapacity to do so, or even (not understanding the question) to give an
appropriate answer in your native tongue, will lead to a discovery you
are most anxious to avert, is an undeniably awkward position in which
to be placed. That Bracy found it so was most evident, for he fidgeted,
stammered, glanced appealingly towards Frere for aid, and at last was
obliged, between annoyance and an intense appreciation of the absurdity
of his situation, to get up a fictitious cough, which, irritating the
membrane of the nose, produced a most violent genuine sneeze. From the
effects of this convulsion of nature he was relieved by a hearty slap
on the back, while at the same moment the tones of a familiar voice
exclaimed in his ear--

“Sold, by all that’s glorious! Bracy, my boy, how do you find yourself?”
 and on looking up he recognised in the laughing face of the Addiscombe
doctor, now divested of its spectacles, the well-known features of
Charley Leicester.



CHAPTER XII.--LEWIS FORFEITS THE RESPECT OF ALL POOR-LAW GUARDIANS.

Equally surprised and mystified at the complete manner in which the
tables had been turned upon him, Bracy stood listening with a
disgusted expression of countenance to the peals of laughter which his
discomfiture elicited from his companions.

“Yes, laugh away,” growled the victimised practical joker; “it’s
all very funny, I dare say, but one thing I’ll swear in any court of
justice, which is, that you have been talking real Persian, at least if
what Frere jabbers is real Persian.”

“Of course I have,” returned Leicester, still in convulsions. “When
Frere and I planned this dodge we knew what a wide-awake gentleman we
had to deal with, and took our measures accordingly. I learned four
Persian sentences by heart from his dictation, and pretty good use I
have made of them too, I think.”

“It was not a bad idea, really,” observed Bracy, who, having got over
his annoyance at the first sense of defeat, instantly recovered his
good-humour. “How well you are got up! I did not recognise you one bit
till you pulled off the barnacles.”

“Yes, I got little Stevens, who does the light comic business at one
of the minors, to provide the apparel and come and dress me. I hope you
admire my complexion; he laid on the red and yellow most unsparingly.”

“He has done it vastly well,” returned Bracy. “I shall cultivate that
small man; he may be extremely useful to me on an occasion.”

“Now we ought to be going upstairs,” interrupted Frere; “these waiter
fellows are beginning to stare at us suspiciously too. I say, Bracy, cut
it short, man; we have had all the fun now, and I’m getting tired of the
thing.”

“Ya, Meinheer,” rejoined Bracy aloud, adding in a lower tone, “The
slaveys will swallow that or anything else for Persian. They are all
more or less drunk, by the fishy expression of their optics.”

Laura Peyton was astonished somewhat later in the evening by the
Addiscombe professor leaning over the back of the sofa on which she was
seated and asking whether she had enjoyed her last valse at Almack’s the
evening before last.

“Surely you can feel no particular interest about such a frivolous and
unintellectual matter, sir,” was the reply.

“I was about to follow up the inquiry by asking whether your partner
made himself agreeable.”

“To which I shall reply, after the Irish fashion, by asking how it can
possibly concern you to know, sir?”

“Merely because I have the honour of the gentleman’s acquaintance.”

“That, in fact, you are one of those uncommon characters who know
themselves,” returned Laura with an arch smile. “Is not that what you
wish to impress upon me, Mr. Leicester?”

Charley laughed, then continued in a lower tone, “I saw you knew me. Did
your own acuteness lead to the discovery, or are there traitors among
us?”

“Your friend Mr. Arundel’s expressive features let me into the secret
of his acquaintance with the English language before we went down to
supper; but I entered into a contract, not to betray the plot if he
would tell me all I might wish to know about it, so the moment he came
up I made him inform me who you were. What a gentlemanly, agreeable
person he is!”

As she said this a slight shade passed across Leicester’s good-natured
countenance, and he replied, more quickly than was his wont--

“I had fancied Miss Peyton superior to the common feminine weakness of
being caught by the last handsome face.”

“What a thoroughly _man_-like speech!” returned the young lady. “Did I
say anything about his appearance, sir? Do you suppose we poor women
are so utterly silly that we can appreciate nothing but a handsome face?
Your professor’s disguise has imbued you with the Turkish belief that
women have no souls.”

“No one fortunate enough to be acquainted with Miss Peyton would
continue long in such a heresy,” replied Leicester, with the air of a
man who thinks he is saying a good thing.

“Yes, I knew you would make some such reply,” returned Laura. “You first
show your real opinion of women by libelling the whole sex, and then try
to get out of the scrape by insulting my understanding with a personal
compliment. Wait,” she continued, seeing he was about to defend himself,
“you must not talk to me any more now, or you will excite Lady Lombard’s
suspicions and betray the whole conspiracy. Go away, and send my new
friend Mr. Arundel Hassan Bey here; Lady Lombard committed him to my
charge, and I want to cultivate him.”

Leicester tried to assume a languishing look, which he was in the
habit of practising upon young ladies with great success, but becoming
suddenly conscious of the wig and spectacles, and gathering from
Laura’s silvery laugh that such adjuncts to an interesting expression
of countenance were incongruous, not to say absurd, he joined in her
merriment, then added, “You are in a very wicked mood to-night, Miss
Peyton; but I suppose I must e’en do as you bid me, and reserve my
revenge till some more fitting opportunity;” then, mixing with the
crowd, he sought out Lewis and delivered the young lady’s message
to him, adding in his usual drawling tone, “You have made a
what-do-ye-call-it--an impression in that quarter. Women always run
after the last new face.”

“You are right,” returned Lewis, with a degree of energy which startled
his listless companion; “and those men are wisest who know them for the
toys they are, and avoid them.”

Leicester gazed after his retreating figure in astonishment, then
murmured to himself, “What’s in the wind now, I wonder; is the good
youth trying to keep up the Asiatic character, or suddenly turned
woman-hater? Confound that little Peyton girl, how sharp she was
to-night!”

“How very well Mr. Leicester is disguised!” observed Laura Peyton to
Lewis, after they had conversed in German for some minutes on general
topics.

“Yes,” replied Lewis; “though I can’t say his appearance is improved by
the alteration.”

“A fact of which he is fully aware,” returned Laura, smiling.

A pause ensued, which was terminated by Laura’s asking abruptly, “Do
gentlemen like Mr. Leicester?”

“Really I have not sufficient knowledge of facts to inform you, but I
should say he is a very popular man.”

“Popular man! I hate that phrase,” returned his companion pettishly. “It
is almost as bad as describing any one as a man about town, which always
gives me the idea of a creature that wears a pea-jacket, lives at a
club, boards on cigars, talks slang, carries a betting-book, and never
has its hair cut. Can’t you tell me what you think of Mr. Leicester
yourself?”

“Well, I think him gentlemanly, good-natured, agreeable up to a certain
point, cleverish---”

^ “Yes, that will do; I quite understand. I don’t think you do him
justice--he has a kind heart, and more good sense than you are disposed
to give him credit for. You should not form such hasty judgments of
people; a want of charity I perceive is one of your faults. And now
I must wish you good-night; I hear my kind old chaperone anxiously
bleating after me in the distance.”

So saying she arose and hastened to put herself under the protection of
“a fine old English gentlewoman,” who, with a hooked nose, red gown,
and green scarf, looked like some new and fearful variety of the genus
Parroquet. At the same time, Bracy summoned Lewis to join the Prince,
who was about to depart, which, after Lady Lombard had in an enthusiasm
of gratitude uttered a whole sentence in the largest capitals, he was
allowed to do.

Leicester accompanied them, tearing himself away from Professor
Malchapeau, who had singled him out as a brother savan, and commenced
_raconte_-ing to him his affecting history, thereby leaving that shaggy
little child of misfortune to lament to his sympathising hostess the
melancholy fact that “Zie Professor Addiscombe had cut his little tale
off short, and transported himselfs avay in von great despatch.”

’Twere long to tell the jokes that were made, the new and additional
matter brought to light, as each of the quartette, assembled round a
second edition of supper in Bracy’s rooms, detailed in turn his own
personal experiences of the evening’s comicalities--the cigars that were
smoked, or the amount of sherry cobbler that was imbibed: suffice it
to say, that a certain lyrical declaration that they would not “go home
till morning,” to which, during their symposium, they had committed
themselves, was verified when, on issuing out into the street, the cold
grey light of early dawn threw its pale hue over their tired faces and
struggled with sickly-looking gas lamps for the honour of illuminating
the thoroughfares of the sleeping city.

Leicester’s cab, with his night-horse--a useful animal, which, without
a leg to stand upon, possessed the speed of the wind, and having every
defect horseflesh is heir to, enjoyed a constitution which throve on
exposure and want of sleep, as other organisations usually do on the
exact opposites--was in waiting. Into this vehicle Charley (who bore
some token of sherry cobbler in the unsteadiness of his gait), having
made two bad shots at the step, rushed headlong and drove off at an
insane pace, and in a succession of zigzags.

Frere and Lewis watched the cab till, having slightly assaulted an
unoffending lamp-post, it flew round a corner and disappeared; then,
having exchanged a significant glance suggestive of sympathetic
anticipations of a sombre character in regard to the safety of their
friend, they started at a brisk pace, which soon brought them to Frere’s
respectable dwelling. While the proprietor was searching in every pocket
but the right one for that terror of all feeble-minded elders, that pet
abomination of all fathers of families, that latest invention of the
enemy of mankind--a latch-key--they were accosted by a lad of about
fifteen, whose ragged clothes, bronzed features, and Murillo-like
appearance accorded well with his supplication, “_Per pietà Signor,
denaro per un pover’ Italiano_.”

[Illustration: 0094]

Frere looked at him attentively, then exclaimed, “I tell you what, boy,
it won’t do; you’re no more an Italian than I am. You should not try to
impose upon people.”

The boy hung down his head, and then replied doggedly, “It’s your own
fault; you’ll let an English boy starve in the streets before you’ll
give him a bit of bread, but you are charitable enough to them foreign
blackguards.”

“That’s not true,” replied Frere. “However, liar or not, you must be
fed, I suppose; so if you choose to take a soup-ticket, here’s one for
you.”

“No,” returned the boy proudly, “you have called me liar, and I won’t
accept your miserable bounty. I’d sooner starve first.”

“As you please,” returned Frere, coolly pocketing the rejected ticket.
“Now have the goodness to take yourself off. Come, Lewis.”

“I’ll join you immediately,” replied Lewis.

“Mind you shut the door after you, then,” continued Frere, “or we shall
have that nice lad walking off with the silver spoons.” So saying, he
entered the house.

Lewis waited till his retreating footsteps were no longer audible, then
fixing his piercing glance upon the boy, he said in an impressive voice,
“Answer me truly, and I will give you assistance. Where did you learn to
speak Italian with so good an accent?”

“In Naples, sir!”

“How did you get there?”

“I served on board a man-of-war.”

“And how have you fallen into this state of beggary?”

The boy hesitated for a moment, but something led him instinctively to
feel that his confidence would not be abused, and he answered: “When we
got back to England and the crew were paid off I received £15.
I got into bad company; they tempted me to everything that was wrong.
My money was soon gone; I had no friends in London, and I wouldn’t have
applied to them after going on so bad if I’d had any. I sold my clothes
to buy bread; and when I had nothing left I begged, and lately I’ve
passed myself off as an Italian boy, because I found people more willing
to give to me.”

“And do you like your present life?”

“No, I have to bear cold and hunger; and when people speak to me as _he_
did just now it makes me feel wicked. Some day it will drive me mad, and
I shall go and murder somebody.”

“What do you wish to do, then?”

“If I could buy some decent clothes, I’d walk down to Portsmouth and try
and get afloat again.”

“And what would it cost to provide them?”

“I could rig myself out for a pound.”

Lewis paused for a moment, then added quickly: “Boy, I am poor and
proud, as you are, therefore I can feel for you. Had I been exposed to
temptation, friendless and untaught, I might have fallen as you have
done. You have learnt a bitter lesson and may profit by it; it is in my
power to afford you a chance of doing so.”

He drew a card from his pocket and wrote upon it a few words in pencil,
then handing it to the boy, continued: “There is the direction to a
friend of mine, the captain of a ship about to sail in a few days; show
him my card, and tell him what you have told me. There is a sovereign
to provide your dress, and five shillings to save you from begging or
stealing till you get to Portsmouth; and when next you are tempted to
sin remember its bitter fruits.”

As he spoke he gave him the money. The boy received it mechanically,
fixed his bright eyes for a moment on the face of his benefactor, and
then, utterly overcome by such unexpected kindness, burst into a flood
of tears. As Lewis turned to depart the first rays of the rising sun
fell upon the tall, graceful figure of the young man and the tattered
garments and emaciated form of the boy.

Far different was the scene when Lewis Arundel and the creature he was
thus rescuing from infamy met again upon the _RAILROAD OF LIFE!_



CHAPTER XIII.--IS CHIEFLY HORTICULTURAL, SHOWING THE EFFECTS PRODUCED BY
TRAINING UPON A SWEET AND DELICATE ROSE.

Rose Arundel sat at the open window of her little bedroom and gazed out
into the night. The scent of many flowers hung upon the loaded air,
and the calm stars looked down from Heaven, contrasting their impassive
grandeur with the unrest of this weary world. The evening had been
lovely; not a breath of wind was stirring; the long shadows that slept
upon the green sward, and afforded a dark background on which the
brilliant glow-worms shone like diamonds on a funeral pall, were
motionless; the silence, unbroken save when some heavy beetle or other
strange insect of the night winged its drowsy way across the casement,
was almost oppressive in its depth of stillness; it was a time and
place for grave and earnest thought, a scene in which the full heart is
conscious of its own sorrow. And Rose, although she had too much good
sense and right principle to allow herself to feel miserable, was far
from happy. The key to the inner life of every true-hearted woman must
be sought in the affections. The only two people whom Rose had loved,
as she was capable of loving, were her father and brother; for Mrs.
Arundel, though all her impulses were kind and amiable, did not possess
sufficient depth of character to inspire any very strong attachment.
Between Captain Arundel and his daughter had existed one of those
rare affections which appear so nearly to satisfy the cravings of our
spiritual nature, that lest this world should become too dear to us they
are blessings we are seldom permitted long to enjoy. Rose and her father
were by nature much alike in disposition, and in forming her character,
and educating and developing her mind, he had for some years found
his chief interest, while in her affection lay his only solace for the
blighted hopes and ruined prospects of a lifetime.

Originally highly connected, Captain Arundel had incurred the
displeasure of his family by forming in the heat of youthful passion,
and under peculiar circumstances, a marriage with the daughter of an
English resident at Marseilles by a foreign mother. Too proud to seek to
conciliate his relations, Mr. Arundel became a voluntary exile, entered
into the Austrian army, where he speedily rose to the rank of captain
and served with much distinction, till failing health induced him to
resign his commission and return to England for the sake of educating
his children. His heart was set on one object--namely, to bestow upon
his son the education of an English gentleman, and for this purpose he
had availed himself of a very unusual talent for painting as a means
by which he might increase his slender income sufficiently to meet the
expenses of sending Lewis to Westminster and afterwards to a German
university. The constant application thus rendered inevitable fostered
the seeds of that most insidious of all ailments, a heart-disease, and
while still forming plans for the welfare of his family, an unwonted
agitation induced a paroxysm of his complaint, and ere Rose could
realise the misfortune that threatened her she was fatherless.

Although stunned at first by the unexpected shock, hers was not a mind
to give way at such a moment, and to those who judge by the outward
expression only Mrs. Arundel’s grief appeared much more intense than
that of her daughter. But Rose’s sorrow was not a mere transitory
feeling, which a few weeks more or less might serve to dissipate; it had
become part of her very nature, a thing too sacred to be lightly brought
to view, but enshrined in the sanctuary of her pure heart it remained
a cherished yet solemn recollection, which would shed its hallowing
influence over the future of her young life. And now, as she sat with
her calm, earnest eyes upturned to the tranquil heaven above her, her
thoughts wandered back to him she had so dearly loved, and she pondered
the solemn questions which have ere now presented themselves to many a
mourning spirit, and longed to penetrate the secrets of the grave
and learn things which death alone can teach us. Then she recalled
conversations she had held with him that was gone on these very
subjects, and remembered how he had said that the things which God had
not seen fit to reveal, could neither be needful nor expedient for us to
know; that such speculations were In themselves dangerous, inasmuch
as they tended to lead us to form theories which, having no warrant in
Scripture, might be at variance with truth; and that it was better to
wait patiently in humble faith--that a time would come when we should no
longer see through a glass darkly, and the hidden things of God should
be made known unto us. Then her thoughts, still pursuing the same
train, led her to reflect how all her father’s aspirations, crushed and
disappointed in the wreck of his own fortunes, had centred in his son,
and the bitter tears which no personal privations or misfortunes could
have forced from her, flowed down her cheeks as she reflected how these
bright anticipations seemed doomed never to be realised.

Unselfish by nature, and trained to habits of thoughtfulness by
witnessing her father’s life of daily self-sacrifice, Rose had never
been accustomed to indulge on her own account in those day-dreams so
common to the sanguine mind of youth. But the germs of that pride and
ambition which were Lewis’s besetting sins existed in a minor degree
in Rose’s disposition also, and found vent in a visionary career of
greatness she had marked out for her brother, and for which his unusual
mental powers and striking appearance seemed eminently to qualify him.
In nourishing these visions her father had unconsciously assisted, when
in moments of confidence he had imparted to her his hopes that Lewis
would distinguish himself in whatever career of life he might select,
and by his success restore them all to that position in society which
by his own imprudence he had forfeited. What a bitter contrast did the
reality now present! Rose had received that morning a letter from her
brother detailing his interview with General Grant and its results; and
though, from a wish to spare her feelings, he had been more guarded in
his expressions than on the occasion of his conversation with Frere
the preceding day, yet he did not attempt to disguise from her his
repugnance to the arrangement, or the degradation to which his haughty
spirit led him to consider he was submitting.

“Poor Lewis!” murmured Rose, “I know so well what misery it will be to
him; the slights, the hourly petty annoyances which his proud, sensitive
nature will feel so keenly; and then, to waste his high talents, his
energy of character and strength of will on the drudgery of teaching,
when they were certain to have led him to distinction if he had only
had a fair field for their exercise--it would have broken dearest papa’s
heart, when he had hoped so differently for him. But if _he_ had lived
this never would have been so. He often told me he had influential
friends, and though he never would apply to them on his own account,
he declared he would do so when Lewis should become old enough to enter
into life. I wonder who they were. He never liked to talk on those
subjects, and I was afraid of paining him by inquiring. I am glad there
is a Miss Grant: I hope she may prove a nice girl and will like Lewis;
but of course she will--every one must do that. Oh! how I hope they
will treat him kindly and generously--it will all depend upon that. Poor
fellow! with his impulsive disposition and quick sense of wrong--his
fiery temper too, how will he get on? And it is for our sakes he does
all this, sacrificing his freedom and his hopes of winning himself a
name. How good and noble it is of him!”

She paused, and leaning her brow upon her little white hand, sat buried
in deep thought. At length she spoke again.

“If I could do anything to earn money and help I should be so much
happier. Poor papa got a good deal lately for his pictures; but they
were so clever. Lewis can paint beautifully, but my drawings are so
tame. I wonder whether people would buy poetry. I wish I knew whether my
verses are good enough to induce any one to purchase them. Dearest papa
praised those lines of mine which he accidentally found one day. Of
course he was a good judge, only perhaps he liked them because they
were mine.” And the tears rolled silently down her pale cheeks as memory
brought before her the glance of bright and surprised approval, the warm
yet judicious praise, the tender criticism--words, looks, and tones of
love now lost to her for ever, which the accidental discovery of her
verses had drawn forth. With an aching heart she closed the casement,
and lighting a candle, proceeded to unlock a small writing-desk, from
whence she drew some manuscript verses, which ran as follows:--

               THE PREACHER’S ADDRESS TO THE SOUL.

                        Weary soul,

                   Why dost thou still disquiet

                   Thyself with senseless riot,

                   Taking thy fill and measure

                   Of earthly pleasure?

                   The things which thou dost prize

                        Are not realities;

                        All is but seeming.

                   Waking, thou still liest dreaming.

                   That which before thine eye

                   Now passeth, or hath past,

                   Is nought but vanity--

                        It cannot last.

                   This evil world, be sure,

                        Shall not endure.

                   Art thou a-weary, Soul, and dost thou cry

                   For rest? Wait, and thou soon shalt have

                        That thou dost crave,

                        For Death _is real_--the Grave _no mockery_.

                   THE SOUL’S REPLY.

                   Preacher, too dark thy mood;

                        God made this earth--

                        At its primeval birth

                   “God saw that it was good.”

                   And if through Adam’s sin

                        Death enter’d in,

                   Hath not Christ died to save

                        Me from the grave?

                   Repented sins for His sake are forgiven--

                        There is a heaven.

                   For that this earth is no abiding-place,

                        Shall we displace

                   The flowers that God hath scatter’d on our path--

                        The kindly hearth;

                   The smile of love still brightening as we come,

                        Making the desert, home;

                   The seventh day of rest, the poor man’s treasure

                        Of holy leisure;

                   Bright sunshine, happy birds, the joy of flowers?

                        Ah, no! this earth of ours

                   Was “very good,” and hath its blessings still;

                        And if we will,

                   We may be happy. Say, stern preacher, why

                   Should we then hate to live, or fear to die,

                   With Love for Time, Heaven for Eternity?

Rose perused them attentively, sighed deeply, and then resumed--

“Yes, _he_ liked them, and said (I remember his very words) there was
more vigour and purpose about them than in the general run of girlish
verses. How could I find out whether they are worth anything?” She
paused in reflection, then clasping her hands together suddenly, she
exclaimed--

“Yes, of course, Mr. Frere; he was so good and kind about the pictures,
and Lewis says he is so very clever, he will tell me. But may not he
think it strange and odd in me to write to him? Had I better consult
mamma?”

But with the question came an instinctive consciousness that she was
about the last person whom it would be agreeable to consult on such an
occasion. Rose, like every other woman possessing the slightest approach
to the artist mind, felt a shrinking delicacy in regard to what the
Browning school would term her “utterances,” which rendered the idea of
showing them where they would not be appreciated exquisitely painful to
her. Now, Mrs. Arundel had a disagreeable knack of occasionally brushing
against a feeling so rudely as to cause the unlucky originator thereof
to experience a mental twinge closely akin to the bodily sensation
yclept toothache.

It will therefore be no matter of surprise to the reader to learn that
Rose, after mature deliberation, resolved to keep the fact of her having
applied to Mr. Frere a secret, at all events till such time as the
result should become known to her.

She accordingly selected such of her poetical effusions as she deemed
most worthy, in the course of which process she stumbled upon a short
prose sketch, the only thing of the sort she had ever attempted,
it being, in fact, a lively account of her first appearance at a
dinner-party, written for the benefit of a young lady friend, but for
some reason never sent. This, after looking at a page or two, she was
about to condemn as nonsense, when an idea came across her that if Mr.
Frere was to form a just estimate of her powers, it was scarcely fair
to select only the best things; so she popped in the sketch of the
dinner-party as a kind of destitution test, to show how badly she
_could_ write.

Then came the most difficult part of the business--the letter to Frere.
True, she had written to him before, acting as her father’s amanuensis,
but that was a different sort of thing altogether. Still, it must be
done, and Rose was not a person to be deterred by difficulties; so she
took a sheet of paper and wrote “Sir” at the top of it, and having
done so, sat and looked at it till she became intensely dissatisfied.
“Sir”--it seemed so cold and uncomfortable; so she took a second sheet
and wrote, “Dear Sir.” Yes! that was better, decidedly. She only hoped
it was not too familiar in writing to a young man; but then, Mr. Frere
was not exactly a young man; he was a great deal older than Lewis; above
thirty most likely; and three or four-and-thirty was quite middle-aged;
so the “Dear Sir” was allowed to remain.

“_Ce n’est que le premier pas qui coute?_ and having once started, it
was not long before Rose’s nimble pen had covered two sides of the sheet
of paper, and the following letter was the result:--

“Dear Sir,--I know not how to offer any excuse for the trouble I am
about to give you, otherwise than by explaining the reasons which have
induced me to apply to you; and, as I know your time is valuable, I will
do so as briefly as I can. Do not think me forgetful of, or ungrateful
for, your great kindness to Lewis, when I tell you that ever since I
received my brother’s letter informing me of his engagement as tutor to
General Grant’s ward, I have felt miserable at the idea of his working
hard at an occupation which I fear must be distasteful to him, in order
to provide for Mamma and myself the comforts we have hitherto enjoyed.
It was impossible to prevent this in any way, for we tried to shake his
determination, but in vain. Now I feel that I should be so much happier
if I could assist, in ever so small a degree, in relieving him from his
burthen; and the only possible idea that occurs to me (for he will
not hear of my going out as governess) is that I might be able to earn
something by my pen. With this view I have ventured to enclose for
your perusal a few verses which I have written at odd times for my own
amusement; and I trust to your kindness to tell me honestly whether
they possess any merit or not. I dare not hope your opinion will be
favourable; but if by possibility it should prove so, will you do me the
additional kindness of advising me what steps to take in order to get
them published. I have never been in London, but I have heard there are
a good many booksellers who live there; and as I dare say you know
them all, perhaps you would kindly tell me to which of them you would
recommend me to apply. I have not told Mamma that I am writing, for, as
I feel a presentiment that your answer will only prove to me the
folly of the hopes I am so silly as to indulge, it is not worth while
disturbing her about the matter. Once again thanking you for your
extreme kindness to Lewis, and hoping that you will not consider me too
troublesome in thus applying to you, believe me to remain your sincerely
obliged,

“Rose Arundel.

“P.S.--I have enclosed a little prose sketch with the verses, but I am
_quite sure_ you will not like that. Perhaps, if Lewis has not left you
when this arrives, you will be so very kind as not to say any thing to
him about it, as he would be sure to laugh at me.”

When Rose had finished this epistle she felt that she had done something
towards attaining the object she had at heart, and went to bed feeling
more happy than she had done since the receipt of Lewis’s letter.
Straightway falling asleep, she dreamt that she was introduced to Mr.
Murray, who offered her £100 to write a short biographical memoir of
General Grant for the “Quarterly Review.”



CHAPTER XIV.--PRESENTS TOM BRACY IN A NEW AND INTERESTING ASPECT.

Three days passed by, and still poor Rose received no answer to her
letter, but remained a prey to alternate hopes and fears and all “The
gnawing torture of an anxious mind.” On the fourth arrived the following
characteristic note:--

“My dear Miss Arundel,--I dare say you’ve been abusing me like a
pick-pocket; at least I must have appeared to you deserving of such
abuse, for treating your request so cavalierly; but the fact is, I have
been down in a Cornish tin mine for the last two days, and only received
your packet on my arrival in town, an hour ago. And now to business. I
don’t set up for a judge of poetry, though I know what pleases me
and what doesn’t (I should be a donkey if I did not, you’ll say); for
instance, the present school of ‘suggestive’ poetry doesn’t suit me
at all. But then I have an old-fashioned prejudice in favour of
understanding what I read, and calling a railway locomotive a ‘_resonant
steam eagle_,’ for instance, does not tend to simplify literature; the
only thing such phrases ‘suggest’ to me is that it would be a great deal
better if the authors were content to stick to plain English, and when
they have such inexpressibly grand ideas, not to trouble themselves
to express them at all. Your verses have at least one good point in
them--they are so worded that a plain man may understand them; in fact,
all that I have yet read I like--the feeling is invariably pure, true,
and beautiful (your heart’s in the right place, and no mistake); the
language is well chosen, and sometimes eloquent; there are, of course,
plenty of places where it becomes weak and young lady-like, but that
was only to be expected. We can’t all be men, unfortunately. I could
not help laughing when you ‘supposed I knew’ all the booksellers and
publishers in London, Heaven forbid! for in that case I should have a
very miscellaneous acquaintance. However, I do know several, and I
will go the first thing to-morrow morning and consult one of them--a
gentleman on whose judgment I can rely as to what will be the most
advisable course for us to pursue. I say _us_, because, as I don’t
mean to let the matter rest till I have succeeded, I consider myself
a partner in the concern. Lewis parted from me in high health and very
tolerable spirits. He left town, with General Grant, the same morning
on which I started for Cornwall. You shall hear from me again when I can
report progress. Don’t write any more nonsense about giving me trouble:
in the first place, the thing is no trouble; in the second, I should not
mind it one bit if it were.

“I am yours very truly,

“Richard Frere.”

The first thing next morning Frere called upon his friend the publisher,
who, as soon as he understood that nothing beyond advice was required of
him, became very communicative and agreeable; glanced his eye over the
verses and approved of them, though he added, with a Burleigh-like
shake of the head, that he wished they were anything but poetry. Frere
wondered why, and asked him. In reply he learned that the public mind
had acquired a sadly practical bias, which leading him to suggest that
poetry was the very thing of all others to bring it right again, he was
further informed that the evil was much too deeply seated to be affected
by so weak an application as the poetry of the present day; and the
truth of this assertion appearing undeniable, the subject was dropped.

“The best thing for you to do with these MSS., Mr. Frere,” continued his
adviser, “would be to get them inserted in some popular periodical.”

“Well, I don’t object,” returned Frere. “Which had I better send
them to? There’s ‘Gently’s Miscellany,’ and the ‘New Weekly,’ and
‘Gainsworth’s Magazine,’ and half-a-dozen more of’em.”

“What do you suppose would be the result of adopting such a line of
conduct?” inquired his friend.

“Why, as the things are in themselves good, they’d probably put ’em in
next month, and send a cheque for the amount, enclosed in a polite note
asking for more.”

“I fear not,” was the answer. “A very promising young friend of mine
sent a nicely written paper to the least exclusive of the periodicals
you have just mentioned; hearing nothing of it, he ventured at the end
of six months to write and inquire its fate. In reply he received a note
from the editor, which appeared to him more explicit than satisfactory.
It was couched in the following laconic terms:--‘Declined with thanks.’”

“Phewl that’s pleasant,” rejoined Frere. “What would you advise, then,
under the circumstances? I place myself quite in your hands.”

His friend leaned back in his chair and considered the matter deeply. At
length he seemed to have hit upon some expedient, for he muttered
with great emphasis, “Yes, that might do. He could if he would.
Yes--certainly!” Then turning suddenly to Frere, he exclaimed, “Mind,
you’ll never breathe a word of it to any living being!”

“Not for the world,” returned Frere. “And now, what is it?”

“You’ve heard of ‘Blunt’s Magazine’?”

“Yes; I’ve seen it in several places lately.”

“No doubt; it’s a most admirably conducted publication, and one which is
certain to become a great favourite with the public. Now I happen to be
acquainted with one of the gentlemen who edit it, and shall be happy to
give you a note of introduction to him. But you must promise me to be
most careful never to reveal his name.”

“Certainly,” rejoined Frere, “if you wish it. But may I venture to ask
what it would signify if all London knew it?”

His companion turned upon him a look of indignant surprise; but
perceiving that he made the inquiry in honest simplicity of heart, his
face assumed an expression of contemptuous pity as he replied, in such a
tone of voice as one would use to a little child who had inquired why it
might not set light to a barrel of gunpowder, “My dear sir, you do
not know--you cannot conceive the consequences. Such a thing would be
utterly impossible.”

He then wrote a few lines, which he handed to Frere, saying, “You will
find him at home till eleven.”

“And this mysterious name,” observed Frere, glancing at the address,
“is!--eh! nonsense!--Thomas Bracy, Esq. Why, he is an intimate friend
of my own! That’s famous. Oh! I’ll have some fun with him. I’m sure I’m
extremely obliged to you; good morning.” So saying Frere seized his hat,
shouldered his umbrella, and hurried off, overjoyed at his discovery.

The mendacious tiger, of whom we have already made honourable mention,
answered Frere’s inquiry as to whether his master was at home with a
most decided and unequivocal negative, adding the gratuitous information
that, “he had gone down to dine with his uncle at Hampstead the previous
day and was not expected home till four o’clock that afternoon.”

“Well, that’s a nuisance,” returned Frere. “I tell you what, boy, I’ll
step in and write your master a note.”

“Yes, sir, certainly, if you please, sir; only we’ve been a having the
sweeps hin, and the place is hall in a huproar, so as it’s unpossibul to
touch nothink.”

At this moment a bell rung violently, and the boy, begging Frere to
wait, bounded up the stairs with a cat-like rapidity, returning almost
immediately with the information that “He was wery sorry, but he’d just
been to the greengrocer’s, and while he was hout master had comed home
quite promiscuous.”

“And how about the soot?” asked Frere, a light breaking in upon him.

“Please, sir, cook’s been and cleaned it hup while I were gone.”

“I thought so,” returned Frere; “you’re a nice boy!” Then catching him
by the collar of his jacket, he continued, “Tell me, you young scamp,
how often do you speak the truth?”

The urchin, thus detected, glanced at Frere’s face, and reading there
that any attempt to keep up appearances must prove a dead failure,
replied with the utmost _sang froid,_ “Please, sir, whenever I can’t
think of nothink better.”

“There’s an answer,” returned Frere meditatively. “Well, you need never
learn swimming--water won’t harm you; but mark my words, and beware of
hemp.” So saying he loosened his hold on the boy’s collar and followed
him upstairs.

The tiger, not having recognised Frere in his European habiliments, had
merely told his master that a gentleman wished to see him on business;
and Bracy, who had reason to expect a visit from a certain literary Don,
had rushed into his dressing-room to exchange a very decidedly “fast”
 smoking-jacket for the black frock-coat of editorial propriety; for
which reason Frere was left to entertain himself for a few minutes with
his own society. After examining sundry clever caricature sketches of
Bracy’s, which evinced a decided talent for that branch of art, Frere
seated himself in an easy-chair in front of a writing-table on which
lay a mysterious document, written in a bold, dashing hand, which
involuntarily attracted his attention. Perceiving at a glance that it
contained no private matter, he amused himself by perusing it. For the
reader’s edification we will transcribe it:--

_Blunt’s Magazine, June. Sheets 3 and 4

Questions on Quicksilver...4

The Homeless Heart (Stanzas by L. O. V. E.) . . .1

Hist. Parallels, No. 3 (Cromwell and Cour-de-Lion) . . 7

L’Incomprise (by the Authoress of Inconnue). . .6

Hard Work and Hard Food; or, How would you like it yourself?

A Plea for the Industrial Classes .. . 5

Dog-cart Drives (by the Editor), Chap, 10 The Spicey

Screw;” Chap. II, Doing the Governor” . .. 7

Wanted something light, abt...2_

The last item in this singular catalogue was written in pencil. “Now I
should like to know what all that means,” soliloquised Frere.
“Something light about two? A luncheon would come under that definition
exactly--two _whats?_ that’s the question! Two pounds? It would not be
particularly light if it weighed as much as that. Perhaps the figures
stand for money--the prices they pay for the magazine articles, I dare
say; 4--6--7. Now, if they happen to be sovereigns, that will suit my
young lady’s case very nicely. Ah! here he comes.”



CHAPTER XV.--CONTAINS A DISQUISITION ON MODERN POETRY, AND AFFORDS THE
READER A PEEP BEHIND THE EDITORIAL CURTAIN.

The position in which Frere had placed himself prevented Bracy from
discerning his features as he entered, and he accordingly accosted his
visitor as follows:--

“My dear sir, I am really distressed to have kept you waiting, but as
you arrived I was just jotting down the result of a little flirtation
with the Muse.”

“And that is it, I suppose?” observed Frere, turning his face towards
the speaker and pointing to the document before alluded to.

“Why, Frere, is it you, man?” exclaimed Bracy in surprise. “As I’m a
sinner, I took you for that learned elder, Dr.-------. My young imp told
me you were a gentleman who wished to see me on particular business. If
that juvenile devil takes to telling lies _to_ instead of _for_ me,
I shall have to give him his due for once, in the shape of a sound
caning.”

“You may spare yourself the trouble,” returned Frere, “as by some
accident he has only spoken the truth this time; for I hope you don’t
mean to insinuate that I am anything but a gentleman, and I have most
assuredly come to you on business--that is, always supposing Mr. --------
of -------- Street has informed me correctly in regard to your
editorial functions.”

“What! has the _cacoethes scribendi_ seized you also, and tempted you
into the commission of some little act of light literature?” added
Bracy.

“Thank goodness, no,” answered Frere. “I’m happy to say I’m not so far
gone as all that comes to yet. No, this is a different case altogether,”
 and he then proceeded to inform his companion of Rose’s, application,
and the necessity which existed to make her talents available for
practical purposes.

“Magazine writing affords rather a shady prospect for realising capital
in these days,” observed Bracy, shaking his head discouragingly. “Let’s
look at the young lady’s interesting efforts. Have you ever seen her?
Arundel’s sister ought to be pretty. What’s this? ‘The Preacher’s
Address to the Soul.’ Why, it’s a sermon in rhyme. Heaven help the girl!
what’s she thinking of?”

“Read it and you’ll see. I like it very much,” returned Frere, slightly
nettled at the reception his _protégées_ productions appeared likely to
meet with.

“Oh! it’s a sermon clearly,” continued Bracy; “here’s something about
vanity and the grave. I heard it all last Sunday at St. Chrysostom’s,
only the fellow called it gwave and gwace. He’d picked up some
conscientious scruple against the use of the letter R, I suppose.
It’s quite wonderful, the new-fangled doctrines they develop nowadays.
Hum--ha--‘Making the desert home,’--rather a young idea, eh? ‘Happy
birds,’--don’t like that, it puts one too much in mind of ‘jolly dogs’
or ‘odd fish.’ I should have said dicky birds, if it had been me; that’s
a very safe expression, and one that people are accustomed to. ‘The joy
of flowers,’--what on earth does she mean by that, now? I should say
nobody could understand that; for which reason, by the way, it’s the
best expression I’ve seen yet. Poetry, to be admired in the present day,
must be utterly incomprehensible. We insert very little, but that’s the
rule I go by. If I can’t understand one word of a thing, I make a point
of accepting it; it’s safe to become popular. ‘Love for time, Heaven for
eternity,’--well, that’s all very, nice and pretty, but I’m sorry to say
it won’t do; it’s not suited to the tone of the Magazine, you see.”

“I can’t say I _do_ see very clearly at present,” returned Frere; “what
kind of poetry is it that you accept?”

“Oh, there are different styles. Now here’s a little thing I’ve got in
the June part, ‘The Homeless Heart, by L. O. V. E.’ Her real name is
Mary Dobbs, but she couldn’t very well sign herself M.D.; people would
think she was a physician. She’s a very respectable young woman (such a
girl to laugh), and engaged to an opulent stockbroker. Now listen:

                        “‘Homeless, forsaken,

                        Deeply oppress’d,

                        Raving, yet craving

                        Agony’s rest;

                        Bitterly hating,

                        Fondly relenting,

                        Sinning, yet winning

                        Souls to repenting;

                        When for her sorrow

                        Comes a to-morrow,

                        Shall she be bless’d?’”

“That’s a question I can’t take upon myself to answer,” interrupted
Frere. “But if those are in the style you consider suited to the tone of
your Magazine, it must be a very wonderful publication.”

“I flatter myself it is, rather,” replied Bracy complacently. “But
that’s by no means the only style; here’s a thing that will go down with
the million sweetly. Listen to this,” and as he spoke he extracted
from a drawer a mighty bundle of papers labelled “Accepted Poetry,” and
selecting one or two specimens from the mass, read as follows:--

                   “THE COUNTESS EMMELINE’S DISDAINMENT.”

          “Bitter-black the winter’s whirlwind wail’d around the haunted hall,

          Where the sheeted snow that fleeted fester’d on the mouldering wall.

          “But his blacker soul within him childish calm appear’d to view,

          And when gazing, ’twas amazing whence the sceptic terror grew.

          “Then her voice, so silver-blended, to a trumpet-blast did swell,

          As she task’d him when she asked him, ‘Mr. Johnson, is it well?’

          “Ashen-white the curdled traitor paled before her eagle eye,

          Whilst denying, in replying, deeper grew his perjury.”

“There! I can’t stand any more of that, at any price!” exclaimed Frere,
putting his hands to his ears. “Unless you wish to make me seriously
ill, spare me the infliction of those detestable compound adjectives.”

“My dear fellow, you’ve no taste,” returned Bracy. “Why, that’s written
by one of our best contributors; an individual that will make Tennyson
look to his laurels, and do the Brownings brown, one of these days. But
if that’s too grand for you, here’s a little bit of pastoral simplicity
may suit you better:--

               “‘TO A HERBLET, NAME UNKNOWN.

                   ‘Once upon a holiday,

                        Sing heigho;

                   Still with sportive fancy playing

                   While all nature was a-maying,

                        On a sunny bank I lay;

                   Where the happy grass did grow,

                   ‘Neath the fragrant lime-tree row,

                        Sing heigho!

                    ‘There a little fairy flower,

                        Sing heigho!

                   Glancing from its baby eyes

                   With a look of sweet surprise,

                        Grew beneath a bower,

                   Brought unto my soul the dawning

                   Of a mystic spirit warning,

                        Sing heigho!

                   ‘Then I wept, and said, despairing,

                        Sing heigho!

                   Fate is dark, and earth is lonely,

                   And the heart’s young blossoms only

                        Render life worth bearing----”

“Now then, what’s the matter with you?” inquired Bracy, interrupting
himself on seeing Frere snatch up his hat and umbrella.

“If you’re going to read any more of that, I’m off; that’s all,”
 returned Frere. “My powers of endurance are limited.”

“Oh, if you are positively such a Hottentot as to dislike it,” rejoined
Bracy, “I’ll not waste any more of its sweet simplicity upon you; but,
you’ll see, the gentle public will rave about it to an immense extent.”

“Now tell me honestly, Bracy--you don’t really admire that childish
rubbish?”

Thus appealed to, Bracy’s face assumed an expression of most comical
significance; and after pausing for a moment in indecision, he replied--

“Well, I’ve a sort of respect for your good opinion, Frere, and I don’t
exactly like to send you away fancying me a greater ass than I am; so
I’ll honestly confess that, what between affected Germanisms on the
one hand and the puerilities of the Wordsworth-and-water school on the
other, the poetry of the present day has sunk to a very low ebb indeed.”

“Then don’t you consider it the duty of every honest critic to point
this out, and so guide and reform the public taste as to evoke from the
‘well of English undefiled’ a truer and purer style?” returned Frere
earnestly.

“My dear fellow, that all sounds very well in theory, but in practice,
I’m afraid (to use a metaphor derived from one of the humane and
intellectual amusements of our venerated forefathers), that cock won’t
fight. It may be all very well for some literary Don Quixote, with
a pure Saxon taste and a long purse, to tilt at the public’s pet
windmills, because he conceives them to be giant abuses. If he meets
with a fall, he need only put his hand in his pocket and purchase a
plaster, getting a triple shield of experience in for the money. But it
is far otherwise with a magazine. If that is to continue in existence it
must pay; in order to pay it must be rendered popular; to make a thing
popular you must go with the stream of public opinion, and not against
it. The only chance is to head the tide and turn it in the direction you
desire. But to attempt that a man ought to possess first-rate talent,
and I’m free to confess that I, for one, do not; and therefore, you see,
as people must be amused, I’m very willing to amuse them in their own
way, as long as I find it pleasant and profitable to do so. _Voila!_ do
you comprehend?”

“I comprehend this much,” returned Frere gruffly, “that the ground of
your argument is expediency and not principle; and I tell you plainly
that does not suit me, and I’m afraid Miss Arundel is too much of
my mind in that particular for her writings to suit your wonderful
magazine; so the sooner I take my departure the better for your
morning’s work.”

“Stay a moment, don’t get on stilts, man,” returned Bracy, resuming his
examination of Rose’s papers. “Is there nothing but verses? What have we
here? ‘My First Dinner-Party’--this seems more likely.”

He paused, and ran his eye over several of the pages, muttering from
time to time as he went along, “Yes, good lively style--quick powers of
observation--a very graphic touch--bravo! ha! ha! here, listen to this--

“‘Immediately before me stood a dish which even my inexperience believed
itself able to recognise; it was jelly of some kind, with certain dark
objects encased in it, as flies occasionally are in amber. These
opaque portions I settled, in my own mind, must be preserved fruit,
and accordingly (fearful lest, in my ignorance of fashionable dishes, I
should say “yes” to some tremendous delicacy which might prove utterly
impracticable), when invited to partake of it, I graciously signified
my assent. Imagine my horror when, on putting the first mouthful to my
lips, I discovered the jelly was savoury--_i.e_. all pepper and salt,
and the creature embedded in it a fragment of some dreadful fish! Eating
the thing was out of the question; the mere taste I had taken of it made
me feel uncomfortable: an attempt to conceal it beneath the knife and
fork proved utterly futile. I glanced at the butler, but he was too much
absorbed in his own dignity and the dispensation of champagne to observe
me; I gazed appealingly at a good-looking young footman, but he
merely pulled up his shirt-collar foppishly, thinking he had made an
impression; I even ventured to call, in a low voice, to the sprightly
waiter who had eloped with my untouched plate of lamb five minutes
before, but he did not hear me; and there I sat with a huge plateful of
horrible food before me, which I could neither eat nor get rid of, “a
cynosure for neighbouring eyes,” forced, as my fears suggested, to run
the gauntlet of all the mocking glances of the assembled company.’”

“There,” continued Bracy, “I call that a stunning description; I could
not have done it better myself. The girl writes so easily! Let me see,
18--25--28 lines in a page of manuscript; there’s not much of it, I
think I can get it in. I want two pages of amusing matter in the fourth
sheet.”

“Ahl something light, about two. Now I understand,” exclaimed Frere,
pointing to the mysterious document on the table; “that was not a
memorandum in regard to luncheon, then.”

“A what?” returned Bracy, shouting with laughter. “No,” he continued,
as soon as he had in some measure recovered his composure, “that is
the ‘make-up,’ as we call it, of the third and fourth sheets of the
Magazine.”

“Indeed!” returned Frere. “I should think it must require a great deal
of careful reflection to select suitable articles and arrange them
properly.”

“Eh! no, not a bit; the thing’s simple enough when you once get in the
way of it. Have plenty of variety, that’s the grand point--what one
doesn’t like, another will. Take large shot for big birds, and small
shot for little ones, and then you’ll bag the whole covey; that’s
my maxim. Now, look here: first we begin with a scientific article,
‘Questions on Quicksilver.’ There’s not one reader in a hundred that can
understand that paper when they’ve read it; and very few even of those
who can take it in care two straws about quicksilver--why should
they? But they all read it, because it’s a cheap way of getting up the
necessary amount of scientific jargon to hash into small talk. I never
look at that man’s papers myself; I know they’re safe, though I can’t
understand a word of ’em--but they’re a great help to the Magazine.
Then comes our friend, the ‘Homeless Heart.’ I put that in as a drop of
romantic barley-sugar to soften the women’s throats after swallowing the
science. Next we have ‘An Historical Parallel.’ Famous fellows they are;
the principal dodge in writing them is to take an ‘entirely new reading
of the character,’ as the actors say. In the present article, if I
recollect right, they prove Cour-de-Lion to have been a hypocritical
fanatic, and Cromwell a chivalric, magnanimous enthusiast. It’s safe to
take, depend upon it. ‘L’Incomprise’ tells its own tale--it’s as close
an imitation of Eugene Sue and George Sand as English morality will
tolerate, though the invention of guttapercha, or some other elastic
agent, enables even that stiff material nowadays to stretch to lengths
which would astonish our grandmothers. Then comes the ‘Plea for the
Industrial Classes’--a regular savage poke at the present Poor Law
(we’re obliged to do a little bit of political economy as well as our
neighbours, you know); it’s awfully heavy, but it will neutralise any
ill effects ‘L’Incomprise’ may have had on fathers of families all the
better. Lastly, there’s my own little thing, ‘Dog-cart Drives.’ Ahem!
have you seen that?”

“Not I,” replied Frere; “I’ve no time for reading tra---- I mean novels
and that sort of thing.”

“I believe it’s liked; I hear it’s a good deal talked about,” continued
Bracy with an air of bashful self-complacency. “‘Bell’s Life’ spoke very
handsomely of it last week; there were six whole lines devoted to it, I
think. Upon my word I should like you to read it.”

At this moment Frere suddenly discovered that he had remained over his
time, and should be too late for some deeply interesting experiments
that were to come off that morning at what his companion termed his
science shop; so receiving an assurance from Bracy that Rose’s sketch
should be inserted in the Magazine, and that he would consider what
would be her best mode of proceeding in regard to the poetry, the
friends shook hands and parted, Frere promising to make himself
acquainted with the subject-matter of “Dog-cart Drives” at an early
opportunity.



CHAPTER XVI.--MISS LIVINGSTONE SPEAKS A BIT OF HER MIND.

It was a lovely morning in early summer, when the sun, shining into
Lewis’s bedroom at Broadhurst, aroused him from a heavy dreamless
   sleep, the result of his previous night’s dissipation at Lady
Lombard’s. The sensation of waking for the first time in a strange place
is usually a disagreeable one; there is an unfamiliar newness in the
aspect of everything around us, an absence of old associations, which
to an impressible disposition is singularly disheartening. This was
peculiarly the case with Lewis; the costly furniture of the room,
arranged with a stiff propriety, the spotless carpet, the chair-covers
too clean and slippery to be sat upon, the bright cold mirrors, the
polished grate, in which a fire would have been high treason, each and
all suggestive of the chilling influence of that rigid disciplinarian
Miss Livingstone, served painfully to realise his new position.
Splendour without comfort was an anomaly he had never before
encountered, and in his then frame of mind it aroused all the bitter
feelings which even his strength of will was unable to subdue, and
he mentally compared himself to a slave working in gilded chains, and
longed for independence, no matter through what hardships, struggles,
and dangers it must be attained. But there was a healthy energy about
his mind which prevented his yielding to these morbid feelings; hastily
dressing himself, he found his way into the pleasure garden, and as it
was yet early, strolled onward through the park.

After wandering about for nearly an hour, the calm beauty of the scenery
and the exhilarating freshness of the morning air producing their
natural effect upon his spirits, it occurred to him that his absence
might be commented upon, and possibly give offence; accordingly, he
retraced his steps towards the house. Ignorant of the _locale_, however,
he was unable to discover the door by which he had gone out, and after
making one or two attempts in a wrong direction, was compelled to effect
his entrance through a French window opening into a conservatory. Lewis
possessed a great taste for, and some knowledge of botany, and his
attention was at once attracted by the rare and beautiful plants around
him. So completely was he engrossed by his admiration, that not until
he heard his own name pronounced did he become aware that he was not
the sole tenant of the conservatory. Turning at the sound, he perceived
Annie Grant, in a very becoming costume, busily employed in altering the
arrangement of certain flower-pots.

Before we proceed farther, it may be as well to afford the reader an
insight into Lewis’s feelings towards this young lady, as they were by
no means of such a nature as might be expected from a young man towards
a pretty and agreeable girl, with whom he was about to be domesticated.
In order to account for his peculiar state of mind on this subject we
must take a retrospective glance at an episode in Lewis’s student life,
which has been already alluded to in a conversation between Frere and
his friend. About a year before the period at which our story opened
Lewis had encountered, at a festive meeting of the worthy citizens of
Bonn, the very pretty daughter of a wealthy shopkeeper, and struck by
her bright eyes and a certain naïve simplicity of manner, had danced
with her the greater part of the evening. Flattered by the attentions
of the handsome young Englishman, the damsel, who (her simplicity being
confined entirely to manner) was as arrant a little flirt as ever caused
a heartache, took care that the acquaintance should continue; and while
she was merely bent on adding to her train of admirers, Lewis fell
in love with her as deeply as a man can do with a girl completely his
inferior in mind as well as in station. Imagination, however, which
at eighteen is alarmingly active, supplied all deficiencies, and Lewis
continued to dream his lady-love was an angel, till one fine morning
the fact of her elopement with a young German baron, who looked upon
matrimony as a superfluous ordinance, induced him to alter his opinion.
With the termination of the adventure the reader is already acquainted,
but the effect upon Lewis’s disposition was one which time might weaken
but could never efface. The fatal lesson that one who seemed true and
pure was not so, once learnt could never be forgotten; the seeds of
mistrust were sown, and strive as he might, the perfect faith, the
bright, eager confidence of youth, were lost to him for ever.

Ànnie, as the reader is aware, was unusually lovely, and Lewis
accordingly regarded her in the light of a dangerous man-trap;
besides this, oddly enough, she was by no means unlike an ethereal and
spiritualised representation of “Gretchen”; the features and colouring
were similar, and the arch simplicity of the _Fraulein’s_ manner was
part and parcel of Annie’s very nature. The painful recollections which
this resemblance excited added unconsciously to the prejudice (for
it amounted to that) which Lewis had conceived against the General’s
daughter; but the true source of the feeling lay deeper. However
circumstances may cause him to affect, or even to believe the contrary,
there is in every man’s heart a latent desire to render himself
agreeable to any young and pretty woman into whose society he may be
thrown, more especially where the individual is conscious of possessing
powers of pleasing if he chooses to exert them; and even Lewis’s slight
experience of society had sufficed to enlighten him in regard to this
point, on which the dullest are usually clear-sighted. But coupled with
this feeling came the humiliating consciousness that although by birth
and education Miss Grant’s equal, the position he held in the family
rendered him her inferior; and this idea was galling in the extreme to
Lewis’s haughty nature. Annie, on the other hand, profoundly ignorant
of all these wheels within wheels, entertained the most amiable and
benevolent intentions towards her new associate. She knew he was
unfortunate, she saw he was a gentleman, and she had heard that he was
undertaking a duty he disliked, for the sake of his mother and sister;
and for all these reasons her woman’s heart warmed towards him, and
she determined to do what she was able to render his position as little
painful as might be; moreover, she was sufficiently acquainted with
the idiosyncrasies of her father and great-aunt to be aware that any
particular kindness the young tutor would be likely to meet with in
the family must emanate from herself. Accordingly, when Lewis, having
replied to her cordial “Good morning, Mr. Arundel,” by slightly raising
his hat, and making a formal bow, was about to pass on, she renewed the
attack by adding--

“May I trouble you to move this flower-pot for me? it is so heavy.”

Thus appealed to, Lewis stopped short, and for a moment debated
with himself the possibility of refusing; but without being actually
ill-bred, such a possibility did not exist; so, resigning himself to
his fate with a very ill grace, he deposited his hat on a vacant
flower-stand, and tossing back his dark curls with the air of a sulky
lion shaking his mane, he took the garden-pot, which indeed seemed too
heavy for Annie’s little hands, asking, with a stately coldness by no
means in character with the mild nature of the inquiry--

“Where would you wish to have it placed, Miss Grant?”

“Here, if you will be so kind,” returned the young lady, indicating the
spot by pointing with the end of a pert little parasol.

Lewis, having installed the plant in its appointed place, was again
about to take his departure, but ere he did so, glancing involuntarily
at the effect of his labour, his quick eye at once discerned the object
of the changes Annie was striving to effect, and perceived that, in’
order to carry out her design, several heavy flowers yet required
moving. Nothing, however, was farther from his thoughts than the idea of
volunteering his assistance, when Annie, catching the direction of his
eye, continued--

“Yes, the White Camellia is too low.”

“While the Rhododendron is as much too high,” returned Lewis eagerly,
and forgetting his proud scruples in the impulse of the moment, he set
to work with the greatest energy to complete the arrangement which his
correct taste acknowledged to be an improvement.

The Camellia had been exalted and the Rhododendron abased, and many
other “pets of the parterre” had experienced sudden changes of position,
and still Lewis worked with unabated zeal, and still his fair companion
directed and approved, when just as, poised like a flying Mercury on one
foot half-way up a high flower-stand, he was stretching to his utmost
to install a gaudy Cactus, all red and green like a paroquet, on the
topmost pinnacle, a stately tread was heard approaching, and General
Grant entered the conservatory. Lewis coloured with mingled anger
and annoyance at being detected in such a situation, but Annie
good-naturedly came to his assistance. Tripping up to her father and
taking both his hands, she exclaimed--

“Good morning, papa. Welcome to dear old Broadhurst once again. How
pretty it all looks! But they have placed my flowers so stupidly, I must
have every one of them altered. I’ve been working away for half-an-hour
at least, and as Mr. Arundel happened to be passing, I pressed him into
the service, for some of the pots are so heavy.”

“Much too heavy for you to attempt to move, my dear,” returned the
General in a tone of marked disapproval; “but why did you not summon one
of the gardeners to make the alteration you wished, without troubling
Mr. Arundel, who must have had other duties to perform?”

“As it was your desire, sir, to be present at my introduction to my
future pupil,” replied Lewis, who had by this time reached _terra firma_
and recovered his self-possession, “I have refrained from making any
attempt to see him till I should have learned your further wishes on
the subject. My time was therefore quite at Miss Grant’s disposal, if I
could be in any way useful to her.”

“My daughter is obliged by your politeness, sir, but will not trespass
upon it further,” replied the General coldly. “My dear Annie,” he
continued, “it only wants ten minutes to nine; you will oblige me by
preparing for breakfast. Punctuality is a quality by the neglect of
which all order is subverted, propriety set at nought, much valuable
time wasted which can never be recalled, and the comfort of a family
totally destroyed. Your excellent aunt is aware of my opinion on this
subject, and during the twelve years she has done me the favour to
preside over my household she has never kept me waiting one minute.”

“‘Well, dear papa, I’ll do my best to please you,” returned Annie;
“but,” she added, laying her hand on-his shoulder caressingly,
and looking up in his face with a glance half mischievous and half
imploring, “you won’t expect me to be so terribly perfect as Aunt
Martha? Recollect, she is three times as old as I am, and ought
therefore to be three times as wise.”

The General tried to look displeased, but he could not resist Annie for
he was human after all; so, stroking her glossy curls, he told her
that Mrs. Botherfille (a serious schoolmistress, who, for the trifling
consideration of £300 per annum, condescended to allow the youthful
female aristocracy of the land to sit at her feet and learn from
her lips how to regenerate society through the medium of frivolous
accomplishments) had failed in curing her of talking nonsense, at which
Annie laughed merrily and then tripped off, turning as she passed Lewis
to take a last glance at the newly-arranged flowers, and saying, “Now,
don’t they look pretty, Mr. Arundel?”

As the directions in regard to Lewis and his pupil’s separate
establishment (for such the isolated suite of rooms they were to occupy
might be considered) had not as yet been communicated to the servants,
General Grant requested the favour of Lewis’s company at breakfast with
as much ceremony as he could have used if he had been inviting a royal
duke to a banquet; and as a request from such a quarter was equivalent
to a command, Lewis could only comply. Half a minute before the clock
struck nine, Miss Livingstone, that human hedge-hog, rustled into the
breakfast-room, more stiff and starched in mind and body than any other
living creature. As for her cap, a railway train might have passed over
it without injuring that rigid mystery, while her gown was at the least
sabre, not to say bullet-proof. If ever there were a wife fitted for
our Iron Duke, that adamantine spinster was the woman--only that to have
married her would have required more courage than twenty Waterloos!

As the clock struck nine the household servants made their appearance,
and all the family knelt down (with the exception of Miss Livingstone,
who, being evidently fashioned as the ancients believed elephants to be,
without knee-joints, merely reared up against the breakfast-table, as
the next best thing she could do), while the General read them a short,
sharp, but polite prayer, after which he blessed them very much as if he
were doing the reverse, and suffered them to depart. The breakfast was
excellent as far as the commissariat department was concerned, and the
tea was not so cold as might have been expected considering that Miss
Livingstone poured it out.

Even Lewis’s short acquaintance with that austere virgin’s usual
expression of countenance led him to believe that a darker shade
than ordinary lowered upon her brow; nor was he mistaken, for after
despatching a piece of dry toast with the air of an acidulated martyr,
the spirit (we fear it was not an amiable one) moved her, and she spoke.

“I must say, General, your benevolence has rather overpowered your
judgment, to my poor thinking, in this singular addition to the
establishment at Broadhurst. I really consider that I ought to have been
a little more clearly informed as to the facts of the case before these
new arrangements were actually decided on.”

“If you refer to Sir Walter Desborough, madam,” returned the General
sternly, “I must recall to your memory the fact of my having mentioned
to you, this day week, my intention that my ward should reside at
Broadhurst.”

“I am not in the habit of forgetting any communication you do me
the honour of making to me, General Grant, nor have I forgotten the
conversation to which you refer; but if you mentioned that your ward was
a dangerous idiot, and that you expected me to preside over a private
lunatic asylum, that circumstance certainly has escaped me.” The
wrinkles on the General’s forehead deepened as he replied with a
glance towards Lewis, “You forget, Miss Livingstone, that we are not in
private.”

“Really,” rejoined the lady, “if, as I believe, that _young_” (and she
laid an ill-natured emphasis on the word) “gentleman has undertaken the
duties of keeper----”

“Tutor,” interposed the General sharply.

“Well, tutor, then, if you like to call it so,” continued Miss
Livingstone, “the name does not much signify. But if Mr. Arundel is to
have the care of this dreadful boy, the sooner he knows what his duties
will be, and sets about them, the better; for I tell you plainly,
General Grant, that unless there’s a man about the creature who can
manage him, I won’t sleep another night in the house with him. There’s
no trusting those idiots; we may all be murdered in our beds.”

As the good lady, who had by this time got the steam up to a very high
degree of pressure, hazarded the above uncomfortable suggestion, Annie,
who had been listening with an expression of painful annoyance to
her aunt’s harangue, suddenly turned pale and glanced with a look of
appealing inquiry towards her father, who replied to her rather than to
Miss Livingstone in the following terms:--

“Really, my dear Annie, I am compelled to say that the fears with which
your excellent relative” (and he looked bayonets at Minerva, who shook
her head till her terrific cap rustled like an angry hailstorm) “would
seek to inspire you are utterly without foundation.” He paused, took a
pinch of snuff viciously, as though it were gunpowder and he was priming
himself for a fresh discharge; and thus prepared he turned to Lewis,
saying--but we will reserve the volley for another chapter.



CHAPTER XVII.--CONTAINS MUCH FOLLY AND A LITTLE COMMON SENSE.

“The truth of the matter is this, Mr. Arundel,” began General Grant.
“From a mistaken policy your future pupil has been indulged in every
caprice of his weak intellect, till the slightest opposition to his
wishes irritates him beyond all control that has yet been exercised over
him; but as his only attendants are an old female domestic who was his
nurse, and her son, a lad younger than Sir Walter himself, whom he has
been foolishly permitted to look upon in the light of a companion, this
is not so much to be wondered at.”

“It will be a difficult task to eradicate faults of temper which
have been allowed to become habitual, especially where the reasoning
faculties are defective,” observed Lewis thoughtfully.

“You may well say that, sir,” chimed in Miss Livingstone. “His reasoning
faculties (as you please to term them) are so _defective_, that in my
humble opinion the boy is neither more nor less than a fool; and you may
as well try to drive a pig straight as to talk sense to a fool. But how
a man so particular as General Grant can have brought such an inmate
into his family, and then expect that things are to go on with the order
and precision that----”

“Madam!” began the General in a voice of thunder, his stock of patience
utterly exhausted by this indirect mode of attack. But Annie, with a
degree of tact and moral courage for which Lewis had by no means been
disposed to give her credit, laid her hand imploringly on her father’s
arm, and whispered a few magical words which served to avert the storm
that had appeared inevitable. An awkward pause ensued, which was broken
by the General, who, rising majestically from his chair, informed Lewis
that he should request his attendance in half-an-hour; then casting
a withering glance at Miss Livingstone, which caused that respectable
porcupine of private life to bristle up if possible more fiercely
than before, he quitted the room. No sooner had her nephew-in-law’s
retreating footsteps ceased to echo through the long corridor than the
good lady, freed from the restraint of his presence, did then and there
openly, avowedly, and with much vehemence, utter a declaration of war
to the knife with that gallant officer, issued a protest against the
introduction of “rampant idiots” into that heretofore peaceful family,
and finally assert her own liberty of action by promulgating her
determination to depart forthwith, leaving her companions to contemplate
the agreeable contingencies of “being frightened out of their wits every
day, and murdered in their beds all night.”

Having in some degree relieved her mind by this explosion, she applied
the superfluous steam still remaining to the purpose of locomotion, her
crisp schako rending the air, and her high-heeled shoes knocking sharp
little double knocks, as of an angry postman, against the polished oak
floor as she swept along.

And these “pleasant passages” were the first votive offering which Lewis
saw presented to the Lares and Penates of Broadhurst.

General Grant sat bolt upright in his easy-chair, as if he were on his
charger, and his face wore an expression of scrutinising authority, as
of a commander about to review his troops, when Lewis, in obedience to
his summons, entered the library.

“Take a chair, Mr. Arundel. I have desired the attendance of Sir Walter
Desborough, and expect he will be here immediately.”

In compliance with this request, Lewis seated himself to await the
arrival of his future pupil; but the minutes glided by, and still no
pupil appeared. At length, just as the General’s small stock of patience
became exhausted and he had begged Lewis to ring the bell, the butler
returned, saying that it was impossible to induce Sir Walter to leave
his room unless his female attendant might come with him. General Grant
frowned portentously, glanced expressively towards Lewis, muttering,
“Some of the evil effects of a grievous system of neglect,” then added,
to the servant, “You may desire Mrs. Peters to accompany Sir Walter
Desborough.”

“One of the first points to which you will have to direct your
attention, Mr. Arundel,” continued the General as the domestic quitted
the apartment, “is to induce my ward to dispense with the society of
this person and her son. He may retain their services as attendants, but
must be taught no longer to regard them as companions.”

As he spoke the door opened and admitted three individuals. Of these,
the first who claims our notice was the unfortunate young baronet who
was to be Lewis’s future charge. He appeared about fourteen, but was
tall for that age; his figure was slight and not ungraceful, and his
features were handsome; his forehead was high, but narrow and receding;
his eyes were bright and clear, though totally devoid of expression, and
there was an appearance of weakness and irresolution about the mouth,
which too clearly indicated his want of intellect. Mrs. Peters was a
very stout old lady, on whom the cares of life and a rare specimen
of the female costume of some bygone age appeared to sit easily; her
outline might have suggested to an imaginative beholder the idea of a
huge pillow which had “come alive” and made itself a gown out of one
of the chintz bed-curtains, forgetting the waist. Her conversation
was embellished by a redundancy of mild ejaculations, amongst which a
benediction on her own “heart alive,” and an apostrophe to a solitary
possessive pronoun which had lost its noun, and agreed with nothing in
particular, stood pre-eminent. Her stock of ideas, which was by no
means inconveniently large, had been presented to her in her youth, and
required altering to suit the present fashion. Still she was a good old
woman in her way; her “heart alive” was a very kind one; and she doated
on poor Walter, spoiling and indulging him till she had made even a
greater fool of him than nature had intended. The trio was completed
by her hopeful son Robert, or, as he was more familiarly termed,
Bob Peters, who, one year younger than Sir Walter, was as clever and
mischievous an imp as ever indued a page’s livery and bore a splendid
crop of buttons to fascinate society. Pressing close to his nurse’s side
and dragging the pretty page after him by the wrist, Walter entered the
alarming presence of his guardian and his tutor, hanging back like a
startled colt the moment he perceived a stranger.

“Walter, come here; I want to introduce you to this gentleman,”
 exclaimed General Grant in the blandest tone he could command; but in
vain--Walter only hung his head and shrank closer to his protectress.

“Oh, my! Walter dearie, go to the General. Bless my heart alive,
you ain’t so silly as to be afraid of _him_,” exclaimed Mrs. Peters,
emphasising the _him_. as though it referred to a pet lamb or a tame
rabbit.

“Go in and win, Master Walter; the gentleman won’t bite yer,” suggested
Bob in an audible whisper.

But their remonstrances produced no effect upon Walter, and served only
to increase General Grant’s irritation.

“He must be taught obedience, sir,” he remarked quickly, appealing to
Lewis. “Nothing can be done until he becomes obedient;” then turning to
the old nurse, he continued, “Mrs. Peters, Sir Walter will not require
your attendance at present; you may leave the room, and take your son
with you.”

“I’m afeard, sir, you won’t be able to do nothing with Master Walter
without one of us stops with him. You see, he’s kind of used to us,”
 urged Mrs. Peters.

“I shall feel obliged by your leaving the room, Mrs. Peters. When I
require your advice! will inform you of the fact,” returned the General,
walking with stately steps towards the door, which he held partially
open to permit the egress of the servants, while he prevented Walter
from following them.

As he saw his friends depart the boy raised his eyes, which gleamed with
mingled fear and anger, to General Grant’s face, but cold inflexibility
was written there so unmistakably that even the darkened perceptions
of the idiot could not fail to perceive it; and apparently feeling
instinctively that resistance would be unavailing, his countenance
assumed a sulky, dogged expression, and he suffered himself to be led to
a seat without opposition. But, despite this success, the General seemed
as far from gaining his point as ever; neither kindness nor coercion
could induce Walter to pay the slightest attention to the remarks
addressed to him, or to utter a single word. Any one, to have seen him
at that moment, would have imagined him to be hopelessly imbecile. That
such was not the case, however, Lewis, who without interfering openly
had been closely observing him from the moment of his entrance, felt
convinced. He had particularly watched the play of his features, and
had remarked when he first came in that they were characterised by an
expression of fear and shyness rather than of stupidity, and that it was
not until his guardian had banished those whom he knew well, and in whom
he had confidence, that they assumed the look of stolid sulkiness which
they now wore. After making several unsuccessful attempts to elicit from
his ward some proof of intelligence, General Grant at length quitted
the room in search of his daughter, actuated thereunto by a vague
consciousness that his own manner might possibly be deficient in
conciliatory power, and that Annie, from the fact of her belonging
to the softer sex, possessed a decided advantage over him in this
particular. Availing himself of this opportunity, Lewis caught up a
young kitten which was playing about the room, towards which he had
observed Walter cast several furtive glances; and caressing the little
animal as he held it in his arms, he approached his pupil, saying
quietly--

“I’m sure you like the kitten, Walter, she is so playful and pretty?”

The boy made no answer, but the sullen look in his face gradually gave
place to a milder expression, and he glanced from Lewis to the kitten
with an appearance of intelligence, for which any one who had seen him
a minute before would not have given him credit. Lewis saw that he had
touched the right string, and continued in the same kind and gentle
manner--

“We must make a great pet of the kitten. She will play with us and amuse
us nicely.”

As he said this Walter drew closer to him, and seeming, in his interest
about the kitten, to forget his fear of the stranger, held out his hands
for the little creature to be given to him.

“Will you be kind to her if I let you have her?” continued Lewis.

Walter nodded in token of assent, and Lewis handed him the kitten, which
he immediately began to fondle and play with, laughing with childish
glee at its gambols. After amusing himself in this manner for several
minutes he suddenly turned to Lewis and asked in a half-whisper--

“Do you like ponies, too?”

Delighted at this proof of the success of his attempt to win his pupil’s
confidence, Lewis signified his intense affection for ponies in general,
and inquired whether Walter possessed one. On receiving an affirmative
nod he continued--

“And are you very fond of riding it?”

This question seemed to perplex the boy, for he made no reply, and a
half-puzzled, vacant expression banished the gleam of intelligence which
had lighted up his features. Lewis repeated the inquiry in two or three
different forms, but with no better success. A pause ensued, during
which the young tutor pondered with himself the best means of calling
forth and strengthening the faint germs of intellect which evidently
existed in the clouded mind of the poor idiot, when Walter again looked
up and exclaimed abruptly--

“Bob says I’m to ride the pony when somebody comes to take care of me.”

“And I am that somebody,” returned Lewis, smiling good-naturedly. “You
shall ride the pony to-day if you like.”

This seemed to please him, for he nodded and laughed, and resumed his
gambols with the kitten. Suddenly a new idea appeared to strike him,
for his face became clouded, and drawing close to Lewis, he whispered,
pointing to the door by which General Grant had left the apartment--

“Don’t tell him, or he won’t let me go.”

“Why should you think so, Walter? That gentleman is your guardian, and
means to be very kind to you,” returned Lewis; but Walter shook his head
and repeated--

“Don’t tell him; he won’t let me go.”

At this moment the General returned, accompanied by Annie, whose
feelings of sympathy and pity were slightly tempered by the fears which
Miss Livingstone had laboured industriously to instil into her mind.
Lewis drew the General on one side and gave him an outline of all that
had passed during his absence, adding, that although it was of course
too soon for him to judge with any degree of accuracy to what extent
they might proceed, it was evident his pupil possessed some reasoning
powers which cultivation might develop. And he was going on to add that
harshness appeared to him likely rather to increase than diminish the
evil, when his attention was attracted by an exclamation of anger from
Walter.

The moment General Grant returned his ward had relapsed into his former
state of sullen apathy, and all Annie’s attempts to induce him to notice
her only appeared to increase his obstinacy, till at length she began
to stroke the kitten, which he still held in his arms. This, for some
unexplained cause (probably because he fancied she might be about to
injure his favourite, or to deprive him of it), irritated him
beyond control, and forgetting his fear in his anger, he uttered
the exclamation above alluded to, and struck at her fiercely with
a riding-whip which he had brought in with him. Springing forward,
however, before the blow could descend, Lewis caught his uplifted arm
and held it in an iron grasp, while in a grave but stern voice he said--

“Walter, I am surprised at you. Attempt to strike a lady! You must never
do such a thing again.”

The calm, impressive manner in which he uttered these words appeared to
produce a beneficial effect in subduing the boy’s irritation; for
after making one furious but unavailing attempt to free himself, he sat
perfectly still and unresisting. Nothing, however, could induce him to
make friends with Annie, or to allow her to touch his beloved kitten,
though when Lewis caressed it, and even took it in his arms, he appeared
well contented.

A fortnight’s careful study of the young baronet’s character only
served to confirm the impressions Lewis had received during this first
interview. That he possessed some powers of reasoning and reflection was
evident; but the great difficulty lay in finding a key to the workings
of his mind by aid of which these powers might be strengthened and
developed. Any direct question seemed to puzzle and confuse him, and the
only plan which appeared to offer any hope of success was, if possible,
to discover some train of thought (if the vague and desultory fancies
which flitted across his feeble brain deserved to be so called), and
then to lead him gently on by suggesting new ideas, some of which he
might adopt and retain. But it was an up-hill task; and often when
Lewis, with a degree of calm perseverance which in one of his eager and
impetuous disposition could scarcely have been looked for, had succeeded
in making him acquire, as he believed, a leading idea on which he hoped
to base some superstructure of elementary knowledge, a look of hopeless
vacuity would show that no progress had been made, and that the labour
must all be gone through again. At other times some shrewd remark or
pertinent question would take Lewis as it were by surprise, and induce
him to imagine that he had underrated his pupil’s mental capacity, and
that the fault must lie in his own inexperience of such cases. But there
was much to be unlearned as well as to be taught. As is often the case
in persons of weak intellect, the mere animal tendencies were unusually
strong. He was subject to violent bursts of passion, if his will were
in the slightest degree thwarted, which it required all Lewis’s firmness
and strength of character to contend against successfully. Occasionally
fits of melancholy would seize him, during which he would sit for hours
without speaking, his head resting dejectedly on his hand, and nothing
appearing able to interest or amuse him. If not prevented, he would eat
so voraciously as to injure his health. He was also indolent and averse
to active exertion of any kind. But Lewis took much pains to teach him
to ride, and the exercise thus obtained tended greatly to strengthen
his constitution. His fondness for animals was one of the most amiable
points in his disposition. He and Faust ere long became inseparable, and
Lewis found the dog a most useful auxiliary in inculcating--by example,
not precept, for Faust could not _quite_ talk--the necessity of implicit
obedience.

A month soon glided by, and at its expiration Lewis informed General
Grant that if he still wished him to undertake the care of his ward he
was willing to do so; an offer of which that noble commander joyfully
availed himself, being in his secret soul equally surprised and pleased
at the degree of success which had already attended Lewis’s efforts, and
only too glad to secure the services of one who could and would save
him all further difficulty in regard to the onerous and troublesome
responsibility which he had taken upon himself. For the next six months
of his residence at Broadhurst Lewis saw but little of the family.
During the greater part of that time the General was absent on a visit
to some relations in Scotland, whither his daughter accompanied him.
Miss Livingstone, having supplied herself with a resident victim in the
person of Miss Susan Pinner, an unhappy little fourteen-year-old cousin
once removed (the further the better from such a relative, we should
imagine), spent her time very much to her own satisfaction in daily
offering up the helpless sacrifice thus acquired at the altar of her
evil temper, and in tyrannising over the poor of the neighbourhood with
most excruciating benevolence. A sick family was a rare treat to this
venerable scourge. Nauseous were the medicines she forced down the
throats of the destitute, aggravating the directions with which she
tortured the suffering, hateful the dietary on which she nourished all
sick persons and young children! Truly an irritating poor man’s plaster
was that sphinx of modern society, Minerva Livingstone, and Odipus
himself would never have guessed at one-half her modes of ingeniously
tormenting indigent merit. Fortunately, working out the details of this
ferocious philanthropy occupied so much of the good lady’s time that
Lewis enjoyed a happy immunity from her attentions, and was allowed to
put in practice his theories for the improvement of his pupil without
let or hindrance; and it was with a degree of pleasure, which was in
itself sufficient reward for his trouble, that he perceived his plans
likely to succeed beyond his most sanguine expectations. Affairs were in
this position when--but such an interesting disclosure requires a fresh
chapter.



CHAPTER XVIII.--LEWIS RECEIVES A MYSTERIOUS COMMUNICATION, AND IS RUN
AWAY WITH BY TWO YOUTHFUL BEAUTIES.

The arrival of the post-bag was an interesting event to Lewis, as
almost the only pleasure he allowed himself was a rapid interchange of
letters with his sister; and to this correspondence was he indebted for
an amount of warm sympathy, judicious advice, and affectionate interest
in his pursuits which tended greatly to relieve the monotony and
diminish the irksomeness of his situation; but with the exception of
Rose and (occasionally) Frere, his correspondents were exceedingly
limited in number, and their epistles few and far between. It was then
a matter of no small surprise to him to receive a businesslike-looking
letter in an unknown handwriting. To break the seal (which bore the
impression of the letters J. and L. united in a flourishing cipher that
at first sight looked like a bad attempt to delineate a true lover’s
knot) was the work of a moment. The contents were as follows:--

“Sir,--My partner and myself, having some connection with Warlington,
were cognisant of the death of your late lamented father, which sad
event was reported to have been caused by the sudden discovery of some
important information contained in a public journal. It is in our power
to impart to you the nature of that information; but as we have every
reason to believe its importance has not been overrated, we are only
prepared to do so on the following terms:--viz., the present receipt of
ten guineas, and a bond pledging yourself to pay to us the sum of
£200 should the information prove as valuable as we conceive it to be.
Awaiting the favour of a speedy answer,

“We have the honour to remain, Sir,

“Yours obediently,

“Jones & Levi, Attorneys-at-Law.

“----Street, Old Bailey.”

“What a strange letter!” soliloquised Lewis, after perusing it carefully
for the second time. “The writer is evidently acquainted with the
circumstances of my poor father’s death, but that proves nothing;
the newspaper story rests on the evidence of the library-keeper at
Warlington, and he probably told it to every one who came into his shop
for the next week; and this tale may have been invented to suit the
circumstances, with a view to extort money. One has heard of such
rogueries; still, in that case, why insist on the £200 bond? That seems
as if Messrs. Jones & Levi themselves had faith in the value of their
information; or it may only be done in order to give me that impression.
I’ll send the letter up to Richard Frere and ask him to ferret out these
gents--I dare say they _are_ thorough gents. Walter, I will not allow
you to give Faust all your gloves to play with; that is the third pair
he has bitten to pieces this week. Faust! drop it, sir! Do you hear me?
That’s right--good, obedient dog! Now for Master Richard.”

So saying he took a pen and wrote, in a delicately-formed yet free and
bold hand, the following note:--

“Dear old Frere,--Certain individuals, signing themselves ‘Jones
& Levi,’ have seen fit to favour me with the enclosed mysterious
communication, which on the face of the thing looks very like an
attempt to swindle. As there is, however, just a remote possibility
that something may come of it (for their account of the circumstances
preceding my poor father’s death tallies exactly with the recital my
sister gave me on my return), you will, I am sure, add one more to your
many kindnesses by investigating this matter for me. You must bear in
mind that £10 notes are by no means too plentiful with me, and that,
under present circumstances, my bond for £200 would scarcely be worth
as many pence. My poor charge progresses slowly; he has become much
more docile and tractable, and is considerably improved in manners and
general amiability, but his mental capacity is lamentably deficient;
his reasoning powers and usual habits of thought are about on a par with
those of an average child of six or seven years old; many intelligent
children of that age are greatly his superiors in intellect: still,
he makes visible progress, and that is recompense sufficient for any
expenditure of time and trouble. He appears much attached to me, and
(perhaps for that very reason--perhaps from the necessity to love
something, which exists in the nature of every man worthy of the name)
I have become so deeply interested in him, that duties which six months
ago I should have reckoned irksome in the extreme, I now find a real
pleasure in performing. I bore you with these details because... because
you are so old a friend that I have acquired a prescriptive right to
bore you when I like. As Walter and Faust (who clearly knows that I
am writing to you, and sends you an affectionate wag of the tail) are
becoming impatient at the length of my epistle, there being a walk in
prospect dependent on my arriving at a satisfactory conclusion, the
sooner I do so the better.

“Yours ever, L. A.”

As Lewis folded and sealed this missive a servant entered with a note on
a silver waiter, saying, as he presented it, “For you, sir. I am desired
to wait while you read it.”

It was written in a stiff, formal hand, and ran as follows:--

“Miss Livingstone presents her compliments to Mr. Arundel, and requests
the favour of an interview with him.”

“What is in the wind now, I wonder?” thought Lewis, but he only said,
“Tell Miss Livingstone I will do myself the pleasure of waiting on her
immediately,” and the servant retired.

Minerva was enthroned in state in the small drawing-room, the large
one being an awful apartment, dedicated to high and solemn social
convocations, and by no means lightly to be entered. Care sat upon her
wrinkled brow, and looked as uncomfortable there as in such a situation
might reasonably have been expected. As Lewis entered, this remarkable
woman rose and performed as near an approach to a curtsey as her
elephantine conformation would permit; then, graciously motioning her
visitor to a seat, she growled an inquiry after the well-being of his
pupil, promulgated a decidedly scandalous account of the state of
the weather, with a disheartening prophecy appended relative to
meteorological miseries yet to come; and having thus broken her own ice,
dived into the chilly recesses of her cold water system, and fished up
from its stony depths the weighty grievance that oppressed her.

It appeared that the same post which had conveyed the mysterious
document from Messrs. Jones & Levi had also brought a letter from
General Grant containing the intelligence that he was about to return
home forthwith, that the house was to be prepared for the reception of
a large Christmas party, and that he wished Miss Livingstone to pay
a round of visits preparatory to the issue of innumerable notes of
invitation, by which the neighbourhood was to be induced to attend
sundry festive meetings at Broadhurst; and all this was to be done more
thoroughly and on a larger scale than usual, for some mysterious reason
in regard to which the General was equally urgent and enigmatical. But
Minerva shall speak for herself.

“Having thus, Mr. Arundel, made myself acquainted with General Grant’s
wishes (fourteen beds to be ready this day week, and not even the
hangings put up on one of them--but men are so inconsiderate nowadays),
I proceeded to give Reynolds (the housekeeper) full and clear
instructions (to not one of which did she pay proper attention--but
servants are so careless and self-conceited nowadays) as to all the
necessary domestic arrangements. I then desired the coachman might be
informed that I should require the carriage to be ready for use at
two o’clock to-morrow (as you are perhaps aware, sir, that since the
General’s departure for Scotland I have restricted myself to a simple
pony-chaise). Judge of my amazement when I was told there were no horses
fit for use! I begged to see the coachman instantly, but learned that
he was confined to his bed with influenza. The second coachman is in
Scotland with the General, so that in fact there was not a creature of
sufficient respectability for me to converse with to whom I could
give directions about the matter. Under these circumstances, which
are equally unexpected and annoying, I considered myself justified in
applying to you, Mr. Arundel. Would you oblige me by going through the
stables and ascertaining whether anything can be devised to meet the
present emergency? I am aware that the service I require of you is
beyond the strict routine of your duties; but you must yourself perceive
the impossibility of a lady venturing among stablemen and helpers
without showing a disregard to that strict rule of propriety by which it
has been the study of my life to regulate my conduct.”

Having reached this climax, Minerva glanced with an air of dignified
self-approval towards Lewis and began a very unnecessary process of
refrigeration with the aid of a fan apparently composed, like its
mistress, of equal parts of cast-iron and buckram. Lewis immediately
signified his readiness to undertake the commission, and promising to
return and report progress, bowed and left the room.

On reaching the stables a groom attended his summons, and, after the
fashion of his race, entered into a long explanation of the series of
untoward circumstances to which the present state of equine destitution
might be attributed, in the course of which harangue he performed, so
to speak, a fantasia on the theme, “And then do you see, sir, coachman
being hill,” to which sentence, after each variation, he constantly
returned. The substance of his communication was as follows:--Shortly
before the General’s departure one of the carriage horses had fallen and
broken his knees, and its companion having an unamiable predilection
for kicking, the pair were sold and a couple of young unbroken animals
purchased, which, after a summer’s run, were destined to replace the
delinquents. Shortly after this the General fell in love with and bought
a pair of iron-grey four-year-olds, also untrained. All these young
horses were now taken up from grass and about to be broken in, but the
coachman’s illness had interrupted their education.

“Well, but are neither pair of the young stock available?” inquired
Lewis.

“I’m afeared not, sir,” was the reply. “The bays ain’t never been in
harness, and the iron-greys only three times.”

“Oh, the greys _have_ been in harness three times, have they?” resumed
Lewis. “Let us take them out to-day and see how they perform.”

“If you please, sir, I am only pad groom, and I can’t say as I should
feel myself disactly compertent to drive them wild young devils.”

“Bring out that mail phaeton; put on the break harness, and I’ll drive
them myself,” returned Lewis.

“But, if you please, sir,” began the groom in a tone of remonstrance.

“My good fellow, you waste time in talking. Of course if anything goes
wrong in consequence of your obeying my directions, I alone shall
be answerable; but nothing will go wrong if your harness is sound,”
 returned Lewis quickly.

The man, seeing the young tutor was determined, summoned one of his
fellows, and in a short time the phaeton was made ready and the horses
harnessed and led out. They were a splendid pair of dark iron-greys,
with silver manes and tails; their heads, small and well set on, their
sloping shoulders, and fine graceful legs, spoke well for their descent;
but they snorted with fear and impatience as they were led up to their
places, and their bright full eyes gazed wildly and restlessly around.

“Be quiet with them!” exclaimed Lewis as one of the men laid a rude
grasp on the rein to back the near-side horse into his place. “You never
can be too quiet and steady with a young horse. Soho, boy! what is it
then? nobody is going to hurt you,” he continued, patting the startled
animal, and at the same time backing him gently into the required
position.

The operation of putting-to was soon completed; and Lewis saying, “You
had better lead them off if there is any difficulty in getting them to
start,” took the reins in his hands and sprang up lightly but quietly.
Seating himself firmly, he asked, “Now, are you all ready?” and
receiving an answer in the affirmative, continued, “Give them their
heads;” then making a mysterious sound which may be faintly portrayed by
the letters “tchick,” he endeavoured to start his horses. But this was
no such easy matter. The near-side horse the moment he felt the collar
ran back, pulling against his companion, who returned the compliment by
rearing and striking with his fore-feet at the groom who attempted to
hold him.

“Steady there!” cried Lewis. “Pat his neck; that’s right. Quiet, horse!
stand, sir! One of you call those men here,” he added, pointing to a
couple of labourers who were digging in a slip of ground near. “Now, my
men,” he resumed as they came up, “take hold of the spokes of the hind
wheels and move the carriage on when I give you the signal. Are you
ready? Stand clear; all right.” As he spoke he again attempted to start
the horses, and this time more successfully.

The animal which had reared at the first attempt sprang forward, and
finding the weight which he had probably fancied was immovable yield to
his efforts, appeared anxious to proceed, but the other still hung back,
and was partly dragged forward by his yoke-fellow, partly pushed on
by the men who were propelling the carriage. Lewis again tried mild
measures, but without effect; and at length, considering that the
soothing system had been carried far enough, he drew the point of the
whip smartly across the animal’s shoulder. In reply to this the recusant
flung up his heels as high as the kicking-straps would permit; but on
a second and rather sharper application of the thong he plunged forward
and threw himself into the collar with a bound that tried the strength
of the traces; then pulling like a steam-engine, appeared resolved to
revenge himself on his driver by straining every sinew of his arms to
the utmost pitch of tension. But rowing, fencing, and other athletic
exercises had rendered those arms as hard as iron; and though the
swollen muscles rounded and stood out till his coat-sleeve was stretched
almost to bursting, Lewis continued to hold the reins in a vice-like
grasp, and the fiery horses, arching their proud necks and tossing the
foam-flakes from their champing jaws, were compelled to proceed at a
moderate pace. The grooms ran by their sides for a short distance,
then, at a sign from Lewis, one of the men watched his opportunity and
scrambled up while the phaeton was still going on; the other, having
opened a gate leading down a road through the park, remained gazing
after them with looks of the deepest interest.

[Illustration: 0128]

“Well, sir, you’ve managed to start ’em easier than I expected,” observed
the groom, as, in compliance with Lewis’s desire, he seated himself at
his side. “Coachman was a good half-hour a getting ’em hout of the
yard last time as they was put-to; that near-sider wouldn’t take the
collar no how.”

“And yet he’ll turn out the better horse of the two if he’s judiciously
managed,” returned Lewis. “He has higher courage than his companion,
though they’re both splendid animals. They only require careful
driving and working moderately every day to make as good a pair of
carriage-horses as a man need wish to sit behind.”

“It ain’t the first time as you’ve handled the ribbons by a good many,
I should say, sir,” continued Bob Richards (for that was the man’s name,
dear reader, although I’ve never had an opportunity of telling you so
before). “I see’d as you know’d what you was about afore ever you got on
the box.”

“_Before_ I got up!” returned Lewis. “How did you manage that, my
friend?”

“Why, sir, the furst thing as you did was to cast your eye over the
harness to see as all was right; then, afore ever you put your foot on
the step you took the reins into your hands, so that the minute you
was up you was ready for a bolt, hif so be it had pleased Providence to
start the ’orses off suddenly. Now, anybody as wasn’t used to the ways
of four-footed quadrupals wouldn’t never have thought of that.”

“Your powers of observation do you credit,” returned Lewis, with
difficulty repressing a smile. “You are right, I have been accustomed to
driving, as you imagine.” And as he spoke the remembrance of scenes
and persons now far away came across him, and he thought with regret
of pleasant hours passed with his young associates in Germany, when the
mere fact of his being an Englishman caused him to be regarded as an
oracle on all matters connected with horseflesh.

While this conversation was taking place the iron-greys had proceeded
about a mile through the park, dancing, curvetting, and staring on all
sides, as though they would fain shy at every object they discerned.

“They are gradually dropping into a steadier pace, you see,” observed
Lewis; “they’ll be tired of jumping about, and glad to trot without
breaking into a canter, when they get a little warm to their work.
Quiet, boy, quiet!” he continued, as the horses suddenly pricked up
their ears and stared wildly about them; “gently there, gently! What in
the world are they frightened at now?”

The question did not long remain a doubtful one, for in another minute
a hollow, rushing sound became audible, and a herd of deer, startled by
the rattling of the carriage, broke from a thicket hard by, and bounding
over the tall fern and stunted brushwood, darted across the road, their
long thin legs and branching antlers, indistinctly seen in the
grey light of an autumn day, giving them a strange and spectre-like
appearance. But Lewis had no time to trace fanciful resemblances, for
the horses demanded all his attention. As the sound of pattering feet
approached they began to plunge violently; at the sight of the deer they
stopped short, snorting and trembling with fright; and when the herd
crossed the road before them, perfectly maddened with terror they reared
till they almost stood upright; then, turning short round, they dashed
off the road at right angles, nearly overturning the phaeton as they did
so, and breaking into a mad gallop, despite all their driver’s efforts
to restrain them, tore away with the speed of lightning. For a few
seconds the sound of the wind whistling past his ears, and oppressing
his breathing to a painful degree, confused Lewis and deprived him of
the power of speech; but the imminence of the danger, and the necessity
for calmness and decision, served to restore his self-possession, and
turning towards his companion, who, pale with terror, sat convulsively
grasping the rail of the seat, he inquired--

“Can you recollect whether there are any ditches across the park in this
direction?”

“There ain’t no ditches, as I recollects,” was the reply, “but there’s
something a precious sight worser. If these devils go straight ahead for
five minutes longer at this pace, we shall be dashed over the bank of
the lake into ten foot water.”

“Yes, I remember; I see where we are now. The ground rises to the left,
and is clear of trees and ditches, is it not?” asked Lewis.

The groom replied in the affirmative, and Lewis continued: “Then we must
endeavour to turn them; do you take the whip, stand up, and be ready to
assist me at the right moment. What are you thinking of?” he continued,
seeing that the man hesitated and was apparently measuring with his eye
the distance from the step to the ground. “It would be madness to jump
out while we are going at this rate. Be cool, and we shall do very well
yet.”

“I’m agreeable to do whatever you tells me, only be quick about it,
sir,” rejoined the groom. “For if it comes to jumping hout, or sitting
still to be drownded, hout I goes, that’s flat, for I never could abear
cold water.”

“I suppose the reins are strong, and to be depended on?” inquired Lewis.

“Nearly new, sir,” was the reply.

“Then be ready; and when I tell you, exert yourself,” continued Lewis.

While these remarks passed between the two occupants of the phaeton,
the horses still continued their mad career, resisting successfully all
attempts to check the frightful speed at which they were hurrying on
towards certain destruction. As they dashed past a clump of shrubs,
which had hitherto concealed from view the danger to which they were
exposed, the full peril of their situation became evident to the eyes of
Lewis and his companion. With steep and broken banks, on which American
shrubs, mixed with flags and bulrushes, grew in unbounded luxuriance,
the lake lay stretched before them, its clear depths reflecting the
leaden hue of the wintry sky, and a slight breeze from the north
rippling its polished surface. Less than a quarter of a mile of smooth
greensward separated them from their dangerous neighbour. An artist
would have longed to seize this moment for transferring to canvas or
marble the expression of Lewis’s features. As he perceived the nearness
and reality of the danger that threatened him, his spirit rose with the
occasion, and calm self-reliance, dauntless courage, and an energetic
determination to subdue the infuriated animals before him, at whatever
risk, lent a brilliancy to his flashing eye, and imparted a look of
stern resolve to his finely cut mouth, which invested his unusual beauty
with a character of superhuman power such as the sculptors of antiquity
sought to immortalise in their statues of heroes and demigods. Selecting
an open space of turf unencumbered with trees or other obstacles, Lewis
once more addressed his companion, saying--

“Now be ready. I am going to endeavour to turn them to the left, in
order to get their heads away from the lake and uphill; but as I shall
require both hands and all my strength for the reins, I want you to
stand up and touch them smartly with the whip on the off-side of the
neck. If you do this at the right moment, it will help to bring them
round. Do you understand me?”

Richards replied in the affirmative, and Lewis, leaning forward and
shortening his grasp on the reins, worked the mouths of the horses till
he got their heads well up; then assuring himself by a glance that
his companion was ready, he checked their speed by a great exertion of
strength; and tightening the left rein suddenly, the groom at the same
moment applying the whip as he had been desired, the fiery steeds,
springing from the lash and yielding to the pressure of the bit, altered
their course, and going round so sharply that the phaeton was again
within an ace of being overturned, dashed forward in an opposite
direction.

“You did that uncommon well, to be sure, sir,” exclaimed Richards,
drawing a long breath like one relieved from the pressure of a painful
weight. “I thought we was over once, though; it was a precious near go.”

“A miss is as good as a mile,” returned Lewis, smiling. “Do you see,”
 he continued, “they are slackening their pace; the hill is beginning to
tell upon them already. Hand me the whip; I shall give the gentlemen a
bit of a lesson before I allow them to stop, just to convince them
that running away is not such a pleasant amusement as they appear to
imagine.”

So saying, he waited till the horses began sensibly to relax their
speed; then holding them tightly in hand, he punished them with the whip
pretty severely, and gave them a good deal more running than they liked
before he permitted them to stop, the nature of the ground (a gentle
ascent of perfectly smooth turf) allowing him to inflict this discipline
with impunity.

After proceeding two or three miles at the same speed he perceived
another cross-road running through the park. Gradually pulling up as he
approached it, he got his horses into a walk, and as soon as they had
once again exchanged grass for gravel he stopped them to recover wind.
The groom got down, and gathering a handful of fern, wiped the foam from
their mouths and the perspiration from their reeking flanks.

“You’ve given ’em a pretty tidy warming, though, sir,” he observed. “If I
was you I would not keep ’em standing too long.”

“How far are we from the house, do you imagine?” inquired Lewis.

“About three mile, I should say,” returned Richards. “It will take you
nigh upon half-an-hour, if you drives ’em easy.”

Lewis looked at his watch, muttering, “More than an hour to Walter’s
dinner-time.” He then continued, “Get up, Richards; I have not quite
done with these horses yet;” adding, in reply to the man’s questioning
glance as he reseated himself, “I’m only going to teach them that a herd
of deer is not such a frightful object as they seem to imagine it.”

“Sure_ly_ you’re never agoin’ to take’em near the deer again, Mr.
Arundel; they’ll never stand it, sir,” expostulated Richards.

“You can get down if you like,” observed Lewis, with the slightest
possible shade of contempt in his tone. “I will pick you up here as I
return.”

Richards was a thorough John Bull, and it is a well-known fact that to
hint to one of that enlightened race that he is afraid to do the most
insane deed imaginable is quite sufficient to determine him to go
through with it at all hazards. Accordingly, the individual in question
pressed his hat on his brows to be prepared for the worst, and folding
his arms with an air of injured dignity, sat sullenly hoping for an
overturn, which might prove him right, even at the risk of a broken
neck.

Lewis’s quick eye had discerned the herd of deer against a dark
background of trees which had served to screen them from the less
acute perceptions of the servant, and he now contrived, by skirting the
aforesaid belt of Scotch firs, to bring the phaeton near the place where
the deer were stationed without disturbing them, so that the horses were
able clearly to see the creatures which had before so greatly alarmed
them. It has been often remarked that horses are greatly terrified by an
object seen but indistinctly, at which, when they are able to observe it
more closely, they will show no signs of fear. Whether for this reason,
or that the discipline they had undergone had cooled their courage and
taught them the necessity of obedience, the iron-greys approached the
herd of deer without attempting to repeat the manoeuvre which had been
so nearly proving fatal to their driver and his companion. Lewis drove
them up and down once or twice, each time decreasing the distance
between the horses and the animals, to the sight of which he wished to
accustom them, without any attempt at rebellion on their part beyond a
slight preference for using their hind legs only in progression, and
a very becoming determination to arch their necks and point their ears
after the fashion of those high-spirited impossibilities which do duty
for horses in Greek friezes and in the heated imagination of young lady
artists, who possess a wonderful (a very wonderful) talent for sketching
animals. Having continued this amusement till the deer once again
conveyed themselves away, Lewis, delighted at having carried his point
and overcome the difficulties which had opposed him, drove gently back
to Broadhurst; and having committed the reeking horses to the care of
a couple of grooms, who began hissing at them like a whole brood of
serpents, returned to make his report and soothe the tribulation of that
anxious hyæna in petticoats, Miss Martha Livingstone.



CHAPTER XIX.--CHARLEY LEICESTER BEWAILS HIS CRUEL MISFORTUNE.

Frere’s answer to Lewis’s note made its appearance at Broadhurst on the
morning of the second day after that on which the events narrated in the
previous chapter took place. It ran as follows:--

“Dear Lewis,--I think I’ve told you before--(if it wasn’t you it was
your sister, which is much the same thing)--not to write such a pack of
nonsense as ‘adding to my many kindnesses,’ and all that sort of stuff,
because it’s just so much time and trouble wasted. I see no particular
kindness in it, that’s the fact. You and she live in the country, and I
in town; and if there is anything that either of you want here, why of
course it’s natural to tell me to get or to do it for you; and as to
apologising, or making pretty speeches every time you require anything,
it’s sheer folly; besides, I _like_ doing the things for you. If I
didn’t I wouldn’t do them, you may depend upon _that_; so no more of
such rubbish ‘an you love me.’ And now, touching those interesting, or
rather interest_ed_, individuals, Messrs. Jones & Levi. I thought when
I read their letter they were rascals or thereabouts, but a personal
interview placed the matter beyond doubt; and if you take my advice,
you’ll see them--well, never mind where--but keep your £10 in your
pocket, that’s all. Depend upon it, they are more used to making rich
men poor than poor ones rich. However, I’ll tell you all their sayings
and doings, as far as I am acquainted therewith, and then you can judge
for yourself. As soon as I received your letter I trudged off into the
city, found the den of thieves--I mean the lawyer’s office--of which
I was in search, sent in my card by an unwashed Israelite with a pen
behind each ear and ink all over him, whom I took to be a clerk, and by
the same unsavoury individual was ushered into the presence of Messrs.
Jones & Levi. Jones was a long cadaverous-looking animal, with a clever,
bad face, and the eye of a hawk; Levi, a fat Jew, and apparently a
German into the bargain, with a cunning expression of countenance and
a cringing manner, who gave one the idea of having been fed on oil-cake
till he had become something of the sort himself; a kind of man who, if
you had put a wick into him, wouldn’t have made a bad candle, only one
should so have longed to snuff him out. Well, I soon told these worthies
what I was come about, and then waited to hear all they had to say for
themselves. The Gentile, being most richly gifted with speech, took upon
him to reply--

“‘Let me offer you a chair, Mr. Frere, sir. Delighted to have the honour
of making your acquaintance. I speak for my partner and myself--eh, Mr.
Levi?’

“‘In courshe, shir. Moosh playsure, Misthur Vreer, shir,’ muttered Levi,
who spoke through his nose, after the manner of modern Israelites, as if
that organ were afflicted with a permanent cold.

“When I had seated myself Jones returned to the attack by observing:
‘Our letter contained a certain definite and specific offer. Does Mr.
Arundel agree to that, Mr. Frere, sir?’

“‘Mr. Arundel has placed the matter entirely in my hands, Mr. Jones,’
replied I; ‘and before I can agree to anything I must understand clearly
what benefit my friend is likely to derive from the information hinted
at in your letter.’

“‘May I inquire, Mr. Frere, sir, whether you are a professional man?’
asked Jones.

“‘If you mean a lawyer, Mr. Jones,’ replied I, ‘I am thankful to say I
am not.’

“I suppose he did not exactly relish my remark, for he resumed, in a
less amicable tone than he had used before--

“‘I believe the letter to which I have already referred contained a
clear statement of the _only_’ (he emphasised the word strongly) ‘terms
upon which we should be disposed to communicate the information,’ and he
glanced towards his partner, who echoed--

“‘De _only_ turmsh.”

“‘Then, gentlemen,’ said I (gentlemen, indeed!), ‘I beg most distinctly
to inform you that my friend shall never, with my consent, pay £10
down and become liable for £200 more, this liability depending on a
contingency which you have no doubt provided against, on the mere chance
that some information in your possession may refer to the exciting cause
of his father’s death and prove valuable to him.’

“‘De informationsh ish mosht faluaple,’ broke in Levi.

“‘I beg pardon, Mr. Levi,’ exclaimed Jones quickly, ‘but I believe we
agreed this matter was to be left to my management?’

“Levi nodded his large head and looked contrite, while Jones continued:
‘In that case, Mr. Frere, sir, I have only to add that if Mr. Arundel
refuses to comply with our terms we shall not part with the information
on any others. At the same time, I should advise him to reconsider the
matter, for I do not hesitate to say that I quite coincide with Mr. Levi
in his opinion concerning the importance of the information which is in
our possession.’

“As he said this an idea occurred to me, and I replied--

“‘Suppose, instead of the bond for £200 in the event of some contingency
which may never occur, Mr. Arundel were willing to pay £20 down for the
information, would you agree to that?’

“‘Say vive and dirtysh,’ put in the Jew, his dull eyes brightening
at the prospect of money. ‘Say vive and dirtysh, and it shall pe von
pargainsh.’

“‘Would you agree to take that sum, Mr. Jones?’ asked I.

“He glanced at his partner with a slight contraction of the brow and
shook his head; but the spirit of avarice aroused in the Jew was not so
easily to be put down, and he continued, in a more positive tone than he
had yet ventured to use--

“‘Yesh, he dosh agree. Me and my bardner ve vill take the vive and
dirtysh poundsh, ready monish, Mr. Vreer.’

“‘Not quite so fast, my good sir,’ returned I. ‘If you are so very ready
to give up the bond for £200, to be paid in case the information should
prove as valuable as you assert it to be, the natural inference is that
you yourself have mighty little faith in the truth of your assertion;
and as I happen to be pretty much of that way of thinking also, I shall
wish you both good morning.’

“So saying, I put on my hat and walked out of the room, leaving the Jew
and the Gentile to fight it out to their own satisfaction.

“I had not a very strong affection for lawyers before, and I can’t say
this visit has served to endear the profession to me particularly. You
know the old story of the man who defined the difference between
an attorney and a solicitor to be much the same as that between an
alligator and a crocodile. Well, Messrs. Jones & Levi realised such a
definition to the life, for a more detestable brace of rascals I never
encountered; and depend upon it, the less you have to do with them
the better; at least, such is the opinion of yours for ever and a day
(always supposing such an epoch of time may exist),

“Richard Frere.”

“So,” exclaimed Lewis, refolding the letter, “that chance has failed
me. Well, I never expected anything would come of it; and yet--heigho!
I certainly was born under an unlucky star. I think Frere was rather
precipitate. According to his account of his proceedings, he seems to
have felt such an intense conviction that the men were rascals that
he called on them rather for the purpose of exposing them than to
investigate the matter. He prejudged the question. However, I have no
doubt the result would have been the same in any case. What a bore it
is that men will be rogues! I shall have out those horses again after
Walter has got through his lesson. If they go quietly I shall take him
with me for a drive to-morrow.” And thus communing with himself, he
summoned Walter and commenced the usual morning routine.

Miss Livingstone had, by Lewis’s advice, ordered post-horses to the
carriage, and was in that way enabled to accomplish her round of visits.
Lewis carried out his intention of driving the iron-greys, who conducted
themselves with so much propriety that on the following day he took his
pupil with him, and finding the drive pleased and amused the poor boy he
repeated it every fine day. Thus a week slipped away, and the time for
the General’s return arrived. It was late on the afternoon of the day
on which he was expected, and Lewis was wearily assisting poor Walter to
spell through a page of dissyllables, when that peculiar gravel-grinding
sound became audible which, in a country house, necessarily precedes
an arrival. Then there was a great bustle as of excited servants, a
Babel-like confusion of tongues, bumps and thumps of heavy luggage,
much trampling of feet, ringing of bells and slamming of doors; then
the sounds grew fainter, were remitted at intervals, and at last ceased
altogether. The house was no longer masterless--General Grant had
returned. Walter’s attention, by no means easy to command for five
minutes together at the best of times, became so entirely estranged by
the commotion above alluded to, that Lewis closed the book in despair
and told him to go and play with Faust, who, sitting upright on a rug in
front of the fire, was listening with the deepest interest to all that
passed in the hall, and was only restrained from barking by a strict
sense of propriety operating on a well-disciplined mind. The boy gladly
obeyed, and Lewis, resting his aching head on his hand, fell into deep
thought--he thought of old times, when, head of his class at a public
school, alike leader and idol of the little world in which he moved, his
young ambition had shaped out for itself a career in which the bar, the
bench, the senate, were to be but stepping-stones to the highest honours
to which energy and talent might attain; and he contrasted his present
position with the ideal future his boyish fancy had depicted. Then he
bethought him of the tyrant who commanded that a living man should be
chained to a corpse, and considered how the cold and numbing influence
of the dead, gradually paralysing the vital energy of the living, was,
as it were, typical of his own fate. He could not but be conscious
of unusual powers of mind, for he had tested them in the struggle for
honours with the deep and subtile thinkers of Germany, and had come off
victorious; and to reflect that these talents, which might have ensured
him success in the game of life, were condemned to be wasted in the
wearying attempt to call forth the faint germs of reason in the mind
of an almost childish idiot! The thought was a bitter one! and yet for
months past he had felt resigned to his fate; and the deep interest he
took in his pupil’s improvement, together with the time such a quiet
life afforded for reflection and self-knowledge, had rendered him
contented, if not what is conventionally termed happy. To what then
should he attribute his present frame of mind? At this moment a tap at
the study door interrupted his meditations, and he was unable to pursue
his self-analysis further. Had he done so, he might possibly have
discovered that pride, his besetting sin, lay at the root of the evil.
As long as he lived in comparative seclusion his duties sat easily upon
him; but now that he was again about to mix in society, his position as
tutor became galling in the extreme to his haughty nature. As he heard
the summons above mentioned he started from his reverie, and sweeping
his hair from his forehead by a motion of his hand, exclaimed, “Come
in.” As he spoke the door opened, and our old acquaintance, Charley
Leicester, lounged into the room.

“Ah! how do you do, Arundel?” he began in his usual languid tone. “I
know all the ins and outs of this place, and I thought I should find you
here--this used to be _my_ den once upon a time; many a holiday’s task
have I groaned over in this venerable apartment. Is that your incubus?”
 he continued in a lower tone, glancing towards Walter. “Handsome
features, poor fellow! Does he understand what one says?”

“Scarcely, unless you speak to him individually,” returned Lewis. “You
may talk as you please before him, the chances are he will not attend;
but if he does, he will only understand a bit here and there, and even
that he will forget the next moment, when some trifle occurs to put it
out of his head. Walter, come and shake hands with this gentleman!”

Thus spoken to, Walter turned sheepishly away, and stooping down, hid
his face behind Faust. Lewis’s mouth grew stern. “Faust, come here,
sir!” The dog arose, looked wistfully at his playfellow, licked his hand
lovingly, then walking across the room, crouched down at his master’s
feet.

“Now, Walter, look at me.” At this second appeal the boy raised his eyes
to Lewis’s face. “Go and shake hands with Mr. Leicester.”

“Don’t worry him on my account, pray, my dear Arundel,” interposed
Leicester good-naturedly.

“The General makes a great point of his being introduced to every one;
and I make a great point of his doing as I bid him,” returned Lewis with
marked emphasis.

But it was unnecessary, if meant as a hint to Walter, for his tutor’s
eye appeared to possess a power of fascination over him. No sooner did
he meet his glance than he arose from his kneeling position, and going
up to Leicester held out his hand saying, “How do you do?”

Charley shook hands with him kindly, asked him one or two simple
questions, to which he replied with tolerable readiness; then observing
that his eyes were fixed on a silver-mounted cane he held in his hand,
he inquired whether he thought it pretty, and receiving an answer in the
affirmative, added, “Then you may take it to amuse yourself with, if you
like.”

A smile of childish delight proved that the offer was an acceptable one;
and carrying off his treasure with him and calling Faust, who on a sign
from his master gladly obeyed the summons, he betook himself to the
farther end of the room, which was a very large one, and began playing
with his canine associate. Leicester gazed at him for a moment or two,
and then observed--

“What a sad pity! Such a fine-grown, handsome lad, too! Why, in a year
or two he will be a man in appearance, with the mind of a child. Does he
improve much?”

“Yes, he improves steadily, but very slowly,” returned Lewis.

Leicester wandered dreamily up to a chimney-glass, arranged his hair
with an air of deep abstraction, pulled up his shirt-collars, caressed
his whiskers, then separating the tails of a nondescript garment,
which gave one the idea of a cut-away coat trying to look like a
shooting-jacket, he extended his legs so as to form two sides of a
triangle, and subjecting his frigid zone to the genial influence of
the fire, he enjoyed for some minutes in silence the mysterious delight
afforded to all true-born Englishmen by the peculiar position above
indicated. At length he sighed deeply and muttered, “Heigho! it’s no use
thinking about it.”

“That depends on what it is, and how you set to work to think,” returned
Lewis.

“That may do as a general rule,” continued Leicester, “but it won’t
apply to the case in point. The thing I was trying to cipher out, as
the Yankees call it, is the incomprehensible distribution of property in
this sublunary life. Now look at that poor boy--a stick for a plaything
and a dog for a companion make him perfectly happy. Those are his
only superfluous requirements, which together with eating, drinking,
clothing, and lodging might be provided for £300 a year.
Instead of that, when he is twenty-one he will come into from £8000 to
£10,000 per annum, besides no end of savings during his minority. Well,
to say nothing of your own case” (Lewis’s cheek kindled and his eye
flashed, but Leicester, absorbed in his own thoughts, never noticed it,
and continued), “though with your talents a little loose cash to give
you a fair start might be the making of you---just look at my wretched
position,--the son of a peer, brought up in all kinds of expensive
habits, mixing in the best set at Eton and at Oxford, the chosen
associate of men of large property, introduced into the highest society
in London--of course I must do as others do, I can’t help myself.
There are certain things necessary to a young man about town just
as indispensable as smock-frocks and bacon are to a ploughman. For
instance, to live one must dine--to dine one must belong to a club. Then
London is a good large place, even if one ignores everything east
of Temple Bar; one must keep a cab if but to save boot-leather--that
entails a horse and a tiger. Again, for four months in the year people
talk about nothing but the opera--one can’t hold one’s tongue for four
months, you know--that renders a stall indispensable. It’s the fashion
to wear white kid gloves, and the whole of London comes off black on
everything, so there’s a fine of 3s. 6d. a night only for having hands
at the end of one’s arms. The atmosphere of the metropolis is composed
chiefly of smoke--the only kind of smoke one can inhale without being
choked is tobacco smoke; besides, life without cigars would be a desert
without an oasis--but unfortunately Havannahs don’t hang on every
hedge. I might multiply instances _ad infinitum_, but the thing is
self-evident--to provide all these necessaries a man must possess money
or credit, and I unfortunately have more of the latter than the former
article. It is, as I have explained to you, utterly impossible for me to
exist on less than--say £1500 a year; and even with my share of my poor
mother’s fortune and the Governor’s allowance, my net income doesn’t
amount to £800; _ergo_, half the London and all the Oxford tradesmen
possess little manuscript volumes containing interesting reminiscences
of my private life. It’s no laughing matter, I can assure you,” he
continued, seeing Lewis smile; “there’s nothing cramps a man’s”--here
he released a coat-tail in order to raise his hand to conceal a
yawn--“augh! what do you call ’em?--energies--so much as having a load
of debt hanging round his neck. If it hadn’t been for those confounded
Oxford bills checking me at first starting, ’pon my word I don’t know
that I might not have done something. I had ideas about a parliamentary
career at one time, I can assure you, or diplomacy--any fool’s good
enough for an _attaché_. Now, if I had that poor boy’s fortune, and he
had my _mis_fortune, what an advantage it would be to both of us; he’ll
never know what to do with his money, and I should--rather! Just fancy
me with £10,000 a year, and a coat on my back that was paid for. By
Jove, I should not know myself. Ah, well! it’s no use talking about it;
all the same, I am an unlucky beggar.”

“But,” interposed Lewis eagerly, “if you really dislike the life
you lead so much, why don’t you break through all these trammels of
conventionality and strike out some course for yourself? With £800 a
year to ward off poverty, and the interest you might command, what a
splendid career lies before you! Were I in your position, instead of
desponding I should deem myself singularly fortunate.”

“So you might, my dear fellow,” returned Leicester, after pausing for
a minute to regard Lewis with a smile of languid wonder. “So you might
with your talents, and--and wonderful power of getting up the steam
and keeping it at high pressure. I dare say we should see you a Field
Marshal if you took to the red cloth and pipe-clay trade; or on the
woolsack if you preferred joining the long-robed gentlemen. Now,
I haven’t got that sort of thing in me: I was born to be a man of
property, and nothing else; and the absurdity of the thing is the
bringing a man into the world fit only for one purpose, and then placing
him in a position in which, to use the cant of the day, he can’t
‘fulfil his mission’ at any price. It’s just as if nature were to form
a carnivorous animal, and then turn it out to grass.” Having delivered
himself of this opinion with the air of a deeply injured man, the
Honourable Charles Leicester consulted a minute Geneva watch with an
enamelled back, and replacing it in his waistcoat pocket, continued,
“Five o’clock; I shall just have time to smoke a cigar before it is
necessary to dress for dinner. I presume tobacco is a contraband article
in the interior of this respectable dwelling-house?”

“A salutary dread of Miss Livingstone’s indignation has prevented me
from ever trying such an experiment,” returned Lewis.

“Well, I won’t run the risk of offending the good lady,” replied
Leicester. “Aunt Martha has a wonderful knack of blighting the whole
family for the rest of the day if one happens to run against one of her
pet prejudices. By the way, you must have found her a most interesting
companion?”

“We are great friends, I can assure you,” rejoined Lewis. “She
condescends to patronise me most benignantly; but I have not spoken
half-a-dozen times with her in as many months.”

“I suppose she has enlightened you as to the events about to come off
during the next three weeks.”

“By no means. Beyond the fact of the General’s return, and the
information that the house was to be filled with people, Miss
Livingstone has allowed me to remain in a state of the most lamentable
ignorance.”

“What! have not you heard that the county is vacant, and the General has
been persuaded to allow himself to be nominated as a candidate on the
conservative interest?”

“But I thought he was already member for the borough of A--------?”

“Yes; he will resign that if he succeeds for the county. Oh, you’re
quite in the dark, I see; we mean to stir heaven and earth to get him
in. My father gives him all his interest--Bellefield is coming down
to look up the tenantry. You know we (that is, Belle and the Governor,
worse luck) have large estates in the county. Belle can do a little bit
of love-making in between whiles, and so kill two birds with one stone.
And who else do you think is coming?--a very great man, I can assure
you; no less a personage, in fact, than--ar--_the_ De Grandeville!
He has been induced to--ar--” (and here he mimicked De Grandeville’s
pompous manner inimitably) “throw his little influence--ar--into the
scale, and--ar--show himself on the hustings, and--ar--arrange one or
two matters which will in fact--ar--render the thing secure! The plain
truth being that he really is a good man of business, and the General
has engaged him as an electioneering agent. Well, then, there are a lot
of people coming besides; and balls and dinners will be given to half
the county. In short, the General means to do the thing in style, and
spend as much money as would keep me out of debt for the next three
years. Several parties are to arrive to-morrow, so the General brought
Annie and me down with him as a sort of advanced guard. There will be
some fun, I dare say; but an awful deal of trouble to counterbalance it.
I shall lose my cigar, though, if I stand gossiping here any longer.
Let me see, the nearest way to the stables will be to jump out of
that window; deduct the distance saved from the amount of exertion in
leaping, and the remainder will be the gain of a minute and a half.
Well, time is precious, so off we go. I suppose you appear in the course
of the evening? Take care, Walter; that is right.”

Thus saying, he flung open the window, sprang out with more agility than
from his usual listless movements might have been expected, pulled
the sash down again, and having nodded good-naturedly to Walter,
disappeared.

General Grant felt and expressed himself greatly delighted at the marked
improvement which had taken place in his ward’s manner and appearance,
and attributing it with justice to Lewis’s judicious management, that
young gentleman rose many degrees in his employer’s favour. The General
was essentially a practical man--he was endowed with a clear head, and
(save where prejudice interfered) a sound judgment, and being happily
devoid of that inconvenient organ, a heart (whence proceed, amongst
other reprehensible emigrants, the whole host of amiable weaknesses,
which merely gain for their proprietor that most useless, because
unsaleable, article--affection), he looked upon his fellow-creatures as
machines, and weighing them in the balance, patronised those only
who were not found wanting. Lewis had proved himself a good teaching
machine, and the General valued him accordingly.

“The great point now, Mr. Arundel,” he said, “is to endeavour to expand
your pupil’s mind. You have developed in him (and I give you great
credit for the degree of success you have attained) powers of acquiring
knowledge,--those powers must be cultivated; he must have opportunities
afforded him of seeing people and amassing facts for himself; and
to this end it is my wish that he should mix as much as possible in
society. I am about to entertain a large party at Broad-hurst, and I
conceive that it will be a desirable opportunity to accustom Sir Walter
to the presence of strangers, and to enable him, by the force of example
acting on his imitative powers, to acquire the manners and habits of
those of his own rank. I therefore propose that after two o’clock on
each day your pupil and yourself should join the family circle and enter
into any schemes for amusement or exercise which may be arranged. I
consider myself most fortunate,” continued the General, with a little
patronising inclination of the head towards Lewis, “in having secured
the services of a gentleman whom I can with such entire satisfaction
present to my friends.”

In compliance with this injunction Lewis was forced, much against his
will, to withdraw from the retirement under the shadow of which he had
hitherto contrived to screen himself from those annoyances to which his
dependent situation exposed him, and which his sensitive nature led him
especially to dread. On the following day arrivals succeeded one another
with great rapidity, and when Lewis joined the party after luncheon
there were several faces with which he was unacquainted. One, however,
immediately arrested his attention, and turning to Leicester, he
inquired the name of the person in question.

“Eh! who is the man with moustaches, did you say? What! don’t you know
him?” exclaimed Leicester, if, indeed, the slow, languid manner in which
that young gentleman was accustomed to promulgate his sentiments can
be properly so termed. “How very odd! I thought everybody knew _him_;
that’s my _frère aîné_ Bellefield; come with me, and I’ll introduce
you.”

“Excuse me,” returned Lewis, drawing back with a flushed cheek as the
recollection of the scene on the banks of the Serpentine came vividly
before him. “I had no idea it was your brother; I never imagined for a
moment----”

“My dear Arundel, don’t excite yourself; as a general rule, there’s
nothing in this life worth getting up the steam about,” returned
Leicester, drawing on a kid glove. “Bellefield will be extremely happy
to make your acquaintance--in fact, he is always extremely happy. If
you were to cut your throat before his very eyes he would be extremely
happy, and if he thought you did it well, probably fold his arms, ask
what you would take for the razor, and be extremely happy to buy it of
you. But as he’ll be constantly here, there exists a positive necessity
for you to know him--so come along.”

Thus saying, Charley Leicester linked his arm in that of Lewis and
carried him off, _nolens volens_, to be introduced to his brother.

Lord Bellefield having seen Lewis only once before, and under very
peculiar circumstances, did not immediately recognise him; and having
made up his mind that for electioneering purposes it was necessary to
bear all species of social martyrdom amiably, underwent his introduction
to Lewis with great resignation, curling up his moustaches and showing
his white teeth in a ready-made smile--of which article he had always a
stock on hand--most condescendingly.

Lewis’s was, however, a face that once seen it was not easy to forget.
Moreover, there was at that moment an expression gleaming in his dark
eyes not altogether consistent with the conventional indifference
befitting a mere social introduction, and Lord Bellefield was too close
an observer not to notice it.

“I’ve a strange idea I’ve seen you somewhere before, Mr. Arundel,” he
remarked.

“If I am not much mistaken,” returned Lewis, “your lordship once did me
the honour,” and he laid a slightly sarcastic emphasis on the words, “to
offer me a sum of money for a favourite dog.”

There was something in Lewis’s manner as he uttered these words which
showed that he had neither forgotten nor forgiven the insult that had
been offered him. Lord Bellefield perceived it, and replied, with a
half-sneer--

“Ay, I recollect now--you jumped into the water to fish him out; and I
naturally imagined that, as you appeared to set such store by him, you
must expect to make money of him. Have you got him still?”

Lewis replied in the affirmative, and his lordship continued--

“Well, I’ll give you your own price for him any day you like to name the
sum.”

Without waiting for an answer he turned away and began conversing in an
undertone with his cousin Annie.



CHAPTER XX.--SOME OF THE CHARACTERS FALL OUT AND OTHERS FALL IN.

“So! you’re old acquaintances, it seems!” observed Leicester, who had
overheard the conversation following upon Lewis’s introduction to Lord
Bellefield. “Frere told me about the dog business, but I never knew till
now that it had been Bellefield who offered you money for him. I can see
you were annoyed about it. Belle fancies money can buy everything (which
is pretty true in the long run), and a dog is a dog to him and nothing
more. He’d never dream of making a friend of one; in fact, he votes
friendship a bore altogether; so you must not heed his insult to Herr
Faust. What are people going to do this afternoon? I wish somebody would
settle something. Annie, just attend to me a minute, will you--what are
we going to do?”

“Papa talked of a skating party on the lake,” returned Annie, “but
I’ve had no definite orders. Where can papa be? Do go and look for him,
Charles.”

“Is he in the house, think you?” inquired Charles, rising languidly and
gazing round with a look of dreamy helplessness.

“I saw General Grant cross the lawn with a gentleman--Mr. De
Grandeville, I believe--not five minutes since,” observed Lewis.

“Exactly; then as you know where to find him, Arundel, and I don’t, I
dare say you’ll be kind enough to tell him that--what was it, Annie?”
 said Leicester, reseating himself in an easy-chair with an expression of
intense relief.

“Charley, how idle you are! I am quite ashamed of you,” exclaimed Annie
vehemently; then, turning to Lewis, she continued, “If you would be so
kind, Mr. Arundel, as to ask papa whether the lake scheme holds good,
and if we are to walk or drive there, I should be so much obliged to
you.”

Lewis signified his willingness to execute her wishes, and calling to
Walter to accompany him, left the room.

“Well, Annie, how do you like Lewis Arundel by this time?” inquired her
cousin. “Wasn’t I right in telling you he was quite a catch?”

“Yes, indeed,” returned Annie warmly; “and he is so kind and clever
about that poor Walter, I don’t know what we should do without him. I
think it is quite delightful to see his manner towards him, poor boy! it
combines all the tenderness of a woman with the firmness of a man, he is
so patient and forbearing; but it must in some degree repay him for his
trouble to see the improvement he has effected, and the strong affection
he has inspired. Walter absolutely seems to dote upon him.”

“A most desirable acquisition, certainly, the affection of an idiot,”
 observed Lord Bellefield with a satirical curl of the lip.

“I never despise real affection of any kind,” returned Annie quickly.

“I am delighted to hear you say so, _belle cousine_,” replied Lord
Bellefield, fixing his bold, roving eyes on her with an expression
intended to be fascinating, but which was simply disagreeable.

Annie looked annoyed, and saying she must warn Miss Livingstone of the
intended expedition, rose and quitted the apartment.

When the brothers were left together, Charles, after a minute’s pause,
began--“I say, Bellefield, I wish you’d try and be a little more civil
to young Arundel. You annoyed him by the way in which you offered money
for his dog, just after he had risked his life to save it, and I don’t
think you mended matters by what you added to-day. Recollect he’s a
gentleman by birth, and has the feelings of one.”

“Curse his feelings!” was the unamiable rejoinder; “he’s a proud,
insolent young puppy. If he’s a gentleman by birth, he’s a beggar by
position, and requires pulling down to his proper level. I’ve no notion
of dependents giving themselves such airs, and shall let him know my
opinion some of these days.”

Charley Leicester regarded his elder brother with a half-sleepy look of
serio-comic disgust, then slightly shrugging his shoulders, he drew
on his glove, placed his hat on his head, arranged his curls to his
satisfaction at a mirror, and lounged gracefully out of the room.

Scarcely had he done so when the late subject of their conversation
entered by another door which opened into the conservatory, and glanced
round the apartment as if in quest of some one. Apparently the object of
his search was not to be discerned, for turning to Lord Bellefield, he
inquired “whether he could direct him where to find Miss Grant?”

The person addressed favoured him for some seconds with a supercilious
stare ere he answered, “And what might you want with that young lady,
pray?”

Lewis paused for a moment before he dared trust himself to reply, for
the tone in which the question had been asked was most insolent. At
length he said, “I can have no objection to gratify your lordship’s
curiosity. The General wished me to inform Miss Grant that he had
arranged a skating party on the lake for this afternoon, and that
carriages would be at the door in ten minutes to transport those of the
company thither who might prefer driving to walking.”

“Really, you must possess a wonderful memory, Mr. Arundel; I dare swear
those were the General’s very words. As, however, I can scarcely imagine
it consistent with your onerous duties to play the part of squire to
dames, I’ll save you the trouble for once, by delivering your message
myself.” And with an irritating smile, as he remarked the anger his
words had produced, Lord Bellefield turned and quitted the apartment.

Lewis stood for a moment gazing after the retreating figure, his chest
heaving and his nostrils expanded, like those of some hunted animal;
then pacing the room (his invariable custom when labouring under strong
excitement), he gave vent to the following broken sentences:--

“He meant to insult me--his words, his look, everything proves it--and
I did not resent it. Perhaps he thinks I fear him--if I believed so,
I’d follow him, and before them all fix on him the blow of shame that he
must avenge, or own himself a coward.” As he spoke he took two or three
hasty strides towards the door; checking himself, however, as his eye
accidentally fell upon Walter, who had entered with him, and who stood
regarding him with looks of stupid amazement, he continued: “But I must
not think of myself only; the interests of others are at stake--Rose--my
Mother--that poor boy--I dare not sacrifice them.” He flung himself into
a chair, and pressing his hand against his burning brow, resumed,
“Oh, why am I called upon to bear this?--how have I sinned, that this
degradation should be forced upon me?--the coward! he knows I am bound
hand and foot, or he dare not thus insult me; it is like striking a
fettered man--” He paused, then added, “Well, a time may come when I may
meet him more as an equal; at all events, now it is my duty to bear as
much as human nature can, and I’ll do it.” He remained silent for a few
minutes, with his hand over his eyes, waiting till the excitement should
pass away. From this state he was aroused by feeling something touch
him, and looking up, he perceived the idiot, half kneeling, half sitting
by his side, gazing up into his face with looks of wonder and sympathy.
This mute evidence of affection acted as a balm to his wounded spirit,
and laying his hand kindly on the boy’s shoulder, he said, “Walter,
my poor fellow, have I frightened you? I was not angry with _you_, you
know. Come, we will walk down to the lake and see the skating. What has
become of Faust, I wonder? We must take him with us, of course.”

“Who was that who went away just now?” returned Walter. “He with the
hair over his mouth, I mean?”

“That was Lord Bellefield, your friend Mr. Leicester’s brother.”

“He’s a bad man, isn’t he?”

“Why should you think so, Walter?”

The boy paused for a few moments in reflection, then answered, “His eyes
look wicked and frighten me; besides, he made you angry--I hate him.”

“You should not say that, Walter; you know it is not right to hate any
one,” returned Lewis, feeling dreadfully hypocritical; then linking his
arm in that of his pupil, they passed out through the conservatory.

As the sound of their retreating footsteps died away a figure peeped
timidly into the apartment, and seeing it was untenanted, entered and
gazed after them long and fixedly. It was Annie Grant, who, returning
to learn the result of Lewis’s embassy to her father, had involuntarily
overheard both the insult and the burst of wounded feeling which it had
called forth.

In that short five minutes were sown seeds that, as they grew to
maturity, bore sleepless nights and weary days, and the tearless sorrow
of a breaking heart, as a portion of their bitter fruit.

The lake in Broadhurst Park presented a gay scene on the afternoon
in question. The General, anxious to propitiate the good-will of the
voters, had ordered the park to be thrown open to all who might choose
to witness or join in the amusement of skating. A sharp frost, which had
continued without intermission for several days, had covered the water
with a firm coating of ice, which afforded a surface as smooth as
glass for the evolutions of the skaters. The sun was shining brightly,
bringing out beautiful effects of light and shade on the steep and
rugged banks, and causing the hoar-frost on the feathery branches of a
young birch plantation to glitter like sprays of diamonds. On the side
approached by the drive from the house a tent had been pitched, in such
a direction that any of the party who feared to expose themselves to the
cold might witness the performances of the skaters and yet be sheltered
from the troublesome intrusion of the north wind.

As Lewis and Walter came in sight of the spot (on which several groups
of well-dressed people, together with a considerable number of a lower
class, were already assembled) the latter uttered an exclamation of
delight, and roused out of his usual state of apathy by the novel
excitement, bounded gaily forward till he reached the side of Charles
Leicester, to whom he had taken an extreme fancy.

“Mr. Arundel is going to teach me how to skate, Mr. Leicester, and you
are to help,” he exclaimed, as soon as he had recovered breath after his
run.

“Am I?” returned Leicester with a good-natured smile “How do you know
that I will help you?”

“Because Mr. Arundel said so; and everybody minds him--Faust and all.”

“Is that true, Arundel? Am I to do just as you tell me?” inquired
Leicester, as the individual alluded to joined them.

“It is quite right that Walter should think so, at all events,” returned
Lewis; “but I told him to ask you, as a favour, whether you would lend
us your assistance. Walter is anxious to learn to skate, and to save his
cranium from getting a few artificial bumps suddenly developed upon it,
I propose that you and I should each take one of his arms and keep him
from falling, till he learns to stand safely upon his skates without
assistance.”

Leicester gave vent to a deep sigh of resignation, then muttered,

“Well, I should certainly never have dreamed of undergoing such an
amount of exertion on my own account; but I suppose Walter fancies
it will be very charming, and he has not a great many pleasures, poor
fellow!” he continued aside. And so, like a good-natured, kind-hearted
creature, as, despite his affectation, he really was, he performed
the service required of him, and actually exerted himself till his
complexion became, as he expressed it, “redder than that of some
awful ploughboy.” After a time Walter grew tired with the unaccustomed
exercise, and taking off his skates, the trio proceeded to join the
party at the tent. As they approached, Annie tripped up to Leicester,
and seizing his arm, said, “Where have you been all this time? I wanted
you particularly.” She then added something in a low voice which had
the effect of heightening her cousin’s unromantic complexion to a still
greater degree, and elicited from him the incredulous ejaculation,
“Nonsense!”

“I knew you’d be surprised,” returned Annie, laughing. “She is going to
remain here till the party breaks up, so you’ll have plenty of time
to make yourself agreeable, if it’s not ‘too much trouble,’ or ‘such a
bore,’” she continued, mimicking Charles’s languid drawl.

“How was this matter brought about, pray?” inquired her cousin; “and why
on earth do you fancy it concerns me in any way?”

“It was all my doing,” returned Annie. “I was not blind when we were in
Scotland; and after you left us I made a point of cultivating the young
lady, and fortunately for you, approving of her, I asked papa to let me
invite her to Broadhurst.”

“Of course, with that discretion which is such a striking characteristic
of your amiable sex, imparting to him all your views in doing so.”

“Now, Charley, you are very cross and unkind and disagreeable. I asked
her merely because I thought it would give you pleasure; and though I
like sometimes to tease you a little myself, of course I never dreamed
of saying anything to my father which could annoy you.”

“Well, you are a dear, good little cousin, I know, so I won’t scold
you,” was the reply, and they entered the tent together.

A few minutes afterwards Lewis was engaged in pointing out to Walter one
of the skaters who was performing some very intricate figure with
great success, when he heard a female voice exclaim, “Surely I am
not mistaken--that is Mr. Arundel!” and turning at the sound, beheld,
leaning on the arm of Charles Leicester, Miss Laura Peyton, the young
lady who had penetrated his disguise at Lady Lombard’s party. Not to
return her bow was impossible; but at the recollection of all that had
passed on that evening his cheek flushed and his features assumed a
cold, haughty expression, the result of mingled pride and vexation,
under which he strove to conceal his annoyance. Annie, who was not aware
that Lewis and her friend had ever met before, glanced from one to the
other with looks of the greatest astonishment, which was by no means
diminished when Miss Peyton continued, “Now let me inquire after the
Prince of Persia. I hope you left his Highness in the enjoyment of good
health.”

While Lewis was striving to frame a suitable reply, Annie, who
could restrain herself no longer, exclaimed, in a tone of the utmost
bewilderment, “The Prince of Persia! My dear Laura, are you out of your
senses?”

The only reply her friend was able for some minutes to return was
rendered inaudible by a fit of laughing, in which Leicester, and at last
even Lewis himself, could not resist joining.

“Now I call that abominable,” continued Annie; “you are all enjoying
some excellent joke, and I am left to pine in ignorance. Laura, what
_are_ you laughing at?”

“Ask Mr. Leicester,” returned Miss Peyton, breathless with laughter.

“Charles, what is it all about?”

“Ask Arundel,” was the reply; “he is the proper person to explain.”

“Mr. Arundel, you _must_ tell me!”

“Really, I must beg you to excuse me,” began Lewis. “Miss Peyton--that
is--Mr. Leicester--in fact, it is utterly impossible for me to tell you.
Come, Walter, you’ve rested quite long enough, you’ll catch cold sitting
still, after making yourself so hot;” and as he spoke he took his
pupil’s arm and hastily quitted the tent.

Of course as soon as he was out of earshot, Annie reiterated her demand
that the mystery should be explained, and of course Laura begged Charles
to relate the affair, and then, woman-like, interrupted him before he
had uttered half-a-dozen words, and being once fairly off, did not stop
till she had told the whole history from beginning to end, which she did
with much spirit and drollery; then, in her turn, she had to be informed
of the position Lewis held in the General’s family; how wonderfully
Walter had improved under his care, and how much everybody liked him.
When they had fully discussed these matters, they were joined by Lord
Bellefield, who escorted them across the ice to witness more closely the
proceedings of the skaters.

Later in the afternoon a party of young men had undertaken to skate a
quadrille. This being something new, people hurried from all sides to
witness the performance, and a crowd speedily collected. Walter had
expressed a wish to see it, and Lewis, pleased at the unusual interest
he took in all that was going forward, which he rightly regarded as
a proof of the decided progress his intellect was making, willingly
complied.

The crowd still continued to thicken as the quadrille proceeded, and it
had just occurred to Lewis that the weight of so many people collected
in one spot would try the strength of the ice pretty severely, when
a slight cracking sound confirmed his suspicions, and induced him to
withdraw Walter from the group. It was fortunate that he did so, for
scarcely were they clear of the crowd when a sharp crack, like the
report of a pistol, rang in his ears, followed in rapid succession
by one or two similar explosions. Then came a rush of many feet,
accompanied by the shrill screaming of women, and on looking round Lewis
perceived that a portion of the ice had given way, and that several
persons were struggling in the water.



CHAPTER XXI.--FAUST GETS ON SWIMMINGLY, AND THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO
A DIVING BELLE “WRINGING” WET.

The shrieks alluded to in the last chapter still continued, and Lewis,
consigning Walter to the care of a servant, hastened to the spot to
render any assistance which it might be in his power to afford. As he
reached the scene of action the panic and confusion were so great that
it was no easy matter to ascertain the extent of the mischief, or to
perceive how best it might be remedied. Lord Bellefield, who seemed
the only person at all collected, was issuing directions in a loud,
authoritative voice, to which the majority of the bystanders appeared
too much alarmed and excited to pay attention. The number of persons who
were actually immersed had been increased by the injudicious attempts of
those who had first endeavoured to assist them by rushing to the edge of
the broken ice, which, giving way under their weight, had plunged
them also into the water. As Lewis came up a rope was flung across the
opening, and held tightly by men on either side. Grasping this firmly
with one hand, the young tutor assisted to extricate several persons who
were clinging to the edges of the ice. He was just springing back as the
portion on which he was standing broke away beneath his feet, when a
cry was raised, “There’s a lady in the water!” and immediately some one
added, “It’s the General’s daughter--it’s Miss Grant.” Before the words
were well spoken Lewis had flung off his greatcoat and was about
to plunge into the water, when his eye suddenly caught that of Lord
Bellefield, who, having in the confusion accidentally stationed himself
by his side, was pointing with vehement gestures to the spot where,
partly sustained by the buoyant nature of her dress, partly supported by
a mass of floating ice, the form of Annie Grant was to be discerned. At
the sight of the eager face of the man who had insulted him some evil
spirit seemed to take possession of Lewis’s breast; checking himself
suddenly, he stepped back a pace, and fixing his eyes with a piercing
glance on Lord Bellefield’s features, said coldly, “I beg pardon, your
lordship will, of course, rescue Miss Grant.”

For a moment anger and surprise deprived Lord Bellefield of the power of
speaking, but as soon as he could find words he replied, “Go on, sir; as
you could risk your life for a dog, you will surely take a cold bath to
save your master’s daughter.”

The speech was an ill-chosen one, for it excited a degree of irritation
which outweighed all other considerations, and folding his arms across
his chest, Lewis replied in a tone of the bitterest irony, “Your
lordship must excuse me. _I am no squire of dames_.”

Lord Bellefield’s only rejoinder was an oath, and flinging off his
wrapper, he appeared about to spring into the water. Suddenly changing
his intention, he turned to Lewis and exclaimed, his face livid with
rage and vexation, “Ten thousand curses on you! You know I cannot swim.”

It is at such moments as these, when by our own wilful act we have laid
ourselves open to his attacks, that the tempter urges us on to crimes
which in our calmer moments we should shudder to contemplate. A glance
of triumph shot from Lewis’s dark eyes; the fearful thought flashed
across him, “She is to be his bride--her fortune is to repair his
extravagance--perhaps he loves her--let him save her himself, I will not
rescue her _for him_.” And the fiend prompted the idea, worthy of its
originator, that he might revenge himself on Lord Bellefield by leaving
Annie to perish. But, like many other clever people, for once the demon
outwitted himself, the very magnitude of the offence serving to awaken
Lewis to the sinfulness of the line of conduct he had meditated. Almost
in the same moment in which the idea occurred to him a mist seemed to
clear itself away from his mental vision, and he perceived the abyss of
guilt on the brink of which he was standing. And now the agonising doubt
suggested itself to him whether his repentance might not have come too
late--whether Annie might not sink before he could reach her; and as
Lord Bellefield ran off impetuously to hasten the movements of a party
who were bringing a small flat-bottomed boat towards the spot, Lewis
sprang into the water, clearing a quarter of the distance in his leap,
and swam with vigorous strokes in the direction of the still floating
figure.

His fears were not unfounded. Annie’s dress, which had hitherto served
in great measure to sustain her, was rapidly becoming saturated with
water; every instant she sank lower, and while he was still some yards
from the spot, to his horror he perceived the fragment of ice on
which she rested roll round and slip from her grasp. The effect was
instantaneous. Uttering a piercing shriek, which rang through his ears
like a death-knell, she threw out her arms in a vain attempt to save
herself, and disappeared beneath the water. At the same moment there was
a rush, a bound, a plunge--some large animal dashed past Lewis, and ere
the last fragment of Annie’s dress disappeared Faust had seized it in
his mouth and prevented its wearer from sinking. The bystanders now drew
the rope which had been flung across the opening in the ice in such a
direction that Lewis could grasp it, and thus supported, he contrived to
raise Annie’s head above the water, and with some assistance from Faust,
to keep both her and himself afloat till such time as the punt should
arrive. This, fortunately, was not long. The instant it was launched,
Lord Bellefield and one or two others jumped into it, and in another
moment Annie Grant was rescued from her perilous situation, to the
horrors of which she was, however, by this time happily insensible. As
they were lifting her into the boat, poor Faust, who probably did not
understand that his services were no longer needed, still retained his
hold on her dress, and Lord Bellefield struck him so fiercely with the
handle of a boathook that he fell back stunned, and would have sunk
had not Lewis, who was still in the water, thrown his arm round him and
supported him.

“The punt can hold no more,” exclaimed Lord Bellefield. “Miss Grant’s
safety must not be endangered for _any_ consideration and as he spoke he
pushed the boat from the spot, leaving Lewis still clinging to the rope
and supporting the weight of the dog, which did not as yet begin to show
any signs of life.

“We will bring the boat back for you, sir, directly” cried one of the
men who were assisting Lord Bellefield in punting.

“You must be quick about it, if you care to be of any use,” returned
Lewis in a faint voice, “for I can’t hold on much longer; my limbs are
becoming numbed with the cold.”

“Better let go the dog if you’re in any difficulty,” suggested Lord
Bellefield with a malicious laugh as the boat moved rapidly away.

“That is the way they would repay your faithful service, eh! my poor
Faust,” murmured Lewis. “Never fear, we’ll sink or swim together, my
dog. If any one deserves to drown for this day’s work ’tis I, not
you.” At the sound of his master’s voice the poor animal opened his eyes
and began to show signs of returning animation. Fortunate was it for
them both that Lewis had contrived to place the rope under his arms in
such a position as almost entirely to support, not only his own weight,
but that of the dog also; for long before the boat returned his strength
was entirely exhausted, and his limbs, from the length of time he had
been immersed in the icy water, had completely lost all sensation, and
were powerless as those of a child.

Lord Bellefield contrived to detain the boat on various pretexts, till
at last the man who had promised to return lost all patience, and pushed
off without waiting for permission; in another moment it was by Lewis’s
side.

“Take the dog first,” exclaimed Lewis in a voice scarcely audible from
exhaustion. “Now, you must lift me in, for I can’t help myself.” With
some difficulty (for even with the assistance of the rope Lewis had been
barely able to keep his own head and that of Faust above water) the
men in the boat complied with his directions. The dog had by this time
nearly recovered from the effects of the blow, and was able to stand
up and lick his master’s face and hands as he lay at the bottom of the
punt. Lewis, however, by no means appeared in such good case; his cheeks
and even lips were deadly pale, his breathing was hard and laborious,
and he lay with his eyes closed and his limbs stretched out with
unnatural stiffness and rigidity. As the boat approached the spot where
a landing was practicable, Charles Leicester, who had assisted his
brother in conveying Annie to the carriage, which was fortunately in
waiting, came running back, and as his eye fell upon the prostrate form
of Lewis, he exclaimed--

“Why, Arundel! good heavens, I believe he’s insensible.”

Nor was he wrong. The instant the necessity for exertion was over
the reaction had been too much for Lewis, and he had fainted. He was
instantly lifted from the boat and carried to the tent, where such
restoratives as could be at the moment procured were applied, at first
without success, but after a short time the colour began to return to
his lips, and in a few minutes more he was restored to consciousness.

“Bravo, that’s all right,” began Charley Leicester, as Lewis, with a
faint smile, sat upright and returned his hearty shake of the hand with
a feeble pressure. “You begin to look a little less like a candidate for
a coffin than you did five minutes ago. I declare, when I saw you in the
boat, thought it was a case of ‘found drowned.’ Faust! good dog, how
unpleasantly wet you are--what a bump he’s got on the top of his head,
just where the organ of combativeness--no, veneration, isn’t it? ought
to be. How did that happen? In fact I’m quite in the dark as to the
whole affair, for I had gone to fetch shawls for some of the ladies, and
when I reached the scene of action Bellefield was fishing his intended,
half-drowned, out of a moist punt, and enlisted me to assist in
conveying the dripping damsel to the carriage. Did you fall in
together?”

“You will hear enough about it soon, I dare say,” returned Lewis,
speaking feebly and with apparent difficulty. “I am afraid I have
scarcely sufficient life left in me just now to tell you.”

“Don’t attempt it,” returned Leicester good-naturedly. “And the sooner
you get those soaked clothes off, the better. Of course they will send
back the trap for you.”

“My carriage is on the spot,” interrupted a tall, aristocratic-looking
man who had assisted in conveying Lewis to the tent. “My carriage is on
the spot, and is very much at this gentleman’s service. We must all
feel anxious to prevent his suffering from the effects of his gallant
conduct. The preserver of Miss Grant’s life must be considered as a
public benefactor.”

At this praise a slight colour rose to Lewis’s pale cheeks, and a
look of pain passed across his features. _He_ to be styled Annie’s
preserver!--_he_ who had all but sacrificed her life to his feelings of
revenge! and as the recollection occurred to him a slight shudder ran
through his frame.

“There, you are actually shivering,” exclaimed Leicester. “I shall not
let you stay here any longer. Since Sir Ralph Strickland is so kind as
to offer his carriage, there is nothing to delay us. Can you walk? Take
my arm.”

Lewis, with an inclination of the head to Sir Ralph, took Leicester’s
proffered arm, and having with difficulty risen from his seat,
attempted to walk, but at the first step he stumbled, and would have
fallen had not his friend supported him.

“Steady, there,” continued Leicester; “you’re hardly in marching order
yet. Would you like to wait another minute or two?”

“I think I had better try to proceed,” replied Lewis; “exercise may
serve to restore the circulation.”

“Allow me to take your other arm,” said Sir Ralph Strickland kindly;
“then I think you will be able to reach the carriage--it is close at
hand. The length of time you were in the water has cramped your limbs. I
saw the whole affair, and never witnessed anything more interesting than
the conduct of your noble dog.”

And as he spoke he stooped and patted Faust, then forcing Lewis to
accept his offer of assistance, they left the tent together. As his
blood began once again to circulate the cramp and stiffness gradually
disappeared, and ere the trio reached the carriage Lewis scarcely
required assistance. On reaching Broadhurst he found the General waiting
to receive him, and the instant he alighted he had to undergo a long,
prosy, and pompous harangue, embodying that noble commander’s gratitude,
during the delivery of which oration the subject of it was kept standing
in his wet clothes, a compulsory act of homage to the cold-water system,
by no means congenial to his feelings, mental or bodily. However, it
came to an end at last, and Lewis was permitted to retire to his own
room. Moreover, Charles Leicester (instigated thereunto by a hint from
Miss Peyton) waylaid the apothecary who had been summoned on Annie’s
account, and caused him to inspect Lewis’s condition, which measure
resulted in a command to have his bed warmed, and instantly to deposit
himself therein; with which medical ordinance Lewis was fain to comply.

There he lay until, from being much too cold, he became a great deal
too hot, for before night he was in a high state of feverish excitement,
accompanied by violent pains in the head and limbs. His medical adviser
was, however, fortunately really skilful, and by vigorous and timely
measures he contrived to avert the rheumatic fever with which his
patient was threatened; and after spending three days in bed Lewis
arose, feeling indeed especially weak, but otherwise little the worse
in body for his aquatic exploit. We say in body, for mentally he had
suffered, and was still suffering bitterly. As he lay on the couch of
sickness in the silent hours of the night, face to face with conscience,
the recollection of the sin he had committed (for a sin it was, and he
was too honest-hearted in his self-scrutiny not to recognise it as such)
haunted him. The fact that he had been unable by his own act to repair
the consequences of the evil he had meditated impressed him deeply--but
for Faust Annie would have sunk ere he could have reached the spot,
probably to rise no more. It appeared a special interference of
Providence to convince him of the folly of self-reliance, and to impress
upon his mind a sense of the mercy of God, in saving him from the
consequences of his revengeful feelings. True, he had repented of his
fault almost in the moment of committal; true, he had risked his life in
proof of the sincerity of His repentance; true, the provocation he had
received might, in the eyes of men, serve in great measure to justify
him; still, the knowledge that but for the interposition of Providence
he might now have felt himself a murderer filled him with emotions of
the deepest penitence, and at the same time of the liveliest gratitude.

In this frame of mind the encomiums passed upon his gallant conduct were
most distressing to him, and a short note from Annie, thanking him in
a few simple words for having saved her life, added fuel to the fire of
his self-condemnation. Amongst other good resolutions for the future he
determined to bear any insults Lord Bellefield might offer with as
much patient endurance as could by any possibility be consistent with
self-respect in one in his dependent situation; and the reader may judge
of the sincerity of his repentance if he reflects what such a resolution
must have cost his haughty nature. He also determined to seek an
opportunity of confessing to Annie how little he deserved her gratitude,
and to implore her forgiveness for the wrong he had intended her. The
dipping that young lady had undergone did not appear to have affected
either her health or her spirits. By the doctor’s orders she also had
been sent to bed immediately on her return home, where, falling asleep,
she escaped a lecture from Minerva and all other evil consequences
of her immersion, and woke the next morning none the worse for the
accident.

It was about a week after the day on which these events had taken place,
when, the afternoon being fine, Lewis and Walter proposed to take a
ride together. Walter had mounted his pony, and Lewis was strapping a
greatcoat in front of his horse’s saddle, when Richards, the groom, who
had been elevated to the rank of second coachman (as the illness of the
head coachman had rendered his resignation an act of necessity, and
the next in command had succeeded to his vacant box), came forward, and
touching his hat, asked if he could speak to Lewis a minute.

“Certainly; what is it?” returned Lewis, stepping aside a few paces.
“Why, sir, p’r’aps you know as the General’s gone out a-driving?”

“I was not aware of the fact,” returned Lewis; “but what then?”

“He’s a-driving of hisself, sir,--_our_ iron-greys, Mr. Arundel. Master
ain’t so young as he used to was, and it’s my belief if any-think
startles ’em he won’t be able to hold ’em--they go sweetly now, but
they do pull most amazing. I drove ’em yesterday, and afore I got home
my arms ached properly.”

“Did you mention this to General Grant?” inquired Lewis.

“Well, I told him I was afeard he’d find ’em pull rather stiff; but he
only give me one of his dark looks, as much as to say, ‘Keep youi
advice to yourself, and mind your own business.’ Master’s rather a hard
gentleman to talk to, you see; he’s always been used to shooting and
flogging the blacks, out in the Ingies, till it’s kind a-become natural
to him; and _as_ he can’t act the same here with us whites, why it puts
him out like.”

“I do not see that anything can be done now,” observed Lewis, after
a moment’s reflection. “If I had been here when the General started I
would have told him the trick the iron-greys played us, and advised him
not to drive them just yet; but I dare say it would have done no good;
for, as you say, your master is not over fond of advice gratis. I
suppose he has one of the grooms with him?”

“Only a mere boy, sir, and Miss Annie,” was the reply.

“What!” exclaimed Lewis in a quick, excited tone of voice; “is Miss
Grant with him? Why did you not say so before? Which road have they
taken? How long have they been gone?”

“About twenty minutes, or p’r’aps not so long,” returned Richards. “I
think they’re gone to Camfield--leastways, I heard master tell Miss
Annie to bring her card-case, ’cos he was going to call on Colonel
Norton.”

“That must be eight miles by the road, but not much above five across
the fields by Churton Wood,” rejoined Lewis.

“That _is_ right, Mr. Arundel,” was the reply; “and the gates is
unlocked, for I rode that way with a note for Colonel Norton the day
afore yesterday.”

Ere Richards had finished speaking Lewis was on horseback; and as soon
as they reached the park he turned to his pupil, saying, “Now, Walter,
sit firmly, guide the pony on to the turf, tighten your reins, and then
for a good canter; touch him with the whip--not too hard--that’s it.”
 Putting his own horse in motion at the same time, they rode forward at
a brisk canter, which, as the horses grew excited by the rapid motion,
became almost a gallop. Crossing the park at this pace, they turned down
a bridle-path which led through a wood and across several grass fields,
beyond the last of which lay a wide common. As they approached this
Lewis took out his watch. “Above four miles in twenty mintues,--I call
that good work for a pony. You rode very well, Walter,--you’ve a capital
seat on horseback now.”

“I can leap too,” rejoined Walter. “Richards taught me the days when you
were ill in bed.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” returned Lewis, who, while his pupil was
speaking, had been endeavouring, unsuccessfully, to open a gate, “for
they have fastened this gate with a padlock, and we must find our way
over the hedge.”

“Oh! but I can’t----” began Walter.

“Yes you can,” interposed Lewis, “when I have cleared the road for
you, and shown you how to do it. Sit still and watch me.” So saying,
he selected a place where the hedge was thin and the ditch and bank
practicable, and putting his horse into an easy canter, rode at it.
Being particularly anxious that nothing should go wrong, and that Walter
should be convinced of the feasibility of the attempt, Lewis was not
best pleased when his horse, instead of rising to the leap, refused it,
and replied to a tolerably sharp application of the spur by plunging
violently and turning short round. His rider, however, sat as firmly
as if he were part of the animal, and cantering round two sides of the
field, got him well in hand and again rode him at the hedge, working his
mouth with the bit and giving him the spur. This discipline produced the
desired effect; for instead of refusing the leap this time, the horse
sprang forward with a bound which would have cleared an obstacle of
twice the size, and alighted on the other side several feet beyond the
ditch. Lewis rode on a few yards, and then turning, leaped back into the
field and rejoined his pupil. “Now, Walter, you must do as I have done.
Canter up to that gap, give the pony his head, touch him on the flank as
he approaches the hedge, sit firmly and press in your knees, and you’ll
go over as nicely as possible.”

But poor Walter’s courage failed him; the conflict between Lewis and
his horse had destroyed his confidence, and he was afraid to make the
attempt. His tutor read it in his blanched cheek and quailing glance,
and being as kind and judicious as he was firm, forbore to press the
point, and dismounting, led the pony through the gap, and assisted
Walter to scramble over on foot; then remounting his steed, he tested
his obedience by once more leaping him over; and having thus achieved
the adventure of the locked gate, tutor and pupil cantered off across
the common. But this little episode had caused some loss of time, and
when Lewis reached the lane leading to the village, near which Colonel
Norton’s house was situated, he learned from a man who was mending
the road that a phaeton, answering the description of General Grant’s
equipage, had passed a few minutes before.

“My friend Richards’ fears were needlessly excited then, it seems, and
the old gentleman is a better whip than he gave him credit for being,”
 thought Lewis. “Come, Walter,” he added aloud, “we will go back by the
road. Don’t trot just yet; the horses are warm, we must allow them to
get a little cool.”

After proceeding about half a mile along the lane, which was only just
wide enough to allow vehicles to pass each other, they overtook an
elderly woman in a red cloak most picturesquely perched between two
panniers on a donkey’s back. Such an arrangement being a novelty to
Walter, he was proceeding to inquire of what use the panniers were, when
Lewis’s quick sense of hearing caught a sound which caused him to rein
in his horse and, enjoining silence, pause to listen. His ears had not
deceived him. Owing to the frosty weather the road was particularly
hard, the ruts also had been lately mended with coarse gravel, and as
he listened the sound of horses’ feet galloping, and the rattle of a
carriage proceeding at unusual speed, became distinctly audible in the
lane behind them. The vehicle was evidently rapidly approaching. The
lane being in this part extremely narrow, Lewis’s first thought was for
Walter’s safety. Seizing the pony’s rein, he set spurs to his horse, and
they cantered on a short distance till they reached a gateway leading
into a field. The gate was fortunately open, and desiring Walter to ride
into the field and wait till he joined him, he turned his horse’s
head and began, to retrace his steps. As soon as he had passed an old
oak-tree which stood at a corner of the road and prevented any one from
seeing beyond it, he perceived the cause of the sounds which had reached
him, and which he had already but too correctly divined.

At about a hundred yards from the spot where he was stationed appeared a
phaeton drawn by a pair of magnificent iron-grey horses, which Lewis had
no difficulty in recognising. From the furious pace at which they were
advancing, it was evident that their driver had lost all control over
them; while about half-way between Lewis and the equipage in question
were the donkey and panniers, with the old woman in the red cloak before
alluded to. The gentleman driving the phaeton shouted to her to get out
of the way, and Lewis made signs as to which side of the road she had
better take; but she appeared either paralysed with fear or unable to
guide her donkey; and ere she was able to comply with, or probably to
comprehend these directions, the infuriated horses had overtaken her,
and dashing against her, flung her, donkey, panniers and all, to the
ground with a shock like that of a battering-ram. At the same instant
Lewis, availing himself of the temporary check, rode forward, and
springing from his saddle, seized the heads of the phaeton horses, and
with much difficulty, and no inconsiderable personal risk, succeeded in
stopping them.



CHAPTER XXII.--THE TRAIN ARRIVES AT AN IMPORTANT STATION.

The catastrophe related at the end of the last chapter attracted the
attention of a couple of labourers who had been engaged in mending the
road, and they immediately hastened to the spot to render any assistance
which might be required. By their aid the poor woman was extricated from
her perilous situation, and fortunately proved to be less injured than
could have been expected, a dislocated shoulder being the most serious
hurt she had sustained. Committing the phaeton and horses to the care
of one of the working men, Lewis and the other labourer carried the poor
woman to a cottage by the roadside, and deposited her on a bed till
such time as the surgeon (for whom General Grant had, by his daughter’s
suggestion, despatched the groom on the horse which Lewis had ridden)
should arrive. Luckily, they had not long to wait, as the boy met the
person he was in search of returning from his round of professional
visits. The dislocated shoulder was soon set to rights and bandaged up,
and the sight of Annie’s well-filled purse rendered easy an arrangement
with the tenants of the cottage to allow the invalid to continue their
inmate till the next day, when she could be removed without detriment.

In the meantime the General had drawn Lewis on one side, and was
expatiating to him upon the cause of the accident. “You perceive, Mr.
Arundel, that my wrist is slightly swollen? Well, sir, that is from an
old strain received in the little affair at Sticumlÿkphun. I was only
a captain then. The company to which I belonged got separated from the
regiment in crossing a jungle, and a party of the Rajah’s irregular
horse tried to cut us off; they were upon us so suddenly, we hadn’t
time to form a hollow square, and for a minute our fate appeared
sealed;--they rode the men down like sheep. In the _mêlée_ a gigantic
trooper cut down the colour-sergeant and was about to possess himself
of the flag, when I seized the staff with my left hand and struck at him
with my sabre, but, unfortunately, it broke on his cuirass; his sword
had also snapped with the blow which had caused the sergeant’s death,
and a struggle ensued between us for the possession of the colours.
His strength was in proportion to his height, but although I felt as if
every muscle in my arms was about to snap, I held on till one of my
men shot him through the head. At the same moment a troop of the 14th
Lancers rode up and rescued us--but my wrists-have never recovered the
strain. However, I found little difficulty in holding in these horses,
till, just now, when we had turned to come home, some boys overthrew a
barrow full of stones by the roadside, which startled the animals;
they broke into a gallop, and despite all my efforts to prevent it, the
accident to which you were witness occurred.”

“Had I known of your intention, sir, I should have cautioned you not to
trust them too implicitly,” replied Lewis. “Before your return,--by Miss
Livingstone’s wish,--I went over the stables to ascertain whether there
were any carriage horses she could use. I drove these greys the second
or third time they had ever been in harness, and they ran away with me
in Broadhurst Park; but I have taken them out several times since, when
Walter wished for an airing, and I believed they had become quiet.”

“Indeed,” returned the General, more graciously than was his wont, “I
was not aware you were so good a whip; that relieves me from a great
difficulty; you will be so obliging as to drive the phaeton home, and I
can ride your horse. With my wrists in their present condition it would
be a great risk for me to attempt to hold in those animals, and the
groom is a mere boy. Annie, my dear,” he continued, as his daughter
approached them from the cottage, “our difficulties are at an end.
Mr. Arundel, it appears, has been in the habit of driving these horses
lately, and will be so good as to take my place and see you safely
home.”

“But, papa----” began Annie in a tone of remonstrance, while a slight
accession of colour replaced the roses which fear had banished from her
cheeks.

“My dear, the arrangement is the only one which appears feasible under
present circumstances. I shall ride Mr. Arundel’s horse and will keep
near, so you need be under no alarm,” returned her father majestically.

Annie by no means approved of the plan. In the first place, she was
a good deal afraid of the horses, and having no experience of Lewis’s
skill as a driver, was naturally alarmed at trusting herself again
behind them. In the second place, she had a vague idea that it was
scarcely etiquette to take a _tête-à-tête_ drive with the handsome young
tutor. But she saw that her father was quite determined, so, like a
sensible girl, she refrained from offering opposition which she foresaw
would be useless.

Lewis, however, reading in that “book of beauty,” her expressive face,
the secret of her fears, took an opportunity, while the General was
altering the stirrups to suit himself, to reassure her by saying, “You
need not be in the least afraid, Miss Grant. Believe me, I would
not undertake so great a trust as that of your safety did I not feel
perfectly sure that I could drive you home without the slightest
danger.”

As Lewis spoke Annie raised her eyes and glanced at him for a moment. It
has been already remarked, in the course of this veracious history, that
when Lewis smiled, the nameless charm which in Rose Arundel’s face won
the love of all who knew her shed its lustre over his handsome features.
To analyse such an expression of countenance is scarcely possible, but
perhaps the nearest approach to a correct description of it would be
to say that it was a bright, sunshiny look which inspired others with a
conviction of its wearer’s kindliness of heart and honest truthfulness
of purpose. Such was its effect in the present instance, and when her
father handed her to her seat in the phaeton the uneasiness which had
arisen from a want of confidence in her driver had in great measure
disappeared. Lewis waited, with the reins in his hand, till the General
had mounted and ridden off with Walter, who acquiesced silently in the
change of companion, then springing lightly to his place, he desired the
man at the horses’ heads to stand aside, and drove off. The iron-greys
soon found out the difference between their late conductor and their
present one, and after one or two slight attempts to gain their own way
gave up the point and settled down into a quiet, steady trot. Annie,
whose alarm had quickened her perceptions on the subject, was not long
in remarking the change, and turning to her companion, observed, “How
do you contrive to make the horses go so quietly, Mr. Arundel? When papa
was driving them they did nothing but dance and caper the whole way, and
at last, as you are aware, ran away with us.”

Lewis, who considered that the present was a favourable opportunity,
which might never occur again, to unburden his mind in regard to
the skating affair, and was debating with himself how he might best
introduce the subject, heard her question mechanically, as it were,
without its reaching the ears of his understanding, and it was not until
he observed her look of surprise at receiving no answer to her query
that he hastened to reply, “I beg your pardon, Miss Grant, I was
thinking on quite a different subject. I have lived such a hermit’s life
of late with poor Walter that I fear I have become dreadfully absent.”

“I merely asked by what charm you had contrived to tame these fiery
steeds,” returned Annie, smiling at his evident bewilderment.

“The charm of a steady hand and a strong arm,” replied Lewis. “But
these horses and I are old acquaintances; we had a struggle once for the
mastery, and I conquered, which they have not forgotten.” He then gave
her a short account of the runaway scene in Broad-hurst Park, to which
she listened with much interest. When he had concluded, Annie remarked,
“How dreadful it must have been when they were rushing towards the lake,
and you felt uncertain whether you might be able to check their wild
career! That lake seems destined to become the scene of dangerous
adventures. I must take this opportunity,” she continued with a faint
blush, “of thanking you for saving my life. In the few hurried lines
I wrote you, I am afraid I scarcely made you understand how much I--in
fact, that I am not ungrateful.”

It was now Lewis’s turn to feel embarrassed. The moment he had sought
for was arrived. He must confess that which would turn his companion’s
gratitude into aversion; he must forfeit her good opinion irretrievably,
and probably for this very reason (so perverse is human nature), he, for
the first time, discovered that he valued it highly. Annie was the only
member of the family (with the exception, perhaps, of Charles Leicester)
who had never caused him to feel painfully his dependent situation;
and it had not escaped his notice how on several occasions she had
interfered to save him from some trifling annoyance, which her woman’s
tact led her to feel would be doubly mortifying to his proud and
sensitive nature. Still he had resolved to make the confession, and with
him to resolve and to do were one and the same thing. Another difficulty
which rendered his task more embarrassing was that, in order to make his
explanation intelligible, he must revert to Lord Bellefield’s insult,
and though at that moment nothing would have given him greater
satisfaction than to bestow on that unworthy scion of nobility a sound
horse-whipping, he shrank from the idea of being supposed capable of the
littleness of revenging himself by injuring his enemy in the affections
of his betrothed. Thinking, however, was useless; the more he reflected
the more embarrassed did he become, so he plunged at once _in media res_
by exclaiming, “You cannot be aware, Miss Grant, of the pain your words
give me. Far from deserving your gratitude, I must implore your pardon
for having nearly sacrificed your life to my unfortunately warm temper
and revengeful feelings; nor shall I again enjoy peace of mind till I
have obtained your forgiveness, should I indeed be fortunate enough to
succeed in doing so.”

At this singular address Annie opened her large eyes and regarded her
companion with unmixed astonishment, feeling by no means satisfied that
he had not suddenly taken leave of his senses; not heeding her surprise,
however, Lewis continued: “In order to make my tale intelligible, I must
revert to an occurrence which I would rather, for many reasons, have
left unmentioned; but you will, I hope, do me the justice to believe
that I am actuated by no unworthy motive in alluding to it. About a year
ago my favourite dog became entangled whilst swimming in the Serpentine
river, and would have been drowned if I had not jumped in and saved
him.”

“I know, I saw it all; we were driving in the park at the time,”
 interrupted Annie eagerly.

“As I regained the bank,” resumed Lewis, “a gentleman, whom I have since
learned to be your cousin, Lord Bellefield, came up and offered me a sum
of money for the dog. I had not accomplished Faust’s rescue without some
risk, for though I am a good swimmer, my wet clothes kept dragging
me down, and I confess the offer of money for an animal I had just
imperilled my life to save irritated me, and I returned Lord Bellefield
an answer which perhaps he was justified in considering impertinent.
When Mr. Leicester introduced me to his brother, on the day of the
skating-party, it was evident he had not forgotten this transaction, and
he soon found an opportunity to address me in a style which could only
have been applied to a dependent with safety.”

As he spoke these words in a tone of bitter contempt, his eyes flashing
and his cheeks burning, his companion murmured as though she were
thinking aloud, “It was ungenerous of him, in the extreme.” Lewis
remained silent for a moment, and then continued in a calmer voice: “I
am by nature of a lamentably hasty temper, and my impulse would have
led me to resent Lord Bellefield’s insult on the spot; but many
considerations withheld me, and still possessed by angry feeling, I
joined the party on the lake. After the ice had given way, while I was
assisting those who clung to the edges to scramble out, I first became
aware that you were in the water, and I was about to jump in and swim
to your assistance when, by some ill luck, your cousin approached in
a state of great excitement and ordered me authoritatively to ‘save my
master’s daughter.’”

“Oh, how could he say such a thing!” exclaimed Annie indignantly.

“As he spoke,” resumed Lewis, “some evil spirit seemed to take
possession of me, and, to annoy him, I bowed and drew back, saying,
‘Your lordship must excuse me--I am no squire of dames;’ adding that of
course he would rescue you himself. From the irritation produced by
my reply I discovered that his lordship was unable to swim, and having
reason to suppose your safety was especially important to him, the
fiendish idea crossed my mind that by leaving you to perish I could
revenge myself on him more effectually than by any other means.”

“How could you be so unjust, so cruel, even in idea?” interrupted Annie
reproachfully,--“I, who have never injured you in thought, word, or
deed; but you were maddened at the time, and knew not what you did.”

“I must indeed have been mad,” exclaimed Lewis, completely overcome by
the kindness of these last words, “when I could even for a moment
forget the gentle courtesy with which you have always treated me--the
consideration--the----” He paused abruptly and pressed his hand to
his forehead as if to shut out some hateful vision, a relaxation of
vigilance of which the near-side horse took advantage to shy at its
own shadow and break into a canter, which manouvre restored Lewis’s
self-possession in an instant, the rein was again tightened, and the
culprit admonished, by a sharp stroke of the whip, that he was not to
indulge in such caprices for the future, ere his driver resumed: “I had
scarcely formed the idea you so justly stigmatise as cruel, when the
atrocity of the act flashed across me, and as Lord Bellefield ran off
to procure a boat, I sprang into the water and swam towards you. Imagine
then the agony of mind with which I perceived that you would sink before
I could reach you! At that moment I felt what it was to be a murderer!
The rest of the tale you have no doubt heard from others--how it pleased
the Almighty to permit the instinct of my noble dog to become the
instrument by which you were saved from death, and I from a life of
remorse, to which death itself would have been preferable. Of this you
are already aware; it only remains for me to add that if the deepest
self-abhorrence, the most sincere repentance for the past may weigh
with you, you will forgive me the wrong I meditated.” At this moment the
sound of horses’ feet cantering gave notice that General Grant was about
to effect a junction with the main body, and Annie replied hastily, “As
far as I have anything to forgive, Mr. Arundel, I do so most heartily.
If for a moment you thought of allowing my life to be sacrificed, you
risked your own to save it immediately afterwards, so that I remain your
debtor, even putting to-day’s adventure out of the account--for I fully
believe papa and I were in a fair way to break our necks, though he
would not allow it.”

“Well, Annie,” remarked the General, riding up to his daughter’s side,
“you don’t appear to be frightened now.”

“No, papa,” was the reply, “there is nothing to be alarmed at; the
horses go as quietly as possible.”

“Ah! I thought I had pretty well tamed them,” returned the General
triumphantly. “You scarcely find them at all difficult to restrain now,
Mr. Arundel, I presume.”

“They do pull a little strongly even yet, sir,” returned Lewis quietly;
“that glove was whole when I took the reins.” As he spoke he held up his
left hand and disclosed two large rents caused by the friction.

“Hum!” replied the General, slightly disconcerted. “Well, you have
driven them very steadily; don’t hurry them, take them in cool. Walter
and I will precede you and explain how this adventure came about.” So
saying he gave his horse the rein, and he and Walter cantered on.

“Lord Bellefield has behaved abominably,” observed Annie abruptly, after
they had proceeded for some distance in silence; “he ought to apologise
to you, and I have a great mind to make him do so.”

“Do not think of such a thing,” returned Lewis hastily. “If I can read
his character, Lord Bellefield is a very proud man, and to one whom he
considers his inferior he could not bring himself to apologise; nor, on
calmly reviewing my own conduct, can I entirely acquit myself of having
given him cause of offence. In my manner towards him I have shown too
plainly my forgetfulness of our difference of station. Feeling that the
son of one who was a soldier, a man of old family, and a gentleman in
the highest sense of the word, is any man’s equal, I overlooked the
distinction between the heir to a peerage and a poor tutor, and
I treated Lord Bellefield, as I would any other man whose manner
displeased me, cavalierly, without considering, or indeed caring, in
what light my conduct might appear to him. This error I am resolved to
avoid for the future, and if he will on his part forbear further insult,
it is all I desire. Believe me,” added Lewis in a tone which carried
conviction with it, “I do not undervalue your kindness in advocating my
cause, but I would not have you suffer further annoyance on my account;
so if you have really forgiven me, you will best show it by forgetting
the whole matter as speedily as possible.”

Annie shook her head as though she considered such a termination to the
affair highly improbable, merely replying, “Perhaps you are right in
thinking I should do more harm than good by my interference; at all
events, I will be guided in the matter by your wishes. And now, Mr.
Arundel,” she continued, “let me say what I have often wished, but have
never been able to find an opportunity to tell you before, and that is,
that as long as you are with us--not that I mean to limit it only to
that time--I hope you will regard me as a friend. I have heard from my
cousin Charles an outline of the circumstances through which my father
was fortunate enough to secure your valuable assistance for poor Walter,
and I can well conceive how greatly you must feel the loss of the
society of your mother and sister.”

“I know not how to thank you for such unexampled kindness; you are
indeed returning good for evil,” replied Lewis warmly. He paused for a
moment, as if he were considering how best he might express his meaning,
then added, “As far as may be, I shall most gladly avail myself of the
privilege of your friendship. I cannot tell you the weight you have
taken off my mind by this convincing proof of your forgiveness. You may
imagine how exquisitely painful, knowing how little I deserved them,
were all the civil speeches people considered it necessary to make me
on my ‘gallant conduct,’ as they termed it; as if there were anything
wonderful in swimming a few yards to save a life!--the wonder would be
for any man who could swim _not_ to do so.”

“And yet, thinking thus lightly of the peril, you tell me you were so
carried away by your angry feeling as to hesitate whether or not to
leave me to perish,” returned Annie reflectively. “How strange that
the mind can be engrossed by passion so completely as to banish all its
natural impulses!”

“You will laugh at me, and think my German education has filled my brain
with strange, wild fancies,” replied Lewis; “but I believe that we
are under a species of demoniacal possession at such moments--that by
indulging our evil feelings instead of resisting them we have given
Satan additional power over us. You know the legend of the Wild
Huntsman: I cannot but look upon the description of the spirit-riders
who accompanied the baron, one on a white, the other on a black steed,
and alternately plied him with good and evil counsel, less as an
allegory than a reality.”

“You believe, then, that we are constantly surrounded by spiritual
beings imperceptible to our bodily senses?” asked Annie. “It is rather a
fearful idea.”

“Believe,” returned Lewis, “is perhaps too strong a term to apply to
any theory not distinctly borne out by Holy Writ, but as far as I
have studied the subject, I think the existence of spiritual beings
of opposite natures, some good, some evil, is clearly indicated by
Scripture; and there are many passages which would lead one to suppose
that they are permitted, under certain restrictions, to interest
themselves in mundane affairs, and influence the thoughts which are the
springs of human actions--immaterial agents, in fact, for working out
the will of God. Nor do I see anything fearful in the idea; on the
contrary, as we cannot doubt that it is our own fault if the evil
spirits ever prevail against us, and that good angels witness our
struggles to do right, and are at hand to assist us, I consider the
theory a most consolatory one.”

“I never looked at the subject in this light before,” observed Annie
thoughtfully. “Of course, like most other people, I had a vague,
visionary kind of belief in the existence of good angels and evil
spirits, but I never applied the belief practically, never imagined they
had anything to do with me; and yet it seems reasonable that what
you have suggested should be the case. Oh! if we could but have our
spiritual eyes open so that we could see them, we then should love the
good angels so much, and hate and fear the evil ones to such a degree,
that it would be quite easy to act rightly, and impossible to do wrong.”

“I suppose, if our faith were as strong as it should be,” returned
Lewis, “we ought so to realise the truths of Christianity that we should
feel as you describe.”

His companion made no reply, but sat for some minutes apparently
pursuing the train of thought to which his words had given rise. At
length rousing herself, she turned to Lewis, saying, with a _naïve_
smile, “We shall be capital friends, I see. I did not know you could
talk so nicely about things of this kind. I delight in people who give
me new ideas--you must teach me German, too, when all this bustle is
over. I shall ask papa to let you do so. I want to learn German above
everything, and to read Schiller, and Goethe, and La Motte Fouqué,
and all sorts of people. Will you take compassion on my ignorance, and
accept me as a pupil? I shall not be quite as dull as poor Walter, I
hope.”

“I shall be delighted to play Master of the Ceremonies to introduce
you to those of the German authors who are best worth knowing, always
provided that the General approves of my so doing,” returned Lewis.

“Oh! papa will approve,” replied Annie. “He can care nothing about it
one way or another, and whenever that is the case he always lets me do
as I like; and as to Aunt Martha--well, there may be some difficulty
with her, I confess, but the most ferocious animals are tamed by
kindness, and it’s hard if I can’t coax her into submission to my will
and pleasure.”

“I flatter myself I have become rather a favourite with Miss Livingstone
since the affair of the horses,” observed Lewis. “I have heard her
describe me as ‘a young man of unusual abilities and irreproachable
moral character’ to three distinct sets of visitors during the last
week.”

“You’ve caught her tone exactly,” returned Annie, laughing; “but it’s
very abominable of you to deride my venerable aunt.”

And so they chatted on, Lewis forgetting alike his proud reserve and
his dependent position in his pleasure in once again meeting with the
kindness and sympathy to which he had been so long a stranger, and Annie
engrossed by the joy with which she perceived the ice that care and
sorrow had frozen round the heart of her young companion melt before the
fascination of her look and manner; and when the phaeton drew up before
the ample portals of Broadhurst, it would have been hard to decide which
of the two felt most sorry that pleasant drive had come so quickly to an
end.

Our train still runs along the _Railroad of Life_, but a most important
station has been passed when Lewis first arrived at the conclusion that
he had ceased to dislike Annie Grant.



CHAPTER XXIII.--DE GRANDEVILLE THREATENS A CONFIDENCE AND ELICITS
CHARLEY LEICESTER’S IDEAS ON MATRIMONY.

IT was the morning of Twelfth-day, and in Broadhurst’s ancient mansion
confusion reigned supreme; for Twelfth-night to be celebrated with
high festivities. A grand ball was about to be given to the county,
and legions of upholsterers’ men had taken the house by storm, and were
zealously employed in turning it out of the windows. Minerva was
great upon the occasion; starched to the nth, she rustled through the
apartments like an austere whirlwind, striking an icy terror into
the hearts of the stoutest workmen, and leading the chief upholsterer
himself the life of a convicted felon on the treadmill--solitary
confinement, implying separation from Minerva, would have been a boon
to that harassed tradesman. Whatever he put up she instantly had taken
down; all his suggestions she violently opposed; he never gave an order
that she did not contradict; when he was downstairs she required him at
the top of the house; if he appeared without his hat, she took him
out of doors. Foxe’s Martyrs would seem a mere book of sports beside a
faithful chronicle of all that upholsterer suffered on the occasion
at the hands of Minerva Livingstone. Had he not been endowed with
remarkable tenacity of life, ere he had set that house in order he would
have died.

Amongst others of the dispossessed, Charley Leicester, having retreated
from room to room before the invaders, at last, fairly driven out, was
fain to seek refuge in the garden. In this extremity he betook himself
to a certain terrace-walk, where he trusted to find sunshine and quiet.
Having, as he fondly imagined, secured these necessary ingredients to
his happiness, he was proceeding to recruit exhausted nature with a mild
cigar, when a footstep was heard approaching, and immediately afterwards
the erect and portly form of _the_ De Grandeville hove in sight and bore
down upon him. Now it must be known that these two gentlemen regarded
each other with very different feelings--Leicester, albeit by no means
given to discovering faults of character in his acquaintances, could not
but perceive the absurd self-consequence and pompous pride which were so
palpably displayed in De Grandeville’s every look and action, and while
this revolted his good taste and produced in him a passive feeling of
dislike, the style of conversation usually adopted by the redoubtable
Marmaduke, which, however it might begin, invariably ended in some form
of self-glorification, actively bored him. Accordingly, it was with
anything but a feeling of satisfaction that he now witnessed his
approach. De Grandeville, on the other hand, looked up to Leicester on
account of his connection with the peerage, and knowing his popularity
among the best set of men about town, regarded him as an oracle on all
points of _etiquette_ and _bienséance_. Being, therefore, at that moment
in the act of revolving in his anxious mind a most weighty matter on
which he required good advice, Charley was the man of all others he most
wished to meet with. Marching vigorously onward he soon reached the
spot where, half-sitting, half-lying, on the broad top of a low stone
balustrade, Leicester was ruminating over his cigar. Having halted
immediately in front of his victim, De Grandeville raised his hand to
his forehead in a military salute, which manouvre, acquired partly in
jest, partly in earnest, had now become habitual to him.

“Ar--enjoying a weed? eh! Mr. Leicester?” he began. “ ’Pon my word,
you’ve selected a most picturesque spot for your bivouac. If it’s not
against the standing orders to smoke here, I’ll join you in a cigar,
for--ar--to tell you the truth, I rather want five minutes’ conversation
with you.”

“I’m in for it,” thought Leicester. “Well, what must be, must; the sun
will be off here in about half-an-hour, and I suppose I can endure
him for that space of time.” He only said, however, holding out his
cigar-case languidly, “Can I offer you one?”

“Ar--many thanks, you’re one of the few men whose taste I can, rely on;
but--ar--really, the things they sell now, and pretend to call genuine,
are such trash, that--ar--I am forced to import my own.
I sent out an agent to Cuba express--ar--at least, Robinson, who
supplies my club--ar--the Caryatides, you know--sent him on a hint from
me, and I can’t match the cigars he brought me anywhere; I’ve never met
with anything like them. Ask your brother; he knows them--ar--I let him
have half a box as the greatest favour.”

“Bell lives on cigars and gin-and-water when he’s in his native state,”
 returned Leicester, slightly altering his position so that he could rest
his back more conveniently against a statue. “If he’s been going too
fast, and gets out of condition, he takes a course of that sort of
thing, and it always brings him right again; it’s like turning a screwy
horse out to grass.”

De Grandeville, who had appeared somewhat abstracted during this
interesting record of the domestic habits of Lord Bellefield,
changed the conversation by observing, “Ar--you see, when a man of a
certain--ar--position in society gets--ar--towards middle life--ar--say,
three or four-and-thirty, it appears to me that it adds very much to his
weight to--ar--to----”

“To drink brown stout instead of pale ale,” exclaimed Leicester more
eagerly than his wont. “I observed you did so at----, when we were
treating the incorruptible electors, and it struck me as a decided
mistake.”

“Ar--yes, I believe--that is, of course--you are right; but that was not
exactly what I was going to observe,” returned De Grandeville, slightly
embarrassed. “In fact, I was going to say that it adds to a man’s weight
in society, increases his influence, and improves his general position
to be--ar--well married!”

“About that I scarcely know; it’s not a matter to decide on hastily,”
 returned Leicester, coolly lighting a fresh cigar, which, being of
an obstinate disposition, required much scientific management and
considerable hard puffing to induce it to perform properly. “In
regard to (puff) marriage, Mr. De Grandeville, looking at it
philosophically--and I can assure you it’s a subject on which I’ve
expended much (puff, puff) serious thought,--looking at it in a
reasonable businesslike point of view, it becomes a mere (puff) affair
of debtor and creditor,--a question of what you lose and what you gain.
Let us try the matter by various tests and see how the account stands.
We’ll begin with the watchwords of the day, for instance: ‘Liberty,
Fraternity, and Equality.’ Liberty,--a single man can do as he likes
without consulting anybody; a married man can do as he likes only when
his wife shares the inclination, which, as no two people ever look at
anything in exactly the same point of view, appears a somewhat stringent
restriction. Fraternity,--a single man may choose his friends where he
feels inclined, male or female, as it may have pleased Providence to
create them; a married man dare not, unless he has a taste for domestic
misery, and possesses eyes which are nail-proof, cultivate a female
friendship, and somehow one feels if one were married one should not
exactly wish to have a set of men always dangling about one’s house.
Equality,--a single man, if he has received a gentleman’s education,
wears a good coat, and has wit enough to keep himself warm, is anybody’s
equal; a married man must bear all his wife’s burdens as well as his
own, and doesn’t get asked by the Browns because the Smiths have told
them her great-grandfather was transported for stealing a pewter pot.
Now, let us look at the per contra side. A single man soon gets tired of
his unlimited Liberty; there’s no fun in having your own way if you’ve
no one to contradict you. A little opposition becomes a positive luxury,
and this you’re sure to obtain _by_ matrimony. Then, as to Fraternity,
friends are better than acquaintances, certainly, just as a mule is
preferable to a jackass, but they’re not much comfort to one after all.
My most intimate friend lives in Ceylon and writes to me once in five
years about hunting elephants. Now, your wife is part of your goods and
chattels, belongs to you as completely as your bootjack, and when in
hours of indolence you wish to sit with your soul in slippers, she, if
she is worth her salt, is ready to pull off the psychological boots that
are pinching your mind, and prevent the _dolce far niente_ from becoming
meaningless and insipid. Lastly, there’s no such Equality in the world
as between husband and wife when they are really suited to each other,
appreciate their relative positions justly, and endeavour to make
practice and principle coincide. These are my ideas regarding the
marriage state, Mr. De Grandeville; but ’tis no use discussing
the matter. Society has long since decided the question in favour of
wedlock, and there are only enough exceptions to prove the rule. Byron
enunciated a great truth when he declared:

               “‘Man was not formed to live alone;’

the animal’s gregarious, sir, and the solitary system is totally opposed
to all its tastes and habits.”

So saying, Charley emitted a long puff of smoke, and caressing his
whiskers, calmly awaited his companion’s reply; but this demands a fresh
chapter.



CHAPTER XXIV.--RELATES HOW CHARLEY LEICESTER WAS FIRST “SPRIGHTED BY A
FOOL,” THEN BESET BY AN AMAZON.

“Ar--really--‘pon my word, you seem to have studied the subject deeply,
Mr. Leicester,” returned De Grandeville, who was somewhat astonished
at the length and volubility of Charley’s notable “Essay on Matrimony,”
 with which the last chapter was concluded, and too completely blinded by
self-importance to perceive that the other was more or less laughing at
him. “However, the drift of your argument appears in favour of marriage,
and--ar--in fact--ar--I quite think as you do on the matter. Now, in my
position, I consider such an arrangement would be most desirable, always
supposing one can meet with--ar--a suitable partner.”

“Ay, there’s the rub,” rejoined Leicester, leisurely flipping the ashes
from the end of his cigar.

“I consider that I have a right to look--ar--high,” continued De
Grandeville, folding his arms with dignity. “Our family dates from
the Conquest; our Original ancestor came over as equerry to William of
Normandy. I suppose you are aware how the name arose from an incident in
that invasion?”

Leicester professed his ignorance of the anecdote, and De Grandeville
proceeded: “My ancestor, who, like most of his descendants, was a
remarkably long-sighted individual, was riding near the person of his
liege lord some few days after the victory of Hastings, when at the
extreme verge of the horizon he descried the city of Canterbury, and
in the excitement of the moment he exclaimed, pointing with his mailed
hand, ‘_Voila! une grande ville._’ William overheard the remark, and
fixing his piercing glance upon him, observed sarcastically, ‘Ha! sayest
thou so? he who hath been the first to discern yon great city should be
the first to enter it.’ ‘By the grace of God, and with your permission,
Sire, so I will,’ exclaimed my ancestor. William nodded assent, my
ancestor clapped spurs to his horse, and never drew bridle till the
standard of Normandy floated on the highest tower of Canterbury. For
this gallant exploit he was made governor of the city, and received the
name and titles of De Grandeville. It’s--ar--a creditable story.”

“Extremely,” returned Leicester, yawning. “I’ve a vague idea the man we
all came from was hanged for horse-stealing.”

“Ar--yes--very good,” rejoined De Grandeville, recognising an excellent
jest in his companion’s assertion; “but, as I was about to observe, in
my position a man owes as it were a duty to his family; he ought not to
marry a nobody.”

“Decidedly, such a connection should be avoided,” returned Charley
sententiously, presenting the hot end of his cigar to an inquisitive
snail which appeared inclined to join the party.

“Ar--the De Grandevilles have been from time immemorial large landed
proprietors,” resumed their grandiloquent descendant; “half the county
of---- belongs to them; the estates held by my branch of the family
are immense, and though--ar--just at present they are not exactly in my
possession, yet if anything were to happen to my cousin Hildebrand and
his seven boys, I might be placed in--ar--a very different position;
therefore, in looking out for a wife, I hold it incumbent on me to
select a lady who would not disgrace a prominent situation, were she
called upon to fill one.”

Leicester (whose attention had been thoroughly engrossed by the snail,
which, after having made sundry futile attempts to avoid the cigar and
continue its onward course, had at length yielded the point, and having
turned round, was now crawling off in an opposite direction) somewhat
astonished his companion by quoting with great _empressement_ the words
of the old nursery ballad--

                        “Off he set

                        With his opera hat.”

As, however, he immediately afterwards assumed a look of the deepest
attention, De Grandeville set it down as an instance of the eccentricity
of genius, and continued--“Ar--this, as you must perceive, renders
certain qualifications essential in the object of my choice. I
could select no one who by birth and position was not perfectly
unexceptionable. I should also require her to possess, in an
eminent degree, the manners of society; another great point would
be--ar----------”

“Plenty of tin,” suggested Charley, making a face at the retreating
snail.

“Ar--yes--in my position it would of course be a matter of prudence,
before bringing upon myself the expenses of a family, to ascertain that
I can command an income sufficient to enable me to mix in the set to
which--ar--in point of fact, I belong.”

“Nothing under £3000 a year would suit my book,” replied Leicester,
“£3000 per annum and perfection I might put up with, but £4000 would
be better without an actual angel, and beyond that mark I’d bate an
attaching quality in the damsel for every additional £500 in the funds.”

“Ar--I have reason to believe that the income of the lady in regard to
whom I am about to ask your advice exceeds the sum you first mentioned,”
 replied De Grandeville.

“Oh, there is then a real _bona fide_ lady in the case--you’ve
positively marked down your bird?” exclaimed Leicester. “Pray, have I
the honour of her acquaintance?”

“Ar--yes--I have often met her in your society--in fact, she forms one
of the party now domesticated at Broadhurst.”

“Staying in the house, eh?” returned Charley, feeling slightly curious.
“By Jove! who can it be? you’re not going to try and cut out Bellefield
by proposing for my cousin Annie, are you? I wish you would, it would
sell Bell so beautifully.”

“Of course--ar--you are joking,” returned De Grandeville proudly.
“I would not do such a shabby thing by his lordship upon any
consideration.”

Leicester was amused at the cool way in which his companion seemed to
take it for granted that he had only to enter the lists against his
brother in order to secure the prize. He kept his entertainment to
himself, however, merely replying, “Well, if it isn’t Annie, who is
it? I can scarcely imagine you have set your affections on Miss
Livingstone.”

“The Livingstones are a good old family,” returned De Grandeville, “but
the representative of the name to whom you allude would have been a more
suitable match for my late excellent father than for myself. No, sir,
the lady to whom I may probably offer the opportunity of allying herself
to the house of De Grandeville is as suitable in age as in all other
qualifications--Miss Peyton is in her two-and-twentieth year.”

“Miss how much!” exclaimed Leicester impetuously, sitting bolt upright
and flinging the remnant of his cigar after the snail, which was yet
striving to make good its retreat.

“Miss Laura Peyton,” returned De Grandeville; “I don’t wonder you are
surprised. I am aware, as well as yourself, that her grandfather was in
trade. I can assure you that stood in my way for a long time, and it was
not till I had gone through the pedigree carefully, with a friend in
the Herald’s College, and clearly traced back the family to the time of
Richard Cour de Lion, that I ever thought seriously of the thing.”

“And how do you mean to carry on the campaign?” asked Leicester, who
had by this time recovered his composure. “Do you intend to lay regular
siege to the young lady’s affections, or is it to be a look-and-die,
‘_veni vidi, vici_’ affair?”

“Ar--really--I am scarcely sanguine enough to hope to carry the citadel
by a _coup-de-maim_,” returned De Grandeville; “but my tactics will be
very much regulated by those of my fair enemy at present. If I might
judge by one or two slight skirmishes we have had together, the garrison
will not hold out to extremity when once the breastworks are taken, and
the place properly invested.” At this moment a servant approached De
Grandeville with a message from General Grant requesting his presence.
“Ar--yes--say I’ll attend the General immediately,” was the reply; then,
as the servant departed, De Grandville continued, “Ar--the course of
true love never did run smooth, you see, Mr. Leicester. Ar--I shall have
an opportunity of speaking to you again on this matter, and hearing
your opinion more in full; at present I must wish you good morning.” So
saying, he slightly raised his hat in salutation, and marched off in a
great state of dignified self-complacency.

Leicester watched him till he was out of sight; then, springing from
his seat, he began pacing up and down the terrace with hasty
strides, muttering from time to time such uncomplimentary remarks as,
“Insufferable puppy!”

“Conceited ass!” all of which evidently bore reference to his late
companion. Having let off a little of his extra steam by this means, he
gave vent to the following soliloquy: “Well, I’m nicely in for it this
time! Because a love affair, with the chance of possible consequences,
wasn’t trouble enough, I must have a rival step in--and such a
rival--why, the very sight of that man disagrees with me; and then
to hear him talk, it’s positively sickening! I’ll be off to London
to-morrow morning; and yet I do like the girl,--I know I do, because it
is continually occurring to me that I am not half good enough for her.
I suppose she looks upon me as a mere fortune-hunter--thinks I only care
about her for the sake of her money. I wish she hadn’t a farthing!
I wish--eh! what am I talking about? Heigho! that’s another curse
of poverty: a poor devil like me can’t even afford the luxury of a
disinterested attachment. Then that man--that De Grandeville--to hear an
animal like that debating whether she was good enough for him! I declare
he’s made me feel quite feverish! I’d no idea it was possible for
_anything_ to excite me to such a degree. If the notion were not too
preposterous, I should really begin to fancy I must be falling in love!
She never can have the bad taste to like him--in fact, there’s nothing
to like in him--and yet the fellow seemed confident; but that is
the nature of the brute. Though I don’t know, women are such fools
sometimes, she might take him at his own price--that military swagger of
his might go down with some of the sex. Once let a woman fancy a man
to be a hero, or a martyr, or a patriot, or any other uncomfortable
celebrity certain to make a bad husband, and she will be ready to throw
herself at his head,--just as if such a fellow were not the very last
man in the world whom she ought to select! I suppose it’s the
additional odds in favour of widowhood that constitute the great
attraction--females are naturally capricious. Well, I shall try and take
the matter easily, at all events. I dare say it won’t break my heart
whichever way it goes. I shall make observations, and if she really has
the bad taste to prefer this man, he’s welcome to her--a woman who could
love him would never do for my wife; that one fact would argue an amount
of incompatibility of temper which would be furnishing work for Doctors’
Commons before the first year’s connubial infelicity was over. I
wonder whether there’s any lunch going on; it’s astonishing how thirsty
anything of this kind makes me! Pale ale I must have, or _mit colum!_”
 And having arrived at this conclusion, he thrust his hands--of whose
delicate appearance he was especially careful--into his pockets to
preserve them from the cold, and strolled off to put his resolution into
practice.

In the meantime, Marmaduke De Grandeville, while listening with his
outward ears to General Grant’s dull electioneering details, was
inwardly congratulating himself on the favourable impression he had made
on that very sensible young man, the Honourable Charles Leicester, and
thinking what a useful ally he had secured to assist him in carrying out
his matrimonial project.

Verily, there are as many comedies performed off the stage as upon it!

The ball at Broadhurst took place on the evening of the day on which the
above conversation had passed, and was a wonderful affair indeed. It
was given for a special purpose, and that purpose was to conciliate
everybody, and induce everybody to promise General Grant their vote and
interest at the ensuing election. Accordingly, everybody was invited--at
least everybody who had the slightest pretension to be anybody--and
everybody came; and as almost everybody brought somebody else with them,
a wife, or a daughter, or the young lady from London who was spending
Christmas with them, there was no lack of guests. The object of the
entertainment was no secret; and the king of the county, the Marquis
of C----------, being in the conservative interest, and consequently
anxious to secure the General’s return, not only came himself, but
actually brought a real live duke with him to exhibit to the company.
This was a great stroke of policy, and told immensely, particularly
with the smaller anybodies who were almost nobodies, but who, having
associated with a duke, straightway became somebodies, and remained so
ever after. Moreover, in all cases of incipient radicalism, chartist
tendencies, or socialist symptoms, his Grace was an infallible specific.
Depend on it, there is no better remedy for a certain sort of democracy
than a decoction of strawberry-leaves; apply that to the sore place and
the patient instantly becomes sound in his opinions, and continues a
healthy member of the body politic. The particular duke on the occasion
in question was a very young one, little more than a boy in fact (if
a duke can ever be considered in the light of a boy). This youthful
nobleman had a leading idea--though you would hardly have supposed it,
to look at him--he believed that he was the best match in England; and
so, in the conventional sense of the term, he undoubtedly was, although
he would have been very dear at the price to any woman with a head and
a heart. His pastors and masters, backed by the maternal anxieties of
a duchess unambitious of the dignities of dowagership, had sedulously
cultivated this one idea till it had assumed the character of
a monomania, under the influence of which this unhappy scion of
aristocracy looked upon life as a state of perpetual warfare against the
whole race of women, and was haunted by a frightful vision of himself
carried off and forcibly married to the chief of a horde of female
pirates, with long tongues, longer nails, and an utter absence of
creditable ancestry. His outward duke (if we may be allowed the
expression) was decidedly prepossessing. He was tall and not ungraceful
in figure, and had a bright, round, innocent face, as of a good child.
His hair was nicely brushed and parted; whiskers he had none; indeed,
the stinginess of nature to him in this particular was so remarkable,
that, as the eldest Miss Simpkins afterwards observed to an eager
audience of uninvited younger sisters, “So far from whiskers, my dears,
now I come to think of it, his Grace had _rather the reverse!_” However,
take him “for all in all,” he was a very creditable young duke, and a
perfect godsend on the occasion in question. Then there was a descending
scale from his Grace downwards, leading through the aristocracy of birth
to the aristocracy of riches, till it reached the _élite_ of the country
towns, and the more presentable specimens of yeomen farmers. But let
us join a group of people that we know, and hear what they think of the
guests who are so rapidly assembling.

In a snug corner of the reception-room, not far from a door leading into
the large drawing-room, stands one of those mysterious innovations of
modern upholstery, a species of the genus ottoman, which resembles a
Brobdignagian mushroom, with a thimble made to match stuck in the middle
of it. Seated at her ease upon this nondescript, half-buried by the
yielding cushions, appeared the pretty figure of Laura Peyton; by
her side, attired in much white muslin, crinolined to a balloon-like
rotundity, but which apparently had shrunk abominably at the wash in the
region round about its wearer’s neck and shoulders, sat another--well,
from the juvenility of her dress and manners we suppose we must say
_young_ lady, though it was a historical fact that she had been at
school with Annie Grant’s mother; but then poor Mrs. Grant married when
she was quite a child, and died before she was thirty, and of course
Miss Singleton must know her own age best, and she had declared herself
eight-and-twenty for the last five years. This lady possessed one
peculiarity--she always had a passion for somebody; whether the _object_
was of the gentler or the sterner sex was all a matter of chance; but
as she was in the habit of observing, “there existed in her nature a
necessity for passionately loving.” and it has become proverbial that
necessity has no law. The object of her adoration just at present was
“that darling girl,” Laura Peyton; and really that young lady was in
herself so lovable, that to endeavour to account for Miss Singleton’s
devotion by insinuating that the heiress was usually surrounded by
all the most desirable young men in the room would be the height of
ill-nature.

“Dear me!” exclaimed Miss Singleton, whose troublesome nature had
another necessity for liking to hear its own voice as often as possible.
“Dear me! I wish I knew who all the people were! Dearest Miss Peyton,
do not you sympathise? Ah, that tell-tale smile! We girls certainly are
sadly curious, though I believe the men are just as bad, only they’re
too proud to own it. But really, we must contrive to catch somebody who
will tell us who everybody is. There’s that handsome, grave, clever
Mr. Arundel: I shall make him a sign to come here--ah! he saw me
directly--he _is_ so clever. Mr. Arundel, do tell me, who _are_ all
these people?”

“Rather a comprehensive question,” returned Lewis, smiling; “moreover,
you could scarcely have applied to any one less able to answer it, for
beyond our immediate neighbours I really do not know a dozen people in
the room.”

“Mr. Arundel’s acquaintance lies rather among illustrious foreigners,”
 observed Miss Peyton demurely. “Were any members of the royal family of
Persia present, for instance, his intimate knowledge of the language,
manners, and habits of that interesting nation would be invaluable to
us.”

“As you are strong, be merciful,” returned Lewis, in a tone of voice
only to be heard by the young lady to whom he spoke.

“Dear me! How very delightful! What a thing it is to be so clever!”
 exclaimed Miss Singleton, arranging her bracelet and rounding her arm
(which was now one of her best points) with an action that expressed,
as plainly as words could have done, “There, look at that--there’s
grace for you!”

“Here comes some one who can tell us everything,” she continued; “that
good-natured, fascinating Mr. Leicester, with his loves of whiskers all
in dear little curls. Tiresome man! he won’t look this way. Would you be
so very good, Mr. Arundel, as to follow him and bring him here? Say that
Miss Peyton and I want him particularly.”

“I beg you’ll say nothing of the kind, Mr. Arundel,” interposed Laura
quickly, with a very becoming blush. “Really, Miss Singleton, you run on
so that----”

“I will deliver your message verbatim, Miss Singleton,” returned Lewis
with the same demure tone and manner in which Miss Peyton had referred
to the Persian prince; and without waiting to mark the effect of his
words, he mingled with the crowd, and almost immediately returned
with the gentleman in pursuit of whom he had been despatched. Charles
Leicester, who was most elaborately got up for the occasion, though his
good taste prevented him from running into any absurd extremes in dress,
looked remarkably handsome, and being flattered by the summons he
had just received, particularly happy. Both these facts Miss Peyton
discovered at a glance, but whether urged by some secret consciousness,
or annoyed by an indescribable look of intelligence which lurked in the
corners of Lewis’s dark eyes and revealed itself through the sternness
of his compressed lips, she received him with marked coldness, and
observed, in reply to his offer to play showman to the collection of
strange animals there assembled, that she had no taste for zoology, and
that it was Miss Singleton’s curiosity he had been summoned to satisfy.

“Yes, indeed, Mr. Leicester,” exclaimed that mature damsel, in no way
daunted by a shade of discontent which, despite his endeavours to
the contrary, overspread the countenance of the gentleman she was
addressing; “yes, indeed, I’m dying to know all sorts of things. In
the first place, who’s that tall, stout gentleman in the wonderful
waistcoat?”

“That,” replied Leicester, coolly examining the person indicated, “that
is--no, it isn’t! Yes, surely!--I thought I was right--that is the
Marquis of Carabbas.” Then seeing from her manner she did not recognise
the name, he continued, “He has enormous estates situated in----”

“Where?” asked Miss Singleton earnestly, thinking she had lost the name.

“That interesting tract of country yclept, by John Parry, the Realms of
Infantine Romance,” continued Leicester.

“Oh, Mr. Leicester, you’re laughing at me. How wicked of you--the
Marquis of Carabbas! Let me see: hadn’t he something to do with
Whittington and his Cat?”

“With the cat, possibly,” replied Leicester; “for if my memory fail not,
the fortunes of the noble Marquis, like those of the ever-to-be-lamented
Lord Mayor of London town, were the result of feline sagacity, and it’s
not likely there existed two such talented cats--even Puss in Boots may
only be another episode in the career of the same gifted individual.”

“Another of its nine lives, in fact,” suggested Lewis.

“Yes, of course,” rejoined Leicester. “I dare say it was the original
‘cat of nine tales,’ only, like the sibylline leaves, several of the
manuscripts have been lost to posterity through the carelessness of some
elfin Master of the Rolls.”

“I beg your pardon, but I really must interrupt you,” exclaimed Miss
Singleton. “Can you tell me, soberly and seriously, who that very
strange-looking person may be who has just seized the General’s hand and
nearly shaken his arm out of the socket?”

Seeing that Laura Peyton’s eyes asked the same question, though her
lips were silent, Leicester glanced in the direction indicated, and
immediately replied, “That energetic female rejoices in the name of
Lady Mary--but is more commonly known among her intimates as
_Jack_--Goodwood. In person she is what you behold her; in character,
she presents a most unmitigated specimen of the _genus_ Amazon; for the
rest, she is a very good woman at heart, but my especial torment; she
always calls me Charley, and her usual salutation is a slap on the back.
She hunts, shoots, breaks in her own horses, has ridden a hurdle race,
in which she came in a good second, and is reported to have dragooned
her husband into popping the question by the threat of a sound
horse-whipping. And now, Miss Singleton, you’ll have an opportunity of
judging for yourself, for she has caught sight of me, and is bearing
down upon us in full sail.”

“Well, but is she really a lady?” inquired the astonished Miss
Singleton, who, in her philosophy, had most assuredly never dreamt of
such a possibility as Jack Goodwood.

“She is second daughter of Lord Oaks,” was the reply, “and Goodwood is
one of _the_ Goodwoods, and is worth some £8000 a year; but here she
is.”

As he spoke the lady in question joined the group. Her age might be
eight or nine-and-thirty; she was tall and decidedly handsome, though
her features were too large; she had magnificent black eyes and very
white teeth, which prevented the width of her mouth from interfering
with her pretensions to beauty; her complexion was brilliant in the
extreme, nature having bestowed on her a clear brown skin, which
withstood the combined effects of exposure to sun and wind, and softened
the high colour induced by the boisterous character of her ladyship’s
favourite pursuits. But if her personal gifts were striking, the style
or costume she saw fit to adopt rendered her still more remarkable. As
it will be necessary to describe her dress minutely in order to convey
any idea of her appearance, we throw ourselves on the mercy of our lady
readers, and beg them to pardon all errors of description, seeing that
mantua-making is a science in which we have never graduated, and of
which our knowledge is derived solely from oral traditions picked up
during desultory conversations among our female friends, usually held
(if our memory fail us not) on their way home from church.

Her dress consisted, then, of a gown of exceedingly rich white silk,
made half-high in the body and remarkably full in the skirt, over which
she wore a polka of bright scarlet Cashmere lined and trimmed with white
silk, and adorned with a double row of the hunt buttons. Her head was
attired in a Spanish hat of black velvet, while a single white feather,
secured by a valuable diamond clasp, was allowed to droop over the
brim and mingle with the rich masses of her raven hair, which was
picturesquely arranged in a complication of braids and ringlets. She
leaned on the arm of a gentleman double her age, whose good-humoured
heavy face afforded a marked contrast to the ever-varying expression
that lit the animated features of her who was, in every sense of the
word, his better half. Leicester’s description had but slightly enhanced
the vigour of her mode of salutation, for as she reached the spot where
he stood she clapped him on the shoulder with a small, white-gloved
hand, exclaiming in a deep but not unmusical voice--

“Bravo, Charley! run you to earth at last, you see. Where have you
hidden yourself all this age? Now, Goody,” she continued, turning to her
husband, “you may go. Charley Leicester will take care of me--don’t lose
your temper at whist, don’t drink too much champagne, and mind you’re
forthcoming when I want you.”

“There’s a life to lead,” returned her spouse, appealing to Leicester.
“Did you ever see such a tyrant?”

“Be off, Goody, and don’t talk nonsense,” was his lady-wife’s rejoinder.

[Illustration: 0178]

“How is it we never see you at the Manor-House now?” began the master of
that establishment in a hospitable tone of voice, but his lady cut him
short in his speech by exclaiming--

“Why? because he found you such a bore he could not stand you any
longer; nobody can except me, and even my powers of endurance are
limited, so,” she continued, taking him by the shoulders and turning him
round, “right about face--heads up--march. _Voilà_,” she added, turning
to Leicester, “he’s famously under command, isn’t he, Charley? all my
good breaking in--he was as obstinate as a mule before I married him,
nobody could do anything with him. He’s in splendid condition, too, for
a man of sixty. I’ll back him to walk, ride, hunt, shoot, or play at
billiards with any man of his age and weight in the three kingdoms. I’ve
been obliged to dock his corn, though; there was seldom a day that he
didn’t finish his second bottle of port. He only drinks one now. But I
say, Charley, about this election of Governor Grant’s, how is he going
the pace? You must tell me all about it; I’ve been in Paris for the last
two months, and I’m quite in the dark.”

“’Pon my word, I take so little interest in the matter that I can
scarcely enlighten you, Lady Mary,” returned Leicester, glancing
uneasily at Miss Peyton, who was talking with much apparent
_empressement_ to Miss Singleton, though her quick ears drank in every
word spoken by the others.

“Who’s that girl?” resumed Lady Mary, lowering her voice a little
(_very_ little) as she perceived the direction of Leicester’s glance.
“Miss Peyton, eh?” she continued, “You shall introduce me; but first
tell me who’s that man by her side, like an old picture.”

“Mr. Arundel,” was the reply; “tutor to poor young Desborough.”

“He’s too good for the work,” returned Jack; “he’s too near thoroughbred
to take to collar and keep his traces tight with such an uphill pull as
that must be. I say, Charley,” she continued in a half whisper, “he’s
handsomer than you are. If you don’t mind your play, he’ll bowl you out
and win with the favourite--there, it’s no use getting up the steam or
looking sulky with me,” she added, as Leicester uttered an exclamation
of annoyance. “I can see it all with half an eye; you’re as thoroughly
what Goody calls ‘spoony’ as a man need to be; but now, Charley, don’t
go putting your foot in it, you know: is it all right with the tin?
that’s the main question.”

“Ask me to dance, for pity’s sake, and let me get out of that creature’s
way,” murmured Laura Peyton to Lewis; “I never had a taste for seeing
monsters.”

Lewis smiled and offered her his arm. At the same moment De Grandcville,
gaudily ornate, marched up and requested the honour of Miss Peyton’s
hand for the set then forming.

“I am engaged to Mr. Arundel for the next quadrille,” returned Miss
Peyton.

“For the following one, then--ar?”

“I shall have much pleasure,” was the reply. “In the meantime allow me
to introduce you to my friend Miss Singleton, who is at present without
a partner.”

De Grandeville, charmed to have the opportunity of obliging Miss Peyton,
acted on the hint, and the two couples hastened to take their places
in the quadrille then forming. Leicester’s volatile companion still
continued chattering, heedless of his evident annoyance, until she had
worried him into a state of mind bordering on distraction, when some
fresh fancy seizing her, she fastened herself on to a new victim and
left him to his meditations. These were by no means of an agreeable
character; and after wandering listlessly through the suite of rooms and
watching Laura Peyton, as during the intervals of the dance she talked
and laughed gaily with De Grandeville (an occupation which did not tend
greatly to raise Leicester’s spirits or soothe his ruffled temper),
he strolled into a card-room tenanted only by four elderly gentlemen
immersed in a rubber of whist, and flinging himself on a vacant sofa
in a remote corner of the apartment, gave himself up to gloomy
retrospection.

He had not remained there long when Lewis entered and glanced round as
if in search of some one; then approaching Leicester, he began--

“You’ve not seen Walter lately, have you? Your amusing friend, Lady
Mary Goodwood” (“confound the jade,” muttered Leicester, _sotto voce_)
“introduced herself to me just now, and having captivated Walter by
her bright smile and scarlet jacket, carried him off, to tease me,
I believe, and I can’t tell what she has done with him. But,” he
continued, for the first time observing his companion’s dejected manner
and appearance, “is anything the matter; you’re not ill, I hope?”

“I wish I was,” was the unexpected reply; “ill--dead--anything rather
than the miserable fool I am----”

“Why, what has occurred?” asked Lewis anxiously. “Can I be of any use?”

“No, it’s past mending,” returned Leicester in an accent of deep
dejection. He paused, then turning to Lewis he resumed almost fiercely:
“The tale is soon told, if you want to hear it. I met that girl--Laura
Peyton, I mean--in town about a year ago; in fact--for my affairs are
no secret--every fool knows that I am a beggar, or thereabouts. I was
introduced to her because she was a great heiress, and dangled after
her through the whole of a London season for the sake of her three
per cents. Well, last autumn I met her again down in Scotland; we were
staying together for three weeks in the same house. Of course we saw a
good deal of each other, and I soon found I liked her better for herself
than I had ever done for her money; but somehow, as soon as this feeling
arose, I lost all nerve, and could not get on a bit. The idea of the
meanness of marrying a woman for the sake of her fortune haunted me day
and night, and the more I cared for her the less was I able to show
it. My cousin Annie perceived what was going on, it seems, and without
saying a word to me of her intention, struck up a friendship with Laura,
and invited her here; and somehow--the thing’s very absurd in a man like
myself, who has seen everything and done everything, and found out
what humbug it all is--but the fact of the matter is, that I’m just as
foolishly and romantically and deeply in love with that girl as any
raw boy of seventeen could be; and I don’t believe she cares one _sous_
about me in return. She thinks, as she has a good right to do, that I am
hunting her for her money, like the rest of them, I dare say; and--stop
a minute,” he continued, seeing Lewis was about to speak--“you have
not heard the worst yet: because all I’ve told you was not enough,
that conceited ass, De Grandeville, must needs come and consult me this
morning as to whether Miss Peyton was worthy of being honoured with his
hand, hinting pretty plainly that he did not anticipate much difficulty
on the lady’s part; and by Jove, from the way in which she is going on
with him this evening, I believe that for once he wasn’t lying: then
that mad-headed Mary Goodwood coming and bothering with her confounded
‘Charley’ this and ‘Charley’ that, and her absurd plan of monopolising
one--of course she means no harm; she has known me from a boy, and it’s
her way; besides, she really is attached to old Goodwood. But how is
Laura Peyton to know all that?”

“Why, rouse up, and go and tell her yourself, to be sure,” replied
Lewis.

“No, not I!” returned Leicester moodily. “I’ll have no more trouble
about it. I’ll leave this house to-morrow morning, and be off to Baden,
or Naples, or Timbuctoo, or some place where there are no women, if
such a Paradise exists--and she may marry De Grandeville, or whom she
pleases, for me. You see, it would be different if she cared at all for
me, but to worry one’s heart out about a girl who does not even like
one----”

“_Halte là!_” interrupted Lewis; “lookers-on see most of the game; and
if I know anything of woman’s nature”--he paused and bit his lip as the
recollection of Gretchen crossed his mind--“depend upon it, Miss Peyton
is not as indifferent to you as you imagine.”

“Did you see how coldly she received me to-night?” urged Leicester.

“Yes; and her so doing only confirmed my previous opinion. That
chattering Miss Singleton had annoyed her by bidding me summon you
in Miss Peyton’s name; but the very fact of her annoyance showed
consciousness; had she been indifferent to you she would not have cared.
Then her irritation at Lady Mary’s familiarity proves the same thing.”

“You really think so?” returned Leicester, brightening up. “My dear
fellow, you’ve quite put new life into me. It’s very odd now, I never
saw it in that light before. What would you have me do, then?”

“If, as you say, you really and truly love her,” returned Lewis gravely,
“lay aside--excuse my plain speaking--lay aside your fashionable airs,
which disguise your true nature, and tell her of your affection in a
simple, manly way, and if she is the girl I take her to be, your trouble
will not be wasted.” So saying, he rose and quitted the room, leaving
Leicester to reflect on his advice.



CHAPTER XXV.--CONTAINS A MYSTERIOUS INCIDENT, AND SHOWS HOW THE COURSE
OF TRUE LOVE NEVER DOES RUN SMOOTH.

As Lewis, after the conversation detailed in the last chapter, was
prosecuting his search for Walter through the various apartments he
encountered Annie Grant, who, having escaped the vigilance of Miss
Livingstone, was enjoying, in company with a young lady friend, the
dangerous luxury of standing by an open window. The moment she perceived
Lewis she advanced towards him and began--

“May I detain you one moment, Mr. Arundel? Can you tell me anything of
my cousin Charles? I’m afraid he must be ill, and I wished him to exert
himself so particularly to-night.”

“He is not ill,” returned Lewis. “I left him not two minutes since in
the card-room.”

“In the card-room?” repeated Annie in a tone of annoyance; “what can he
be doing there? Is he playing whist?”

“No,” was the reply; “he did not appear in a humour to enjoy the
dancing, and had gone there for the sake of quiet.”

“A fit of his incorrigible idleness, I suppose,” remarked Annie
pettishly; “really it is too provoking; it must seem so odd his
absenting himself on such an occasion as this. Would you mind
the trouble of returning and telling him I want to speak to him
particularly, and that he will find me here?”

“I shall be most happy; it is no trouble,” began Lewis. He paused,
and then added in a lower tone, “Perhaps you scarcely do Mr. Leicester
justice in attributing his absence to a fit of indolence; I fancied,
from his manner, something had occurred to annoy him.”

“Something to annoy him!” exclaimed Annie, starting and turning pale
as a disagreeable possibility suddenly occurred to her. “Surely he has
not?--she never can have----!” then seeing Lewis’s glance fixed on her
with a look of peculiar intelligence, she paused abruptly, and a most
becoming blush overspread her features. Lewis pitied her confusion, and
hastened to relieve it by observing--

“If I have ventured to guess the direction of your thoughts somewhat too
boldly, Miss Grant, you must pardon me, and believe that did I not think
I might thereby in some slight degree repay the kindness Mr. Leicester
has invariably shown me, I would not have allowed you to perceive it.
If,” he added in a lower tone, “you will permit me to advise you, I
believe you could most effectually serve your cousin’s interests by
explaining to Miss Peyton, at your first opportunity, the nature of the
friendship which exists between Lady Mary Goodwood and Mr. Leicester,
mentioning at the same time the fact that they have known each other
from childhood.”

“That’s the difficulty, is it?” rejoined Annie. “Oh! I can set that
right in five minutes. Thank you very much, Mr. Arundel--how extremely
kind you are; but,” she added with an arch look, “you are most
alarmingly clever; I shall become quite afraid of you.” Then turning to
her companion, she added, “Now, Lucy dear, you will catch your death of
cold standing at that window. You will send Charles Leicester, then, Mr.
Arundel.” So saying, she linked her arm in that of her friend, and the
two girls left the room.

“Leicester’s a lucky dog to have such a zealous advocate in that sweet
cousin of his,” thought Lewis as he retraced his steps towards
the card-room. “She is a great deal too good for that brute, Lord
Bellefield; she had better have chosen Charles, if she must marry either
brother, though he is scarcely her equal in mind or depth of character,
and without that I don’t believe married life can ever progress as it
should do.” On reaching the card-room he found it only tenanted by the
whist players; and rightly imagining that his advice had so far restored
Leicester’s spirits as to induce him again to return to the ball-room,
he resumed his search for Walter, and at length discovered him in the
ice-room, where, under the auspices of a pretty, interesting looking
girl, the daughter of one of the tenantry, called in on the occasion
to assist the female servants, he was regaling himself with unlimited
cakes.

While Lewis was gently insinuating the possibility of his having had
enough, two or three men, amongst whom was Lord Bellefield, lounged into
the room and began eating ices at a table opposite that at which Lewis
and Walter were stationed. One of the party, who was unacquainted with
Lewis, apparently struck by his appearance, addressed Lord Bellefield
in an undertone, evidently inquiring who the young tutor might be; the
answer, though spoken in a low voice, was (whether designedly or not we
will not say) perfectly audible to the person to whom it related.

“That? oh, some poor devil old Grant has picked up cheap as dry-nurse to
his pet idiot; a kind of male _bonne_, as the French term it; a sort of
upper servant, half valet, half tutor. You need not notice him.”

There was a degree of littleness in this speech which completely robbed
it of its sting. It was such a mean attempt at an insult that Lewis saw
it would be letting himself down even to feel angry about it; and merely
allowing his lip to curl slightly with a contemptuous smile, he folded
his arms and patiently awaited the conclusion of Walter’s repast. After
Lord Bellefield and his friends had devoured as many ices as seemed good
to them, they prepared to leave the room, and just as they passed
the spot where Lewis stood, Lord Bellefield, in drawing out his
handkerchief, accidentally dropped a glove. Not perceiving his loss, he
was still walking on, when Lewis, after a moment’s hesitation, resolved
to adhere to his determination of treating Lord Bellefield as he would
any other man his superior in rank, and perhaps inwardly rejoiced at the
opportunity of returning good for evil, or at least civility for insult,
stooped and picked up the glove, then advancing a step or two, he
presented it to its owner, saying--

“Excuse my interrupting your lordship, but you have dropped your glove.”

Now it so happened that the moment before Lewis had removed his own
glove to render some assistance to Walter, and had not replaced it when
he extended his hand to Lord Bellefield, who, without making any reply,
signed to his French valet, then assisting in the champagne department,
and when he approached, said--

“_Tenez, Antoine!_ Take the glove from this gentleman, and bring me a
clean pair.”

The insolence of his look and the affected drawl in which he spoke
rendered his meaning so unmistakable, that, after a slight attempt to
repress the inclination, one of his companions burst into a laugh, while
the other, who had sufficient good feeling to be disgusted at such an
unprovoked insult, turned on his heel and walked away. Lewis stood for a
moment as if stunned; then, flushing crimson, he actually quivered with
suppressed anger; still it was evident that he was striving to master
his passion, and apparently he was in great measure successful, for when
he spoke it was in a low, calm voice.

“Am I to understand,” he said, “that your lordship, considering this
glove polluted by the accident of my having touched it, will never wear
it again?”

“Ya--as,” was the reply; “you may very safely come to that conclusion
without any fear of misinterpreting my intentions.”

“In that case,” continued Lewis, in the same low, clear voice, though
his eyes, which were fixed on Lord Bellefield’s, actually glowed with
the intensity of his emotion, “I will crave your permission to retain it
as a memorial of this evening. Your lordship will observe it is a
_right hand_ glove. I may, on some future occasion, have the pleasure
of calling your attention to the care with which I have preserved the
relic.”

So saying, he bowed coldly, and still holding the glove with a vice-like
grasp, as though he feared to have it wrested from him, he turned away
without waiting a reply.

“What on earth does the fellow want with that glove?” inquired Lord
Bellefield’s companion, who, not being a particularly intellectual young
gentleman, had been greatly mystified by the whole proceeding. “And what
in the world is the matter with you?” he added, observing for the first
time that his friend was looking strangely pale and shuddering slightly.

“Eh--come along--we’re standing in a confounded draught, and I’ve never
rightly recovered that ague I picked up at Ancona,” was the reply; and
taking his companion’s arm, Lord Bellefield hastily left the room.

So engrossed had Lewis been with his own share of the transaction that
he had not observed the breathless interest with which the whole scene
had been watched by the girl before alluded to. She now approached him
under the excuse of offering some cakes, and, as he somewhat impatiently
refused them, said in a hurried whisper--

“I beg your pardon, sir, but what is it you intend to do with that
glove?”

Surprised alike at the question and the quarter from whence it
proceeded, Lewis looked at the girl more attentively than he had yet
done. She was above the middle height, and of a singularly graceful
figure; her features were characterised by a degree of refinement and
intelligence not usually to be found amongst persons of her class; she
was very pale, and though she endeavoured to repress all outward signs
of emotion, he could perceive she was fearfully agitated.

“Do with the glove!” returned Lewis. “What makes you ask such an odd
question?”

“You cannot deceive me, sir,” she replied in the same eager whisper. “I
witnessed all that passed between you and--that gentleman just now.”

“And what is it you fear?” asked Lewis.

“That you are going to challenge him to fight a duel to-morrow
morning--and--and perhaps mean to wear that glove on the hand you shoot
him with.”

As she uttered these last words a strange expression flitted across
Lewis’s face; it had passed, however, ere he replied--

“You are mistaken. As long as I remain under this roof I shall avoid any
collision with that gentleman. Nay, more; should he repeat his insult
(though I scarcely think he will), I shall not attempt to resent it.
So,” he continued with a smile, “as I am living here, I think he is
tolerably safe from me. Stay,” he added, as, after glancing anxiously at
his features, as though she strove to read his very soul, she was about
to turn away, satisfied that he was not attempting to deceive her,
“stay; do not mention what you have observed amongst the servants; and
here is something to buy you some new ribbon for your cap.”

“I will not accept your money, sir,” she replied somewhat haughtily;
“but your secret is safe with me as in the grave.” Then taking Walter’s
plate, which was by this time empty, she crossed the room and mingled
with the other servants.

It was later in the evening; much dancing had been accomplished, many
civil speeches and some rude ones made, mild flirtations began to assume
a serious character, and one or two aggravated cases appeared likely to
end in business. The hearts of match-making mammas beat high with
hope, marriageable daughters were looking up, and eligible young men,
apparently bent on becoming tremendous sacrifices, were evidently to
be had cheap. The real live Duke was in unusually high spirits; he had
hitherto been mercifully preserved from dangerous young ladies, and had
passed a very pleasant evening. Lady Mary Goodwood, who was equal to a
duke or any other emergency, had been introduced to him, and had taken
upon herself the task of entertaining him; and his Grace, being slightly
acquainted with Mr. Goodwood, and fortified by an unshakable faith in
that gentleman’s powers of longevity, had yielded himself unresistingly
to the fascinations of the fair Amazon, and allowed himself to be amused
with the most amiable condescension. Charles Leicester, in some degree
reassured by his conversation with Lewis, returned to the dancing-room
and secured Miss Peyton for a waltz; but his success did not tend
greatly to improve his position, as the young lady continued strangely
silent, or only opened her mouth to say cutting things. The last polka
before supper she danced with De Grandeville; on that gentleman’s arm
she entered the room in which the repast was laid out, and he it was
who, seated by her side during the meal, forestalled her every wish with
most lover-like devotion. Lord Belle-field, after the _rencontre_ with
Lewis, had consoled himself by taking possession of Annie, whose side
he never quitted for a moment, and who he thereby prevented from holding
any private communication with her friend Miss Peyton, her acquaintance
with the domestic economy of her uncle’s family leading her to divine
that his brother would be about the last person to whom Charles
Leicester would wish his hopes and fears confided.

Seeing that things thus continued steadily to “improve for the worse,”
 and that the tide which Shakespeare discovered in the affairs of men
appeared to have set dead against him, the unfortunate “Charley” having,
in a spirit of self-mortification, repudiated supper and rejected offers
of champagne with the virulence of a red-hot teetotaller, betook himself
to the solitude of the music-room in a state of mind bordering on
distraction, which fever of the soul Lady Mary Goodwood had not tended
to allay, by remarking, with a significant glance towards Miss Peyton
and De Grandeville--

“I say, Charley, cast your eye up the course a minute; the heavyweight’s
making play with the favourite at a killing pace. I’d bet long odds he
pops and she says ‘Done’ before the meeting’s over; so if that don’t
suit your book, Charley, my boy, the sooner you hedge on the double
event the better.”

The music-room at Broadhurst was a spacious apartment, with a coved
ceiling and deep bay windows hung with rich crimson damask curtains,
and containing ottomans of the same material in the recesses. On one of
these Leicester flung himself, and half hidden by the voluminous folds
of the drapery, sketched out a gloomy future, in which he depicted
himself quarrelling with De Grandeville, shooting him in a consequent
duel, and residing ever after in the least desirable part of the
backwoods of America, a prey to remorse, without cigars, and cut off
from kid gloves and pale ale in the flower of his youth. Occupied with
these dreary thoughts, he scarcely noticed the entrance of various
seceders from the supper-table; nor was it until the sound of the
pianoforte aroused his attention that he perceived the room to be
tenanted by some twenty or thirty people scattered in small coteries
throughout the apartment. At the moment when he became alive to external
impressions Miss Singleton was about to favour the company with a song,
having secured a mild young man to turn over the music, who knew
not life and believed in her to the fullest extent with a touching
simplicity. Before this interesting performance could commence, however,
sundry preliminary arrangements analogous to the nautical ceremony of
“clearing for action” appeared indispensable. First, a necessity existed
for taking off her gloves, which was not accomplished without much
rounding of arms, display of rings, and rattling of bracelets, one of
which, in particular, would catch in everything, and was so incorrigible
that it was forced to be unclasped in disgrace and committed to the
custody of the mild young man, who blushed at it and held it as if it
were alive. Then Miss Singleton drew up her head, elongated her neck to
a giraffe-like extent, raised her eyes, simpered, cast them down again,
glanced out of their corners at the “mild one” till he trembled in his
polished boots and jingled the wicked bracelet like a baby’s rattle
in the excess of his agitation, and finally commenced her song by an
energetic appeal to her mother (who had been dead and buried for the
last fifteen years) to “wake her early” on the ensuing first of May.
Just as she was assuring the company that “she had been wild and
wayward, but she was not wayward now,” a couple entered the room, and
apparently wishing not to disturb the melody, seated themselves on a
sofa in a retired corner which chanced to be nearly opposite to the
recess of which Leicester had taken possession; thus, although the whole
length of the music-room intervened, he could (himself unseen) catch
occasional glimpses of this sofa as the ever-changing groups of loungers
formed and dispersed themselves.

The occupants of the seat were Miss Peyton and De Grandeville; and could
Charles Leicester have overheard the following conversation the passive
annoyance with which he observed the colloquy might have given place to
a more active sentiment.

“Ar--really,” remarked De Grandeville, “that is a very--ar--touching,
pathetic song----”

“Murdered,” observed Miss Peyton, quietly finishing his sentence for
him.

“Ar--eh--yes, of course, I was going to--ar--that is, your exquisite
taste has--ar--in fact--ar--beyond a doubt the woman is committing
murder.”

“Recollect, the ‘woman,’ as you are pleased to call her, is my
particular friend, Mr. De Grandeville,” returned his companion with a
slight degree of hauteur in her tone.

“Ar--yes, of course, that speaks volumes in her favour,” was the
rejoinder; “and although it is not every one who is gifted with
the--ar--talent of vocalisation, yet the estimable qualities which
one seeks in the--ar--endearing relation of friendship may be
found--ar--that is, may exist--ar----”

“What did you think of the champagne at supper?” interrupted Miss Peyton
abruptly.

“Really--ar--’pon my word I did not particularly notice it!
was--ar--so agreeably situated that I could not devote much attention to
the--ar--commissariat department.”

“Surely it was unusually strong,” persisted Laura.

“Ar--yes, of course you are right, it is no doubt owing to its agreeably
exhilarating qualities that it is so universally popular with the fair
sex. Were I--ar--so fortunate as to be--ar--a married man, I should
always have champagne at my table.”

“What a temptation!” returned Miss Peyton, smiling ironically. “Your
wife will be an enviable woman, if you mean to indulge her in such
luxuries.”

“It delights me to hear you say so,” exclaimed De Grandeville eagerly.
“If such is your opinion, I am indeed a fortunate man. I had not
intended,” he continued in a lower tone, “to speak to you at this early
period of our acquaintance on the subject nearest to my heart, but
the--ar--very flattering encouragement----”

“Sir!” exclaimed Miss Peyton in a tone of indignant surprise.

“Which you have deigned to bestow upon me,” continued De Grandeville,
not heeding the interruption, “leads me to unfold my intentions without
further delay. I am now arrived at an age when, in the prime of life,
and with judgment so matured that I consider I may safely act in
obedience to its dictates without the risk of making any great mistake,
it appears to me, and to those of my highly born and influential friends
whom I have consulted on the subject, that I might greatly improve my
general position in society by a judicious matrimonial alliance.
Now, without being in the slightest degree actuated by--ar--anything
approaching to a spirit of boasting, I may venture to say that in the
selection of a partner for life I have a right to look--ar--high. My
family may be traced back beyond the Norman conquest, and the immense
estates in our possession--ar--my cousin Hildebrand holds them
at present--but in the event of anything happening to his
seven--ar--however, I need not now trouble you with such family details,
suffice it to say that we are of ancient descent, enormous landed
proprietors, and that my own position in society is by no means
an unimportant one. Now, although I am aware that by birth you are
scarcely--ar--that is--that the Peyton family cannot trace back their
origin--ar--I have made up my mind to waive that point in consideration
of----”

“Excuse me, sir,” interrupted Miss Peyton. “Doubtless your mature
judgment has led you to discover many, in fact so? _some thousands_ of
good and weighty reasons why you should overlook the humble origin of
the poor Peytons; but there is one point which appears to have escaped
even your sagacity, namely, whether this unworthy descendant of an
ignoble family desires the honour of such an alliance as you propose.
That you may no longer be in doubt on the subject, allow me to thank
you for the sacrifice you propose to make in my favour, and most
unequivocally to decline it.”

No one could be in De Grandeville’s company for ten minutes without
perceiving that on the one subject of his own importance he was more or
less mad; but with this exception he was a clear-headed, quick-sighted
man, used to society and accustomed to deal with the world. Laura
Peyton, in her indignation at the inflated style of the preamble of his
discourse, had committed the indiscretion of refusing his hand before
he had distinctly offered it. De Grande-ville perceived the mistake, and
hastened to avail himself of it by replying--

“Excuse me, Miss Peyton, but you jump rather hastily to conclusions. Had
you heard me to the end you might have learned that there were equally
strong reasons why in my present position I dare not yield to the
impulse of my feelings--for that I greatly admire and respect you
I frankly own. Should these reasons disappear under a change of
circumstances, I shall hope to have the honour of again addressing
you on this subject with a more favourable result. In the meantime,
to assure you that I entertain no unfriendly recollection of this
interview, permit me the honour----”

So saying, ere she was aware of his intention, he raised her hand to
his lips, bowed respectfully, and rising, quitted the apartment. Miss
Peyton, equally surprised and provoked at the turn De Grande-ville had
given to the conversation, remained for a minute or so pondering the
matter, with her eyes fixed on the ground; as she raised them they
encountered those of a gentleman who was passing down the room at the
time. Charles Leicester (for he it was) returned her gaze haughtily,
and as their eyes met a contemptuous smile curled his lip, and bowing
coldly, he passed on without a word. Well might he despise her, for he
had witnessed the parting salute, and not unnaturally deemed her the
affianced bride of Marmaduke De Grandeville. Ere he retired for the
night his servant had received orders to pack up his clothes and to
procure post-horses by eight o’clock on the following morning. Annie
Grant, who, when the latest guests had departed, sought her friend
Laura’s dressing-room to explain to her the old friendship which had
existed between her cousin Charles and Lady Mary Goodwood was equally
surprised and distressed to find her communication received with a
hysterical burst of tears.



CHAPTER XXVI.--SUNSHINE AFTER SHOWERS.

Annie Grant found her friend strangely uncommunicative on the subject
of her fit of weeping; she declared that it was nothing--that she felt
nervous and overtired, but that a good night’s rest was all she required
to set her to rights again; then kissing her affectionately, Laura,
with much caressing, turned her out of the room. As sound sleep was the
specific to which Miss Peyton trusted for the restoration of her health
and spirits, it can scarcely be imagined that, after passing four
restless hours in a vain attempt to obtain the desired boon, she should
have felt particularly refreshed. Weary both in mind and body, she
was aroused from a dreamy, half-sleeping, half-waking, but wholly
uncomfortable state into which she had fallen by the sun shining
brightly into her room. The beauty of the morning, though a thick hoar
frost lay upon the ground, banished all further desire for sleep, and
commencing her toilet, she resolved on a scheme which her
acquaintance with the usual habits of the family led her to conceive
feasible--namely, to possess herself of the third volume of a new novel
in which she was considerably interested, and with that for a companion,
to take a brisk walk in the clear morning air and return ere any of
the party had made their appearance at the breakfast-table. Dressing
hastily, she wrapped herself in a thick shawl and tripped lightly down
the staircase, only encountering in her progress a drowsy housemaid, who
stared at her with lack-lustre eyes, as though she took her for a ghost.
Before she could carry her whole plan into execution, however, it was
necessary that she should visit the library in order to procure the
volume she wished to take with her. Opening the door quickly, she
had proceeded half-way across the room ere she perceived it was not
untenanted. As she paused, uncertain whether or not to proceed, Charles
Leicester--for he it was who, acting on his resolution of the previous
night, was writing a few lines to account for his abrupt departure--rose
from the table at which he had been sitting and advanced towards her.
He was attired for a journey, and his pale features and the dark circles
under his eyes gave token of a sleepless night. There was a restless
energy in his tone and manner, as he addressed her, totally opposed to
his usual listless indifference; and no one could be in his company a
moment without perceiving that (to use a common but forcible expression)
something had come over him--that he was (at all events, for the
present) a changed man.

“You are an early riser, Miss Peyton,” he said. “I did not expect to
have an opportunity of wishing you good-bye in person.”

“I was not aware you intended leaving Broadhurst so soon,” returned
Laura, feeling, she scarcely knew why, exceedingly uncomfortable. “Shall
you return before the party breaks up?”

“No. I shall go abroad directly, and endeavour to procure an attachéship
to one of the embassies; the Turkish, I think: I’ve never seen
Constantinople.”

“Surely you’ve formed this resolution somewhat abruptly,” observed Miss
Peyton. “It was only yesterday you agreed to escort your cousin Annie
and myself to ride over and sketch the ruins of Monkton Priory. I was
thinking this morning, as soon as I saw the sunshine, what a charming
canter we should have.”

“I should be more sorry, Miss Peyton, to be forced to break so agreeable
an engagement, did I not feel certain _you_ will have no difficulty in
supplying my place on the occasion,” returned Leicester, laying a
marked emphasis on the pronoun. “I must now wish you good morning,” he
continued; then bowing coldly, he took up his hat and turned to leave
the room.

Miss Peyton allowed him to reach the door ere she could make up her mind
what course to pursue; then colouring brightly, she exclaimed, “Stay one
moment, Mr. Leicester.” As he paused, and closing the door, which he had
partially opened, turned towards her, she continued, “I will not affect
to misunderstand your allusion, and although the subject is one on which
I should not willingly have entered, I consider it due to myself not to
suffer you to depart under a mistake, into which I should have thought
you knew me too well to have fallen.”

“Mistake!” repeated Leicester eagerly. “Is it possible that I can be
mistaken? Are you not then engaged to Mr. De Grandeville?”

“Most assuredly am I not,” returned Miss Peyton, “nor, unless I very
greatly alter my opinion of that gentleman, shall I ever be so. I did
think Mr. Leicester would have given me credit for better taste than to
have supposed such a thing possible, but I see I was mistaken; and now,”
 she added, “having found the book I came to seek, I must wish you good
morning, and--a pleasant journey to Constantinople.”

“Stay, Miss Peyton,” exclaimed Leicester, for once really excited; “you
have said too much or too little. Pardon me,” he continued, “I will not
detain you five minutes, but speak I must.” Taking her hand, he led her
to a seat, and resumed--

“I am placed in a position equally painful and difficult, but the best
and most straightforward course I can pursue will be to tell you in as
few words as possible the simple truth, and then leave you to decide
upon my fate. The difficulty! have to encounter is this:--You are an
heiress; I, a portionless younger brother, without a profession, and
brought up in expensive and indolent habits. Were I then to tell you
that I love you, and that the dearest wish of my heart is to call you
mine, how can I expect you to think that I am not actuated by mercenary
motives? to believe that I do indeed, deeply, truly love you, with an
intensity of which I scarcely could have believed my nature capable?
When first I sought your society, I frankly own (and if the admission
ruins my cause I cannot help it, for I will not attempt to deceive you)
it was the report of your riches which attracted me. I considered you
lady-like and agreeable, and this being the case, I would willingly have
done as I saw men of my acquaintance do everyday--married for money; but
as I became intimate with you, and discovered the priceless treasures
of your heart and mind, my views and feelings altered. I soon learned
to love you for yourself alone, and then for the first time, when I
perceived that in marrying you I had everything to gain and nothing
to offer in return, I became fully aware of the meanness of the act I
contemplated--in fact I saw the matter in its true light, and felt
that to ask you to become my wife would be an insult rather than a
compliment. Thus, the more I grew to love you, the less I ventured to
show it, till at last, pride coming to my assistance, I resolved to tear
myself away, and quitted Scotland abruptly, intending never to renew our
intimacy, unless some unexpected stroke of fortune should enable me
to do so on more equal terms. My cousin Annie, however, had it seems
guessed my secret, and invited you here without mentioning her intention
to me till you had actually arrived. Had I acted consistently, I should
have left this place a fortnight ago; but I had suffered so much
during my absence, and the delight of again associating with you was so
overpowering, that I had not sufficient strength of will to carry out
my determination; thus I continued day by day yielding myself to the
fascination of your society, learning to love you more and more, and
yet not daring to tell you so, because I felt the impossibility of
proving--even now it seems absurd to say--my disinterestedness; but that
I loved you for yourself alone. Such had been for some days my state of
feeling, when yesterday I was nearly driven distracted by that man, De
Grandeville, actually selecting me as his confidant, and consulting me
of all people in the world as to the advisability of making you an offer
of marriage, hinting that he had reason to believe such a proposal would
be favourably received by you.”

“Insolent!” exclaimed Miss Peyton, raising her eyes for the first time
during Leicester’s address, and looking him full in the face. “So
far from encouraging him, I have never spoken to him save to turn his
pompous speeches into ridicule since I was first introduced to him.”

“So I would fain have taught myself to believe yesterday,” resumed
Leicester; “but the coldness of your manner towards me, and the marked
attention you allowed him to pay you during the evening, tortured me
with doubts, and when, after an animated conversation in the music-room,
I saw him raise your hand to his lips, I imagined he had put his design
into execution, and was an accepted suitor.”

“A rejected one would have been nearer the mark,” murmured Miss Peyton.

“Utterly miserable,” continued Leicester, “at the idea of having
irrevocably lost you--provoked that you should have accepted a man so
completely your inferior in mind, and, indeed, in every particular,
I ordered post-horses before I retired for the night, and but for this
accidental meeting should have been already on my road to London. And
now,” he continued with passionate eagerness, “it is for you to decide
whether my future life is to be happy or miserable. If truth has any
power of revealing itself, you will believe that I love you deeply,
tenderly, for yourself alone; and you will decide whether such an
affection is calculated to ensure your happiness; but if you are unable
to credit my sincerity, only say the word, and I leave you for ever.”

He ceased, and clenching his hands in the excess of his emotion till
the nails appeared to grow into the flesh, stood before her, pale and
agitated, like a criminal awaiting the sentence which shall send him
forth a free man or consign him to a felon’s grave. After watching her
anxiously for a few moments, during which she remained without speaking,
her head averted and her features concealed by her close straw bonnet,
he resumed: “I see it is in vain to wait; your silence tells me that
I have nothing to hope--fool that I was ever to deem it could be
otherwise! Farewell, Laura; may you be as happy as I would have striven
to render you.”

He turned, and his hand was again on the lock of the door, when a low,
sweet voice, every accent of which thrilled through his very soul,
murmured--

“Mr. Leicester--Charles--do not go--you will not leave me?”

And accordingly he did _not_ go, but came back instantly like an
amiable, obedient young man as he was, and received the reward of merit
by learning from the lips of her he loved that she was not only convinced
of the sincerity of the affection he had bestowed on her, but prized
the gift so highly that she felt obliged to return it, which statement
sounded very like a contradiction, but was nothing of the kind.
Then followed a bright, happy half-hour, one of those little bits of
unmitigated sunshine which gleam once or twice in a lifetime to thaw
the ice that tears which have never found vent form more or less thickly
around the heart of each of us; and ere it was over, Laura Peyton stood
pledged to become the wife of Charley Leicester, who dis-ordered the
post-horses and postponed his journey to Constantinople _ad infinitum_.

Several droll little scenes occurred later on that morning between
various members of the party assembled at Broadhurst. In the first
place, Annie Grant, who, completely tired out, and greatly concerned
at the mysterious impediments which obstructed the course of her cousin
Charles’s love affair, had sought her pillow with a firm conviction she
should never close her eyes all night, fell asleep immediately, and woke
soon after nine o’clock on the following morning under the impression
that she had just gone to bed. While she was dressing she resolved in
her anxious mind her cousin’s difficulties, and came to the following
conclusions: first, that for sundry reasons connected with his natural
indolence and a painful sense of his dependent position, Charley would
never “tell his love;” secondly, that Laura, not divining these reasons,
was piqued and hurt at his prolonged silence; and thirdly, that it
behoved her (Annie) to remove these stumbling-blocks by a little
judicious interference. Accordingly, when she had finished her toilet,
and, giving a last parting glance at her pretty face and graceful figure
in the cheval glass in her dressing-room, had thought--well, I don’t
know that we’ve any business to pry into her thoughts, but by the bright
half-smile, half-blush which resulted from the inspection it may be
concluded they were of an agreeable nature. When she had performed this
little unconscious act of homage to her own beauty she tripped off to
her friend’s room, and found that young lady fastening a very dangerous
little bow of ribbon around her neck, with a small turquoise brooch
made in the shape of a true lover’s knot. I wonder why she should have
selected _it_ from some twenty others on that morning in particular?

“Idle girl!” exclaimed Annie, kissing her affectionately, as if idleness
were a highly commendable quality, “idle girl! not dressed at ten
o’clock, and I’ve been ready for the last five minutes.”

“I’m very sorry, dear; but if you knew what pleasant dreams I’ve
enjoyed, you would not wish to have dispelled them,” returned Laura
demurely, though there was a fund of merriment gleaming in her dark eyes
which Annie in her innocence did not perceive. Feeling, however, that
under the circumstances her friend had no business to have been so very
happy, even in her dreams, she answered somewhat pettishly--

“You have been more favoured than I have been. I went to bed cross and
worried, and fretted over all my troubles again in my dreams. Laura
dear,” she continued, “I want to say something to you, if I thought you
would not be angry with me: I wish you--but can’t you guess what I’m
going to say?”

Miss Peyton shook her pretty head, and confirmed the conviction
expressed by De Grandeville, that her family was of modern date, by
repudiating any connection with the race of Odipus. So poor, sensitive
Annie was forced to clothe her meaning in plain and unmistakable words,
which she endeavoured to do by resuming--

“My cousin Charles, dear Laura--you know we were brought up together as
children, and I love him as a brother; he is so kind-hearted and such
a sweet temper; and of course I am aware he makes himself rather
ridiculous sometimes with his indolence and affectation, but he has
been so spoiled and flattered by the set he lives in--it is only
manner--whenever he is really called upon to act, you have no notion
what good sense and right feeling he displays. Dear Laura, I can’t bear
to see him so unhappy!”

At the beginning of this speech Miss Peyton coloured slightly; as it
proceeded her eyes sparkled, and any one less occupied with their own
feelings than was Annie Grant might have observed that tears glistened
in them; but at its conclusion she observed in her usual quiet tone--

“I don’t believe Mr. Leicester is unhappy.”

“Ah! you don’t know him as well as I do,” returned Annie, her cheeks
glowing and her eyes beaming with the interest she took in the subject;
“he was so wretched all yesterday evening; he ate no supper, and sat
moping in corners, as unlike his natural, happy self as possible.”

“Did you hear that he had ordered post-horses at eight o’clock this
morning?” inquired Laura.

“No! you don’t mean it!” exclaimed Annie, clasping her hands in dismay.
“Oh, I hope he is not gone!”

“You may depend upon it he is,” rejoined Miss Peyton, turning to the
glass avowedly to smooth her glossy hair, which did not in the slightest
degree require that process, but in reality to hide a smile. “He must
be on his way to town by this time, _unless_ anything has occurred this
morning to cause him to alter his determination.”

“That is impossible,” returned Annie quickly; then adding in a tone of
the deepest reproach, “Oh, Laura! how could you be so cruel as to let
him go?” she burst into a flood of tears. And Laura, that heartless
young hyæna of fashionable life, that savage specimen of the perfidious
sex of whom a poet sings--

               Woman, though so mild she seem,

                   Will take your heart and tantalise it;

               Were it made of Portland stone,

                   She’d manage to Macadamise it”--

what do you suppose she did on the occasion? Nothing wonderful, and yet
the best thing she could, for she wreathed her soft arms round Annie’s
neck, and kissing away her tears, whispered in a few simple touching
words the secret of her happy love.



CHAPTER XXVII.--BROTHERLY LOVE “À LA MODE.”

Now let us shake the kaleidoscope and take a peep at another
combination of our _dramatis personæ_ at this particular phase of their
destinies. Lord Bellefield is breakfasting in his private sitting-room;
a bright fire blazes on the hearth; close to it has been drawn a sofa,
upon which, wrapped in a dressing-gown of rich brocaded silk, lounges
the tenant of the apartment; a breakfast-table stands by the sofa, on
which are placed an empty coffee cup, a small flask of French brandy,
and a liqueur glass, together with a plate of toast apparently scarcely
touched, a cut-glass saucer containing marmalade, and a cigar-case. His
lordship appears to be by no means in an amiable frame of mind. He
had sat up the previous night some two hours after the ball was over,
playing _Ecarté_ with certain intimates of his own, whom he had caused
to be invited to Broadhurst, during which time he had contrived to
lose between £200 and,£300. Earlier in the past day he had formed a
canvassing engagement with General Grant for eleven o’clock on the
following morning, which had obliged him to rise sooner than was by any
means agreeable to his tastes, or consonant with his usual habits; and
lastly, he expected an important letter, and the post was late. While
he was pondering this agglomerate (to choose a euphonious word) of
small evils, the door opened noiselessly, and Antoine, the French valet,
carrying a well-brushed coat as tenderly as if it had been a baby, stole
on tiptoe across the room. Lord Bellefield, whose head was turned away
from the door, stretched out his hand, exclaiming impatiently, “Well,
where are they?”

“_Milor!_” returned the astonished Frenchman, who in his interest about
the coat had forgotten the letters.

“The letters, fool, where are they?” reiterated his lordship angrily.

“_Mille pardons, Milor_; but ven I did valk myself up zie stair, I
am not avare dat zie lettairs had made zemselves to arrive,” rejoined
Antoine with a self-satisfied smile, as if he had said something clever.

“Did you ask?” returned his master with a frown.

“_Non pas précisément_--I did not exactly demand,” stammered Antoine
with (this time) a deprecatory smile.

Lord Bellefield’s only reply was an oath; then, seeing the man remained,
uncertain what to do, he added--

“Go down again directly, idiot, and don’t return without my letters,
unless----” a menacing gesture of his clenched fist supplied the blank,
and the valet quitted the room, muttering with a shrug as he closed the
door, “_Qu’ils sont barbares, ces Anglais_; but, _parbleu_, like all zie
savage, dey are made of gold--_eh! bien, c’est égal_,--he shall pay me
veil for him.”

Lord Bellefield was not fated to enjoy the blessing of peace that
morning, for scarcely had his servant closed the door ere some one else
tapped at it. “Come in,” shouted the victimised peer, appending a wish
concerning his visitor, of which the most charitable view we can take is
that he was desirous of offering him a warm reception. However this
may be, Charles Leicester (for he it was to whose lot his brother’s
left-handed benediction had fallen) entered the room, his face
reflecting the joy of his heart, and drawing a chair to the opposite
side of the fire-place, seated himself thereupon, and began rubbing
his hands with a degree of energy totally opposed to his usual listless
indifference.

“Is there no other fire in the house that you are necessitated to come
and warm your hands here, Mr. Leicester? I fancied you were aware that
if there is one thing in the world which annoys me more than another,
it is to be intruded on in a morning,” observed his lordship pettishly.
Then, for the first time catching sight of his brother’s face, he
continued, “What on earth are you looking so absurdly happy about?”

“Now, don’t growl this morning, Belle; be a little bit like a brother
for once in your life. I’m come to receive your congratulations,”
 returned Leicester.

“Has your Jewish money-lender turned Christian and burned his books,
like the magicians of old?” inquired Bellefield sarcastically.

“Something almost as wonderful,” replied his brother, “for I live in
good hopes of paying him.”

“Why, you don’t mean to say my father is going to be such a confounded
fool as to pay your debts?” continued Bellefield, springing up in the
excitement of the moment. “I swear I’ll not allow it; he’ll burden the
estates so that when I come into the title I shall be a beggar.”

“Keep yourself cool, my good brother; you might be sure I should never
in my wildest moments dream of asking you to congratulate me on any good
fortune which could by the most remote contingency either affect your
interests or interfere with your ease and comfort,” replied Leicester,
for once provoked to say a cutting thing by his brother’s intense
selfishness.

“Really, Charles, I’m in no humour for foolery or impertinence,” said
Lord Bellefield snappishly. “If there’s anything you wish me to know,
tell it at once; if not, I am expecting important letters, and should be
glad to be alone.”

“What should you say if you heard I was going to be hanged, Belle?”
 asked Charley.

“Wish you joy of your exalted destiny, and think things might have been
worse,” was the answer.

“Apply both the wish and reflection to the present emergency,” returned
Leicester, “for I’m in nearly as sad a case--I’m going to be married.”

“On the principle that what is not enough to keep one can support two,
I suppose!” rejoined Lord Bellefield in a tone of the most bitter
contempt. “Well, I did _not_ think--but I wash my hands of the affair
entirely. Only mind this--the property is strictly entailed, my father
can do nothing without my consent, and if you expect that you’re to be
supported in idleness at our expense----”

“My dear fellow, I expect nothing of the kind,” returned Charley,
caressing his whiskers. “My wife and I mean to set up a cigar divan, and
all we shall look for from you is your custom; we certainly do hope to
make a decent living out of that.”

Lord Bellefield uttered an exclamation expressive of disgust, and then
inquired abruptly--

“Well, who is the woman?”

“She isn’t exactly a woman,” returned Charley meekly; “that is, of
course, speaking literally and in a physiological point of view she is
a woman, but in the language of civilised society she is something more
than a mere woman--for instance, by birth she is a lady. Nature has
bestowed on her that somewhat unusual feminine attribute, a mind, to
which art, through the medium of the various educational sciences,
has added cultivation; then she has the sweetest, most lovable
disposition----

“There! spare me your lovers’ raptures,” returned Lord Bellefield; “of
all stale trash they are the most sickening; and tell me plainly, in
five words, who she _is_, and what she _has_.”

“Laura Peyton--heiress--value unknown,” returned Leicester emphatically
and concisely.

“Miss Peyton!” exclaimed Lord Bellefield in surprise. “My dear Charles,”
 he continued in a more cordial tone than he had yet used, “do you really
mean that you’re engaged to Laura Peyton? Why, she is said to have
between four and five thousand a year in the funds, besides a princely
estate in------shire. Are you in earnest?”

“Never was so much so about anything before in my life,” returned
Leicester. “If I don’t marry Laura Peyton, and that very soon too, I
shall do something so desperate that society had better shut up shop at
once, for it’s safe to be ‘uprooted from its very foundations,’ as the
conservative papers say if a poor devil of a chartist happens to strop
his razor before committing the ‘overt act’ by which he cuts his own
throat.”

“’Pon my word,” exclaimed Lord Bellefield, as he became convinced that
his brother was really in earnest, “ ’pon my word, you’ve played your
cards deucedly well. I declare, if I hadn’t been booked for little Annie
here, I wouldn’t have minded marrying the girl myself. Why, Charley,
you’ll actually become a creditable member of society.”

As he spoke a tap was heard at the door, and Antoine made his
appearance, breathless with the haste in which he had run upstairs.

“_Enfin elles sont arrivées_,” he exclaimed, handing the letters on a
silver waiter; “vhy for _zey vos si tard_, zie postman, he did slip up
on von vot you call--(_ah! q té ils sont difficiles, ces sacrés mots
Anglais_)--slid? _oui! oui!_ he did slip himself up on von slid, and
tumbled into two ditches.”

Lord Bellefield seized the letters eagerly. Signing to the valet to
leave the room, without heeding his lucid explanation of the delay, he
selected one in a particular handwriting, and tearing it open, hastily
perused the first few lines; then rubbing his hands, he exclaimed with
an oath, “By ------! Beppo’s won, and I’m a clear, £12,000 in pocket.
Charley, boy,” he continued, with a sudden impulse of generosity (for no
one is all bad), “how much are your debts?”

“I believe about £2000 would cover them,” returned Leicester.

“Then I’ll clear you, old fellow,” replied Lord Bellefield, clapping him
on the shoulder, “and you shall marry your rich bride a free man.”

“My dear Bellefield, I can’t allow it--you are too kind--I--I really
don’t know how to thank you--I can’t think what’s come to everybody
this morning,” cried poor Charley, as, fairly overpowered by his good
fortune, he seized Lord Bellefield’s hand and wrung it warmly. At that
moment those two men, each warped and hardened differently, as their
dispositions differed, by the world’s evil influence, felt more as
brothers should feel towards each other than they had done since they
played together years ago as little children at their mother’s knee.
With one the kindly feeling thus revived was never again entirely
forgotten; with the other--but we will not anticipate.



CHAPTER XXVIII.--BEGINS ABRUPTLY AND ENDS UNCOMFORTABLY.

“Well, what is it? for I can see by your eyes that you have something
you wish to ask me, Walter,” observed Lewis, as his pupil stood before
him nervously moving his feet and twisting the lash of a dog-whip round
his hands.

“Only Millar wanted--that is, he didn’t want, but he said he would take
me out with him to see him shoot those great pretty birds.”

“Pheasants,” suggested Lewis.

“Yes, to see him shoot pheasants,” continued Walter, “if you would let
me go. Millar says,” he added, seeing that Lewis appeared doubtful,
“Millar says all real gentlemen like shooting, and that I’m quite old
enough to learn.”

One great change wrought in Walter since he had been under Lewis’s
direction--a change from which his tutor augured the most favourable
results--was the almost total disappearance of those fits of morbid
despondency and indifference to external objects, at times almost
amounting to unconscious imbecility, to which he had formerly been
subject; it was therefore a part of Lewis’s system to encourage him
to follow up vigorously any pursuit for which he evinced the slightest
predilection; indeed, so effectual a means did he consider this of
arousing his faculties, that he often sacrificed to it the daily routine
of mechanical teaching. Having, therefore, run over in his mind the pros
and cons, and decided that if he accompanied his pupil no danger could
accrue, he graciously gave his consent, and having encased his feet in
a stout pair of boots, and seen that Walter followed his example,
both master and pupil hastened to the stable-yard to join the worthy
individual with whom the expedition had originated.

Millar, who, as the reader has probably ere this divined, was none other
than General Grant’s head gamekeeper, appeared anxious to be off without
delay, as he had received orders to kill a certain amount of game which
was required for a forthcoming dinner-party. The morning was, as we have
already said, lovely, and Lewis enjoyed the brisk walk through some of
the most wild and picturesque scenery the country afforded with a degree
of zest at which he was himself surprised. The pheasants, however,
not being endowed with such superornithological resignation as certain
water-fowl, who, when required for culinary purposes were invited, as
the nursery rhyme relates, to their own executions by the unalluring
couplet,

               “Dilly dilly dilly ducks, come and be killed!”

appeared singularly unwilling to face death at that particular epoch,
and contrived accordingly by some means or other to render themselves
invisible. In vain did Millar try the choicest spinnies, in vain did
he scramble through impassable hedges, where gaps there were none,
rendering himself a very pin-cushion for thorns; in vain did he creep
along what he was pleased to term dry ditches, till from the
waist downwards he looked more like a geological specimen than a
leather-gaitered and corduroyed Christian; still the obdurate pheasants
refused to stand fire, either present or prospective (gun or kitchen),
and at the end of three hours’ hard walking through the best preserves
the disconsolate gamekeeper had only succeeded in bagging a brace.
At length completely disheartened, he came to anchor on a stile,
and produced a flask of spirits, with the contents of which (after
fruitlessly pressing Lewis and Walter to partake thereof) he proceeded
to regale himself. Finding himself the better for this prescription,
he shouted to a dishevelled individual yclept the beater, who for the
trifling consideration of eighteenpence per diem and a meal of broken
victuals, delivered himself over to the agreeable certainty of being wet
_to_ the skin, and scratched and torn _through_ it, with the by no means
remote contingency of getting accidentally shot into the bargain. The
creature who appeared in answer to this summons, and who in spite of
the uncomfortable description we have given of his occupation, seemed to
enjoy his day’s sport excessively, was too old for a boy and too young
for a man. His face was, of course, scratched and bleeding, and his
elf locks, drenched with the hoar frost, now melted into a species of
half-frozen gelatine, gave him a strange, unearthly appearance. His
clothing, if rags which looked like the cast-off garments of an indigent
scarecrow deserved the name, was so tattered and torn, that the fact of
their hanging upon him at all was calculated to shake one’s faith in the
Newtonian theory of gravitation, till one gained a clue to the mystery
by recollecting the antagonistic principle “attraction of cohesion;”
 the only personal attraction, by the way (save a pair of clear grey eyes
giving a shrewd expression to his face), that our friend possessed.

“Villiam,” began his superior--and here let it be remarked
parenthetically that it was the custom of this excellent gamekeeper
invariably to address his satellite for the time being as “Villiam,”
 utterly disregarding the occasional fact that the sponsors of the youth
had seen fit to call him otherwise--“Villiam,” observed Mr. Millar,
“you’re vet.” This being an incontrovertible certainty, evident to the
meanest capacity, “Villiam” did not feel called upon to reply in words,
merely shaking himself like a Newfoundland dog for the benefit of the
bystanders, and glancing wistfully at the flask. “Yer vet right thro’
yer, Villiam,” resumed his employer dogmatically; “so shove a drop o’
this here down yer throat, and make spurrits and vater of yerself.”

To this proposition “Villiam” replied by stretching out his hand,
grasping the flask eagerly, then tugging at a tangled lock of hair on
his forehead as a salutation to the assembled company, and growling
out in a hoarse, damp voice, “Here’s wushin’ hall yer ’ealths,” he
proceeded to “do his spiriting,” though by no means as “gently” as the
delicate Ariel was accustomed to perform that operation. Having thus
qualified his cold-water system by the introduction of alcohol, the
spirit moved him and he spake.

“Yer ain’t bagged much game, Master, this mornin’, I reckon?”

“Not I,” was the reply; “no man can’t shoot things as ain’t wisibul, yer
know, Villiam. I can’t think vot’s got all the game.”

“They do tell I as pheasands as looks wery like ourn goes to Lunnun in
t’carrier’s cart twice a veek,” observed “Villiam” in a dreamy, absent
kind of manner, as if the remark were totally foreign to the subject
under discussion.

“Ah! that’s vot yer hear, is it, Villiam?” returned Millar carelessly.
“Hif that’s the case, I suppose (for ’tain’t likely they valks there
of themselves) somebody must take ’em?”

“That is right, Master,” was the rejoinder.

“Has it hever cum across yer--take another drop of spurrits, Villiam;
yer vet--has it hever cum across yer who that somebody his?” demanded
Millar in an easy, careless tone of voice.

“His it true as ther General thinks o’ puttin’ hon a second
hunder-keeper?” rejoined “Villiam,” replying, like an Irish echo, by
another question.

“Hi’m avake, Villiam,” returned his patron with an encouraging wink, “it
certingly his possibul hif I vas to tell ther General that I knowed
a quick, hintelligent lad has might be wery useful in _catchin
poarchers_--yer understand, Villiam--sich a thing might cum about.”

“In that case hi’m free to mention that hi see three coves a cummin’
hout o’ Todshole Spinney vith a sack as vosn’t haltogither hempty,
atween three and four o’clock this here blessed mornin’.”

“And vot might yer be a’ doin’ yerself, hout o’ bed at that time o’
night, Villiam?” inquired Millar suspiciously.

“A lying in a dry ditch vith my heyes open,” returned the imp
significantly.

“I sees!” rejoined the keeper reflectively. “Yer didn’t happen
haccidentally to know any o’ they three coves, Villiam, I suppose?”

“Ther von has carried the sack worn’t haltogither unlike long Hardy, the
blacksmith,” was the reply.

The worthy Mr. Millar meditated for some minutes in silence on the
information thus acquired; then rousing himself with a sudden start, he
observed, “Now, Villiam, hif you’ll be so hobliging has to beat along
that ere ’edgerow to the right, ve’ll see hif ve can knock hover
another brace o’ longtails, and ve can talk about Mr. Hardy ven ve have
finished our day’s vork. There’s a precious young limb o’ vickedness,”
 he added, turning to Lewis as the boy got out of earshot, “he’s von hof
’em, bless yer, only he’s turned again ’em with a mercenary view hof
getting a hunder-keeper’s sitivation.”

“In which rascality do you mean to allow him to succeed?” asked Lewis.

“Not by no manner o’ means--halways supposing I can pump him dry
without,” was the prudent reply; and shouldering his doublebarrel the
gamekeeper quitted his perch on the stile and resumed his shooting.

Whether the intelligence he had received had affected his nervous system
(reserving for future discussion the more doubtful question of his
possessing such an aristocratic organisation), or whether in the
excitement of the moment he had allowed himself to imbibe an unusually
liberal allowance of the contents of the spirit-flask, we do not pretend
to decide; but certain it is that he missed consecutively two as fair
shots as ever presented themselves to the gun of a sportsman, and ended
by wounding, without bringing down, a young hen pheasant, despite the
warning cry of “‘ware hen” from the perfidious “Villiam,” then located
in a quagmire.

“Veil, I never did!” exclaimed the unfortunate perpetrator of this the
greatest crime which in a gamekeeper’s opinion a sportsman can commit;
“I ’aven’t done sich a think has that since I wos a boy o’ thirteen
year old, and father quilted me with the dog-whip for it, and sarve
me right, too. This here’s a werry snipey bit, too,” he continued
dejectedly; “but hif I can’t ’it apheasand, hit’s useless to ’old up
my gun hat a snipe.”

“Your ill luck in the morning has made you impatient and spoiled your
shooting,” observed Lewis, wishing good-naturedly to propitiate his
companion.

This speech, however, seemed to produce just a contrary effect, for
Millar answered gruffly, “Perhaps, Mister, you fancies as you can do
better yourself; hif so, you’re velcome to take the gun and try.”

“I’ve no objection,” replied Lewis, smiling at the very evident contempt
in which, as a “Lunnuner,” his companion held him; “I’ll try a shot or
two, if you like.”

“Here you are, then, sir,” was the reply, as the keeper handed him the
gun; “the right barrel’s shotted for pheasands, and the left for snipes;
so look hout, and if yer don’t bag Villiam, or Master Valter here,
hit’ll be a mercy, I expects.”

If the unfortunate Millar hoped to console himself for his own failure
by witnessing a similar _mis_hap on the part of the young tutor, he
was once more doomed to be disappointed; for scarcely had Lewis
taken possession of the gun when a splendid cock-pheasant rose within
distance, though farther off than either of the shots the keeper had
just missed, and, ere its gaudy plumage had well caught the rays of
the sun above the tops of the young plantation, fell to the ground,
quivering in the agonies of death. As the smoke from the discharge
cleared away, a snipe, scared alike by the report of the gun and the
approach of the beater, sprang from a thick clump of alder bushes and
darted away, uttering its peculiar cry.

“No use--hit’s clean out o’ shot,” exclaimed Millar, as Lewis, swift as
thought, again raised the gun to his shoulder. Slightly piqued by the
keeper’s contemptuous manner, he determined not to throw away a chance
of vindicating his skill as a marksman, and though he felt by no means
sure of success, on the “nothing venture nothing have” principle, the
instant he got a clear sight of the bird he blazed away at it. Great
then was his delight to perceive the snipe suddenly tower upwards and
then drop to the ground, as if struck by lightning.

“Vel, if that hain’t a clever shot!” ejaculated Millar, surprised into
admiration in spite of himself; “bless’d if yer ’aven’t tuk the shine
hout of me properly. I thort yer vos a reg’lar green un, but I’m free to
confess I couldn’t ’ave killed that ere bird at that distance ther best
o’ times.”

“Nor have I, it seems,” exclaimed Lewis, as the snipe, which was only
wounded, rose, flew a short distance, and dropped again.

“Hit’s dead this time. I’ll bet a quart,” observed Millar; “hit’ll never
git hup no more, hif ve can honly find it.”

“I think I can,” said Lewis; “I marked the exact spot where it fell.
Walter, do you stay with Millar till I come back. I should not like to
lose it.”

So saying, Lewis, completely carried away by the excitement of the
sport, returned the gun to its owner, and dashing the branches aside,
bounded forward, and was soon hidden amongst the trees, as he forced
his way through the dense underwood towards the spot where he trusted
to find the snipe. With some difficulty, and after much energetic
scrambling, Lewis reached the place where he had seen the bird fall, but
even then it was no such easy matter to find it, nor was it till he had
nearly decided that he must relinquish the search that he discovered his
victim caught in a forked branch, and perfectly dead. Having secured
his prize, the next object was to rejoin his companions, and this
accordingly he endeavoured to accomplish without delay; but since the
days of pious Æneas the task of retracing our steps, the _revocare
gradus_, has been a work of difficulty, more especially if we have
begun by taking a few in a wrong direction, and Lewis’s case proved no
exception to the rule. After one or two wrong turns he became completely
bewildered, and feeling sure that he should never discover his right
course while surrounded by the thick underwood, he struck into the first
path which presented itself, and following its windings, found himself,
almost immediately, close to the hedge which separated that side of the
plantation from a grass-field beyond. As he made his way towards a gap
in this hedge his attention was attracted by the sound of voices, and
on approaching the spot he perceived two persons engaged in earnest
conversation.

They were a man and a girl, the former, who wore the dress of a
gentleman, having his arm round his companion’s waist. The interview
seemed, however, about to terminate, for as Lewis paused, uncertain
whether or not to make himself known to the lovers (for such he
conjectured them to be), the gentleman stooped, imprinted a kiss on the
damsel’s brow, then saying, “Remember, you have promised!” loosed the
bridle of a horse which was fastened to the branch of a tree, sprang
into the saddle, and rode hastily away. Not, however, before Lewis had
recognised the features of Lord Bellefield.

Surprise at this discovery was the first feeling of which Lewis was
conscious, then a sudden desire seized him to ascertain who the girl
could be, and without waiting to reflect on what further course it might
be advisable for him to pursue, he crossed the gap, sprang over the
ditch beyond, and presented himself before her. With a violent start
and a slight scream at this sudden apparition, the girl raised her head,
disclosing to Lewis the intelligent face and earnest eyes of the young
female who had accosted him on the previous evening immediately after
the affair of the glove had taken place. Lewis was the first to speak.

“I have startled you, I fear,” he began. “I quitted my companions to
go in search of a snipe I had just shot, and becoming bewildered in the
wood, have contrived to miss them. Hearing voices in this direction, I
jumped over the hedge, hoping I should find some one who could tell me
how to retrace my steps.”

“Were you in the hazel walk when you left your party, sir?” inquired the
girl in a voice which faltered from various conflicting emotions.

Lewis answered in the affirmative, and she continued--

“Then, if you go straight on till you come to the corner of the field
you will see a gate on your left hand; get over that and follow the road
which leads into the wood, and it will bring you to your friends.”

Lewis thanked her, and then stood a moment, irresolute whether or not
to allude to the parting he had just witnessed. It was no affair of his,
and yet could he answer it to his conscience not to warn her against
the designs which, he did not doubt, Lord Bellefield entertained against
her?

“Do not think me interfering without reason,” he observed, “but I was an
involuntary witness to your parting with that gentleman, and I wish to
ask you if you are acquainted with his name and position?”

The girl cast down her eyes, and after a pause, murmured that she knew
he was very rich.

“And his name?” urged Lewis.

“Mr. Leicester, brother to the young Lord,” she believed.

“He has told you that, has he?” returned Lewis sternly; “and did it not
occur to you to inquire of the servants last night whether your wealthy
admirer had revealed to you his real name?”

“No; she had never doubted that he had done so,” making game of a
fellow.

“And perhaps were unwilling to call attention to your connection with
him by making the inquiry?” resumed Lewis.

A bright blush proved that he had hit upon the truth; but the probing
nature of his questions roused the girl’s spirit, and raising her eyes,
she looked him full in the face as she in her turn inquired--“And pray,
sir, who are you? and what right have you to question me in this way?”

“My name is Lewis Arundel; I reside at Broadhurst, as tutor to Sir
Walter Desborough,” was the reply; “and my right to ask you these
questions is the right every man possesses to do his best to counteract
the designs of a heartless libertine; for such I take your friend to
be, and now I will give you my reasons for thinking him so. In the first
place, he has not told you his true name: he is not Lord Bellefield’s
brother, as he pretends, but Lord Bellefield himself; and in the second
place, at the very moment when he is making professions of affection
here to you, he is engaged to be married to his cousin, the daughter of
General Grant.”

“It is not true, you hate him,” exclaimed the girl with flashing
eyes. “You quarrelled with him last night, and now you seek to revenge
yourself by sowing dissension between him and me, but you shall not
succeed. I see through your meanness, and despise you for it.”

“Girl, you are infatuated,” returned Lewis angrily, “and must reap the
fruits of your obstinate folly. I spoke only for your good, and told you
the simple truth. If you choose to disbelieve me, the sin will lie at
your door, and not mine.”

As he spoke he turned and left her. By the time he reached the gate into
the wood his conscience began to reproach him for having been too hasty.
He looked back to see if the girl were still there; she had not moved
from the spot where he had quitted her, but stood motionless, apparently
buried in the deepest thought. Suddenly observing that his eyes were
directed towards her, she started, and drawing her shawl closer around
her, hurried away in an opposite direction. Lewis watched her retreating
figure till it became no longer visible; then getting over the gate, he
walked leisurely along the turfed road to rejoin his companions. He
was no coward, far from it; but had he known that at that moment a
gun-barrel covered him, levelled by the stalwart arm and keen eye of one
before whose unerring aim by the broad light of day, or beneath the
cold rays of the moon, hare, pheasant, or partridge fell like leaves in
autumn--one who, hiding from the gaze of men, had witnessed his parting
from the girl not five minutes since,--had he known the deep interest
felt for her by this person, and how, his suspicions being aroused, he
had watched day after day to discover the features of her clandestine
suitor, but had never succeeded, till, creeping through the bushes, he
had accidentally come up at the moment when Lewis, having spoken eagerly
to her, turned and left the spot,--had he known the struggle between the
good and evil principle in that man’s heart, a struggle on the result
of which depended life or death,--had he known all this, Lewis Arundel,
though a brave man, would scarcely have paced that greenwood alley with
a pulse so calm, a brow so unruffled and serene.

[Illustration: 0204]



CHAPTER XXIX.--DE GRANDEVILLE MEETS HIS MATCH.

UNPLEASANT as was the situation in which Lewis was left at the end
of the last chapter, we can scarcely imagine that any of our readers,
however they may be accustomed to look on the “night side of nature,”
 can have coolly made up their minds to the worst, and settled to their
own dissatisfaction that he fell a victim to the poacher’s gun. We say
we cannot imagine such a possibility; not because we have any very deep
reliance on the tender-heartedness of all our fellow-creatures, seeing
that this tale may fall into the hands of a poor-law guardian or a
political economist; that a butcher may read it fresh from the shambles,
or a barrister after defending some confessed murderer. But we feel
certain, butcher or barrister, law-giver or guardian must alike perceive
that, as we are writing the life and adventures of Lewis Arundel, we
cannot commit manslaughter without adding thereunto suicide; or, to
speak plainly, we cannot kill Lewis without docking our own tale;
therefore, the utmost extent for which our most truculent reader can
possibly hope must be a severe gun-shot wound, entailing a lingering
illness and a shattered constitution. But even these pleasant and
reasonable expectations are doomed to meet with disappointment, the fact
being that almost at the moment in which “long Hardy” (for he it was)
levelled his gun at Lewis’s retreating figure, his quick ear had caught
a sound betokening the advance of some person through the bushes in
his immediate vicinity; and neither wishing to encounter any of the
gamekeeper’s satellites, nor considering the deed he had meditated
exactly calculated to be performed before any, even the most select
audience, the poacher slowly recovered his gun and proceeded to convey
himself away, after a singular snake-like fashion of his own, reserving
to himself the right of shooting his supposed enemy at some more
convenient season. In the meantime Lewis walked quietly on, unconscious
of the danger he had escaped, until a turn in the road brought him in
sight of his companions. During the course of their homeward walk Lewis
questioned the gamekeeper as to his intentions concerning the poachers
to whose proceedings he had that morning gained a clue.

“Veil, yer see, Mr. Arundel,” returned Millar, in whose estimation Lewis
had risen fifty per cent, since his clever shot at the snipe, “yer see,
it ain’t ther fust time as this chap Hardy has give us a good deal o’
trouble: we catched him a poarchin’ about three year ago, and he wor
in ---------- gaol for six months at a stretch. Veil, ven he cum out,
he tuk to bad courses altogether--jined ther chartists, them chaps as
preaches equalerty, ’cos, being at the wery bottom of ther ladder
therselves, equalerty would pull them hup and their betters down;
vunce let ’em get to ther middle round, and they’d soon give
up equalerty--hit would be the ‘haristogracy of talent,’ or ther
‘shu-premacy of physic-all force’ (vich means, adwisability of pitching
into somebody else) vith ’em then. I hates such cant as I hates
varmint, so I do.”

Having delivered himself of this opinion with much emphasis, the keeper
proceeded to relieve his mind by flogging an inoffensive dog for an
imaginary offence ere he continued--

“Veil, arter he jined the chartists he vent to Lunnun as a Delicate, as
they calls ’em; and has they found him in wittles and drink, lodgin’
and hother parquisites, in course he worn’t in no hurry to cum back;
howsomdever, I suppose at last they diskivered what I could a told ’em
at furst--that he wasn’t worth his keep; and so they packed him off home
agen. I ’spected vhen I heard he vas arrived vot he’d be hup to. He
calls hisself a blacksmith, but he drives more shots into ’ares and
pheasands than nails into ’orses’ ’oofs, _you_ may depend.”

“And how do you propose to put a stop to his depredations?” inquired
Lewis.

“Vy, I should like to catch him in the wery act--nab him vith the game
upon him,” returned the keeper meditatively; “then ve could get him
another six months. But he’s precious sly, and uncommon swift of
foot too, though he ain’t fur hoff my age, vich shall never see
five-and-forty no more.”

“I wish, Millar,” said Lewis, after a moment’s consideration, “I wish
that whenever you receive information which you think likely to lead to
this man’s capture, you’d send me word; there’s nothing I should like
better than to lend you a hand in taking him. I might be useful to you,
for I am considered a fast runner.”

“And suppose it comes to blows? Them poarching chaps is rough customers
to handle sometimes,” rejoined Millar, with a cunning twinkle in his
eye, as if he expected this information would alter his companion’s
intentions.

“So much the more exciting,” returned Lewis eagerly; “an affray with
poachers would be a real treat after such a life of inaction as I’ve
been leading lately.”

As he spoke--throwing off for a moment the cold reserve which had now
become habitual to him--his eyes flashed, he drew himself up to his full
height, and flung back his graceful head with an air of proud defiance.
The gamekeeper regarded him fixedly, and mentally compared him with,
not the fighting gladiator, for Millar’s unclassical education had never
rendered him acquainted with that illustrious statue, but he had
once been present at a prize-fight, in which a tall, athletic youth,
rejoicing in the ornithological sobriquet of “the spicy Dabchick,”
 proved victor, and to that dabchick did he assimilate Lewis. At length
his thoughts found vent in the following ejaculation--

“Veil, Mr. Arundel, hif ther’s many more like you hup there, that
blessed Lunnun can’t be as bad a place as I thought it.”

Lewis smiled. Perhaps (for, after all, he was human and under
twenty-one) the evident admiration which had replaced the no less
evident contempt with which the sturdy gamekeeper had regarded him
earlier in their acquaintance was not without its charm; at all events,
when, after another hour’s shooting, Millar went home to dinner, and
Lewis and Walter returned to Broadhurst, the young tutor diminished his
income to the extent of half-a-crown, and the keeper, as he pocketed
the “tip,” renewed his assurance that he would send Mr. Arundel timely
notice “vhenever there vas a chance of being down upon that poarching
willain, Hardy.”

Charley Leicester, as he did not start for Constantinople, found himself
at liberty to escort Laura Peyton and his cousin Annie to view the ruins
of Monkton Priory, which in themselves were quite worth the trouble of
a ride; had they, however, been even a less interesting combination
of bricks and mortar than the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square
(supposing such a thing possible), it would not have signified to the
party who then visited them. Never were three individuals less inclined
to be critical, or more thoroughly determined to be pleased with
everything. The old grey ruins, frowning beneath the clear wintry sky,
appeared the colour of strawberry ice to them; every object reflected
the rose-tint of their happiness. As for Charley, a change had come o’er
him. The indolent, fastidious man of fashion, whose spotless gloves and
irreproachable boots were the envy and admiration of Bond Street, had
disappeared, and in his place arose an honest, genuine, light-hearted,
agreeable, sensible being, to whom nothing seemed to come amiss, and
who appeared endowed with a preternatural power of diffusing his own
superabundant happiness amongst all who came in contact with him. The
girth of his saddle broke; they had no groom with them. “Grooms were
such a bore, he would be groom,” Charley had said; consequently there
were no means at hand by which the injury could be repaired.

“Well, never mind; he would get some string at the first cottage and tie
it up; he was rather glad it had happened, riding without a girth was
great fun.”

But Laura’s horse stumbled, and Charley, forgetting his precarious seat,
dashed in the spurs, intending to spring forward to her assistance. The
horse _did_ spring forward, but the saddle turned round. Mr. Leicester
was, however, fated that day to fall on his legs, literally as well as
metaphorically, and beyond being splashed up to his knees by alighting
on a spot where the sun had thawed the ice into a puddle, he sustained
no further injury. Laura was frightened; he must not mount again till he
had been able to get the girth mended.

“Very well,” returned Charley; “he would lead the horse then; it was
pleasanter to walk than to ride such a cold day as that; he liked it
particularly.”

So he marched sturdily through mud and mire, leading his own horse and
resting his hand on the mane of the animal ridden by Laura, for the
space of some five miles, laughing and talking all the time so agreeably
that the young lady came to the conclusion that she had never properly
appreciated his powers of conversation till that moment. Altogether,
despite the broken girth and the mud and the cold, to say nothing of a
slight snowstorm which overtook them ere they reached home, each member
of that little party felt mentally convinced that they had never before
enjoyed a ride so much in all their lives.

“Arundel, where are you?” exclaimed Leicester, putting his head into the
study as he passed the door on his way to his apartment. “Can you spare
me five minutes’ conversation?” he continued, as Lewis, closing a book,
rose to receive him.

“Certainly,” was the reply; “pray come in.”

“I’ve been wishing to see you all day,” resumed Leicester, carefully
shutting the door and glancing round the room. “Where is your charge?”

“He is with the General,” was the reply. “He likes to have him for
half-an-hour every day before he goes to dress; he talks to him, and
tries to instil into his mind correct notions regarding things in
general, and his own future social position in particular. Walter sits
still and listens, but I’m afraid he does not understand much about it.”

“No great loss either, I’ve a notion,” returned Charley irreverently. He
paused, whistled a few bars of “Son Geloso,” entangled his spur in the
hearthrug, extricated it with much difficulty, then turning abruptly to
Lewis, he exclaimed, “Arundel, I’m no hand at making fine speeches, but
recollect if ever you want a friend I owe you more than I can possibly
repay you. Not that this is such a very uncommon relation for me to
stand in towards people,” he added with a smile.

“Nay,” returned Lewis, “you are reversing our positions: I am your
debtor for my introduction to this family, and for an amount of kindness
and consideration which you must be placed, like myself, in a dependent
situation fully to appreciate. But,” he added, glancing at his friend’s
happy face, “I hope you have some good new’s to tell me?”

“You are right in your conjecture,” replied Leicester, “but it is mainly
owing to your straightforward and sensible advice that I have gained the
prize I strove for. I was within an ace of losing it, though;” and he
then gave a hasty outline of his day’s adventures, with which the reader
has been already made acquainted.

Lewis congratulated him warmly on his good fortune. “You see I was
right when I told you Miss Peyton was not so indifferent to you as you
imagined,” he said, “and that she liked you, not because you were a man
of fashion, the admired of all admirers, but because she had sufficient
penetration to discover that you were something more--that you possessed
higher and better qualities, and were not----”

“Go on, my dear Arundel,” urged Leicester as Lewis paused, “go on. I
like plain speaking when it comes from a friendly mouth.”

“The mere butterfly you strove to appear, I was going to say,” resumed
Lewis; “but you will think me strangely impertinent.”

“Not at all,” returned Leicester, “it’s the truth; I can see it plainly
now. I’ve taken as much trouble to make myself appear a fool as other
men do to gain a reputation for wisdom. Well, it’s never too late to
mend. I shall turn over a new leaf from this time forth, give up dress,
restrict myself to one cigar a day, moderate my affection for pale ale,
invest capital in worsted gloves and a cotton umbrella, and become a
regular business character.” He paused, and drawing a chair to the fire,
seated himself, and stretching out his legs, subjected his boots, which
bore unmistakable traces of his pedestrian episode, to the influence of
the blazing wood. Having thus made himself comfortable, he fell into a
fit of musing which lasted till, after gazing vacantly at his
extended legs for some moments, his features suddenly assumed an eager
expression, and he exclaimed, “Confound those blockheads, Schneider &
Shears: I suppose if I’ve told them once I’ve told them fifty times to
give more room in the leg for riding-trousers. A horse’s back is a wide
thing, and of course when you stretch your legs across it you require
the trousers to fit sufficiently loosely to accommodate themselves to
the position; they need not set like a couple of hop sacks either; the
thing’s simple enough. I know if I’d a pair of scissors I could cut them
out myself.”

Glancing at Lewis as he spoke, Leicester perceived that he was
struggling, not over successfully, to preserve his gravity, and the
absurdity of the thing striking him for the first time, he indulged in
a hearty laugh at his own expense ere he added, “Heigh-ho! it’s not so
easy to get rid of old habits as one imagines. I see it will take me
longer to unpuppyise myself than I was aware of. Seriously, however,
I don’t mean to continue a mere idler, living on my wife’s fortune. My
father has interest with Government, and I shall ask him to push it
and obtain for me some creditable appointment or other. He will have no
difficulty; the Hon. Charles Leicester, husband to the rich Miss
Peyton, will possess much stronger claims upon his country than Charley
Leicester the portionless younger son. In this age of humbug it is easy
enough to get a thing if you don’t care whether you have it or not; but
if you chance to be some poor wretch, to whom the obtaining it is life
or death, ten to one but you are done out of it. Poverty is the only
unpardonable sin in these days; the worship of the golden calf is a
species of idolatry to which Christians are prone as well as Jews.
It’s rare to find a sceptic as to that religion, even amongst the most
inveterate unbelievers.”

Lewis, to whom Leicester in his self-engrossment had not perceived that
his remarks would apply, bit his lip and coloured; then wishing to save
his companion the mortification of discovering that he had accidentally
wounded his feelings, he hastened to change the conversation by
observing--

“How will the magnanimous Marmaduke bear the news of your success?”

“Oh! to be sure, I was going to tell you about him when something put
it out of my head,” returned Leicester. “The great De Grandeville was
greater than ever on the subject--it was such fun. He came up to me
after breakfast this morning, and catching hold of my button, began:
‘Ar--Mr. Leicester--excuse--ar--won’t detain you five minutes,
but--ar--you see in regard to--ar--the matter we conversed on yesterday,
when you were good enough to give me the benefit of your opinion
concerning a certain proposed alliance, if I may call your attention
once more to the subject; you will perceive that--ar--the affair has
assumed a very different aspect--ar--indeed so completely different that
I feel confident you will agree with me in considering the--ar--in fact
the arrangement no longer desirable.’

“I told him I was quite prepared to think as he did on this point, and
begged to know in what the mysterious impediment consisted. ‘Well,
sir--ar--I don’t say it--ar--by way of a boast--ar--such things are
quite out of my line, but you must have yourself perceived the
very marked encouragement which my advances met with yesterday
evening--ar--in fact the game was--ar--in my own hands!’ I succeeded
in repressing a strong desire to kick him, and he continued with bland
dignity: ‘Ar--finding that this was the case, I felt that, as a man of
honour, I was bound--ar--to make up my mind definitely as to my future
course, and had--ar--all but resolved to acquaint the young lady with
the brilliant, that is--ar--in many points unexceptionable position
which awaited her, when fortunately--I might say providentially--it
occurred to me to open a letter I had that evening received from my
friend in the Herald’s College. Imagine my horror to learn that
her actual father, the immediately previous Peyton himself,
had--ar--_horresco referais_, as Pliny has it-- ’pon my word it quite
upset me!’

“‘This dreadful Papa, had he murdered somebody?’ inquired I.

“‘No, sir,’ was the answer; ‘Lord Ferrers and other men with
unexceptionable pedigrees have committed that crime. There is
nothing necessarily vulgar about murder; the case was far worse. This
intolerable proximate ancestor, who has not rested in his dishonoured
grave above half-a-dozen years, was not only guilty of belonging to an
intensely respectable firm in Liverpool, but had actually been insane
enough to allow his name to be entered as sleeping partner in a large
retail house on Ludgate Hill! Fancy a De Grandeville marrying the
daughter of ‘Plumpstern & Peyton’, dealers in cotton goods!”--’pon
my word, sir, it took away my breath to think of the narrow escape I’d
had!’ ‘And the young lady?’ inquired I.

“‘Ar--of course it will be--ar--disappointment, as I’ve no doubt she
considered--ar--that she’d made her book cleverly and stood to win, as
the betting men say; but--ar--she soon had tact enough to perceive that
the grapes were sour--ar--took that tone immediately,--clever girl,
sir, very--ar--I shouldn’t wonder if she were to give out that she had
discouraged my attentions--ar--in fact, virtually refused me--ar--I
shall not contradict her, I owe her that--ar--with the exception
of yourself, Mr. Leicester, her secret will be perfectly safe in my
keeping.’ It was now my turn; so drawing myself up as stiffly as
old Grant himself, I said, ‘Confidence begets confidence, Mr. De
Grandeville; so in return for your candour allow me to inform you that
Miss Peyton, doubtless driven to despair by your desertion, has done me
the honour to accept me as your substitute! One word more,’ I continued,
as, completely taken aback, he flushed crimson and began stammering out
apologetical ejaculations, ‘I have listened in silence to your account
of the transaction. I confess I have my own opinion about the matter,
but should you adhere to your intention of preserving a strict secrecy
in regard to the affair, I shall do so likewise; if not, I may feel
called on to publish a somewhat different version of these love
passages--one which will scarcely prove so agreeable to your
self-esteem; unless, indeed,’ I added, seeing that he was about to
bluster, ‘you prefer settling the business in a shorter way; in which
case I shall be quite at your service.’ So saying I raised my hat,
bowed, and turning on my heel, left him to his meditations.”

“Which must have been of a singularly unsatisfactory nature, I should
imagine,” returned Lewis, laughing. “But there is no chance of your
fighting, I hope?”

“Not the slightest, I expect,” replied Leicester. “De Grandeville, to do
him justice, is no coward, but he will have sense enough to see that
he can gain no _éclât_ by giving the affair publicity, and will remain
quiet for his own sake. Luckily, I’m not of a quarrelsome temperament,
or I should have horse-whipped him, or at least tried at it, when he was
talking about Laura.”

“It was a temptation which in your place I could not have resisted,”
 rejoined Lewis.

“Ah, it’s easy to be magnanimous when one is happy,” returned Leicester;
“besides, I really was rather sorry for the poor devil, for, as I
dare say you’ve guessed long ago, it is clear Laura refused him last
night--in fact she as good as told me so.”

“Perhaps it may benefit him,” remarked Lewis. “His vanity was too
plethoric, and a little judicious lowering may conduce to the general
health of his moral system.”

“I’m afraid it’s a case of too long standing,” replied Leicester. “Such
a lamentable instance of egotism on the brain is not so easily to be
cured; however, he’s had a pretty strong dose this time, I must confess.
And now, seeing that my boots have been wet through for the last three
hours, the sooner I get rid of them the better.” So saying, Charley
Leicester took himself off, preparatory to performing the same operation
on his perfidious boots.



CHAPTER XXX.--THE GENERAL TAKES THE FIELD.

The interview which Lewis had witnessed between Lord Bellefield and
the girl dwelt in his thoughts, and was a source of much doubt and
uneasiness to him. The quiet, secluded life he had led for the last year
affording ample time for meditation--the almost total want of society
(for poor Walter was no companion)--the peculiar position in which he
was placed, shut out from all the pleasures and excitements natural
to his age and taste--had given an unusually reflective turn to his
vigorous mind, and produced in him a gravity and depth of character,
to which, under different circumstances, he might never have attained.
Thus, in the views he took of life, he was accustomed to look beyond
the surface, and deeming it unworthy of a believer in the truths of
Christianity to attribute events to the mere caprice of a blind destiny,
was rather disposed to trace in such occurrences the finger of a
directing Providence, and to consider them as opportunities purposely
thrown in our way, for the use or abuse of which we should one day be
called to account, as for every talent committed to our charge. Holding
these opinions, he could not be content to sit down quietly with the
knowledge of which he had become possessed without making some effort
to prevent Lord Bellefield from successfully accomplishing the evil he
could not doubt he meditated. But what then should he do? The question
was not an easy one to answer. The most natural and effectual means to
employ would be to inform General Grant of the affair; he was the person
likely (as the father of his future bride) to possess most influence
over Lord Belle-field, while as possessor of the estate on which they
resided he was certain to meet with respect and obedience from the
parents of the girl. But besides the dislike every honourable man feels
to undertake the office of tale-bearer, Lewis’s chivalrous nature shrank
from even the appearance of seeking to wreak his revenge on the man
who had insulted him, by injuring him in the opinion of his future
father-in-law. Again, were he to find out the girl and expostulate with
her, he felt certain he should produce no good effect--the fact of her
being aware of the terms on which he stood with her admirer would render
her suspicious of his intentions, and prevent her from paying any regard
to his arguments. At last it occurred to him to mention the thing to
Charles Leicester, and persuade him, if possible, to visit the girl, and
at all events to make her aware of the deceit which had been practised
upon her by his brother in assuming his name. Accordingly, he determined
to seek an early opportunity of speaking to Leicester on the subject;
but good resolutions are always more easy to form than to carry into
effect. On the following morning Leicester went to town, as well to
acquaint his father with the important step he contemplated as to bear
in person an invitation to an old family friend and _ci-devant_ guardian
of Laura Peyton’s to join the party at Broadhurst; nor did he return
till after several days had elapsed, so that it was nearly a week ere
Lewis found the opportunity he sought for.

There had been a dinner-party at Broadhurst, and, as was the custom
of the neighbourhood, the guests had departed early. Lewis waited till
Leicester had disposed of a lady whom he was handing to a carriage, then
drawing him aside, he made him acquainted with the interview which
he had involuntarily witnessed, informing him at the same time of his
object in so doing. As he proceeded with his tale Leicester’s brow grew
dark.

“It is really too bad of Bellefield,” he muttered, “situated as he is
in regard to this family; it shows a want of all proper feeling--all
delicacy of mind--assuming my name, too! Suppose it had come to Laura’s
ears by any chance--’pon my word I’ve a great mind to speak to
him about it--though, I don’t know, it would only lead to a
quarrel--Bellefield is not a man to brook interference. I feel quite as
you do in regard to the affair, my dear Arundel, but really I don’t see
that I can do anything that would be of the slightest use.”

“Surely you can find out the girl and prove to her the truth of my
statement, that your brother has deceived her by assuming your name--you
owe that to yourself.”

“She would be certain to tell him of it the next time she sees him,”
 returned Leicester uneasily; “it would lead to a quarrel between us,
and you don’t know what Bellefield’s resentment is when it’s once
excited--it’s actually terrific, and that’s the truth.”

“But for your cousin, Miss Grant’s sake, you ought not to let your
brother proceed with this affair,” urged Lewis; “surely you must see the
matter in this light?”

“Ah! poor Annie,” returned Leicester with a half sigh; “I sometimes wish
that engagement had never been entered into. I doubt whether they are at
all calculated to render each other happy. In fact, I’ve learned to
look upon marriage in a very different light lately. However, it’s no
business of mine; wiser heads will have to settle it, luckily----” He
paused, and after a few moments’ deliberation resumed abruptly, “I’ll
do as you advise, Arundel. I’ll see this girl and talk to her, and if
Bellefield hears of it and makes himself disagreeable, why it can’t be
helped, that’s all. He should not attempt such things, particularly in
this neighbourhood. He ought to have more respect for the General and
his daughter; it shows a want of good taste and good feeling.
Besides, as well as I can judge from the glimpse I had of her in the
refreshment-room, the girl’s not so unusually pretty, after all. She’d
an awful pair of hands, if I recollect right.”

A contemptuous smile passed across Lewis’s handsome features as his
companion promulgated the above original moral distinction. Leicester,
however, did not observe it, and continued--

“Just fancy my coming out in the character of a virtuous mentor. I only
hope I shall get through my arduous duties without laughing at my own
performance. ’Pon my word, though, it’s rather serious when a man
feels inclined to scoff at himself for doing his duty from the sheer
inconsistency of the thing. I tell you what, Arundel, I believe I’ve
been a very naughty boy without in the least knowing it. I’ve
always considered myself the victim of circumstances, and set all my
peccadilloes down to that account; but I don’t see why I need bother you
by making you my father confessor.”

Lewis, considering the train of thought into which Leicester had fallen,
one likely to lead to useful, practical results, was about to encourage
him to proceed, when a servant approached them and placed a small,
crumpled, and not over clean piece of paper in Lewis’s hand. Holding it
under the light of a lamp, he was enabled with difficulty to decipher
the following words:--

“To Muster Arundel.--Sur, the party as you knows of is hout to-night,
and more of his sort along vith him. Ve are safe for a shindy; but
being quite ready for ther blackguards, lives in good ’opes hof a
capture--hin which hif you likes to assist, not minding a crack o’ ther
head, should sich occur, which will sometimes in ther best regerlated
famurlies, pleas to follur ther bearer, as will conduct you to your
humbel servaunt to commarnd,

“J. Millar.”

“That’s glorious!” exclaimed Lewis, placing the missive in the hands of
his companion. “I never did catch a poacher in my life, but I’ve often
wished to do so; the whole scene must be so picturesque and unlike
anything one has ever met with--the darkness, the excitement--but you
are laughing at my eagerness. Well, I confess to a love of adventure
for its own sake; if I’d lived in the middle ages I should have been a
knight-errant, that’s certain. I suppose it’s no use asking you to join
us? There’s metal more attractive in the drawing-room, _n’est-ce pas?_”

“Why,” returned Charley, arranging his neckcloth by aid of a glass
placed in the cloak-room for the benefit of the ladies who wished to
wrap up becomingly, “really I must own I prefer Laura’s smiles even
to the delights of a possible _rencontre_ with your friend, Mr.
What’s-his-name, the poacher.”

“Hardy is the fellow’s name,” replied Lewis. “He is a chartist and all
sorts of horrors, so that I don’t feel the smallest degree of sympathy
for him. Do you know where the General is to be found? I suppose, as I
may be very late, or even obliged to sleep at Millar’s cottage, I must
ask his sanction ere I start on my expedition.”

“I think you’d better,” returned Leicester; “he’s in the library. I
saw him go there after he had seen Lady Runnymede to her carriage; so
good-night. I shall be curious to learn in the morning whose brains have
been knocked out.” And with this agreeably suggestive remark Leicester
ended the conversation and strolled off to the drawing-room.

Lewis proceeded at once to the library, where he found not only General
Grant, but, to his extreme annoyance, Lord Bellefield also; there was,
however, no help for it, and he accordingly explained his wishes as
briefly as possible. The General heard him to the end without speaking.
His first idea was that such a request was strange and unbecoming the
peaceful gravity that should environ the office of a tutor, and he
intended to favour him with a dignified refusal; but as Lewis proceeded,
his eager tones and sparkling eyes recalled to the old officer the days
of his youth when the spirit of enterprise was strong within him, and in
the wild bivouac, the dashing assault, the hand-to-hand struggle “i’
the imminent deadly breach,” and the many exciting vicissitudes of a
campaigning life, he had found a degree of pleasure which his age knew
not, and he was fain to accord a gracious assent.

“Your father was a soldier, Mr. Arundel, I think you told me?”

Lewis replied in the affirmative, mentioning some engagement in which he
had particularly distinguished himself The General listened to him with
complacency, then exclaimed--

“That’s it, sir, that’s it! I confess when I first heard your request,
I considered it unnatural, in fact, unbecoming in a civilian, but in a
soldier’s son it assumes an entirely different character. I like to
see spirit in a young man.” (Here he glanced at Lord Bellefield, who,
apparently engrossed by a legal document which he was perusing, seemed
unconscious of Lewis’s presence.) “It’s a pity your father! was unable
to afford you a commission: there’s been some very pretty fighting in
India lately, and you might have distinguished yourself.” He paused,
then added, “I know most of the agricultural labourers about here; did
Millar tell you any of these poachers’ names?”

“Hardy, a blacksmith, was the most notorious character,” returned Lewis.

As he mentioned the name Lord Bellefield started so violently that he
nearly overturned the lamp by which he was reading. Seeing the General’s
eyes fixed on him inquiringly, he rose, and putting his hand to his
side, drew a deep breath as he exclaimed--

“One of those sharp stitches, as they call them--nothing worse. You know
I am subject to them; it’s want of exercise producing indigestion. I
tell you what,” he continued, “I’ve rather a curiosity to witness
Mr. Arundel’s prowess, and see what sport this poacher will afford.
Man-hunting, in the literal _feræ naturæ_ sense of the term, will be a
new excitement.”

“We’ll all go,” exclaimed the General, springing up with the alertness
of a young man. “If these rascals choose to trespass on my land and
destroy my property, who so fit to resist them and bring them to justice
as myself? I’ll make the necessary alterations in my dress, and we’ll
start immediately.”

Lord Bellefield urged the lateness of the hour, the cold night air, the
chance of danger to life or limb--but in vain; General Grant had taken
the crotchet into his head, and he was not the man to be easily induced
to change his mind. Accordingly Lewis found himself suddenly associated
with two as strange companions as ever a man was embarrassed withal.
Still there was no help for it; and inwardly pondering what possible
reason Lord Bellefield could have for joining the expedition, and why
he had started at the mention of Hardy’s name, Lewis hastened to wrap
himself in a rough pea-jacket, and selected a heavy knotted stick,
wherewith he proposed to knock respect for the rights of property into
the head of any misguided individual who might be deaf to all milder
argument. As he returned to the hall the General made his appearance,
carrying under his arm a cavalry sabre; his bearing was even more stiff
and erect than usual, and his eye flashed with all the fire of youth.

“Early on parade, I see, Mr. Arundel,” he said, with something more
nearly approaching to a smile on his countenance than Lewis had ever
previously observed there. “We’ll read those poaching rascals a lesson
they will not easily forget, sir.”

As he spoke a light footstep was heard approaching, and in another
moment Annie Grant bounded down the staircase, her glossy curls
streaming wildly over her shoulders, and her cheeks flushed with the
speed at which she had come.

“My dear papa!” she began, then turning pale as her eye fell upon the
sword, she continued: “Oh! it is really true! I hoped they were only
deceiving me in jest. Dearest papa, you will be good and kind, and not
go out after these men? Suppose any accident should occur? think how
valuable your life is--papa, you will not go?”

“Annie, I thought you were perfectly aware of my extreme dislike to, or
I may say disapproval of all uncalled-for displays of feeling. I
am about to perform a duty incumbent on my position, and I need scarcely
add that any attempt to induce me to neglect that duty will not only
prove ineffectual, but will be highly displeasing to me. Not another
word,” he continued, seeing she was about to resume her entreaties;
“return immediately to the drawing-room and apologise to our friends in
my name for being obliged to leave them.”

At this moment a servant announced that his master’s shooting pony was
at the door, and that Lord Bellefield had already started; so placing
his hat on his head with an air of offended dignity, the General marched
proudly out of the hall. Lewis was about to follow him, when, glancing
at Annie, he perceived that she had sunk into a chair, and covering her
face with her hands, had given way to an irrepressible burst of tears.
The young tutor paused--wishing to reassure her by promising to use
his best efforts to shield her father from danger, and yet fearing to
intrude upon her grief. In his embarrassment he accidentally dropped his
stick; starting at the sound, Annie for the first time perceived him,
and springing up, she came hurriedly towards him, exclaiming--

“Oh, Mr. Arundel! I am so glad you are going. _You_ will take care of
papa, will you not?”

As she spoke she laid her hand on his arm and gazed up into his face
imploringly.

“I will most assuredly try to do so, Miss Grant,” returned Lewis
calmly, though that light touch thrilled through him like a shock of
electricity. “You need not alarm yourself so greatly,” he continued,
anxious to soothe her; “believe me, your apprehensions have greatly
exaggerated any probable danger.”

“You really think so?” returned Annie doubtfully. “At all events,” she
continued, “I shall be much happier now I know you are going. I am sure
you will try and take care of papa.”

“I will, indeed,” returned Lewis earnestly, as, glancing towards the
door, he essayed to depart; but Annie, completely engrossed by
her anxiety to secure his services on her father’s behalf, still
unconsciously retained her hold on his arm, and Lewis was obliged gently
to remove the little hand that detained him. As their fingers met,
Annie, becoming suddenly aware of what Miss Livingstone would have
termed her “indiscreet and unpardonable heedlessness,” blushed very
becomingly; then with a sudden impulse of gratitude and warm feeling she
extended her hand to Lewis, saying--

“Thank you very much for all your kindness, Mr. Arundel. Mind you take
good care of yourself as well as of papa--I shall not go to bed till I
hear you have brought him safe home again.”

Lewis pressed the fair hand offered to him, repeated his assurances that
her alarm was unnecessary, and hastened to follow General Grant. Annie
gazed after him with tearful eyes, but his words comforted her. She had
already begun to rely on him in moments of difficulty or of danger.

The moon was shining brightly, though flitting clouds passed from time
to time across its silvery disc, wrapping wood and hill and valley in
momentary darkness, only to enhance their beauty when its pale, cold
rays once more fell uninterruptedly upon them, imparting to the scene
the magic of a fairy twilight. Such, however, were scarcely Lewis’s
thoughts as, haunted by the appealing expression of Annie’s soft eyes,
he hastened to overtake his companions. The party proceeded in silence,
following their guide, who was none other than the renegade “Villiam,”
 across one of the wildest portions of the park towards a young larch
plantation covering about forty acres of ground. This spot, named Tod’s
Hole Spinney, from certain fox earths that had existed in it till
their occupants’ partiality for dining on pheasants had led to their
ejectment, was considered, from its isolated situation, the thick growth
of underwood, the fact of a running stream passing through it, and
other propitious circumstances, the most amply stocked preserve on the
property, and it was with a degree of annoyance proportioned to the
enormity of the offence that the General learned this was the place
selected by the poachers for the scene of their depredations. As they
approached the spot the report of a gun was heard, followed by three or
four others in rapid succession. General Grant, irritated beyond control
by this audacity, immediately rode forward at a brisk trot. Lewis,
bearing in mind Annie’s injunction, grasped the crupper of the saddle
firmly with his left hand, and with this slight assistance ran by the
General’s side, keeping pace with the horse. In this manner they had
nearly reached the wood, when a man sprang from behind a bush, and would
have seized the horse’s bridle had not Lewis interposed, saying, in a
low voice, “Don’t you know us, Millar? it is General Grant, who, when he
heard the poachers were out, determined to come with me.”

“I beg yer honour’s pardon,” returned the keeper, touching his hat as he
recognised his master. “I never expected to ha’ seen you here to-night,
to be sure.”

“I am usually to be found where my duty calls me,” returned the General
stiffly. “These scoundrels seem to be out in force,” he continued.

“Veil, I take it there’s as many on ’em as ve shall know wot to do
with,” was the reply; “but I’ve got above a dozen men on the look-hout,
only in course they’re scattered.”

“And how do you propose to act?” inquired the General.

“I thort of taking a party into the wood, trying to captiwate long Hardy
and one or two of the ringleaders, chaps as I’ve had my eye on for ever
so long; then take ther game from the tothers, and seize their guns hif
posserbul. But the chief thing is to captiwate that willain Hardy; so I
means to leave three or four men on the look-hout, in case he manages to
do us and break cover.”

“Your plan seems a good one,” returned the General reflectively. “How
many men do you propose to take into the wood with you?”

“Veil, there’s half-a-dozen lads a laying down behind those bushes
yonder, and there’s two more jist inside that gap; then there’s myself
and Muster Arundel.”

“Let the boy that guided us hold my horse,” began General Grant.

“Hif I might adwise,” interrupted Millar, “yer honour would remain in
this wery place; and hif Hardy should get away from us--as he’s likely
enough, for he’s as strong and houdacious as a steam-ingine--he’s a-most
sure to break cover here; in vich case yer honour can ride him down, and
hif he dares to show fight, give him a cut hover the skull with yer long
sword there.”

“You feel sure he will endeavour to effect his retreat on this side?”
 inquired the General doubtingly.

“Sartain sure, I may say,” cried Millar confidently; then, as his master
turned to explain to Lord Bellefield, who had just come up, the plan of
operations, he added in a low voice, so that Lewis only might hear--

“The old Gineral’s pluckey enough for anything, but his legs ain’t so
young as they used to be, and he’s rather touched in the vind, vich
von’t do for sich a valk as we’ve got before us.”

At this moment more shots were heard in the wood, but apparently much
nearer than the last. The poachers were evidently advancing in that
direction.

“There is not a moment to be lost, Millar,” exclaimed the General
eagerly. “I think as you say, I may be of more use here. Some one _must_
remain outside to cut off the retreat of these fellows if you should
succeed in driving them out of the wood. Lord Bellefield will accompany
your party. Where are the other watchers on this side stationed?”

“About fifty yards apart, along the ditch skirting the wood. If yer
honour wants help, a note on this whistle will produce it.” So saying,
Millar handed him an ivory dog-whistle; then signing to “Villiam” to
proceed, and requesting Lord Bellefield and Lewis to follow him, the
keeper conducted them along a narrow track leading into the wood.

“Do you really expect that Hardy will attempt to cross that part of the
park, or was your assertion merely a white lie, framed to secure the
General’s safety?” asked Lewis as he walked by the keeper’s side.

“Veil, it worn’t altogether a lie,” was the reply; “for if we don’t nab
the gentleman, that’s the side he’ll try for, as it’s easiest for him
to get away; but if I vonce has a fair hit at him, I don’t mean to
leave him a chance to get away. I shall not stand nice about hurting him
neither, I can tell yer. He beat Sam Jones, one o’ my hunder-keepers,
so savage that the poor feller worn’t out of his blessed bed for two
months. He deserves summut pretty strong for that.”

“Mind you point him out to me, if you catch sight of him,” rejoined
Lewis. “I am most anxious to be introduced to this truculent gentleman.”

“Yer can’t mistake him hif yer once sets eyes on him,” returned the
keeper; “he’s half a head taller than any of the rest of ’em, but I’ll
show him to yer.”

As he spoke they reached the spot where the six men were waiting,
though, so well had they concealed themselves, Lewis was close upon them
ere he was aware of their vicinity.

“Now, my lads, are yer all ready?” inquired their leader in a low voice.
An answer in the affirmative was followed by the order--“Come on, then;”
 when Lord Bellefield interposed by saying, “One moment! Listen to me, my
men: I offer five guineas reward to any of you who may secure Hardy.”



CHAPTER XXXI.--IS CHIEFLY CULINARY, CONTAINING RECIPES FOR A “GOOD
PRESERVE” AND A “PRETTY PICKLE.”

After a strict injunction from Millar to preserve silence, the party
in search of Hardy and his associates again moved forward, Lord
Belle-field, Millar, and Lewis in front, and the others following two
abreast. As soon as they had entered the wood the remaining men joined
them, making altogether a company of eleven. As they advanced farther
into the plantation, the boughs of the trees, becoming thicker and more
closely interlaced, intercepted the moonlight and rendered their onward
progress a matter of some difficulty. The gamekeepers however, knew
every intricacy of the path, and could have found his way in the darkest
night as easily as at noonday. After winding among the trees for some
minutes they came upon a little glade where the underwood had been
partially cleared away and a small quantity of barley stacked for the
purpose of feeding the pheasants. At the entrance to the space thus
cleared the party halted, and Millar, creeping forward on his hands and
knees, reached the stack. Sheltering himself behind it, he made his way
to the opposite side, where he was lost to sight; reappearing almost
immediately, he cautiously rejoined the others, saying in a low whisper:
“I expected how it would be; there is from twenty or thirty pheasands
roosting on the trees beyond the stack there, and Hardy and his mates
being aware on it, is a-making of their way through the bushes right
ahead. I could hear ’em plain enough when I was at the stack yonder.
Now, two on yer must come along o’ me, creep to the stack and hide
behind it as yer see me do, then vait till them blackguards has let
fly at the pheasands, and afore they can load again ve three must jump
forrard and try and captiwate Hardy. In the meantime, you others must
make yer way round through the bushes and take ’em in the rear, and
help us if we wants helping.”

“Which you will do most certainly,” returned Lord Bellefield. “I’ll lead
the party that remains.”

“And I’ll go with you, Millar,” observed Lewis.

“And you, Sam,” continued Millar, addressing the under-keeper before
alluded to. The man came forward, and placing himself by Lewis’s side,
the three crept along till they had reached the stack, sheltered by
which they again stood upright. Scarcely had they taken their places
when two guns, followed by four others, were discharged in rapid
succession, and so close to them, that the shot pattering amongst the
underwood was distinctly audible, and one of the wounded pheasants
dropped at Lewis’s feet; while almost immediately afterwards a couple of
men ran forward to collect the fallen game. The foremost of these was a
fellow of Herculean proportions: as he stooped to pick up a pheasant a
ray of moonlight revealed his features, and Lewis immediately recognised
his former antagonist, the tall Chartist. At the same moment Millar
whispered, “That’s our man; go ahead!”

[Illustration: 0224]

“Leave him to me,” returned Lewis eagerly; and bending forward, with a
bound like that of a tiger he sprang upon him.

The poacher was taken so completely by surprise (his back being turned
towards his assailant) that Lewis, encircling him with a grasp of iron,
was enabled to pinion his arms to his sides. Like a wild bull caught in
the toils, his struggles to free himself were tremendous; but Lewis, now
in the full vigour of his strength, was an adversary not easily to be
shaken off, and despite his unrivalled powers, the poacher failed
to extricate his arms. Shouting, therefore, to his companion for
assistance, he desired him, with an oath, to shoot the ------ keeper;
but that individual was unable to comply with his comrade’s benevolent
suggestion by reason of certain well-directed blows wherewith Sam Jones,
the under-keeper, was producing a marked alteration in the general
outline of his features. In the meantime, Millar, drawing forth a piece
of cord, began coolly to tie Hardy’s wrists together, disregarding a
series of ferocious kicks with which he assailed him. At this moment the
other poachers, to the number of some half-dozen, attracted by the
sound of blows, reached the scene of action, but the party led by Lord
Bellefield were equally on the alert, and the fight became general. And
now the capture of the poacher Hardy appeared certain: exhausted by his
unavailing struggles to free himself from Lewis’s encircling arms,
he could offer no effectual resistance to Millar, who continued most
methodically to bind his wrists, in no way diverted from his purpose
by the storm of blows which raged around him, many of which fell on his
unprotected person, when suddenly the report of a pistol rung sharply
above the other sounds of the combat, and an acute, stinging pain darted
through Lewis’s left shoulder, causing him such agony for the moment
that he involuntarily relaxed his grasp. Hardy was not slow to avail
himself of the opportunity thus offered. Flinging off the young tutor
with so much violence that he would have fallen had not one of the
gamekeeper’s assistants caught him and prevented it, he wrenched his
hands from Millar’s grasp, and raising them, still bound together as
they were, struck the keeper such a severe blow on the side of the head
that he reeled and fell; then seeing that his companions, overpowered by
numbers and disheartened by his supposed capture, were giving way on
all sides, he turned, and dashing into the bushes, disappeared, not
so quickly, however, but that Lewis, who, despite his wound, had never
taken his eyes off him for a moment, perceived the movement.

Grasping his stick, which he had contrived to retain during the
struggle, firmly with his right hand, he lost no time in following the
fugitive, and guided by the crashing of the bushes, kept close on his
traces till they reached the boundary hedge; breaking his way through
this obstacle with the strength and fury of some wild animal, the
poacher sprang across the ditch into the open park beyond. Seeing that
he had a desperate man to deal with, and fearing that although the first
severe pain had abated, and little more than a sensation of numbness
remained, his left arm might prove in some degree incapacitated by
the wound he had received, Lewis paused a moment to reconnoitre ere
he followed him. To his great delight, he perceived he had reached the
hedge along the side of which the watchers were stationed, near the spot
where General Grant had taken up his position. Hardy, unconscious how
closely he was followed, stopped also a moment while he endeavoured
to set free his wrists; but so securely had Millar bound them, that
although by a violent exertion of strength he contrived to render the
cord slacker, he was unable wholly to succeed in his object. Fearing,
however, that the cord would not hold out much longer, and unwilling
to lose the only advantage gained by his previous struggle, Lewis
determined once more to endeavour to seize him. Shouting, therefore,
to give notice to the watchers where their assistance was likely to
be required, he sprang across the ditch and advanced towards his
antagonist. At first the poacher appeared inclined to stand his ground;
but seeing his opponent was armed with a stout stick, and recollecting
his own defenceless condition, he resolved to trust rather to
his unrivalled fleetness, and turning away with an exclamation of
disappointed rage, again betook himself to flight. This portion of the
park was clear of trees or any other cover for a space of more than
half a mile square, beyond which lay another larger wood; if Hardy could
contrive to reach this, his escape would become a matter of certainty.
The ground, which had once formed part of an ancient Roman camp, lay in
terraces, and this circumstance gave Hardy, who knew every inch of the
country by heart, a slight advantage. In speed they were very equally
matched; for although Lewis, from his youth and light, active make, was
perhaps really the fleetest, Hardy was in better training. When they
first started the poacher was about ten yards ahead, and they had
reached nearly half the centre of the space between the two woods ere
Lewis had diminished that distance materially. Hitherto they had been
running uphill, and the poacher’s superior condition (as a jockey would
term it) enabled him to continue his rapid course without the pace
telling as much as it did on his pursuer; but now the ground began to
descend, and Lewis, having saved himself for a short distance to recover
breath, put forth his whole powers, and despite the utmost exertions
the poacher was capable of making, gained upon him so fast that it was
evident that in a few more strides he must overtake him. But Hardy’s
usual good luck appeared not even yet to have deserted him, for at the
very moment when it seemed certain Lewis must come up with him, a cloud
obscured the moon, and the poacher, taking advantage of this accident to
double on his pursuer, contrived to make such good use of his knowledge
of the ground, that when the bright moonlight again enabled Lewis to
discern his retreating figure, he perceived, to his extreme chagrin and
disappointment, that the fugitive would gain the wood, and doubtless
effect his escape, before he could again overtake him. It was then with
no small satisfaction that, just as he was about to give up the chase as
hopeless, he caught sight of a man on horseback galloping in a direction
which must effectually cut off the poacher’s retreat. Another moment
sufficed to show him that the rider, in whom he immediately recognised
General Grant, had perceived the fugitive, and intended to prevent his
escape. Lewis accordingly strained every nerve to reach the spot in time
to render assistance, more particularly as he remarked that Hardy had by
some means contrived to set his hands at liberty. In spite of his utmost
exertions, however, it was evident that the encounter would take place
before he could arrive; and remembering his promise to Annie, it
was with mingled feelings of anxiety for her father’s safety, and
self-reproach for having quitted him, that he prepared to witness the
struggle. As soon as the General perceived the state of affairs, he
waved his hand as a sign to Lewis; then drawing his sabre, stood up in
his stirrups and rode gallantly at the poacher, shouting to him at the
same time to stop and yield himself prisoner. Hardy paid no attention
to the summons, continuing to run on till he felt the horse’s breath
hot upon his neck; then, as General Grant, after again calling on him to
“surrender, or he would cut him down,” prepared to put his threat into
execution, he dodged aside to avoid the blow, and springing suddenly
upon the rider, dashed the sword from his hand, and seizing him by the
throat, endeavoured to drag him off his horse. The old man, though taken
by surprise, clung firmly to his saddle, and spurring his horse, tried
to shake off his assailant; but his strength unfortunately was not equal
to his courage, and the poacher, snatching at the rein, backed the horse
till it reared almost erect and flung its rider forcibly to the ground.
Apparently bent on revenge, Hardy, still retaining his grasp on the
bridle, led the horse over the fallen body of the man, with the brutal
intention of trampling him to death. But the generous instinct of the
animal served to frustrate his evil purpose; as, though he led it twice
directly across its prostrate master, the horse raised its feet and
carefully avoided treading on him. Striking the animal ferociously on
the head with his clenched fist, he next attempted to back it in the
same direction, but the frightened animal sprang aside and plunged so
violently that he was unable to effect his design. He was still striving
to do so when Lewis, breathless with the speed at which he had run,
reached the spot. Instantly leaping over the fallen man, stick in hand,
he struck Hardy so severe a blow on the wrist that he was forced to quit
his hold on the bridle, and the scared horse broke away and galloped
off, snorting with terror. The poacher, infuriated by the pain of the
blow, forgot all prudential considerations; and heedless of the approach
of three of the watchers, who, attracted by the noise of the struggle,
were rapidly hastening towards the spot, he rushed upon Lewis, and
disregarding a heavy blow with which the young tutor greeted him,
flung his arms round him and endeavoured to dash him to the ground.
Fortunately for Lewis, he was not ignorant of the manly exercise of
wrestling, and his proficiency in the art stood him in good stead at
this moment; for, despite his gigantic strength, Hardy could not succeed
in throwing him. In vain did he lift him from the ground; with whatever
violence he flung him down, he still fell upon his legs; in vain did he
compress him in his powerful arms, till Lewis felt as if every rib were
giving way--the only effect of his exertions was to exhaust his own
strength; till, at length taking advantage of an incautious movement of
his adversary, the young tutor contrived to pass his leg behind that
of the poacher and thus trip him up. His victory was, however, nearly
proving fatal to him, for in falling the ruffian clutched him by
the throat and dragged him down with him. Nor, although Lewis being
uppermost was enabled to raise himself on one knee and return the
compliment by inserting his hand within the folds of his adversary’s
neck-cloth, could he force him to relinquish his grasp. Fortunately,
help was at hand; and just as Lewis began to feel that it was becoming
serious, and that if the pressure on his throat continued much longer he
should be strangled outright, the three assistants came up; two of them
immediately flung themselves upon the poacher, while the third dragged
Lewis, who was rapidly growing exhausted, from the deadly embrace of his
prostrate foe. Having with some difficulty succeeded in so doing, the
man laid him at full length on the grass, and leaving him to recover as
best he might, turned to assist his companions to secure Hardy. This
was now a comparatively easy task, for his final struggle with Lewis
had exhausted even the poacher’s strength, and after a futile attempt
to rise and shake off his captors, he ceased to resist, and submitted
in sullen silence, while his arms were secured with the General’s
sword-belt. This operation concluded, the man who had rescued Lewis
returned to him and found him sufficiently recovered to sit up.

“Have you looked to the General? is he uninjured?” was his first
question.

“I’m afear’d he’s terrible hurt, if he ain’t killed outright; leastways
he’s onsensibul, and one of his arms seems crushed like,” was the
consolatory reply.

“Oh that I had come up a minute sooner!” exclaimed Lewis in a tone of
bitter self-reproach.

“You’d have been a dead man if yer had, sir,” was the reply. “If that
willian there had had hold of your throat half a minute longer, you’d
have been as stiff as a leg of mutton by this time.”

“Better that I had perished than that this should have occurred,”
 murmured Lewis; then turning to the man, he continued, “Lend me your
arm; I can walk now,” and rising with difficulty, he advanced towards
the spot where General Grant lay. He was perfectly insensible; his hat
had fallen off, and his grey hair, exposed to the night dews, imparted,
as the moonlight streamed on it, a ghastly expression to his features,
while his right arm was bent under him in an unnatural position, which
left no doubt that it must be broken, probably in more places than one.
Lewis knelt down beside him, and raising his uninjured hand, placed his
finger on the wrist.

“I can feel his pulse beat distinctly,” he observed, after a moment’s
pause. “He is not dead, nor dying; indeed, except the injury to his arm,
I hope he may not be seriously hurt. No time must be lost in carrying
him to the house and procuring a surgeon.”

“Somebody ought to go to Broadhurst to let’m know what’s happened and
get us some help. We’ve more than we can manage here, you see,” urged
the assistant. “It will take two on us to purwent that blackguard Hardy
from getting away; he won’t lose no chance, you may depend.”

“I’ll stay with General Grant if you’ll run to the house,” returned
Lewis feebly.

“Your arm’s a bleeding, sir. Did that willian stab you?” inquired the
assistant.

“No; I was hurt in the wood,” was the reply.

“Do you think you could ride, sir?” continued the man; “ ’cos if
you could, I’d try and catch the horse--he’s a grazin’ very quiet
yonder--and then you could go to the house, start off one of the grooms
to fetch a doctor, send some of the people down here to help us, get yer
own wound dressed, and break the news to the family better than such a
chap as me.”

This observation was a true one, and Lewis felt that it was so;
therefore, although he dreaded the task, and would rather have again
encountered the dangers he had just escaped than witnessed Annie Grant’s
dismay and sorrow when she should find her dark anticipations realised,
he agreed to the arrangement; and as the man succeeded in catching the
horse almost immediately, he mounted with some difficulty and rode off
at speed, though the rapid motion increased the pain of his wound till
it became almost insupportable. He reached Broadhurst in less than ten
minutes, never drawing bridle till he entered the stable-yard, although
he turned so faint and dizzy on the way that more than once he was
nearly falling from the saddle. His first act was to despatch a mounted
groom to procure a surgeon; he next sent off four of the men-servants
with a hurdle converted into an extemporary litter, giving them exact
directions where to find their master, and waiting to see that they
started without loss of time; he then attempted to dismount, but was
unable to do so without assistance. Having paused a few moments till
the faintness had again gone off, he entered the house by the servants’
entrance, and calling the butler aside, desired him to summon Mr.
Leicester as quietly as possible; then, sinking into a chair and resting
his head on his hands, he awaited his arrival with ill-con sealed
anxiety, dreading lest some incautious person should abruptly inform
Annie of her father’s accident.



CHAPTER XXXII--LEWIS MAKES A DISCOVERY AND GETS INTO A “STATE OF MIND.”

The end of the room at which Lewis had seated himself lay in shadow,
so that Leicester, who shortly made his appearance wrapped in a
dressing-gown, could merely distinguish the outline of his figure.

“Why, Arundel,” he began, “is anything the matter? Here has Wilson been
and roused me out of my first sleep, with a face like that of the party
who ‘drew Priam’s curtains i’ the dead o’ the night.’ Where’s Governor
Grant, and how is it that you’re home first?”

“It’s no joking matter, Mr. Leicester,” returned Lewis faintly, and
without raising his head. “The poachers have given us more trouble than
we expected, and in attempting to capture Hardy the General has been
thrown from his horse. His right arm is broken in two places, and when I
came away he was still insensible.”

From the position in which Lewis sat (his elbows resting on a table and
his forehead supported by his hands) he was unable to perceive anything
that might be going on in the apartment, consequently he had continued
his speech, ignorant that a third person had joined them. Annie (for she
it was who, pale as some midnight ghost, had glided noiselessly into the
room) laid her hand on Leicester’s arm to prevent his calling attention
to her presence, while eager and trembling she listened to Lewis’s
account of her father’s accident; and overcome for the moment by these
evil tidings, she remained speechless, leaning against a chair for
support. Lewis, surprised at Leicester’s silence, raised his head
languidly, and the first object that met his eyes was Annie Grant’s
sinking figure. With an exclamation of dismay he attempted to start
up, but he was becoming so weak from loss of blood that he failed to
accomplish his purpose. Roused by the action, Annie recovered herself,
and as a new idea struck her, she asked--

“Where, then, is poor papa? Have they brought him home? I must go to him
instantly!”

“He is not yet arrived, Miss Grant,” returned Lewis in a low voice that
trembled with conflicting emotions; “his own servants are carrying him,
and a surgeon will be here instantly. I----” he paused abruptly, for
Annie, drawing herself up, advanced towards him, and with flashing eyes
exclaimed--

“Is this then the way in which you have fulfilled your promise, Mr.
Arundel? I trusted so implicitly to your assurance that you would watch
over him and protect him; and now you have not only failed him in the
moment of danger but deserted him in his necessity, and secured your own
safety by coming home to break my heart with these evil tidings. Oh, I
am ashamed of you--grieved--disappointed!”

“Hush, my dear Annie,” observed Leicester soothingly. “Arundel might not
be able to prevent this accident--you are too hasty.”

“No, no!” returned Lewis in a low, broken voice, “I deserve her
reproaches. I ought never to have quitted him, and yet I did so
believing that I left him in perfect safety. I could not bear to stand
inactive when other men were about to face danger; besides, I had
pledged myself to assist in capturing this poacher.” He paused, then
added, “I have been to blame, Miss Grant, but I am not quite the
poltroon you imagine me. I did indeed leave your father that I might
accompany the attacking party into the wood, but I strained every nerve
to come up with Hardy before General Grant encountered him; and although
that was impossible, I arrived in time to prevent him from forcing the
horse to trample the life out of the fallen man, and wounded as I am, I
engaged with and captured, at the risk of my own life, the ruffian who
had injured your father; nor should I have been here now, but that it
was necessary for some one to procure assistance and summon a surgeon,
and I rode back at speed to my own injury, that I might leave a more
efficient man with the General.”

As he ceased speaking the butler entered the room, bearing in his hand
a lamp, and for the first time the light fell upon Lewis’s figure.
Leicester, as he beheld him, uttered an exclamation of surprise and
horror, which his appearance was well calculated to call forth. His face
was deadly pale, save a red line across the forehead, where some bramble
had torn the skin; his dark hair, heavy with the night dew, clung in
wild disorder around his temples; and his clothes, stained with mud,
bore traces of the severity of the struggle in which he had been
engaged; the sleeve of his left arm, which still rested on the table,
was soaked with gore, while the momentary excitement which had animated
him as he spoke had given way to a return of the faintness produced by
the loss of blood, which was by this time very considerable. As this
ghastly figure met her sight Annie uttered a slight shriek--then a
sense of the cruel injustice of her own reproaches banished every other
consideration, and springing towards him, she exclaimed--

“Oh, Mr. Arundel, what can we do for you? how shocked, how grieved I
am!--will you, can you forgive me?”

Lewis smiled and attempted to reply, but the words died away upon his
lips, and completely overcome by faintness, he would have fallen from
the chair had not Leicester supported him. Fortunately, at this moment
the surgeon arrived, and Annie quitting the apartment, Lewis’s sleeve
was cut open, his wound temporarily bound up, and his temples bathed
with some stimulating essence which dispelled his faintness, before the
surgeon’s services were required for General Grant. The latter gentleman
had recovered consciousness ere he reached Broadhurst, and though
suffering acute pain from his broken arm, appeared cool and collected.
His first question had been “whether Hardy had escaped,” and he seemed
to revive from the moment he was informed of his capture. His next
inquiry was who had taken him, and on learning it was Lewis, he was much
pleased, muttering, “Brave lad, brave lad! pity he’s not in the army.”
 He recognised Annie and spoke kindly to her, gave orders for the safe
custody of Hardy, demanded of the surgeon who examined his arm whether
he wished to amputate it, as he felt quite equal to the operation, and
in short, under circumstances which would have overpowered any man of
less firmness of character, behaved like a gentleman and a brave old
soldier, as he was. Fortunately the surgeons (for a second, attracted
by the rumour of an accident, as vultures are if a camel dies in the
desert, had come to test the truth of the old proverb that two heads
are better than one) succeeded in setting the arm, pronounced amputation
unnecessary, and after careful examination, gave it as their opinion
that, with the exception of a few contusions of little consequence,
the General had sustained no further injury. Having come to this
satisfactory conclusion, they found time to direct their attention to
Lewis. After much whispered consultation and considerable exchange of
learned winks and profound nods, they informed him that he had been
wounded by a shot from a pistol (which, by the way, he could have told
them), and that they had very little doubt that the ball remained in the
wound, in which case it would be necessary to extract it. To this Lewis
replied, “The sooner the better.” Accordingly they proceeded to put him
to great agony by probing the wound to find the ball, after which they
hurt him still more in extracting it, performing both operations with
such easy cheerfulness of manner and utter disregard of the patient’s
feelings, that a bystander would have imagined they were carving a cold
shoulder of mutton rather than the same joint of live humanity. But
surgeons, like fathers, have flinty hearts, unmacadamised by the
smallest grain of pity for the wretched victims of their uncomfortable
skill; their idea of the “Whole Duty of Man” being that he should afford
them “an interesting case” when living, and become a “good subject”
 for them when he has ceased to be one to the Queen. After the ball was
extracted, Lewis requested it might be handed to him; it was small, and
from its peculiar shape he perceived that it must have been discharged
from a pistol with a rifle barrel.

“If you will allow me,” he said, “I shall keep this bit of lead as a
memorial of this evening’s entertainment.”

“Oh, certainly,” replied the most cheerful surgeon, “by all means; if it
had but gone an eighth of an inch farther,” he added, rubbing his hands
joyously, “only an eighth of an inch, it would have injured the
spinal cord, and you would have been--droll how these things occur
sometimes--you’d have been paralysed for life.”

Lewis shuddered, and wished devoutly he were for the time being Caliph
Haroun Al’Raschid, in which case the facetious surgeon would have added a
practical acquaintance with the effects of the bastinado on the sole of
the human foot to his other medical knowledge.

“I don’t think,” resumed the doctor meditatively, “I don’t think you
need apprehend any very unpleasant result, as far as I can as yet see
into the case. Of course,” he continued with hilarity, “erysipelas might
supervene, but that is seldom fatal, unless it affects the brain; and I
should hope the great effusion of blood will prevent that in the present
instance. You feel very weak, don’t you?”

Lewis replied in the affirmative, and his tormentor continued--

“Well, you need not be uneasy on that score; I don’t apprehend a return
of syncope, but if you should feel an unnatural deficiency of vital
heat, or perceive any symptoms of approaching collapse, I would advise
your ringing the bell, and I’ll be with you instantly. Scalpel’s
obliged to be off; he’s got a very interesting broken leg--compound
fracture--waiting for him down at the village, besides some dozen
agreeable minor casualties, the result of to-night’s work. Keep up your
spirits, and go to sleep--your shoulder is easier now?”

“It feels as if the blade of a red-hot sword were being constantly
plunged into it,” returned Lewis crossly.

“Delighted to hear it,” replied Dr. Bistoury, rubbing his hands; “just
what I could have wished; nothing inert there! I would recommend your
bearing (which word he pronounced bea-a-a-ring) it quietly, and rely
upon my looking in the first thing to-morrow.” So saying he rubbed his
hands, chuckled, and departed.

In spite of his wound, which continued very painful, Lewis contrived to
get a few hours’ sleep, and awoke so much refreshed that he resisted all
attempts to keep him in bed, and though stiff and weak to an excessive
degree, made his way to the study and cheated Walter out of the holiday
he had expected--a loss which he scarcely regretted in his joy at
finding that the wicked poachers had not seriously injured his dear Mr.
Arundel. And then Annie could not be happy till she had caught Charles
Leicester and made him accompany her on a penitential visit to Lewis,
to tell him how grieved she was at the recollection of her injustice to
him; it seemed so dreadfully ungrateful, when in fact he had just saved
her father’s life; and she looked so pretty and good and pure in her
penitence, that Lewis began to think women were brighter and higher
beings than his philosophy had dreamed of, and for the first time it
occurred to him that he had been guilty of an unpardonable absurdity in
despising the whole race of womankind because he happened to have
been jilted by a little, coquettish, half-educated German girl; and he
forgave Annie so fully in his heart that with his lips he could scarcely
stammer out half-a-dozen unmeaning words to tell her so.

Leicester asked him in the course of the conversation whether he had any
idea which of the gang of poachers had fired the pistol, adding that two
others had been taken besides Hardy. Lewis paused for a moment ere he
replied, “That his back had been turned towards the man who shot him,
and that it was too serious a charge to bring against any one without
more certain knowledge than he possessed on the subject.” And having
said this, he immediately changed the conversation.

As soon as Annie and her cousin withdrew, Millar the gamekeeper made
his appearance, full of congratulations on Lewis’s gallant conduct and
sympathy in regard to his wound.

“I can’t imagine vitch o’ ther warmints could have had a pistol; it
worn’t neither o’ ther two as we captiwated, for I sarched ’em myself,
and never a blessed harticle had they got about ’em except ther usual
amount o’ bacca and coppers hin ther breeches’ pockets.”

“Did you have any more fighting after I left you to follow Hardy?” asked
Lewis.

“Veil, we did ’ave one more sharpish turn,” was the reply. “When the
blackguards see me down, they made a rush to recover the sack with the
game, and almost succeeded, only Sam Jones pulled me out of the crowd
and set me on my legs again, and I was so mad a-thinking that Hardy had
got clear away that I layed about me like one possessed, they do tell
me; so we not only recovered the game, but bagged two o’ ther chaps
themselves. By ther bye,” he continued, “Sam Jones came here with me;
he wants to see yer when I’ve done with yer; he says he’s picked up
somethin’ o’ yourn, but he won’t say what--he’s a close chap when he
likes, is Sam. Howsomdever, I suppose he expects you’ll tip him a bob or
so, for it was he as ketched yer when Hardy first flung yer off. You’ve
paid _him_ for it sweetly, and no mistake; he’d got a lovely black hye,
and his right wrist was swelled as big as two ven we marched him hoff to
H---------- gaol this morning. And now I’ll vish yer good arternoon, Mr.
Arundel, and send Sam hup, if you’re agreeable.”

Lewis, with a smile at the equivocal nature of the phrase, signified his
agreeability, and the keeper took his departure. In another minute the
sound of heavy footsteps announced the approach of Sam, who, having
obeyed Lewis’s injunction to “come in,” vindicated his title to the
attribute of “closeness” by carefully shutting the door and applying
first his ear and then his eye to the keyhole ere he could divest his
cautious mind of a dread of eavesdroppers. He then crossed the room
on tip-toe, partly from a sense of the grave nature of his mysterious
errand, partly from respect to the carpet, the richness of which
oppressed him heavily during the whole of his visit, restricting him to
the use of one leg only the greater portion of the time.

“You have found something of mine, Millar tells me,” began Lewis,
finding that, ghost-like, his visitor appeared to consider it a point of
etiquette not to speak first.

“You’re very kind, Mr. Arundel,” returned his visitor, who, catching
sight at the moment of the gilt frame of an oil painting which hung
over the chimney, and believing it firmly to be pure gold, became so
overpowered between that and the carpet that he scarcely dared trust
himself to speak in such an aristocratic atmosphere. “I’m much obliged
to you, sir. Yes, I have found something, sir, but I don’t know disactly
as it’s altogether yourn.”

“What is it, my good fellow?” inquired Lewis, half amused and half bored
by the man’s bashfulness.

A consolatory mistrust of the sterling value of the picture-frame had
by this time begun to insinuate itself into Sam’s mind, and reassured in
some degree by the doubt, he continued--

“I beg pardon, sir, but I hopes you don’t feel so bad as might be
expected; you looks shocking pale, surely.”

Lewis thanked him for his inquiry, and said he believed the wound was
going on favourably.

“I’m sure I’m very glad to hear it, which is a mercy to be thankful
for; you looking so bad, too,” returned this sympathising visitor; then
leaning forward so as to approach his lips to Lewis’s ear, he continued
in a loud whisper--

“Have ye any notion who it was as fired the shot?”

Lewis started, and colouring slightly, fixed his eyes on the man’s face
as he inquired abruptly--

“Have you?”

Forgetting his veneration for the carpet in the excitement of the
conversation, the suspicious under-keeper walked to the door and
again tested the keyhole ere he ventured to answer the question; then
approaching Lewis, he thrust his hand into a private pocket in his
shooting-jacket, and drawing thence something carefully wrapped in a
handkerchief, he presented it to the young tutor, saying--

“That’s what I’ve been and found, sir; I picked it up in the wood,
not twenty yards from the place where you stood when you was shot, Mr.
Arundel.”

Lewis hastily unrolled the handkerchief, and drew from its folds a small
pocket-pistol; _on_ the stock, which was richly inlaid, was a silver
escutcheon with a coat of arms engraved upon it; from marks about the
nipple it had evidently been lately discharged, and on examination it
proved to have _a rifle barrel_. Lewis’s brow grew dark.

“It is then as I suspected,” he muttered; pausing, however, as a new
idea seemed to strike him. “It might be unintentional,” he continued,
“the mere result of accident. I must not jump too hastily to such a
conclusion;” then addressing the under-keeper, he inquired--“Have you
any idea to whom this pistol belongs?”

“P’r’aps I may have,” was the cautious reply, “but there’s some things
it’s best not to know--a man might get himself into trouble by being too
knowing, you see, Mr. Arundel.”

“Listen to me, my good friend,” returned Lewis, fixing his piercing
glance on the man’s face: “it is evident you more than suspect who is
the owner of this pistol, and you probably are aware by whom, and under
what circumstances, it was last night discharged. Now, if through
a selfish dread of consequences you wish to keep this knowledge to
yourself, why come here and show me the pistol? If, on the contrary, you
wish to enhance the value of your information in order to make a more
profitable bargain with me, you are only wasting time. I am naturally
anxious to know who wounded me, and whether the deed was accidental or
intentional; therefore, you have but to name your price, and if I can
afford it I will give it you. I say this because I can conceive no other
reason for your shilly-shallying.”

During this speech the unfortunate Sam Jones shifted uneasily from leg
to leg, dropped his cap, stooped to pick it up again, bit his under-lip
with shame and indecision, and at last exclaimed--

“Bless’d if I can stand this hany longer! out it must come, and if I
loses my sitiation through it, I suppose there’s other places to be got;
they can’t say nuffin against my character, that’s one comfort. It ain’t
your money I wants, Mr. Arundel, sir; I’m able and willin’ to earn my
own livin’; but I’ve got a good place here, and don’t wish to offend
nobody: still right is right, and knowing what I knows, my conscience
wouldn’t let me rest till I’d come and told you--only I thort if you
would ha’ guessed it of yourself like, nothing needn’t ha’ come out
about me in the matter.”

“I understand,” returned Lewis with a contemptuous curl of the lip; “I
will take care not to commit you in any way; so speak out.”

“Well, if you remember, sir, I went with you and Millar up to the
barley-stack last night, and when you grabbed hold of Hardy he sung out
to the chap as was with him to come and help him, so I thort the best
thing for me was to pitch into him and prevent his doing so. Well, I
hadn’t much trouble with him, for he was a shocking poor hand with his
fists, and as soon as I’d polished him off I turned to lend you a help;
just at that minute I see the moon a-shining upon something bright, and
looking further, I perceived the figure of a man crouching close to the
stack with a cocked pistol in his hand. When fust I see him the pistol
was pointed at Hardy, but suddenly he changed his aim and fired straight
at you; as he let fly, the moonlight fell upon his face, and if ever a
man looked like a devil he did then.”

“And it was----?” asked Lewis eagerly.

“Lord Bellefield!” was the reply; “there’s none of ’em wears hair on
their top lip except the young lord, so it ain’t easy to mistake him, ye
see.”

“Are you quite sure he changed the direction of the pistol? Might not
the shot have been intended for Hardy?”

“I’ll take my oath it worn’t, Mr. Arundel; he pointed it straight at
your breast, and if Hardy hadn’t given a sudden wrench at the minute
and dragged you out of the line of fire, you’d have been a dead man long
before this.”

Seeing that Lewis continued silent, the keeper resumed--

“As soon as you was hit you let go and Hardy threw you off. I caught
you, expecting it was all up with you, but I still kept my eye on his
lordship, for I was curious to know how he’d act. When he saw you fall
he smiled, and then he looked more like a devil than he had done before.
As Hardy was a-cutting away he passed close to Lord Bellefield and
struck against his shoulder, accidently, and his lordship in a rage
flung the discharged pistol after him, and it would ha’ fetched him down
too if it hadn’t a-hit against a branch. However, I marked where it fell
pretty nigh, and as soon as it was light this morning I went and found
it. There’s his lordship’s arms upon it, same as them on his pheaton.”

Completely overpowered and amazed at this recital, Lewis, desiring to
be alone with his own thoughts, obtained from Sam Jones a promise of the
strictest secrecy in regard to the affair, and having liberally rewarded
him for his discreet behaviour, dismissed him. He then, concealing the
pistol in his pocket, withdrew to the privacy of his own apartment,
and locking the door, sat down to collect his ideas. At first he could
scarcely realise the fact with which he had become acquainted. True,
he had suspected that it was from Lord Bellefield’s hand that he had
received his wound, for he had previously observed the butt of a pistol
protruding from a pocket in his lordship’s greatcoat, his attention
being particularly called to the fact by the eagerness with which its
owner immediately hastened to conceal it more effectually. Still, he had
believed that he had been wounded by an accident, and that the shot had
been fired with the intention of disabling Hardy, in whose capture
Lord Bellefield appeared, for some mysterious reason, to be deeply
interested. The account he had just received proved that this was
evidently not the case, and Lewis could only conjecture that at the
moment Lord Bellefield was about to shoot Hardy some fiend had suggested
to him the opportunity of an easy revenge on the man he hated, and that,
in an impulse of ungovernable malice, he had altered the direction of
the pistol.

Rising and opening his dressing-case, Lewis took from a secret drawer
the ball which had been extracted from his shoulder, and drawing the
pistol out of his pocket, tried it; it fitted the barrel to a nicety.
Replacing it, he muttered, “There is then _no_ doubt.” He paused, but
immediately resumed, “ ’Tis well; he has now filled up the measure of
his guilt; the time is come to balance the account.” His intention
at that moment was to seek out Lord Bellefield, upbraid him with his
treachery, threaten to expose him, and demand as a right that he should
afford him satisfaction, forcing him by some means to meet him on the
following morning. But even when carried away by passion, Lewis was
not utterly forgetful of the feelings of others, and his friendship for
Leicester and for Annie, consideration for the General in his present
situation, and the interest he took in Walter, rose up before him, and
he exclaimed--

“No, it is impossible; a thousand reasons forbid it while I remain under
this roof. I must break off all intercourse with this family before I
seek my just revenge. Well, the day of retribution is postponed then,
perhaps for years; but it will come at last, I know; I feel that it
will. That man is a part of my destiny. With what pertinacity he hates
me! He fears me, too; he has done so ever since that affair of the
glove. He read in my eyes that I had resolved on--on what? What will all
this lead to? Am I at heart a murderer?” He sat down, for he was very
weak, and trembled so violently from the intensity of his feelings that
his knees refused to support him.

“No!” he continued, “it is an act of justice. This man insulted me--I
bore it patiently; at least I did not actively resent it. He repeated
his injurious conduct, he heaped insult on insult--I warned him; he
knew what he was doing; he saw the fiend he was arousing in me, but he
persevered--even yet I strove to forgive him; yes, for the sake of his
brother’s kindness to me, for the sake of the fair girl who is betrothed
to him, I had almost resolved to forego my right to punish him. Then he
seeks my life, the cowardly assassin! and in so doing he has sealed his
own doom.” He rose and paced sternly up and down the apartment. “Frere
would say,” he resumed, “Frere would say that I ought to forgive him
yet, but he would be wrong. He would quote the Scriptures that we should
forgive a brother ’till seventy times seven.’ Yes, _if_ he turn and
repent; repented sins only are forgiven either in heaven or on earth.
Does this man repent? let him tell me so, and I will give him my hand in
friendship; but if he glories in his wickedness? why then the old Hebrew
law stands good, ‘An eye for an eye.’ He owes me a life already, and if
I offer him fair combat, I give him a chance to which in strict justice
he has no right; but _I_ am no mean assassin. And now to return his
pistol and inform his lordship that I am aware of the full extent of my
obligations to him.”

So saying, he drew pen and ink towards him and hastily wrote as
follows:--

“Mr. Arundel presents his compliments to Lord Bellefield, and begs to
return the pistol with which he did him the honour to attempt his life
in the wood last night. Mr. Arundel reserves the pleasure of _returning
the shot_ till some future opportunity.”

He then rolled up the note, and inserting it in the barrel of the
pistol, formed the whole into a small parcel, which he carefully sealed,
and ringing for Lord Bellefield’s valet, desired him to lay it on his
master’s dressing-table before he prepared for dinner.

Reader, when your eye falls upon this page, which lays bare the heart of
one whom we would fain depict, not as a mere picturesque brain-creation
of impossible virtues and startling faults, but as an erring mortal like
ourselves, swayed by the same passions, subject to the same influences
for good or for evil--when you perceive how this one wrong feeling,
permitted to take root in his mind, grew and flourished, till it so
warped his frank, generous nature, that the fiend of sophistry, quoting
scripture to his purpose, could blind his sense of right with such
shallow reasoning as the foregoing,--resolve, if a single revengeful
feeling lurk serpent-like in your bosom, to cast it from you at whatever
sacrifice, lest when you pray “Our Father” which is in heaven to
“forgive us our trespasses _as_ we forgive them that trespass against
us,” you unawares pronounce your own condemnation.



CHAPTER XXXIII.--CONTAINS SUNDRY DEFINITIONS OF WOMAN “AS SHE SHOULD
BE,” AND DISCLOSES MRS. ARUNDEL’S OPINION OF RICHARD FRERE.

Lewis did not obtain any answer to his polite note, as Lord Belle-field
received on the following morning letters which he said required his
immediate presence in London, and in the hurry of departure he no doubt
forgot to refute the charge Lewis had seen fit to bring against him; and
as the young tutor preserved a strict silence on the subject, and Sam
Jones kept his own counsel with his accustomed closeness, there, for the
present, the matter appeared likely to rest. Some little surprise was
caused in the village by the sudden disappearance of Jane Hardy, the
poacher’s daughter, a girl of about nineteen; but as it was imagined
she had gone to take up her quarters in the town of H------, where her
father was imprisoned, her absence was soon forgotten. Lewis and Charles
Leicester alone, having ascertained her identity with the young person
who had assisted in the refreshment-room on the night of the party,
connected her flight with Lord Bellefield’s abrupt departure, and
although the subject was, for obvious reasons, avoided between them,
little doubt remained on their minds as to her probable fate. This
occurrence afforded Lewis a clue to Lord Bellefield’s sudden interest in
regard to Hardy’s capture: by her father’s imprisonment would be removed
the chief impediment to the success of his designs upon the daughter.
The event had proved the correctness of his calculation.

Weeks passed on; the wound in Lewis’s shoulder healed, despite the
aggravating attendance of Doctors Scalpel and Bistoury, and with youth
and health on his side he speedily regained his accustomed vigour.
General Grant’s recovery was a matter of greater difficulty. The
fracture had been by no means easily reduced, and the process by which
the bones re-united was a long and tedious one. His accident (as is
usually the case with such events) had occurred at a most inconvenient
moment. While he was yet confined to his room the election for the
county came on, and his opponent, taking advantage of his absence
to undermine his influence with the voters, was returned by a large
majority. The bribery by which he had obtained his seat was, however, a
matter of such notoriety, that, by De Grandeville’s advice, the General
was induced to petition Parliament to annul the election. The petition
failed, and the expenses, which, from the prolonged proceedings, were
unusually heavy, all fell upon the unsuccessful candidate. During the
progress of the affair, Lewis, by the General’s wish, acted as his
amanuensis and private secretary, a confidential servant being engaged
to wait on Walter and attend him during his rides, thus relieving his
tutor of much that was irksome in his situation. The London season was
at its height before General Grant had recovered sufficiently to leave
Broadhurst, but a fortnight before the day on which Charles Leicester’s
wedding was fixed to take place Annie and her father started for the
great metropolis.

During his attendance on the General, Lewis had been thrown much into
Annie’s society, and their intimacy had deepened, on the lady’s side,
into feelings of the warmest esteem and friendship, while the gentleman
became more and more convinced that his previous estimate of the fair
sex was a completely mistaken one, and altogether to be condemned as
the weakest and most fallacious theory that ever entered the brain of a
hot-headed boy--by which opprobrious epithet he mentally stigmatised his
six-months-ago self--and for at least a week after she had departed he
felt as if something had gone wrong with the sun, so that it never shone
properly.

The General had been away about a fortnight, when Lewis received a
letter from Rose informing him for the first time of her literary
pursuits. Since we have last heard of this young lady she had been
growing decidedly blue. Not only had she, under Bracy’s auspices,
published a series of papers in Blunt’s Magazine, but she had positively
written a child’s book, which, although it contained original ideas,
good sense, and warm feeling, instead of second-hand moral platitudes,
and did not take that particularly natural view of life which represents
it as a system of temporal rewards and punishments, wherein the
praiseworthy elder sister is always recompensed with an evangelical
young duke, and the naughty boys are invariably drowned on clandestine
skating expeditions, yet found an enterprising publisher willing
to purchase it; nay, so well did it answer, that the courageous
bibliopolist had actually expressed a wish to confer with the “talented
authoress,” as he styled poor Rose, in regard to a second work.
Whereupon Frere despatched a note to that young lady, telling her she
had better come up to town at once, offering her the use of his house
in a rough and ready way, just as if he had been writing to a man; and
though he did add in a postscript that if she fancied she should be
dull, she’d better bring her mother with her, the afterthought was quite
as likely to have arisen from sheer good-nature, as from any, even the
most faint, glimmering of etiquette. Owing, to a judicious hint thrown
out by Bracy, however, an invitation arrived, at the same time, from
Lady Lombard, which Mrs. Arundel had immediately decided on accepting,
and the object of Rose’s letter was to inquire whether there was the
slightest hope of Lewis being able to meet them.

By the same post arrived a note written by Annie from her father’s
dictation, saying that he found he was quite unable to get on without
Mr. Arundel’s assistance; that he considered change of scene might prove
beneficial to Walter, and that it was therefore his wish that Lewis and
his pupil should join them immediately after the bustle of the wedding
should be over; which scheme chimed in with the young tutor’s wishes
most admirably, and for the rest of the morning he was so happy as to be
quite unlike his usual grave and haughty self, and astonished Faust to
such a degree by placing his fore-paws against his own chest, and in
that position constraining him to waltz round the room on his hind-legs,
that the worthy dog would have assuredly taken out a statute of lunacy
against his master had he been aware of the existence of such a process.

Those who witnessed the marriage of the Hon. Charles Leicester to the
lovely and accomplished daughter of the late Peregrine Peyton, Esq.,
of Stockington Manor, in the county of Lancashire (they said nothing of
Ludgate Hill and ignored Plumpstern totally), describe it to have been a
truly edifying ceremony. The fatal knot was tied, and the wretched pair
launched into a married state by the Bishop of L--------, the unhappy
victims submitting to their fate with unexampled fortitude and
resignation, and the female spectators evincing by their tears that the
lesson to be derived from the awful tragedy enacting before them would
not be thrown away upon them. Nor were the good intentions thus formed
allowed to swell the list of “unredeemed pledges” whence that prince
of pawnbrokers, Satan, is popularly supposed to select his paving
materials, as, during the ball which concluded the evening, two fine
young men of property fell victims to premature declarations, and after
a rapid decline from the ways of good fellowship were carried off by
matrimony, and departed this (_i.e._, fashionable) life in less than two
months after their first seizure.

On Lewis’s arrival in town he found a small packet directed to him in
Leicester’s handwriting, containing, besides the glazed cards lovingly
coupled by silver twist, a remarkably elegant gold watch and chain for
the waistcoat pocket, together with a few lines from Charley himself,
saying that to Lewis’s good advice and plain speaking he felt he in a
great measure owed his present happiness, and that he hoped Lewis would
wear the enclosed trifle, the joint gift of himself and Laura, to remind
him of their mutual friendship and regard. Had he known that Annie Grant
had noticed the fact of his not possessing a watch, and suggested the
nature of the gift to her cousin, he would have valued it even more
highly than he did.

The happy pair had determined to test the endurance of their felicity by
starting for the Rhine, which popular river it was their intention to
go up as far as it was go-up-able, then proceed to Switzerland, do that
land of musical cows and icy mountains thoroughly, and finally take up
their quarters at Florence, where Leicester had succeeded in obtaining
a diplomatic appointment. A letter had been received from them dated
Coblentz, wherein it appeared their newfound happiness had stood the
voyage better than might have been expected; a fact mainly attributable
to their having had an unusually calm passage. Laura considered the
Rhine scenery exquisite; Charley thought it all very well for a change;
but for a constancy, he must confess he preferred the Serpentine. He
was disgusted with the German students, whom he stigmatised as “awful
tigers,” wondered why the women wore short petticoats if they hadn’t
better ankles to show, complained bitterly of the intense stupidity of
the natives for not understanding either French or English, and wound
up by a long, violent sentence quite unconnected with all that had gone
before it, setting forth his unalterable conviction that Laura was an
angel, which unscriptural assertion he reiterated four times in as many
lines.

A change had taken place in Rose Arundel, and Lewis, as he gazed with
affection on her calm, pensive brow, and marked the earnest, thoughtful
expression of her soft, grey eyes, felt that she was indeed altered: he
had left her little more than a child, he found her a woman in the best
and fullest sense of the expression. Reader, do you know all that phrase
implies? do you understand what is meant by a woman in the true and
fullest sense of the term?

“Eh? I should rather think I did, too, just a _very_ little,” replies
Ensign Downylip, winking at society at large; “know what a woman is?
yes, I consider that good, rather.”

“And what, oh! most exquisite juvenile, may be your definition of woman
as she should be?”

The Ensign strokes his upper lip where that confounded moustache is so
very “lang a comin’,” rubs his nose to arouse his intellect, which
he fails to do because that faculty is not asleep but wanting, and
replies--

“Ar--well, to begin with: woman is of course a decidedly inferiar
animal, but--ar--take the best specimen of the class, and you’ll find it
vewy pwitty, picquante, devoted to polking, light in hand, clean about
the pasterns, something like Fanny Elsler, with a dash of Lady--to
give it style (I can’t stand vulgawity), decidedly fast (I hate your
cart-horsey gals)! plenty of bustle to make it look spicy, ready to
go the pace no end, and able properly to--ahem! appweciate ‘Yours
truly’--ar--that’s about the time of day, eh, Mr. Author!”

“No such thing, sir,” replies Corulea Scribbler, who is so very superior
that she is momentarily expected to regenerate society singlehanded, “no
such thing, sir! I know what the author means: he justly considers woman
as a--that is, as _the_ concentrated essence of mind; nothing low, base,
earthy--but--in fact--definitions should be terse--you’ll excuse my
mathematical tastes, but--ahem!--three terms at Queen’s College, and
that dear Professor Baa-lamb! naturally produce a logical habit of
thought--you require a perfect woman.”

“No, madam, I am not so unreasonable.”

“I mean, you require a definition of a perfect woman; here you have it
then--the maximum of mind united to the minimum of matter; or, to speak
poetically, a ‘thing all soul.’” And having thus given her opinion, Miss
Corulea, who measures barely five feet, and is as thin as a lath, shakes
her straw-coloured ringlets and subsides into the Sixth Book of Euclid.

But neither the red-jacket nor the blue-stocking, albeit each the type
of a not unnumerous class, has exactly answered our question as we
would wish it replied to. We do not agree with Charley Leicester in
considering woman an angel; first, because our ideas with regard to
angels are excessively vague and undefined, wings and white drapery
being the only marked features which we have as yet succeeded in
realising; and secondly, because, to verify the resemblance, woman
should be faultless, and we have never yet met with one who had not some
fascinating little sin left to show that she was not too good for this
world. Our notion of a woman, in the best sense of the word, is a being
fitted to be a helpmeet for man; and this would lead us into another
disquisition, which we will dismiss summarily by stating that we mean a
man worthy of the name, not an ape in a red-coat like Ensign Downylip,
or an owl in a sad-coloured one like Professor Baalamb, but a man whom
it would not be mere satire to call a lord of the creation. A helpmeet
for such an one as this should possess a clear, acute intellect, or she
would be unable to comprehend his aspirations after the good, and true,
and beautiful--the efforts of his fallen nature to regain somewhat of
its original rank in the scale of created beings. She should have a
faithful, loving heart, that when, foiled in his worldly career,
his spirit is dark within him, and in the bitterness of his soul he
confesses that “the good that he would he does not, but the evil he
would not, that he does,” her affection may prove to him that in her
love he has one inestimable blessing yet remaining, of which death alone
can deprive him, and then only for a season; for, availing herself of
the fitting moment with the delicate tact which is one of the brightest
instincts of a loving woman’s heart, she can offer him the only true
consolation, by urging him to renew his Christian warfare in the hope
that _together_ they may attain the reward of their high calling, a
reward so glorious that the mind of man is impotent to conceive its
nature. But to be able to do this she must herself have realised, by
the power of faith, the blessedness of things unseen, and with this
requisite, without which all other excellencies are valueless, we
conclude our definition of “woman as she should be.”

Such an one was Rose Arundel, and countless others are there who, if not
sinless as the radiant messengers of heaven, are yet doing angels’ work
by many a fireside which their presence cheers and blesses. Happy is
the man who possesses in a wife or sister such a household fairy; and if
some there be who bear alone the burden of life--whose joys are few, for
we rejoice not in solitude--let those whose lot is brighter forgive the
clouded brow or the cynical word that at times attests the weariness of
a soul on which the sunlight of affection seldom beams.

No particular alteration was observable in Mrs. Arundel, who seemed to
possess the enviable faculty of never growing older, and who remained
just as gay and sparkling as when at sixteen she had enslaved the fancy
rather than the heart of Captain Arundel.

“My dear Lewis,” she exclaimed, after having asked a hundred questions
in a breath regarding the internal economy of General Grant’s family,
the affray with the poachers, Charles Leicester’s wedding, and every
other event, grave or otherwise, which occurred to her active and
versatile mind, “my dear Lewis, what an original your friend Frere is!
excessively kind and good-natured, but so very odd. He volunteered to
come and meet us at the coach-office, which I considered quite a work of
supererogation; but Rose had imbibed such a mistrust of London and its
inhabitants, whom she expected to eat her up bodily, I believe, that she
persuaded me to accept his offer. Well, when the coach arrived I looked
about, but nobody did I see who at all coincided with my preconceived
ideas of Mr. Frere, and I began to think he would prove faithless,
when I descried an individual in a vile hat and an old, rough greatcoat
perched on a pile of luggage, with a cotton umbrella between his
knees, reading some dirty little book, in which he appeared completely
immersed. He took not the slightest notice of the bustle and confusion
going on around him, and would, I believe, have sat there until now, if
a porter, carrying a heavy trunk, had not all but fallen over him;
upon which he started up, and for the first time perceiving the coach,
exclaimed, ‘By Jove, there’s the very thing I am waiting for!’ then
shouldering his umbrella, he advanced to the window, and thrusting
in his great head, growled out, ‘Are any of you Miss Arundel?’ Rose
answered the question, for I was so taken by surprise that I was dying
with laughter. As soon as he had ascertained our identity, he continued,
‘Well, then I should say the sooner you’re out of this the better.
I’ll call a cab.’ The moment it drew up he flung open the door, and
exclaiming, ‘Now, come along,’ he caught hold of Rose as if she’d been a
carpetbag, dragged her out, and pushed her by main force into the cab.”

“Oh, mamma,” interrupted Rose apologetically, “you really colour the
matter too highly. Mr. Frere was as kind as possible. He was a little
rough, certainly, and seemed to think I must be as helpless as a child;
but I dare say he’s not accustomed to act as squire to dames.”

“Indeed he’s not,” resumed Mrs. Arundel. “But I was determined he
shouldn’t paw me about like a bale of goods, so I rested my hand on a
porter’s shoulder and sprang from the coach into the cab while he was
stooping to pick up his wretched umbrella; and finely astonished he
looked, too, when he discovered what I had done. Then he dragged down
all the luggage, just as he had done Rose, and tried to put two trunks
that did not belong to us on the cab, only I raved at him till I obliged
him to relinquish them. Of course I was forced to offer him a seat
in the cab, but he coolly replied, ‘No, thank ye; there are too many
bandboxes--the squares of their bases occupy the entire area. I’ll sit
beside cabby.’ And to my horror he scrambled up to the driving-seat, and
taking the dirty book out of his pocket, was speedily absorbed in its
contents; and in this state we actually drove up to Lady Lombard’s door.
I could have beaten the man, I was so angry with him. And yet, with it
all, the creature is a gentleman.”

“Indeed he is,” returned Lewis, “a thorough gentleman in mind, though
from the extent to which he is engrossed by his literary and scientific
pursuits, and from the fact of living so much alone, he has not the
manners of society. But Frere is a very first-rate man; his is no
ordinary intellect.”

“It is impossible to watch the play of his features and doubt that for
a moment,” returned Rose eagerly. “Look at his speaking eye--his noble
forehead.”

“Oh! Rose is quite _emprise_ with the monster,” remarked Mrs. Arundel,
laughing. “It’s a decided case of love at first sight. Was it the old
greatcoat, or the dreadful hat, which first touched your heart, _ma
chere_?”

“I’m not bound to criminate myself,” was the reply, “so I shall decline
to answer that question.”

While she spoke a short, sharp, double knock, as of an agitated postman,
awoke the echoes and the porter in Lady Lombard’s “Marble Hall.” In
another minute the Brobdignagian footman, with prize calves to his legs,
flung open the drawing-room door and announced, in a stentorian voice,
“Mr. Frere.”

“_Quand on parle du diable on en voit la queue?_” whispered Mrs.
Arundel, rising quickly. “Positively, Rose, my nerves won’t stand the
antics of your pet bear this morning. Let me see you again before you
go, _Louis, mon cher_--you’ll find me in the boudoir.”

So saying, she glided noiselessly out of one door a moment before Frere
entered at the other. Lewis followed her retreating figure with a glance
half-painful, half-amused. “My mother grows younger and more gay every
time I see her,” he observed to Rose. A speaking glance was her only
answer, for at the moment Frere made his appearance--and a somewhat
singular one it was. The day being fine, he had discarded the obnoxious
greatcoat, and--thanks to his old female domestic, who had caught him
going out with a large hole in his sleeve and sent him back to put on
another garment, which she herself selected--the coat he wore was in
unusually good preservation, and not so very much too large for him; but
the heavy shoes, the worsted stockings, the shepherd’s plaid trousers,
and the cotton umbrella were all _in statu quo_; while his bright
eyes, sparkling out of a greater bush than ever of untrimmed hair and
whiskers, gave him a striking resemblance to some honest Scotch terrier,
worthy to be immortalised by Landseer’s pencil. Catching sight of
Lewis, he rushed towards him, and seizing both his hands (in order to
accomplish which act of friendship he allowed the umbrella to fall on
Rose’s toes), he shook them heartily, exclaiming, “Why, Lewis, old boy!
this is a pleasure! I hadn’t a notion you would be here so soon. How’s
General Grant? and how’s Walter? and how’s Faust? and how’s everybody?
Well, I _am_ glad to see you!”

All this time Frere had taken not the slightest notice of Rose, who,
having advanced a step or two to greet him, had resumed her seat, more
pleased to witness his delight in welcoming Lewis than any attentions
to herself could have rendered her. Having seated himself on a sofa and
pulled Lewis clown by his side, he for the first time appeared aware of
Rose’s presence, which he hastened to acknowledge by a nod, adding, “Ah!
how d’ye do? I’ve got something to tell you presently, as soon as I’ve
done with your brother.”

Then, turning to Lewis, he recommenced his string of questions, without
regarding Rose’s presence otherwise than by occasionally including
her in the conversation with such interjectional remarks as “_You_ can
understand that”--“I explained that to _you_ the other day,” until at
length he abruptly exclaimed, “Now I must go and talk to _her_--she and
I have got a little business together.”

“Perhaps I am _de trop_,” observed Lewis with a meaning smile.

In reply to this Frere merely clenched his fist, and having shaken it
within an inch of Lewis’s face, marched deliberately across the room,
and drawing a chair close to Rose, seated himself in it; then laying
hold of one corner of her worsted work, he said in a gruff voice, “Put
away this rubbish.”

“I can listen to you, Mr. Frere, and go on with my slipper at the same
time,” returned Rose, quietly releasing her work.

“You can’t do two things properly together,” was the reply; “nobody can;
for it’s all fudge about Cæsar’s reading and dictating at the same time.
What I’ve got to tell you is more important than a carpet shoe.”

Smiling at his pertinacity, Rose, not having a particle of obstinacy
in her disposition, put away her work, and demurely crossing her hands
before her, like a good child saying its lessons, awaited her tyrant’s
orders. That her attitude was not lost upon Frere that gentleman made
evident by catching Lewis’s eye and pointing backwards with his thumb,
as much as to say, “There! do you see that?” then producing a note from
his pocket, he coolly broke the seal, opened it, and handing it to Rose,
muttered, “Read that.”

The note ran as follows:--

“Mr. T. Bracy presents his compliments to Miss Arundel, and begs to
enclose a note of introduction to Mr. Nonpareil, the publisher, as
Mr. Frere agrees in thinking that the offer made by Mr. A--------, of
B------ Street, for the copyright of her interesting tale was quite
inadequate to its merits.”

“How very kind of Mr. Bracy!” exclaimed Rose, handing the note to her
brother, re re having quietly read it over her shoulder. “Lewis, I must
ask you to be good enough to go with me to Mr. Nonpareil’s whenever you
can spare the time.”

“You needn’t trouble him,” returned Frere gruffly; “I mean to take you
there myself; and as there’s never any good in putting things off, I
vote we go this morning. What do you say?”

“You are very kind,” replied Rose, smiling; “but really, now my brother
is in town I need not encroach on your valuable time.”

“Valuable fiddlestick!” was the courteous reply; “though, of course,
everybody’s time is valuable, if people did but know how to employ it
properly--which they never do. But you don’t suppose if I’d anything
very particular in hand I should be dawdling here, do you? I’ve got
to be at the Ornithological at four, and to call at Moore’s,
the bird-stuffer’s, first; but I can look in there on our way to
Nonpareil’s.”

“Yes; but I’m sure Lewis----” began Rose in a deprecatory tone of voice.

“Nonsense about Lewis!” was the surly rejoinder. “What do you imagine
he knows about dealing with publishers?--they’re ‘kittle cattle to shoe
behint,’ as a Scotchman would say. I’ve had dealings enough with ’em
to find out that, I can tell you. As for Lewis, if he were to walk into
one of their dens with his head up in the air, they’d take him for Lord
Octavo Shallowpate, come to negotiate for another new novel, written
with a paste-pot and scissors, and when they found he had not a handle
to his name with which to shove his rubbish down the public throat,
they’d kick him out of the shop again.”

“Then you really think I look as stupid as a literary lord, eh, Frere?”
 inquired Lewis.

“Well, that’s too strong a term, perhaps,” answered Frere reflectively;
“but you don’t look like a man of business, at all events.”

“Where does this sagacious publisher reside?” asked Lewis; and when
Frere had given him the required information, he continued: “Then we’ll
settle the matter thus:--My tailor, with whom I am anxious to gain an
interview, lives in the adjoining street; accordingly, I’ll walk down
with Rose and you, and while you negotiate with the autocrat of folios,
I’ll take ‘fitting measures’ for getting myself ‘neatly bound in
cloth.’”

“So be it then, most facetious youth,” returned Frere, laughing; “and
the faster you can get ready, you know,” he continued, turning to Rose,
“the better.”

“I’m all obedience,” replied Rose, smiling; “but I think you’re rather
fond of tyrannising, Mr. Frere.”

“Who, I?” returned Frere in astonishment. “Not a bit of it; I’m the most
easily managed fellow in London--I am, upon my word.”

“You should see what perfect command his old housekeeper has him in,”
 observed Lewis, with an arch glance at his sister; “the bear dares not
growl at her--she’s a perfect Van Amburgh to him.”

Now there was so much truth in this charge that it was rather a sore
subject with Frere. The old woman in question had lived with his mother
and had nursed him when a child; and for these reasons, as well as from
good nature and a certain easiness of disposition which lay beneath his
rough manner, Frere had allowed her gradually to usurp control over him,
till, in all the minutiae of his domestic life, she ruled him with a
rod of iron. Although her admiration of and respect for her master’s
learning was fully equal to her total ignorance of the arts and
sciences; and although her affection for him was boundless, nature
had gifted her with a crusty temper, which an interval of poverty and
hardship (extending from the death of Frere’s mother till the time when
his first act on obtaining a competence had been to seek her out and
take her into his service) had not tended to sweeten. The dialogues
which occasionally took place between the master and servant were most
amusing, and her power over him was exercised so openly, that his fear
of Jemima had become a standing joke among his intimates. Accordingly,
on hearing Lewis’s observation, Frere hastily jumped up and strode to
the fireplace, muttering, “Nonsense! psha! rubbish! don’t you believe a
word of it, Miss Arundel; but go and dress, there’s a good----” he
was going to add “fellow”; for be it known, the clue to his gruff,
unpolished behaviour towards the young lady in question was to be
discovered in the fact, that from her quiet composure, freedom from
affectation, clear, good sense, and the interest she took in subjects
usually considered too abstruse for female investigation, Frere looked
upon her as a kindred soul, and as all his other chosen intimates were
of the worthier gender, he was continually forgetting that she was not a
man. Checking himself, however, just in time, he substituted “creature”
 for “fellow”; and as Rose left the room, he continued, “ ’Pon my word,
Lewis, your sister’s such a nice, sensible, well-informed, reasonable
being, that I am constantly forgetting she’s a woman.”

“Which speech shows that amongst your numerous studies that of the
female character has been neglected,” replied Lewis; “or that you have
taken your impressions from very bad specimens of the sex.”

Frere, who during the above remark had drawn from his pocket a lump of
crumbling sandstone, which, in order to examine more closely, he coolly
deposited on a small satin-wood work-table, looked up in surprise as he
rejoined, “Your opinions, touching the merits of womankind, seem to
have suffered a recovery, young man, seeing that the last time I had
the honour of discussing the matter with you, women were all
perfidious hyaenas, or thereabouts. What has wrought so remarkable a
transformation?”

Something appeared to have suddenly gone wrong with Lewis’s boot, for it
was not until he had thoroughly investigated the matter that he replied,
his face being still bent over the offending article, “The simple fact
that as one grows older one grows wiser, I suppose. No doubt Gretchen
behaved abominably, and rendered me for the time intensely wretched; but
it was folly in me ever to have placed my happiness in the power of such
a little, romantic, flirting, half-educated thing as she was; I should
not do so now, and to argue from such an individual instance, to the
disparagement of the whole sex, was one of the maddest notions that ever
entered the brain of a hot-headed boy.”

“Phew!” whistled Frere in astonishment, “you are not over civil to your
former self, I must say. If anybody else had spoken so disrespectfully
of you you’d have been for punching his head for him; however, I believe
your present frame of mind is the more sane of the two, though sweeping
assertions are always more or less untenable. The truth is, you can lay
down no general rule about it--women are human as well as men; there are
a few very good, a few very bad, and an immense number who are nothing
particular, in both sexes. There is no authority which would lead us to
suppose Adam’s rib was made of ivory more than any of his other bones.
There’s one vice belonging to the fair sex, though--they’re always
an unmerciful time putting on their bonnets; your sister’s been five
minutes already, and I’d lay a bet we don’t see her for five more.” As
he uttered the last words, Rose, fully equipped and looking the picture
of neatness, tripped into the room, to Frere’s intense discomfiture, who
scrambled his relic of the Era of the Old Red Sandstone into his pocket
with the air of some culprit schoolboy detected in his malpractices by
the vigilant eye of his pedagogue.



CHAPTER XXXIV.--ROSE AND FRERE GO TO VISIT MR. NONPAREIL THE PUBLISHER.

Lewis, having slipped away for a moment to take leave of Mrs. Arundel,
who dismissed him with a parting injunction to take care Ursa Major
did not devour Rose, the trio descended the stairs, Frere taking an
opportunity to whisper to Lewis, “She was down upon me then in every
sense of the word; didn’t believe a woman could get ready in five
minutes on any consideration; but your sister has more sense than I ever
expected to see under a bonnet, that’s a fact.”

“Don’t you think for once you could dispense with that dreadful
umbrella?” inquired Lewis, who had imbibed a few Leicesterian prejudices
from his residence at Broadhurst.

“Dreadful umbrella! why what’s the matter with it?” exclaimed Frere,
half unfurling his favourite; “it’s-water-tight, and has a famous strong
stick to it; what more do you want in an umbrella, eh?”

“It might have been made of silk,” suggested Lewis mildly.

“Yes, and be stolen and brought back again regularly three times a
week,” returned Frere. “I had a silk one once, and the expense that
umbrella was to me, to say nothing of the wear and tear of mind it
occasioned, was perfectly terrific. I shudder when I think of it; there
are not a dozen cabmen in London who have not received half-a-crown for
bringing home that umbrella. It was a regular bottle-imp to me, always
being lost and always coming back again. The ’bus conductors knew it
by sight as well as they know the Bank; they were for ever laying traps
to get it into their possession, with a view to obtain the reward of
honesty by bringing it home again. I got rid of it at last, though; I
lent it to a fellow who owed me five pounds, and I’ve never seen man,
money, or umbrella since. Now this dear old cotton thing, not being
worth finding, has never been lost; however, if you’ll promise to take
care I have it to-morrow when I call, I’ll leave it here, and if your
sister gets wet don’t blame me.”

“Rose, will you undertake the heavy responsibility?” asked Lewis. “I
think I may safely promise so to do,” was the reply. “There is a little
foot page in this establishment in whom I have the greatest confidence,
and to his custody will! commit it.”

And Frere’s anxious mind being soothed by this assurance, they started
on their expedition. Twenty minutes’ brisk walking--which would have
been brisker still if Rose had not gently hinted that ladies were not
usually accustomed to stride along like postmen; to which suggestion
Frere responded with something very like a growl,--twenty minutes’
walking brought them to the very elegant front of Mr. Nonpareil’s shop,
where Lewis left the two others. A nice young man, with Hyperion curls
outside his head, and nothing save much too high an opinion of himself
within, who lounged gracefully behind the counter, replied to Frere’s
inquiry “Whether Mr. Nonpareil was at home,” after the fashion of the
famous Irish echo, i.e., by another question. Elevating his eyebrows
till they almost disappeared in his forest of hair, he drawled out--

“Wh-a-y? did you w-a-ant him?”

“Of course I did, or else I should not have asked for him,” returned
Frere sharply; then handing his own card and Bracy’s note of
introduction across the counter, he continued, “Take those to your
_master_, and tell him that a lady and gentleman are waiting to see
him.”

At the word “master” Hyperion coloured and appeared about to become
impertinent, but something in Frere’s look induced him to alter his
intention, and turning on his heel, he strode into the back shop with an
_air martyre_, which was deeply affecting to the risible muscles of the
pair he left behind him.

“There’s an animal!” exclaimed Frere, as the subject of his remark
disappeared behind a tall column of account books. “Now that ape looks
upon himself as a sort of Admirable Crichton, and I’ll be bound has a
higher opinion of his own mental endowments than ever Shakespeare or
Milton had of theirs. I dare say the creature has his admirers, too:
some subordinate shop boy, or the urchin who runs of errands, takes him
at his own price and believes in him implicitly. Ye gods, what a ‘ship
of fools’ is this goodly vessel of society!”

“I hope he does not rest his claims on the ground of his personal
attractions,” returned Rose with a quiet smile.

“His strength must lie in his hair, if he does,” replied Frere, “like
that of his Israelitish Hercules of old. But see, here he comes, shaking
his ambrosial locks; and behold, he smiles graciously upon us. Bracy’s
note has worked miracles.”

Approaching with a smirk and a bow, Hyperion politely signified that Mr.
Nonpareil was disengaged, then again retreating, led the way through a
sort of defile of unsold literature to the sanctum of the enterprising
publisher. This remarkable apartment was of the most minute dimensions,
a very duodecimo edition of a room, embellished with a miniature
fireplace, an infinitesimal writing-table, and a mere peep-hole of a
window looking across many chimney-pots into space. In the middle of
this retreat of learning, like an oyster in its shell, reposed that
Rhadamanthus of literature--the heroic Nonpareil. His outer man
was encased in black, as became the severity of his office; a white
neck-cloth encircled his august throat, while a heavy gold watch-chain
and seals attested his awful respectability. He was of a most
respectable age, neither incautiously young nor unadvisedly old; he was
of a most respectable height, neither absurdly short nor inconveniently
tall; his weight, 12 stone 6 lbs., was most respectable--it had not
varied a pound for the last ten years, nor could one look at him without
feeling that it would remain exactly the same for the next ten years; he
had a most respectable complexion, red enough to indicate that he lived
well and that it agreed with him, but nothing more. Nobody could suspect
that man of an apoplectic tendency; he was much too respectable to
think of dying suddenly; the very expression of his face was a sort of
perpetual life assurance; _he_ go out of the world without advertising
the day on which he might be expected to appear most respectably bound
in boards! The idea was preposterous. His manner naturally expressed his
conviction of his own intense respectability, and was impressive, not
to say pompous; while from a sense of the comparative want of
respectability in everybody else it was also familiar, or as his enemies
(all great men have enemies) declared, presuming.

As Rose and Frere entered he stood up to receive them, favoured Frere
with a salutation half-way between a bow and a nod, partially extended
his hand to Rose, and as she hesitated in surprise, hastily drew it
back again, then motioning them to the only two chairs, save his own
judgment-seat, the apartment contained, resumed his throne, and smiling
graciously at Rose, leant back, waiting apparently until that young lady
should humbly prefer her suit to him.

Perceiving his design, Rose glanced appealingly at Frere, who came to
her assistance by plunging at once in _médias res_ with his accustomed
bluntness.

“Well, Mr. Nonpareil,” he began, “touching the object of our visit to
you, I suppose Bracy has told you in his note what we’ve come about?”

“Yes--that is, so far; Mr. Bracy signifies that your visit has a
business tendency,” was the cautious reply.

“Why, we certainly should not have come here for pleasure,” returned
Frere shortly; then catching Rose’s look of dismay he continued, “I mean
to say we should not have thought of taking up your valuable time” (here
he gave Rose a confidential nudge with his elbow to indicate that he
spoke ironically), “unless we had a legitimate object in doing so.”

In answer to this the Autocrat merely inclined his head, and revealed a
highly respectable set of teeth; so Frere resumed--

“This young lady, Miss Arundel, has determined, by the advice of Mr.
Bracy and--ahem!--myself, to make you the first offer of a very valuable
work which she has written--a tale of a very unusual description,
peculiarly suited, as I consider, to the present state of society,
pointing out certain social evils, and showing how a more consistent
adherence to the precepts of Christianity would prove the only effectual
remedy.”

At these last words Mr. Nonpareil, who, having apparently lapsed into a
state of torpor, had listened with a face as immovable as if it had been
cast in bronze, suddenly pricked up his ears and condescended to exist
again.

“If I understand you, Mr.----Frere,” suggested that gentleman--“Mr.
Frere,” continued Nonpareil, “if I comprehend your meaning, sir, this
lady wishes to dispose of the copyright of a religious novel?”

“That’s it,” replied Frere.

“Then my answer must mainly depend on the exact height of the
principles.”

“On the how much?” inquired Frere, considerably mystified.

“On the exact height of the principles, sir,” returned Mr. Nonpareil
with dignity. “I possess a regular scale, sir, which I have had worked
out minutely, proceeding from the broad outlines of Christianity to the
most delicate shades of doctrine, and descending even to the smallest
points of the canon law. Such an ecclesiological table is most important
in our line. Public opinion, sir, fluctuates in such matters, just like
the funds, up one week, down the next, up again the next. Now I’ll just
give you an instance. There was a little work we published, I dare say
you’ve seen it, ‘Ambrosius; or, The Curate Confessed.’ It was thought
rather a heavy book when it first came out. The public would not read
it; the trade did not like it; it hung on hand, and I expected to lose
from £200 to £300 upon it. Well, sir, the Surplice question began to be
agitated. Fortunately, the author had made Ambrosius preach in a white
gown. I immediately advertised it freely, the thing took, we sold 3000
copies in a fortnight, and instead of losing £300 I made £600. But
that’s not all, sir. Shortly after that the Rev. Clerestory Lectern, one
of the very tip-top ones, went to Rome, and took his three curates, a
serious butler, and the family apothecary with him. This made a great
sensation, convulsed the public mind fearfully, and brought on a general
attack of the ultra-protestant epidemic. Accordingly, I sent for the
author of ‘Ambrosius,’ offered him terms he was only too glad to jump
at, shut him up in the back-shop with half a ream of foolscap and a
bottle of sherry, and in little more than a week we printed off 5000
copies of ‘Loyoliana; or, The Jesuit in the Chimney Corner.’ The book
sold like wild-fire, sir. A second edition was called for and went off
in no time, and I believe I might have got through a third, only
Lord Dunderhead Downhill joined the Plymouth Brethren and married his
kitchen-maid, which brought public opinion up again several degrees and
spoiled the sale; but I made a very nice thing of it, altogether.”

So saying, Mr. Nonpareil rubbed his hand gleefully, pushed his hair off
his forehead, and looked at Rose as if he longed to coin her into money
on the spot. After a pause he inquired abruptly, “What’s the name,
ma’am?”

“The name of my tale?” began Rose, slightly flurried at the conversation
so suddenly taking a personal turn. “I thought of calling it ‘Helen
Tremorne.’”

“Very gogd, ma’am--very good,” returned Mr. Nonpareil approvingly;
“euphonious, aristocratic, and vague. Just at this time, a title that
does not pledge a book to anything particular of any kind is most
desirable. About how long do you suppose it will be?”

“Mr. Frere thought it would make two small volumes about the size of a
work called ‘Amy Herbert,’ I believe,” replied Rose.

“Quite right, ma’am, quite right, a very selling size, indeed,” was the
answer; “clever book, ‘Amy Herbert,’ very. So much tenderness in it,
ma’am; nothing pays better than judicious tenderness; the mothers of
England like it to read about--the daughters of England like it--the
little girls of England like it--and so the husbands of England are
forced to pay for it. If you recollect, ma’am, there’s a pathetic
governess in ‘Amy Herbert,’ who calls the children ‘dearest’--well
imagined character, that. She’s sold many a copy has that governess. May
I ask does ‘Helen Tremorne’ call anybody ‘dearest’?”

“I really scarcely remember,” said Rose, hiding a smile behind her muff.

“It would be most desirable that she should, ma’am,” returned Mr.
Nonpareil solemnly. “Some vindictive pupil, if possible, ma’am--the
more repulsive the child, the greater the self-sacrifice--people like
self-sacrifice to read about--they call such incidents touching; and
just at the present moment pathos sells immensely. Pray, ma’am, may I
ask are you high or low?”

“My principles would not lead me to sympathise with the very ultra
party on either side,” replied Rose, slightly annoyed at being forced to
allude to such subjects in such a presence.

“Ah! the _via media_; yes, I see--very good, nothing could be better.
Just at the present time the via media is, if I may be allowed the
expression, the way that leads to fortune; nothing sells like it--it’s
so vague and safe, you see; the heads of families buy it in preference
to any more questionable teaching. May I ask have you fixed on any sum
for which you would dispose of the copyright of your story?”

Rose glanced at Frere, who responded to the appeal by naming a sum
exactly double the amount which Rose, in her humility, would gladly
have accepted. She was about to say so, but a slight contraction in her
companion’s brow warned her against committing such an imprudence.
Mr. Nonpareil, however, did not appear alarmed at the magnitude of the
demand, but promising to peruse the manuscript carefully (which promise
he fulfilled by sending it to his paid reader, never even glancing at it
himself) and to give a definite answer in the course of a few days, he
bowed them out of his den in the most respectable manner possible.
As soon as they had quitted the shop, Rose exclaimed, “Well, if all
publishers are like Mr. Nonpareil, the less personal communication I
hold with them the better I shall be pleased.”

“Ay, but they are not,” returned Frere; “many of them are men of great
intelligence, simple manners, and who possess much out-of-the-way
knowledge, which renders them very agreeable companions. There are
pompous and narrow-minded individuals in all professions. Nothing is
more illogical than to generalise from a single instance; it’s certain
to lead to the most absurd results. Why, I’ve actually encountered an
honest lawyer and met with a disinterested patriot before now! But here
comes Lewis; I wonder what conclusion he has arrived at in regard to
tailors.”



CHAPTER XXXV.--HOW RICHARD FRERE OBTAINED A SPECIMEN OF THE “PODICEPS
CORNUTUS.”


* The incident in the following chapter is taken from an anecdote
related (as the author believes) in “Gilpin’s Scenery of the New
Forest.”


“Now for the _Podiceps Cornutus!_” exclaimed Frere, after Lewis had been
made acquainted with the result of the interview with Mr. Nonpareil.

“May I ask what wonderful creature rejoices in that ineffable name?”
 inquired Rose.

“You may well say ‘wonderful creature,’” returned Frere,
enthusiastically. “It’s my belief that my precious Podiceps is the first
specimen which has ever been obtained in this country; and I should
fancy it will be the last, too, for I don’t expect any one will be
inclined to take the same amount of trouble that I took in order to get
it. I was down in Lincolnshire last Christmas at a place called Water
End--so named, I should imagine, on the _lucus a non luceido_ principle,
because there was no end of water all round it. Well, sir” (he was
addressing Rose all this time), “Fenwick, the man with whom I was
staying, told me one day that he’d seen a bird when he was duck-shooting
which he’d never met with before; and by the description he gave me of
it, I felt almost certain it must have been a specimen of the Podiceps
Cornutus, which, as I dare say you know, is scarcely ever found in this
latitude.”

“You must excuse my lamentable ignorance,” replied Rose, smiling, “but I
was not even aware of its illustrious existence five minutes ago.”

“Well,” returned Frere, arching his eye-brows, “they do neglect women’s
educations shamefully, I must say! The _Podiceps Cornutus_ is a species
of Grebe by no means rare in Pennsylvania, where they winter; in
summer they migrate to the far countries to rear their young; they are
web-footed; the bill is--but, however, you shall see my specimen, so I
need not bother you with a long description, which I dare say you would
not understand, after all; and I’ll tell you, instead, my adventures
in pursuit of the particular individual in question. The weather was
unusually cold, the ground was covered with snow, and the water with
ice; but as soon as I heard of the _Podiceps_ nothing would serve me
but I must go after it. Accordingly, an amphibious old animal of a
gamekeeper was summoned to attend me, and as soon as it was light the
next morning off we set, and we walked through ice and snow till two
o’clock in the afternoon, each armed with a long duck gun that weighed
as much as a young cannon. We saw plenty of ducks, teal, and even
snipes, but nothing that could by any possibility be mistaken for a
Podiceps. At last we came to a salt-marsh, as they call it,--that is,
a place which is all water when the tide is high, and alluvium--more
commonly termed mud--when it’s low, which it happened to be at that
particular epoch. Well, my old companion began to show signs of knocking
up, and gave one or two broad hints that he considered we were engaged
in a wild-goose chase in every sense of the term, and that the sooner we
relinquished it the better; when, all of a sudden, almost from under our
feet, up sprang a bird and flew away like the wind. ‘The Podiceps,
by all that’s glorious!’ exclaimed I; and levelling my gun in such
excitement that I could scarcely hold it steady, I blazed away, and--of
course missed it. The old gamekeeper, however, took the thing more
coolly--muttering ‘most haste worst speed,’ he raised his fowling-piece,
and when the bird was just at a nice killing distance pulled the
trigger--but the confounded gun hung fire and did not go off till my
Podiceps was all but out of shot. Luckily, however, some of the shots
reached him, and just as I fancied I was about to lose sight of him for
ever, he gave a sort of lurch, as if he were tipsy, and came toppling
down headlong. I marked the spot where he fell, and the moment he
reached the ground rushed off to secure him. As I was going along I
heard the old fellow bawling something after me, of which I only caught
the words, ‘take care,’ but as I was not in the humour just then to take
care of anything except to gain possession of my _Podiceps_, I paid no
attention to him. The bird had fallen on a sort of peninsular-shaped
bank, and along this, sometimes over my insteps in mud, sometimes up to
my knees in water, did I make my way, as fast as the difficulties of the
path would permit. The spot where the _Podiceps_ had fallen proved to be
much farther off than I had imagined it, and before I reached it I was
completely out of breath, and almost dragged to pieces by wading through
the mud in my heavy boots. However, I cared little for that when I
discovered the bird lying on his back as dead as mutton, and on picking
it up perceived that it really was an actual _bona fide Podiceps
Cornutus_, and no mere myth, created by my imagination. Delighted at
having secured my prize, I washed the mud off it, smoothed its feathers
as carefully as possible, and wrapping it in a handkerchief, placed
it in my pocket, and prepared to retrace my steps. But, lo and behold!
while I had been admiring the _Podiceps_, my peninsula had become an
island! and there was I, Robinson Crusoe-like, suddenly cut off from my
fellow-creatures. Not a soul, or more correctly, a body could I see,--my
old man had disappeared--indeed, so altered was the face of things by
the rising of the water that I did not very well know in what quarter to
look for him, or in which direction to advance in order to gain _terra
finna_, while, to my annoyance, I perceived that my island was rapidly
growing ‘small by degrees, and beautifully less!’”

“What a disagreeable position to be placed in!” exclaimed Rose, much
interested. “How _did_ you contrive to escape?”

“Well, I was just going to tell you if you hadn’t interrupted me,”
 returned Frere gruffly. “I made one or two attempts to discover the
route by which I had come, but in vain; advance which way I would I only
got into deeper water, and in the last trial I made I slipped souse into
a hole, and was half-drowned before I could contrive to scramble out
again. After this rather serious failure I began to feel that I was in
an awkward predicament. I shouted, but no one answered, for the very
sufficient reason that no one was within hearing. I loaded my gun and
tried to discharge it; but it had become wet when I tumbled into the
hole, and obstinately refused to go off. The water continued to rise
rapidly, and my island was already covered, My only hope now lay in the
old man; the words he had bawled after me must evidently have been a
warning against the danger in which I had so foolishly involved myself;
he was therefore aware of my situation, and would surely take some
measures for my rescue. At all events, there was nothing for it but
patience. I was unable to swim, the ground on which I stood appeared to
be the highest point in the immediate vicinity, so there I must remain.
Perhaps, after all, my imagination had exaggerated the danger; the tide
might not rise much higher, and the old man, aware of this fact, might
be waiting till the waters should recede to join me and pilot me safely
home. This at all events was a consolatory hypothesis, and trying to
persuade myself it was the true one, I forced the barrel of my gun as
deeply into the mud as I was able, leaned my elbows on the butt, and
thus supported, watched with a beating heart the advance of the
water. My feet were already covered, and it continued to rise almost
imperceptibly, and yet, comparing one five minutes with another, with
appalling rapidity, higher and higher: it gained the calf of my leg;
it approached, then covered my knees; inch by inch it stole on till it
reached my hip; the first button of my waistcoat was the next point,
then the second, then the third, and as that also disappeared I felt my
situation was indeed becoming perilous in the extreme, and cast my eyes
around in the vain hope of discovering some means of extricating myself.
I might have saved myself the trouble; nothing but the still increasing
water was visible on any side. A slight breeze arose and rippled the
surface, and now my precaution of thrusting my gun-barrel into the mud
stood me in good stead; but for it I should have been swept away by
the advancing tide, and even in spite of this support I found some
difficulty in preserving my foothold. My eyes seemed riveted by some
supernatural fascination on the progress made by the deepening water.
My waistcoat buttoned up to the throat with eight buttons; five of
these were by this time immersed, the water stood breast high, the sixth
disappeared. It was with the greatest difficulty I could preserve my
balance--I swayed from side to side like a drunken man. The cold was
intense; my teeth chattered and my limbs were rapidly becoming cramped
and paralysed, while to add to my catalogue of miseries, the daylight
began to fade apace. I gave myself up for lost, and came to the
conclusion that if ever we were fished out the _Podiceps_ and I should
be alike candidates for a glass-case in some museum. A strange mixture
of thoughts ran through my brain. I tried to realise the idea of death.
I fancied the separation of soul and body, and speculated on how my
mental self would feel when it saw strange fishes taking liberties with
my bodily self, without having the slightest power to drive them away.
My attention was diverted from these gloomy fancies by observing that
the water appeared much longer in reaching my seventh button than it
had been in advancing from the fourth to the fifth, or from that to
the sixth, and while I was casting about to find a reason for this
variation--lo and behold! the sixth button once more became visible. How
was this? Had I unconsciously shifted to higher ground, or was it, could
it be possible that the tide had turned, that the waters had begun to
recede? The agonising suspense of the next five minutes was one of the
most severe mental trials I have ever experienced. Though I have spoken
lightly on the subject, I had in fact made up my mind to face death as
a man and a Christian should do, and was prepared to meet my fate
calmly and resolutely; but now the uncertainty, the renewed hope of life
struggling with the fear of a possibly approaching death became almost
unbearable, and had the conflict been prolonged my presence of mind
would have entirely deserted me. Less than five minutes, however, served
to set the matter at rest. The sixth button was left high and dry, the
fifth reappeared, and was succeeded by another and another; certain
landmarks, whose immersion I had watched with anxious eyes, again became
visible, and I was thinking of making a final effort to reach _terra
firma_ before the increasing darkness should throw new difficulties in
the way, when my ears were greeted by a distant ‘Halloo.’ I shouted in
reply, and soon had the satisfaction of perceiving a flat-bottomed
boat making towards me, propelled by my host and the old man who I had
conceived basely to have deserted me. As they drew me, half-crippled
with cold and exhaustion, into the boat, Fenwick began haranguing me in
a composite strain of upbraiding and condolence, but I cut him short by
raising my head as I lay sousing in a puddle at the bottom of the punt,
and murmuring in a faint voice--‘Never mind, old fellow, it’s all right,
for _I’ve got the Podiceps Cornutus_.’ And touching that same bird, here
we are at the stuffer’s shop; so come along in, and I’ll show him to you
bodily.”

A week had elapsed since the morning on which the above conversation
took place, a week in which many events had occurred. The mighty
Nonpareil, still considering the _via media_ a promising investment, had
condescended graciously to purchase Rose’s manuscript, and when Frere,
who brought her the intelligence, placed in her hands a cheque for
£100, which, relying on her profound ignorance of business forms, he had
kindly substituted for the publisher’s bill at six months, she received
it with a start of delight. The girl was so happy! she had at length
realised her darling project; she had, by her own exertions, helped to
lighten Lewis’s burden; she had done something towards shortening his
period of banishment, for such she considered his enforced residence at
Broadhurst. Poor Rose! she had not a particle of avarice in her whole
nature, and yet never did miser rejoice over his hoards as she did
over that hundred pounds; for it was by no means to be spent--that,
fortunately, was unnecessary, as Mrs. Arundel, albeit wanting mental
ballast in some points, was a notable housewife, and as for Rachel, she
was a very dragon in her care of that Hesperides, the larder; so that
out of the liberal allowance Lewis made to them, his mother and sister
were privately saving a small fund, destined, as they fondly hoped,
to advance at some future time his fortunes; and to this store Rose’s
hundred pounds would make a magnificent addition. And the joy it was
to her thus to dedicate it! Could she have purchased with it the most
desirable match in England, the hand of that identical young duke who
was exhibited to correct radical tendencies at the electioneering ball
at Broadhurst, his Grace might have died a bachelor ere Rose would have
diverted the money from its appointed purpose. But something ought to be
done with it. Rose had heard of compound interest; nay, she had even had
its nature explained to her; and though at the end of the explanation
she was more in the dark than at the beginning, she attributed that to
her own obtuseness, and contented herself with recollecting that it was
something which began by doubling itself, and went on doubling itself,
and something else, until--she did not know exactly what; so she
supplied the blank by adding, until the desired result should be
attained. And now, recalling the definition thus attained, she decided
that the advisable thing would be to place her hundred pounds in the
most favourable situation for catching that desirable epidemic, compound
interest. Accordingly, with much diffidence, and a just appreciation of
the very hazy nature of her dissolving views in regard to the investment
of capital generally, Rose communicated her ideas to Frere. That
gentleman heard her out with a good-humoured smile playing around the
corners of his mouth. “Well,” he said, as she concluded, “you are but a
woman after all, I see!”

“Why, what have you taken me for hitherto, then?” demanded Rose.

This very pertinent inquiry appeared somewhat to puzzle the individual
to whom it was addressed, for he pushed his hair back from his forehead
and rubbed his chin with an air of perplexity ere he answered, “If
I were what they call a lady’s man, which means a conceited puppy, I
should grin at you to show my white teeth, and reply, ‘An Angel;’ but
seeing that _man_ was made a little lower than the angels--though, by
the way, that’s a mistranslation--and that women are inferior to men,
to call a woman an angel is to be guilty of a logical absurdity, and is
only to be excused in the case of lovers, who, as men labouring under
a mental delusion--temporary monomaniacs, in fact--are scarcely to be
looked upon as rational beings.”

“But if you are not a puppy, and I am not an angel, both which
propositions I am perfectly ready to admit, why do you consider it
necessary to enunciate your apparent discovery that, after all, I am
_only_ a woman?” inquired Rose.

“Because, if you must know,” growled Frere, at length fairly brought to
bay, “you have hitherto talked so much sense, and so little nonsense,
that I’ve looked upon you more as a man than a woman. You wanted the
truth, and now you’ve got it,” he continued in a tone like the rumbling
of distant thunder, as Rose, clapping her hands in girl-like delight at
having elicited this confession, replied with a low, silvery laugh, “I
thought so! I fancied that was it! Oh, the conceit of these lords of
the creation! And now that you have found out that I am not the mental
Amazon your fancy painted me, do you intend _quite_ to give me up?”

As she said this, half playfully, half in earnest, raising her calm,
grey eyes, which now sparkled with unwonted animation, to his face,
Frere experienced a (to him) entirely new sensation. He was for the
first time conscious of the effect produced by

                        “The light that lies

                        In woman’s eyes,”

and he felt--unreasonable as he could not but consider it--that he
was better pleased with Rose as she was than if she had been Professor
Faraday himself; than whom (barring Sir Isaac Newton) Frere’s mind was
incapable of conceiving a more exalted type of male humanity. The way in
which he expressed the gentle sentiment which had stolen into his breast
was as follows:--

“Don’t talk such rubbish, but listen to a little common sense, and try
and comprehend it, if you can, for once in your life. You want this
money invested for Lewis’s benefit, don’t you?” Receiving a reply in the
affirmative, he continued, “Well, then, have you sufficient confidence
in me to trust it entirely in my hands to invest as I think best?”

“I should be indeed ungrateful if I had not,” returned Rose, the tears
springing to her eyes, as she remembered Frere’s many acts of kindness
to her father.

“Psha! stuff! I didn’t mean anything of that kind,” rejoined
Frere, provoked with himself for having recalled such distressing
recollections, “only you women are so ready to trust anybody till
you’ve been let in for it two or three times, and then you’re just as
unreasonable the other way, and suspect every one whether they deserve
it or not; however, as I believe I’m indifferent honest, I’ll take this
money, if you wish it, and do the best I can with it. Lewis shall not
be always a tutor if we can help it, though it’s wonderful how contented
he’s grown lately--so as he lashed out too when he was first put in
harness.”

“You’ve observed the change, have you, Mr. Frere?” returned Rose
interrogatively. “I have been rejoicing in it exceedingly; it is just
what I could have wished, but dared not hope for. I attribute it in
great measure to his affection for poor Walter.”

“Well, it may be so; no doubt the lad presents an interesting
psychological study,” returned Frere reflectively, “though I rather
conceive it may be owing to his having taken a liking to----”

“Miss Grant and Miss Livingstone,” vociferated the Colossus of plush,
flinging open the door with a startling vehemence, the result of
an ebullition of temper consequent upon a severe rebuke he had
just received from Minerva for mispronouncing her patronymic, which
interruption prevented Frere from expressing his innocent conviction
that certain geological researches in the neighbourhood of Broadhurst
constituted the charm that had so suddenly reconciled Lewis to his
dependent position.



CHAPTER XXXVI.--RECOUNTS “YE PLEASAUNTE PASTYMES AND CUNNYNGE DEVYCES”
 OF ONE THOMAS BRACY.

Annie Grant introduced herself to Rose with that easy courtesy which
adds so great a charm to the manners of a perfectly well-bred woman,
and Rose, as she gazed on her, thought she had never beheld anything so
lovely before. She was dressed in--_Halt là!_ attention, young ladies!
_favete_--no, _not linguis_; in the amiability of your natures you are
always ready enough to do that---_favete auribus_, listen and learn;
for I myself, the chronicler of this veritable history, am about to
vindicate the good use I made of those halcyon days when

                        “My only books

                        Were woman’s looks,”

and to prove that “follies” were not _all_ they taught me--for this I
assert and am prepared to maintain, that good taste in dress is not in
itself a folly, and only becomes so when the mind of a fool
(or fool-_ess_ as the case may be) exalts it to an undue pre-eminence.
Annie, be it remembered, was a _blonde_, with just enough of the rose in
her cheeks to prevent the lily from producing an appearance of ill
health. The month was June, the London season was at its height, and the
young lady had called upon Rose in her way to the second horticultural
fête at Chiswick Gardens. Her bonnet was of white chip, from which a
small white ostrich feather tipped with blue drooped lovingly, as though
it sought to kiss the fair face beneath it. A _visite_ of light _blue
glacé_ silk had been fashioned by the skill of an ingenious Parisian
_modiste_, so as to suggest rather than conceal the exquisite form it
covered, beneath which the rich folds of a gown of pale fawn-colour
_Gros de Naples_, as uncreased as if, cherub-like, its wearer never sat
down, completed the costume; and a very becoming one it was, as we feel
sure all young ladies of good taste will allow. Richard Frere, being
slightly acquainted with Minerva Livingstone, good-naturedly devoted
himself to that indurated specimen of the original granite formation,
who from her name and nature might possibly possess a geological
interest in his eyes, and by trying to macadamise her into small-talk,
enabled the two girls to prosecute their acquaintance undisturbed. Rose,
little used to society, was shy and reserved before strangers, though
there was a quiet self-possession about her which prevented her manner
from appearing _gauche_ or unformed. Annie, on the other hand, being in
the constant habit of receiving and entertaining guests, made
conversation with a graceful ease which completely fascinated her
companion The only subject on which her fluency appeared to desert her
was when she spoke of Lewis, his kindness to Walter, and the valuable
services he had lately rendered her father; but the little she did say
showed so much good taste and evinced such genuine warmth of heart and
delicacy of feeling, that his sister was more than satisfied, and
settled in her own mind that if all the family were as charming in their
different ways as was Miss Grant in hers, Lewis’s contentment with his
present situation was no longer to be wondered at.

“What a lovely, fascinating creature!” exclaimed Rose enthusiastically,
as the door closed on her visitors; “she is like some bright vision of a
poet’s dream.”

“She seems a cute, hard-headed old lady, but she struck me as having
rather too much vinegar in her composition to induce one to covet much
of her society; olives are well enough in their way, but a man would not
exactly wish to dine upon them, either,” returned Frere.

“Who on earth are you talking about?” inquired Rose in astonishment.

“Why, who should I be talking about, except Miss Livingstone?” returned
Frere gruffly. “Have you ‘gone stupid’ all of a sudden?”

“_You_ must have become blind,” retorted Rose, “not to have observed
Miss Grant’s unusual grace and beauty; I wonder Lewis has never said
more about her.”

“Bah!” growled Frere, “do you think your brother has nothing better to
do than to chatter about a woman’s pretty face? Lewis is, or was (for
his opinions on the subject seem to have been modified lately), a
confirmed misogynist, and I’m very glad of it. Nothing makes me more
savage than to hear the confounded puppies of the present day talk about
this ‘doosed fine woman’ or that ‘uncommon nice gal.’ If I happened to
have a sister or any other womankind belonging to me, and they were to
make free with her name in that fashion, I should pretty soon astonish
some of their exquisite delicacies. Well,” he continued, buttoning up
his coat all awry, “I’m off, so goodbye;” and taking Rose’s hand in his
own, he wrung it with such force that a flush of pain overspread her
pale features. Observing this, he exclaimed, “Did I squeeze your fingers
too hard? Well, I am a bear, as Lewis says, that’s certain.” As he
spoke he laid her hand in his own broad palm, and stroking it gently,
as though trying to soothe an injured child, he continued, “Poor little
thing, I didn’t mean to hurt it;” then looking innocently surprised as
Rose somewhat hastily withdrew it, he added, “What! isn’t that right
either? well, I see I’d better be off. I’ll look you up again in a day
or two, and if you want me you know where to find me.” So saying, he
clattered downstairs, put on his hat hind-side before, and strode off,
walking at the rate of at least five miles an hour. As he passed the
church in Langham Place he overtook two gentlemen engaged in earnest
conversation: regardless of this he quickened his pace and struck the
younger of the two a smart blow on the back, exclaiming, “Bracy, my boy,
how are you?” The individual thus roughly saluted immediately reeled
forward as if from the effects of the blow, and encountering in his
headlong career an elderly female, whose dress bespoke her an upper
servant or thereabouts, he seized her by the elbows and twirled her
round in the bewildering maze of an impromptu and turbulent waltz, which
he continued till an opportune lamp-post interposed and checked his
Terpsichorean performance. Before his astonished partner had recovered
breath and presence of mind sufficient to pour forth the first words of
a tide of angry remonstrance, Bracy interposed by exclaiming in a tone
of the most bland civility--

“My dear madam, excuse this apparent liberty; really I am so completely
overpowered that I would sink into the ground at your feet if it were
not for the granite pavement which is----”

[Illustration: 0262]

Here the good woman, having scarcely recovered breath, gasped
vehemently, “It’s very hard, so it is----”

“Which is,” continued Bracy, louder and with still deeper
_empressement_, “as you justly observe, so very hard; but, my dear
madam, the facts of this case are yet harder. Let me assure you my
offence, if you choose to stigmatise my late lamented indiscretion by so
harsh a name, was perfectly involuntary; simply an effect produced by
a too vehement demonstration of fraternal feeling on the part of my
particular friend Mr. Frere. Allow me to introduce you--Outraged Elderly
Lady, Mr. Frere--Mr. Frere, Outraged Elderly Lady. Ah, what a happy
meeting! As the ever-appropriated Swan observes, ‘Fair encounter of two
most rare affections!’ or again, ‘Joy, gentle friends, joy and fresh
days of love accompany your hearts.’”

“Yes, it’s all wery fine,” exclaimed the outraged one (suddenly finding
her tongue), “to go frightening of respectible parties out of their
wits, and then think to smooth ’em over with your blarneying words;
but if I could set eyes on one of them lazy pelisemen which is never to
be found when wanted, blessed if I wouldn’t give you in charge for your
imperence, so I would.”

During the delivery of this speech Bracy had listened in an exaggerated
theatrical attitude of entranced attention, and at its conclusion
he exclaimed, in a voice so intensely impassioned that it would have
ensured his success at any of the minor theatres--

               “Oh! speak again; let mine enraptured ear

               Drink the sweet accents of thy silvery voice.”

Which sentiment procured for him the applause of a small male spectator
of the tender age of ten years, clad in much dirt and a pair of adult
trousers on their last legs in every sense of the term, who expressed
his approval by nodding complacently and remarking, “Wery well done;
ancore, I says.”

“Come along,” exclaimed Frere, seizing Bracy’s arm and almost forcing
him away; “you’ll have a crowd round you directly. Your companion has
taken himself off long ago.”

“So he has,” returned Bracy, looking round. “Now I call that mean, to
desert a friend in difficulties; more especially,” he added, as they
walked away together, “as the said difficulties were undertaken wholly
and solely on his account.”

“On his account?” returned Frere in surprise; “why, I should have
thought the mighty De Grandeville was the last person likely to
appreciate a street row.”

“For which reason I never lose an opportunity of involving him in one,”
 replied Bracy, rubbing his hands with mischievous glee. “He can’t bear
walking with me, for I always get him into some scrape or other, and
injure his dignity irreparably for the time being. Why, the last
severe frost we had I met him in Pall Mall, drew him on to talk of
architecture, pointed out to him a mistake which didn’t exist in the
front of one of the club-houses, and while he was looking up at it
beguiled him on to a slide and upset him, quite inadvertently, into
an itinerant orange basket, just as Lady B--------, with whom he has
a bowing acquaintance, was passing in her carriage. Look at him now,
prancing along as if all Regent Street belonged to him! Walk a little
faster, and we shall overtake him; and, by the way, lend me that
wonderful cotton umbrella of yours; I’ll make him carry it right down to
the Home Office. You are bound for Westminster, are you not?”

“What made you guess that?” asked Frere, handing him the umbrella.

“Because there’s a meeting at the Palaeontological to-day at three, and
I know you’re one of their great guns,” was the reply.

“It’s my belief that you know everything about everybody,” returned
Frere, laughing.

“And you know everything about every-_thing_” rejoined Bracy,
“so between us we form an epitome of human knowledge. I say, De
Grandeville,” he continued, as they overtook that gentleman, “you are a
treacherous ally, to desert your comrade in the moment of danger. That
ferocious old woman abused me within an inch of my life, and wanted to
give me in charge to a policeman.”

“Knowing you have an equal aptitude for getting into and out of scrapes
of that nature,” returned De Grandeville, “I--ar--considered you fully
equal to the situation--and--ar--having no taste for bandying slang with
vituperative plebeian females, I left you to fight your own battles. Was
I not justified in doing so, Mr. Frere?”

“Well, Bracy being the aggressor, I suppose you were,” was the answer;
“but as I was the innocent first cause of the scrimmage I felt bound
to remain, and dragged Bracy away by main force, just in time, as I
imagine, to save him from the nails of the insulted matron.”

“By Jove! what a nuisance. I do believe I’ve broken my trouser strap,”
 exclaimed Bracy, stopping and elevating his boot on a doorstep. “Hold
this one moment while I try to repair damages, there’s a good fellow,”
 he continued, thrusting the umbrella into De Grande-ville’s unwilling
hand; “I’ll be with you again directly.”

The damages must have been serious, judging by the length of time they
took to remedy; for ere Bracy rejoined them, Frere and De Grandeville
had proceeded half the length of Regent Street, the latter carrying the
umbrella--which he regarded from time to time with looks of the most
intense disgust--so as to keep it as much out of sight as possible, even
secreting it behind him whenever he perceived a fashionably dressed man
or woman approaching.

“I was trying to recollect that very interesting anecdote you told me
of the attack on the barrack in Galway when you were staying with the
73rd--Frere has never heard of it,” observed Bracy as he rejoined his
companions.

Now this said anecdote related to an episode in De Grandeville’s career
to which he delighted to refer, and which, accordingly, most of those
who boasted the honour of his acquaintance had heard more than once..
Such indeed was the case with Frere, and he was just going to say so
when he caught a warning look from Bracy, which induced him to remain
silent.

“Ar--really, it was a very simple thing,” began De Grandeville, falling
into the trap most unsuspiciously. “I happened to know several of
the 73rd fellows who were quartered down in Galway at a place
called--ar--here’s your umbrella.”

“I beg your pardon! I did not quite catch the name,” returned Bracy,
who, having buried his fingers in the pockets of his paletot, did not
seem to have such a thing as a hand about him.

“At a place called Druminabog,” continued De Grandeville. “The country
was in a very disturbed state; one or two attacks of a rather serious
character had been made upon the police, and the military had been
called out to support them; ar--here’s your um---”

“Was it three or four years ago that all this took place?” inquired the
still handless Bracy.

“Four years on the second of last April,” returned De Grandeville.

“Are you sure it wasn’t the first?” muttered Frere aside.

“I was travelling on a business tour in the sister island,” continued
the narrator, “and meeting Osborne, a 73rd man, who was going down
to join his regiment, he persuaded me to come on with him to
Druminabog--ar--here’s your-----”

“Was that Tom Osborne, who sold out when the rifles were going to
Ceylon?” interposed Bracy, studiously ignoring the proffered umbrella.

The victimised De Grandeville replied in the affirmative, and resuming
his tale, soon grew so deeply interested in the recital of his own
heroic exploits that the umbrella ceased any longer to afflict him; nay,
so absorbed did he become, that in a moment of excitement, just as he
was passing the Horse Guards, he waved that article in the air and led
on an imaginary company of the 73rd therewith, after the fashion of
gallant commanders in panoramas of Waterloo, and battle scenes enacted
at the amphitheatre of Astley. As they approached the Home Office, and
De Grandeville had arrived at the concluding sentence of his narrative,
which ran as follows:--“And so, sir, the Major shook me warmly by the
hand, exclaiming, ‘De Grandeville, you’re worthy to be one of us, and I
only wish you were, my boy!’” the trio paused, and Bracy extracting one
hand from the pocket in which it had been reposing, remarked, with the
air of a man who considered himself slightly aggrieved but meant to make
the best of it--

“Now, if you please, I’ll trouble you for my umbrella; I did not like
to interrupt your story by asking for it sooner, but now, if you have no
objection, I shall be glad of it.”

“Certainly,” replied De Grandeville, only too glad (his attention being
once more attracted to it) to get rid of his incubus.

As Frere turned aside to hide a laugh, Bracy inquired, “By the way, De
Grandeville, do you dine at Lady Lombard’s next Tuesday?”

“_I_ do,” replied Frere; “and I suppose it’s to be one of her Lord
Mayor’s feasts, as I hear she’s beating up recruits in all quarters.”

“Ar--really--I’ve received an invitation--but I--ar-- ’pon my word,
I don’t know whether one’s justified in going to such places; one must
draw the line--ar--somewhere.”

“It will be a first-rate feed,” resumed Bracy. “Lady Lombard’s _chef_ is
a capital hand, and her wine is by no means to be despised.”

“Yes, but the woman herself,” rejoined De Grandeville in a tone of the
deepest disgust, “just retrace her degrading career--ar--not an ancestor
to begin the world with.”

“Well, I should have supposed she possessed her fair share in Adam and
Noah, too,” remarked Frere drily.

“Plebeian in origin,” continued De Grandeville, not heeding the
interruption, “she sinks herself still lower by espousing first a
pickle-merchant, secondly a pawnbroker; the first--ar--repulsive, the
second sordid.”

“She did not play her cards altogether badly, though,” observed
Bracy. “Old Girkin died worth a plum, and Sir Pinchbeck Lombard was a
millionaire, or thereabouts.”

“Money, sir,” returned De Grandeville sententiously, “is by no means to
be despised, and those who affect indifference on the subject usually
do so to screen a grasping and avaricious temperament. But money becomes
really respectable only when it enables those who are connected with the
old historical families of England, those in whose veins runs the ‘blue’
blood of aristocracy, to assert their rightful position as lords of the
soil. Among the landed gentry of England are to be found------”

“Some thoroughly jolly fellows,” interposed Bracy, “especially to show
you the way across country, or help to kick up a shindy at the
Coal Hole. But we must part company here; Frere’s booked for the
Palaeontological, and I am going to attend a Committee at the House
You’ll be at Lady Lombard’s?”

“I shall give the matter full consideration,” returned De Grande-ville.
“It is--ar--by no means a step to decide on hastily. In these levelling
days men of--ar--position are forced to be particular as to the places
to which they afford the--ar--sanction of their presence. I wish you a
very good morning;” so saying, he raised his hat slightly to Frere, drew
himself up with his broad chest well thrown forward, and marched off
majestically like a concentrated squadron of heavy dragoons.

“Here’s your umbrella, Frere,” remarked Bracy, handing it to him as he
spoke; “many thanks for the loan. I don’t wonder you are careful of it;
it’s a most inestimable property, and has afforded me half-an-hour’s
deep and tranquil enjoyment. But of all the pompous fools that ever
walked this earth Grandeville is _facile princeps_.”

“He’s no fool either,” returned Frere.

“Then why does he behave as _sich?_” demanded Bracy. “His conceit and
egotism are inconceivable. He’s a regular modern Cyclops; he has one
great ‘I’ in the middle of his forehead, through the medium of which he
looks at everything. One really feels an obligation to poke fun at that
man. Well, I can’t accuse myself of neglect of duty in that particular,
that’s a consolatory reflection; but he’s enough to convert the slowest
old anchorite that ever chewed peas into a practical joker.”

“He was severe on the excellent Lady Lombard,” observed his companion.

“Did you not notice his remark about riches being respectable only when
in the possession of ‘--ar--those connected with the old historical
families of England’? That gave me a new idea.”

“A thing always worth having, if but from its rarity,” replied Frere.
“What was it?”

“Why, it occurred to me what fun it would be to marry him to Lady
Lombard--more particularly after his abuse of her to-day.”

“A project more easy to conceive than to execute,” returned Frere,
laughing.

“I don’t know that,” answered Bracy confidently; “if I once set my mind
on a thing, I generally contrive to accomplish it. It did not at first
sight appear likely that De Grandeville would carry your old cotton
umbrella through some of the most fashionable streets in London at three
o’clock in the afternoon, yet you see he did it.”

“You’re a remarkable man, my dear Bracy, and I have the greatest
faith in your powers of management, but if you can induce Marmaduke de
Grandeville to marry the widow of the pawnbroker and the pickle-man,
you must be the very--well, never mind who--here we are at the
Palaeontological.”

So saying, Frere shook hands with Bracy, and the oddly consorted
companions, between whom their very eccentricities appeared to
constitute a bond of sympathy, each went his way, the practical joker
to apply his acute intellect to the details of that mighty machine, the
executive government of England, and the _savant_ to investigate
the recently discovered small rib (it was only eight feet long) of a
peculiar species of something-osaurus, the original proprietor of the
rib being popularly supposed to have “lived and loved,” cut its awful
teeth, and been gathered to its amphibious fossil forefathers two
thousand years and some odd months before the creation of man.



CHAPTER XXXVII.--WHEREIN IS FAITHFULLY DEPICTED THE CONSTANCY OF THE
TURTLE-DOVE.

It was the important Thursday on which Lady Lombard’s chief
dinner-party of the season was to take place, and the mighty coming
event cast a proportionate shadow before. For a day or two previous
a gloom, as of an approaching tempest, hung over the devoted mansion.
Visitors were scarce; the invited would not call because they _were_
invited, and the non-invited avoided the place as though it were
plague-stricken, lest it should be supposed they wished to be invited,
which for the most part they did. As the event drew nearer signs
appeared heralding its approach: shoals of fishmongers, laden with the
treasures of the deep, poured down the area steps; the number of oysters
which entered that house would have surprised Neptune himself; squadrons
of poulterers’ men brought flocks of feathered fowls, and of fowls
unfeathered; there was not a single species of edible ornithology of
which Lady Lombard did not possess one or more specimens--she would have
ordered a _Podiceps Cornutus_ had she ever heard of such a creature. The
eighty-guinea advertisement-horse, with the plated harness, in Messrs.
Fortnum & Mason’s spring cart, began to think his masters must have
established a depot in the far west, and that he was engaged in
transporting thither the major portion of their seductive stock. In the
interior of that dwelling-house confusion reigned supreme. Upstairs
Mrs. Perquisite, the housekeeper, rendered life a burden to the female
servants, and tyrannised over her hapless mistress till free will became
a mockery mentioned in connection with that ever-thwarted widow. It was
enough for Lady Lombard to express a wish; Mrs. Perquisite, a living
embodiment of the antagonistic principle, was instantly in arms to
oppose it.

“What, your ladyship!” would she exclaim (and be it observed, her voice
was at least an octave higher than any good-tempered woman’s ever was,
and pitched in a most aggravating key); “what! not uncover the marble
table! I never heard of such a thing! Her Ladyship _will_ have it taken
off, Jane--not uncover that bootiful Paria marble! inlaid with Lappuss
Lazily. Why, your Ladyship must be a-dreaming!”

“I thought that the satin cover matching the chairs, and having poor
dear Sir Pinchbeck’s arms embroidered on it, perhaps it might have been
better to leave it on, Mrs. Perquisite,” pleaded Lady Lombard meekly.

“Of course your Ladyship can do as your Ladyship pleases; if your
Ladyship likes to demean yourself by looking after such things,
which was never the case when I lived with the Dowager Marchioness of
Doubledutch, now no more, having remembered all her faithful servants
handsomely on her death-bed, without a dry eye about her, in the
seventy-sixth year of her age. Perhaps I had better go downstairs, which
is only in the way, and your Ladyship can direct Jane to set out the
rooms according to your Ladyship’s fancy.”

Poor Lady Lombard, when once that defunct Dowager Marchioness was let
loose upon her, felt that her fate was sealed. It was not for her, the
widow of a man who had been knighted, to fly in the face of the peerage;
so she humbly authorised the removal of the Lombard arms, implored
Perquisite to arrange the rooms as she had been accustomed to set out
those of the poor dear Marchioness, and betook herself to the sanctity
of her own boudoir, leaving the field to the virago, to whom she paid
£60 per annum for keeping her in a continual state of moral bondage.

But while such scenes as the foregoing were enacting in the upper
portions of the establishment, the French _chef de cuisine_, Monsieur
Hector Achille Ulisse Abelard d’Haricots, was making a perfect
Pandemonium of the lower regions. The physical energy displayed by that
accomplished foreigner was truly admirable, his ubiquity was marvellous;
the tassel at the top of his white night-cap appeared to have been
multiplied infinitesimally and to pervade space, the sound of his
polyglot exhortations and reflections re-echoed through the lofty
servants’ offices. Wonderful were the strange oaths he poured forth,
when Antoine, a long, limp, shambling French lad, “_son élève_, zie son
of--_hélas! baigné des larmes_, he even till at present scarcely could
pronounce her name--his angelic sister, since some time entombed,
having espoused _un brave Anglais_, his long-lost Louise Amélie
Marie-Antoinette de Brownsmit, née d’Haricots,”--when this unworthy
offspring of international alliance committed some unpardonable artistic
error, and unlike “Polly” of lyrical celebrity, did _not_ “put the
kettle on,” or “take it off again,” exactly at the critical moment. Deep
and nasal were his ejaculations when some obtuse butcher’s boy would
not understand his “Anglishe,” which that somewhat apocryphal personage,
“_ce brave garçon_ Brownsmit” (who was Hector Achille’s Mrs. Harris,
and was consequently brought forward on all occasions), had declared he
spoke like a native.

“_Mais, que diable!_ vot is zies?” he would exclaim, raising his
eyeglass to examine with a face of deep disgust a shin of beef; “vot
is zies? Did I not ordaire _un gigot_, vot you call a leg of ship, and
’ere you ’ave transported to me--_ah, que c’est dégoutant!_--zie
stump of a cow: _qu’ils sont bêtes, ces Anglais_--takes ’im avay.”

But if there were earthquakes and tornadoes in the culinary and
decorative departments, difficulties hydra-headed had arisen in the
boudoir of Lady Lombard, where sat a council of three, Rose merely
acting as secretary and writing just what she was bidden. The third
privy councillor (besides the giver of the feast and Mrs. Arundel) was a
certain Mrs. Colonel Brahmin, relict of the late Colonel Brahmin, which
gallant officer had been cut off in the prime of life, together with 200
tawny privates of the----th native infantry, by falling into an ambush
of armed Sikhs, headed by Meer Ikan Chopimatoo at Choakumcurree. After
this afflicting event Mrs. Colonel Brahmin returned to England, in the
thirty-third year of her age, with a small pension, a very becoming
widow’s cap, and an earnest desire to replace the victim of Ikan
Chopimatoo’s scimitar without loss of time.

Now, in bygone hours the lamented Sir Pinchbeck Lombard, in his capacity
of East India director, had known and patronised the lamented Brahmin;
what, therefore, could be more natural than that their disconsolate
widows should desire to mingle their tears? And, indeed, Mrs. Colonel
Brahmin was so anxious to ensure the effectual working of this
Mutual-misery-mingling Association, that on her return to England she
was good enough to stay six months with Lady Lombard; and although,
during the whole of that period, she told every one she was anxiously
looking out for a house, so few edifices are there in London and its
vicinity, that she was unable to find one till the very week before her
hostess was about to start on a self-defensive tour to the Lakes. Since
then she had been vizier-in-chief to her wealthy sister in affliction,
riding in her carriage, eating her dinners, and entertaining her guests,
especially such eligible males as appeared likely to succeed to the
(nominal) command left vacant by the cut-off colonel; but up to the
present time these young eligibles had remained unattached, and the
appointment was still to be filled up. Mrs. Brahmin was not really
pretty, though, by dint of a pair of fine eyes, glossy hair, a telling
smile, and little white hands, she contrived to pass as such. In her
manner she affected the youthful and innocent; and very well she did
it, considering her natural astuteness, and the amount of experience and
_savoir vivre_ she had acquired when following the world-wide fortunes
of the cut-off one. Lady Lombard believed in her to a great extent, and
liked her better than she deserved. Perquisite saw at a glance, not
only through, but considerably _beyond_ her, and hated her with all
the rancour of a vulgar mind. But Mrs. Brahmin was too strong for
Perquisite, and with her soft voice and imperturbable simplicity put
her down more thoroughly than the veriest virago could have done--the
housekeeper’s most bitter speeches and cutting innuendos producing much
the same effect on the mild Susanna that a blow might have done upon an
air-cushion--viz., exhausting the aggressor’s strength without making
the slightest impression on her opponent.

Mrs. Brahmin had been prepared to find in Mrs. Arundel a dangerous
rival, and was ready to defend her position to the death, and to battle
_à l’outrance_ for her portion of the Lombard loaves and fishes. But her
courage was not destined to be put to the proof, the present being an
occasion on which an appeal to arms was unnecessary--diplomacy would
suit her purpose better, and on diplomacy, therefore, she fell back. She
had not been ten minutes in Mrs. Arundel’s company ere she discovered
her weak point--she was unmistakably vain. Accordingly, with artless
simplicity, Mrs. Brahmin indirectly praised everything Mrs. Arundel said
or did, and Mrs. Arundel straightway suffered her discrimination to be
tickled to sleep, took Mrs. Brahmin at her own price, and doted on
her from that time forth, until--but we will leave events to develop
themselves in their due course.

Rose and Mrs. Brahmin were mutual enigmas--neither could comprehend the
other. Rose had heard the details of the “Chopimatoo” affair, and all
her sympathies were ready to be enlisted in behalf of the interesting
widow; but the “sweet simplicity,” cleverly as it was done, did not
deceive her. With the instinct of a true nature she felt that it was
assumed, and that beneath it lay the real character. What that might
be remained to be discovered, and she suspended her judgment till
opportunity might afford her a glimpse of that which was so studiously
concealed. On the other hand, the character of Rose was one which Mrs.
Brahmin could by no means comprehend, perhaps because in its entireness
it was beyond and above her comprehension; but parts of it she discerned
clearly enough, and most particularly did they puzzle her. For instance,
she perceived that Rose had a mind, properly so called--that her ideas
and opinions were _bona fide_ the product of her own intellect, and not
like those of too many girls, a dim reflex of somebody else’s; but the
straightforward, earnest truthfulness of her nature she could by no
means fathom, such a quality being essentially foreign to her own
disposition; accordingly, she deemed it put on for a purpose, which
purpose it behoved her to find out. But her investigations did not
prosper well, from the simple fact that _ex nihilo nil fit_: Rose,
having nothing to conceal, concealed it effectually.

Many and important were the consultations held in the boudoir by this
council of three, as to who should, and who should not, be invited. Lady
Lombard’s smooth brow grew furrowed with the unwonted demand upon her
powers (?) of mind.

“Sir Benjamin and Lady Boucher regret exceedingly that a previous
engagement prevents their accepting Lady Lombard’s kind invitation for
Thursday, the--th.”

“Dear me, how _dreadfully_ provoking!” sighed the perplexed
“in-vitress.”

“My dear Susanna” (the Brahmin’s Christian name), “the Bouchers are
engaged, and there’ll be nobody fit to meet the General Gudgeons. What
are we to do?”

“Would you ask the Dackerels? They’re such very nice people, and live in
such very good style, dear Lady Lombard,” cooed Mrs. Brahmin (for, be it
observed, that bereaved one’s method of speaking, together with the
low, gentle, sleepy, caressing tones of her soft voice, involuntarily
reminded her hearers of the cooing of a dove or the purring of a cat).

“They’re only lieutenant-colonels, are they, my love?” inquired Lady
Lombard doubtingly.

“Oh! my dear Lady Lombard, surely you must recollect he has been a full
colonel, by purchase, these five years, _vice_ Rawbone Featherbed,
who sold out and married an heiress--at least,” murmured Innocence,
remembering herself, or rather her _part_, “she was said to be very
rich; but of course it must have been a love-match. I cannot believe
people are so--so horrid as to marry from any other motive.”

“Well, then, we’d better ask the Dackerels. Miss Arundel, my love, will
you request the pleasure of Colonel and Mrs. Dackerel’s company--with
one R, my dear--at seven o’clock. That shy son with the long legs, I
suppose we need not ask him, my dear?”

“He’s lately come into a large Yorkshire property from an uncle on the
mother’s side and has taken the surname of Dace, and perhaps, as he’s
so shy, he might feel hurt at not being asked. I feel such sympathy with
shyness, you know; besides, somebody said he was an author,”
 rejoined Susanna, dropping her eyelids and looking as unconscious and
disinterested as if John Dace Dackerel Dace, Esq., barrister-at-law,
still depended upon that ghost of nothing, his professional income,
instead of the rent-roll of the manor of Roachpool, in the West Riding.

“If they come they’ll make--let me see,” mused Lady Lombard; “what did
I say the Fitzsimmons’s were? Yes, twelve; well, then, they’ll make
fifteen, and the table only holds three more, and that tiresome Mr. De
Grandeville hasn’t sent an answer yet, and I shall be so disappointed if
he does not come, for he knows everybody and moves in such high society,
and is such a tall, noble, military-looking creature.”

This eulogium recalling, probably by contrast (seeing that the lamented
Brahmin had been remarkably small of his age all through his boyhood,
and never outgrown it afterwards), sad recollections of the fair
Susanna’s killed and wounded, produced a little embroidered handkerchief
which just held the two tears its owner felt called upon to shed on such
occasions. The memory of the victim had, however, been so often before
embalmed by pearly drops in her presence that Lady Lombard had grown
rather callous on the subject, and she abruptly invaded the sanctity of
grief by exclaiming--

“It lies between the Lombard Browns and the Horace Hiccirys, my dear.
The Hiccirys live in better style, I know: Mrs. Hicciry was to have
been presented at Court last year, only little Curatius chose to be born
instead--the most lovely child! But the Lombard Browns are godsons, at
least _he_ is, of poor dear Sir Pinchbeck’s, and they’ve not dined here
this season.”

“I think, dear Lady Lombard, if I might venture to advise, the Horace
Hiccirys would do best. Mrs. General Gudgeon would get on so well with
Mrs. Hicciry, I’m sure; and I’m afraid Mrs. Dackerel,--you know she’s
very clever, writes poetry, those sweet things in the Bijou--all clever
people are sarcastic, you know,--I’m afraid Mrs. Dackerel might laugh at
poor dear Mr. Lombard Brown’s little eccentricity about his H’s.”

“Ah, yes, that’s true,” returned Lady Lombard; “yes, I forgot his H’s.”

“As he probably does himself,” whispered Mrs. Arundel aside to Rose.

“Then, my dear Miss Arundel, may I trouble you to write a note to the
Horace Hicciry’s--with two I’s, my love--15 Bellairs Terrace, Park
Village West. What a pretty hand you write, and so quick I Then if Mr.
De Grandeville will only come, the table will be filled properly.”

“And a dear, charming party it will be,” cooed the bereaved one, who
had manoeuvred herself into an invitation at an early stage of the
proceedings.

“Yes, my love, I hope it will,” replied the giver of the feast
anxiously. “And if I was quite sure that Perquisite and Haricot would
not quarrel, and that General Gudgeon would not take too much port wine
after dinner, and tell his gentlemen’s stories to the ladies up in the
drawing-room, more particularly since I hear Miss MacSalvo has taken an
extra serious turn lately, I should feel quite happy about it all.”

“You’d better add a postscript to the great Gudgeon’s note mentioning
the port wine and its alarming consequences, Rose,” whispered the
incorrigible Mrs. Arundel. Her daughter smiled reprovingly, and the
sitting concluded.

Exactly at the time when Lady Lombard had completely given him up, and
was revolving in her anxious mind how she might best supply his loss, De
Grandeville condescended graciously to vouchsafe a favourable answer.

On the afternoon of the eventful day, as Frere was returning from
his place of business, he met--of course accidentally--Tom Bracy, who
immediately took possession of his vacant arm and engaged him in a
disquisition on the use of formic acid as an anaesthetic agent, which
discussion proved so deeply interesting to his companion, that in less
than five minutes he was completely lost to all outward objects and
reduced (for all practical purposes) to the intellectual level of a
docile child of three years old.

“Well,” continued Frere eagerly, as Bracy paused before a hairdresser’s
shop, “well, supposing, for the sake of argument, I consent to waive
my objection; supposing I allow that by the process you describe you’ve
produced your acid----”

“Excuse my interrupting you one moment, but I was going in here to have
my hair cut. If you’re not in a particular hurry, perhaps you’ll come in
with me, and I think I can show you where you are wrong.”

“Yes--no, I’m not in a hurry; come along, I’m convinced there’s a
mistake in your theory which upsets your whole argument--merely subject
to the common analysing process----”

“By the way,” observed Bracy carelessly, “you’d be all the better for
a little judicious trimming yourself; besides, it’s more sociable. This
gentleman and I each want our hair cut. Sit down, Frere.”

“Eh? nonsense; I never have my hair cut except when the hot weather sets
in,” remonstrated that individual; but he was fairly in the toils. Bracy
set a garrulous hairdresser’s man at him, who deprived him of his
hat, popped him down in the appointed chair, and enveloped him in a
blue-striped wrapper before he very well knew where he was, or had
arrived at any kind of decision whatsoever on the subject. No sooner was
he seated than Bracy administered a fresh dose of his anaesthetic agent;
Frere resumed his argument, and long ere he had exhausted the catalogue
of chemical tests to which his opponent’s theory (invented for the
occasion) might be subjected, the hair-cutter (previously instructed)
had reduced his hair and whiskers to the latitude and longitude usually
assigned to such capillary attractions by the “manners and customs of ye
English in ye nineteenth century.” And thus Frere became, for the time
being, a reasonable looking mortal, and Bracy won a new hat, which he
had betted that morning with a mutual acquaintance, on the apparently
rash speculation that he would before the day was over administer an
anaesthetic agent to Richard Frere, under the influence of which he
should have his hair cut.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.--DESCRIBES THE HUMOURS OF A LONDON DINNER-PARTY IN THE
NINETEENTH CENTURY.

Dear Rose Arundel (excuse us the adjective, kind reader, for we
frankly own to being very fond of her), having been a perfect godsend to
everybody during the whole morning of the party day, having thought
of everything and done everything, and looked on the bright side of
everything, and sacrificed herself so pleasantly that an uninitiated
beholder might have imagined her intensely selfish and doing it all for
her own personal gratification,--Rose having, amongst other gymnastics
of self-devotion, run up and down stairs forty-three times in pursuit of
waifs and strays from Lady Lombard’s memory, committed the first bit
of selfishness of which she had been guilty all day, by sitting down
to rest for five minutes before she began her toilet; and leaning
her forehead on her hand, thought over her own chances of pleasure or
amusement during the evening. She had had one disappointment: Lewis
had been invited, and Lewis would not come. He did not say he could not
come, but he put on what Mrs. Arundel called his “iron-face,” and said
shortly, “the thing was impossible;” and no one could have looked on his
compressed lips and doubted the truth of the assertion. It grieved Rose,
for she read his soul as it were an open book before her, and she saw
there pride, that curse of noble minds, still unsubdued. Lady Lombard
patronised them, and Lewis could not submit to witness it. Rose had
hoped better things than this; she had not failed to observe the change
that had taken place in her brother during his residence at
Broadhurst; she saw that from an ardent, impetuous boy he had become an
earnest-minded, high-souled man, and in the calm dignity of his look and
bearing she recognised the evidence of conscious power, chastened by the
discipline of a mind great enough to rule itself. Nor was she wrong in
her conjectures; only she mistook a part for the whole, and arguing with
the gentle sophistry of a woman’s loving heart, concluded that to be
finished which was but in fact begun. Lewis had learned to _control_
(except in rare instances) his haughty nature, but he relied too much on
his own strength, and so he had failed as yet to subdue it. Rose was
too honest to disguise the truth from herself when it was fairly placed
before her, and she acknowledged, with an aching heart that the great
fault of her brother’s character yet remained unconquered. Poor Rose! as
this conviction forced itself upon her, how she sorrowed over it. He
was so good, so noble, and she loved him so entirely--oh! why was he not
perfect? If Lewis could have read her thoughts at that moment he would
have assuredly made one of the guests at Lady Lombard’s hospitable
board.

As the clock struck the half-hour, forming the _juste milieu_ between
seven and eight, post meridiem, the goodly company assembled in Lady
Lombard’s drawing-room, being warned by the portly butler that dinner
was served, paired off and betook themselves two by two (like the
animals coming out of Noah’s Ark, as represented on the dissecting
puzzles of childhood) to the lofty dining-room, where much English good
cheer, disguised under absurd French names, awaited them. During the
short time that Bracy had been in the house he had not been altogether
idle. He first took an opportunity of informing Lady Lombard that De
Grandeville was directly descended from Charlemagne, and that he was
only waiting till the death of an opulent relative should render him
independent of his profession to revive a dormant peerage, when it was
generally supposed his colossal intellect and unparalleled legal
acumen would render him political leader of the House of Lords; he then
congratulated her on her good fortune in having secured the presence of
this illustrious individual, who, he assured her, was in such request
amongst the aristocracy of the kingdom that he was scarcely ever to be
found disengaged, and wound up by running glibly through a long list of
noble names with whom he declared the mighty Marmaduke to be hand and
glove. Accordingly, good Lady Lombard, believing it all faithfully,
mentally elected De Grandeville to the post of honour at her right hand,
deposing for the purpose no less a personage than General Gudgeon.
When we say no less a personage, we speak advisedly, for that gallant
officer, weighing sixteen stone without his snuff-box, and being fully
six feet high, was, if not exactly “a Triton amongst minnows,” at all
events a Goliath amongst gudgeons, which we conceive to be much the same
thing.

Having achieved his object of placing De Grandeville in exactly the
position he wished him to occupy, Bracy next proceeded to frustrate a
scheme which he perceived the fair Susanna (who was his pet antipathy)
to have originated for the amatory subjugation and matrimonial
acquisition of John Dace Dackerel Dace, Esq., of Roachpool, in the West
Riding. The aforesaid John D. D. had a weakness bordering indeed on a
mental hallucination; he fancied he was born to be a popular author--“to
go down to posterity upon the tongues of men,” as he himself was wont
to express it--and the way in which he attempted to fulfil his exalted
destiny and effect the wished-for transit, _viâ_ these unruly members of
his fellow-mortals, was by writing mild, dull articles, signed J. D. D.,
and sending them to the editors of various magazines, by whom they were
always unhesitatingly rejected.

The frequent repetition of these most unkind rebuffs, and the consequent
delay in the fulfilment of his mission, had tended to depress the spirit
(at no time an intensely ardent one) of John Dace Dackerel, and had
induced a morbid habit of mind, through which, as through a yellow veil,
he took a jaundiced view of society at large; and even the acquisition
of the surname of Dace, and his accession to the glories of Roachpool,
had scarcely sufficed to restore cheerfulness to this victim of a
postponed destiny. Bracy, from his connection with Blunt’s Magazine,
knew him well, and had rejected, only a fortnight since, a forlorn
little paper entitled “The Curse of Genius, or the Trammelled Soul’s
Remonstrance;” in which his own cruel position was touchingly shadowed
forth in the weakest possible English. Accosting this son of sorrow in a
confidential tone of voice, Bracy began--

“As soon as you can spare a minute to listen to me, I’ve something
rather particular to tell you!”

“To tell me?” returned the blighted barrister in a hollow voice,
suggestive of any amount of black crape hatbands. “What ill news have
I now to arm, or I may say, to steel my soul against?” And here be it
observed that it was a habit with this pseudo-author to talk, as it
were, a rough copy of conversation, which he from time to time corrected
by the substitution of some word or phrase which he conceived to be an
improvement upon the original text.

“Perhaps it may be good news instead of bad!” remarked Bracy
encouragingly. The blighted one shook his head.

“Not for _me_” he murmured; then turning to Susanna, he continued,
“Excuse my interrupting our conversation, but this gentleman has some
intelligence to impart--or I may say, to break to me.”

Mrs. Brahmin smiled sweetly such a sympathetic smile that it went
straight through a black satin waistcoat, with a cypress wreath
embroidered on it in sad-coloured silk, and reached the “crushed and
withered” heart of J. D. D. .

“You know,” continued Bracy, “I was obliged, most unwillingly, to
decline that touching little thing of yours. The--what is it? the Cough
of Genius?”

“The Curse,” suggested its author gloomily.

“Ah! yes. I read it cough--you don’t write very clearly--yes, * the
Cursing Genius.’ You know, my dear Dace, we editors are placed in a
very trying position. A great responsibility devolves upon us; we are
scarcely free agents. Now your article affected me deeply” (this was
strictly true, for he had laughed over the most tragic touches till the
tears ran down his cheeks), “but I was forced to decline it. I could not
have put it in if my own brother had written it. You will naturally ask,
Why? _Because it did not suit the tone of Blunt’s Magazine!_” And as
Bracy pronounced these awful and mysterious words he shook his head and
looked unutterable things; while the “child of a postponed destiny,”
 seeing the shadow of a still further postponement clouding his dark
horizon, shook his head likewise, and relieved his elaborately-worked
shirt-front of a sigh.

“But,” resumed Bracy, “thinking the paper much too original to be lost,
I took the liberty of handing it over to Bullbait, the Editor of the
Olla Podrida. Well, sir, I saw him this morning, and he said----”

“What?” exclaimed the fated one eagerly, a hectic tinge colouring his
sallow cheek.

“Don’t excite yourself, my dear Dace,” rejoined Bracy anxiously; “you’re
looking pale: too much brain work, I’m afraid. You must take care of
yourself; so many of our greatest geniuses have died young. But I see
you’re impatient. Bullbait said--he’s a very close, cautious character,
never likes to commit himself, but he actually said, _he’d think about
it!_”

“Was that all?” groaned the disappointed Dace, relapsing into
despondency.

“All! my dear sir? all! Why, what would you have? When a man like
Bullbait says he’ll think about a thing, I consider it a case of _opus
operatum_--reckon the deed done. If he meant to refuse your paper, what
need has he to think about it? No, Mr. Dace, if you’re not correcting
a proof of the ‘Cough’--psha, ‘Curse,’ I mean--(when one once takes a
wrong idea into one’s head how difficult it is to get it out again!)
before the week is over, I’m no prophet. By the way,” he continued,
as Rose, looking better than pretty in the whitest of muslin frocks,
resigned a comfortable seat to a cross old lady in a gaudy turban, which
gave her the appearance, from the neck upwards, of a plain male Turk,
liberally endowed with the attributes commonly assigned to his nation
by writers of fairytales and other light literature for the nursery,
amongst which man-stealing and cannibalism are two of the least
atrocious--“by the way, I must introduce you to this young lady; a
kindred soul, sir, one of the most rising authoresses of the day.”

“No, I really----” began the Dace, flapping about in the extremity of
his shyness like one of his fishy namesakes abstracted from its native
element.

“Nonsense,” resumed Bracy, enjoying his embarrassment. “Miss Arundel,
let me have the pleasure of making you acquainted with one of our men of
genius, a writer to whom a liberal posterity will no doubt do justice,
however the trammelled sycophants of a clique may combine to delay his
intellectual triumphs.” Then in an aside to J. D. D. he added, “Make
play with her; Bullbait wants her particularly to write for the Olla,
and she hangs back at present: she would merely have to say a word to
him, and you might obtain the run of the magazine.”

Thus urged, John Dace, Dackerel Dace, Esq., called up all the energies
of his nature, and by their assistance overcoming his habitual
sheepishness, he caused to descend upon Rose a torrent of pathetic
small-talk which overwhelmed that young lady till dinner was announced,
when he claimed her arm and floated with her down the stream of
descending humanity until he found himself safely moored by her side at
the dinner-table.

Bracy having thus, as he would himself have expressed it, taken the
change out of that odd fish Dace, and frustrated, for the time being,
the matrimonial tactics of the Brahmin’s widow, was making his way
through the various groups of people in search of Miss MacSalvo, whose
rampant Protestantism might, he considered, afford him some sport if
judiciously handled, when he was suddenly intercepted by the innocent
Susanna with the inquiry, “Pray, Mr. Bracy, can you explain this
wonderful metamorphosis in your friend Mr. Frere? He’s grown quite
handsome.”

Thus appealed to, Bracy regarded attentively the individual in question,
who was good-naturedly turning over a book of prints for Lady Gudgeon, a
little shrivelled old lady, so deaf as to render conversation with her
a pursuit of politeness under difficulties. Having apparently satisfied
himself by this investigation, Bracy replied, “To the best of my belief,
I should say he had only had his hair cut, and was for once dressed like
a gentleman.”

“He is wonderfully clever, is he not?” inquired the lady.

“Clever!” repeated Bracy. “That’s a mild word to apply to such
acquirements as Frere rejoices in. He knows all the languages, living or
dead; possesses an intimate acquaintance with the arts and sciences, has
all the ‘ologies’ at his fingers’ ends, and is not only well up in the
history of man since the creation, but will tell you to a fraction how
many feeds a day kept a Mastodon in good condition two or three thousand
years before we tailless monkeys came into possession of our landed
property.”

“I suppose, as he dresses so strangely in general, that he’s very poor:
all clever people are, I believe,” returned Susanna, with an air of the
most artless _naïveté_, the idea having for the first time occurred to
her that, _faute de mieux_, the philosopher might do to replace the man
of war.

Bracy read her thoughts, and kindly invented a few facts and figures
by which he increased Frere’s income about sevenfold, and gave him a
magnificent stock of expectations, regarding the realisation whereof not
the most forlorn hope ever existed.

Having done this small piece of mischief also, he continued his search
after Miss MacSalvo. The result of these machinations was that Lady
Lombard signified to De Grandeville that he was to hand her down to
dinner; John Dace Dackerel Dace, Esquire, performed the same office by
Rose, much to the disgust of Richard Frere, who had intended to secure
that pleasure for himself, and who being, at the moment in which he
first became aware of his misfortune, captured by the Brahminical widow,
whose silky manner he could not endure, went downstairs in a frame of
mind anything but seraphic. Mrs. Arundel contrived to gain possession
of General Gudgeon, with a view, as she observed to Bracy, to discover,
firstly, his system of feeding, which, from its results, she felt
sure must be an excellent one; and secondly, to ensure his obtaining
a liberal supply of port wine, to the end that she might satisfy a
reprehensible curiosity as to the precise nature of the “gentleman’s
stories” Lady Lombard was so anxious to suppress; which act of
un-_English_-woman-like _espièglerie_ must be set down to the score of a
foreign education, than which we know not a better receipt for unsexing
the minds of the daughters of Albion. When we add that Bracy, with a
face of prim decorum, escorted Miss MacSalvo, a gaunt female, whose
spirit appeared to have warred with her flesh so effectually that there
was little more than skin and bone left, we believe we have accounted
for every member of the party in whom our readers are likely to feel the
slightest interest.

During the era of the fish and soup, by which our modern dinners are
invariably commenced, little is discussed except the viands; but after
the first glass of sherry mute lips begin to unclose, and conversation
flows more freely. Thus it came about that John Dace Dackerel Dace,
Esquire, of the Inner Temple (we admire his name so much that we lose no
opportunity of repeating it), having revolved in his anxious mind some
fitting speech wherewith to accost the talented young authoress, of whom
he felt no inconsiderable degree of dread, fortified himself with an
additional sip of sherry ere he propounded the very original inquiry,
“Whether Miss Arundel was fond of poetry?” Before Rose could answer
this query her neighbour on the other side, one Mr. James Rasper, a
very strong young man with a broad, good-natured, dullish face, demanded
abruptly, in a jovial tone of voice, “Whether she was fond of riding?”

As soon as she could collect her senses, scattered by the raking fire of
this cross-examination, Rose replied “that she was particularly fond of
some kinds of poetry,” which admission she qualified by the apparently
inapposite restriction--“When she was on a very quiet horse.”

J. D. D. was about to follow up his attack by a leading question in
regard to the gushing pathos of the bard of Rydal, when Rasper prevented
him by exclaiming, “No! Do you really?” (which he called “railly”).
“Then I know just the animal that would suit you.” And having thus
mounted his hobby-horse he dashed at everything, as was his wont when
once fairly off, and rattled away, without stopping, till dinner
was finished, and he had talked Rose completely stupid; while
the unfortunate Dace, foiled in his weak attempt to captivate the
influential authoress, plunged again into the deep waters of affliction,
where, pondering over this further postponement of his destiny, he sank,
and was heard no more.

Exactly opposite to Rose and her companions sat Frere and the
simple Susanna, who, labouring zealously at her vocation--viz.,
husband-hunting--threw away much flattery and wasted an incalculable
amount of “sweetness on the desert air.” To all her pretty speeches
Frere returned monosyllabic replies in a tone of voice suggestive of
whole forests full of bears with sore heads, while a cloud hung heavy
on his brow, and his bright eyes flashed envy, hatred, malice, and
all uncharitableness at the unconscious James Rasper. At last Susanna
chanced to inquire whether he were fond of music; and as, without
falsifying facts, he could not answer this negatively, he was forced to
reply, “Yes; I like some sort of music well enough.”

“Some sort only,” returned Susanna in a tone of infantine artlessness.
“Oh! you should like every kind, Mr. Frere. I never hear a merry tune
without longing to dance to it, and pathetic music affects me even
to tears. But what class of music is it that you particularly
prefer?--though I need scarcely ask--operatic, of course.”

“Not I,” growled Frere; “I hate your operas.”

“Oh, Mr. Frere!” exclaimed Simplicity, fixing its large eyes
reproachfully upon him, “you can’t mean what you say. Not like operas!
Why, they are perfectly delicious. Look at a well-filled house--what a
magnificent _coup d’oil!_”

“A set of pigeon-holes full of fools, and a long row of fiddlers,”
 rejoined Frere; “I can’t say I see much to admire in that. I went to one
of your operas last year, and a rare waste of time I thought it. It was
one of Walter Scott’s Scotch stories bewitched into Italian. There was
poor Lucy of Lammermoor dressed out like a fashionable drawing-room
belle, singing duets all about love and murder with a pale-faced,
moustachioed puppy, as much like Edgar Ravenswood as I am like the
Belvidere Apollo--a brute engaged, on the strength of a tenor voice, to
make love to all and sundry for the space of four calendar months, for
which ‘labour of love’ he is paid to the tune of £500 a month, a salary
on which better men than himself contrive to live for a whole year.
Then Lucy’s cruel mamma, who is the great feature in the novel, was
metamorphosed into a rascally brother, who growled baritone atrocities
into the ears of a sympathising chorus of indigent needle-women and
assistant carpenters, who act the nobility and gentry of Scotland
at half-a-crown a head and their beer. The first act is all love and
leave-taking, the second all cursing and confusion, and the third all
madness and misery: and that’s what people call a pleasant evening’s
amusement. The only thing that amused me was in the last scene, when the
stipendiary lover kills himself first and sings a long scena afterwards.
I thought that very praiseworthy and persevering of him, and if I’d been
Lucy such a little attention as that would have touched me particularly,
and I dare say it would have done her, only--seeing that she had died
raving mad some five minutes before, and was then drinking bottled
porter in her dressing-room for the good of her voice--she was perhaps
scarcely in a situation to appreciate it.”

“But if you don’t like the singing, I dare say you prefer the ballet?”
 suggested Susanna.

“No, I don’t,” was the short, sharp, and decisive reply.

“Not like the ballet? Oh! Mr. Frere, what can be your reason?” inquired
the surprised turtle-dove.

“Well, I have a reason good and sufficient, but I shan’t tell it to
you,” growled Frere; then muttered as an aside, which was, however,
sufficiently audible, “A set of jumping Jezebels skipping about in white
muslin kilts, for they’re nothing better; respectable people ought to be
ashamed of looking at ’em.” Having enunciated this opinion, Frere cast
a doubly ferocious glance at Mr. Rasper, then eloquently describing
to Rose the points of his favourite hunter, and relapsed into surly
monosyllables, beyond which no amount of cooing could again tempt him.

Marmaduke de Grandeville, enthroned in state on the right hand of the
lady of the house, gazed regally around him, and in the plenitude of his
magnificence was wonderful to behold. But, after all, he _was_ human,
and the evident depth and reality of Lady Lombard’s admiration and
respect softened even him, so that ere long he graciously condescended
to eat, drink and talk--not like an ordinary mortal, for that he never
did, but like himself. For instance, the topic under discussion being
the new Houses of Parliament, then in even a more unfinished state than
they are at present, De Grandcville elaborately explained the whole
design, every detail of which he appeared to have at his fingers’
ends--a fact for which he accounted when he allowed it to be understood
that--“Ar--he had--ar--given Barry a hint or two--ar--that Barry was a
very sensible fellow, and not above--ar--acting upon an idea when he saw
it to be a good one;” and it must be owned that as De Grandeville had
only once been in Mr. Barry’s company, on which occasion he had sat
opposite to him at a public dinner, he had made the best use of his
time, and not suffered his powers of penetration to rust for want of
use. Having in imagination put the finishing-stroke to the Victoria
Tower (one of the furthest stretches of fancy on record, we should
conceive), he contrived to work the conversation round to military
matters, set General Gudgeon right on several points referring to
battles in the Peninsula at which the General had himself been present,
and gave so graphic an account of Waterloo, that to this day
Lady Lombard believes he acted as Amateur Aide-du-Camp and Privy
Counsellor-in-Chief to the Duke of Wellington on that memorable
occasion. He then talked about the De Grandeville estates till every one
present believed him to be an immense landed proprietor, and wound up
by the anecdote of William of Normandy and the original De Grandeville,
which, with a slight biographical sketch of certain later worthies of
the family (one of whom, Sir Solomon de Grandeville, he declared to have
suggested to King Charles the advisability of hiding in the oak), lasted
till the ladies quitted the room, when, by Lady Lombard’s request, he
assumed her vacant chair, and did the honours with dignified courtesy.

Bracy, who during dinner had appeared most devoted to Miss MacSalvo,
now endeavoured to render himself universally agreeable. He applauded
General Gudgeon’s stories, and plied him vigorously with port wine,
which, as Mrs. Arundel had taken care the servants did not neglect to
replenish his wine-glass at dinner, began to tell upon him visibly.
He elicited the names, pedigrees, and performances of all Mr. James
Rasper’s horses, and received from that fast young man a confidential
statement of his last year’s betting account, together with a minute
detail of how he had executed that singular horticultural operation
yclept “hedging on the Oaks,” during which dry recital his throat
required constantly moistening with wine, in spite of which precaution
his voice grew exceedingly thick and husky before the sitting concluded.
On two individuals of the party, however, all Bracy’s efforts were
thrown away: Frere continued silent and moody, only opening his lips
occasionally, shortly and sternly to contradict some assertion, and
relapsing into his former taciturnity; while J. D. D. sat silently
bewailing his postponed destiny over a glass of water and two
ratafia cakes, which seemed to possess the singular property of never
diminishing.

At length the gentlemen rose to go upstairs, a matter easily
accomplished by every one but General Gudgeon, who made three
unsuccessful attempts to get under weigh, and then looked helplessly
round for assistance. Bracy, the ever-ready, was at hand in an instant.

“My dear General, let me lend you an arm. You’re cramped from sitting so
long.”

“Tha-a-ank you, my dear bo-o-oy,” returned the gallant officer, who
appeared to have been seized with a sudden, wild determination to alter
the English language by dividing monosyllables into three parts, and
otherwise fancifully to embellish his mother-tongue. “Tha-a-ank you!
It’s that confou-wow-wow-nded gun-shot wound in my knee-ee. I got it at
Bu-Bu-Bu--no! not Bucellas. What is it, eh?”

“Busaco,” suggested Bracy, fearing he had over-dosed his patient.

However, when once the General got upon his legs he used them to
better advantage than might have been expected, and proceeded upstairs,
“rolling grand,” as that prince of clever-simple biographers (to adopt
one of Mrs. Browning’s double-barrelled adjectives), Boswell, said of
his ponderous idol. Encountering Frere at the foot of the staircase, he
stumbled against that gentleman with so much force as nearly to knock
him down. As he recovered his footing Frere turned angrily towards his
assailant; but his irritation changed to an expression of contemptuous
pity as his eye fell upon the white hair of General Gudgeon, and
stepping on one side, he allowed him to pass. He was quietly following,
when Mr. James Rasper, who had witnessed his discomfiture with an
ill-bred laugh, excited by the wine he had drank, attempted, by way of a
stupid practical joke, to repeat General Gudgeon’s involuntary assault,
and reckoning Frere a good-natured, quiet sort of person, not likely to
resent such a jest, pretended to stumble against him, and pushed past
him when about half-way up the first flight of stairs. Never did a man
(to use a common but forcible expression) “mistake his customer” more
completely. In an instant Frere had collared him, dragged him down a
step or two, then retaining his grasp of the coat-collar, seized him
by the waistband of his trousers, and by a great exertion of strength,
swung him clear over the banisters, lowered him till his feet were about
a yard from the floor, and then let him drop. After which performance,
having glanced round to see that his victim was not injured by the fall,
he coolly pursued his way upstairs.



CHAPTER XXXIX.--IS IN TWO FYTTES--VIZ., FYTTE THE FIRST, A SULKY
FIT--FYTTE THE SECOND, A FIT OF HYSTERICS.

Frere reached the drawing-room in a state of mind which the occurrences
related in the last chapter had not tended to render more amiable. The
front room was evidently the more popular of the two, a numerous group
being gathered round Mrs. Brahmin, who in the sweetest of mild sopranos
was daintily cooing forth a plaintive love-ditty, which was evidently
telling well with John Dace, D.D. Avoiding the crowd, Frere made his
way into the back drawing-room, which, barring an ardent flirtation in
a corner between two poor young things who could not, by the most remote
possibility, marry for the next fifteen years, was unoccupied. Here
seating himself astride across a chair as if it had been a horse, and
leaning his arms on the back, he fell into a deep fit of musing. From
this he was roused by the approach of a light footstep, and looking up,
perceived Rose Arundel.

“Why, Mr. Frere,” she exclaimed playfully, “I do believe you were
asleep; will you not come into the other room? Mrs. Brahmin is singing
like a nightingale and charming everybody.”

“Nightingales are humbugs. I hate singing women in general, and
abominate Mrs. Brahmin in particular, so I’m better where I am,” was the
grumpy reply.

Rose had often before received speeches from Frere quite as rude as the
present one, but in this instance there was a peculiarity in his method
of delivering it which at once struck her attention. Usually his bearish
sayings were accompanied by a half-smile or merry twinkle of the eye,
which proved that he was more than half in jest, but now there was a
bitter earnestness in his tone which she had never before remarked,
and Rose felt at once that something had occurred to annoy him; so
she quietly drew a chair to the table near which he was seated, and
carelessly turning over the pages of a book of prints which lay before
her, observed--

“If you are not to be tempted within the siren’s influence, and
positively refuse to be charmed with sweets sounds, I suppose I am bound
by all the rules of politeness to remain here and try to talk you into a
more harmonious frame of mind.”

“Pray do nothing of the kind,” returned Frere, “unless you’ve some
better reason than a mere compliance with what you please to term ‘the
rules of politeness,’ for they are things I trouble my head about mighty
little. Besides,” he added sarcastically, “your new friend, Mr. James
Rasper, must have found his way upstairs by this time, I should imagine,
and I should be sorry to deprive you of the pleasure of his intellectual
conversation, more particularly as you seem to appreciate it so
thoroughly.”

“How viciously you said that!” returned Rose, smiling. “But tell me, are
you really angry? have I done anything to annoy you? I’m sure it’s most
unwittingly on my part, if I have;” and as she spoke she looked so good,
and so willing to be penitent for any possible offence, that a man
must have had the heart of an ogre to have resisted her. Such a heart,
however, Frere appeared to possess, for he answered shortly--

“No, I’ve no fault to find with you. I dare say it may be quite
according to the ‘rules of politeness’ to cast off old friends and take
up with new ones at a minute’s notice, and be completely engrossed by
them, though they may contrive to talk about horses till they prove
themselves little better than asses to the mind of an unprejudiced
auditor. There is your friend conversing eagerly with Bracy, asking, no
doubt, what has become of you.”

“You are very unjust, Mr. Frere,” returned Rose, looking hard at her
book and speaking eagerly and quickly. “Mr. Rasper is no friend of
mine; I scarcely knew his name till you mentioned it. He sat next me at
dinner, and talked to me about horses and galloping over ploughed fields
after foxes, till I became so stupid that I had scarcely two ideas left
in my head, but of course I was bound to answer him civilly. So much for
my new friend, as you call him; what you mean by my casting off old ones
I don’t at all know; I have done nothing of the kind that I am aware
of.”

“No, you have not,” returned Frere, recalled to his better self by
Rose’s harangue; “it is I who am, as you say, unjust and absurd, but
the honest truth is that I wanted to talk to you myself. All these good
people are bores more or less, none of’em able to converse rationally
for five minutes together. I meant to have handed you down to dinner,
but that silky, scheming widow got hold of me instead and irritated me
with her bland platitudes; and then I heard that idiot prating to you
about horses’ legs, and you appeared so well satisfied with him, when
I knew that you were one of the few women who could understand and
appreciate better things, that altogether I grew savage, and could
gladly have punched my own head or any one else’s.”

“It is quite as well Mr. Rasper was on the opposite side of the table
to you,” returned Rose, “or you might have carried out your theoretical
inclinations by practising on him, and then we should have had a scene.”

Frere looked a little awkward and conscious as he replied--

“Though I am a bear, I am not quite such a savage animal as all that
comes to; I do not give the fatal hug unless I am attacked first.”

At this moment Bracy and Mr. Rasper, whose backs were turned towards
them, approached within earshot. The latter appeared much excited, and
Rose heard him say--

“It’s no use talking, I’ve been grossly insulted, sir, and if you won’t
take my message to him, by------ I’ll take it myself, and give him as
good as he gave me, or perhaps a little better.”

Frere heard him also, and a flash of anger passed across his features.

“My dear Rasper, you’re excited,” returned Bracy soothingly. “I did not
witness the affair certainly, but I cannot think that any insult was
intended. Frere is rough in his manner, but the best-hearted fellow in
the world.”

“I don’t know what _you_ may consider an insult, Mr. Bracy; but taking a
man by the collar and swinging him over the banisters like a cat, at the
risk of his neck, is quite insult enough for me, one for which I’ll have
satisfaction, too.”

“Hush, my dear fellow, you’ll attract general attention if you speak so
loud. Here, come aside with me, and we’ll talk the matter over quietly.”

So saying, he drew Rasper’s arm within his own, and led him through a
side door which opened upon the staircase. Involuntarily glancing at
his companion, Frere perceived her eyes riveted on his features with an
expression of alarmed inquiry.

“Well, what’s the matter?” he demanded, answering her speaking look.

“What is that man so angry about?” returned Rose breathlessly; “what
have you been doing?”

“Nothing very wonderful,” rejoined Frere coolly. “The young gentleman,
as I suppose one is bound to call him, drank rather more wine than was
prudent, and fancying I looked a quiet, easy-tempered kind of person,
by way of a dull jest, indulged himself with falling against and rudely
pushing by me on the staircase; and I, not being at the moment in the
humour for joking, did, as he very truly observes, swing him like a cat
over the banisters, where, cat-like, he fell upon his legs.”

“Oh, Mr. Frere, how could you do such a thing? And now he is dreadfully
angry, and talked about sending you a message, which means that he wants
to fight a duel. Mr. Frere, you will not fight with him?” and as
Rose spoke her pale cheek flushed with unwonted animation, and tears,
scarcely repressed, glistened in her earnest eyes.

“What do you think about it?” returned Frere, looking at her with a kind
smile.

“Oh, I think, I hope, you are too good, too wise, to do such a thing.
For Lewis’s sake, for the sake of all your friends, you will refrain.”

“For a better reason still, my dear, warm-hearted little friend,”
 returned Frere kindly but solemnly; “for God’s sake I will not break His
commandment, or incur the guilt of shedding a fellow-creature’s blood.
But,” he added, “all this folly has frightened you;” and as he spoke he
took her little trembling hand in his and stroked it caressingly, and
this time it was not withdrawn.

“Then you will apologise, I suppose,” Rose observed after a short pause.

“Well, we’ll hope that may not be necessary,” returned her companion,
“seeing that Rasper the infuriated was more to blame in the affair than
I was; but if the good youth is so obtuse that nothing less will quiet
him, I suppose I must accommodate his stupidity by doing so. It is a
less evil to pocket one’s dignity for once in a way than to murder or be
murdered in support of it.”

At this moment Bracy entered the room _solo_, with such a vexed and
anxious expression of countenance that Frere, who guessed rightly at the
cause, could, though he liked him the better for it, scarcely forbear
smiling.

“Go back to your singing widow,” observed Frere to Rose, “and when I
have administered his sop to Cerberus I will come and tell you what wry
faces he has made in swallowing it.”

Rose fixed her eyes on him with a scrutinising glance, and reading
in his honest face that he was not deceiving her, smiled on him
approvingly, and rising, quietly mingled with the company in the front
drawing-room.

“I say, Frere,” began Bracy as Rose disappeared, “I’m sadly afraid
you have got into a tiresome scrape. That young fool, Rasper, declares
you’ve pitched him over the banisters.”

“A true bill so far, and richly he deserved it,” returned Frere.

“I can well believe that,” was Bracy’s reply, “for he was more than
half screwed whence left the dinner-table; but the shake appears to have
sobered him into a state of the most lively vindictiveness. However,
it’s no laughing matter, I can assure you: he has sent you a message by
me, and means fighting.”

“_He_ may, but _I_ don’t,” returned Frere shortly.

“My dear Frere, I wish I could make you understand that the affair is
serious. Rasper’s determined to have you out. I can make no impression
upon him, and you can’t refuse to meet a man after pitching him over the
banisters,” rejoined Bracy in a tone of annoyance.

“Can’t I, though?” returned Frere, smiling. “I’m not of such a yielding
disposition as you imagine. Where is the sweet youth?”

“I left him in the cloak-room,” answered Bracy; and as Frere immediately
turned to descend the stairs, continued, “ ’Pon my word, you’d better
not go near him: he’s especially savage. Depend upon it, you will have
something disagreeable occur.”

“Do you think I’m going to be forced into fighting a duel, a sin of the
first magnitude in my eyes, because I’m afraid of meeting an angry boy?
You don’t know me yet,” returned Frere sternly; and without waiting
further parley he ran downstairs, followed by Bracy, with a face of the
most comic perplexity. The door of the cloak-room stood half open, and
at the further end of the apartment might be perceived the outraged
Rasper, pacing up and down like a caged lion, “nursing his wrath to keep
it warm.” Unintimidated even by this tremendous spectacle, Frere coolly
entered the room, and immediately walked up to his late antagonist,
holding out his hand.

“Come, Mr. Rasper,” he said, “this has been a foolish business
altogether, and the sooner we mutually forget it the better. Here’s my
hand: let’s be friends.”

That this was a mode of procedure on which Mr. Rasper had not calculated
was evident, as well by his extreme embarrassment as by his appearing
completely at a loss what course to pursue. For a moment he seemed half
inclined to accept Frere’s proffered hand; but his eye fell upon Bracy,
and probably recalling the threats he had breathed forth in the hearing
of that worthy individual, he felt that his dignity was at stake; and
giving himself a shake to re-arouse his indignation, he replied, “I
shall do no such thing, sir. You have grossly insulted me, and I demand
satisfaction.”

“Excuse me,” returned Frere quietly, “I did not insult you: I simply
would not allow you to insult me; no man worthy of the name would.”

“It’s no use jangling about it, like a couple of women, _I_ consider
that you have insulted me: what _you_ may think matters nothing to me. I
have been insulted, I require satisfaction, and I mean to have it too,”
 reiterated Mr. Rasper, talking himself into a passion.

“Now, listen to me,” returned Frere impressively. “You are a younger man
than I am, and have probably, therefore, more of life before you. You
are of an age and temperament to enjoy life vividly. There are many that
love you; I can answer for three, for I met your mother and two
sisters at Lord Ambergate’s a fortnight since, and the kind creatures
entertained me for half-an-hour with your praises. Why, then, seek to
throw away your own life and embitter theirs, or bring upon your head
the guilt of homicide, entailing banishment from your home and country,
and other evil consequences, merely because, having drunk a few extra
glasses of wine, you sought to play off a practical joke upon me, and
I, not being at the moment in a jesting humour, retaliated upon you, as
you, or any other man of spirit, would have done in my situation? Come,
look at it in a common sense point of view: is this a cause for which to
lose a life or take one?”

After waiting a moment for a reply, during which time Rasper
stood gnawing the finger of his white glove in irresolution, Frere
resumed--“If you’re sorry for your share in the matter, I’m perfectly
willing to own that I am for mine; and now, once more, here’s my
hand--what do you say?”

“Say, that you’re a regular out-and-out good fellow, and that I’m
a------d ass, and beg your pardon heartily,” was the energetic
rejoinder; and bringing his hand down upon Frere’s with a smack that
re-echoed through the room, Rasper and his late antagonist shook hands
with the strength and energy of a brace of giants; and then, both
talking at once with the greatest volubility, they ascended the stairs
arm in arm, Bracy following them, with his left eye fixed in a
species of chronic wink, expressive of any amount of the most intense
satisfaction and sagacity. As they re-entered the drawing-room, Rose,
whose powers of hearing, always acute, were in the present instance
rendered still more so by anxiety, caught the following words; “Then you
promise you will dine with me at Lovegrove’s on Thursday, and I’ll
pick up half-a-dozen fellows that I know you’ll like to meet, regular
top-sawyers, that you’re safe to find in the first flight, be it where
it may.”

“Only on condition that you come to my rooms on Friday and bring your
brother, and we’ll show you sporting men how we bookworms live--Bracy,
we shall see you?”

“You’ll dine with us, too, at Blackwall, Mr. Bracy,” rejoined the first
speaker, who was none other than the redoubtable Rasper. And numerous
other genial sentences of like import reached the ear and comforted the
heart of that little philanthropist, Rose Arundel, who could no more
bear to see her fellow-creatures disagree than could Dr. Watts, when in
his benevolence he indicted that pretty hymn which begins--

                   “Let dogs delight to bark and bite,

                   For ’tis their nature to!”

then proceeds to state the interesting ornithological fact that

                   “Birds in their little nests agree,”

and touchingly appeals to the nobler instincts of childhood in the
pathetic metrical remonstrance--

                   “Those little hands were never made

                   To tear each other’s eyes.”

Oh! excellent and prosy Watts, doer of dull, moral platitudes into
duller doggerel, co-tormentor with Pinnock and the Latin grammar of my
early boyhood, would that for thy sake I had the pen of Thomas Carlyle,
for then would I write thee down that which I suspect thou wast, my
Watts, in most resonant un-English, nay, I would make thee the subject
of a “Latter-Day Pamphlet,” and treating of thee in connection with the
_vexata questio_ of prison discipline, would by thy aid invent a new and
horrible punishment for refractory felons, who in lieu of handcuffs
and bread and water, hard labour, or solitary confinement, should
straightway be condemned to a severe course of “Watts’ Hymns.”

Thomas Bracy, his mind being relieved from the _onus_ of this rather
serious episode in his evening’s amusement, now cast his eyes around to
discover how the various schemes projected by his fertile brain might
be progressing. The first group that met his eye afforded him unmixed
satisfaction--Lady Lombard, seated on a low fauteuil, was listening
with delighted attention to De Grandeville, who, hanging over her,
was talking eagerly (about himself) with an air of the most lover-like
devotion. The next pair that his glance fell upon scarcely pleased him
so well, for Mrs. Brahmin had again hooked the Dace, and appeared in a
fair way of landing him safely. “However,” reflected Bracy, “one comfort
is that he’s such an awful fool he will bore her to death in less than a
week after they’re married, and she’ll revenge herself by flirting with
every man she meets, which is safe to worry him to distraction, and
they’ll be a wretched, miserable couple; so I really believe there’ll
be more comedy evolved by letting them alone than by interfering with
them;” and consoling himself with this agreeable view of the matter,
he turned his attention to the state, mental and physical, of General
Gudgeon. That gallant son of Mars, as though conscious of the hopes and
fears that were abroad concerning his possible behaviour, was taking
the best method of neutralising the dangerous effects of his devotion
to Bacchus by composing himself to sleep in a mighty arm-chair. Next
him was seated Miss MacSalvo, who was engaged in a truly edifying
conversation with Mrs. Dackerel, mother to the “postponed one,” on the
propriety of establishing a female Missionary Society for the prevention
of Polygamy amongst the Aborigines of the North-Eastern Districts of
South-West Australia; an evil which both ladies agreed to be mainly
owing to the fact that the women did not know how to conduct themselves
like the women of civilised nations; a fact to which Bracy assented by
observing “that was self-evident, or the men would find one wife quite
enough;” on which Miss MacSalvo turned up the whites, or more properly
speaking, the yellows of her eyes, and ejaculated, “Ah, yes indeed!”
 with much unction, though it is to be doubted whether after all she
perceived the full force of the remark.

“Why, General,” exclaimed Bracy quickly, “_you_ have been in Australia;
you’re the very man we want; rouse up, my dear sir, and enlighten our
darkness.”

“Pray, sir,” observed Miss MacSalvo, addressing General Gudgeon, “pray,
sir, can you give me any insight into the habits and customs of those
interesting, but, alas! misguided individuals, the Aborigines of South
Australia; more particularly with reference to the female portion of the
population--any little anecdotes which may occur to you now?”

“By Jo-o-ove, ma’am,” returned the General, whose English had not yet
‘suffered a recovery’, “you’ve come to--you’ve come to the right, eh--to
the, the right, what-is-it?”

“Shop,” suggested Bracy.

“Ye-es, to the right sho-op, if that’s what you want, ma’am. I should
think there ain’t a man--there ain’t a man--eh? yes, breathing--that can
tell you more--eh? more about larks----”

“It is scarcely with a view to the ornithology of the country that I am
anxious to gain information,” interrupted Miss MacSalvo; “the facts I
require regard the general behaviour and moral conduct of the female
population of the north-eastern district.”

“Eh! oh, yes--yes, I under--I understand what you’re up to, eh?” resumed
the General, with what he intended for a significant wink at Bracy;
“there was Tom Slasher and me--a rare wild young, eh? yes, a wild young
dog was Tom; well, ma’am, there was a gal over there--she wasn’t one of
the natives, though--they’re taw-taw--yes, tawny coloured--but this
gal was a nigger--reg’lar darkie--Black-_hide_ Susan, Tom used to call
her--witty chap was Tom.”

And the General being fairly started, continued to talk most volubly,
though, from the peculiarities of his diction, he did not get to the
point of his story so quickly as might have been expected. In the
meantime Frere contrived to rejoin Rose, and seating himself almost in
her pocket, observed in a low voice--

“Well, I’ve managed to tame the dragon, you see.”

“Yes, and persuaded him to dine _with_ you instead of _upon_ you,”
 returned Rose, smiling; “but tell me,” she added, “how did you contrive
to satisfy him. Were you forced to apologise?”

“Oh, I put the thing before him in a common sense point of view,”
 replied Frere; “appealed to his good feeling as if I had faith in his
possessing such a quality, which is the sure way to call it forth if it
exists, and wound up by telling him that if he was sorry for his share
in the business, I was ditto for mine, which mode of treatment proved
eminently successful. He applied a forcible adjective to the word ass,
and stigmatising himself by the epithet thus compounded, he shook me
heartily by the hand, and straightway we became the greatest friends,
ratifying the contract by an exchange of dinner invitations, without
which ceremony no solemn league and covenant is considered binding in
England in these days of enlightened civilisation.”

“Well, I think you have behaved more bravely and nobly than if you
had fought twenty duels,” exclaimed Rose, fairly carried away by her
admiration. “I esteem and respect you, and--and----!” Here she stopped
short, and a bright blush overspread her pale features, for she
perceived Frere’s fine eyes fixed upon her with an expression of
delighted surprise which she had never observed in them before, and
which brought to her recollection the fact that, after all, he was
a living man not many years older than herself, instead of some
magnanimous, philosophical, and heroic character in history done into
modern English and animated by magic for her express delectation. The
light in Frere’s eyes had, however, faded, and he had relapsed into his
accustomed manner ere he replied: “I can’t say I see anything to make a
fuss about in it. I wasn’t going to allow a half-tipsy boy to insult me
with impunity, so I pitched him over the banisters as a trifling hint to
that effect; neither did I feel inclined to shoot him, or let him shoot
me, by way of compensation for his tumble, because it would have been
equally wrong and irrational so to do, and I went and told him my ideas
in plain English, which was the natural course to pursue, and produced
the desired effect. I really can’t see anything remarkable in it all.”

“I fancy that I do,” replied Rose archly; “but of course we poor women
cannot pretend to be competent judges in such a case.”

“You know you don’t think anything of the kind,” returned Frere; “you’ve
got a very good opinion of your own judgment, so don’t tell stories.”

“Without either admitting or denying the truth of your assertion, I
should like to know what grounds you have for making it?” asked Rose.

“I can soon tell you, if that’s all you want to know,” returned Frere.
“You could not act for yourself with the quiet decision I have before
now seen you exercise when occasion required it unless you possessed
self-appreciation sufficient to give you the requisite degree of
confidence.”

Ere Rose could reply their conversation was interrupted by a piercing
shriek followed by an extreme bustle and confusion on the other side of
the room. The cause was soon explained. Excited with wine, and artfully
drawn on by Bracy, General Gudgeon had told one of his “gentleman’s
stories” to Miss MacSalvo, on the strength of which outrageous anecdote
that zealous advocate for establishing a Female Missionary Society for
the Prevention of Polygamy amongst the Aborigines of the North-Eastern
District of South-West Australia had seen fit to go off into a perfect
tornado of the most alarming hysterics!



CHAPTER XL.--SHOWS, AMONGST OTHER MATTERS, HOW RICHARD FRERE PASSED A
RESTLESS NIGHT.

The hysterical affection of the praiseworthy antipolygamist having
taken place late in the evening, may be said to have broken up the
party. Mrs. General Gudgeon, who, when the catastrophe occurred, was
more or less asleep over the same book of prints to which she had
devoted herself on her first arrival, originated, as she witnessed the
confusion, a faint idea--(all this lady’s ideas, and they were not
many, were of a dim and hazy character, so that a good impression of her
thoughts--if we may be allowed the term--was a rarity hardly to be met
with)--that her better half was in some way connected with the matter;
and knowing that dining out usually “produced an effect upon him” (as
she delicately and indefinitely phrased it), she forthwith instituted
an inquiry after her carriage, and that “vehicle for the transmission of
heavy bodies” being reported in readiness, she issued marching orders,
and as soon as the honourable and gallant officer could be got upon his
legs, took him in tow, and in his company departed.

The Dackerels hastened to follow this example, the maternal Dackerel
having come in for her share of the General’s “good things,” and
appearing much inclined to “trump” Miss MacSalvo’s hysterics with a
fainting fit; J. D. D., with a face even longer than usual, supported
her retiring footsteps. He had been warming his chilly spirit in the
sunshine of the widow’s smiles, till, in the possibility of some
day calling that delicate creature his own, the outline of a new and
fascinating destiny had been traced upon the foolscap paper of his
imagination; but the doom was still upon him, and in the calls of filial
piety he recognised a fresh postponement even of this last forlorn hope.
Frere had shaken hands with Rose, apologised for not being able to
lunch with them the next day--a thing which nobody had asked him to
do--and, having set the butler and both the tall footmen to look for
his cotton umbrella, and put on consecutively two wrong greatcoats, was
about to walk home, when Mr. James Rasper interfered; he would drive his
friend home--anywhere--everywhere--so that he would but accompany him.
He wanted to show him his cab; he wished to learn his opinion of his
horse--in short, he would not be denied; and Frere, beginning to think
his friendship a worse alternative than his animosity, was forced to
consent, which he did thus--

“Well, yes, if you like. I shall get home sooner, that’s one comfort;
and I’ve got three hours’ work to do before I can go to bed. Is this
your trap? The brute won’t kick, will he? Ugh! what an awkward thing to
get into. I believe I’ve broken my shin. Go ahead! Mind you steer clear
of the lamp-posts. I can’t think why people ride when they’ve got legs
to walk with.”

Bracy waited patiently to hand Miss MacSalvo downstairs, which he did
with much gravity and decorum, lamenting the disgraceful conduct of
General Gudgeon, of whom he remarked, with a portentous shake of the
head, that “he greatly feared he was not a man of a sober or edifying
frame of mind,” which observation was certainly true as far as the
sobriety was concerned.

Whether Jemima of the sour countenance had, in arranging Frere’s bed,
imparted somewhat of the angularity of her own nature to the feathers,
or whether the events of the evening had excited that part of his system
in regard to the existence whereof he indulged in a very bigotry of
scepticism, namely, his nerves, certain it is that when (having read
Hindostanee till daylight peeped in upon his studies) he went to bed he
did _not_ follow his usual system of dropping asleep almost as soon
as he had laid his head upon his pillow; neither could he apply his
ordinary remedy for insomnolency, for when he tried to concentrate his
attention on some difficult sentence in his Hindostanee, or to solve
mentally an abstruse mathematical problem, a figure in white muslin
obscured the Asiatic characters or entangled itself inextricably with
rectangular triangles, so that the wished-for Q. E. D. could never
be arrived at. Frere had never thought Rose Arundel pretty till that
night--one reason for which might have been that he had never thought
about her appearance at all; but now, all of a sudden, the recollection
of her animated face as, carried away by the impulse of the moment, she
had begun to tell him how she admired his noble conduct, occurred to
him, and all its good points flashed upon him and haunted and oppressed
him. The smooth, broad forehead--he had observed that before, and
decided it to be a good forehead in a practical point of view--i.e.> a
capacious knowledge-box; but now he felt that it was something more,
and the mysterious attribute of beauty forced itself upon his notice and
flung its charm around him. Then her eyes--those deep, earnest, truthful
eyes--seemed yet to gaze at him, with a bright expression of interest
sparkling through their softness. He could not, try as he pleased,
banish the recollection of those eyes; as he lay and thought they came
across him, and bewitched him like a spell. And her mouth--what a world
of eloquence was there even in its silence; there might be traced the
same firmness and resolution which marked the haughty curl of Lewis’s
short upper lip; but the pride and sternness were wanting, and in their
place a chastened, pensive expression seemed to afford a guarantee that
the strength of character thus indicated could alone be aroused in a
good cause; but the true expression of that mouth was to be discovered
only when a smile, suggestive of every softer, brighter trait of woman’s
nature, revealed the little pearl-like teeth. All this seemed to have
come upon Frere like a sudden inspiration; he could not banish it
from his recollection, and the more he reflected upon it, the less he
understood it. And so he tossed and tumbled about, restless alike in
mind and body, till at last, just as the clock struck six, he fell into
a doze. But sleep afforded him no refuge from his tormentress. Rose,
changed and yet the same, haunted his dreams; but a halo appeared to
surround her--she had acquired a character of sanctity in his eyes.
Never again could he inadvertently address her as “sir,” and he would as
soon have thought of connecting the idea of a “good fellow” with one of
Raphael’s Madonnas as with Rose Arundel. At half-past seven Jemima--a
very chronometer for punctuality--knocked at his door, and receiving no
answer, _sans cérémonie_ walked in, to see what might be the matter; and
finding her master rather snoring than otherwise, invaded his slumbers
by exclaiming in a shrill voice--

“It ain’t of much use me getting out of my blessed bed with the rhumatiz
in the small o’ my back to bring your hot-water by halfpast seven, if
you lay there snoring like a hog, Master Richard, and won’t answer a
body when they call you;” to which appeal she received the somewhat
inconsequent reply--

“Well, suppose I wouldn’t let him shoot me, there’s nothing very fine in
that, Rose.”

“Listen to him,” exclaimed Jemima, aghast; “lor’ a mussy! I hope he
ain’t a wandering, or took to the drink. Master Richard, will ye please
to wake and talk like a Christian, and not go frightening a body out of
their wits,” she continued in a tone of voice as of an agitated sea-mew.

“Eh, what? oh, is that you, Jemima? I was so sound asleep; go away and
I’ll get up directly,” muttered Frere, becoming conscious of those usual
colloquial antipodes, “his room and his company.” But Jemima had been
flurried and rendered anxious on his account, first by his silence, next
by his incoherent address, and now finding her alarm had been without
foundation, her better feelings turned sour, and having her master at
an advantage, seeing that he could not rise till she should please to
convey herself away, she gave vent to her acidulated sentiments in the
following harangue--

“Yes, it’s all very well to say ‘go away,’ as if you was speaking to
a dog, after frightening people out of their wits by talking gibberish
about shooting and fine roses; but I see how it is, you’re a taking to
evil courses, a staying out here till one o’clock in the morning, for I
heard ye a comin’ in, lying awake with the rhumatiz in the small o’
my back, drinking and smoking cigars, which spiles the teeth and
hundermines the hintellects, and accounts for being non compo Mondays
the next morning; but I’ve lived with you and yours thirty year and odd,
and I ain’t a-going to see you rack-and-ruining of your constitution
without a-speaking up to tell you of it, for all your looking black
at the woman that nursed you when yer was an hinocent babby, all
onconscious of sich goings on.”

“My good woman, don’t talk such rubbish, but go away and let me get my
things on,” returned Frere in a species of apologetic growl.

“Rubbish indeed!” continued Jemima in a violent falsetto, her temper
being thoroughly aroused by the contemptuous epithet applied to her
unappreciated homily; “that’s all the thanks one gets for one’s good
advice, is it? but I don’t care. I’ve lived with you, man and boy, nigh
half my life, which, like the grass of the field, is three score years
and ten come Michaelmas twelvemonth, and I’m not a-going to see you take
to evil courses without lifting up my voice as a deacon set on a hill to
warn you against ’em, which is what your blessed mother would have done
only too gladly if she wasn’t an angel in the family vault, where we
must all go when our time comes; smoking filthy cigars and stopping out
till one o’clock in the morning, indeed!” and muttering these words over
and over to herself, as a sort of _refrain_, Jemima hobbled out of the
room with more stoutness and alacrity than could have been expected from
her antiquated appearance. Relieved from the incubus of her presence,
Frere rose and proceeded to dress himself; but the nightmare that had
oppressed him, whether sleeping or waking, haunted him still.

In vain he tried to shave himself; the vision in white muslin came
between his face and the looking-glass and occasioned him to cut his
chin. At his frugal breakfast it was with him again, and strange to
say, took away his appetite; it went out with him to his scientific
institution, and weakened his perceptions, and absorbed his attention,
and dulled his memory, till even the most positive resolved nebulæ swam
in a mist before him, and the mountains of the moon, which had lately
developed a new crater, might have been the _bona fide_ productions of
that planet instead of merely her African godchildren, for aught that
he could have stated to the contrary. He got through his morning’s work
somehow, and then the vision prompted him to call at Lady Lombard’s,
and gave him no peace till he started for the goodly mansion of that
hospitable widow, which he did in such an unusually agitated frame of
mind, that for the first time in the memory of man he forgot his cotton
umbrella; he hurried wildly through the streets, overthrowing little
children and reversing apple-women, not to mention an insane attempt to
constitute himself a member of the “happy family,” by dashing violently
against the wires of their cage, which contains all kinds of strange
animals except a Richard Frere, or a _Podiccps Cornutus_, till at last
he reached the locality in which Lady Lombard’s house was situated.

And here a new and unaccountable crotchet took possession of his
brain. Frere, who since he could run alone and express his sentiments
intelligibly in his native tongue had never known what bashfulness
meant, was seized with a sudden attack of that uncomfortable sensation,
the extinguisher of so many would-be shining lights of humanity, who
but for that “flooring” quality would have published such books and made
such speeches that the hair of society at large, upraised with wonder
and admiration, must have stood on end through all time, “like quills
upon the fretful porcupine.” So violent was this attack of shyness that,
after having hurried from his office as though life and death hung upon
his speed, he could not make up his mind whether to pay the projected
visit or not, and actually strolled up and down, passing and repassing
the door some half-dozen times before he ventured to knock at it; nay,
to such an extent had this mysterious “_timor panico_” seized upon
him, that when the plush-clad “man mountain” appeared in answer to his
summons he merely left his card, and inquiring meekly how the ladies
were, posted off at, if anything, a more rapid pace than that at which
he had walked on his way thither.

Then ere he had proceeded the length of a street came the reaction,
under the influence of which he not unjustly stigmatised himself as
an egregious fool, and but for very shame would fain have retraced his
steps. He could not, however, make up any credible excuse for facing the
noble footman a second time, so as the next best thing to seeing Rose,
he found his way to Park Crescent and called upon Lewis, to whom he
related how he felt so restless and fidgety that he was persuaded he
must be about to develop a feverish cold, or some analogous abomination.
Having engaged Lewis to accompany him on the following evening to
a lecture at the Palaeontological on “The Relations of the Earlier
Zoophytes,” whoever they might be, he was about to depart, when, as he
reached the hall, a carriage, with a splendid pair of greys, dashed up
to the door, and a pretty little brunette with sparkling black eyes,
a brilliant complexion, and a bonnet the colour of raspberry
ice, descended, and passing Frere with a glance half saucy, half
contemptuous, ran upstairs as if she were an _habituée_ of the house.
This was Emily, Countess Portici, Loid Bellefield’s younger sister, who,
having at nineteen run away with an Italian nobleman, for love of his
black eyes and ivory complexion, had ere she was five-and-twenty grown
heartily sick of them and of Italy, and discovered some good reason to
quit that land of uncomfortable splendour to enjoy the gaieties of a
London spring, leaving her picturesque husband to console himself
as best he might during her absence. She possessed very high spirits
without any vast amount of judgment to counterbalance them, and her
present frame of mind was that of a school-girl rejoicing in a holiday,
into which she was determined to cram as much pleasure, fun, and frolic
as an unlimited capacity for enjoyment would enable her to undergo. On
the strength of her position as a married woman, she constituted
herself Annie’s chaperon on all occasions when the vigilance of Minerva
Livingstone could be eluded; and as that Gorgon of the nineteenth
century was not so young as she had been, and found late hours tend
to reduce her stamina and degrade the dignity of ill temper to the
ignominious level of mere peevishness, she unwillingly allowed the
Countess Portici to act as her substitute and escort Annie to such
evening entertainments as from their nature threatened to invade the
hours dedicated by Minerva to repose. There was much similarity of
feature and of manner between the Countess and her brother Charles
Leicester, only that Charley’s languid drawl was in Emily replaced by a
sparkling vivacity, which, together with a certain selfish good-nature
that led her to promote the enjoyment of others on every occasion in
which it did not come in contact with her own, was sufficient to render
her a general favourite. Annie was no exception to this rule; and always
delighted to escape from the petrifying influence of Minerva, eagerly
seconded all her lively cousin’s schemes for her amusement.

The object of the Countess’s visit on the present occasion was to secure
Annie for the following evening, when they were to dine together, and
were afterwards to be escorted to the Opera by Lord Bellefield, where
they were to hear a new soprano with a voice three notes higher than
that of anybody else, which notes might by a mild and easy figure of
speech be not inaptly termed bank-notes, seeing that by their exercise
the fair cantatrice had realised the satisfactory sum of thirty thousand
pounds.

The Countess’s scheme happening to fit in very nicely with the views of
the elders, as the General dined out, and Minerva was nursing a cold,
which must have reduced the temperature of her blood to some frightful
figure below zero, the project met with no more opposition than, from
the constitution of Miss Livingstone’s mind, was inevitable. And thus it
came about that on the following day Emily called for Annie, and the two
girls (for the matron was a very _girlish_ specimen of five-and-twenty)
drove round the park together, and then retired to Emily’s boudoir and
“talked confidence” till it was time to dress. Annie’s revelations
did not go much more than skin-deep, and related chiefly to anxieties
concerning papa and difficulties with Aunt Martha, who was “so tiresome
about things, and never would let anybody love her,” and then branched
off to a retrospective sketch of the preliminary difficulties which had
obstructed Charley Leicester’s wedding, ending by a detailed account
of the ceremony itself, and Annie’s hopes and fears as to the ultimate
result of the bridegroom’s good resolutions.

Emily, on the contrary, plunged at once _in médias res_, and related
how all last winter she had been rendered wretched by “Alessandro’s”
 attentions to the Marchese Giulia di B------ani (she revealed the blank
in an agitated whisper), and what all her particular friends had said
to her on the subject, and how she had jointly and severally replied to
them that the dignity of her sex supported her; whence, warming with
her subject, she went on to state how she in her turn had supported this
dignity by repulsing the advances of Captain Augustus (familiarly and
affectionately reduced, for colloquial purposes, into Gus) Travers,
who, having been her first love, and retired _vice_ Alessandro Conte de
Portici promoted to the rank of husband, considered that it was again
his innings, and had diligently sought to become platonically her third
love and disputed the post of _cavalier servente_ with all and sundry,
in spite of which constancy and devotion she had persevered in her
repulsiveness until, between her cruelty and a reckless indifference to
malaria, poor Gus was attacked with a brain fever, and then of course
when he grew a little better she could not continue unkind to him,
for she might have had his life to answer for, and that was a serious
consideration; and so by degrees he took to coming to the Palazzo
Portici constantly and went about to places with her, and somehow she
got accustomed to him, and Alessandro did not seem to mind, and poor Gus
always behaved very well, and only asked to be allowed the privilege of
her friendship, and everybody did the same sort of thing--“It’s their
way over there, you know, Annie dear;” till at last Belle-field came,
and he had never been able to endure Gus because he was so handsome,
poor fellow, so Bellefield made a great fuss and said all sorts
of shocking things, and set Alessandro at her; and worse than all,
quarrelled with Gus and wanted to horsewhip him, and it almost came to a
duel, only she wrote Gus a little note, imploring him not to fight, but
to go away and forget her; and he had done the first directly, and she
dared say he had done the second, for she’d never seen him since, which
of course she was very glad of. And here she heaved a deep sigh and
caressed a comic and unnatural transalpine poodle, which by reason of
its flowing locks looked like an animated carriage mat, as though it
had been a pet lamb, the sole prop of some heart-broken and dishevelled
shepherdess, to which picture of pastoral pathos did Emily, Countess di
Portici, then and there mentally assimilate herself.

And to all this history of loves, and hates, and platonic friendships,
whatever they might be, simple innocent Annie listened with much
interest and more perplexity. She had a vague notion that Emily had
behaved foolishly, if not wrongly; but she was very fond of her cousin,
who, from the difference in their respective ages, had acquired a
degree of ascendency over her which their natural characters scarcely
warranted. Then Annie’s deep ignorance of foreign manners and customs
threw a mist of uncertainty around the whole affair, beneath the shadow
of which she was able to put the most charitable construction on Emily’s
conduct without “stultifying her moral sense” (to speak as a logician);
still she felt called upon to give her cousin a little good advice in
regard to striving entirely to forget, and scrupulously to avoid for the
future, the too fascinating Gus, for which Emily kissed her and called
her a dear, silly, little prude; then twining their arms round each
other’s taper waists, the girls descended to the dining-room, united
for the time being, literally and figuratively, by the closest bonds
of amity and affection. Standing rather in awe of her brother, Emily
conducted herself during the meal with so much gravity and decorum that
she quite threw a shade over Annie’s usual lightheartedness, and by the
time they reached their opera box a more sombre trio (not even excepting
the soprano, the tenor, and the baritone, of whom the first two were
prepared to be poisoned, and the third to stab himself on their marble
tomb before the evening should be over) could not have been found
beneath the roof of Her Majesty’s theatre.

Between the acts of the opera a divertissement was introduced, in which
a _danseuse_, who had acquired an Italian reputation, but who was as
yet unknown in England, was to make her first appearance. Emily was
conversing volubly about her various merits, when a fashionably-dressed
young man with delicate features, a profusion of dark waving curls,
and a pair of the most interesting little black moustachios imaginable,
lounged into one of the stalls and began lazily to scrutinise the
company through a richly-mounted opera-glass. He was undeniably
handsome, but the expression of his face was disagreeable, and his
whole demeanour blasé and puppyish in the extreme. As he entered,
Annie perceived her cousin to give a violent start, and, as she met her
glance, to colour slightly; then, evidently unwilling to attract her
brother’s notice, she made a successful effort to recover herself, and
appeared completely absorbed in the terpsi-chorean prodigies of the
new opera-dancer. Just at the conclusion of the divertissement some one
knocked at the door of the box, and on Lord Bellefield’s opening it,
Annie heard a man’s voice say, in a hurried manner, “Can your Lordship
allow me two minutes’ conversation? My business is of the utmost
importance.” Lord Bellefield replied in the affirmative and quitted the
box, closing the door behind him. As he did so, Emily, laying her finger
on her cousin’s arm, said in a hurried whisper: “Annie, do you see that
gentleman in the fourth row of stalls, the sixth from this end? That’s
Gus; isn’t he handsome, poor fellow? Ah!” she continued, as the object
of her scrutiny suddenly brought his opera-glass to bear upon their box,
“he has made me out, and he does not know that Bellefield is here. Oh! I
hope he won’t think of coming up!”

As she spoke, Gus, having become aware of her presence, made an
almost imperceptible sign of recognition, and in the same quiet manner
telegraphed an entreaty to be allowed to join her; upon which Emily
frowned and shook her head by way of prohibition, favouring Gus
afterwards with a pensive smile, to show that her refusal proceeded less
from choice than from necessity. Almost as she did so Lord Bellefield
returned, looking annoyed and anxious. “I am obliged to leave you for
half-an-hour,” he said, “but you will be perfectly safe here, and I
shall return in plenty of time to escort you home. You may depend upon
my coming to fetch you.” And almost before he finished speaking he had
quitted the box and was gone.

Confused and half-frightened at his sudden departure, Annie remained for
a minute or two with her eyes fixed on the door through which he had
as it were vanished; when she again glanced towards the stage the stall
lately occupied by Augustus Travers was vacant.



CHAPTER XLI.--ANNIE GRANT FALLS INTO DIFFICULTIES.

Lewis, according to agreement, accompanied Frere to the
Palaeontological, and added to the circle of his acquaintance those
mysterious beings, the “Relations of the Earlier Zoophytes.” When the
lecture was over, Frere, who had an order to admit two into the House
of Commons, took Lewis with him to hear the speaking. The debate proved
interesting: the Premier addressed the House at length; a well-known
satirist rose to reply to him, remarking on various points in the speech
with much talent and more ill-nature, and the minister was again on
his legs to answer his opponent, when Lewis, glancing at his watch,
discovered to his annoyance that it was considerably past eleven; and
aware that General Grant had a particular objection to his servants
being kept up late, communicated this fact to his companion, and wished
him goodnight.

“What! can’t you stay and hear ----------‘s answer?” was the reply, “and
then I’d come away, too.”

Lewis explained that the thing was impossible, and Frere continued--

“Well, what must be, must, I suppose; and as my hearing----------‘s
reply is another inevitable necessity, I must e’en say Good-night, so
_Schlaffen sie wohl_.”

Lewis grasped his proffered hand, and leaving the gallery, started on
his homeward route. As he approached Charing Cross his attention was
attracted by the restlessness of a magnificent horse, which, in a
well-appointed cab, was waiting at the door of one of the houses. As he
slackened his pace for a moment to ascertain whether the efforts made
by a diminutive cab-groom to restrain the plunging of the fiery animal
would prove successful, the house door was flung open, and a gentleman,
apparently in headlong haste, sprang down the steps so recklessly that
he missed his footing, and would have fallen had not Lewis caught him by
the arm in time to prevent it. As the person he had thus assisted turned
to thank him, the reflection of the gaslight fell upon his face, and
Lewis recognised Lord Bellefield, though his features were characterised
by a strange expression which Lewis had never observed in them before.
Drawing back, he bowed coldly, and was about to pass on when Lord
Bellefield exclaimed--

“Stay one moment, Mr. Arundel. I have been forced to leave the
Opera-house suddenly: the Countess Portici and Miss Grant are in Lord
Ashford’s box, and I have promised to return to see them home, but am
quite unable to do so. You would oblige--that is, I am sure General
Grant would wish you----”

“Will your lordship favour me with the loan of your pass-ticket?”
 interrupted Lewis shortly.

As Lord Bellefield complied with this request, Lewis remarked that his
hand trembled to such a degree that he could scarcely grasp the ivory
ticket.

“You will tell the Countess that it was impossible for me to come to
them,” continued the young nobleman hurriedly; then passing his hand
across his eyes, as if he were half bewildered, he sprang into the cab,
and seizing the reins, drove off at a furious pace in the direction of
Westminster Abbey.

Lewis gazed after him for a moment in surprise, then turning on his
heel, walked rapidly to the end of the Haymarket, hoping to reach the
theatre before the opera should be concluded. In this expectation he
was however disappointed, for when he gained the Opera Colonnade he
perceived, from the crush of carriages and the bustle and confusion
which was going on, that the opera was over. Hastily pushing through the
crowd, he endeavoured to find the box Lord Bellefield had indicated,
but to one as little acquainted as was Lewis with the intricacies of the
Opera-house this was no such easy matter; first, he ran up considerably
too high; in his eagerness to retrieve this error he descended as much
too low; and even when he had attained the proper level he more than
once took a wrong turning. At length he caught a box-keeper, who, on
learning his difficulties, volunteered to conduct him to the box he was
in search of. Lo, and behold, when they reached the spot the door stood
open, and the box was tenantless!

In order to explain how this awkward and embarrassing result had been
brought about, we must beseech the reader’s patience while we resume the
broken thread of our narrative where we relinquished it at the end of
the last chapter.

Scarcely had Lord Bellefield quitted the box five minutes when the
attendant opened the door and Augustus Travers made his appearance. He
was very humble and courteous, and all he said to Emily with his
tongue might have been printed in the “Times” the next morning without
affording matter for the most arrant gossip to prate about; but the
language spoken by his eloquent blue eyes was of a very different
character. He told her vocally that he had been travelling in the East
since they had last parted; that he had been unwell, had felt restless
and unsettled; that he had found it impossible to remain contentedly in
any place, had become a citizen of the world, a wanderer over the face
of the globe; that he had only returned to town during the last week,
and had no notion she had left Italy--dear Italy!--and here his eyes
said, “that country which your presence made a paradise to me,” just as
plainly as if his tongue had spoken the words (in fact they said it more
plainly, for his tongue appeared to consider it fashionable to speak
English with a slight lisp, which occasionally rendered his meaning
indistinct); “but when he saw her”--continued his tongue--“he could not
resist coming up to her box to learn whether she had quite forgotten all
her old friends;” and here his eyes resumed that his faith in her was
so strong that nothing, neither absence nor aught else, could in the
smallest degree shake it.

Then Emily replied that she was always delighted to see any old friend,
but that she really was quite shocked to find him looking so ill; which
observation she uttered with particular tenderness, because, not being
aware that he had played French Hazard at a club in St. James’s Street
till five o’clock on the previous morning, she accounted for his pale
looks by the romantic hypothesis that he was dying for love of her. And
so they continued to converse in an undertone, apparently much to their
mutual satisfaction, while Annie, having bowed coldly when she was
introduced to the fascinating Augustus, of whose presence there she
greatly disapproved, pretended altogether to ignore him, and to turn
her attention solely to the opera. And time ran on, till, just as
the baritone singer was approaching, with suicidal intentions, the
(imitation) marble tomb supposed to contain the corpses of his tenor and
soprano victims, but which really was tenanted by a live carpenter,
who, in a paper cap and flannel jacket, was waiting till the fall of
the curtain should enable him to carry away the entire mausoleum, Annie,
looking at her watch, perceived that it was past eleven, and glancing
towards Emily, reminded her in dumb show that Lord Bellefield might
be momentarily expected. This intelligence Emily, in a low tone,
communicated to her friend, who smiled, to show his white teeth,
and replied that “Bellefield and he had met at Baden, and had become
wonderful friends again;” despite which assurance Emily still urged
his departure, and he still lingered on, till the opera came to an end
before Lord Bellefield made his appearance. Being Saturday night, there
was no ballet, and the house began to empty rapidly.

“What can possibly have become of your brother, Emily?” exclaimed Annie,
who, disliking the whole situation most particularly, was fast lapsing
into that uncomfortable state of mind familiarly termed “a fuss.”

“If you will allow me, I shall be delighted to see you to your
carriage,” insinuated Gus.

“Thank you, but I am sure my brother will be here directly,” returned
Emily; “he would be extremely annoyed to find that we had gone without
waiting for him. Pray do not let us detain you.”

But of course Gus would not go; “he should be wretched unless he knew
they were in safety; he saw they were anxious, he would ascertain
whether Lord Bellefield had returned; there might perhaps be difficulty
in getting up their carriage,” and so he left the box, promising to
return instantly.

“What _are_ we to do, Emily, if Bellefield does not come?” exclaimed
Annie, pressing her hands together much as the _primaa donna_ had done
when, some quarter of an hour since, she had ejaculated at the very
tip-top of her lofty voice, “_Addesso Morir!_”

“What are we to do, you silly child?” replied Emily, laughing, “why,
walk downstairs, to be sure, and allow Gus to take care of us till we
can find the carriage. Is not he handsome, poor fellow!”

Before Annie could urge her dislike to this scheme, Travers returned,
bringing with him a tall, good-looking boy, embarrassed by a perpetual
consciousness of his extreme youth and his first tail-coat.

“I can see nothing of Lord Bellefield,” began Gus; “it is evident
something must have occurred to prevent his return. Let me introduce
my brother Alfred,” he continued, addressing Emily; “he was a naughty
little boy in pinafores when you saw him last--and now what will you do?
every one is going or gone.”

“Oh, wait a minute longer; I’m sure he will come,” urged Annie.

“Really we cannot,” returned Emily. “We shall get shut up in the
opera-house all Sunday, if we don’t take care.”

“Which would be indeed dreadfully wicked--a most terrific climax of
depravity,” simpered Gus. “Seriously,” he continued, “you must accept my
arm, though I am sorry the alternative should be so very disagreeable to
you.” These latter words he spoke in such a tone that Emily alone could
hear them, for which he obtained a reproachful, tender, and upbraiding
glance, with a view to which reward he had probably uttered them.

“Come, Annie, we positively must go,” exclaimed her cousin impatiently.

“Alfred, why don’t you offer Miss Grant your arm?” chimed in Gus,
drawing Emily’s within his own. Thus urged, poor Annie, sorely against
her will, accepted Alfred’s trembling arm and quitted the box; Emily
and Augustus Travers following. As they descended the stairs a slight
confusion occurred: an Irish gentleman had lost his hat, and wanted to
return to look for it, a measure against which a stout old lady, to
whom he was acting as escort, vehemently protested, while an obsequious
box-keeper was vainly endeavouring to understand the locality in which
the embarrassed Hibernian imagined he had left the missing article.
While Annie and her juvenile protector were manoeuvring to get past this
group, Augustus Travers paused, saying in a low tone to his companion,
“Let them precede us; I _must_ speak two words to you in private, and if
I lose this opportunity I may never have another. Emily, if you value my
peace of mind, I entreat you do not refuse.”

A large party, composed chiefly of young men, was descending at the
moment, so that Emily’s reply was inaudible, but when, having got in
some degree clear of the confusion, Annie looked back for her chaperone,
Travers and the Countess were nowhere to be seen. Horrified at this
discovery, Annie stopped abruptly, exclaiming, “Oh, we have missed Mr.
Travers and my cousin! We had better turn back.”

The boy glanced quickly round, and as he perceived the truth of her
assertion a meaning smile passed across his features. All traces of it
had, however, vanished ere he replied, “They must have turned down the
other staircase, but it will bring them out at the same place as
this would have done; we shall meet them at the bottom.” Then, as his
companion still hesitated, he continued, “I can assure you it is so; we
should only lose them if we were to return.”

Half convinced by this argument, and completely frightened by the party
of young men, who, talking and laughing, were rapidly following them,
Annie suffered herself to be hurried on by her companion till she
reached the foot of the staircase; here she paused and looked anxiously
around for her cousin and Travers--they were nowhere to be seen.
Annoyed, distressed, and frightened, she turned to her companion,
exclaiming, “They are not here, you see. What _are_ we to do?”

“Wait, I suppose,” returned the boy, who seemed puzzled and vexed. “This
is a nice trick of Master Gus’s,” he continued in a half soliloquy; “he
ought at least to have given me a hint what to do.”

Before Annie could inquire what he imagined his brother’s intentions
might be, a fresh incident diverted, and, from its disagreeable nature,
soon wholly engrossed her attention. The crush-room, as it is called,
where she was now standing, was occupied almost entirely by men, who,
broken up into parties of four or five, were pacing up and down, waiting
for their friends to join them, or standing in groups, canvassing the
various merits and demerits of the different performers. To one or two
of these coteries Annie soon became an object of especial notice.

“Do you see that girl?” whispered a pert youth with light curls and a
turned-down collar. “Isn’t she a regular stunner, eh?”

“Ya’as, dev’lish pwitty, ra-ally,” drawled a moustachiod puppy, staring
through an eyeglass at the object of his admiration. “Aw--I wonder who
she possibly ca-an be. I actually don’t know har.”

“I suppose she’s standing there to be looked at,” returned the first
speaker. “Her juvenile gallant can’t get her along at any price, it
seems.”

“Ra’ally, it were almost worth while to relieve him of his charge,”
 drawled moustachios. “He seems particularly incompetent to fill it,
not--aw--equal to the situation--ha! ha!”

“Why don’t you volunteer, Spooner, if you think so?” urged a third
speaker.

“Na-o, I don’t do that sort of thing--I’m--aw--quite a reformed
character,” was the reply; “but if you wa-ant a leader for such a
forlorn hope--aw--here comes your man.”

As he spoke, a tall, distinguished-looking individual, with much
watch-chain and more whisker, who looked forty, but might be a year
or two younger, lounged up to the group, and showing his teeth with
a repulsive smile, inquired, “What are you young reprobates grinning
about, eh?”

“We were only saying it was a pity that young lady had not a more
efficient protector, and advising Spooner to volunteer, Sir Gilbert,”
 was the reply.

“Who are the individuals?” inquired the last comer, screwing a glass
into the corner of his eye. A moment’s inspection served to elucidate
the mystery; and removing the glass with a contemptuous smile, he
added, “The boy is little Alfred Travers, who has just left Eton; he’s
evidently waiting for his brother, who, I’ve a notion, has more strings
than one to his bow to-night; as for the damsel, _noscitur a sociis_.
We’ll play the fascinating Gus a trick for once in his life. Come with
me, Forester; I may want you to bully the boy.” Then turning on his
heel, he advanced towards Annie, and saluting her with a low bow,
began--

“This is a most unexpected pleasure! I had no idea you were here
to-night; where have you hidden yourself this age?” then perceiving
that, confused by his address, and uncertain whether he might not be
some acquaintance whose features she had failed to recognise, the young
lady was completely at a loss how to reply, he continued, “I see that
you have been cruel enough to forget me; while I, on the contrary, have
carried your lovely image in my heart, and time has failed to efface
even the shadow of a charm. But let me be of use to you. Have you a
carriage here, or will you allow me to place mine at your disposal?
The house is becoming deserted--let me escort you. Stand aside, young
gentleman,” and as he spoke he advanced towards her, offering his arm.

But Annie, having recovered from her first surprise, felt convinced
that the person addressing her was a total stranger, and drawing back in
alarm, she said to her companion in a hurried whisper--

“Indeed, I do not know that gentleman--there must be some mistake--pray
let us get away.”

Thus urged, the boy drew up his slight figure to its full height, and
turning to the individual in question, said haughtily--

“You are mistaken, sir; I must trouble you to allow us to pass.”

“It is you who mistake jest for earnest, my good boy,” was the
contemptuous reply; “the lady and I are old friends; she is merely
trying to tease me by pretending to have forgotten me. This gentleman”
 (and he glanced at his companion) “will explain the matter to you.” Then
again offering his arm to Annie, he continued, “Really, if you persist
in your silly joke we shall have the carriage drive off.” Confused by
his pertinacity, Alfred Travers glanced at his trembling companion, and
reading the truth in the terrified expression of her face, his boyish
chivalry took fire, and anxious to vindicate his title to be considered
a man, he exclaimed, angrily--

“Stand back, sir, and let us pass; do you mean to insult the lady?”

The person he addressed, Sir Gilbert Vivian, was a _roué_ Baronet who,
having been a man about town for the last sixteen years, and having long
since lost all the good character he had ever possessed, and acquired a
reputation of a diametrically opposite tendency, was scarcely a person
to stick at trifles, laughed as he replied--

“Do you hear that, Forester? This good youth accuses you of insulting
the young lady--hadn’t you better give him a lesson in civility?”

As he spoke he made a significant gesture, which the other responded to
by exclaiming--

“Insult the lady! what do you mean, you young cub, eh?” and grasping him
by the arm, he twisted him roughly round, thereby separating him from
Annie.

“Take that, and find out,” was the thoroughly school-boy answer, as,
bounding forward, the ex-Etonian administered to his antagonist a
ringing box on the ear.

This, save that the blow was more skilfully applied and rather
harder than he had calculated upon, was just the result Forester had
anticipated. Seizing the struggling boy by the collar, he declared he
would give him in custody for an assault, and, despite his resistance,
dragged him from the spot in a pretended search after a policeman.
Availing himself of the confusion, the Baronet placed himself by Annie’s
side, and bending over her, said--

“It’s no use waiting for the fascinating Augustus, I can assure you; he
has other game in view to-night, and can’t come; so for once you must
allow me the honour of acting as his deputy--’pon my word, you must,”
 and as he spoke he attempted to take her arm and draw it within his own.

Poor Annie! distressed, confused, and frightened, the desertion, or
rather capture, of the boy, her only protector, had increased her alarm
twenty-fold, and now the renewed persecution of the Baronet brought her
fears to a climax, and attempting to withdraw her hand from his grasp,
in a very agony of terror she exclaimed--

“Oh! where _is_ Emily? will nobody help me?” and burst into a flood of
tears.

At this moment a tall figure suddenly interposed between them, and the
Baronet’s wrist was seized with such a vice-like grasp that he uttered
an exclamation of mingled rage and pain, and dropped the little hand of
which he had unjustly possessed himself as though it had been a red-hot
cinder; while Annie, uttering a cry of delight, sprang forward, and
clasping the arm of the new-comer, clung to it as some drowning wretch
clings to the plank which shields him from the rushing waters that
threaten his destruction.

Lewis, for he it was (as every reader above the unsuspecting age of four
and a half has of course ere this discovered for himself), understanding
at a glance the outlines of the situation, and intuitively divining much
of what Annie must have gone through, pitied and sympathised with her so
deeply that the anger he would otherwise have felt against the man who
had insulted her was completely conquered by the stronger feeling
which absorbed him, and his only thought was how best to soothe and
tranquillise the frightened girl who clung to him.

“Do not alarm yourself,” he said kindly; “you have nothing more to fear.
I will not leave you for a moment till you are again at home and in
safety. Lean on my arm, you tremble so that you can scarcely walk;” and
half leading, half supporting her, he drew her away from the scene
of her disasters, and passing through the crowd of loiterers whom the
scuffle between Forester and Alfred Travers had attracted to the spot,
conducted her towards the nearest exit.

So quietly and suddenly had all this taken place, that ere Sir Gilbert
Vivian had left off rubbing his wrist, or thoroughly realised the sudden
frustration of his scheme, the object of his insolent attentions was
almost out of sight. Irritated at his failure, and urged on by the
scarcely suppressed laughter of those who had witnessed his defeat, he
muttered an oath, and turning on his heel, followed hastily in the track
of Annie and her deliverer. Coming up with them just as they reached
the entrance leading into the colonnade, he tapped Lewis smartly on the
shoulder, saying angrily--

“A word with you, sir, if you please. I wish to ask what you mean by
your impertinent interference. Who the d-----l are you, I should like to
know?”

A flush of anger passed across Lewis’s brow, and he was about to make
a reply which would scarcely have tended to bring the matter to an
amicable conclusion, when an almost convulsive pressure of the arm on
which Annie hung recalled his self-control, and drawing himself up with
a stern dignity which bespoke an apt pupil in the school of General
Grant, he fixed his piercing eyes upon the Baronet as he answered, “You
have already, sir, acting probably under some _mistake_” (and he laid a
strong emphasis upon the last word), “subjected this lady to an amount
of fright and annoyance which should secure the forbearance of any
one moving in the society of gentlemen. Should you wish to call and
apologise to her father for your share in this unlucky adventure, I
shall be happy to explain to you in his presence the part I have taken
in the affair. There is my address,” and without waiting further parley
Lewis handed him his card, and drawing Annie gently forward, passed on.
As they reached the entrance, a gentleman coming hastily the other way,
nearly ran against them. Looking up, Annie perceived it to be Augustus
Travers, who, recognising her, exclaimed, “I have left the Countess
Portici in the carriage, and was returning to seek for you, Miss Grant.
She is much alarmed at having missed you.” The only reply Annie made
to this speech was by a slight inclination of the head, and pressing
hastily forward, she passed on. As Lewis assisted her into the carriage,
she, for the first time, spoke. “You will come with us,” she said
eagerly; “remember you have promised not to leave me.” Then catching
sight of Augustus Travers, who had followed them, a new idea struck
her, and she continued, “Tell that gentleman I am afraid his brother has
become involved in some difficulty on my account; he had better go back
and seek for him.” Lewis repeated her message and then sprang into the
carriage, which instantly drove off, leaving the discomfited dandy to
accomplish his mission as best he might.



CHAPTER XLII.--A TÊTE-À-TÊTE, AND A TRAGEDY.

A PARTY more silent than the trio occupying General Grant’s carriage
never drove from the door of Her Majesty’s theatre. Annie, delighted to
find herself once again in safety, leant back amidst cloaks and
cushions to recover as best she might the effects of the terror she
had undergone. Somewhat to her surprise and displeasure, Emily, without
uttering a word by way either of explanation or condolence, also threw
herself back among the cushions, and arranging a fold of her mantle
so as to conceal her face, appeared unconscious of the presence of her
companions. To this silent system they scrupulously adhered till they
reached Conduit Street, when Emily exclaimed in a quick, eager tone
of voice, “Where are they going? Tell him to drive to Berkeley Square
directly.”

Lewis, to whom this speech was addressed, let down the window and gave
the coachman the requisite order, and in less than five minutes the
carriage stopped at the house occupied for the season by the Countess
Portici. The servant let down the steps, and Lewis springing out,
assisted the Countess to alight; as she did so she turned her head, and
saying hurriedly, “Annie, I shall see you tomorrow,” entered the house,
and the door closed after her. Lewis resumed his place, and the carriage
drove away.

“I think she is very unkind not to have said she was sorry for having
missed me, and I’ll never go out with her again,” observed Annie
petulantly. “And Lord Bellefield, too,” she continued--for she had by
this time reached that stage of recovery when, tracing back her alarm
to its first causes, it became a relief to her to pour forth her wrongs,
and in Lewis she felt sure of a prudent and sympathising auditor--“it is
all his fault for deserting us in such a shameful way.”

“You are not perhaps aware that, meeting me accidentally, his lordship
despatched me to you as his substitute,” returned Lewis.

“Did he intend then to have come back himself, if you had been unable to
act as his deputy?” inquired Annie quickly.

“He told me it was impossible for him to do so,” was Lewis’s reply.

“Then if he had not happened to meet you by mere chance, he would have
left us to find our way to the carriage as best we could. How shameful!
just imagine what would have become of me if you had not arrived when
you did?--that dreadful man!--I believe I should have died of fright.”
 She paused, then added, in her usual gentle, winning voice, “I must
again plague you with my thanks, Mr. Arundel; you are fated always to
render me services for which I am unable to make you any return; except
by my sincere friendship,” she continued timidly.

“And that is a reward for which a man might------” began Lewis
passionately. He was going to add, “gladly die,” but he checked himself
abruptly, and if Annie could at that moment have seen his face, she
would have been scared at the expression of despair by which it was
characterised, an expression changing instantly to a look of the
sternest resolution, as he continued, in a calm, grave voice, “I mean
that your uniform kindness and consideration have overpaid any trifling
service I may have been fortunate enough to render you.”

“Did Lord Bellefield give any reason for being unable to return to us?”
 inquired Annie after a pause. Lewis replied in the negative, and Annie
resumed, “Papa will be waiting for us--he never goes to bed till I come
home. You must tell him all you know of what has occurred, Mr. Arundel;
and pray make him understand clearly how much my cousin is to blame in
the matter.”

“Of course, if General Grant questions me I must tell him exactly what I
have done and why I did it,” returned Lewis gravely; “but--may I indeed
use the privilege of a friend, and venture for once to advise you?”

“Oh yes, pray do,” rejoined Annie eagerly; “I shall be so much obliged
to you. I dare say I am going to do something very foolish.”

“From my acquaintance with your father’s high and chivalrous character,”
 continued Lewis, “I feel sure that the facts with which I must make him
acquainted will incense him greatly against Lord Bellefield, and as the
General is, both from temperament and education, a man of action, his
resentment is almost certain to lead to some practical results. Now
just at present you are naturally and justly angry with your cousin; but
young ladies’ anger is seldom of a very vindictive description, yours
least of all so, and when, after frowning him into penitence, you have
graciously forgiven him, will not a serious rupture with the General be
a source of annoyance (to use no stronger word) both to you and to Lord
Bellefield? All that I would recommend,” continued Lewis, seeing that
Annie bent down her head and made no reply, “would be, not what the
lawyers term _suppressio veri_--I would not for the world have you
conceal anything; but much depends upon the spirit in which a tale is
told, and I am anxious to save you from the subsequent regret which
yielding to a momentary impulse of anger may cost you.”

“Tell me plainly what it is you think my father would do?” inquired
Annie abruptly.

“I think--pardon me if I speak too freely--I think the General would
resolve to break off the engagement which Mr. Leicester long since
informed me existed between yourself and Lord Bellefield; and it was to
save you the pain such a resolve might cost you that I ventured to offer
you my advice.”

“You are mistaken,” replied his companion hurriedly; “such an
arrangement as that to which you refer may have been, perhaps still
is, contemplated; but the idea has always been distasteful to me, and
anything which would preclude the possibility of further reference to
it would be to me a subject of rejoicing rather than of regret You may
think it strange in me to speak thus openly to you; but I am sure my
confidence is not misplaced, and--and I am most anxious my father should
understand clearly the insult (for I consider it no less) my cousin has
to-night offered me.”

Whether the information thus communicated was a source of pain or
pleasure to her auditor, we must leave the reader to conjecture for
himself, as when Lewis next spoke his manner was calm and grave as ever.

“There is one possibility,” he said, “of which you must not entirely
lose sight: there may have been some urgent necessity for Lord
Belle-field’s presence elsewhere--some sufficient reason for his
apparent neglect, which he will only have to mention in order alike to
disarm your indignation and that of General Grant.”

“Really, my cousin appears to have secured a most able advocate,”
 returned Annie, with the slightest possible shade of annoyance
perceivable in her tone. “I was scarcely prepared to find you so zealous
in his cause.”

Lewis’s face grew dark as he replied in a low, earnest voice, “While I
live, Lord Bellefield shall always meet with the strictest justice at my
hands! Justice!” he continued bitterly, “it is a god-like principle, and
sculptors have symbolised it well--the blinded brow, to show the stern
singleness of heart; the scales, to weigh the merits of the case; and
the keen sword, the agent of a sudden and full retribution.”

He spoke in a tone of such deep and concentrated feeling, that Annie, as
she listened to his words, trembled involuntarily. With the keenness of
a woman’s instinct she appreciated the intensity of the feeling and the
power of the will that was, for the time, able to control it. For the
time!--in that phrase lay the secret of her prescient, terror.

Lewis was too much engrossed by the strength of his own emotions to
perceive the alarm he had excited; nor was it till they reached the
corner of Park Crescent that he again spoke--

“How did you contrive to become separated from the Countess Portici?”
 he inquired. “You were absolutely alone amongst those people--were you
not?--when I came up.”

Scarcely had Annie informed him of the circumstances which led to her
desertion when the carriage stopped.

“The General wishes to see you before you retire for the night, Miss
Grant,” insinuated the aristocratic butler, as, leaning on Lewis’s arm,
Annie entered the paternal mansion.

“Where is my father?” she inquired hastily--“in the library?” Receiving
an affirmative answer, she continued, turning to Lewis: “You must come
with me; remember your promise!--I by no means consider myself safe till
this interview is over.”

Lewis smiled assent; his unnatural stiffness of manner seemed to have
disappeared like magic the moment their _tête-à-tête_ was over, and
Annie again restored to the protection of her own home.

The General appeared in high good humour. “You are late, you dissipated
puss!” he said as Annie entered. “Ah! Mr. Arundel,” he continued, “I did
not know you had been of the party. What have you done with Emily and
Bellefield, Annie?”

“Emily is safely at home,” was the reply; “she would not come further
than Berkeley Square. As to my cousin Bellefield, he must answer for
himself, if he is not irrecoverably lost; he chose to leave us to take
care of ourselves. We have had an adventure, and I should have died of
fright if Mr. Arundel had not come to my assistance like one of the good
genii in the ‘Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.’ But I must go to bed, or
Aunt Martha will be implacable; she always examines Lisette on oath as
to the precise moment at which she finally leaves my room. Mr. Arundel
will tell you the whole history much better than I can--so good-night!”
 and casting a glance, half arch, half imploring, but wholly
irresistible, at Lewis, she glided out of the apartment, and was gone
ere the General had sufficiently “come at” the meaning of her speech to
attempt to detain her.

Fixing his eyes on Lewis with a look of sublime perplexity, which
bordered closely on the ludicrous, he exclaimed, “Pray, what is the
meaning of all this, Mr. Arundel? Can you explain to what my daughter
alluded?”

Thus called upon, Lewis was forced to narrate the adventures of the
evening, with the details of which the reader has been already made
acquainted.

The General heard him attentively, though his brow grew dark as he
proceeded. He listened in silence, however, till Lewis began to describe
the scene in the crush-room at the Opera-house, when he became so much
excited that he sprang from his seat and began pacing the apartment with
impatient strides. At the mention of Sir Gilbert Vivian’s impertinent
behaviour he exclaimed--

“A scoundrel! I remember when he was broke upon parade for insolence to
his commanding officer. I hope you knocked him down, sir!”

“I felt strangely tempted to do so,” replied Lewis, “but he had several
of his friends with him, so that I should have been certain to get into
a disagreeable squabble; and in that case what would have become of Miss
Grant?”

“Very true, sir, very true,” returned the General hastily; “next to
courage, coolness in action is the greatest attribute in a soldier--that
is to say, in a gentleman--and I honour your forbearance for such a
cause. Shake hands, sir!” and suiting the action to the word, General
Grant crossed the room, and seizing Lewis by the hand, shook it warmly.

At this unusual display of feeling Lewis’s pale cheek flushed, and he
continued his narration to the point when he handed Sir Gilbert Vivian
his card. Here he paused, and continued in an embarrassed tone of voice:
“I dare say he will take no notice of this--but if he should--of course
I am aware that the affair must be left entirely in your hands, and that
it is Lord Bellefield’s privilege to--to defend--that is, to chastise
any insult offered to Miss Grant; but as you have so kindly signified
your approval of my conduct in the affair hitherto--if you could reward
me by allowing me to go out with this scoundrel----?”

This was a request so thoroughly after the General’s own heart, that,
as he listened to it, his little, bright eyes danced and sparkled with
satisfaction, which he had much difficulty not to express in words; but
his moral obligations, as a disciplinarian and the father of a
family, came across him, and he replied: “Duelling is a practice alike
subversive of military discipline, and contrary to the dictates of
religion; it is one, therefore, against which I have always--that is,
for many years past--felt obliged to set my face. Until Lord Bellefield
shall have afforded me some perfectly satisfactory explanation of his
extraordinary conduct, his intercourse with this household must entirely
cease; a man who could thus neglect his trust is the last person to whom
I should dream of committing the honour of--ahem!--my family. As to this
Sir Gilbert Vivian, from what I have heard of him, he is beneath the
notice of a gentleman--quite a contemptible character; the fact of his
annoying my daughter proves this. If it were not so, I vow to Heaven I’d
have the fellow out myself on Monday morning.” And finishing with this
consistent remark his tirade against duelling, the General resumed his
peripatetic exercise, much to the detriment of the library carpet.

When Lewis had completed his recital, his auditor again “took the
chair,” and leaning his head on his hand, remained pondering the matter
for some minutes in silence. At length he said, “Did Lord Bellefield
give you any possible clue to the reason why he could not return to the
Opera-house?”

“He said nothing, sir, to throw any light upon the matter; but when
I accidentally met him, as I have already mentioned, he appeared much
agitated, his features were unusually pale, and characterised by an
expression--I should almost say of horror.”

“Have you any knowledge of the house he was leaving? Why do you
hesitate?”

“I will tell you frankly, General Grant,” returned Lewis, drawing
himself up and meeting the General’s scrutinising glance with a clear,
steadfast gaze. “For some time past Lord Bellefield and I have not been
on good terms together. Since I have lived beneath your roof he is the
only person who has treated me ungenerously, or caused me to feel the
full bitterness of my dependent situation. Respect for you, and a sense
of my own position, have prevented my resenting his lordship’s conduct
as under other circumstances I might have done, but enough has passed
between us to prove that we regard each other with no very friendly
feeling.”

“I was not at all aware of this--you should have told me this sooner,
Mr. Arundel. I allow no one to be treated discourteously in my house,”
 interrupted the General hastily.

“I should not have mentioned the fact now, sir,” replied Lewis calmly,
“had I not been anxious to explain to you why it is in the highest
degree repugnant to me to be forced by circumstances to appear as Lord
Bellefield’s accuser, and thus lay myself open to the suspicion of being
actuated by malicious motives.”

“No one who knew you would imagine that, sir,” returned the General;
“but the truth should always be spoken regardless of consequences, and
you must yourself perceive how important it is that I should form a just
estimate of Lord Bellefield’s conduct in this affair.”

Lewis paused a moment in reflection, and then replied, “The part I have
taken in this business was none of my own seeking, nor do I see that I
am bound by any obligation of honour to withhold from you the only other
fact of which I am aware in regard to the matter. I do happen to know
the character of the house which Lord Bellefield was leaving, for as
I walked down to the Palaeontological Society this afternoon with my
friend Richard Frere, he pointed it out to me as a gaming-house of some
notoriety.”

The expression of the General’s face, when he became aware of this
uncomfortable little fact, grew so stern, that a distressed artist,
wishing to paint some Roman father sacrificing his son, would have given
all the small change he might have happened to have about him at
the time for one glimpse of that inflexible countenance. Suggestive,
however, of evil as was this circumstance, the whole affair appeared
wrapped in such a veil of mystery that neither General Grant nor Lewis
could, as they that night lay awake revolving the matter in their
anxious minds, arrive at any satisfactory hypothesis by which to account
for Lord Bellefield’s extraordinary behaviour. The following paragraph,
which appeared in several of the Sunday papers, and was recopied in the
“Morning Post” of Monday, was the first thing that tended to enlighten
them; it was headed “appalling suicide.

“As our columns were going to press we received intelligence of one of
the most awful catastrophes which it has ever been our melancholy duty
to record; we refer to the untimely decease of Captain Mellerton,
of the----th foot, who perished by his own hand in a notorious
gambling-house not far from Charing Cross. As far as we have been able
to ascertain the facts of the case, the unfortunate young gentleman, who
was adjutant of the----th, lost a considerable sum of money (it is said
£12,000) to Lord B--f--d, a nobleman of sporting notoriety, at the
first Newmarket meeting. Being unable to meet so large a call upon his
finances, he was induced in an evil hour to speculate with some of the
regimental money committed to his charge, intending to replace it by the
sale of an estate in Yorkshire; and having thus satisfied the demands of
his noble creditor, he was on Saturday last unexpectedly called upon
to send in his regimental accounts. In this extremity we have heard
it rumoured that he was induced to apply to Lord B--f--d, as the only
person on whom he had the slightest claim; but if we have not been
misinformed, the appeal was vain, and urged to desperation by this
failure of his last hope, the unfortunate young man repaired to the
gaming-house in which the rash act was committed, played deeply, and
when fortune again declared against him, drew a loaded pistol from his
breast, and before the bystanders were aware of his design, terminated
his existence by blowing out his brains. Captain Mellerton was the
eldest son of the Honourable H. Mellerton, of Harrowby Park, Beds., and
was shortly to be married to Miss A------ D----------, daughter of Sir
---------- D----------, the wedding-day being fixed immediately after
the commencement of the recess.”



CHAPTER XLIII.--WHEREIN FAUST “SETS UP” FOR A GENTLEMAN, AND TAKES A
COURSE OF SERIOUS READING.

When General Grant had perused the “Morning Post,” containing the
paragraph with which the last chapter concluded, he left the remainder
of his breakfast untasted, and hastening to the library, wrote the
following letter:--

“My Lord,--On learning from my daughter the uncourteous, had almost
written ungentlemanly, manner in which you neglected her safety on
Saturday evening, I was naturally much incensed. A paragraph referring
to you in the ‘Post’ of this morning affords a sufficient clue to the
cause of your absence from the Opera-house, but unfortunately does so by
casting upon you an imputation which (unless you can explain the affair
to my entire satisfaction, which I confess appears to me improbable)
must necessarily break off all intercourse between us. I am aware that
your conduct may not have exceeded the limits which the world terms
honourable, but I do not regulate my opinions by the world’s standard,
and should consider that I was indeed neglecting my duty as a father
were I to entrust my daughter’s happiness to a gamester whose success
has involved the ruin and self-murder of a fellow-creature. These may
sound harsh terms, but unless you can disprove that they are true ones,
I for the last time sign myself, yours faithfully,

“Archibald Grant.”

Having relieved his mind by penning the above epistle, he despatched
a mounted groom to convey it to its destination, and having seen him
depart, shut himself up, in solitary dignity, to await an answer. In
less time than could have been imagined the groom returned bearing the
following missive:--

“Lord Bellefield presents his compliments to General Grant, and having
perused his strangely offensive letter, begs to decline affording any
explanation whatsoever of the conduct of which General Grant sees fit
to disapprove. Lord Bellefield agrees in thinking that under these
circumstances all intercourse between himself and General Grant’s family
had better cease.”

While the General sat in his library pondering over this agreeable
epistle with a rueful countenance, to which anger, vexation, and
outraged dignity imparted a singularly undesirable expression, an
eager and exciting conversation was being carried on in a pretty little
apartment opening into a miniature conservatory, dedicated to the use
of Annie Grant. Emily had arrived, all her own natural, fascinating,
impulsive, silly little self again, and had pooh-poohed any attempt at
coolness on Annie’s part by throwing her arms round her neck and kissing
her a very unnecessary number of times, under the plea of her being “a
dear, ill-used thing that _must_ be petted.” And having thus at one
and the same time expiated her offences and relieved her feelings, she
danced across the room, bolted the door, drew a heavy damask curtain
over it, and exclaiming, “Now we’re snug,” danced back again, and
flinging herself into an easy-chair, began--

“Oh, my dear Annie! I am so miserable, so utterly wretched, I must go
back to Italy; I’ve written to Alessandro to come and fetch me directly.
I shall never be happy again--at least not till I’ve quite forgotten it
all--and that will be never.” And here came out a little lace parody of
a pocket-handkerchief, which, although by no means a desirable article
wherewith to face a violent cold in the head, or at all calculated to
withstand so much as an average sneeze, yet sufficed to dry the ghost of
the tear which Emily’s deep wretchedness drew from her.

“My dear Emily, what _is_ the matter?” returned Annie, alarmed by a
thousand vague fears, though, not having seen _the_ paragraph, she
was as yet unconscious of the darkest cloud that obscured the family
horizon.

“Oh, my love, I suppose I ought not to tell you anything about it, but
I must, for I’ve no one else to confide in. That wretch Gus!--would you
believe it? he actually wanted me to leave poor dear Alessandro, and
to run away with him;” and then with many ejaculations, and much
flourishing of the homoeopathic sized handkerchief, she went on to
relate how, when she became separated from Annie at the Opera-house,
“which was all that creature Gus’s fault, and done on purpose,” she was
certain, the “creature” had availed himself of the opportunity he had
thus secured to urge his undying attachment to her, which affection,
despite its inherent principle of vitality, he declared would assuredly
bring him to an early grave in the event of her obduracy continuing;
but Emily, though positively a flirt, and negatively rather a goose than
otherwise, was not unprincipled, and so when she had overcome her first
impulse of surprise and mortification, all the virtuous wife arose
within her, and she gave Gus to understand, by dint of sundry short,
sharp, and decisive plain-spoken unpleasantnesses, that he had made a
false move and ruined his game. Thence lapsing abruptly into a fit of
sulky dignity, she ordered him, with the voice and gestures of a tragedy
queen, to lead her to her carriage, finally despatching the foiled
“_Lionne_” hunter to remedy one of his ill deeds by finding Annie, on
which mission he departed in a state of mind the reverse of seraphic.
Having concluded this historical episode, _la Contessa_ proceeded to
append thereunto certain annotations and reflections, in the course of
which she contrived to fix much blame on society in general, and on Gus
and Alessandro in particular, but none whatsoever on her own flirting
manner and inordinate love of attention, which self-deluding analysis
was by no means an original feature in the case, but rather an
unconscious imitation of the proceedings of many a deeper thinker than
poor little Emily.

The conference between the girls was still at its height when a summons
for Annie from her father interrupted the proceedings; whereupon Emily,
declaring that neither her health nor spirits were then capable of
undergoing the pain _forte et dure_ of an interview with Aunt Martha,
drove home again, to fortify her principles and console her breaking
heart with a volume of George Sand’s last novel. The General was in a
great state of virtuous indignation. Lord Bellefield’s note had been as
gunpowder sprinkled over the smouldering embers of his wrath, and when
Annie arrived they (or, to translate the metaphor _slang-icè_, he)
“flared up” to an immense extent. He told her of all the enormities
which the newspapers attributed to her cousin, and signified his belief
that the case had been rather understated than otherwise; he informed
her of Lewis’s _rencontre_ with the delinquent at the door of a
gaming-house; he adduced the note which he had just received as a proof
that its writer must be lost to all better feeling--utterly wanting in a
proper respect for age and position; and, in short, he said a great many
severe and unwise things, after the fashion of angry men in general, for
which he was afterwards very sorry, finding such speeches easier to
say than to unsay--which result is also by no means uncommon in similar
cases.

Having relieved his feelings by this explosion, he proceeded to the more
serious business of the interview by informing her that the necessary
consequence of these uncomfortable revelations must be the dissolution
of all ties, present or prospective, between herself and Lord
Bellefield, which autocratic act he performed with outward austerity
and inward trepidation, as he fully expected Annie to receive the harsh
decree with a violent burst of tears, and, man-like, there was nothing
he dreaded so much--he would rather have faced a charge of cavalry any
day. But to his surprise Annie sustained the information with a degree
of stoical self-control that was perfectly marvellous. She neither wept,
sighed, nor attempted the hysteric line; she only said gravely, “It’s
all very sad and shocking; but of course, dear papa, I am ready to
agree to whatever you think best.” The General rubbed his hands--there
was a daughter for you! Not a word of opposition--to hear was to obey;
it actually restored him to good humour. He talked to her kindly and
sensibly for a quarter of an hour, and then went out and purchased
for her a valuable diamond bracelet, which was his idea of rewarding
self-sacrifice in woman. And so did Annie, involuntarily and
unconsciously, gain high praise and honour for submitting with
resignation to a decree which afforded her unmitigated satisfaction.
As she left the library she encountered poor Walter, who appeared in
unusually high spirits. Next to Lewis, Annie held the foremost place in
Walter’s affections, from the unvarying patience and kindness with which
she treated him. Moreover, having failed to inspire him with the degree
of respect not unmingled with awe with which he was accustomed to regard
his tutor, he looked upon her in the light of a companion and an equal,
to whom it might be safe to confide certain mischievous performances in
which, as his spirits acquired more elasticity, and his mental powers
began to develop, he saw fit from time to time to indulge. With some
such intention did he now approach her, whispering as he drew near, “I
want you, Annie; I want you to come with me and see Faust dressed like a
gentleman.”

“See what, you silly boy?” returned Annie, laughing.

“Come with me and you shall see,” was the rhythmical and oracular
response; and seizing her by the hand, he dragged her off in the
direction of the sitting-room appropriated to his own use and that of
his tutor.

“Is Mr. Arundel there?” inquired Annie, pausing when she discovered
their destination.

“No, he’s not att home; there’s no other gentleman there except Mr.
Faust,” was the reply; and thus reassured, Annie complied with the boy’s
whim, and allowed him to carry her off unopposed. Now, since we have
had any especial intercourse with that worthy dog, Faust’s education
had progressed rapidly as well as Walter’s. Lewis, partly from want
of occupation during the many weary hours his attendance on Walter
necessitated, partly because by so doing he was enabled to excite and
interest the feeble intellect of his poor charge, had availed himself of
the unusual power of control he had acquired over the dog to teach
him sundry tricks somewhat more difficult to perform than the ordinary
routine of canine accomplishments; for instance, having perfected him in
sitting on his hind legs in the attitude popularly supposed to represent
the act of begging, he went on to teach him to sit thus perched up in
a corner for a space of time gradually increasing, as by practice the
animal’s muscles acquired more rigidity, until at length it was
no uncommon feat for him to remain in this attitude for an hour at
literally a “sitting.” Moreover, if a light book or pamphlet were placed
on his forepaws, he would support it, and remain gazing on the open page
before him with a solemn gravity of countenance, indicating, apparently,
the deepest interest in the work he seemed to be perusing. Of the
results of this educational course Walter had on the present occasion
availed himself; and accordingly, Annie, on her introduction to the
study, found the excellent dog seated on his hind legs in a corner, with
an extempore mantle formed of a red scarf drooping gracefully from his
shoulders, and an old cap of Walter’s on his head. Thus attired, he
appeared to be conning, with an expression of puzzled diligence, a tract
against profane swearing by Mrs. Hannah More, presented to Walter by
Miss Livingstone on the occasion of his inadvertently making use in her
presence of the scandalous expression, “Bless my heart!” Annie, duly
impressed by this spectacle, laughed even more than Walter had hoped
for, and told Faust that he was much the best dog in the world, in which
assertion she was not, as we think, guilty of any great exaggeration.
And Faust, taking the compliment to himself only when the occurrence
of his name rendered the allusion unmistakably personal, slobbered
affectionately with his great comic mouth, and winked with his foolish,
loving eyes, and made abortive attempts to wag his ridiculous friendly
tail, which was crumpled up un-wag-ably in the corner, and in the
plenitude of his excellence sat more erect than ever, and studied his
profane swearing still more diligently.

As soon as Walter’s delight at Annie’s amusement had in some degree
subsided, he turned to her, saying--

“But, Annie, you have not found out why! told you Faust looked like a
gentleman.”

“Oh! because he sits there reading his book with such an air ol
dignified composure, I suppose,” was the reply.

“No; I’d a better reason than that,” returned Walter, with a look of
unusual sagacity.

“Well, then, you must tell me what it was, for I can’t guess,” observed
Annie good-naturedly.

“Look again, and find out,” rejoined Walter.

Thus urged, Annie examined the dog more attentively than she had done
before, and discovered that round his neck was slung the identical gold
watch and chain which, at her suggestion, Charles Leicester and his wife
had given to Lewis.

“Why, you’ve hung Mr. Arundel’s watch round Faust’s neck! Oh, Walter,
how foolish of you; he might have thrown it down and broken it!”
 exclaimed Annie, aghast at her discovery.

“Yes, that’s it,” returned Walter, chuckling with delight at the success
of his puerile attempt at a trick. “All gentlemen wear gold watches, you
know, and so does Mr. Faust.”

“You ought not to have put it on him; I’m sure Mr. Arundel will be
very angry,” resumed Annie; and kneeling down by the dog, she began
untwisting the chain from his neck. “Sit still, Faust; be quiet, sir,”
 she continued, as Faust, in his affection, attempted to take an unfair
advantage of the situation to lick her hands and face, in which act of
impertinence Walter sedulously encouraged him; still Annie persevered,
and at length succeeded in disengaging the chain and rescuing the watch
from its dangerous position. “There,” she exclaimed, “I have remedied
the effects of your mischief, Master Walter; but I should never have
been able to accomplish it if Faust had not been the best behaved,
dearest old dog in the world;” and with an impulse of girlish
playfulness she threw her arms round the animal and pressed his rough
head against her shoulder, her soft auburn ringlets falling like a
shower of gold upon his shaggy coat.

At this moment, Lewis, who had been to talk over his Saturday evening’s
adventures with Frere (or, at least, such portion of them as he chose
to reveal, for on some subjects he was strangely reserved, even with
Frere), returned, and finding the door ajar, entered noiselessly,
and stood transfixed by the sight of the _tableau vivant_ we have
endeavoured to describe. He thought that he had never beheld anything
so lovely in his life before, nor was he far wrong. The time that had
elapsed since we first introduced Annie Grant to the reader had altered
only to improve her beauty; her figure had gained a certain roundness of
outline, and her face acquired a depth of expression, which had been the
only finishing touches wanting to complete one of those rare specimens
of loveliness on which we gaze with a speculative wonder as to why so
much beauty should be, as it were, wasted on this world of change, and
sin, and sorrow, and not reserved for that “Petter Land,”

                   “Where all lovely things and fair

                        Pass not away.”

Whether ideas at all analogous to these presented themselves to the mind
of Lewis, we are unable to say; certain it is, however, that (his
artist eye attracted by the picture before him) he stood gazing as one
entranced, while his colour went and came, and his broad chest heaved
with the intensity of his emotion. How long affairs might have remained
in this position it is impossible to decide, had not Faust, becoming
aware of his master’s presence by some mysterious canine instinct, made
an unceremonious attempt to free himself from Annie’s caresses; and that
young lady, raising her eyes, encountered those of Lewis fixed upon her
with an expression which changed in an instant from ardent admiration to
one of grave courtesy as he found that he was observed. Annie’s manner,
as she rose and came forward, afforded but little clue whether or not
she had noticed this change, and though her colour appeared somewhat
heightened, no want of self-possession was discernible as she said,
holding up the watch--

“See what I have been rescuing from the mischievous devices of Master
Walter! He had actually hung my cousin Charles’ present to you round
Faust’s neck in order to make him look like a gentleman, as he declared.
Walter, come and answer for your misdeeds; I intend Mr. Arundel to be
very angry with you--where are you, sir?” and as she spoke she looked
round for her companion, but whether really alarmed at the possibility
of being reproved for his mischief, or whether actuated by some
reasonless caprice of his half-developed intellect, Walter was nowhere
to be found; so Lewis, having thanked Annie for her care of his watch,
politely held open the door for her to depart. But when kidnapped by
Walter, Annie had been carrying am armful of books, and Lewis, becoming
aware of this fact, could do no less than offer to take them up to the
drawing-room for her. Having accomplished this feat, he was about to
retire, when it occurred to him that he was bound in common civility to
inquire whether she had sustained any ill effects from her alarm.

“Oh, no,” replied Annie; “thanks to your kindness and consideration, I
am literally _quitte pour la peur?_

“I suppose,” she added hesitatingly, “you have ere this learned the
sad cause of Lord Bellefield’s absence on Saturday night?” and on Lewis
replying in the affirmative, she continued, “And do you believe all
that the newspapers insinuate? Can my cousin have really behaved so very
wickedly?”

“I called on my friend Richard Frere this morning,” returned Lewis,
“and I hear from him that the main facts of the case are matters of
notoriety; for instance, racing men are well aware that Lord Bellefield
won a large sum of money from this unfortunate young man; nor would your
cousin attempt to deny that it is so. I am not sufficiently acquainted
with the fashionable London world to hazard an opinion on the subject;
but Frere, who knows everybody, says the story has gained universal
credence; and though by no means disposed to judge human nature
severely, believes in it himself.”

“It is very, very shocking,” murmured Annie; “and I had hoped it could
not be true, but papa is much incensed, and believes it fully; and
I fancy you do also, although, having such just cause to dislike my
cousin, you are too generous to blame him.”

“Indeed, you are mistaken,” returned Lewis kindly; for her manner
confirmed him in an impression which had arisen in his mind that the
distaste she had expressed to the engagement with Lord Bellefield would
vanish as her anger at his neglect cooled. “Indeed, I do not think so;
on the contrary, I have a strong conviction that the affair has been
misrepresented and exaggerated, and that your cousin will be able to
clear himself, not only to your satisfaction, but to that of General
Grant also.”

“Heaven forbid!” exclaimed Annie impetuously; and then, ere the words
were well spoken, she continued, “No, I do not mean that. How wicked of
me to say so! but, oh! it is such joy to feel that I am free--free
as air!” Then observing that Lewis’s eyes were fixed upon her with an
inquiring glance, though his lips framed no sound, she added with a
bright blush, “Yes, you were a true prophet, Mr. Arundel,” and turning
abruptly, she quitted the room.

And Lewis! Did he rejoice that the man he hated was thus crossed in his
dearest wishes--thus held up to public obloquy? Strange as many will
deem it, he did not. On the contrary--except on Annie’s account--he was
annoyed at the turn events had taken. In the first place, although the
facts were so strong that he could not reasonably discredit the reports
that were in circulation, he felt a sort of instinctive belief that
Lord Bellefield was not guilty of all the evil laid to his charge. He
recalled the expression of his face as he had seen it on the night of
the suicide; it had not been that of a man hardened in crime, who had
left the victim of his betting schemes unaided in his extremity to seek
refuge from dishonour in the madness of self-destruction, but rather that
of a being of mixed good and evil startled by some frightful reality of
life into a condition of temporary remorse. If Lewis could have realised
his exact wishes at this moment, he would have desired to clear Lord
Bellefield’s character by his own unassisted efforts, and as a reward,
to have called him out the next morning and fought with small swords
(pistols would have decided the matter too quickly to satisfy him) till
one or both should have furnished subjects for the undertaker. Then his
thoughts reverted to Annie--she was free, and rejoiced in her freedom,
therefore she was to be won. Watch his features as the idea strikes him:
first a flush of joy, crimsoning brow and cheek, fading to the pale hue
of despair; then the clenched hand and compressed lips, that tell of the
strong will battling with, ay, and conquering--for the will is as yet
the stronger--the germs of a consuming passion. Brave young heart,
tasting for the first time the full bitterness of life, angels might
have wept to view thy gallant striving!

The aphorism embodying the statement that a storm is usually followed by
a calm, although by no means original, is not on that account the less
true; nor in tracing the course of events in the household of General
Grant shall we discover an exception to this rule in the “Law of
Storms.” Immediately after the incident we have related. Lord Bellefield
(probably wishing to escape the disagreeable notoriety likely to be
obtained by his share in the catastrophe) escorted his sister to Italy,
without making any attempt to deprecate the anger of General Grant; and
although the Marquis of Ashford, who greatly desired that the proposed
matrimonial alliance should take place (hoping that marriage might
wean his son from various expensive pursuits, of the nature whereof the
reader may have gleaned some faint idea from the previous course of this
narrative), made sundry attempts to effect a reconciliation, the General
remained implacable. From his new position, as occasional secretary
to her father, Lewis was thrown into constant intercourse with Annie,
while, from the deservedly high opinion General Grant had formed of him,
he was treated more as a friend than a dependant. Before Mrs. Arundel
and Rose left London, Annie obtained her father’s permission to invite
the latter to spend a few days with them. Rose placed the invitation in
Lewis’s hand before showing it even to Mrs. Arundel. She divined that
her brother would feel strongly on the subject, and determined to be
guided by his wishes. He read Annie’s note in silence: it was like
herself--simple, frank, and warm-hearted; it was accompanied by a few
lines from the General--kind (for him) and courteous in the extreme.
“Miss Arundel would confer an obligation on his daughter by allowing her
the opportunity of becoming acquainted with,” etc., etc. The General
had heard of Rose’s literary reputation, and looked upon her as a
second Madame de Staël. A woman who had written a book appeared to his
simplicity a thing as wonderful as, in these latter days, when, to speak
poetically, the sun of literature is obscured by the leafy greenness of
the softer sex, we are accustomed to regard a woman who has never done
so. Lewis read the two notes; there was not a shadow of patronage from
beginning to end at which the most rampant pride could take offence--the
invitation was unexceptionable; and then a crowd of conflicting ideas
rushed upon him, and he paced the apartment for once in a state of the
most complete indecision. This was not a mood of mind which could ever
continue long with Lewis, and pausing abruptly, he said, “I really do
not see how you can well refuse, after such a very kind note from--from
the General.”

“I shall be delighted to accept it, dear Lewis, since you wish it as
well as myself; I long to know more of that sweet Annie.”

“You will be disappointed if you expect to find Miss Grant unusually
clever,” returned Lewis moodily. “She has good natural abilities,
but nothing more, neither has she been accustomed to live amongst
intellectual people; she is by no means your equal in point of talent.”

Rose looked surprised at this depreciatory speech; she considered Annie
so fascinating that she did not imagine it in man’s nature to criticise
her unfavourably, and that Lewis, of all people, should do so was very
incomprehensible. She only replied, however, “Miss Grant is much more
accomplished than I am, at all events; she sketches like an artist,
plays with great taste and execution, and sings most sweetly. I do not
think it by any means an advantage to a woman to be unusually clever: it
tends to force her out of her proper sphere, and to urge her to a degree
of publicity repugnant to all the better instincts of her nature.”

“I quite agree with you,” rejoined Lewis cordially. “A woman should have
a quick, vigorous intellect, to enable her to perceive and appreciate
the good, the true, and the beautiful, but nothing beyond. With a single
exception, dear Rose, I consider literary women complete anomalies,
things to wonder at and to pity; depend upon it, few women who devote
their lives to literature are really happy.”

As Lewis ceased speaking Rose sat for some moments pondering the truth
of the opinions which he, in common with many of the best and wisest of
his sex, held on this subject. At length she said, “I agree, and yet I
differ with you. Surely a fine mind is one of the noblest gifts God can
bestow upon His creature, because,” she added reverently, “the higher
the intellect the nearer it must approach to His own perfect wisdom;
therefore talent ought to be a boon to woman as well as to man; but is
it not in the application of that talent that the mischief lies? If the
consciousness of mental superiority unfits a woman for the performance
of her natural duties, instead of enabling her to fulfil them more
thoroughly, the fault rests not in the gift, which is in itself a
privilege, but in the misapplication of it by the person on whom it is
bestowed. Retirement is a woman’s natural position, and anything which
leads her to forsake it tends to unsex and deteriorate her. I do not
say that it must necessarily do so; if, for instance, some pious motive,
such as a desire to assist her family, actuates her, she often appears
to be protected from the dangers which surround the path which she has
chosen, but that these dangers are great and many it is vain to deny.”

“My opinion is,” rejoined Lewis, “that amongst either men or women those
only should write books who, from some cause or other, are so thoroughly
imbued with their subject that utterance becomes as it were a necessity;
then, and then only, do they produce anything great and good. The
strongest argument I know against women writing is that they never
appear to exceed pleasing mediocrity. You have no female Shakespeare
or Milton--even Byron and Scott are unapproached by the bravest of your
literary Amazons. Certainly women should not write and having uttered
this opinion much as if he would have liked to alter the ‘should’ into
‘shall,’ and to be made autocrat of England till he had purged the
land from blue-stockings.” Lewis took his hat and departed, leaving that
“talented authoress,” his sister, to chew the cud of his encouraging
observations as best she might.

The practical result of this conversation was that Rose spent a week
in Park Crescent, and thus the occurrences thereof fell out. Miss
Livingstone first catechised, then patronised the young tutor’s sister.
The General also tried a pompously condescending system, but Rose’s
sweetness subdued the old soldier; and ere the week had passed he became
devoted to her, and in his stately fashion loved her only a little less
than his own daughter. And Annie--she first began by being afraid of her
new acquaintance because she was an authoress; then she discovered that
she was not so alarming-, after all; next it occurred to her that she
was very sensible; afterwards that she was very affectionate, which went
a great way with Annie; and finally, that she was quite perfect, and
exactly _the_ friend she had been all her life pining for. From the
moment she discovered this, which was once upon a time when Rose,
carried away by the heat of congenial conversation, began to talk about
her brother, she delighted to lay bare her pure, girlish heart to her
new-found friend. And what does the reader suppose it contained? Any
very mysterious secret, any dire and soul-harrowing episode, as became
the heart of a heroine? Alas, for poor, degenerate Annie! there were
no such interesting contents in her warm little bosom, only much
simplicity, sundry good resolutions containing the germs of future
self-discipline, great natural amiability, a ready appreciation of
all that was excellent in art or nature, and an open and unbounded
admiration of, and respect for, the character of Lewis; so open indeed
that Rose thankfully acknowledged to her secret soul that one alarming
possibility which had lately occurred to and haunted her--viz., that
Annie and Lewis were falling in love with each other--could have no
foundation in fact. The only drawback to Rose’s pleasure in her visit
was, strange to say, the behaviour of her brother. His manner when
alone with her--and the delicate tact of Annie Grant afforded them
many opportunities for a _tête-à-tête_--was wayward and fitful in the
extreme. Sometimes, but very seldom, he appeared low and out of spirits;
at others he was cold and sarcastic, or even perverse and unjust; and
though these fits were invariably followed by expressions of the most
affectionate regard towards Rose herself, yet the idea with which they
impressed her was that his mind was ill at ease, and that for some
reason which he studiously concealed, he was unhappy. The week passed
away like a dream, and Annie, as she parted from her new friend, felt
as if some being of a superior order, endowed with power to make and to
keep her good, were leaving her again to fight single-handed with the
trials and temptations of life.

Frere had been despatched by his scientific superiors to inspect certain
organic remains which had come to light during the formation of a
railroad cutting in the north of Ireland; which remains, assuming to
be the vertebræ and shin bone of an utter impossibility (the
comparative-anatomical sketch, which Frere designed on the _ex pede
Herculem_ principle, represented the lamented deceased as a species
of winged hippopotamus, with a bird’s head, a crocodile’s tail, and
something resembling an inverted umbrella round its camelopard-like
neck, forming a whole more picturesque than probable), excited the
deepest interest in the world of science, which lasted till, unluckily,
one of the workmen, striking his pick-axe against a partially imbedded
bone, found that the Rumpaddyostodon (for so had Frere’s _chef_ already
named it) was composed of Irish oak.

Ere Frere returned from this expedition Mrs. Arundel and Rose had
quitted London, a fact which annoyed that gentleman more than he could
reasonably account for. Having, however, recovered from his strange fit
of shyness, he wrote Rose a long account of his adventures, winding up
by originating a pressing invitation to himself to spend a fortnight
with them during the vacation, which invitation he not only accepted
most graciously, but with the utmost benevolence volunteered to prolong
to three weeks, if he could possibly manage it.

Lewis, shortly after the departure of his mother and sister, received
what Annie termed “marching orders”--viz., an intimation that on
a certain day and hour he and his pupil were to hold themselves in
readiness to start for Broadhurst, it being one of the General’s pet
idiosyncrasies to manage his family movements _saltatim_, by jerks, as
it were, which disagreeable habit he had acquired during his campaigning
days, when the exigencies of military service necessitated such abrupt
proceedings. The consequence of this particular exercise of discipline
was that Lewis received the following note on the evening before their
departure:--

“Dear Sir,--Learning this morning, accidentally, that you are about to
leave town to-morrow, and wishing much to see you on a matter of
some importance before you do so, shall I be putting you to any great
inconvenience if I ask you to do me the favour of breakfasting with me
to-morrow? Name your own hour, from six o’clock downwards. My boy is
waiting, or more properly (you know his mendacious propensities) _lying_
in wait for your answer. N.B.--I am aware of the utter vileness of that
pun, but my ink is so confoundedly thick that really I could not make a
better one.

“Yours faithfully,

“T. Bracy.”



CHAPTER XLIV.--LEWIS PRACTICALLY TESTS THE ASSERTION THAT VIRTUE IS ITS
OWN REWARD, AND OBTAINS AN UNSATISFACTORY RESULT.

“This is kind of you, Mr. Arundel,” exclaimed Bracy, shaking him
heartily by the hand, when, in reply to his friend’s invitation, Lewis
made his appearance at his chambers by eight o’clock on the following
morning; “I like a man who will come to you at a minute’s notice. Now,
as I know your time’s short, we’ll go to work at once, and talk as we
eat. Bring the eggs and rolls, Orphy.”

“Please, sir, they ain’t none of ’em come,” responded the individual
thus addressed, who was no less a personage than the tiger “for
falsehood famed.”

“I knew he’d say that,” observed Bracy aside, with a look of exultation,
“I knew he’d say so, because I saw the man bring them five minutes ago;
sharp boy! he never loses an opportunity of lying. Perhaps they may have
arrived while you’ve been up here,” he continued blandly; “go and see,
Orphy.”

“What do you call your tiger?” inquired Lewis as the imp disappeared.

“Why, his real name is Dick Timmins,” returned Bracy; “I have taken the
trouble to ascertain that fact beyond a doubt--of course I should not
have believed it merely upon his authority--but I call him Orphy, which
is a convenient abbreviation of Orpheus, because, like that meritorious
mythical musician, he is at all times and seasons perfectly inseparable
from a _lyre!_ ‘a poor pun,’ sir, ‘but mine own.’”

“It must surely be inconvenient and troublesome to be obliged
perpetually to guard against some deception or other, to be in continual
doubt as to what has or what has not taken place in your household,”
 remarked Lewis.

“Not at all, my dear Arundel, there’s the beauty of it,” returned Bracy.
“Others doubt and are perplexed, but I am never at a loss for a moment;
I know all his most intricate involutions of lying, and can track him
through a course of falsehood as a greyhound follows a hare: that boy
could not deceive me unless he were suddenly to take to telling the
truth; but there’s not the least fear of that, his principles are too
well established. Ah! _inter alia_, here he comes--do you see the pun?
pre-suppose an Irish brogue, and accent the penultimate instead of the
first syllable in the second word, and it’s not such a bad one after
all.”

When, to use the popular lyric style, the “false one had departed,”
 and the gentlemen were again left _tête-à-tête_, Lewis, reminding his
companion that his time was short, hinted that it would not be amiss
if he were at once to acquaint him with the business to which he had
referred in his note.

“Ah! yes, to be sure,” replied Bracy; “it was a letter I had from Frere
yesterday which put the thing into my head. Let us see, what does he
say?” And pulling a letter from his pocket, he ran his eye down it,
reading and soliloquising somewhat after the following fashion: “Hum!
ha! ‘never take shares in an Irish railway’--thank ye, I never mean
to--‘the natives in these parts are not Cannibals, at which no one at
all particular in his eating would wonder, after seeing the state of
filth’--well, I won’t read that, it will spoil our breakfast--‘the
organic remains are coming out splendidly; I feel little doubt they must
have belonged to some antediluvian monster yet unknown to science.’ Ah!
the fossil remains of a pre-Adamite Irish bull, probably; and that’s
another, by Jove, for there would have been nobody to make it at that
time of day: there’s a P.S. about it, though--Ah! here it is--‘only
fancy, my organic remains prove to be vegetable, not animal; nothing
more or less than a new species of Irish Oaks.’ A new species of Irish
_Hoax_ rather; I wonder how he came to miss the pun--some men do throw
away their opportunities sadly; but I’m wasting your time--now then--‘in
regard to what you tell me about the Bellefield affair, I can do
nothing, not being on the spot; your best plan will be to communicate
with Lewis Arundel--he is thoroughly _au fait_ as to the whole matter;
tell him everything, and act according to his advice. You may safely
do so. I always thought his lordship a great scoundrel’ (rather strong
language!), ‘but in this case he appears more to be pitied than blamed;
I like fair-play all the world over, and would give even the devil
his due.’ There,” continued Bracy, folding up the letter, “that’s what
Richard Frere says, and I, knowing his advice to be good, am prepared to
act upon it.”

“It may be good,” returned Lewis in a tone of annoyance, “but as far as
I am concerned *it is particularly enigmatical. There are many reasons
why it is undesirable, I may say impossible, for me to interfere with
Lord Bellefield’s affairs.”

“Still, if you are the man I take you to be,” replied Bracy seriously,
“you would not wish any one to labour under an unjust imputation, from
which a word of truth can set him free. But it’s no use beating about
the bush; hear what I have to say, and then you can act or remain
neuter, as you please. Of course you read the newspaper account of that
sad business about poor Mellerton?”

Lewis replied in the affirmative, and Bracy continued, “Except in one or
two points, the statement was substantially correct, but these happen
to be rather important ones. In the first place, I should tell you that
Mellerton was an intimate friend of my own. We were great cronies at
Eton, and never lost sight of each other afterwards. I first heard
of this betting affair from an officer of high rank, who holds an
appointment by which he is necessarily a good deal behind the scenes
at the War Office. Somehow it reached his ears that Mellerton had been
betting heavily and met with severe losses, and knowing that I had some
influence with him, he wished me to give him a friendly hint, which I
accordingly did. Mellerton took it very well, poor fellow! and thanked
me for my advice, which was his invariable custom, though I can’t say he
usually acted upon it. He confessed that he had lost more money than was
convenient, and told me he had been forced to borrow, but the amount
of his losses he studiously concealed. On the morning of the day of
his death the same person sent for me again, and told me he was afraid
Mellerton had been behaving very madly, and in the strictest confidence
informed me that it was determined upon to examine into his accounts,
and that if, as he feared, they would not bear the light, his character
would be blasted for life, adding that I was at liberty to warn him of
this, and give him an opportunity, if possible, of replacing the money.
Owing to a chapter of accidents, as ill luck would have it, I was unable
to meet with Mellerton till late in the evening, when I found him in a
state of distraction, having just received officially the information
I had sought to forestall. Seeing how much I knew already, he told me
everything. I will not recapitulate the miserable details, but the
newspapers did not overstate the truth. Well, as a forlorn hope, I
suggested the appeal to Lord Bellefield’s generosity, and after much
persuasion he agreed to let me make the trial. I sprang into a hansom
cab, and drove like the wind to Ashford House. Bellefield was dining
with his sister; I followed him to Berkeley Square, and then to the
Opera-house, where I lost not a minute in explaining my business.
Well, sir, instead of rejecting the appeal, as has been reported, Lord
Belle-field appeared greatly distressed at the intelligence--jumped into
his cab, taking me with him, and as we drove down to poor Mellerton’s
lodgings, expressed his readiness to do whatever I thought best--adding
that he had £10,000 at his banker’s, which was quite at Mellerton’s
service till he could sell his Yorkshire estate. The rest of the tale
you know. The poor fellow, thinking, from my prolonged absence, that my
attempt had failed, and unable to bear the disgrace of exposure, placed
a loaded pistol in his pocket, repaired to a gaming-table, betted to the
full amount of his defalcation, lost, and blew his brains out. We got
there just as the surgeon they had sent for declared life was extinct;
and you never saw a man so cut up as Bellefield was about it. He accused
himself of being a murderer, and in fact seemed to feel the thing
nearly as much as I did myself. As soon as he had a little recovered he
volunteered to drive to Knightsbridge, to break the thing to poor Fred
Mellerton’s brother, while I did the same by his mother and sisters; and
a nice scene I had of it--I thought the old lady would have died on the
spot. But now, to come to the point, I hear that old Grant, believing
all the newspaper lies, has quarrelled with his intended son-in-law and
broken off the engagement; and that Lord Bellefield, too proud to make
any explanations, has allowed him to continue in his mistake. Is this
so?”

“I have no reason to believe your information incorrect,” was the
cautious reply.

“In that case, don’t you think it is due to Lord Bellefield to acquaint
General Grant with the truth?”

Lewis paused for a minute or two in thought ere he replied, “Certainly;
it would be most unjust to withhold it.”

“Well, I’m very glad you agree with me,” returned Bracy, rubbing his
hands with the air of a man who has escaped some disagreeable duty.
“Then I may depend upon you to set the matter right?”

“Upon me!” rejoined Lewis in surprise.

“Yes, to be sure,” was the reply; “that’s what Frere expects. You see,
it’s rather a delicate affair for a man to interfere in, particularly
one who is a complete stranger. I don’t believe I ever set eyes on
Governor Grant in my life. Now you, living in the house, can find a
hundred opportunities. There is a good deal in selecting the _mollia
tempora fandi_ with men as well as with women.”

“Then I am to understand that you have related these facts to me for the
express purpose of my communicating them to General Grant?”

“Yes, to be sure. Do you think I should have put you to the
inconvenience of coming here this morning merely for the sake of having
a gossip?”

“And suppose I were to refuse to make this communication?” continued
Lewis.

“Such a supposition never occurred to me,” replied Bracy in amazement;
“but if you were to do such an unexpected thing, matters must take their
own course. In telling you, I’ve done all that I consider I am in any
way called upon to do; if you, for any reason, deem it unadvisable to
enlighten General Grant, there the thing must rest. Frere tells me to be
guided by your advice, and so I shall; as I have just said, I leave it
entirely to you.”

“I understand you perfectly,” rejoined Lewis, and as he spoke a
contemptuous smile curled his lip; “still, justice requires that the
General should not be kept in ignorance, and although there are many
reasons why it is painful and objectionable to me to enlighten him, yet
there are others which prevent my refusing; and now, Mr. Bracy, as my
time is short, you will excuse my being obliged to leave you.”

“Oh! certainly,” returned Bracy, as his visitor rose to depart;

               “‘Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.’

Liberty Hall this, sir! _chacun à son gout_, ‘everybody has the gout,’
as the little girl at the boarding-school construed it. Then you’ll make
Governor Grant comprehend that in this particular instance Bellefield
behaved like a brick? Disagreeable business to be obliged to interfere
in, but, as Frere says, you’re just the man to do it; good morning;” and
uttering these words with the greatest _empressement_, he shook Lewis’s
hand warmly and suffered him to depart. As the door closed on his
retreating figure Bracy threw himself back in an easy-chair.

“There’s something in the wind that I’m not awake to,” he muttered in
soliloquy; “I don’t comprehend that good youth at all. There must be
private feeling mixed up in it; something in the love and murder line, I
suspect. How savage he looked when he undertook the job--rather he than
I, though: Bellefield’s as likely to call a man out, as to say Thank ye,
for interfering; but, as Frere says, Arundel’s just the man to carry the
thing through. He’s a plucky young fellow and deucedly good-looking, but
he certainly does not appreciate wit--ahem--that is, puns--properly;”
 and with this reflection Bracy took pen and paper and sate him down
to indite an essay on moral courage and the responsibility of man,
wherewith to fill up a vacant corner of Blunt’s Magazine.

And Lewis--what a task had he undertaken! He who would have made any
sacrifice to gratify Annie’s lightest wish must now bring the first
cloud over the sunshine of her young life; he must be the means of
reconciling her father and Lord Bellefield; he must, by his own act,
give the woman he loved to the man he hated. The woman he loved!--had
then the fear that had lain cold and heavy at his heart, that had come
between him and--resignation, assumed a definite shape? did he at length
own that he, the poor tutor, the paid dependent, loved the rich
man’s daughter? Oh! Lewis, where was thy pride--where that Hell-angel
beautiful in evil, which hath haunted thee even from thy childhood
upwards like a second self? Had Rose’s tears prevailed and thy pride
deserted thee? Would that it had been so; but no, he had not yet learned
that hardest lesson for the young and manly-hearted, self-distrust; his
bosom-sin clave to him, and striving single-handed, how should he subdue
it!

Lewis was not one of those who deceive themselves long on any point;
and his emotions after the scene at the Opera-house, the amount of
self-control he was obliged to exert to restrain any outbreak of feeling
in the _tête-à-tête_ drive with Annie, had revealed the truth to him,
and ere he slept that night he knew that now indeed was the sum of his
wretchedness complete; for he loved, for the first time, one fitted to
call forth all the depth and earnestness of his passionate nature, and
he loved without hope. Pressing his hands to his burning brow, he
sat down calmly to think. Calmly; yes, the treacherous repose of the
smouldering volcano were an apt illustration of such a forced calmness.
Renunciation and self-conquest! this then was his portion for the time
to come. Self-conquest! Pride caught at the word; an enemy strong as
the strength of will which should subdue it. Reason cried, “Flee from
temptation;” but pride whispered, “The task is worthy of you; accomplish
it.” And resolution aided pride, and the iron will came into play, and
the contest was begun. And now the reader can understand why Lewis’s
interview with Bracy would scarcely tend to raise his spirits, or render
his general frame of mind more satisfactory.

Punctual to the moment the carriage made its appearance, drawn by four
posters; and the General and the two ladies ensconced themselves in
the interior, while, the day being lovely, Lewis and his pupil took
possession of the rumble. About two miles from Broadhurst was a steep
hill; on reaching this point Annie and her father, Lewis and Walter
alighted, with the intention of walking up; but before half the distance
was accomplished the General pleaded guilty to a very decided twinge
of gout, and unwilling to provoke a second, reentered the carriage, the
others continuing their pedestrian exertions without him.

Annie, delighted to regain the freedom of the country, was in high
spirits. “Why do people stay in London at this time of year?” she
exclaimed. “This lovely sky, and the trees, and the birds, and the
sunshine, are worth all the operas and pictures and balls and every
sight or amusement London can afford; those things excite one for an
hour or two, but this makes me perfectly happy.”

Lewis glanced at her for a moment, sighed involuntarily, and then
rousing himself, uttered some commonplace civility, which so clearly
proved that he was forcing himself to make conversation from the subject
of which his thoughts were far away, that Annie, struck by his manner,
paused and fixed her large eyes earnestly upon him. At length she said--

“I am sure you are ill or unhappy, Mr. Arundel. I am now too well aware
how utterly unable I am to compensate for the loss of such a friend and
counsellor as dear Rose (oh! how I envy you that sister!), but if you
would sometimes tell me when you are annoyed or out of spirits, instead
of wrapping yourself in that cold, proud mantle of reserve, I think even
such poor sympathy as mine might make you happier.”

Lewis glanced round. Walter, actuated by some caprice of his wayward
intellect, had run on before--they were virtually alone. Now it had
occurred to Lewis that, as Annie had allowed him to perceive her dislike
to the idea of a union with Lord Bellefield, he should entirely lose her
good opinion were she to learn that it was through his representations
that a reconciliation with her father had been brought about; and
although this would have been a very desirable result for many reasons,
and have materially assisted him in his design of conquering his unhappy
attachment, yet he by no means appeared to approve of the notion, but on
the contrary had, with his usual fearlessness, determined to seize the
first opportunity of explaining to her why reason and justice obliged
him to act in opposition to her wishes. And now that the opportunity had
arrived, the considerate kindness of her address disarmed him, and in
the unwillingness to inflict pain on her he half abandoned his purpose;
but here his strength of will--that fearful agent for good or for
evil--came into action and settled the matter. It was right; it must
be done. Accordingly he thanked her for her kindness, made her a pretty
speech as to valuing her sympathy, which expressed somewhere about
one-fifteenth of what he really felt on the subject--said, which was
quite true, that nothing had for a long time afforded him greater
pleasure than the friendship which had sprung up between her and
Rose--then, speaking in a low, calm voice, he continued, “I have been
both grieved and annoyed this morning; you guessed rightly when you
thought so. Will you forgive me, and still regard me as your friend,
when I tell you that circumstances force me to act in direct opposition
to your wishes, and to do that of which I fear you will highly
disapprove?”

Annie looked at him with an expression of surprise and alarm, which gave
way to a bright, trustful smile as she replied, “Nothing can lead me to
doubt your friendship, Mr. Arundel; I have had proofs of its sincerity
too convincing for me ever to do so. If you are obliged to say or do
anything which may pain me, I am sure you feel it to be duty which
compels you. And now tell me what you refer to.”

Poor Lewis! the smile and the speech went straight to his heart, like
the stroke of a poniard: pride, resolution, and all the other false gods
he relied on disappeared before it; and for the moment love was lord of
all. But self-control had become so habitual to him, that the most acute
observer could not have detected the slightest indication of the inward
struggle; and ere he spoke his will had resumed its mastery, and his
purpose held good. He gave her, in as few words as possible, an account
of his interview with Bracy; and told her that it was his intention
immediately to acquaint General Grant with the facts that had thus come
to his knowledge.

She heard him in silence; and when he had finished she said in a low
voice, which thrilled with suppressed emotion, “My father will forgive
him, and all will be as if this thing had never happened.”

They walked on side by side, but neither spoke. At length Lewis said
abruptly, “I have told you this man and I were not on friendly terms;
I now tell you that he has heaped insult after insult upon me till
I _hate_ him. Yes, you may start, and your gentle woman’s nature may
condemn me, but it is so: I hate him.” He spoke calmly, but it only
rendered his words more terrible, for it told not merely of the angry
impulse of the moment, but of the deep conviction of a lifetime; and
Annie shuddered as she listened. Regardless of her emotion,
Lewis continued, “Circumstances have in this instance forced me to
appear as Lord Bellefield’s successful accuser. To some minds this petty
triumph might have afforded satisfaction; to me it has been a source of
unmixed regret; the retribution I seek is not of such a nature. Fate has
now placed in my hands the means of vindicating his character; and every
principle of honour, nay of common justice, binds me to do so. We may
not do evil that good may come. I should forfeit my self-respect for
ever were I to conceal this knowledge from your father. You would
not have me do so, I am certain?” Lewis paused for a reply; there was
silence for a moment, and then in a low, broken voice Annie said, “No!
you _must_ tell him. But I am very, very unhappy!” And uttering the last
words with a convulsive sob, she covered her face with her hands, and
turned away to conceal the tears she could no longer repress.



CHAPTER XLV.--ANNIE GRANT TAKES TO STUDYING GERMAN, AND MEETS WITH AN
ALARMING ADVENTURE.

Whether the sight of Annie’s tears would have produced any change in
Lewis’s determination, had their _tête-à-tête_ continued uninterrupted,
is a question in regard to which psychologists may arrive at any
conclusion which pleases them; for Walter having literally, or
figuratively, caught his butterfly, rejoined his companions almost
immediately, and under cover of his puerile volubility Annie contrived
to dry her eyes and outwardly regain her composure.

In the course of the following morning Lewis found an opportunity of
making the important communication. General Grant heard him with grave
attention, and when he had concluded, observed--

“This alters the whole aspect of the affair. Any man may commit a fault,
but if he sees his error, and is willing by every means at his command
to atone for it, it behoves all generous-minded persons to forgive him.
I perceive that I have, in this instance, acted hastily, and owe Lord
Bellefield reparation. I shall write to him immediately, and have to
thank you, Mr. Arundel, for affording me this information, which may
give me an opportunity of effecting a reconciliation with one on whom I
had long since decided to bestow my daughter’s hand. Your disinterested,
I may say magnanimous conduct in this matter, entitles you to my fullest
confidence. I shall make it an express stipulation that for the future
Lord Bellefield shall evince all due consideration towards you.”

And this speech, and the haunting memory of Annie’s tears, were Lewis’s
reward for doing his duty.

The result of this communication was that the General wrote a long
letter to Lord Bellefield, using many words to express his meaning,
which might have been advantageously compressed into half the number;
however, it satisfied its composer, who considered it a miracle of
diplomacy and a model of style. Lord Bellefield’s answer was cold and
haughty; his pride had been wounded, and his was not a mind frankly to
forgive an injury of that nature; still he did not reject the General’s
overtures. He was going to travel in Greece (he wrote), but on his
return to England he would see General Grant and refute the calumnies
which had been spread to his disadvantage: he was aware that he had
enemies who might be glad to avail themselves of any opportunity to
vilify his character, but he trusted to the General’s sense of justice
to discourage such attempts. And the contents of this letter were
communicated to Annie by her father, together with a rebuke for having
so easily believed reports to her cousin’s disadvantage, which lecture
somewhat failed in its effect from the unlucky fact that, in this
particular instance, the lecturer’s practice happened to have been
diametrically opposed to his preaching; but the rebuke led to one evil
result--viz., it crushed in the bud a half-formed project which Annie
had conceived of acquainting her father with her growing disinclination
to a union with her cousin, and of imploring him to take no step towards
a renewal of the engagement. Moral courage (save when her feelings were
very strongly excited) was not one of Annie’s attributes, and as the
evil she feared was not a proximate one, she trusted to chance to
postpone it still further, if not to avert it altogether. Thus, being
naturally of a light-hearted, joyous temperament, she ere long recovered
her usual gaiety, and an occasional sigh, or a quarter of an hour’s
unwonted abstraction, alone attested her recollection of this dark speck
on the horizon of her future life.

The return to Broadhurst appeared to produce a soothing effect upon
Lewis also--it gave him an opportunity calmly to review his position;
and a new idea struck him, generalising from which he sketched out a
system different from that which he had hitherto pursued in regard
to Annie Grant. True, he could never hope to call her his--love was
forbidden him--but friendship, warm, ardent friendship--love elevated,
spiritualised, purified from the slightest admixture of passion,--this
he might enjoy safely; it only required a strong effort of will, a
determined, uniform exercise of self-control. To be enslaved by hopeless
love was mere weakness; to crush the sentiment entirely was Quixotic
and uncalled for; but to control and regulate it, to fix limits which it
should not exceed, and thus to convert a curse into a blessing, this was
an effort worthy of a reasonable being, and this he would accomplish. In
order to carry out this design he determined no longer to avoid Annie
as he had done; it was cowardly to fly thus from temptation; besides, it
was evidently useless to do so; imagination supplied the deficiency, and
the evil was but increased. No, he would face the danger and subdue it.
Thus, too, he might be of use to her, for with all his admiration of her
character he read it aright, and saw that there were weak points which
required the aid of principle to strengthen them; that her pursuits were
frivolous, her mind uncultivated, and her existence practically aimless,
because her views of life were confused and indistinct, and her standard
of excellence a visionary one. All this he saw, and seeing, felt that
he could remedy. And while he pondered on these things Annie recalled
an old wish to study German, and asked her father’s permission to be
allowed to do so, if Mr. Arundel could find time to give her lessons;
whereupon the General, having a great respect for any language of which
he was personally ignorant, preferred her request to Lewis, and that
young gentleman was graciously pleased to accede thereunto. Miss
Livingstone of course played duenna, and but for one circumstance would
have performed her character with a degree of cold-blooded virulence
worthy of the most fractious tigress that ever mangled “lovers tender
and true.” This fortunate circumstance was that the lessons, being
usually taken by way of dessert after an early dinner, invariably sent
Minerva to sleep. In vain did she bring out her “poor basket,” in which
receptacle lay hid certain harsh underclothing for infant paupers;
in vain did she attempt sewing the seams of Procustes-like pinafores,
which, solving the problem of the minimum of brown holland capable of
containing a living child, were destined to compress the sturdy bodies
of village urchins; the “_colo calathisve Minervo_” were unable to
resist the attacks of the god Somnus, and ere Annie had stretched
her pretty little mouth by the utterance of a dozen double-bodied
substantives, the lynx-eyes were closed in sleep, and for all practical
purposes Miss Livingstone forfeited every right to the first half of her
patronymic.

Reader, if you are of the gender which uncourteous grammarians are
pleased to designate the worthier, tell me,--in strict confidence, of
course,--did you ever read German with a pair of bright eyes turning
from the crabbed Teutonic characters to look appealingly into your
own optics, while two coral lips, formed for pleasanter purposes than
growling German gutturals, complain of some enigmatical sentence which
has _not_ got a right meaning to it, the said eyes and lips being the
outward symbols of a warm heart and quick intelligence, ready to discern
and feel the grandeur of Schiller, the Shakespeare of the Fatherland, or
thrill to the trumpet blasts of young Korner’s warrior spirit, or trace
the more subtle thinkings of Goethe, that anatomist of the soul of man?
Tell me, did you ever read with so desirable a fellow-student? If you
have done so, and can honestly say you did not think such schooling
delightful, the sooner you close this book the better, for depend upon
it there is little sympathy between us. Lewis at all events had no
cause to be dissatisfied with his pupil, who was equally docile and
intelligent, and in a marvellously short space of time was able to read
and translate with tolerable fluency; while the few German sentences in
which her instructor from time to time saw fit to address her appeared
less like heathen Greek to her at each repetition. As soon as she had
sufficiently mastered the difficulties of those aggravating parts of
speech, the compound separable verbs, and acquired moderate control over
other equally necessary and vicious parts of the grammar, they commenced
translating that most poetical of allegories, La Motte Fouqué’s
“Undine”; and Annie, as they read, took it all at first _au pied de la
lettre_, and imagined, with a degree of shuddering horror, which, as
it was _only_ a tale, was rather pleasant than otherwise, all the
supernatural uncomfortables Huldbrand underwent in the Enchanted
Forest, and admired all the generous impulses of the heroine’s singular
uncle-and-water, Kuhleborn, who, however, she considered would have
been better adapted for family purposes, if he had been rather more of
a man and less of a cataract. Then Undine herself, the capricious,
fascinating, tricksy sprite--the thoughtful, loving, feeling woman--how
Annie sympathised with and adored her! For Huldbrand she felt a species
of contemptuous pity, but Bertalda, oh! she was sure no woman was ever
so heartless, so utterly and wickedly selfish. And then when Lewis
unfolded to her his view of the Allegory (every one is sure to form a
particular theory of his own as to the meaning of “Undine,” and to think
he only has discovered the author’s intention), and Annie learned that
the tale shadowed forth the mighty truths which throng the passage to
eternity, and symbolising the struggle between good and evil, showed
how Principalities and Powers wage throughout all time an undying
warfare--the breast of man their battlefield--her pulses quickened and
her cheek flushed; for she felt for the first time the solemn realities
of existence, and saw dimly how a single life might be a link between
the Ages, and a portion, however insignificant, of the mighty whole.
What wonder then if part of the reverence, the awe, chastened by a deep,
solemn joy, with which she recognised the workings of Infinite power,
and Infinite love, cast their spell around him who had first awakened
these perceptions within her?--what wonder if unconsciously comparing
him with those around her, she grew to believe him a being of another
and a higher nature, and so to hang on his slightest word or look, to
dread his frown, and deem his smile sufficient compensation for hours of
unwonted study?

The German lessons seemed to agree particularly well with Lewis also;
for his eye grew brighter and his step more free, the extreme paleness
of his complexion changed to a manly brown, a slight tinge of colour
imparted a look of health to his cheek, and--unromantic as it may
appear--his appetite increased alarmingly. Would the reader learn the
secret of this improvement? It is soon told. Living in the present,
blinding himself to the truth, he was happy! His system, he told
himself, had succeeded--his theory had been tested, and proved a true
one--resolution had conquered, and the insanity of love had cooled down
to the reasonableness of a delightful friendship.

Lewis was excessively pleased with himself at this result. At length,
then, he had attained that complete and perfect degree of self-control
he had so long endeavoured to acquire; his feelings were reduced to a
due submission to his will; and henceforward his happiness was in his
own hands. And thus basking in this gleam of sunshine, he shut his eyes
to all beyond, and dreamed that he possessed an elixir to dissipate
every cloud, and that henceforward storms would disappear from the
horizon of his destiny and become mere myths, existing only in memory.
And these were some of the earliest results of the German lessons.

About this time a small but unpleasant adventure occurred to poor Annie
which occasioned her a severe fright, and rendered her nervous and
uncomfortable for many days afterwards. She had been on an expedition to
the cottage of a poor neighbour who was suffering from illness; and
as the sick woman lived beyond a walk, Annie had gone on horseback,
attended by an old coachman who had lived in the family many years.
Having accomplished her mission, she had ridden about a quarter of
a mile on her return when she discovered that she had left her
handkerchief behind, and directing the servant to ride back and fetch
it, she proceeded at a foot’s pace in a homeward direction. The road she
was following wound round the base of a hill thickly covered with trees
and underwood, the spreading branches of the oaks meeting across the
lane and making a species of twilight even at midday.

As Annie Grant was passing under one of the thickest of these trees, a
tall, gaunt figure sprang from behind its knotted trunk and seized the
bridle of her pony. Gazing in alarm at her assailant, Annie perceived
him to be a man of unusual stature; his features were pale and
emaciated, and an unshorn, grizzly beard added to the ferocity of their
expression; his clothes, which were torn and soiled, hung loosely about
him, while the long bony fingers which clutched her bridle-rein, the
sunken cheeks, and hollow, glaring eye-balls, gave evidence that his
herculean proportions had been reduced almost to a skeleton leanness by
disease or want. Annie had, however, little time to make observations,
for, accosting her with an oath, the ruffian demanded her purse. Drawing
it forth, she held it to him with a trembling hand. He seized it eagerly
and examined its contents, his eyes glittering as he observed the
sparkle of gold. Hastily concealing it about his person, he next
demanded her watch, which Annie, after a hopeless glance in the
direction from which she expected the appearance of the servant, also
relinquished. Having secured his plunder the fellow paused, apparently
reflecting whether by detaining her longer he could gain any further
advantage; as he did so the sound of a horse rapidly advancing struck
his ear, and immediately afterwards a turn in the road enabled him to
perceive the figure of a servant on horseback, the sunshine glancing
from his bright livery buttons. The moment this object met his view
he started, and shading his eyes with his hand, gazed fixedly at the
approaching horseman. Having thus satisfied himself as to the man’s
identity, he exclaimed with an oath, “It is the old bloodhound’s livery,
and the girl must be his daughter. Oh, what a chance I have thrown away!
Yes,” he continued, turning fiercely upon poor Annie and threatening her
with his clenched fist, “if I had guessed you were the daughter of that
-------- old Grant, you should not have got off so easy, I promise you.”
 He paused as a new idea struck him, and his face assumed an expression
of diabolical revenge; placing his hand in his breast he drew forth a
pistol, cocked it, and muttering, “There is time yet,” levelled it at
his trembling victim. With a faint scream Annie dropped the reins, and
clasping her hands in an agony of fear, murmured a petition for mercy.
The ruffian stood for a moment irresolute; but, desperate as he
was, some touch of humanity yet lingered in his breast, a softening
recollection came across him, and muttering, “I can’t do it, she looks
like poor Jane,” he uncocked and replaced the pistol.

At this moment the servant, having heard Annie’s scream, came up at a
gallop, and the robber, uttering a fearful imprecation, sprang back into
the wood and disappeared among the trees.

It was some minutes before Annie, who was on the verge of fainting, was
able to give a coherent account of the adventure which had befallen
her. As soon, however, as she had in some degree recovered from the
effects of her terror, she desired the servant to ride close beside her,
and urging her pony into a rapid canter, made the best of her way home.
Here she found matters in a state of unusual bustle and confusion. The
General had received information that Hardy the poacher had broken out
of H---------- gaol, effected his escape unperceived, and was
supposed to be concealed somewhere in the neighbourhood of Broadhurst.
Accordingly he was marshalling all the available males of his
establishment, preparatory to setting out on an expedition to search
for, and if possible to apprehend the escaped felon.

Great was his horror and indignation when he learned the danger to which
his daughter had been exposed, and ascertained from the description
she gave of her assailant that the man who had robbed her, and even
threatened her life, was none other than the ruffian Hardy.

The preparations which he had already made he now considered
insufficient for ensuring the success of the expedition; he accordingly
despatched a mounted groom to procure the assistance of a couple of
policemen, and sending for Lewis, begged him to lead a party to search
the country in one direction, while he proceeded with a second division
of the household forces in another. As the young tutor heard of the
alarm to which Annie had been subjected, his cheeks flushed and his
compressed lips quivered. He said little, however, but returning to
his room, placed a brace of small pistols in the breast of his coat,
attached spurs to the heels of his boots, then mounting a horse which
was in readiness for him, rode off. The tenants were roused, the
gamekeepers summoned, the policemen arrived. General Grant remained
absent till nearly ten o’clock at night, and his daughter became alarmed
to the last degree for his safety. At length he returned; their search
had been unsuccessful, but Mr. Arundel and some of the men would remain
on the watch all night, and he would resume the pursuit next morning.

For three days and nights Lewis never entered a house, and was scarcely
out of the saddle; the fourth day the police received a report from
the authorities at Liverpool, stating that an individual in some degree
corresponding to the description of Hardy had taken his passage in a
vessel bound for the United States, and that the wind being favourable,
the ship had sailed before they had been able to search her; and with
this unsatisfactory report the family at Broadhurst were forced to
content themselves.



CHAPTER XLVI.--IS CALCULATED TO “MURDER SLEEP” FOR ALL NERVOUS YOUNG
LADIES WHO READ IT.

The incident related in the last chapter produced a strange and
alarming effect upon Miss Livingstone; in fact it may be said to have
laid the foundation of a species of monomania which haunted her to the
day of her death. From this time forth she laboured under the delusion
that a man trained from his youth up to rob and murder his sleeping
fellow-creatures was secreted at one and the same moment under every bed
and behind all the window curtains in the house. A singular and alarming
property belonging to this ambushed ruffian was the extraordinary shadow
cast by his legs and feet. Miss Livingstone was perpetually scared by
discovering it in the most unlikely places and positions; indeed the
statistics of these shadowy phenomena tended to show that it was this
villain’s ordinary custom to stand upon his rascally head. Then the
noises he made were most strange and unearthly, and a habit he possessed
of moaning whenever the wind was high really exceeded anything
with which human nature could be expected to put up. The trouble he
occasioned everybody was inconceivable; for at least a month after
Annie’s adventure the butler almost lived in Minerva’s bedroom, so
constantly was he summoned to unearth this lurking traitor; and yet,
although Miss Livingstone was quite certain the monster was there, for
she had seen the shadow of his boots, with the soles upwards, upon the
tester of the bed, by some dreadful fatality he always contrived to
evade the strictest search. Once Miss Livingstone thought she _had_
got him, for, having summoned assistance on the strength of hearing him
snore, she actually enjoyed the satisfaction of being sworn at by him,
when she looked under the bed and poked for him with a large umbrella;
but this time he turned out to be the cat. The servants became so
harassed by these repeated alarums that at length the butler gave _bona
fide_ warning, while the footmen, when there was nobody to hear them,
vehemently protested they were not hired as thief-catchers, and that
Miss Livingstone had better set up a private policeman of her own, if
she chose to be so subject to house-breakers.

Lewis was not at all pleased with this adventure: in the first place,
it interrupted the German lessons, for poor Annie had been so seriously
frightened--not without cause--that it made her really ill, and for some
days she remained on a sofa in her own room. In the second place, Lewis
had been so deeply affected when he first heard of the danger to which
she had been exposed, that for a moment a doubt crossed his mind
whether such a degree of emotion was exactly consistent with that mild
imposition yclept platonic friendship. In the third place, he had used
his best endeavours to catch Hardy once again, and had been thoroughly
and completely baffled. Time, however, that wonder-working individual,
passed on, and by his assistance Annie’s nerves recovered their tone,
and the German lessons were recommenced; Miss Livingstone saw fewer
visions of reversed legs, and confined her researches after the
concealed one to a good peep under the bed night and morning. The
General made a great fuss about the whole affair, and severely
reprimanded several individuals for permitting Hardy to escape who never
had it in their power to prevent his doing so. Having relieved his mind
by this judicious exercise of authority, he applied himself to other
pursuits, and speedily forgot the whole transaction.

About two months after the occurrence of the robbery Lord Belle-field
wrote to announce his return, and General Grant went to London alone
in order to meet him. Before his departure, Annie, whose dislike to the
interrupted engagement appeared to increase rather than to diminish,
determined to make a great effort, and to acquaint her father with her
disinclination to the proposed alliance, and to entreat him to take
no steps which might lead to a renewal of the matrimonial project. The
General heard her attentively, and then observed--

“I perfectly understand and appreciate your feelings, my dear Annie;
they are such as, under the peculiar circumstances, become _my_
daughter. Remember, my dear, that the matter is in wiser and more
experienced hands than yours; and rest assured that nothing shall be
done of which even your punctilious delicacy and true sense of honour
can disapprove.” Then, seeing Annie was about to speak, he continued,
“Any further discussion is not only unnecessary, but as the matter now
stands, would appear to imply a doubt of my capability of acting for
you; which I should consider, to say the least, disrespectful. You will
oblige me by withdrawing, my dear Annie.” Thus saying, he rose, and
opening the door with all the frigid courtesy of the Grandisonian
school, ushered her out. And so poor Annie’s attempt proved a signal
failure.

On the following morning the General left Broadhurst, having given Annie
a very unnecessary caution against riding out with merely a servant, and
made it his especial request that Lewis and Walter should accompany her
by way of escort; a proceeding of which neither tutor nor pupil appeared
to disapprove.

General Grant was absent for more than a fortnight; and as the
weather was unusually fine during the whole of the time, Annie and
her attendants rode out every day. Oh, those rides! what delightful
expeditions were they! By a tacit consent between Lewis and Annie, all
allusion to the future was avoided, in word or thought; they lived in
the present--those loving hearts; they were together, and that sufficed
them; and the trees appeared greener, and the flowers more brilliant,
and the sunshine brighter, than they had ever seemed before; all was
happy as a fairy dream, and dream-like did it pass away.

A letter from the General announcing his intended return was in Annie’s
hand, as, bending over a ponderous volume of crabbed characters, she
awaited her German lesson. The windows of the breakfast-room in which
she was seated opened on to an ample lawn, interspersed with groups of
shrubs and gay flower-beds. In crossing this lawn Walter had contrived
to intercept Lewis and inveigle him into a game at ball.

Flushed by the exercise, his eyes sparkling with excitement, and his
dark curls hanging in wild disorder about his brow, the young tutor
approached the window at which Annie was seated. Concealed by the
heavy folds of the window curtain, the girl watched him unperceived:
involuntarily she contrasted his frank and easy bearing, his free and
elastic step, and the smile, half proud, half playful, which parted his
curved lips and sparkled in his flashing eyes, with the cold reserve
which usually characterised his demeanour, and for the first time she
became aware what a bright and noble nature had been obscured and warped
by the false position into which circumstances had combined to force
him. Who could blame her, who rather would not love her the better, and
thank God that He has implanted such beautiful instincts in every true
woman’s heart, if she felt that she should wish no fairer destiny
than to devote her life to bring back the sunshine of his, and by her
affection restore to him the youth of soul which misfortune had wrested
from him!

Little guessing the thoughts that were passing through her mind, Lewis
advanced towards the window, exclaiming, “Miss Grant, I have a petition
to urge--the day is so lovely it is quite wicked to remain indoors: can
I persuade you to use your influence with Miss Livingstone to allow
us to transfer the site of our German lesson to the bench under the
lime-tree? I will promise to arrange a most seductive seat for her in
the very shadiest corner.”

“My aunt has departed on a charitable mission,” was the reply; “she
received a message to say that an unfortunate child whom she has been
doctoring out of that dreadful medicine chest of hers is much worse, and
she has rushed off armed with pills and powders.”

“To give it the _coup de grace_ I suppose,” interrupted Lewis.

Annie shook her head reprovingly, and continued, “In the excitement of
the occasion, she appears to have entirely forgotten our poor German
lesson.”

“In which case the decision as to place rests with you!” resumed Lewis
eagerly; “the matter is therefore settled--you _will_ come.” The accent
upon the “_will_” was intended to be one of entreaty, but somehow the
tone in which it was uttered partook largely of command, and Annie, as
she obeyed, said with a smile--

“Or rather, I _must_ come--that is clearly your meaning, Mr. Arundel;
however, I see Walter and Faust are already _en position_, and I will
not set them an example of disobedience, so if you can find the books, I
will join you immediately.”

[Illustration: 0338]

It was, as Lewis had declared, a lovely evening; the sky was of that
deep, clear blue which indicates a continuance of fine weather, a soft
breeze sighed through the blossoms of the lime-tree beneath which they
sat. Faust lay at Annie’s feet, gazing up into her face as though he
loved to look upon her beauty, which perhaps he did, for Faust was a
dog of taste, and particular in the selection of his favourites. Walter,
stretched at his length upon the turf, was idly turning over the
pages of a volume of coloured prints. Lewis opened the work they were
translating; it was that loveliest of historical tragedies, Schiller’s
“Piccolomini,” and Annie read of Max, the simple, the true, the
noble-hearted, and thought that the world contained but one parallel
character, and that he was beside her. They read on beneath the summer
sky, and tracing the workings of Schiller’s master mind, forgot all
sublunary things in the absorbing interest of the story. The scene they
were perusing was that in which Max Piccolomini describes the chilling
effect produced upon him when he for the first time beholds Thekla
surrounded by the splendours of her father’s court, and says (I quote
Coleridge’s beautiful translation for the benefit of my _un-German_
readers, and in consideration of the shallowness of my own acquaintance
with the language of the Fatherland)--

               “Now, once again, I have courage to look on you,

               To-day at noon I could not;

               The dazzle of the jewels that play’d round you

               Hid the belovèd from me.

               This morning when I found you in the circle

               Of all your kindred, in your father’s arms,

               Beheld myself an alien in this circle,

               Oh! what an impulse felt I in that moment

               To fall upon his neck and call him father;

               But his stern eye o’erpower’d the swelling passion,

               I dared not but be silent--and those brilliants

               That like a crown of stars enwreath’d your brows,

               They scared me too--Oh! wherefore, wherefore should he

               At the first meeting spread, as ’twere, the ban

               Of excommunication round you?--wherefore

               Dress up the angel for the sacrifice,

               And cast upon the light and joyous heart

               The mournful burden of _his_ station? Fitly

               May love woo love, but such a splendour

               Might none but monarchs venture to approach.”

As Lewis read this speech, the bright, happy look faded from his face,
and his voice grew deep and stern; there was in the whole scene a
strange likeness to his own position, which pained him in the extreme,
and brought back all his most bitter feelings. Engrossing as was this
idea when once aroused, he could not but observe the unusual degree of
taste and energy which Annie, who appeared carried away by the interest
of the drama, infused into her reading, and the tones of her sweet
voice did ample justice to the friendly, confiding tenderness with which
Thekla endeavours to console her lover. After her appeal to the Countess
Tertsky--

               “He’s not in spirits, wherefore is he not?

               He had quite another nature on the journey,

               So calm, so bright, so joyous eloquent”--

she turns to Max, saying--

               “It was my wish to see you always so,

               And never otherwise.”

Annie spoke the last words so earnestly that Lewis involuntarily glanced
at her, and their eyes met. It was one of those moments which occur
twice or thrice in a lifetime, when heart reads heart, as an open book,
and sympathetic thought reveals itself unaided by that weak interpreter
the tongue. Through weary years of sorrow and separation that look
was unforgotten by either of them; and when Annie bent her eyes on the
ground with a slight blush, confessing that the large amount of womanly
tenderness which she fain would show was not unmingled with a portion of
womanly love which she would as fain conceal, and Lewis dared not trust
himself to speak lest the burning thoughts which crowded on his brain
should force themselves an utterance, neither of them was sorry
to perceive the figure of Aunt Martha rustling crisply through the
stillness, as, burthened with boluses, Minerva appeared before them, to
give a triumphant account of her victory over Tommy Crudle’s catarrhal
affection, of which ailment she promised Annie a reversion for her
imprudence in sitting out of doors without a bonnet.

When Lewis retired to his room that night he sat down to think over
in solitude the occurrences of the day. Had he been deceiving himself,
then? was his unhappy attachment still unsubdued--nay, had it not
strengthened? under the delusive garb of friendship, had not Annie’s
society become necessary to his happiness? Again--and as this idea for
the first time occurred to him, the strong man trembled like a child
from the violence of his emotion--had he not more than this to answer
for? Selfishly engrossed by his own feelings, madly relying on his own
strength of will, which he now perceived he had but too good reason
to mistrust, he had never contemplated the effect his behaviour might
produce upon a warm-hearted and imaginative girl. Lewis was no coxcomb,
but he must have wilfully closed his eyes had he not read in Annie’s
manner that morning the fact that she was by no means indifferent to
him. True, it might be only friendship on her part--the natural impulse
of a woman’s heart to pity and console one who she perceived to need
such loving-kindness--and with this forlorn hope Lewis was fain to
content himself. Then he strove to form wise resolutions for the future:
he would avoid her society--the German lessons should be strictly
confined to business, and gradually discontinued; and even a vague
notion dimly presented itself of a time--say a year thence--when Walter
might be entrusted to other hands, and he should be able to extricate
himself from a situation so fraught with danger. And having thus
regarded the matter by the light of principle and duty, feeling began to
assert its claims, and he cursed his bitter fortune, which forced him
to avoid one whom he would have braved death itself to win. He sat
pondering these things deep into the night; the sound of the clock over
the stables striking two at length aroused him from his reverie, and he
was about to undress, when a slight growl from Faust, who always slept
on a mat in Lewis’s dressing-room, attracted his attention, and as he
paused to listen, a low whistle, which seemed to proceed from the shrubs
under his window, caught his ear. Closing the door of the dressing-room
to prevent Faust from giving any alarm, he walked lightly to the window,
which, according to his usual custom, he left open all night, and
silently holding back the curtain, looked out. As he did so a window on
the ground floor was cautiously opened and the whistle repeated. After
a moment’s reflection he became convinced that the room from which the
signal whistle had been replied to was occupied by the new butler,
who had replaced the individual harassed into the desperate step of
resigning by Minerva’s incessant crusades against the Under-the-bed One.
At the sound of the signal whistle the figures of four men appeared
from the shrubs, amongst which they had been hidden, and noiselessly
approached the window. The candle which Lewis had brought upstairs with
him had burned out; and although his window was open, the curtains were
drawn across it; he was therefore able, himself unperceived, to see and
hear all that was going on. As the burglars, for such he did not doubt
they were, drew near, the following conversation was carried on in a low
whisper between their leader, a man of unusual stature, and Simmonds the
butler.

“You are late; the plate has been packed and ready for the last two
hours.”

“There was a light in the--------d tutor’s room till half-an-hour ago,”
 was the reply; “and we thought he might hear us and give the alarm if we
did not wait till he was in bed.”

“It would not have much signified if he had when you were once in,”
 returned Simmonds: “the grooms don’t sleep in the house; the valet is
in London; so there’s only the tutor, the footman, and the idiot boy,
besides women.”

“Where is the old man?” inquired the other.

“Not returned,” was the answer.

A brutal curse was the rejoinder, and the robber continued, “The girl is
safe?”

“Yes.”

“And the tutor?”

“Yes. What do you want with them?”

“To knock out his --------d brains, and take her with us,” was the
alarming reply. Simmonds appeared to remonstrate, for the robber replied
in a louder tone than he had yet used--

“I tell you, _yes!_ Old Grant shall know what it is to lose a daughter
as well as other people.”

Afraid lest the loudness of his voice should give the alarm, the other
exclaimed in an anxious whisper--

“Hush! come in;” and one after the other the four men entered by the
open window.



CHAPTER XLVII.--CONTAINS A “MIDNIGHT STRUGGLE,” GARNISHED WITH A DUE
AMOUNT OF BLOODSHED, AND OTHER NECESSARY HORRORS.

Lewis, having overheard the conversation detailed in the preceding
chapter, perceived himself to be placed in a position alike dangerous
and difficult. In the spokesman and leader of the party he had
recognised (as the reader has probably also done) his old antagonist,
Hardy the poacher. The matter then stood thus: four ruffians (one of
whom, burning with the desire of revenge for wrongs real and supposed,
possessed strength and resolution equal to his animosity) were already
in possession of the lower part of the house, their avowed objects being
robbery, murder, and abduction; the butler, faithless to his trust, was
clearly an accomplice; Hardy, fighting as it were with a halter round
his neck, was not likely to stick at trifles, and Lewis foresaw that the
conflict, once begun, would be for life or death, and on its successful
issue depended Annie’s rescue from a fate worse than death. His only
ally was the footman; and whether this lad’s courage would desert him
when he discovered the odds against which he had to contend was a point
more than doubtful. However, there was no time to deliberate; Lewis felt
that he must act, and summoning all the energies of his nature to meet
so fearful an emergency, he prepared to sell his life as dearly as
possible. On attempting to unlock his pistol case the key turned with
difficulty, and it was not without some trouble and delay that he was
enabled to open it. As he did so, it occurred to him that his pistols,
which he kept loaded, might have been tampered with. It was fortunate
that he thought of ascertaining this, for on inserting the ramrod
he found the bullets had been withdrawn from both barrels. Carefully
reloading them, he placed the pistols in a breast-pocket ready for use,
and taking down from a nail on which it hung a cavalry sabre which had
belonged to Captain Arundel, he unsheathed it, and grasping it firmly
with his right hand, he turned to leave the room, with the design of
arousing the footman. As he did so a faint tap was heard, and on opening
the door the figure of Annie Grant, pale and trembling, wrapped in
a dressing-gown and shawl, appeared before him, while her French
_soubrette_, in an agony of fear, was leaning against the wall listening
(with eyes that appeared ready to start out of her head with fright)
for every sound below. As Lewis advanced Annie perceived the sabre, and
pointing towards it, she exclaimed in an agitated whisper--

“Oh! you have heard them, then! what will become of us?”

Lewis took her trembling hand in his.

“Calm yourself,” he said in the same low tone; “I will defend you, and
if needs be, die for you.”

His words, spoken slowly and earnestly, appeared to act like a charm
upon her. She became at once composed, and looking up in his face with
an expression of childlike trust, inquired--

“And what shall I do?”

“Go back to your apartment and pray for my success; God is merciful, and
will not turn a deaf ear to such angel pleadings,” was the solemn reply.

Annie again gazed earnestly at him, and reading in the stern resolution
of his features the imminence of their danger, was turning away with a
sickening feeling of despair at her heart, when Lewis again addressed
her.

“I am going to awaken the man-servant,” he said; “the butler is an
accomplice of these scoundrels, and has admitted them. They cannot,
however, molest you without ascending the stairs, and as they do that I
shall encounter them; the result is in the hands of God.”

He was about to leave her, but there was a speechless misery in her face
as she gazed upon him which he could not resist. In an instant he was by
her side.

“Dear Annie,” he said, and his deep tones faltered from the intensity
of his emotion--_it was the first time he had ever called her by her
Christian name_--“Dear Annie, do not look at me thus sorrowfully; it is
true we are in peril, but I have ere now braved greater danger than this
successfully, and--should I fall, life has few charms for me--to die for
you----!”

At this moment the sound of a man’s voice in anger was heard from the
lower part of the house, and starting forward with a scarcely suppressed
cry of terror, the French girl seized Lewis’s arm, while, pointing in
the direction of the footman’s room, she exclaimed--

“_Allez, allez, cherchez vite du secours, nous allons être assassinés
tous_.”

Lewis placed his finger on his lips in token of silence, and listened a
moment as the voices below were again audible and then died away.

“They are quarrelling over their booty,” he said, “and are too well
occupied to think of us at present.”

He then led Annie to the door of her room, urged her to fasten it on the
inside, and pressing her hand warmly, left her. After one or two
futile attempts he discovered the man-servant’s apartment; the door
was unfastened, and he pushed it open, when the loud, regular breathing
which met his ear proved that the person of whom he was in search was
as yet undisturbed. Approaching the bed, Lewis paused for a moment, and
shading the light with his hand, gazed upon the face of the sleeper. He
was scarcely beyond the age of boyhood, and his features presented more
delicacy of form than is usually to be met with in the class to which
he belonged. He was sleeping as quietly as a child; while Lewis watched
him, he murmured some inarticulate sounds, and a smile played about his
mouth. As Lewis stooped to wake him, he could not but mentally contrast
the calm sleep from which he was arousing him with the probable scene of
violence and danger in which he would so soon be engaged. It was no
time for such reflections, however, and laying his hand on the lad’s
shoulder, he said--

“Robert, you are wanted, rouse up!”

Startled by the apparition of a tall figure bending over him, the young
man sprang up, exclaiming--

“What’s the matter? who is it?” then recognising Lewis, he continued,
“Mr. Arundel! is anybody ill, sir?”

“Hush!” was the reply; “get up and put on your clothes as quickly as
possible; there are thieves in the house. I will wait at the top of the
stairs till you join me; but make no noise, or you may bring them upon
us before we are prepared for them.”

So saying, he quitted the room. In less time than he had imagined it
possible, the young servant joined him.

“Have you roused Mr. Simmonds?” was his first query.

“The butler has proved unworthy of the trust reposed in him,” returned
Lewis; “he has admitted these men into the house, and they are now in
his pantry, preparing to carry off the plate.”

As he spoke his companion’s colour rose, and with flashing eyes he
exclaimed, “Let us go down and prevent them; there’s plate worth £500
under his care.”

Lewis held the lamp so that it shed its light upon the young man’s face
and figure. He was a tall, well-grown youth, and his broad shoulders and
muscular arms gave promise of strength; his eye was keen and bright,
and an expression of honest indignation imparted firmness to his mouth.
Lewis felt that he might be relied on, and determined to trust him
accordingly.

“They have worse designs than merely stealing the plate,” he said; “they
intend to carry off Miss Grant, and murder me. Chance enabled me to
overhear their plan; I mean, therefore, to wait at the top of the stairs
and use _any_ means to prevent their ascending them: will you stand by
me?”

“Ay, that I will; a man can but die once,” was the spirited reply.

Lewis grasped his hand and shook it warmly.

“You are a brave fellow,” he said, “and if we succeed in beating off
these scoundrels, it shall not be my fault if your fortune is not made.
There is a carabine hanging in the General’s bedroom, is there not?”

Receiving an answer in the affirmative, Lewis continued, “Fetch it,
then, and the sword with it, if you think you can use it.”

As Robert departed on this mission, Lewis, surprised at the delay on the
part of Hardy and his associates, glided lightly down the staircase to
reconnoitre their proceedings. The lower part of the house was of course
in total darkness; but as he approached the butler’s pantry a bright
stream of light issued from a crack in the door, while the tramp of
nailed shoes on the stone flooring inside, together with an occasional
muttered word or oath from one of the party, proved that they were
busily engaged in some toilsome occupation, which Lewis rightly
conjectured to be conveying the plate to a cart outside. Returning as
cautiously as he had advanced, Lewis rejoined his companion, whom he
found waiting for him at the top of the stairs, carabine in hand. Having
ascertained that the charge had been removed from this also, he reloaded
it with some of the slugs intended for his pistols, and placing the lamp
so that it cast its light down the staircase, leaving the spot where
they stood in shade, he handed one pistol to Robert, reserving the other
for his own use in any emergency which might occur; and thus prepared
they awaited the approach of the robbers. Their patience was not in
this instance destined to be severely taxed, for scarcely had they taken
their stations when the creaking of a door cautiously opened, and the
tread of muffled footsteps announced that the crisis was at hand; and in
another moment Hardy and his associates were seen stealthily advancing
towards the foot of the stairs. As they perceived the light of Lewis’s
lamp they paused, and a whispered consultation took place. At this
moment the rays fell strongly upon the upper part of the poacher’s
figure, and Lewis, levelling his carabine, could have shot him through
the heart. It was a strong temptation. Hardy once dead, Lewis had little
fear of being able to overcome or intimidate the others. He knew that it
was life for life, and that by all laws, human and divine, the act
would be a justifiable one; but he could not bring himself to slay
a fellow-creature in cold blood. Besides, although since his unmanly
attack on Annie, Lewis had felt in the highest degree irritated against
the poacher, he compassionated him for the loss of his daughter, and
could not entirely divest himself of a species of admiration for his
strength and daring: so, though he still held the carabine directed
towards the group, he did not pull the trigger; and thus, by a strange
turn of fate, Lewis spared Hardy’s life, as Hardy had on a former
occasion spared his, when the motion of a finger would have sent him to
his long account. At this moment the butler joined the party, and Lewis
caught the words, “They have fire-arms!”

“Never fear,” was the reply in the tones of Simmonds’ voice, “they may
bark, but they won’t bite; I’ve taken care of that.”

“Come on, then,” exclaimed Hardy impetuously; “let us rush at them
together and overpower them;” and grasping a bludgeon with one hand,
while in the other he held a cocked pistol, he dashed upstairs followed
by his accomplices. Lewis waited till they had passed a turn in the
staircase, and then aiming low, in order if possible to stop their
advance without destroying life, he fired. Simmonds, who was one of the
foremost, immediately fell, and losing his balance, rolled down several
steps; one of the others paused in his career, and from his limping gait
was evidently wounded; but Hardy and two more continued their course
uninjured. The smoke of the discharge for a moment concealed Lewis’s
figure; as it cleared away, Hardy levelled his pistol at him and fired.
The bullet whistled by Lewis’s ear, and passing within an inch of his
right temple, lodged in the wall behind him; while, following up his
ineffectual shot, the robber rushed upon him. Lewis, however, had too
keen a recollection of his antagonist’s matchless strength to risk the
chance of allowing him to close with him, and springing back, he struck
him, quick as lightning, two blows with the sabre--the first on his arm,
which he raised to protect his head, the second and most severe one on
the shoulder near the neck: this last blow staggered him, and reeling
dizzily, he grasped the banister for support, the blood trickling from
the wound in his shoulder. In the meantime the two others, one of them
having felled the young footman to the ground by a back-handed stroke
with a bludgeon, attacked Lewis simultaneously. Having parried one or
two blows with his sabre, Lewis made a desperate cut at the head of
the man with the bludgeon. The fellow raised his staff to ward off the
stroke, and the blow fell upon the oak sapling, which it severed like a
reed; but unfortunately the shock was too great, and the sword snapped
near the hilt. Seeing that he was thus left defenceless, and
might probably be overpowered, as both his assailants were strong,
square-built fellows, Lewis had no resource but to draw his pistol; and,
as before, endeavouring to aim so as to disable without destroying life,
he fired, and the man nearest to him fell. His comrade immediately threw
himself upon the young tutor, and a fierce struggle ensued. In point of
strength the combatants were very equally matched; but, fortunately
for the result, Lewis was the most active, and by a sudden wrench
disengaging himself from his antagonist’s grasp, he struck him a
tremendous blow with his clenched fist on the side of the head, which
sent him down with the force of a battering-ram. As he did so a giant
arm was thrown round his waist, a knife gleamed at his throat, and in
a hoarse, broken voice, the savage ferocity of which had something
appalling in its tones, Hardy exclaimed--

“I’ve owed you something a long time, young feller; and now I’ve got a
chance, I’m going to pay you.”

Both his hands being occupied, he, with the fury of some beast of prey,
seized Lewis’s hair with his teeth, and endeavoured to draw his head
back in order to cut his throat; but, by dint of struggling, Lewis had
contrived to get his right arm free, and grasping the wrist of the hand
which held the weapon, he was enabled, as long as his strength might
hold out, to prevent the ruffian from executing his murderous purpose.
Hardy made one or two efforts to shake off the grasp which thus fettered
him, but his muscular power was so much impaired by the sabre cut on the
arm that he was unable to accomplish his design. Accordingly, trusting
to his great strength, and thinking that Lewis would become exhausted by
his attempts to free himself, Hardy determined to wait rather than run
the risk of affording his victim a chance of escape by removing the arm
which encircled him. While affairs were in this position, Robert,
having recovered the stunning effects of the blow which had felled him,
regained his feet, and was advancing to Lewis’s assistance when the
robber who had been slightly wounded in the leg as he was ascending
the stairs, and had since remained a passive spectator of the struggle,
interposed, and rousing, through the medium of a kick in the ribs, the
fellow whom Lewis had knocked down, closed with the young servant, and
attempted to wrench the pistol (which went off in the scuffle without
injuring any one) from his grasp, while his accomplice, gathering
himself slowly from the floor, prepared to assist him. In the meantime
the struggle between Lewis and Hardy appeared likely to terminate in
favour of the young tutor, for the exertions made by the poacher to
retain his captive caused the blood to flow rapidly from his wounds, and
a sensation of faintness stole over him which threatened momentarily
to incapacitate him. As he became aware of this fact his fury and
disappointment knew no bounds; and collecting his powers for one final
effort, he released Lewis’s waist, and transferring his grasp to his
coat collar, suddenly flung his whole weight upon him and bore him
heavily to the ground; then raising himself and planting his knee on
Lewis’s chest, he stretched out his hand to pick up the knife which
he had dropped in this last attack. Had he made the attempt one minute
sooner, it would have been successful, and Lewis would indeed have laid
down his life for her he loved; but his time was not yet come. As the
poacher leant over to reach the knife, a dizzy faintness overpowered
him, his brain reeled; a slight effort on Lewis’s part was sufficient
to dislodge him, and uttering a hollow groan, he rolled over on his back
and lay motionless, his deep, laboured breathing alone testifying
that he was still alive. Hastily springing from the ground, Lewis,
on regaining his feet, turned to assist his companion, who was still
manfully battling with his two assailants: as he did so the sound of
feet became audible, and the gardener and three of the other outdoor
servants, aroused by the report of fire-arms, rushed in, having effected
their entrance by the open window of the pantry. Their arrival ended
the affair. The burglar who was uninjured, finding the door of Lewis’s
bedroom open, took refuge there, leaped from the window, alighted on
some shrubs, which broke his fall, and the darkness favouring him,
effected his escape. The other four, who were all wounded more or less
seriously, were secured.

A surgeon was immediately sent for: he examined Hardy (who remained in
a state of unconsciousness) first. He pronounced the cut in the arm
of little consequence, but the wound in the neck had divided several
important vessels, and he considered it highly dangerous. The burglar
at whom Lewis had discharged his pistol was severely wounded in the hip,
but the surgeon did not apprehend any serious consequences. Simmonds,
the butler, proved to have been hit in the knee by a slug from the
carabine, an injury which would probably lame him for life. The
remaining member of the gang had come off more easily, a shot having
passed through the fleshy part of the leg; Robert, the servant,
displayed a broken head; and Lewis, besides being severely bruised, had
in the last struggle with Hardy received a wound in the left wrist from
the point of the ruffian’s knife. As soon as, by the application
of proper restoratives, Hardy became sufficiently recovered to bear
removal, a carriage was sent for, and the captured burglars were
conveyed to the nearest town; the two most severely injured were taken
to the hospital, and the other pair securely lodged in the county gaol.

On Annie’s expressions of gratitude to her preservers, or on the
feelings with which Lewis heard her lips pronounce his praises, we will
not dwell, neither will we expatiate on the view Miss Livingstone (who
appeared in a tremendous nightcap of cast-iron white-washed, and a
dressing-gown of Portland stone) was pleased to take of the affair, in
which she recognised a vindication of the reality of the individual who
was always under the beds _and_ behind the curtains, who for the future
she declared to have been Hardy, professing herself able to swear to the
expression of his boots in any court of justice throughout the United
Kingdom.



CHAPTER XLVIII.--WHEREIN THE READER DIVERGES INTO A NEW BRANCH OF “THE
RAILROAD OF LIFE” IN A THIRD-CLASS CARRIAGE.

Lewis, bruised and wearied after his skirmish with the housebreakers,
flung himself on a sofa in his dressing-room, to try if he could obtain
a few hours’ sleep ere fresh cares and duties should devolve upon him;
but sleep demands a calm frame of mind, and in his spirit there was no
peace. One thought haunted him--in his brief and agitating interview
with Annie, had he betrayed himself? Sometimes, as he recalled the words
he had spoken, and the feelings which had as it were forced them from
him, he felt that he must have done so; and then he regretted that
Hardy’s bullet had flown wide of its mark, and wished that he were lying
there a senseless corpse rather than a living man endowed with power
to feel, and therefore to suffer. Then he bethought him how alarmed and
confused Annie had appeared, and he conceived that she might have been
too thoroughly preoccupied and self-engrossed to have marked his words,
or to have attributed to them any meaning save friendly interest. One
thing was only too clear: of whatever nature might be Annie’s feelings
towards him, his affection for her was love--deep, fervent, earnest
love--a passion that he could neither banish nor control. How then
should he act? flight had now become the idea that most readily occurred
to him: again, the possibility of leaving Walter presented itself to
his mind, and this time not as a mere remote contingency, but as a step
which he might at any moment be called upon to take, if he could not
recover his selfcontrol so entirely as to endure Annie’s presence; nay,
to receive marks of her gratitude and esteem, or even, on occasion,
to share her confidence, without betraying his feelings. Then in his
self-tormenting he caught at the expression which he had half thought,
half uttered, to “_endure_” her presence--to endure that which he
idolised, the presence of one for whom he would sacrifice friends,
family, the love of adventure, his ambitious hopes, nay, as he had but
now proved, life itself. A wild idea crossed his mind: if love were thus
all-powerful with him, a strong-minded, determined man, might it not be
equally so with her, a young, impulsive girl, whose very nature was an
embodiment of tenderness; might she not secretly pine to sacrifice rank,
station, riches, for the sake of love and him? Sacrifice--ay, rather
rejoice to cast off such trammels! Should he strive to ascertain this?
Should he tell her how he loved her with a passion that was undermining
the secret springs of his very existence, and implore her to fly with
him to some fair western land, where the false distinctions of society
were undreamed of, and the brave, true-hearted man was lord, not of his
servile fellows, but of the creation which God had destined him to rule?
The picture, seen by the false glare of his heated imagination, appeared
a bright one, the lights stood out boldly, and the shadows remained
unheeded till the first gleam of returning reason brought them
prominently forward, and he shuddered to think that he could have
entertained for a moment a project so completely at variance with every
principle of honour and of duty. Thus feverish alike in mind and body,
he tossed restlessly on his couch, till at length, thoroughly exhausted,
he fell into a deep sleep, and dreamed bright dreams of happy love, to
make the stern reality appear yet darker and more drear on waking.

On his return to Broadhirst, General Grant expressed his most
unqualified admiration at the gallant defence of his house, property,
and daughter (we quote his own “table of precedence”) by Lewis and the
man-servant. On the former he bestowed a sword (presented to him in
bygone days by some Indian potentate) to replace the weapon broken in
the struggle, together with a handsomely-bound copy of the “Wellington
Despatches”; the latter he rewarded by promotion to the post of butler,
_vice_ Simmonds (in a fair way to be) transported, together with a
douceur of twenty pounds; which piece of good fortune so elated the
youthful Robert that he publicly declared he should like to have his
head broken every night, and wished the house might be robbed regularly
twice a week till further orders. The wounded men recovered rapidly,
with the exception of Hardy, whose case assumed a very alarming
character: owing to the state of his constitution, impaired by a course
of intemperance, to which, since his escape from prison, he had given
himself over, erysipelas supervened, and in a few days his life
was despaired of. On receiving this intelligence Lewis rode over to
H----------, and calling at the hospital, requested to be allowed to see
the man whose life he had been the involuntary instrument of shortening.
The permission was readily accorded, and he was conducted along several
passages to the room, or rather cell, for it was little else, in which,
for the purpose of security as well as to separate him from the other
inmates of the establishment, the burglar had been placed. As soon
as Lewis had entered the door was closed and fastened on the outside.
Noiselessly approaching the truckle bed on which Hardy lay, the young
tutor paused as his glance fell upon the prostrate figure of his
former antagonist. Stretched at full length upon the couch, his arm and
shoulder swathed in bandages, and his muscular throat and broad, hairy
chest partially uncovered, he looked even more gigantic than when in
an erect posture: his face was pale as death, and an unnatural darkness
beneath the skin betokened to any one accustomed to such appearances the
speedy approach of the destroyer; while a small hectic spot of colour
on the centre of each cheek gave evidence of the inward fever which was
consuming him. When Lewis approached the bed his eyes were closed, and
his deep breathing at first led to the belief that he was asleep; that
this was not the case, however, soon became apparent. Opening his
eyes, he accidentally encountered those of Lewis fixed upon him with an
expression of mingled pity and remorse: as their glances met Hardy gave
a start of surprise, and gazed at him with a scowl which proved that his
feelings of animosity against Lewis were still unabated; while a puzzled
look evinced that his mental powers were so much weakened that he
doubted whether the figure he beheld were real or a creation of his
morbid fancy. Advancing to the bedside, Lewis broke the silence by
inquiring whether he suffered much pain. As he began to speak, the
confused look disappeared from the sick man’s countenance, and glaring
at him with an expression of impotent rage, he exclaimed in a low,
hoarse voice--

“So you’re come to look upon your handiwork, are you? I hope you like
it!”

“I am come to tell you that I am sorry the blows I struck you in
self-defence should have produced such disastrous consequences, and to
ask your forgiveness, in case the means employed for your restoration to
health should prove ineffectual,” replied Lewis.

“Restore my health!” repeated Hardy bitterly. “Do you mean that you
expect these doctors can cure me? Do you think these wounds, that burn
like hell-fire, can be healed by their plasters and bandages? I tell you
no! You have done your work effectually this time, and I am a dying man.
You want me to forgive you, do you? If my curse could wither you where
you stand, I would and _do_ curse you! If priests’ tales be true, and
there be a heaven and a hell, and by forgiving you I could reach heaven,
I still would curse you, in the hope that by so doing I might drag you
down to hell with me.”

The vehemence with which he uttered this malediction completely
exhausted him, and falling back on the pillow he lay with closed eyes,
his laboured breathing affording the only proof that he was still alive.
Throwing himself upon a chair by the bedside, Lewis sat wrapped in
painful thought. The reflection that hatred to him for acts which
circumstances had forced him to commit might cause the unhappy being
before him to die impenitent, and that he might thus be instrumental to
the destruction both ot his body and soul, was distressing to him in the
extreme; and yet how to bring him to a better frame of mind was not easy
to decide. At length, following out his own train of thought, he asked
abruptly--

“Hardy, why do you hate me so bitterly?”

Thus accosted, the poacher unclosed his eyes, and fixed them with a
piercing glance upon the face of his questioner, as though he would read
his very soul. Apparently disappointed in his object, for Lewis met his
gaze with the calm self-possession of conscious rectitude, he answered
surlily--

“Why do you come here to torment me with foolish questions? It is enough
that I hate you with just cause--and you know that it is so.
I hate you now, I shall hate you dying, and I shall hate you after
death, if there is a hereafter. Now go. If by staying here you think
to persuade or entrap me into saying I forgive you, you only waste your
time.”

“Listen to me, Hardy,” returned Lewis, speaking calmly and impressively.
“You are, as you truly say, a dying man. In this life we shall probably
never meet again. The reality of a future life you appear to doubt: I
believe in it; and I believe that your condition there may be affected
by your dying with such feelings in your heart as you have now
expressed. It is therefore worth while to discuss this matter, and see
whether you have such just cause to hate me as you imagine.”

As Hardy made no reply, Lewis continued: “It is true that on a former
occasion I secured your capture when perhaps I was stepping beyond my
regular path of duty to do so; but in this last affair I merely acted
in self-defence, as I overheard from my open window your scheme for my
destruction. You discharged a pistol at me ere I attacked you: had the
ball gone half an inch more to the right I should have been a dead
man. Whatever may be your faults, you are brave; and that quality alone
should prevent your bearing malice against one who met you in fair, open
fight. It was a game for life and death, and it is unjust to hate me for
winning it.”

“Boy, you will madden me,” exclaimed Hardy passionately, raising himself
on his elbow as he spoke, though the pain the action caused him forced
a groan from his compressed lips. “Do you suppose I care for your paltry
blows? If they had not finished me, brandy or my own hand would soon
have done so; for life has long been a curse to me, and had become
unbearable since--may the torments I shall soon endure, if there be a
hell, fall upon you for it!--since you and the titled scoundrel, your
accomplice, stole my daughter from me.”

“I!” exclaimed Lewis in astonishment. “Do you imagine me to have had any
share in that wickedness? Why, man, I never saw your daughter save on
two occasions; and on the second of these I warned her--unfortunately
without effect--against the designs of the villain who betrayed her.”

As he spoke Hardy gazed eagerly at him, and when he ceased, exclaimed--

“Tell me when and where was it that you did this?”

“It was on the morning after the electioneering ball at Broadhurst. I
was shooting with the gamekeeper--met your daughter by accident in the
grass field by the larch plantation--and witnessing her parting with
Lord Bellefield, I took the opportunity of telling her his true name and
character, and warning her against his probable designs. But, unluckily,
she had observed a disagreement between us on the previous evening,
and supposing me to be actuated by malicious motives, discredited my
assertion.”

“You are not deceiving me?” questioned Hardy eagerly. “You could not,
dare not, do so now!”

“You do not know me, or you would not doubt my word. I have spoken the
simple truth,” returned Lewis coldly.

“Here!” continued Hardy, producing from beneath the pillow a small Bible
which the chaplain had left with him: “you tell me you believe in this
book. Will you swear upon it that you are not trying to deceive me?”

Lewis raised the book reverently to his lips, and kissing it, took the
required oath. Hardy watched him with a scrutinising gaze, and when he
had concluded, held out his hand, saying--

“I have wronged you deeply, Mr. Arundel, and must ask--what! never
thought again to ask at the hand of man--your forgiveness. I have sought
your life, sir, as the wild beast seeks his prey; and chance, on
one occasion, and your own courage and address on others, have alone
preserved it.”

He then went on to relate how, his suspicions having been excited by
hints from the neighbours, he had learned that his daughter was in the
habit of meeting some gentleman by stealth. How he watched for this
person constantly, without success, till the day after the great party
at Broadhurst, when, lying concealed in the larch plantation, he
had been attracted by the sound of voices, and creeping beneath the
underwood, had witnessed, though not near enough to overhear what
passed, the interview between Lewis and his daughter, when he naturally
concluded the young tutor to be the individual against whom he had been
cautioned. He then went on to relate that the opportune arrival of the
gamekeeper had alone prevented him from shooting the supposed libertine,
but that he had determined on his destruction, and that his subsequent
capture by Lewis and the General had alone hindered him from executing
his design. It was not till after his escape from H--------
gaol that he first heard Lord Bellefield’s name coupled with that of his
daughter, which information complicated the affair; but still feeling
convinced that Lewis was guilty, either as principal or accessory, he
joined in the scheme for robbing Broadhurst, in order to be revenged on
the young tutor, as well as on General Grant, against whom he had
long nourished feelings of animosity, on account of his poaching
persecutions.

His penitence for the wrong he had done him by his unjust suspicions
were so sincere and spontaneous, that Lewis imagined he recognised, amid
the ruin of a naturally generous disposition, that “seed of the soul”
 which remains in almost every nature, however the rank growth of evil
passions uncontrolled may have checked its development. Taking advantage
of an expression which Hardy used, that “he thanked God he had not
added to his other sins the murder of one who had sought to befriend his
child,” his companion observed--

“You say you thank God for preserving you from an additional crime:
now, does not the fact of your involuntarily making use of that form of
speech tend to convince you that the belief in a God and a future state
is natural to the mind of man?”

Hardy seemed struck by the force of this remark, and Lewis, pursuing
the subject, had the satisfaction of perceiving that he had excited the
wounded man’s interest, and ere he quitted him he obtained his promise
to listen to the exhortations of the chaplain, whose advances he had
hitherto angrily repulsed. Pleased with the result of his visit, Lewis
on his way home called upon the clergyman who fulfilled the duties of
chaplain to the hospital, and mentioning to him Hardy’s improved frame
of mind, begged him to see him again as soon as possible, to which
request the chaplain willingly acceded.

Three days after this interview Lewis received a note from this
gentleman thanking him for his hint, and informing him that its results
had been as satisfactory as in such a case was possible. Hardy appeared
sincerely penitent, willing to embrace and anxious to profit by the
truths of religion, as far as his weakened faculties enabled him to
apprehend them. He added that he was sinking fast, and had expressed
the greatest desire to see Lewis again before he died, as he had
some request to make to him. On the receipt of this information Lewis
immediately set out for H--------.

A great alteration had taken place in Hardy’s appearance in those three
days. His cheeks had become still more hollow, the unnatural brightness
of his eyes was replaced by a dull, leaden look, and the hectic colour
had faded to the pale, ashy hue of approaching dissolution, whilst the
hoarse, deep tones of his voice were reduced almost to a whisper through
weakness. But the most remarkable change was in the expression of his
features; the sullen scowl, which betokened a spirit at war alike with
itself and others, had given place to a look of calm resignation; there
were indeed traces of bodily pain and mental anguish about the mouth,
but the upper part of the face was in complete repose. Lewis gazed upon
him with deep interest, and the idea suggested itself that thus might
have appeared the demoniac when the words of power had gone forth, “Hold
thy peace, and come out of him.” Nor was the comparison inapt, for if
ever the mind of man was possessed by an evil spirit, that of Hardy had
been so by the demon of revenge. As the dying man perceived his approach
his features lighted up.

“I knew you would come, Mr. Arundel,” he said. “I felt that! should not
die without seeing you again.”

“Do you suffer much pain now, Hardy?” inquired Lewis kindly.

“Scarcely any since six o’clock this morning, sir,” was the reply; “but
I know what that means--that’s mortification coming on. I’ve seen men
die from sabre wounds before now. I was a soldier once--at least I was
farrier to a troop of cavalry, which is much the same thing; but this
was not what I wanted to say to you.” He paused from exhaustion, and
pointed to a glass containing some strengthening cordial. Lewis held
it to his parched lips; having drunk a portion of it, he appeared
considerably revived.

“I am going fast,” he resumed, “and must not waste the minutes that
remain. You have treated me with kindness, sir--one of the few who have
ever done so; you are a bold foe and a warm-hearted friend, and that is
a character I understand and can trust. Moreover, you tell me you showed
poor Jane” (as he mentioned his daughter’s name tears stood in his eyes
and his breath came short and fast) “her danger, and strove to warn her
against the villain who has wronged her, and this shows you are a good
man; therefore I am going to ask you to do me a favour. When I am dead,
I want you to find out Jane and tell her whatever you may think best to
induce her to leave this man. And when she hears that I’m dead, if she
seems to feel it very deep and take on about it--which likely enough she
will, for she did care for me once--you may tell her that I forgave her
before I died. I never thought to do so, for she has finished what her
mother began; between them they’ve first made me the devil I have been,
and then--broken my heart.” He paused, and when he had sufficiently
recovered breath, continued, “When I married her mother, five-and-twenty
years ago, I was a different man from whatever you’ve known me. I’d been
brought up to my father’s trade of a blacksmith, and worked steadily at
it till I was able to lay by a fair sum of money, besides keeping the
old man as long as he was alive. However, in the village where we lived
was a farmer, well-to-do in the world, and his daughter was far the
prettiest girl in those parts; she’d had a good education, and gave
herself airs like a lady, and looked down upon a rough young fellow like
me; but I bore it patiently, for I loved her, and determined I’d never
marry anybody but her. For a long time she would not look at me, but I
persevered; any man that come a-courting her I picked a quarrel with and
thrashed. I found many ways of making myself handy to the old man, her
father, and somehow she got used to me like, and grew less scornful; and
just then a sister of my father’s, who had been housekeeper at
Broadhurst, died and left me £300, and I’d saved about £200 more, and
the old man wanted help to manage his farm. And the long and short of
the matter was I married Harriet Wylde, took a farm next her father’s,
and gave up blacksmithing.

“For four years I was as happy as man could be; everything seemed to
prosper with me. My wife had one child, a girl; a proud man was I when
she was first placed in my arms, but had I known what was to be her fate
I would have smothered her in her cradle! There was a young gentleman
lived near us--his father was a rich baronet--I had been accustomed to
break in horses for the son, and when I took the farm we used to shoot
together. He was a frank, generous-hearted man, and treated me like a
friend and equal. On our shooting expeditions he would often come and
lunch at my house; on one occasion he brought his younger brother with
him. This young fellow had just returned from Italy, and brought foreign
manners and foreign vices with him. My wife was still very good-looking,
like poor Jane, but handsomer; and this heartless villain coveted her
beauty. I know not what arts he used; I suspected nothing, saw nothing,
but one evening on my return my home was desolate. I obtained traces
of the fugitives--he had taken her to a seaport town in the south of
England, meaning to embark for France--I followed them, and in the open
street I met him; the bystanders interfered between us, or I should have
slain him where he stood. He was taken to an inn, where he kept his bed
for some weeks from the effect of the punishment I had administered to
him. I was dragged off to prison; the law which suffered him to rob me
of her whom I prized more dearly than house and goods punished me for
chastising the scoundrel with six months’ imprisonment. I consorted with
thieves, poachers, and other refuse of society; and in my madness to
obtain revenge upon the class which had injured me, I listened to their
specious arguments till I became the curse to myself and others which
you, sir, have known me. Well, society sent me to school, and society
has had the benefit of the lessons that were taught me. I came out of
gaol a bad and well-nigh a desperate man, to learn that my wife had
returned to her father’s house and died, giving birth to a boy. In my
anger I refused to acknowledge the child, but the old man took care of
it. Time passed on: the elder of the two brothers quarrelled with his
father and died abroad, the younger one married; but God visited him for
his sin. His wife saw by accident in an old newspaper an account of my
trial for the assault; the shock brought on a premature confinement;
she also died in childbirth, and the child remained an idiot. Yes! you
start, but you have guessed rightly--the boy to whom you are tutor is
the son of the man who wronged me. The ways of God are very wonderful:
had the boy possessed his proper senses you might never have come here,
and I might not now be lying on my death-bed.”

Again Hardy broke off from weakness, and again Lewis administered the
cordial to him and wiped the cold dews from his brow.

“Little more remains to tell,” he added after a few minutes’ pause; “and
’tis well that it is so, for death comes on apace. I do not fear to
die; I have long wished myself dead, life was such deep misery, yet
now I should be glad to live, that I might undo some of the evil I have
caused. Since I saw you last I have felt more like my former self than I
have ever done from the time my wife left me. Poor Harriet! Do you think
we shall meet in the world of spirits, Mr. Arundel?”

“These are things God alone knows,” replied Lewis gravely. “He has not
seen fit to reveal to living man the secrets of the grave!” After a
short silence, in which Hardy appeared to be collecting strength to
finish his relation, he continued--

“After my release from the prison I took to drinking to banish
reflection. Drinking is a vice which brings all others in its train. I
soon fell into bad company, became involved in debt; and at last, in a
drunken fit, enlisted in the----th Dragoons, my height attracting the
notice of a recruiting party from that regiment. I served ten years, at
the end of which time my wife’s father died and left his little property
between the two children, with the exception of a sum to purchase my
discharge if I chose to come and take care of them. The confinement and
regularity of a soldier’s life did not suit me, and I availed myself
of the opportunity thus offered, returned home, and lived on a certain
income set apart for the maintenance and education of the children. This
was a fresh chance for me, and had I conducted myself properly I might
have yet known some peaceful years; but a craving for excitement
haunted me. I sought out some of my old companions, joined a Chartist
association, took to habits of poaching--and this has been the end of
it.”

“What became of the boy who was left to your care?” inquired Lewis.
Hardy uttered a low groan.

“That is another sin I have to answer for,” he said. “I never liked the
child--I doubted whether it was mine, and the sight of it recalled the
memory of my wrongs; accordingly, I treated the boy harshly, and
he repaid me by sullen disobedience; and yet there should have been
sympathy between us. He was brave even to rashness, and copied my vices
with an aptitude which proved his power of acquiring better things. By
the time he was thirteen he could set a snare, hit a bird on the wing,
thrash any boy of his own weight, and alas! drink, game, and swear as
well as I could myself. One night I had been drinking he angered me, and
in my rage I struck him. For a moment he looked as if he would return
the blow; but the folly of such an attempt seemed to occur to him, and
he glanced towards a knife which lay on the table; then his sister threw
her arms round him, and he refrained. He waited till she had gone to
bed, sitting sulkily without speaking. When we were alone he looked up
and asked me abruptly, ‘Father, are you sorry that you struck me that
blow?’ There was something in the boy’s manner that appealed to my
better feelings, and I was half inclined to own myself wrong, but a
false shame prevented me, and I angrily replied ‘that I would repeat the
blow if he gave me any more of his impertinence.’ He looked sternly at
me, and muttering, ‘That you shall never do,’ quitted the room. From
that day to this I have never seen him. My poor Jane, who was dotingly
fond of him, was broken-hearted at his loss. She told me he often
threatened to run away when I had treated him harshly, and that his
intention was to go to sea. I have no doubt he contrived to put it into
execution. Perhaps if her brother had remained with her the poor girl
might not have left her home so readily. God help me, my sins have
brought their own punishment!”

An attack of faintness here overpowered him, of so severe a character
that Lewis thought it advisable to summon assistance. When Hardy had
in some degree recovered, Lewis, on consulting his watch, found that
he must return without further delay; he therefore prepared to depart,
bidding Hardy farewell, and promising to see him again on the following
day. The dying man shook his head.

“There will be no to-morrow for me in this world,” he said; then
pressing Lewis’s hand, he added, “God bless you, Mr. Arundel; you have
done me more good by your kind words than your sword has done me evil;
nay, even for my death I thank you; for had I lived on as I was I should
only have added crime to crime. You will remember your promise about
poor Jane?”

Lewis repeated his willingness to do all in his power to carry out the
dying man’s wishes; and Hardy added, “It may be that the poor boy I told
you of is still alive. If he should ever return, I should like him to
know that I have often grieved for my bad conduct to him. I have left
a letter for you with the clergyman in case I had not seen you,” he
continued; “it only contains the request I have now made, and one or two
other particulars of less consequence; he will give it to you when I am
gone.” He again pressed Lewis’s hand feebly, and closing his eyes, lay
more dead than alive.

As Lewis quitted the room the surgeon met him and informed him that it
was not probable Hardy would survive through the night, but promised
that every attention should be bestowed upon him. Lewis’s thoughts, as
he rode back to Broadhurst, naturally ran upon the history of sin and
shame and sorrow to which he had just listened, and he could not but
wonder for what purpose a frank, generous nature, such as Hardy had
originally possessed, should have been so severely tried. A like
question may have occurred to many of us, and we may have felt that the
safest course is to look upon such things as mysteries to be regarded
by the twilight of a patient faith, which waits trustfully till all that
now seems dark shall be made clear in the glorious brightness of the
perfect day.



CHAPTER XLIX.--CONTAINS A PARADOX--LEWIS, WHEN LEAST RESIGNED, DISPLAYS
THE VIRTUE OF RESIGNATION.

On the morning after his second visit to Hardy, Lewis received a packet
from the hospital chaplain enclosing the letter of which the dying man
had spoken, together with a note containing the information that Hardy
had breathed his last about two hours before, daybreak. The chaplain had
seen him, and judged him to be in a fitting state of mind to receive the
last consolations of religion. After partaking of the Holy Communion he
had fallen into a state of unconsciousness, and died without any return
of pain. Lewis opened Hardy’s letter: it merely contained a repetition
of the request in regard to his unfortunate daughter, together with a
reference to one of his associates, in whose possession was a packet
containing his father-in-law’s will and other papers, all of which he
begged Lewis to take charge of and examine at his leisure; he also gave
a clue by which Miss Grant’s watch and trinkets might be recovered, and
expressed his deep penitence for that robbery, as well as for his other
crimes. As Lewis perused this letter, he for the first time became more
fully aware of the embarrassing situation in which he had placed himself
by his promise to Hardy. How was he to discover Lord Bellefield’s
victim? how endeavour to reclaim her? After a few minutes’ thought his
determination was taken. General Grant had announced that morning the
fact that Lord Bellefield, having accepted an invitation to Broadhurst,
might be expected in the course of the following day; Lewis therefore
resolved to address a letter to his lordship, to be given him on his
arrival, detailing such portions of Hardy’s confession as related to his
daughter, and the promise which he had been thereby induced to make to
the dying poacher; adding that if Lord Bellefield would afford him the
information necessary to enable him to carry out her father’s wishes,
and would pledge his word of honour to avoid her for the future, he
should not attempt to give publicity to the matter, but that in the
event of his refusal he should feel it his duty to make General Grant
acquainted with the whole affair.

In pursuance of the system he had laid down for himself, Lewis avoided
Annie’s society as much as was possible; a line of conduct which she
soon appeared to observe, and at first to wonder at.. The arrival of
Lord Bellefield, however, and her knowledge of Lewis’s feelings towards
him, afforded her an imaginary clue to the young tutor’s altered
demeanour; still, the change annoyed and pained her more than she
chose to acknowledge even to her own heart. Lord Belle-field was all
amiability; he had visited Italy, and brought back innumerable anecdotes
of the domestic felicity of his brother Charles, whose wife he reported
to be a model to her sex. His accounts of Charles’s prodigious business
efforts, varied by occasional lapses into the _dolce far niente_ of
dandyism, were amusing in the extreme Annie was forced to own that her
cousin appeared greatly improved, and yet her repugnance to a renewal of
the engagement seemed daily to increase. General Grant, however, by no
means sympathised with this caprice, as he considered it, and was only
restrained from some violent manifestation of domestic despotism by
his confidence in his own authority, and in the certainty of Annie’s
obedience whenever he might see fit to demand it. Lewis wrote the letter
to Lord Bellefield, and having ascertained that it had reached him
safely, waited patiently for an answer. Several days elapsed without his
receiving one, and he was debating what step he should next take, when,
as he was pacing up and down a shrubbery walk, wrapped in meditation,
he suddenly met Lord Bellefield face to face. Determining not to lose an
opportunity, he raised his hat, and bowing slightly, began--

“This meeting is fortunate, as I am anxious to ask your lordship a
question. Have you not received a letter from me?”

“I have, sir,” was the haughty and concise reply.

“It is customary between gentlemen to acknowledge the receipt of a
letter,” urged Lewis, “more particularly when, as in this instance, the
writer has pledged himself to act according to the tenor of the answer.”

“I scarcely see how your observation applies to the present case,” was
the insolent rejoinder. “In regard to your letter, I have treated it
with the silent contempt it merited.”

Lewis’s brow flushed; controlling the angry impulse, however, he said
calmly, “Your lordship cannot irritate me by such insinuations--you are
aware of the alternative when you refuse to answer my letter?”

“I am, sir; you are welcome to take any course you please: I scorn your
false accusations, and leave you to do your worst.”

“In that case we understand each other,” was the stern reply, and again
raising his hat, Lewis passed on.

After this brief conversation he lost no time in obtaining a private
interview with General Grant; scarcely, however, had he begun his
statement when the General interrupted him by observing--

“I need not trouble you to proceed; Mr. Arundel; I am in possession of
all the facts you are about to detail--Lord Bellefield has given me
a full explanation of the matter, and I can assure you that you are
labouring under an erroneous impression. The main facts of the story
are, I am sorry to say, true; but the chief actor in the affair was a
rascally valet of Lord Bellefield’s, who assumed his master’s name and
apparel in order to accomplish his nefarious designs.”

“But I myself witnessed an interview between Lord Bellefield and the
poor girl on the morning after the ball,” returned Lewis in surprise; “I
should not have brought such a charge on insufficient grounds, believe
me.”

“Your zeal, sir,” replied the General--“for I am willing to attribute
the step you have taken solely to misdirected zeal--has assuredly led
you into error. Lord Bellefield, who seems by some means aware of this
idea of yours----”

“I mentioned the fact that I had seen him in a letter which I addressed
to him on the subject,” interrupted Lewis. “It is only fair when you
accuse a man of any fault to explain the grounds on which you believe
him to have committed it.”

“Quite right, sir, quite right,” rejoined the General with an approving
nod; “it is owing to the fair and manly way in which you have stated
this matter that Lord Bellefield has been enabled to clear himself to my
entire satisfaction. In regard to the interview to which you refer, he
has recalled to me the fact that he spent the morning in question almost
entirely in my company; we were engaged upon matters connected with the
approaching election--you must therefore have mistaken the identity of
the person you imagined to be him.”

“I am not apt to make such mistakes,” replied Lewis dryly, feeling
convinced that the story was a clever fabrication from beginning to end,
while, at the same time, he was becoming aware that for him to prove it
to be so would be next to impossible.

“Nevertheless, you must have done so in this instance,” resumed General
Grant; “but the mistake is easily to be accounted for. Lord Bellefield
tells me that in order more safely to carry on his schemes, this
rascally valet used to disguise himself so as to resemble his master
as much as possible, even wearing false moustachios to increase the
likeness; the fact of his having deceived you proves how successfully
the fellow had contrived his disguise.”

While the General was speaking, Lewis hastily ran over in his mind all
the evidence he possessed to prove Lord Bellefield’s guilt; and though
he still felt as deeply convinced as he had ever been that in his first
impression he had not erred, yet so skilfully had this story of the
valet been adapted to suit the circumstances of the case that it
appeared impossible to undeceive a man whose habits of mind were so
obstinate as those of General Grant. His first introduction to the girl
after the glove affair in the ice-room, although it carried conviction
to his own mind, proved nothing, save that having witnessed a quarrel
between two gentlemen, she was naturally enough alarmed as to the
probable consequences to which it might lead. Again, in his second
interview she might have been herself deceived by the valet’s
representations into believing him to be Lord Bellefield, or, as she
said, Mr. Leicester, his brother; or again, it was still more probable
that she had been in her lover’s confidence, and striving to mystify
and deceive Lewis. Hardy might have been aware of other facts, but his
mistake in regard to Lewis proved that his information was not to be
relied on. All this Lewis saw at a glance; and seeing, felt more annoyed
and embarrassed than he could express.

“Time will prove the truth,” he said; “I cannot believe in Lord
Bellefield’s innocence, but I am unable, at the present moment, to
adduce any facts which might not bear the interpretation he has chosen
to put upon them, and can only express my sorrow at having annoyed you,
sir, by making a charge which I have failed to substantiate.”

“You annoy me more, Mr. Arundel, by refusing to be convinced by evidence
which, after having given the matter my fullest attention, has sufficed
to satisfy me. I can only imagine that in this matter private pique
has warped your usually clear judgment; perhaps, after a little cool
reflection, you may be induced to take a more charitable view of
the affair.” So saying, the General stalked out of the room with a
majestic port, as of an offended lion, leaving Lewis in a frame of mind
the reverse of seraphic. But his trials for that morning were not yet at
an end. Annie Grant had brooded over the young tutor’s gloomy looks and
altered demeanour till she had made hersel