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Title: Harry Coverdale's Courtship, and All That Came of It
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 "Harry Coverdale's Courtship, and All That Came of It" ***

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By Frank E. Smedley,

Author of “Frank Fairlegh,” “Lewis Arundel,”
 “The Fortunes Of The Colville Family,” Etc.

London: George Routledge and Sons


[Illustration:  0001]

[Illustration:  0007]

               “Those false alarms of strife,

               Between the husband and the wife,

               And little quarrels, often prove

               To be but new recruits of love;

               And the’ some fit of small contest

               Sometime fall out among the best,

               That makes no breach of faith and love,

               But rather (sometimes) serves t’improve.”



This Tale of “Harry Coverdale’s Courtship” has been a kind of _enfant
terrible_--a thankless child--to its Author. It was originally begun
as a short story, but the characters grew and expanded upon his hands,
until they forced him to allow them wider proportions than he had
originally intended.

Then the Magazine in which the tale had been commenced changed owners,
and the new proprietor, not being inclined to agree to the arrangements
of his predecessor, saw fit to end the story himself, after a much
more vivacious and dashing fashion than that of the present “lame and
impotent conclusion.”

These and other mishaps, _quo nunc perscribere longam est_, as dear
Dr. Valpy’s Latin Grammar has it, have occasioned the story to be
written--_à plusieurs reprises_, to use the “correct” phrase.

The conclusion of the tale has been perpetrated at a time when, on
account of severe nervous headaches, the Author was under strict medical
orders not to write a lino upon any consideration; and it is with the
fear of the doctor before his eyes that he is penning these “few last
words.” They are not written in the “forlorn hope” of disarming hostile
criticism, but simply to assure those friends who have hitherto looked
with an indulgent eye upon his writings, that if “Harry Coverdale’s
Courtship” does not come up to any expectations they may have formed
from the perusal of his previous works, it is rather the misfortune than
the fault, of their grateful and obedient servant,




Harry Coverdale stood six feet one in or out of his stockings, rode
something over eleven stone, was unusually good, or, as young ladies
term it, interesting-looking, numbered six-and-twenty years last grass,
and lived at Coverdale Park when he was at home, with five thousand
a-year to pay for his housekeeping, of which he spent about two. At the
happy moment in which we have the pleasure of introducing him to
our readers, he was _not_ at home, at least not literally, though
figuratively he appeared to be making himself so very decidedly.

He had arrived in London that morning, and had dined at his club, and
strolled down to the Temple afterwards, where, finding that his friend,
Arthur Hazlehurst, was expected to return every minute, he had taken
possession of his vacant chambers, lighted a cigar, laid hands on a
number of _The Sporting Magazine_, and flinging himself at full-length
on the sofa (sofas do occasionally appear in the chambers of the
briefless) looked, and was, especially comfortable. He was not, however,
allowed to enjoy his position long in peace; for scarcely had he
established himself, when a man’s footstep was heard running hastily up
the interminable staircase, while a quick eager voice, addressing the
small boy who did duty for clerk, exclaimed--

“Eh! a gentleman whom you don’t know lying on my sofa and smoking my
last cigar! that’s coming to the point and no mistake; cool though--I
wonder who the deuce it can be--not a client, of course.--Ah! Harry, my
dear old boy, this is an unexpected pleasure; why I’m as glad to see you
as if you were a client almost. I thought you were in the Red Sea, man,
dredging for defunct Egyptians, or chipping old blocks with Layard, or
some such slow thing; when did you return?”

Arthur Hazlehurst, the originator of the foregoing speech, was an old
college chum of Coverdale’s, who, when his friend had taken his degree
(a highly respectable one) and started on an enlarged edition of the
grand tour, had gone to read with a special pleader. Having by a special
slice of luck contrived to acquire a knowledge of the law from that
process, instead of the more usual result of learning how to spend five
hundred per annum out of an allowance of two, and possessing, moreover,
an acute intellect, and a fair portion of industry, Arthur Hazlehurst
was looked upon as a rising young man. In appearance he was, for a fair
man, rather handsome than otherwise, but if his talent for rising could
have been exercised bodily, as well as professionally, it would have
been as well for him, for his friend had the advantage of him in stature
by some three inches; his manner and way of speaking were quick and
eager, and he had altogether a wide-awake look about him, as though
he regarded society at large as perpetually in a witness-box, and was
always prepared to cross-examine and be down upon it.

“I returned to England some three weeks since,” replied Coverdale,
abstracting, the cigar from his mouth, and lazily flipping off the ashes
from the lighted end with his finger; “but I went quietly down to the
Park, and have been plodding over accounts with the agent ever since.
Shocking bad tobacco they make you put up with here; you shall try the
glorious stuff I’ve brought back from Constantinople--your Turk is the
boy to smoke. So you’ve-become learned in the law, I hear, since I went

“Eh! Yes, I believe I’ve picked up a thing or two,” returned Hazlehurst
modestly; “I’ve found out the great secret of life; the next move is to
make the knowledge pay, and that’s not so easy.”

“I didn’t know there was a great secret to find out,” observed
Coverdale, stroking his curly black whiskers, “the rule of life seems
easy enough to me--make up your mind what you want to do, and then
quietly do it--that’s my recipe.”

“A very good one for you, my dear fellow, you’ve only to put your hand
in your pocket, and, as your money rattles, difficulties disappear;
but we’re not all born to £5000 a-year, worse luck; fathers have flinty
hearts, and even the amenities of the nineteenth century have failed
to macadamise them--‘I’ve given you an expensive education, sir, and
I expect to seo you turn it to account.’ That’s about the style of
blessing we inherit now-a-day; however, my secret of life is this:
everything has a culminating point, and the dodge is to hit upon it
yourself, and bring others to it, with the least delay possible; in
these four words--come to the point, is embodied the whole philosophy of

“Well, yes, I daro say there is something in it,” returned Coverdaic,
meditatively, “it never exactly struck me before, but thero’s a
beautiful simplicity about it that I rather admire--a little too
railroadish, perhaps, unless a man’s in an awful hurry; you lose the
bright sunny peeps and the jolly old road-side alehouses of life, by
rushing so straight to your object.”

“Sunny nonsenses,” was the uncourteous rejoinder--“none of your old
slow-coaching days for me; life’s not long enough for dreaming--Parr’s
life pills are a swindle, and Methusaleh died without leaving his recipe
behind him;--so come to the point say I.”

“Though I won’t promise to adopt your philosophy for a permanency, I’ll
act upon it for once, at all events,” replied Coverdale, smiling (and
a nice, genial, pleasant smile it was too, showing a white, even row
of teeth, and lighting up a pair of large, dark, intelligent eyes, and
making the “smiler” look particularly handsome). “So to come to the
point, I’m here to enlist you in my service for what the women call a
‘day’s shopping’ to-morrow: I’ve no clothes to my back, no horses to
ride, no dog-cart to knock about in--in fact, none of the necessaries of
life;--then, having benefited by your advice and experience, I mean to
carry you off to Coverdale for a crack at the rabbits; thank goodness!
they’ve got the game up and the poachers down, since I’ve been abroad:
that was the only thing I made a row about when I came into the
property. Why, there are no preserves like the Coverdale woods in the
county, and yet my poor uncle never had a pheasant on his table. Things
are rather different now, my boy, and my only real sorrow at the present
moment is, that there are two whole months to be got rid of before the
first of September: well! what do you say to my proposal?”

“Done, along with you,” replied Hazlehurst; “but on one condition only,
viz., that when we’ve polished off the rabbits, you’ll come with me
to the Grange, and make acquaintance with those members of the worthy
family of Hazlehurst, whose virtues are as yet unknown to you.”

“You’re very kind; but you’ve a lot of sisters, or she-cousins, or some
creatures of that dangerous nature, haven’t you? Of course I mean no
disparagement to the ladies of _your_ family in particular; but ’pon
my word, my dear fellow, I cannot stand women: in Turkey they shut ’em
up, you know, so that I’m not accustomed to them; I’ve given up flirting
and dangling, and all the rest of it, long ago; it’s very well for green
boys, but at my time of life a man has something better to think about,”
 and, as he spoke, Coverdale flung the end of his cigar into the empty
fireplace, pitched _The Sporting Magazine_ unceremoniously on the table,
and, looking at his watch, continued, “It’s eight o’clock; I took a
couple of stalls for the ‘Prophète’ this morning, on the chance of
catching you; so jump into a pair of black trousers and let us be off.”

“Not a bad move,” replied his companion, “I’ll adorn and be with you

“_Einem augenblick_,” suggested the grand tourist, philologically.

“If that’s German for the twinkling of a bed-post, yes!” was the
rejoinder, and in less than ten minutes the friends descended the
staircase arm-in-arm, Hazlehurst leaving strict directions with the
small clerk to inform any one who might ask for him, that he was
summoned to attend a very important consultation.

The next day was devoted to the purchase of Coverdale’s necessaries of
life. Owing to Hazlehurst’s perseverance in bringing all the tradesmen
to the point, a vast deal of business was transacted, and before
nightfall Harry was the fortunate possessor of a spicy dog-cart, a blood
mare to run in it, who _could_ trot fourteen miles an hour, and
really did perform ten miles in that space of time, equally to her own
satisfaction and to that of her new master--two showy saddle-horses, the
best being up to fifteen stone with any hounds--a double-barrelled gun,
by a famous maker--a brace of thorough-bred pointers--and a whole host
of the minor “necessaries” animate and inanimate, all of which, put
together, made a considerable hole in a thousand pounds; but, as Harry
sapiently observed, “a man could not live in the country without them,
so where was the use of bothering.”

On the following morning, the two young men and all the purchases,
horses included, started by the Midland Counties Railway, and
dinner-time found them safely deposited at Coverdale Park, a fine old
place, which, with its picturesque mansion, beautiful view, and goodly
extent of wood and water, field and fell, was as desirable a property as
any English gentleman need wish to possess. After dinner the gamekeeper
was summoned: he was a sturdy, good-looking fellow, who had filled the
post of under-keeper in the time of Admiral Coverdale (Harry’s deceased
uncle, an old bachelor, to whose invincible hatred of matrimony his
nephew was indebted for his present position). Harry, before he went
abroad, had discovered the head-keeper to be in league with a gang of
poachers, receiving a per centage on all the game they sold; he had
accordingly dismissed him, and elected his subordinate to fill the
vacant situation--an experiment which had proved eminently successful.

“Take a glass of wine, Markum; this is my friend, Mr. Hazlehurst.
We mean to have a slap at the rabbits to-morrow; so be here at eight
o’clock, and then we shall get a good long day: any more poachers since
we caught those last fellows?” And, as Coverdale spoke, he filled a
large claret-glass to the brim with splendid old port, and handed it to
the keeper, who, received it bashfully, and then, scraping with his foot
and ducking his head twice with an expression of countenance as of a
sheep about to butt, replied, “Your ’ealth, Mr. Coverdale, sir--your
’ealth, gents both,” tossed it off at a draught--“there aint been no
reglur poarchin a-goin on, sir,” he continued, setting down his glass as
if it burned his fingers, and then jibbing away from the table as though
he had shyed at it; “but that ’are young Styles has been a shooting
rabids on Wild Acre farm, and seems to say as he considers he’s a right
so to do.”

“Styles? who is he?” inquired Harry, quickly.

“Well, he’s the son of old Farmer Styles, and he used to shoot just when
and where he liked in the Admiral’s time, and that’s how he fancies
he’s got a sort of right, do ye see, Mr ’Enry--that is, Mr. Coverdale,

“Rabbits are not game, so you can’t touch him on the score of poaching,
Harry; but, to come to the point, if he’s on your land without your
permission, he’s trespassing, and that’s where you can be down upon
him,” interrupted Hazlehurst, sententiously.

“Then I shall have the law o’ my side in pitching into him, I suppose,
sir?” inquired Markum eagerly.

“Ho, no, my good fellow; I don’t wish to quarrel with any of my
tenantry, about here,” exclaimed Coverdale hastily, “they’ll be breaking
pheasants’ eggs, and playing up all sorts of mischief,--no: we must
have nothing of that kind--I’ll speak to the young man myself; there’s a
_quiet_ way of doing these things, as I must teach you all. Good night;
remember eight o’clock tomorrow:” and Markum, looking sheepish and
rebuked, quitted the room, to tell the tale in the kitchen with the
following reflection appended, “And if that ’are young Styles happens
to be as cheeky to master as he is to other folks, it strikes me the
quiet dodge won’t pay.”


By two o’clock next day, Coverdale and Hazlehurst had walked for some
six hours, and conjointly taken the lives of seven couple of rabbits,
ten unfortunates having fallen victims to the new double-barrel, while
Hazlehurst had disposed of the remaining four. A sumptuous luncheon,
with unlimited pale ale and brown stout, awaited them at the
gamekeeper’s cottage, to which repast they did ample justice.

“I tell you what it is, Harry,” exclaimed Hazlehurst, setting down an
empty tumbler, “if I eat any more luncheon, you will have to send me
home in a wheelbarrow, for to walk I shall not be able--as it is, I
feel like an alderman after a city feast.”

“In that case, you’d require a very capacious wheelbarrow, and I should
pity the individual who had to trundle it. Come! finish the bottle--you
won’t? then I will--and now we’ll be off--it strikes me, fatigue
has something to do with it, as well as the luncheon; you’ve been
smoke-drying in London, young man, till you’re out of condition,”
 returned Coverdale, laughing, as he remarked the stiff manner in which
his friend rose and walked across the cottage.

Another hour’s striding through high grass and fern proved the
correctness of this assertion; for Hazlehurst, unaccustomed to such
severe exercise, began to show unmistakable symptoms of knocking up. His
friend observed him with attention--“You really are tired, Arthur,” he
said, good naturedly, “you’ll be fit for nothing to-morrow, if you
walk much farther. Go back, Markum, and send one of your boys for the
shooting pony; let him bring it to us at the bridge foot--I am going
over Wild Acre farm next: I shall try through the spinney and round
the large meadow, so you can cut across and join us again in
half-an-hour--and Markum--wait one moment:--What sort of person is this
man Styles? How should I know him if I should happen to run against

“Well, he be a tall, broad-shouldered, roughish-looking chap, rather an
orkard customer for to tackle, Mr. Coverdale, sir, and he generally have
a sort of cross-bred, lurcher-like dog along with him, if you please Mr.
’Enry, that is, Mr. Coverdale, sir”--and so saying, Markum started at
a swinging trot to execute his master’s wishes.

“The fellow looks as if he could go on at that pace for a fortnight
without turning a hair,” observed Hazlehurst, pausing to wipe his brow;
“I never saw such a east-iron animal.”

“He’s at it every day, and that keeps him in good order,” replied
Coverdale; “but I’ve walked him down before now, and should not wonder
if I were to do so to-day--I’m just getting what the jockeys call my
‘second wind,’ and am good for the next four hours at least--ha! there’s
a rabbit sitting, pull at it when I clap my hands.”

“It’s too long a shot for me,” replied Hazlehurst, “bag him yourself.”

Thus urged, Coverdale brought his gun to his shoulder and drew the
trigger, but the cap was a bad one, and would not go off, and his
second barrel being loaded with small shot, in the hope of picking up
a landrail (of which Markum had reported the probable whereabouts), the
rabbit skipped away uninjured. It had not proceeded ten paces, however,
when it sprang into the air, and rolled over dead--at the same moment
the report of a gun rang out from behind some low bushes, and a lurcher
dog dashed forward, and picked up the defunct rabbit. Coverdale’s face
flushed with anger, and hastily exchanging the defective percussion cap
for a sound one, he raised his gun with the intention of shooting the
dog; but, though quick-tempered, Harry was a thoroughly kind-hearted
fellow, and a moment’s reflection caused him to relinquish his purpose;
recovering his gun, he muttered--

“Poor brute, why should I kill it?--it’s not his fault, but his

As he spoke a tall figure rose from behind the bushes, whence the shot
had proceeded, and whistling to the dog, took the rabbit from him, and
put it in the pocket of a voluminous-skirted shooting-jacket.

“That’s the redoubtable Mr. Styles, _in propriâ personâ_, I imagine,”
 observed Hazlehurst.

“And a cool hand he seems too,” returned Coverdale, scowling at the
delinquent, who stood quietly reloading his gun, as though _he_ were
“monarch of all he surveyed,”--“however, I’m not going to lose my temper
about it; it’s a great object with me, just now, to conciliate all the
neighbouring farmers.”

“Then are you going to give him _carte blanche_ to spiflicate rabbits
when and where he likes?” inquired his friend.

“Not a bit of it!” was the reply, “I mean to put a stop once for all
to such practices; but there is a _quiet_ way of managing these matters
quite as effectual as putting oneself into a rage.”

“Don’t be a week about it, that’s all--come to the point at once,
there’s a good fellow, for I want to knock over another rabbit or two
before my Bucephalus arrives,” rejoined Hazlehurst Thus urged, Coverdale
advanced towards the stranger, and slightly raising his wide-awake as he
approached him, said with an air of Grandisonian politeness--“Mr. Styles
I presume?”

“Yes, young man, my name’s Styles. What’s yourn?” was the unceremonious

He does not know me, thought Harry: now for astonishing him--rather!
“_My_ name, sir, is--ahem!--Henry Coverdale, of Coverdale Park, at your
service.” He paused to watch the effect of this announcement. Ha!
I thought so, he trembles, he is--why, confound the scoundrel! I
do believe he’s grinning--he can’t have understood me--“My name is
Coverdale, I say, sir.”

“Well then, Mr. Coverdale, if that’s your name, the sooner you take
yourself back to Coverdale Park the better I shall be pleased, for I’m
a shooting rabbits, and your jabbering scares the creeturs,” was the
astounding rejoinder.

Coverdale could scarcely believe his ears; however, he contrived by a
strong effort to subdue his rising passion, as he answered; “If, as I
imagine, you are the son of old Farmer Styles, of Wild Acre, you must be
aware, sir, that the farm your father rents is _my_ property, and
that the rabbits you are shooting are _my_ rabbits; I must, therefore,
trouble you to hand over the one you have just killed, and to abstain
from shooting entirely, except on any occasion when I may invite you to
join me, or otherwise give you permission.”

“I knows this, that father and I have got a thirty years’ lease to run,
and that when I wants a day’s rabbiting, I means to take it, whether you
likes it, or whether you doesn’t. Why, the old Admiral never said a word
agen it; but he _was_ something like a gentleman, he was!” was the surly

Harry’s eyes flashed fire. “Do you mean to insinuate that _I_ am _not_
one then, fellow?” he asked in a voice that trembled with passion.

“And suppose I does, what then? feller!” returned the other insolently.

“This!” was the reply, as springing hastily forward, Cover-dale struck
Styles so violent a blow on the cheek with the back of his open hand,
that he staggered and nearly fell;--recovering himself with difficulty,
and holding one hand to his injured jaw, he muttered with an oath, “If
it wasn’t for the confounded guns, I’d give you the heartiest thrashing
ever you had in your life.”

“Or get one yourself,” replied Harry, now thoroughly roused; “but, if
you’re at all inclined that way, don’t disturb yourself about the guns;
if you will discharge yours, I and my friend will do the same by ours,
it’s only wasting a charge or two of powder”--and, as he spoke, he fired
both barrels in the air. Styles paused a moment, to assure himself that
no stratagem was contemplated, and then discharged his gun also, while
Hazlehurst having glanced at his friend with an expression of the
deepest astonishment, hastened to follow their example. At this moment
the clatter of a horse’s hoofs was heard, and Markum, the keeper,
cantered up on the shooting pony. “Ah! that’s right!” exclaimed
Coverdalc, who appeared suddenly to have regained his good temper--“tie
the pony up to a tree and come here. Hazlehurst, you will pick me up if
I require it, and Markum will do the same kind office by Mr. Styles, and
I don’t intend him to have a sinecure either,” he added, _sotto voce_.

“You don’t mean seriously you’re going to fight the fellow:” inquired

“Indeed, I do, and, what’s more, nobody shall prevent me, unless he
shows the white feather,” was the positive answer.

“But--but you’ll get knocked about so: besides, the brute’s a bigger,
heavier man than you, and as strong as an elephant. Suppose he should
injure you,” remonstrated Hazlehurst.

“He may if he can,” was the confident reply; “why Arthur, you’re as
nervous as a girl; this is not the first time you’ve seen me use my
fists, and I’ve taken lessons from Ben Caunt since the old Eton days.”

“Go in and win, then, if you _will_ make a fool of yourself,” rejoined
Hazlehurst moodily, as he helped his friend to divest himself of his
shooting-jacket and waistcoat.

“Now, Mr. Styles, I’m at your service,” remarked Coverdale, addressing
his antagonist politely.

“So you mean fighting do you?” inquired Styles, half incredulously.

“I mean to try and give you the thrashing with which you have threatened
me,” was the reply.

“And if you do, I’ll promise never to shoot another rabbit without your
permission; but if I’m best man, blest if I don’t smash ’em when and
where I likes,” was the rejoinder.

“It’s a bargain,” returned Coverdale, “so come on.”--As his antagonist
bared his brawny arms and muscular throat, Harry felt that, if his skill
were at all commensurate with his strength, he had cut himself out a
somewhat troublesome task, and he began to own, in his secret soul, that
Hazlehurst was right, and that he was about to do a very foolish thing.
However, he had great confidence in his own skill and activity, and to
these qualities did he trust to relieve him from his difficulties.
If those amiable philanthropists, whose ranks, once numbering a
large majority of the aristocracy and gentry of the land, have, as
civilisation has spread, grown “small by degrees and beautifully
less” (we allude to the “Patrons of the Ring,”)--if these humane and
enlightened individuals expect a detailed account, _à la Bell’s Life_,
of the “stunning mill between the Coverdale Cove and the Stylish
Farmer,” they must be doomed to the pangs of disappointment; for
unfortunately neither our taste, nor our talent, lies in that direction.
Suffice it then to relate, that Mr. Styles’ science proving an article
of the very roughest country manufacture, while his antagonist went to
work with the skill and composure of a finished artist, Coverdale soon
perceived that he had only to stop or avoid his opponent’s blows,
to keep cool and to abide his time, in order to insure him an easy
victory--and the event justified his expectations. After six rounds--in
the course of which the farmer acquired two beautiful black eyes, while
Cover-dale had not got a scratch--time was called, and the seventh round
commenced. Styles, smarting from the punishment he had received, and
irritated to the highest degree by his adversary’s coolness, rushed on
so furiously, and hailed such a shower of blows upon his opponent, that
Coverdale found it would be impossible entirely to ward them off, and,
not wishing to be disfigured by a black eye or flattened nose, was
forced to exert himself in real earnest to endeavour to bring the battle
to a conclusion;--watching his opportunity, therefore, he drew back;
stopped a terrific hit cleverly with his left hand, and then flinging
out his right arm straight from the shoulder, and bounding forward
at the same moment, he struck his antagonist a crashing blow, which,
catching him full on the side of the head, sent him down like a shot.

“That has terminated the case for the defendant, I expect,” observed
Hazlehurst, sententiously, as, breathless and with bleeding knuckles,
his friend seated himself on his extended knee--“he had had nearly
enough before, and he has got rather too much now. You hit him an awful

“It was his own fault,” returned Coverdale. “I did not want to hurt the
man if he would have fought quietly, and like a civilised Christian,
instead of a raging lunatic;--but he’s only stunned--see he’s reviving
already. Confound the fellow, his head is as hard as a cannon-ball, to
which fact my knuckles bear witness.” So saying, Coverdale rose, and
resuming his coat and waistcoat, approached his fallen foe, who, with
his head leaning against Markum’s shoulder, was staring vacantly at the

“He’s as unconscionable as a hinfant, Mr. Coverdale, sir: you’ve been
and knocked his hintellects slap out of him, which only sarves him
right, and is what all poachers ’andsomely desarves,” remarked the
gamekeeper cheerfully.

“I know what will be the medicine to cure him,” exclaimed Hazlehurst,
producing a pocket-flask, and applying it to the lips of the vanquished
Styles. At first the patient seemed inclined to resist; but as soon as
he tasted the flavour of the contents of the pocket-pistol, he raised
his hand, and pushing aside Hazlehurst’a fingers, drained it to the

“Gently, my friend,” remonstrated the young barrister, “that’s Kinahan’s
best whisky--fortunately I supplied the vacuum created at luncheon with
spring water. Ah, I thought as much, that’s the true elixir vitæ,” he
continued, as Styles, relinquishing the flask, sat up and began to stare
wildly about him.

“Styles, my good fellow; how do you feel now? You were stunned, you
know; but I shall be very sorry if I’ve hurt you,” observed Coverdale,
good-naturedly. As he spoke, Styles turned and regarded him attentively,
measuring his tall, active figure with his glance from top to toe.
At length he muttered, “Well, I didn’t think he had it in him, that I
didn’t;” he then rubbed his head, with a look of thorough perplexity,
once more fixing his eyes on his late opponent, as if he were some
strange monster wonderful to behold: having, apparently, satisfied
himself that he was a real flesh and blood man, and not some newfangled,
cast-iron boxing-machine, he turned to the gamekeeper, observing,
“Markum, lend us a fin, old man, for I feels precious staggery-like,
I can tell you. Your guv’nor hits hard.” On obtaining the required
assistance, he rose, not without difficulty, approached Coverdale, and
holding out a hand somewhat smaller than a shoulder of mutton, said,
“Shake hands, sir, you’re a gentleman, and what’s far more in my eyes,
you’re _a man_ every inch of you, and I humbly begs your pardon for
insulting of you.”

“Say no more about it, my good friend,” returned Coverdale, heartily
shaking his proffered hand, “we did not understand each other before,
but we do now, and shall get on capitally for the future I don’t doubt.”

“I shan’t disturb your rabbits again, sir,” continued the penitent
Styles, entirely subdued by Coverdale’s hearty manner, “and if the
creeturs should do any damage to the crops, why I know a gentleman like
you will bear it in mind on the rent-day.”

“Certainly,” was the eager reply; “my object now is to get up the game,
and no tenant who assists me in this will find me a hard landlord.”

And so, after an amicable colloquy, they parted the best friends
imaginable; Styles observing, as he turned to go, “I did not think there
was a man living who could have sewn me up in ten minutes like that;
but you are unaccountable quick with your fists, to be sure, Mustur

“Pray Harry, is this to be considered a specimen of your ‘quiet manner’
with your tenantry?” inquired Hazlehurst dryly, as he bestrode the broad
back of his shooting pony.

His friend coloured as he replied with a forced laugh, “Well, I must
confess that for once in my life I a little lost temper;--but you see,
old boy.” he continued, bringing his hand down upon Hazlehurst’s knee
with a smack which caused that delicate youth to spring up in his
saddle--“but you see _I managed to conciliate him after all_.”


“And the worst of it is the fellow’s right--what a bore life
is--confound everything!--” As he gave utterance to this sweeping
anathema, Harry Coverdale lifted a shaggy Scotch terrier by the ears out
of an easy chair wherein it was reposing, and flinging himself on the
seat thus made vacant, waited disconsolately till Hazlehurst should have
finished a letter, which, with unwontedly grave brow he was perusing.

Having continued his occupation till his friend’s small stock of
patience was becoming well-nigh exhausted, Hazlehurst closed the
epistle, muttering to himself--“Well! they know best, I suppose--but
I don’t admire the scheme, all the same--” then, turning towards his
companion, he continued aloud--“I beg your pardon, my dear fellow! but
the governor’s letter contains a budget of family politics, which is, of
course, more or less interesting to me, especially as, in the event of
certain contingencies, he talks of increasing my allowance, but you’re
looking sentimental--what’s the matter?”

“Oh! nothing,” was the reply, “only that fellow Markum has been boring
about the rabbits; he says we’ve worked them quite enough, and that the
foxes will be pitching into the pheasants if they can’t get plenty
of rabbits to eat, and that so much shooting will make the birds wild
before the 1st.--I know it all as well as he does--there ought not to
be another gun fired on the property till the 1st of September, but then
what is a fellow to do with himself? I might go to Paris--but I’ve been
there and done it all--besides I hate their dissipation, it bores me to
death; London is empty, and if it wasn’t, it’s worse than Paris--more
smoke and less fun. I’d start to America, and do Niagara, and all the
other picturesque dodges, only, if the wind were to turn restive, or
anything go wrong in the boiler-bursting line, I might be delayed and
miss the first day of partridge shooting, so it would not do to risk it.”

“By no means,” rejoined Hazlehurst, shaking his head with an air of mock
solemnity--“but luckily I’ve a better plan to propose; I must make
my way home at once--you shall come with me, and stay till we are all
mutually tired of each other.”

“But your father and mother?” urged Coverdale.

“Are more anxious than I am on the subject. Read that, you unbelieving
Jew!” So saying, Hazlehurst turned down a portion of his letter, and
handed it to Coverdale; it ran thus--“Mind you bring your friend with
you; independently of our desire to become acquainted with one who has
shown you such unvarying kindness, Mr. Coverdale is just the person to
make up the party.”

“Yes, they’re very kind,” began Coverdale, returning the letter, “very
kind, but--”

“But what, man,” rejoined Hazlehurst quickly, “we want you to come to
us; you have not only no other engagement, but actually don’t know what
to do with yourself, and yet you hesitate. However, to come to the
point at once, I ask you plainly, and expect a plain answer--where’s the

“Well done, most learned counsel, that is the way to browbeat a witness,
and no mistake,” replied Coverdale, laughing at his friend’s vehemence;
“however, I won’t provoke any farther display of your forensic talents
by attempting to prevaricate. The fact is, I know you’ve a bevy of
sisters, she cousins, and what not, very charming girls, I dare say;
but you see I’m not fit for women’s society, and that’s the truth of
it--I’ve chosen my line--I know what suits me best--and I dare say I
shall live and die a bachelor, as the old Admiral did before me. I know
what women are, and what they expect of one; if a fellow happens to be
a little bit rough and ready, they call him a bear, and vow he’s got no
soul; ’gad, that’s what the Turks say of them, by-the-bye!--Poetical
justice; eh?”

“My dear boy, you’ll excuse my saying so, but you really are talking
great nonsense,” interrupted Hazlehurst; “You’re a thorough gentleman
in mind, manners, and appearance, if I know the meaning of the term,
and neither my sisters, nor my cousin (there is but one), have such
bad taste as to prefer a finical fop to a fine manly fellow like
yourself--no, they’re more likely to fall into the other extreme.”

“And that would be the worst of the two by long odds,” exclaimed Harry
aghast; “only fancy me with a wife in the shooting-season--bothering
me to stay at home with her, or to drive her out in a four-wheeled
arm-chair with a pair of little hopping rats of ponies, that the best
whip in the three kingdoms could not screw above six miles an hour out
of, if he were to flog their hides off; or, worse still, to take me
boxed up in a close carriage to call upon somebody’s grandmother, and I
breaking my heart all the time to be blazing away at the partridges.
I know what it is--I was staying down in Leicestershire, before I
went abroad, with poor Phil Anderton, as stanch a sportsman, and as
thoroughly good a fellow, as ever drew trigger, before he married Lady
Mirvinia Bluebas. Well, they hadn’t been coupled six months before she’d
got him so tight in hand that he daren’t smoke a cigar without a special
licence. The first season, she let him shoot Wednesdays and Fridays, and
hunt Thursdays and Saturdays. The next year she made him sell off his
guns, dogs, and horses, and carried him over to the Continent. What was
the result?--why, the poor fellow became so bored and miserable, that he
took to gambling, lost every farthing he had in the world at roulette,
and--didn’t blow his brains out; so my lady has the pleasure of keeping
him, and living herself, upon five hundred a-year pin-money.”

“Verdict, served her right”--observed Hazlehurst judicially; “but you
forget, my dear boy, that Anderton, though a good fellow enough in his
way, was made of such yielding materials, that anybody could do what
they liked with him--rather soft here,” he continued, tapping his
forehead; “now you have got sterner stuff in you, and if a woman were to
try it on with you in that style, it strikes me she’d find her master.”

“Ah! I don’t know,” sighed Coverdale reflectively; “its easier to talk
about managing women than to do it--they’ve got a way with ’em, at
least the pleasant ones have, of coming over a fellow somehow, and
making him fancy for the moment (it doesn’t last, mind you--and there’s
the nuisance of it), that he’d rather do what they wish him, than
what he wants to do himself. Then again, if a man offends you, you can
quietly knock him down, and if he feels aggrieved, he can have you out
(not that I admire duelling); but if you quarrel with a woman, there’s
no _dernier résort_, you can’t knock _her_ down, poor weak thing, and so
you’re reduced to growl like a dog, and she to spit like a cat, and you
leave off as you began, without having attained any definite result.”

“I have heard of such a thing as moral force,” suggested Hazlehurst

“That’s one’s only chance,” returned Coverdale, “though it is one that,
to speak seriously and sensibly, I’ve tolerably strong faith in. A
fellow must be wanting in manliness of character, if he cannot contrive
to manage a woman by moral force, as you call it; there’s a quiet way
of doing that as well as everything else, only it’s such a confoundedly
slow process.”

“No making ’em to come to the point, eh?” rejoined Hazlehurst; “Well,
I have my own ideas about it; how they would work, remains to be proved;
but as you’ve such splendid theories on the subject, don’t pretend
you’re unfitted for woman’s society. Why, man, you’re equal to a
whole seminary of young ladies--your ‘quiet manner’ would prove as
irresistible with them as it did with the redoubtable Mr. Styles.”

By way of reply to this impertinent allusion, Coverdale shook his
clenched fist (which still bore traces of his late encounter) in his
friend’s face with a pseudo-threatening gesture. Hazlehurst sprang back
in pretended alarm, with to sudden a movement as to arouse the Scotch
terrier from his nap, who, waking up in a fright, immediately recurred
to his leading idea that there were thieves in the house, and rushed
to the door barking furiously. When the laughter, which this little
incident excited, had in some degree abated, Hazlehurst resumed--

“But seriously, Harry, I want you to come home with me, and I’ll tell
you in confidence why. You and I have known each other from the time
we were schoolboys together, and though, as _in re_ Styles, you act a
little hastily sometimes, there is no man on whose clear judgment and
high principle I’ve greater reliance than on yours. I’ve received a
letter from home this morning, which has annoyed me more than I can tell
you. To come to the point at once, the case stands thus:--My father’s
pet weakness (rather a creditable one) is family pride; now the Grange
has belonged to the Hazlehursts for the last three hundred years, but in
my great-grandfather’s time the estate became woefully diminished--the
old scamp was a regular wild one, and not only made ducks and drakes of
everything he could lay his hands on, but as soon as my grandfather came
of ago, induced him to cut on the entail, and sold the best half of the
family property; some of this my grandfather contrived to redeem in his
lifetime, and my Governor has been scheming and screwing all his days in
order to buy back the rest. In an evil hour he was induced to invest his
savings in a railroad, hoping to attain his object sooner; of course it
paid beautifully at first; of course in due time a crash came, and the
Pater not only lost all his savings, but was forced to sell a farm of
five hundred acres, dear to him as the apple of his eye. The individual
who purchased it, and who owns the property my great-grandfather sold,
is a certain millionaire cotton spinner, as rich as Crosus; the fellow
is said to have £20,000 a-year. Well, since the railroad affair, a jolly
old aunt has died, and left the Governor some tin, and he’s breaking his
heart to buy back the farm, but cotton spinner refuses to sell. How at
the last Hunt Ball, my eldest sister, came out--she is very pretty, and
a nice, taking sort of girl in society--and said cotton spinner
came, saw, and was conquered! so much so, that having offered serious
intentions ever since, he has ended by offering himself. Thereupon arose
a difference of opinion between Alice and the Governor--Alice pleading
that she didn’t love cotton spinner one bit, and didn’t expect she ever
should do so, and Governor declaring that it was all sentimental bosh,
and that if she married the man, as much love as it was at all proper
for a young lady to feel, would come afterwards. At last, they made a
compromise--Alice was to consent to see more of Mr. Crane, and do her
best to like him, in which case, said Crane would allow her to postpone
her decision till a future period: to this Alice was fain to consent,
and now the suitor is coming to the Grange, on approval, and the
Governor’s asked a party of people to meet him.”

“And how do you stand affected towards the proposed alliance?” inquired
Coverdale, lifting the Skye terrier into his lap by the nape of its
neck, and then curling it up like a fried whiting.

“Not over favourably,” returned Hazlehurst, “which, by the way, is very
disinterested of me; for if the affair comes off, and the Governor
buys his farm back again--which of course is what he is looking to--he
promises to settle the residue of the aunt’s legacy upon me, by which
I should be some £200 a-year the better; but it would not be a match
to please me. I’m very fond of Alice; she is a dear good girl as ever
lived, and I don’t admire the cotton spinner: in the first place, he’s
nearly, or quite forty, while she was nineteen last term; in the second
place, he’s a slow coach, good-natured enough, and all that, but nothing
in him.”

“No soul”--suggested Harry.

“Not enough to animate a kitten, I should imagine,” was the
reply;--“not that the man’s a fool--indeed, in his own line he is said
to be clever. He invented some dodge to simplify his machinery, by which
he nearly doubled his fortune.”

“_That_ was decidedly clever”--remarked Harry, busily engaged in
dressing the “Skye” in a muslin “anti-macassar,” placed clean upon the
sofa that morning.

“To come to the point, however,” continued Hazlehurst--“I want you to
see the man, and try and find out what he’s made of.”

“Fool’s-flesh probably”--suggested Coverdale _sotto voce_.

“I wish you would try and be serious for five minutes,” returned
Hazlehurst testily; “nothing is more provoking than small attempts at
wit, when one wants a man to give his attention sensibly to that which
one is saying.”

“I stand, or more properly sit, corrected: so continue, most sapient and
surly brother!”--was the mocking answer.

Hazlehurst tried to look angry and dignified, but a glance at his
friend’s handsome, merry, and, withal, slightly impudent face, disarmed
his wrath, and muttering--“Confound you for a stupid, provoking, old
humbug”--he burst into a fit of laughter. As soon as he had recovered
his gravity, he resumed: “As I said before, I want you to come and make
your observations on the cotton spinner, and if your opinion agrees
with mine, you must back me up in making a serious remonstrance with the
Governor. I know the old gentleman well, and am sure he’ll think twice
as much of what I say when he finds that you, a man of the world and a
large landed proprietor (that’ll tell with him immensely) look upon the
matter in the same light. And now you know my reasons, what do you say?”

“Say! what can I say but that I--ahem!--respect the sacred call of
friendship, and am prepared to sacrifice myself upon its altar: that’s
the correct phraseology, isn’t it? I tell you what, though,” continued
Harry gravely, “I make one condition, without which I don’t stir a
peg: I’m at your service and that of the cotton spinner, as much as you
please; but beyond the requirements of society, I’m not to be expected
to concern myself about the women--I’m not to be forced into tête-a-tête
drives in pony-chaises, or set to turn over music-books at the piano--I
know what all that sort of thing leads to well: is it a bargain?”

“Of course it is,” returned Hazlehurst eagerly; “come to please me, and I
leave you to please yourself when you get there.”

“Then, as Sam Weller says, ‘You may take down the bill, for I’m let to
a single gentleman,’” was Coverdale’s reply--and so the affair was

PUPPY (not by landseer).

HAZLEHURST Grange was a picturesque old mansion, modernised out of all
resemblance to its moated namesake which Tennyson has immortalised,
by the addition of gay flower-beds, closely-shaven lawns,
judiciously-planted shrubberies, and other appliances of landscape
gardening. It was situated about eighteen miles from Coverdale Park, a
distance which Harry’s trotting mare, who had grown plump and saucy upon
rest and good keep, accomplished, to her owner’s intense satisfaction,
in less than five minutes over the hour and a-half.

“Pretty fair travelling that, eh, Master Arthur,” he observed, replacing
his watch in his waistcoat pocket, “and what I particularly like about
it is, that the mare did it all willingly and of her own accord,
took well to collar at starting, and kept it up steadily, and in a
business-like manner, till her work was done.”

“In fact, behaved as utterly unlike a female throughout the whole
affair, as if she had belonged to the nobler sex,” returned Hazlehurst,

“_Infandum renovare dolorem!_--why will you remind me of my coming
trials, and not suffer me to enjoy the pleasures of forgetfulness while
I may?” was Coverdale’s desponding rejoinder.

“Simply because, unless I am greatly mistaken, they literally are
_coming_ trials,” was the reply. “Look through that belt of trees on the
left; don’t you see the flutter of something white?”

“Muslin, by all that’s flimsy, frivolous, and feminine!” exclaimed
Harry, aghast: “I say, Arthur, can’t we turn off somewhere?”

“By all means, if you wish it; there’s a gravel-pit on the right-hand,
and a precipitous bank sloping down to the river on the left, which will
you prefer?” was the obliging rejoinder. As he spoke, a turn in the road
disclosed to their view a group of three figures, slowly advancing in
the same direction as that in which they were themselves proceeding.

“My cousin, Kate Marsden, my sister Alice, and a gent, name unknown,”
 observed Hazlehurst, as his eyes fell upon the trio. “Why, surely it
is--no, it can’t be--yes it is, Horace D’Almayne.”

“Allowing, merely for the sake of argument, that it is the individual
you mention, who may he happen to be?” inquired Harry, taking up the
whip which had hitherto reposed innocuously between them, and performing
rash feats with it over the ears of “My old Aunt Sally”--(for so
in honour of the Ethiopian Serenaders, then in the zenith of their
popularity, had Harry named his new favourite).

“My dear fellow, you don’t mean to say that you never heard of him?
Not to know Horace D’Almayne argues yourself unknown; why, man, he is
a noted wit, a successful poet, the greatest dandy, and the most
incorrigible male flirt about town: knows everybody, has been
everywhere, and done everything.”

“What is he like across a stiff line of country, and how many brace can
he bag to his own gun?” inquired Harry drily.

“Not knowing can’t say,” was the rejoinder, “but that’s not at all
in his way; he affects, if it is affectation, the man of sentiment;
however, just now he is believed in to the fullest extent, and
considered a regular lion.”

“A regular tiger, I should have fancied rather,” was the cynical reply.
“Why, the brute actually wears moustaches.”

“He has served in the Austrian army, and sports the mouse-tails on the
strength of his military pretensions,” was the reply.

After a minute’s pause, Coverdale observed, inquiringly, “I suppose we
must needs pull up and do the civil by these good people.”

“Why, considering that I have not seen my sister for the last five
months, family affection (to say nothing of the duties of society)
demands the sacrifice,” returned Hazlehurst.

“Cut it short then, there’s a good fellow, the mare’s too hot to be
allowed to stand long, and I would not have anything go wrong with her
after the splendid manner in which sho has brought us to-day, for three
times the money I gave for her.”

As he spoke, Harry again impatiently flirted the whip over the ears of
“My old Aunt Sally,” an indignity which excited the fiery disposition
of that highly-descended quadruped, who, throwing up her head and
tail, flinging out her fore feet, as though she were sparring with
the distance her speed must overcome, and altogether looking her very
handsomest, dashed up to the group of pedestrians so suddenly as to
cause the two ladies to draw back in alarm; while even the redoubtable
Horace himself sprang out of the way with a degree of alacrity which
evinced a stronger regard for his personal safety than might have been
expected from so heroic a character. For this sacrifice of dignity to
the first law of nature, self-preservation, he endeavoured to compensate
himself by stroking his moustaches, and staring superciliously at the
now comers.

While Hazlehurst, who sprang down the moment the dog-cart stopped,
was exchanging greetings with his cousin and sister, Harry was left
undisturbed to make his observations on the trio to whom he was about to
be introduced. The elder of the two young ladies, who responded to the
definition, “My cousin, Miss Kate Marsden,” was above the middle height,
and of a singularly graceful figure; her features were delicately formed
and regular, her complexion pale, but clear, her hair and eyes dark,
the latter being large and expressive, her hands and feet small, and her
whole bearing and appearance refined and aristocratic in the extreme;
but her features bore a look of proud reserve, which interfered with the
effect which her beauty would otherwise have produced--an inscrutable
look, which seemed to say, “I have a peculiar and decided character, but
I defy you to read it.”

It is of no use to attempt to describe Alice Hazlehurst, for the simple
reason that no description could convey an adequate idea of her. Not
that she was anything particularly wonderful; she was not even a miracle
of beauty--she was only about the best thing this fallen world of ours
contains--a bright, high-spirited, pure, simple, true-hearted, lovely,
and loveable young girl, just emerging into graceful womanhood; very
shy, slightly romantic, full of kindly sympathies and generous impulses,
which she concealed as carefully as bad men hide unpopular vices, and
with all the deep and noble qualities of her woman’s nature, as well
as, alas! its faults and foibles, lying dormant within her, either to
be developed in their full completeness, or dwarfed into comparative
insignificance, as the hands into which she might fall should prove
fitted or unfitted to the great, yet enviable, responsibility of forming
her character. As Hazlehurst leapt down, she sprang forward to meet him;
then drew back from his hearty embrace with a smile and a blush, which
very unnecessarily made her appear prettier than before, to acknowledge,
with a bow, her introduction to her brother’s friend.

The third member of the party, Horace D’Almayne, had been well fitted
by nature to sustain the character of “exquisite”--tall, and with a
graceful, slender figure, his well-formed and regular features, soft
dark hair, and brilliant complexion, gave him an undoubted right to the
epithet handsome, although it was in a style suited rather to a woman
than to a man. The expression of his face, cynical and supercilious when
in repose, or when he spoke to one of his own sex, relaxed into a smile
of sentimental self-confidence when he addressed a woman. He appeared
very young, probably not above two or three and twenty, and was dressed
up to the _ne plus ultra_ of refined dandyism.

“‘Why, D’Almayne,” exclaimed Hazlehurst, “how is it that we come to be
honoured by your company? I was not even aware that my father possessed
the pleasure of your acquaintance.”

“Nor did he a week ago; but the matter came about thus,” was the
reply. “During the London season I was introduced at one of the Duke
of D------‘s parties, to an opulent individual of the name of Crane,
learned his opinion prospective and retrospective in regard to the
weather, bowed adieu, and straightway forgot him. About a month since,
being in a _café_ at Baden-Baden, my attention was attracted by an
awful _charivari_; and on attempting to investigate the cause thereof,
discovered Friend Crane lamenting himself pathetically in bad French
and worse German, and surrounded by a mob of foreigners. Having in some
degree appeased his polyglot passion, I soon contrived to make out, that
his pocket having been picked by A., he had accused innocent B., and
denounced unoffending C.--a vicarious system of reprisals which those
victimised individuals appeared, not unnaturally, inclined to resent.
Understanding somewhat better than our irascible friend the language and
customs of the natives, I contrived to extricate him from the dilemma;
for which act of good Samaritanism I have been, from that time forward,
more or less the victim of his indefatigable gratitude. Your worthy
father finding me a few days since located in the Château Crane,
politely included me in his invitation. I arrived this morning, and
under the able tuition of your cousin and sister, was rapidly becoming
acquainted with the beauties of Hazlehurst, when you drove up.”

As he insinuated this skilfully-veiled compliment, the exquisite Horace
pointed its application by favouring Alice with a languishing _oillade_,
which was certainly not without effect; for it excited in the breast
of Harry Coverdale a sudden, intense, and unreasonable desire then and
there heartily to kick the talented originator of the compliment. This
impulse he was only enabled to check by a powerful effort, which caused
him to twitch the reins so suddenly, as painfully to compress the
delicate mouth of “My Aunt Sally,” to an extent which justified that
outraged quadruped in converting herself for the time being into a
biped, by standing erect on her hind legs, and pawing the air with her
fore feet.

“Soho, girl! gently, gently!” exclaimed Hazlehurst, who, not having
perceived the exciting cause of the manouvre, attributed the mare’s
unmannerly behaviour to an outbreak of inherent viciousness. “Why,
Harry, what on earth is the matter with the creature?”

“Probably nothing more than a reasonless caprice natural to her sex,”
 was Harry’s ungallant reply. “Possibly she may have the bad taste to
prefer the creature comforts of a cool stable and a good feed of corn,
to remaining in the broiling sunshine, even with the opportunity of
becoming acquainted with the beauties of Hazlehurst;” and as he made
this sarcastic remark, Harry glanced, carelessly round over wood and
field, so that any one not well acquainted with the play of his features
would have been puzzled to decide whether he was himself aware of the
full meaning of his words.

“A pretty broad hint that I am not to keep the mare standing any
longer,” returned Hazlehurst, turning to his cousin and sister. “That
fellow cares for nothing in the world but his horses, except his dogs
and his double-barrel. Well, I suppose you girls will be coming home

“Quite as soon as we are wanted, if your amiable and complimentary
friend has any voice in the matter,” returned Alice, _cette voce_.

“Nonsense,” was the reply in the same tone; “you know nothing about him,
you silly child. Harry is the kindest-hearted, best-tempered fellow in
the world, as you’ll find out before long.”

Alice’s only reply was an incredulous toss of her pretty head, and the
parties separated.

“Of all the puppies I ever beheld, that creature D’Almayne is the most
insufferable--the very sight of him irritates me. What business has he
to pay his absurd compliments to your sister, when he has only known her
for a few hours? If I were you, I should not stand it.”

“At all events, his compliments are of a more civil nature than yours,”
 returned Hazlehurst with a smile; “why, Harry, you are becoming as
peppery a character as your namesake Hotspur himself.”

“I am like him in one particular, at all events,” was the reply, “for I
cannot abide a coxcomb.”

“It strikes me, that is not the only point in which you resemble the
‘gunpowder Percy,’ as old Falstaff calls him. By the way,” he continued,
“what in the world was the matter with ‘Aunt Sally,’ a minute ago she
seems to go quietly enough now.”

“I rather fancy something must have hurt her mouth,” replied Harry,
turning away his head to conceal a smile. As he spoke, they drove round
the gravel sweep leading to the hall door of Hazlehurst Grange. Beneath
the porch stood two gentlemen--in one of whom, corpulent and elderly,
Coverdale had little trouble in recognising, from his likeness to
his friend, Mr. Hazlehurst senior; while the other, tall, thin, and
cadaverous-looking, he rightly conjectured to be the opulent and amorous
cotton spinner, Jedediah Crane.


Nearly a week had elapsed since Harry Coverdale had first become an
inmate of Hazlehurst Grange, during which period he had contrived to win
the good opinion of the elders of the party, pique the young ladies by
his _brusquerie_ and neglect, annoy Hazlehurst by his insensibility
and determination not to make himself agreeable, and finally to have
provoked the enmity of the fascinating Horace D’Almayne, which last
piece of delinquency was a source of unmitigated satisfaction to its
perpetrator. The day on which we resume the thread of our narrative, was
to be devoted to a picnic party, the object being to devour unlimited
cold lamb and pigeon-pie amongst the ruins of an old abbey, some eight
miles from the Grange. The morning was lovely, every one appeared in
high spirits, and the expedition promised to be a prosperous one. .

“How, then, good people,” exclaimed Arthur Hazlehurst, “what are the
arrangements--who rides, who drives, who goes with who?--come to the
point and settle something, for the _tempus_ is _fugit_-ing at a most
alarming pace.”

“I am desirous,” observed Mr. Crane slowly and solemnly, “of soliciting
the honour of driving Miss Hazlehurst in my phaeton, if I may venture to
hope such an arrangement will not be disagreeable to that lady:” and
as he spoke, the cotton spinner, whose tall, ungainly figure, clad in
a dust-coloured wrapper, white trousers, and white hat, gave him the
appearance of a superannuated baker’s boy run very decidedly to seed,
bowed appealingly to Alice, who, perceiving her father’s eye upon her,
was forced unwillingly to consent.

“Mr. Coverdale, will you drive a lady in the pony-chaise?” inquired
Hazlehurst _père_. “My niece will be happy to accompany you, or my saucy
little Emily here,” he continued, gazing with paternal fondness on his
younger daughter, a pretty but slightly pert girl of sixteen.

“I should have much pleasure,” muttered Harry; “but--but--I contrived
to hurt my right hand a few days ago, and--ar--not being used to the
ponies, I should scarcely feel justified in undertaking the charge.”

“Indeed,” was the rejoinder; “I noticed you always wore a glove--how did
the accident happen, pray?”

“I hit--that is--I struck my hand against something very hard,”
 stammered Harry, actually colouring like a girl, as he caught
Hazlehurst’s suppressed chuckle, and observed Alice’s bright eyes fixed
upon him inquisitively.

“Kate, if nobody else will drive you, I suppose I must take compassion
on you myself,” remarked Arthur, _sotto voce_, to his cousin.

“Ah! but here comes somebody who intends to relieve you of the trouble,”
 was the reply, in the same low tone; “do not make any objection,” she
continued, quickly, “you will only annoy my uncle to no purpose;
he would not have even a feather of the Crane’s tail ruffled on any

As she spoke, she glanced meaningly towards Horace D’Almayne, at that
moment engaged in drawing on a pair of kid gloves too small even for his
delicate hands. Coming forward, he languidly, and in an absent manner,
volunteered to drive Miss Marsden--an offer which that young lady
quietly accepted, either not perceiving, or disregarding, the look of
annoyance with which her cousin turned and left the spot.

“Oh, you are going to ride, Mr. Coverdale; here comes Sir Lancelot,
looking like a picture,” exclaimed Tom Hazlehurst, a fine, handsome lad,
_anno aetatis_ fourteen, an Etonian, and (need we add?) a pickle--“Oh!
do let me go with you; Alice will lend me her pony--won’t you, Alice?
I’ll take such care of it, and you don’t want it yourself, you know--ask
her to lend it to me, Mr. Coverdale, do please.”

If Harry had a weakness, it was that he could never say no, when his
good nature was appealed to in any matter in which another’s pleasure
was involved. Tom, moreover, had conceived for him one of those
violent friendships which boys feel towards men a few years older than
themselves who realise their _beau ideal_ of perfection; and Harry,
pleased with his undisguised admiration, responded to it by indulging
the young scapegrace in all his vagaries.

“I’m afraid my voice is not so potential as you imagine, Tom,” was his
reply; “but if my assurance that I will use my best endeavours to
keep you and the pony in good order, will have any weight with Miss
Hazlehurst, I am perfectly willing to give it.”

“If papa has no objection, Tom, you have my consent,” replied Alice,
blushing anti smiling, while, at the bottom of her heart she wished both
Mr. Crane and Harry safely located at Coventry, Jericho, or any other
refuge for bores, that might be suitable for putting those who are in
the way out of the way; in which case she would herself have enjoyed a
canter with Master Tom.

“Oh, the Governor won’t say no--will you Daddy?” was Tom’s confident
reply; and Mr. Hazlchurst, who, being a dreadful autocrat to his elder
children, made up for it by weakly indulging his youngest born, having
signified his consent, the calvacade proceeded to start--a close
carriage and a barouche conveying the remaining juveniles, and all the
elders of the party, with the exception of Mrs. Hazlchurst, who, being a
confirmed invalid, remained at home, in company with a weather-wise old
maid, proprietress of a meteorological corn, which having given warning
that a change was at hand, led her to mistrust the brilliant sunshine.

“Can’t we find our way across the fields somehow, Tom, without riding
along the dusty road the whole distance inquired Harry.

“To be sure we can,” was the reply; “don’t I know a way, that’s all?
Turn down the next lane to the right, and then there are lots of jolly
grass fields and a wide common, so that we can gallop as much as we
like, and get there before them--won’t they be surprised to see us

“What a lark!”

Tom’s topographical knowledge proving correct, they cantered away
merrily over field and common, till they had ridden some five or six

“You really have an uncommonly good scat, Tom,” observed his friend;
“only remember to turn your toes in, and keep your bridle hand low, and
you’ll do--you’ve plenty of pluck, and when you’ve acquired a little
more judgment and experience, you’ll be able to ‘hold your own’ across a
country with some of the best of ’em.

“Ah, shouldn’t I like to go out hunting, that’s all?” exclaimed the boy

“Have you never done so,” inquired his friend.

“No; I tried it on last winter, but the Governor cut up rough, and
wouldn’t stand it.”

“Can you sit a leap?” asked Harry.

“I believe you, rayther, just a _very_ few,” was the confident reply.

“Well, you must come to Coverdale, in the Christmas holidays, and I’ll
mount you and take you out with me; I mean to get up a stud, and hunt
regularly this season,” observed Harry.

“Won’t that be jolly, just?--I’ll come whether they’ll let me or not,
depend upon it; but now this is the last grass field, let’s have a race
for a wind up.” So saying, Master Tom laid his whip smartly across his
pony’s shoulder, and dashed off, while Coverdale, gradually giving
his spirited but perfectly broken horse the rein, soon overtook him. A
brushing gallop of five minutes brought them to the border of the field,
which was surrounded by a ditch and bank, with a sufficiently high rail
at top to constitute an awkward leap.

“How are we going to find our way out?” inquired Harry.

“Get off, pull down a rail, and then jump it,” was the reply.

“Yes, that will be the best way for you and the pony to get over,”
 returned Coverdale, “but I’ll take it as it stands. I’ve never yet had a
chance of trying Lancelot at a stiff fence, and I want to see how he’ll
act: don’t you attempt to follow me; as soon as I am over, I’ll dismount
and pull down the rail for you.”

As he spoke Harry put his horse in motion, cantered him up to the fence,
and faced him at it. Sir Lancelot did not belie the character that had
been given of him. As he approached the bank he quickened his pace of
his own accord, gathered his legs well under him, and then rising to
the leap, sprang over with a motion so easy and elastic that his rider
appeared scarcely to move in his saddle. The descent on the farther side
was steeper than Harry had expected, and the leap altogether might be
considered a difficult one. Delighted with his horse’s performance,
Harry pulled up, and turned, with the intention of alighting, in order
to remove a rail of the fence, and thus facilitate the transit of Tom
and the pony; when, to his alarm and vexation, he perceived that the
boy, deceived by the apparent ease with which he had accomplished
the task (a delusive appearance, produced as much by the coolness and
address of the rider as by the power and excellent training of the
horse), had determined to display his prowess by following him; nor
could Harry interfere to prevent him, for at the moment he turned, Tom
was in the act of galloping up to the fence: all that remained for him,
therefore, was to shout, “Give the pony his head, and hold tight with
your knees,” and to await the result. The pony, excited by seeing its
companion on the other side, faced the leap boldly, and cleared the
ditch and bunk, but catching its hoofs against the rail, fell, pitching
its rider over its head into the field beyond, where he lay as if
stunned. In an instant Harry had sprung from his saddle and lifted him
in his arms. “Thank Heaven!” he exclaimed as the boy opened his eyes,
and, perceiving Covcrdale bending over him, smiled to evince his

“You don’t feel as if you were seriously hurt anywhere, do you?”

“All right!” was the reply. “I feel a little bit shaky and confused;
rather as if somebody had gone and kicked me into the middle of next
week, that’s all.”

“Then you’ve escaped more easily than you had any right to expect, you
heedless, impetuous young monkey,” returned Cover-dale, sharply. “You
must have been mad to suppose that a half-bred, thick-headed beast like
that pony, would carry you over such a fence as that. Why, I know men,
who call themselves good riders, who would refuse it, unless they were
very well mounted.”

“If the pony did not carry me over, he shot me over, and that did just
as well,” was the careless reply. “But I say, Mr. Coverdale, only look
at his knees? Oh! shan’t we get into a jolly scrape just.”

Thus appealed to, Harry turned to examine the pony, which, in his
anxiety for the safety of the boy, he had hitherto forgotten. The result
of his scrutiny was by no means satisfactory.

“He has broken both knees!” he exclaimed; “the right one is cut
severely, and however favourably it may go on, there will always remain
a scar; you’ve knocked ten pounds off the pony’s price by that exploit
of yours, Master Tom, besides rendering the animal unsafe for your
sister to ride.”

“You’ve put your foot in it as well as I, Mr. Cuverdale,” returned the
young imp, grinning. “You promised Alice you would do your best to keep
me, and the pony too, in proper order, you know!”

“Why, you ungrateful young scamp, I’m sure I told you not to attempt
the leap,” replied Harry, restraining a strong inclination to lay his
horsewhip across the young pickle’s shoulders.

“Yes; and then you and Lancelot went flying over it as lightly as if he
had wings, like that fabulous humbug Pegasus, that old Buzwig is always
bothering us about. The copy-book says, ‘Practice before precept,’ and
so say I. Why, you did not expect I was going to be such a muff as to
stay behind, did you?”

“I was a fool if I did, at all events,” muttered Harry, _sotto voce_;
then turning good-naturedly to the boy, he continued, “The copy-book
also says, ‘What can’t be cured must be endured,’ does it not, Tom? So
we must get out of the scrape as best we can. We’ll leave the pony at
the nearest farm-house, and I’ll send my groom to doctor him--so lead
him by the rein and come along.”

Of course, when they joined the rest of the party and told their
misdeeds, Alice lamented over the pony’s troubles after the usual
fashion of tender-hearted young ladies. Of course, Hazlehurst senior,
discerning a long farrier’s bill in prospective, with the possibility of
being coaxed out of a new pony as a not unlikely contingent result, was
grumpy, as Governors usually are when they foresee a strain upon
their purse strings; and of course, although these lamentations and
threatenings were launched at the curly head of Master Tom, they
yet glanced off that unimpressible substance, only to fall upon and
overwhelm with shame and confusion Harry Coverdale, who began mentally
to curse the day when, false to his own presentiments, he had yielded to
his friend’s importunities, and suffered himself to become an inmate of
Hazlehurst Grange.

Bent on avoiding young ladies, and having no taste for the society of
old opes, Harry wandered about disconsolately, until, attracted by a
dark archway and a worm-eaten winding staircase, which, as Master Tom
expressed it, looked “jolly queer and ghostified;” he made his way up
the mouldering steps until he found himself at the top of a battlemented
tower, where he was repaid for the trouble of the ascent, by a beautiful
and widely-extending view. Having contrived to get rid of the voluble
and restless Etonian. Coverdale seated himself on a projecting fragment
of masonry, and glancing round to see that he was not observed or
observable, lit a cigar, and, his ruffled feelings being soothed by
its mollifying influence, remained lazily watching the movements of the
pleasure-seekers--his reflections running somewhat after the following

“There’s old Crane maundering about after Alice as usual--don’t think he
gets on with her though, rather t’other way--decided case of jibbing
I should say. She looked awfully bored and frightened too, up in that
phaeton with him; and no wonder either, for the old boy is nothing of a
whip--I should be sorry to trust a cat of mine to his driving. Ah! she’s
given him the slip, and that Miss Marsden has taken him in tow. I can’t
make that woman out--she _is_ so civil to him; perhaps she thinks
the affair with Alice may miss fire, and she is looking out for the
reversion of the cotton spinner herself. Arthur says she’s very poor,
and that there are a large family of them; if so, it’s not a bad dodge,
and, supposing she plays her cards well, one by no means unlikely to
succeed. There’s that confounded puppy D’Almayne swaggering up to Alice,
stroking his stupid moustaches--yes, and she smiles and takes his arm,
of course--believes all his lies, and thinks him a hero, I dare say.
Oh! the poor silly fools of women that can’t distinguish a man from a
jackanapes--I should have fancied Alice had more sense; but they’re all
alike. Look at the idiot simpering; that’s only to show his white teeth
now: the brute has no idea of a real joke--hasn’t got it in him. Well,
thank goodness, it’s no concern of mine: but if I were Crane, I’d
interfere with his flirting rather. The fellow talks as if he were
a dreadful fire-eater--I should like to try what he’s made of: but I
expect it’s all talk and nothing else--I wish I could coax him into
putting on the gloves with me some day--I’d astonish his moustaches for
him. Well, he has walked her off at all events. I wonder where they’re
going to. Are they? Yes--no--yes, by Jove, if he isn’t going to take
her across that field which Tom and I rode through, where the bull was
grazing--the brute is mischievous, too, or I am much mistaken--confound
the fool, he’ll go and frighten the poor girl out of her senses, and,
perhaps, get her hurt into the bargain; for, if the bull really is
vicious, ten to one Moustaches loses pluck, and bolts, or something
ridiculous. I’ve a great mind to follow them, it can do no harm, and may
do some good--’gad I will too. Alice is far too pretty to be gored
by a bull; besides, for Arthur’s sake, one is bound to take care of
her--luckily, I’ve just finished the cigar, so off wo go.”

Having arrived at this point in his meditations, Harry rose from his
seat, ran lightly down the stairs till he reached a mined window about
six feet from the ground, through which he leaped, then settling into a
long swinging trot, he ran, at a pace with which few could have kept
up, in the direction taken by Alice and D’Almayne; they had, however,
obtained so greatly the start of him, that they had already entered the
field occupied by the dangerous bull, ere he had overtaken them.

It was a remarkably warm day--the field in which pastured the alarming
bull was distant from the abbey ruins half-a-mile at the very least.
Now, to lump through a window six feet or thereabouts from the ground,
run at the top of one’s speed half-a-mile, leaping recklessly over two
gates and a stile in the course of it; and to do all this in a state of
anxious excitement on a day when the thermometer stands at 70° in the
shade, naturally tends to make a man not only hot, but (if his temper be
not semiangelic) cross also. At all events, Harry Coverdale was in the
former, if not the latter, condition, when, panting and breathless,
he overtook Alice Hazlehurst and Horace D’Almayne, half way across the
dangerous field.


“Mr. Coverdale, is anything the matter?--why, you are quite out of
breath with running!” exclaimed Alice, starting as she beheld him.

“Uncomfortably warm, too, I should say,” drawled D’Aimayne, glancing
significantly at Harry’s glowing cheeks, which were certainly too red
to be romantic; “really now, do you consider it judicious to overheat
yourself so?--of course, I merely ask as a matter of curiosity.”

Harry magnanimously repressed a strong inclination to knock him
down; but he felt that to answer him coolly was both literally and
metaphorically out of his power, so he confined his reply to Alice’s

“There is nothing the matter, Miss Hazlehurst,” he said; “but seeing you
take this direction, and thinking that Mr. D’Almayne might not be aware
a bull was grazing in this meadow, I thought it advisable to follow and
put you on your guard, even at the risk of making myself unbecomingly
hot;” and as he pronounced the last two words, he looked at D’Aimayne
as though he wished _he_ had been the bull, and would oblige him by
evincing an inclination to attack them.

“How very kind and thoughtful of you!” returned Alice, bestowing on
him one of her brightest smiles; “but is there any danger?--what had we
better do?”

“Eh, really, danger! not the slightest; am not _I_ with you?” interposed
D’Aimayne, majestically bending over her. “A bull did you say, Mr.
Coverdale?--ar--really, I don’t perceive such a creature.--Are you quite
sure he exists anywhere but in your vivid and poetical imagination?”

Harry’s reply, if reply it can be called, to this impertinent
question, was made by grasping D’Almayne’s elbow so tightly as to cause
that delicate young gentleman to wince under the pressure. Having thus
attracted his attention at a moment when Alice’s head was turned in
an opposite direction, he pointed towards a group of trees, under the
shadow whereof might be discerned a large brindled individual of the
bovine species, who stood attentively regarding the trio with a
singularly unamiable, not to say vicious expression of countenance. Placing
his finger on his lips as a hint to D’Almayne to keep the knowledge thus
acquired to himself, Harry answered Alice’s inquiry by saying--

“It is always the safest policy to mistrust a bull; so I would advise
you to turn and make the best of your way towards the stile over which I
came; walk as quickly as you please, but do not run, as that would only
tempt the animal to follow you.”

“Yes, really, Miss Hazlehurst, we must not risk the chance of
frightening you merely because we men enjoy the excitement of a little
danger--take my arm,” hastily rejoined Horace D’Almayne, and suiting the
action to the word, he drew Alice’s arm within his own, and marched her
off at a pace with which she found considerable difficulty in keeping
up. Harry, ere he followed them, remained stationary for a minute or so,
to reconnoitre the movements of the bull. That animal, having apparently
satisfied his curiosity in regard to the intruders on his domain, was
now assiduously working himself up into a rage, preparatory, no doubt,
to instituting vigorous measures for their expulsion. The way in which
he signified this intention, was by tossing his head up and down,
tearing up the turf with his fore-feet, and uttering from time to time a
low angry roar, like the rumbling of distant thunder. When Harry turned
to leave the spot, the animal immediately followed him, though only at
a walk. As soon as he became aware of this disagreeable fact, Coverdale
paused, and faced his undesirable attendant; which manoeuvre, as he
expected, caused the bull to stop also, though it was evident it had the
effect of increasing the creature’s rage. In spite of this discovery,
Harry waited till his companions had reached the stile, and D’Almayne
had assisted Alice to get over it--a piece of chivalry by which he very
materially lessened his own chances of safety, as the bull’s small stock
of patience being exhausted, it became evident he was preparing fop
a rush. Trusting to his swiftness of foot, Harry was about to make an
attempt to reach the stile before the bull should overtake him, when
suddenly the yelping of a dog was heard, and a terrier belonging to
Arthur Hazlehurst, which had followed them unobserved, ran forward and
distracted the bull’s attention by barking round him, taking especial
care to keep out of the reach of the animal’s horns. This diversion in
his favour enabled Coverdale to rejoin his companions unmolested.

“Oh, Mr. Coverdale, what a savage-looking creature! I was so afraid it
was going to attack you. I do not know how to thank you properly for
having saved me from at least a terrible fright,” exclaimed Alice as
Harry ran up to them.

“Ar--from alarm possibly; but really I don’t conceive there was the
slightest danger; the animal was a very mild specimen of his class; even
a little dog, you see, was sufficient to turn him,” observed D’Almayne

“I’ll bet you fifty pounds to one you don’t walk across that field while
the bull remains there,” exclaimed Harry eagerly--“Miss Hazlehurst shall
be umpire, and I’ll promise to come and do my best to help you if you
get into any scrape--what do you say, is it a bet?”

“I never bet, and--ar-never do useless and unreasonable things on a hot
day, in order to establish a fast reputation. Such little excitements
may be all very well for a sporting character like yourself, my dear
Coverdale; but--ar--a man who has shot bison on the American prairies
does not need them; so really you must hold me excused. Shall we
rejoin the rest of the party, Miss Hazlehurst? they seem assembling
for luncheon. Let me recollect, we were talking of that charming
soul-creation of Tennyson, _Locksley Hall_, I think, before this absurd
interruption occurred; what an unrivalled picture does it not present of
the spirit-torture of a proud despair?”--and chattering on in the same
pseudo-romantic and grandiloquent strain, the man of sentiment fairly
walked Alice off, leaving Coverdale in the unenviable position popularly
ascribed to virtue, viz., that of being its own reward. Having waited
till the pair were out of sight, he flung himself down at the foot of an
old beech-tree, and indulged in the following mental soliloquy:--

“Well, Master Harry! you’ve been and done something clever--you have,
certainly; run like an insane creature more than half-a-mile, on by
far the hottest day we’ve had this summer, and placed yourself in a
situation where nothing but a lucky accident saved you from being run
at, and possibly gored, by rather a mad bull than otherwise, only to be
pooh-poohed by an insolent coxcomb, and have a cold-hearted ungrateful
girl lisp out a missish inquiry, ‘whether there was any danger,’
forsooth! ’gad, I almost wish I’d left her and her swain to find out
for themselves.”

He paused, removed his hat to allow a slight breeze which had sprung up
to cool his heated forehead, and then stretching himself resumed:--

“I hope I’m not really becoming morose and ill-tempered, as Arthur
hinted the other day. I must take care, or I shall be growing a savage
old brute, and have everybody hate me. It’s all that puppy D’Almayne; he
keeps me in a constant state of suppressed irritation with his affected
airs of superiority;--but puppies will exist on the face of the earth,
I suppose, whether I like it or not, and must be endured; so we’ll
endeavour to look upon him as an appointed trial, and see if we can
turn him to good account in that way. There’s always the possibility of
horsewhipping him as a _dernier ressort_, that’s one consolation.
Now I’ll go to luncheon, and try whether I can put some of my good
intentions into practice. Heigho! life’s hard work, and no mistake;
particularly in warm weather.” Thus cogitating, Harry slowly gathered
himself up, and betook himself to join the luncheon party, actuated
thereunto, amongst other reasons, by the discovery of a serious attack
of appetite. In the meantime, a scene of a very different character was
being enacted between two others of our _dramatis persona_.

Arthur Hazlehurst, foiled in his attempt to secure a _tête-à-tête_ drive
with his cousin, Kate Marsden, having, after his usual habit, bustled
about, settled everything for everybody, and made himself very generally
useful and agreeable, had contrived on arriving at the ruins to withdraw
himself from the rest of the party, and having watched the proceedings
of his cousin and Mr. Crane, waited until she separated from that
gentleman, when he joined her, and induced her to stroll with him along
a shady, serpentine, romantic-looking pathway leading through a wood.
Agreeable as were external circumstances, however, neither the lady nor
the gentleman appeared to be in a sympathetic frame of mind; for a
cloud hung on Arthur’s brow, while his cousin’s features wore a cold,
uncompromising look of defiance. They proceeded for some little distance
in silence; Hazlehurst was the first to speak.

“You found your companion amusing, I hope; pray what might he be talking
about so earnestly?”

“Do you really care to know?” was the reply; “he was making me his
_confidante_ in regard to Alice. The poor man is at his wits’ end--if
a quality which he does not possess can be said to have an end; at all
events, he is _au désespoir_. Even his obtuseness cannot be blind to the
fact that she dislikes him, and the worthy soul is now beginning to grow
mildly jealous of D’Almayne.”

“And what advice did you give him?” inquired her cousin, sternly; “tell
me the truth.”

As he spoke the girl’s eyes flashed, and a slight colour burned for a
moment in her pale cheeks.

“How _dare_ you say such a thing to me!” was her indignant rejoinder;
“have I ever attempted to deceive _you?_--you know I have not; but let
it pass. You ask me what advice I gave him: I told him to persevere,
reminded him that a faint heart never won a fair lady, which I believe
he took to be an entirely original remark on my part, and gently
insinuated that no girl in her senses could refuse him.”

Arthur fixed his piercing glance upon her, as he replied--

“And why did you say this? Do you believe, indeed, that Alice will
eventually be prevailed upon to marry him?--or did you say it to deceive
him for a purpose of your own?”

“I gave him good sound advice,” was the answer; “I do _not_ believe
Alice will marry him; but that is no reason why he should not use his
best endeavours to obtain what he wishes, or fancies he wishes. I shall
advise him to prosecute his suit, and at the right moment to offer to
her in person.”

“In order that she may irritate him, and offend my father, by a refusal.
Kate, you are playing some deep game in all this, and one of which you
know I should disapprove, or else you would not so studiously conceal it
from me,” returned Hazlehurst gloomily.

There was a moment’s pause ere the young lady replied--

“Let events unravel themselves, my worthy cousin; the result will appear
all in good time.”

They walked on in silence, till a turn in the path brought them before a
smooth moss-grown bank, on which the gnarled roots of an old pollard-oak
formed a natural rustic seat.

“Let us rest here, and enjoy the sunshine while we may; there is not too
much of it in the world,” observed Kate, in a gentler tone than she had
hitherto used. There was a touch of sadness in her voice which Arthur
could not hear unmoved, and merely waiting till she had seated herself,
he placed himself on a root of the tree at her feet. For some minutes
neither of them spoke, till as if were unconsciously, Kate allowed her
hand to rest on his head, while her fingers played with a lock of his
rich chesnut hair. As he felt her soft touch upon his brow, he raised
his eyes to her countenance--the stem, hard expression had vanished, and
in its place appeared that look which, once seen, the recollection dies
only with memory itself--the fond, wistful, tender gaze a loving woman
turns on him she loves. For a minute he remained silent and motionless,
subdued by the power of her rare beauty; then springing to his feet, he

“You shall trifle with me thus no longer; I am no petulant boy, to be
repulsed one hour, and caressed into good humour the next. What is
the meaning of this estrangement which you have chosen shall spring
up between us? Why do you?--but such questions are useless--this shall
decide the point--once and for ever:--Do you love me, or do you not?”

For a moment she was silent; then turning her head to avoid his eager
scrutinizing glance, she murmured--

“Have we not known each other from childhood, and loved each other

“That is no answer; you only seek to evade my question,” was the angry

He stood for a moment, his lips quivering with emotion, and his hands
clenched so tightly that the blood receded from the points of his
fingers, leaving them cold and colourless as marble. His companion
did not speak, but continued to regard him with a look half-pitying,
half-imploring pity. As their eyes met, his mood appeared suddenly to
change, and springing to her side, he exclaimed in a voice tremulous
with emotion--

“Kate, dearest, why will you thus torture yourself and me? Hear me, dear
one; you know I love you better than any created thing--better than my
own soul. You say truly, that I have loved you always--with the tender
unconscious love of the child, with the happy romantic love of the
boy, and, lastly, with the deep, earnest, absorbing passion of mature
manhood; and you, Kate, you must--nay, you _do_ love me!”

As he spoke, he drew her gently towards him, and unrepulsed pressed a
kiss upon her soft lips. She did not resist or respond to his caress,
but suffered her head to rest passively against his shoulder, as he

“I do not inquire--I heed not--what mad schemes you may have dreamed of;
but I ask--nay, I implore you, by all you hold sacred to put them away
from you, and to wait patiently for a few, a very few short years, until
I can claim you for my beloved, my honoured wife. Kate, you will do as I
desire?--speak to me, my own love!”

Unheeding his appeal, she remained for a minute silent, while a few
tears stole unchecked down her pale cheeks, then rousing herself by an
effort, she wiped away the traces of her late emotion, gently removed
her cousin’s arm, which still encircled her waist, and drawing herself
up, exclaimed--

“This is weakness--folly; I never intended it should have come to this;
but I was taken by surprise--unprepared----”

She paused, struggling to regain self-possession, then in a calmer voice

“My poor Arthur! I do, indeed, appreciate your noble, generous
self-sacrifice, and were I alone concerned, would desire no happier fate
than to share and aid you in your struggle with the world; but it
may not be so; others have claims upon me--my father’s health is
failing--the cares of that bitter curse, poverty, are wearing out
my mother’s little remaining strength, and blighting the talents and
crushing the youth and spirits of the children. Dear Arthur, forgive me
the pain I cost you when I tell you--I can never be your wife!”

“But, Kate,” interrupted her cousin, eagerly, “listen to me, dear one;
you do not suppose that I had forgotten all this; only agree to my
proposal, and I will be a son to your mother, a father--if, as you
fear, my uncle’s health is breaking--to her children. My practice is
increasing every day; I shall soon be in the receipt of a good income;
Coverdale is rich, and loves me as a brother; he will advance me money;
I will work day and night to repay him.”

“My husband destroy his health to support my family!--is this the
prospect of happiness you would offer me?--are these the arguments you
would bring forward to induce me to agree?” was the reply. “No, Arthur,
I can never be your wife; you must from this moment forget that such an
idea has crossed your mind.”

“But, Kate, only hear me!----” he exclaimed passionately.

“I have already heard too much for your happiness, or for my own,”
 was the mournful reply; then, by a powerful effort resuming her usual
manner, she exclaimed, “Come, no more of this folly, our paths in life
lie separate; it is inevitable--therefore repining becomes worse
than useless; we are not boy and girl, to stand rehearsing romantic
love-scenes together; let us rejoin the others.”

For a moment Hazlehurst remained silently gazing on the cold, immovable
expression of her features; then, coming close to her, he said in a low,
hoarse whisper, “I read your heart, and perceive the wickedness, for
such it is, you contemplate. I will give you till to-morrow morning
to reflect on what has passed between us; if then you adhere to your
determination, I leave you to the fate you have chosen!” and as he
uttered the last words, he turned and quitted her.

Kate Marsden gazed after him with the same cold expression of defiance
on her features till his retreating figure became no longer visible,
then, sinking back upon the rustic bench, she covered her face with her
hands and wept bitterly.


The humours of a picnic have been too often described to need
repetition; suffice it to say, that the picnic in question was decidedly
a favourable specimen of its class. Of course everybody voted it to be
the summit of human felicity, to sit in an uncomfortable position upon
something never intended for a seat, beside a table-cloth spread upon
the grass, which, being elastic and uneven, caused everything that
should have remained perpendicular to assume a horizontal attitude. Of
course, when the inevitable frog hopped across the table-cloth, and,
losing its presence of mind on finding itself so unexpectedly launched
into fashionable life, sought refuge in the pigeon-pie, the ladies
screamed little picturesque screams, which were increased
twentyfold when Tom Hazlehurst fished it out with a table-spoon, and
surreptitiously immersed it in the jug of beer, which liquid he artfully
incited Mr. Crane to pour out, thereby landing the frog, decidedly
inebriated and most uncomfortably sticky, upon the elaborately
embroidered shirt-front of Horace D’Almayne. Of course the salt and the
sugar had fraternized, and the cayenne had elicited new and striking
effects by mingling indiscriminately with things in general, and
the sweets in particular; and of course all these shocking disasters
irritated the few and delighted the many, and added immensely to the
liveliness and hilarity of the party.

“Tom, you’re drinking too much champagne!” exclaimed an elderly maiden
sister of Mr. Hazlehurst, decidedly like a hippopotamus in face and
figure. “Mr. D’Almayne, may I trouble you to hand me his glass, the boy
will make himself poorly.”

Thus appealed to, D’Almayne languidly extended his arm in the necessary
direction, but the Etonian was not to be so easily despoiled of his

“_Mille pardons_, mounseer!” he exclaimed, mimicking the affected
half-foreign accent with which the exquisite Horace usually spoke;
“_mais c’est tout à fait_--out of the question; _ne souhaitez-vous pas
que vous pouvez l’obtenir?_--don’t you wish you may get it? Equally
obliged to you, but I’d rather do my own drinking myself. Why, my dear
Aunt Betsy, how dreadfully ungrateful of you, just when I was going
to propose your health, too! Silence, gentlemen, for a toast! Come,
Governor (to his father, who, delighted with the young pickle’s ready
wit, was vainly endeavouring to preserve an appearance of majestic
disapproval), fill up; D’Almayne, my boy, no heeltaps; are you all
charged? ‘My Aunt Betsy, and the rest of her lovely sex!--hip! hip! hip!
hurrah!’” So saying, and with a knowing wink at Coverdale, who, if the
truth must be told, encouraged him in his inclination to be impertinent
to D’Almayne, Master Tom tossed down his glass of champagne amidst a
general chorus of laughter. And thus the _déjeûner_ passed off to all
appearance merrily enough; though in two, if not more, of the company a
smiling exterior hid an aching heart.

“Have you seen the rabbit warren yet, Mr. Coverdale? Do come, there are
such a lot of the beggars jumping about! I found my way there before
luncheon, and it won’t take long,” exclaimed Tom Hazlehurst, grasping
Harry’s arm imploringly.

“It strikes me I shall be considered especially rude if I again absent
myself,” was the reply.

“Who by?--the women?” inquired Tom, scornfully. “Never mind them--poor,
weak-minded, fickle things; there is nothing I consider a greater
nuisance than to have a pack of silly girls dangling about one, that
won’t leave a fellow alone; there, you needn’t toss your head and turn
up your nose about it, Emily, beneficent Nature’s done that for you
sufficiently already. Now will you come, Mr. Coverdale? there are some
black rabbits among them, such rum shavers!”

“Are there!” exclaimed Harry, eagerly. “I wonder whether I could
contrive to buy a few couples of them; I want to get some black rabbits
at the park excessively: come along, for our time is growing short, I
expect.” And as he spoke, Coverdale strode off, entirely forgetful of
the pretty Emily, with whom, on the strength of her juvenility, he had
considered he might safely allow himself to laugh and talk, and to whom
he had, therefore, been unconsciously rendering himself very agreeable.

The warren was further than he had expected it would be, and the black
rabbits were so long before they chose to show themselves, that Harry
began to grew sceptical as to their existence; even when they did
appear, a gamekeeper had to be routed out, and terms for the transfer of
ten couples to Coverdale Park agreed upon; so that by the time Tom and
his companion rejoined the pleasure-seekers, there were but few left
to rejoin. These few consisted of the old maiden aunt; a time-honoured
female friend of the same--older, uglier, still more like a
hippopotamus, and with a double portion of the vinegar of inhuman
unkindness in her nature; and, lastly, a plain young lady, the daughter
of nobody in particular, who lived with the time-honoured friend
as companion, in a state of chronic martyrdom, for which perpetual
sacrifice she received thirty pounds a-year, and permission to cry
herself to sleep every night, in misty wonderment why so sad a creature
as she was, should ever have been born into the world. Besides this
uncomfortable trio, who composed the cargo of a brougham, and were
rather a tight fit, there remained Mr. Crane and Alice, who, it seemed,
were waiting for the phaeton, which had not yet made its appearance.

“Upon my word, Miss Hazlehurst,” began the sour friend, addressing the
acidulated aunt, “this is very provoking, ma’am; it’s six o’clock, and
it’s growing cold, and it will be quite dusk before we get home; and I
really believe Miss Cornetoe was right this morning, and that we shall
have a wet night after all.”

“Shall I run down to the inn and see what causes the delay I must go
there to get my horse,” inquired Coverdale, good naturedly.

“If you would be so kind, we really should be extremely obliged to
you,” returned Miss Hazlehurst senior, with her most gracious and least
hippopotamic smile; and thus urged, Cover-dale hurried off.

In the meantime poor Alice, who by no means admired the position of
affairs, and had moreover been considerably alarmed in the morning by
Mr. Crane’s unskilful driving, whispered a pathetic appeal to her aunt
to be allowed to accompany the brougham party,--“she could sit on the
box, Wilson, the coachman, was so inconceivably respectable, and she was
almost sure it would not rain;”--but her aunt was a strong-minded woman,
and a warm advocate of the Crane alliance, and she would not hear of
such a change of plan. As soon as Coverdale arrived within sight of the
inn, he perceived the missing phaeton standing in front of the doorway,
the horses ready harnessed, and the groom seated on the driving-seat;
accordingly he made signs to him to come on, of which, for some
unaccountable reason, the man took not the slightest notice. Surprised
at this, Harry made the best of his way to the spot, and on reaching it
discovered, from the swollen, heated look of the fellow’s features, and
the stupid, obstinate expression which characterized them, that he had
been drinking to excess.

“Why the man is intoxicated!” exclaimed Coverdale, turning to the
ostler, who, with ono or two hulking village lads, stood staring at the
coachman with a grin of amusement on their vacant faces; “why did not
you make him get down, and bring the carriage yourself?”

“A did troy, but a woldn’t budge a inch--a be property drunk to be

“Oh, he would not, eh?” inquired Coverdale; then, turning to the groom,
he continued, “Get down directly, my friend, I want particularly to
speak to you.”

To this the groom contrived to stammer out on insolent refusal,
accompanied by a recommendation to Coverdale to mind his own business,
and give orders to his own servants.

“My business just at present is to make you get down from that phaeton,”
 returned Harry, his eyes flashing.

“Oh! it is, is it?--I should like to see you do it, that’s all!”
 rejoined the other, with a gesture of drunken defiance.

“You shall,” was the concise reply, as, directing the ostler to stand by
the horses’ heads, Coverdale, ere the fellow was aware of his intention,
or could take measures to prevent him, sprang lightly up, forced the
reins from his uncertain grasp, twisted him suddenly round, then placing
his hands under his arms lifted him by sheer strength, and dropped him
to the ground. Having performed this feat with the neatness and celerity
of some harlequinade trick, he glanced round to see that the fellow had
fallen clear of the wheels, and taking the reins, drove off.

While this little affair had been proceeding, the sky had become
overcast, and a few large drops of rain came pattering heavily to
the ground; alarmed by these symptoms, the brougham party no sooner
perceived the phaeton approaching, than they scrambled into their
vehicle and started. As their road lay in a direction opposite to that by
which Coverdale was advancing, they were nearly out of sight by the time
he reached the spot where Alice and Mr. Crane awaited him. Jumping
down with the reins in his hand, he was explaining to the owner of the
phaeton the plight in which he had found his servant, when a faint flash
of lightning glanced across the sky, followed after an interval by
a clap of distant thunder, at which the horses, which were young and
spirited, began to prick up their ears, and evince such unmistakable
signs of alarm, that their master, fearing they were about to dash off,
ran to lay hold of their heads. Misfortune often brings about strange
associations. If any one had that morning told Alice Hazlehurst that
before the day should be over she would have appealed for protection to,
and confided in, “Arthur’s cross, disagreeable friend,” she would have
utterly disbelieved the statement--and yet so it was to be. The moment
Mr. Crane left her side, she turned to Harry exclaiming--

“Oh, Mr. Coverdale, I am so frightened! He will never be able to manage
those horses: he could scarcely hold them in this morning, and the groom
was forced to get down to them twice--he does not know how to drive one

Poor little Alice! she was trembling from head to foot, and looked so
pretty and interesting in her alarm, that Harry felt peculiar, he didn’t
exactly know how, about it.

“I’ll speak to Mr. Crane, and persuade him to let me drive you home,”
 he replied eagerly. (He would have knocked him down without the smallest
hesitation, if Alice had in the slightest degree preferred it.) “I’ve
been accustomed to horses all my life, and have not a doubt of being
able to manage these, even if the thunder should startle them; so please
don’t look so frightened.”

And as Harry said this with his very brightest, kindest smile,

Alice wondered she had never before noticed how handsome he was, and
began to think he could not be so very cross after all.

When Harry urged his request, Mr. Crane was considerably embarrassed as
to the nature of his reply. In his secret soul he was delighted to be
relieved from the danger and responsibility of driving Alice and himself
home through a thunder-storm; but, on the other hand, he could not
disguise the fact, that by allowing himself to be so relieved, he should
detract from the heroic style of character he wished Alice to impute to
him. Had it been D’Almayne instead of Coverdale who sought to become his
substitute, he would probably, at the hazard of breaking his own neck
and that of his lady-love, have refused to permit him; but he had
observed, as indeed he must have been blind if he had not done,
Harry’s marked avoidance of the young lady, and trusting to these his
mysogynistic principles he, with many excuses and much circumlocution,
agreed to Harry’s proposal that he should ride his horse, and allow him
to drive the phaeton.

“Ahem!--if the storm should come on violently,” observed the
cotton-spinner, as a second growl of thunder became audible, “I shall
wait till it has subsided; so don’t let them expect me till they see me:
getting wet always gives me cold.”

“All right, sir,” returned Harry, as he wrapped Alice carefully up in
his own Macintosh; “take care of yourself by all means--good people
are scarce. We shall see nothing more of friend Crane to-night,”
 he continued, as he drove off; “the old gentleman is very decidedly
alarmed--that is, I suppose I ought not to call him an old gentleman,”
 he stammered, suddenly recollecting with whom he was conversing.

“Why should you not when he is so?” returned Alice, innocently.

Harry turned his head away to conceal a smile which the _naïveté_ of the
reply had called forth, muttering to himself as he did so, “Poor Crane!”

After a few minutes’ silence, Alice began abruptly, and

“I’m sure I ought to feel very much obliged to you, Mr. Coverdale--and
indeed I do; this is the second really good-natured thing you’ve done by
me to-day.”

The tone in which she spoke so completely betrayed that surprise was the
feeling uppermost in her mind, that Harry, slightly piqued, could not
help replying--

“You did not, then, give me credit for possessing the least particle of

Alice smiled as she answered--

“If I had had a proper degree of faith in Arthur’s representations, I
need not have felt surprise.”

The delicate irony of this reply was not lost upon Coverdale; but he
knew that he had deserved it, and, with the ready frankness which was
one of his best characteristics, he hastened to acknowledge it.

“I certainly have done little towards practically vindicating the
character your brother’s partiality has bestowed upon me,” he said; “but
I must be allowed to plead in justification, that I am quite aware of my
own deficiencies, and told Arthur that I had been roughing it abroad
so long, that I was totally unfitted for ladies’ society. He would
not admit the excuse; but it was a full, true, and sufficient one,

As he uttered the last words, a dazzling flash of lightning appeared
almost to envelop them, followed instantaneously by a deafening peal
of thunder. Half blinded by the blaze of light, the frightened horses
stopped abruptly, then, terrified at the prolonged thunder, tried to
turn short round; foiled in this attempt by the skill and promptitude of
their driver, they began rearing and plunging in a way which threatened
every moment to overturn the phaeton. Fortunately the road happened to
be unusually wide at this point, and Harry, who never throughout the
affair in the slightest degree lost his presence of mind, deciding that
whatever might most effectually frighten the horses, would create the
impulse they would eventually obey, determined to try the effect of
a little judicious discipline. Accordingly, standing up, he began to
administer the whip to their sleek sides with an amount of strength and
determination which, from the contrast it afforded to the mild and timid
driving to which they were accustomed, so astonished the animals,
that bounding forward with a snatch which tried the soundness of their
harness, they dashed off at a furious gallop; at the same moment, a
second peal of thunder, even louder than the preceding one, increased
their alarm to such a degree, that Coverdale, despite his utmost
efforts, found it completely beyond his power to hold them in.


“Miss Hazlehurst!--Alice! are you mad? Only sit still, don’t go and
scream or anything, and all will come right.”

Thus appealed to, or rather commanded--for the tone of the speaker’s
voice was unmistakably imperative--Alice, who when the horses bolted had
half risen from her seat, and in an agony of terror glanced round, as
though she meditated an attempt to jump out, shrank down again,
and covering her eyes with her hands, remained perfectly still and
motionless, thus enabling Coverdale to devote his whole attention to
the horses. The terrified animals, after galloping nearly a mile, their
fears being kept alive by repeated flashes of lightning and peals of
thunder, while a perfect deluge of rain converted the dusty road beneath
their feet into a morass, at length began to relax their speed. As soon
as Harry perceived this to be the case, he turned to his companion,
saying, “There, Miss Hazlehurst, I have got them in hand again, they’re
quite under command now, and the worst of the storm is over too, so you
needn’t be frightened any longer; you have behaved like a”--(regular
brick was the simile that rose to his lips, but he refrained, and
substituted)--“complete heroine, since you overcame that slightly insane
impulse to commit suicide by jumping out.”

Reassured by his manner, Alice ventured to open her eyes, and the
first use she made of them was to fix them upon the countenance of her
companion, striving to read therein whether the hopes with which he
sought to inspire her were true or false. But Harry’s was a face about
which there could be no mistake; truth and honesty were written in every
feature so legibly, that the veriest tyro in physiognomy could not fail
at once to perceive them.

“How fortunate it was that you were driving, and not Mr. Crane!” were
the first words Alice uttered; “we should have been overturned to a
certainty if the horses had behaved so this morning. I’ll take good care
not to let him drive me again. How cleverly you managed the creatures
when they were plunging and rearing! I should never have dared to whip
them while they were in that furious state, but it answered capitally.”

“You observed _that_, did you?” inquired Harry in a tone of surprise.

Alice favoured him with a quick glance, as she replied, half archly,
half petulantly, “Of course I did; what a stupid silly little thing you
seem to consider me!”

Harry paused for a minute ere he rejoined, laughingly, “You know nothing
about what I consider you, Miss Hazlehurst, and therefore I advise
you not to form any theories whatsoever on the subject, as they are
tolerably certain to be wrong ones.”

“I dare say you have never given yourself the trouble to reflect at all
on so frivolous a topic,” returned Alice; “I know your heterodox notions
in regard to our sex; you consider us all simpletons.”

“I’m sure I never told you so,” was all the denial Harry’s conscience
permitted him to make.

“Not _viva voce_, perhaps,” replied Alice; “but I have heard it
second-hand from Master Tom: the boy was uncomplimentary enough before
you came, but he has been fifty times worse since you’ve been here to
encourage him in his impertinence.”

“A young cub!” muttered Harry aside, “I’ll twist his neck if he tells
tales out of school in this way;” turning to Alice, he continued, “it is
never too late to mend, is it? If I confess my sins, promise never to
do so any more, and throw myself on the mercy of the court, is there any
chance of my obtaining forgiveness?”

“As far as I am concerned, yes,” was the reply; “in consideration of
your services this afternoon, I graciously accord you a free pardon for
all past offences, and for the future we will try and be friends.” As
she spoke she half playfully, half in earnest, held out her hand. Harry
took it in his own, and shook it--even in a glove it was a nice, warm,
soft little hand, a kind of hand that it was impossible to relinquish
without giving it a squeeze, at least such was Harry’s impression, and
he acted upon it, although to do so was by no means in accordance
with his principles; but he did not happen to be thinking about his
principles just then. By this time the storm, which had pretty well
exhausted itself by its violence, resigned in favour of a lovely sunset;
and the horses having come to the conclusion that they had thoroughly
disgraced themselves, and behaved with an equal disregard of principle
and propriety, trotted steadily along under Coverdale’s skilful
guidance, like a pair of four-legged penitents, anxious to retrieve
their character. And Harry ami Alice suddenly found a great deal to talk
about, and were quite surprised when they perceived themselves to be in
sight of the Grange; and the gentleman felt moved by a sudden impulse
to declare that, despite its unpropitious commencement, he did not know
when he had had such a delightful drive, to which the lady replied that
it certainly had been very agreeable, an admission which she endeavoured
to qualify by attributing her pleasurable sensations to the influence
of the setting sun and the delicious coolness of the evening air--a
transparent attempt at deception that only rendered the truth more

The next morning a groom brought back Sir Lancelot, together with a note
from Mr. Crane, saying that he had contrived to get wet through on
his way to the inn, that he feared he had taken cold, and therefore
considered it most prudent to return home for a day or two; adding that
he should hope to be sufficiently convalescent to rejoin the party
at the Grange that day week, when a dinner was to be given by Mr.
Hazlehurst to some of the county magnates. His note wound up with an
elaborate inquiry as to whether Alice had experienced any ill-effects
from the “atmospheric inclemency,” as he was pleased to style the
thunder-storm, accompanied by an infallible specific against all
sore-throats, colds, hoarsenesses, and rheumatic affections, which that
young lady straightway committed to the waste-paper basket. There was
also a note for Horace D’Almayne, from which dropped an inclosure that,
as the exquisite stooped to pick it up, looked marvellously like a

“A--really I find I must go to town--a--business of importance--can I
execute any little commissions for you, Miss Hazlehurst? I’ve excellent
taste in ribands, I assure you.”

“There, do you hear that!” observed Tom _sotto voce_ to Cover-dale. “I
always thought he’d been a counter-jumper!”

“Kate, must I accompany him?” inquired Arthur of his cousin, _sotto
voce_; “remember, if you send me from you now, we meet again as
strangers!” There was a moment’s struggle, and her colour went and
came--then in a cold, hard voice she answered, “Yes, go!”

Arthur looked at her; her features might have been sculptured in marble,
so fixed and immovable was their expression. That look decided him; and
with set teeth and lowering brow he rose and quitted the room.

In less than half-an-hour he returned, prepared for a journey; and
beckoning Coverdale aside, began, “Harry, I have a favour to ask of you.
I am obliged to go to town suddenly, in consequence of an affair which
has caused me some annoyance; but I shall come back for the dinner-party
on the----th. Crane will also return then; and from what I can make out,
Alice’s affair will be definitely settled one way or other. The more
I see of Crane, the more I perceive how thoroughly he and Alice are
unsuited; but my father appears obstinately bent on the match: and if
Alice is to refuse him, she will require all the support that can be
given her. My poor mother’s health is, as you are aware, so delicate,
that although she is as much averse to the match as any of us, we cannot
expect her to exert herself; indeed, our chief anxiety is to prevent her
attempting to do so. The whole thing will, therefore, fall upon me: and
your support and assistance will be invaluable. My father has taken a
great fancy to you; and your opinion weighs with him more than you will
believe. I am sorry to perceive that you are bored to death here; but
I trust to your friendship to remain till after my return. Am I taxing
your kind feeling too far?”

“My dear boy, don’t make pretty speeches; for I can stand anything but
that,” was the reply. “As to staying here, I had no thought of going
away till you had done with me. In regard to being bored, I’m getting
over that beautifully. Your family are charming people. I’m becoming
used to women’s society, and, in fact, find it’s not by any means as
bad as imagination painted it; and when D’Almayne is fairly out of the
house, I really shall not care how long I remain in it; so will that
satisfy you?”

“My dear fellow,” rejoined Hazlehurst, warmly, “there’s nobody like you
in the world! I’ve always said so, from the day that I first set eyes on
you at Eton, when you thrashed the bully of the form for striking me,
and then boxed my ears because I took a blow from a boy less than
myself, without returning it. I shall never quite turn misanthrope while
I’ve you for a friend.”

“Misanthrope! no, why should you?” was the surprised rejoinder. “What
ails you, man?--you look ill and unhappy, it’s nothing in the money way,
is it? I’ve got a few odd thousands lying idle at my bankers, that I
should really be obliged to you to make use of.”

Hazlehurst shook his friend’s hand heartily. “God bless you, old follow!
I know you would.” he said; “but money can’t help me: I must fight it
out alone. I shall be myself again by the time I return--till then,
good-by,” and wringing Coverdale’s hand once more, he turned and was

“Alice, here’s a treat! everybody’s going away except that horrid Harry
Coverdale!” exclaimed Emily, in a tone of despair; “we shall have him
on our hands, talking stable, and wishing we were dogs and horses, for a
whole week! What are we to do with the creature?”

Alice turned her head to hide her heightened colour, as she replied,
in a tone of voice that was almost cross, “Really, Emily, you should be
careful not to carry that absurd habit of yours of laughing at everybody
too far. People will begin to call you flippant. Mr. Coverdale is so
good-natured that he is the easiest person in the world to entertain.
Surely, Arthur has a right to ask his friend to remain here without
consulting you or me on the subject.”

“Phew!” whistled Emily, and a droll little parody of a whistle it was;
“the wind has changed, has it? I suppose that was the thunder-storm
yesterday; not to mention a certain _tête-à-tête_ drive. Take care,
Ally: recollect that sweet bird the Crane! what does the song say?” and
popping herself down at the pianoforte, she ran her fingers lightly over
the keys, as she sang with mischievous archness:

                   “’Tis good to be merry and wise,

                   ‘Tis good to be honest and true,

                   ’Tis good to be off with the _old_ love

                   Before you are on with the new.”

The party which sat down to dinner at Hazlehurst Grange on that day was
a very select one. Mr. Hazlehurst had driven over to the neighbouring
town on justice business, and having sentenced certain deer-stealers to
undergo divers unpleasantnesses in the way of oakum-picking, solitary
confinement, and other such amenities of prison discipline, had
stayed to reward virtue by dining with his brother-magistrates upon
orthodoxly-slaughtered venison. Accordingly, Mrs. Hazlehurst and the
three young ladies, Harry Coverdale and Master Tom, sat down to
what Mrs. Malaprop would have termed “quite a _tête-à-tête_ dinner”
 together;--a tame and docile curate, invited on the spur of the moment
to counterbalance Harry, having missed fire, owing to the untimely
repentance of a perverse old female parishioner, who being taken poorly
and penitent simultaneously, had sent her imperative compliments to
the Rev. B. A. A. Lambkin, and she would feel obliged by his coming to
convert her at his very earliest possible convenience; to which serious
call he felt obliged to respond.

Coverdale had found himself in an unusual and peculiar frame of mind all
day; for perhaps the first time in his life he had felt disinclined to
active exertion; and had positively gone the length of abstracting from
the library a volume of Byron, and spent the afternoon lying under a
tree, reading the _Bride of Abydos_. Now his peculiarity took a new
turn; and, freed from his incubus, D’Almayne, a sense of the domestic
and sociable suddenly sprang up within him, and throwing off all
reserve, he appeared for the first time during his visit in his true
colours--that is, unaffected, courteous, kind-hearted, amusing, and
well-informed. In consequence possibly of this change, the dinner went
off most agreeably; and the absence of the Reverend Lambkin was mentally
decreed to be a subject of thanksgiving, by more than one member of the

In the evening there were certain wasps’-nests to be destroyed, about
which Harry had expressed much interest; but now he discovered that he
had blistered his heel on the previous day, by running in a tight boot;
and Tom, mightily discontented at his defection, was forced to invade
the enemy’s country without the assistance of his ally. When Coverdale
rejoined the ladies, Emily was reading Tennyson’s _Princess_ aloud, and
the moment he appeared, she declared she was tired, and handed the book
to him, begging him to proceed; her mischievous intention being
thereby to overwhelm him with confusion, and derive amusement from his
consequent mistakes. But she met her match for once, as Harry, coolly
replying that he should have much pleasure, took the book and began
reading in a deep rich voice, with so much taste and feeling, that her
surprise soon changed to admiration. After tea, music was proposed, and
the moment Alice began to sing Cover-dale, for the first time since he
had been in the house, approached the piano, and actually turned over
the leaves for her!

“That lovely _Là ci darem!_ Ah, Alice! if we had but a gentleman’s voice
to take the second! Why _don’t_ you sing, Mr. Coverdale?” exclaimed
Emily, turning over the pages of the duet.

“I’ll try what I can do if _you_ wish it,” was Coverdale’s quiet answer.

Alice, to whom he spoke, glanced ut him in speechless surprise; but
Emily, at once making up her mind that he was attempting a hoax, and
eager to turn the tables upon him, resumed--

“Bravo! give me your seat, Alice, I’ll play the accompaniment for you

Now the truth was, that Harry had been gifted by nature with a rich
powerful voice and excellent ear, qualities which the admiration of his
“set” at Cambridge had induced him to cultivate. When he first started
on his grand tour, he encountered at Florence the mother and sisters of
an old college friend, and those being the days before he had foresworn
young ladies’ society, he was let in for a mild flirtation with one
of the daughters. The “emphatic she” happened to be _fanatica per la
musica_. Accordingly for three months Harry took lessons of the best
master in the place, and sang duets morning, noon, and night; at the end
of which period the “loved one” bolted with a black-bearded native, who
called himself a count, and _was_ a courier. Since which episode, Harry,
disgusted with the whole affair, and all connected with it, had chiefly
confined his singing to lyrical declarations that he would “not go home
till morning.” It will therefore be less a matter of surprise to the
reader, than it was to his audience at the Grange, that Coverdale
performed his part in the duet with equal taste and skill, and very much
better than Alice did hers--that young lady pronouncing her Italian
with rather a midland-county accent than otherwise, although her sweet,
fresh, young voice, in great measure atoned for this little peculiarity.

“Why, Hr. Coverdale, what a charming voice you have, and how beautifully
you sing!” exclaimed Emily, looking at him as if she could not even yet
believe that it was possible he should have so distinguished himself.
“I thought you were hoaxing us, and I sat down to play the duet for the
amiable purpose of exposing your ignorance.”

“How did you acquire such a pure Italian accent?” asked Mrs. Hazlehurst;
“it will be of the greatest advantage to my girls to sing with _you_.”

“I learned of au Italian fellow when I was at Florence, and I suppose he
taught me to do the business all right,” was the careless reply.

“And you have been here more than a week,” continued Mrs. Hazlehurst,
“and allowed Mr. D’Almayne to monopolise both the reading and singing
department, though he cannot fill either one quarter as efficiently as
you are able to do. You really are too diffident.”

“I don’t imagine diffidence to have had very much to do with it,”
 observed Kate Marsden, quietly raising her eyes from her work (a crochet
purse with steel beads), and fixing them on Coverdale.

Harry laughed slightly as with heightened colour he replied, “You are
too clever, Miss Marsden. I by no means approve of being subjected to
such subtle _clairvoyance_; however, I may as well honestly confess that
you are right, and that a feeling more akin to pride than to humility
has prevented my seeking to rival Mr. D’Almayne.”

“_We_ have found you out at last though,” returned Emily, “and I for
one will do my best to punish you for your idleness, by making you
sing every song I can think of. I don’t believe it was either pride or
humility which kept you silent--it was nothing but sheer idleness.”

“Judging of her principles from her practice, I can readily believe Miss
Emily Hazlehurst must consider silence to result from some reprehensible
cause,” replied Coverdale, with a meaning smile.

Of course Emily made a pert rejoinder, and of course Coverdale was
forced to sing half-a-dozen more songs, which, as he had by this time
got up the steam considerably, he did in a style which won him fresh
laurels but it was a remarkable fact, that from the moment in which
Harry began to read aloud, Alice, although her attention had never
flagged, had scarcely uttered a single word--perhaps it was because she
thought the more.


Mrs. Hazlehurst was so confirmed an invalid as to be unable to walk,
even so short a distance as from the drawing-room to her own bed-room,
whither she was usually carried by either her husband or her son.
She was in the habit of retiring at nine o’clock, but on the evening
referred to in the last chapter the clock chimed the half-hour after
nine, and Mr. Hazlehurst had not returned. .

“Mamma, dear, you are looking tired--you ought not to sit up so late!”
 exclaimed Alice, who had been observing her mother attentively for some
minutes. “Do allow Evans to carry you up: papa is sometimes kept till
eleven o’clock at these magistrates’ meetings, you know.”

One great charm which Alice possessed in Harry’s eyes was her devotion
to her mother, for whom she entertained an affection which was, perhaps,
one of the strongest feelings of her nature.

“I had rather wait, dear,” was the patient reply:--“the worthy Evans is
growing fat and old, and I am always afraid of his falling; and James is
very willing, poor lad, but he is so awkward that he rubs me against
all the coiners we pass, and only escapes knocking my brains out by a
succession of miracles.”

“If you would allow me to assist you, Mrs. Hazlehurst,” began Coverdale,
in a hesitating voice, as though he were about to ask rather than to
confer a favour--“I am sure I could carry you safely; I have observed
exactly how Arthur holds you, and it would give me so much pleasure to
be of use to you.”

“You are very kind,” returned Mrs. Hazlehurst, while a glow of grateful
surprise coloured her pale cheeks; “but I cannot bear to give you the
trouble--you do not know how heavy I am.”

“You do not know how strong I am, my dear madam,” was the good-natured
rejoinder; “allow me--that I think is right,’ and raising the light
form of the invalid in his powerful arms he carried her, as easily and
tenderly as a mother would her child, to her room, where, carefully
depositing her in an easy-chair, he wished her good night, and left her
without waiting to receive her thanks.

“Alice, love, Emily will stay and read to me--go down and tell Mr.
Coverdale how much obliged I am; he carried me as comfortably as if he
had been in the constant habit of doing so for years. The kindness
of heart, and delicacy of feeling with which he made the offer, have
gratified me exceedingly; depend upon it he is an unusually amiable,
excellent young man.”

“He certainly appears in a new character to-night,” returned Emily,
laughing; “hitherto he has performed the modern Timon most naturally and
successfully. I wonder what made the creature take it into his head to
act the man--or rather the woman--hater! You’d better ask him, Alice,
perhaps he will tell _you!_--What gone already!” she continued, glancing
round the room. “Well then, mamma dear, as there seems to be no more
fun forthcoming, let me give you your dose of Jeremy Taylor; that is our
present good book, I believe.”

A reproof for the levity with which Emily spoke rose to her mother’s
lips; but Mrs. Hazlehurst was a sensible woman as well as a good
one, and so, being able to distinguish between the exuberance of high
spirits, and a scoffing turn of mind, she only murmured, “Silly child,”
 and shook her head, with a reproving smile.

When Alice returned to the drawing-room she at first imagined it to
be tenantless; but on looking more attentively she perceived the tall
figure of Harry Coverdale standing with folded arms in the recess of one
of the windows. So noiselessly did she enter that Harry, whose face was
turned away from the door, was not aware of her approach until she was
within a few yards of him. As with a sudden start he looked round,
she was surprised to observe the traces of deep emotion visible on
his features, which were usually characterised by an expression of so
completely opposite a nature. With a murmured apology for intruding on
him, Alice was about to withdraw, when Coverdale hastened to prevent

“Do not run away,” he said quickly, then continued, “You are surprised
to see me look sad; I think I should like, if you will permit me, to
tell you the cause. It is so seldom I meet with anybody to whom I can
talk about such things--people in general would not understand me, but I
feel an instinctive certainty that you will. It is such a lovely night,
would you object to come out? Your cousin, Miss Marsden, is already
enjoying the moonlight.” As he spoke, he pointed to a white figure
pacing, with bent head and measured steps, along a terrace-walk on the
further side of the lawn. Throwing a shawl over her head to protect
herself from the night dew, Alice signified her consent, and opening one
of the French windows, they descended into the garden. For some minutes
they strolled on side by side without speaking; the silence at length
becoming embarrassing, Alice broke it by observing--

“I must not forget to deliver mamma’s thanks for your kindness. You
carried her so easily and carefully, she says, she could almost imagine
you must have been accustomed to such an occupation before.”

Harry smiled a melancholy smile. “That was what I was going to tell you
about,” he said, “only when it came to the point, I felt as if it were
impossible to begin. Carrying Mrs. Hazlehurst to-night brought back such
a flood of recollections!” He paused, then in a low tone continued:
“For many months before her death my own poor mother became perfectly
helpless, and I used to carry her like a child from room to room. I was
only seventeen when I lost her, and, except your brother, I have never
had any one to love since; and though Arthur is as good a fellow as ever
breathed, and all that one can wish a friend to be, yet somehow, whether
it is the difference between a man’s mind and a woman’s, or what, I
cannot tell, but there are things I’ve never talked about with
anybody since my mother died, because I’ve felt that nobody else could
understand me. Perhaps, if she had lived, I might have been more what I
sometimes wish I were--less rough, and--but I do not know why I should
bore you with what must be singularly uninteresting to you.”

“Pray go on,” replied Alice; “I have heard so much of you from Arthur,
that I always hoped I should some day know you myself, and that we might
become friends; but--” here she stopped, apparently embarrassed how to

Harry came to her assistance--“But when I did appear, I made myself so
disagreeable that you naturally repented ever having wasted a thought
upon such an unamiable savage. Is not that what you would have said?
Well, you are quite right, I deserve that it should be so.”

There was a degree of regretful earnestness in his voice and manner
which touched Alice’s gentle heart, and she hastened to reply:--

“Nav, it was only that you did not know us; and--I think that silly Mr.
D’Almayne annoyed you with his airs and affectation; but I am sure you
will never be so--so--”

“Brutish!” suggested Harry.

“So unjust to yourself again,” resumed Alice.

“You are very kind--kinder than I deserve by far,” replied Coverdalc. He
paused, then continued, “I don’t think I was naturally such a bear; but
from childhood I have had to battle with the world on my own behalf. Did
Arthur ever tell you any of my earlier history?”

“He; he often alluded to it as curious, but said we ought to see you
first, and then we should understand you better and care more to hear
it,” was the simple reply.

Harry smiled. “The only romantic episode in my career occurred when I
was a very young boy,” he said, “so young, that if I had not heard
the story over and over again from the mouth of my late uncle, the
old Admiral, I should scarcely have remembered it. To enable you to
comprehend the situation properly, I must trouble you with a few family
details. My grandfather had two sons--the Admiral the elder, and my
father the younger. My father, when a lieutenant in a marching regiment,
fell in love with a very pretty, amiable but portionless girl; my
grandfather desired him to marry an heiress; my father refused, and
urged his affection for another; my grandfather grew imperative, my
father recusant; my grandfather stormed, my father persisted; and the
affair ended by my father marrying his lady-love, and my grandfather
disinheriting him for so doing. The natural consequences ensued: my
grandfather devoted his fortune and influence to my uncle’s advancement,
and at the age of fifty he became an admiral; at the same age my father
found himself a captain, existing on half-pay, with a microscopic
pension and an incurable wound in his side, as rewards for having
served his country. ‘England expects every man to do his duty,’ and
occasionally recompenses him for it with honourable starvation. As my
father’s health decreased his expenses increased, unpaid doctors’
bills stared him in the face, and butchers and bakers grew uncivil and

“At my grandfather’s death he left every farthing he possessed to his
eldest son. Angry at the injustice, my father refused his brother’s
offer of an allowance, and unwisely determined to dispute the will.
Accordingly, he not only lost his cause, but irritated my uncle to
such a degree, that all communication ceased between them. When I was
approaching the august age of ten years, and affairs seemed to be coming
to a crisis, by some chance I, playing with and apparently absorbed by
a regiment of tin soldiers, happened to be present at a family committee
of ways and means. During this colloquy, the unfortunate disagreement
between the brothers was talked over and lamented by my mother; who
exerted all her eloquence to persuade my father to write to this Admiral
and inform him of his failing health and ruined fortunes, and trust to
his generosity to forgive and forget the past. But my father’s pride
stood in the way. He would willingly have been reconciled to his
brother, _if_ he had not required pecuniary assistance at his hands; but
the consciousness of this necessity rendered him inexorable. So finding
his wife’s arguments unanswerable, he adopted the usual resource in
such cases--viz., he talked himself into a rage, and flinging out of
the room, slammed the door behind him, leaving my mother and me

“Alter a minute’s silence, I surprised her by asking, ‘Papa’s very poor,
and my uncle’s very rich; and papa would ask uncle to give him some
money, only they quarrelled when grandpapa stopped papa’s pocket-money:
isn’t that it, mamma?’

“‘Yes, my dear,’ was the reply; ‘but you must not talk about it to
anybody remember.’

“I nodded assent, then resumed, ‘Uncle’s a good, kind man, isn’t he?’

“‘Yes, my love; a good man I know him to be, and he was kind once,’ was
the reply.

“‘Then why don’t you go and tell him that papa’s very sorry he was
naughty, and wants to make friends again; and if uncle is good and kind,
he will say yes; and when they are friends again, uncle will be sure to
give him some of his pocket-money without being asked, because they are
brothers. ‘Won’t that do, mamma?’

“My mother rose with tears in her eyes, stroked the hair back from my
forehead, imprinted a kiss on it, and murmuring, ‘Your papa would never
allow me to do so, darling,’ quitted the room.

“Well, I sat and cogitated the matter: even as a child I was of a
fearless nature, and confident in my own resources; and at last a plan
occurred to me. At that time we lived in London, and I attended a public
school as a day-scholar. At this school I had a friend--a boy some
two or three years older than myself. To him, in strict confidence, I
imparted my scheme, which he was pleased graciously to approve of,
and in which he volunteered to aid me. Accordingly, on the following
morning, when my parents imagined I was declining _hic, hoec, hoc_, I
was, under the able guidance of my school-fellow, making my way to the
office of a coach which passed within half a mile of Coverdale Park.
Having seen me set off in high health and spirits, my friend after
school-hours left the following note at our house:--

“‘Dear Mamma,--I have gone to see my uncle Coverdale, as you could
not do it. Papa never told me not to--so he won’t be angry with _me_.
Thompson saw me off, and will leave this, so no more at present,

“‘From your dutiful son,

“‘H. C.’

“I reached Coverdale Park without adventure, and greatly astonishing a
solemn butler by demanding to see my uncle forthwith, was ushered into
a large oak-panelled apartment, wherein sat a fine, portly-looking
gentleman, eating his dinner in solitary dignity. As soon as his eyes
fell upon my features he started, exclaiming--

“‘Bless my soul, boy! who are you?’

“‘Your nephew Harry Coverdale, uncle,’ returned I, looking him full in
the face. My gaze seemed rather to embarrass him, for his lips moved
convulsively ere he was able to frame a reply. At length he exclaimed

“‘And pray, sir, what do you want here?’

“Feeling by no means inclined to enter abruptly upon family affairs in
presence of the servants, I paused. But certain inward cravings, aroused
by the sight of the good things before me, soon furnished me with an
idea, and with a decidedly suggestive emphasis, I answered, ‘I have
_not_ had any _dinner_ yet.’ My uncle again looked at me, to see whether
my observation was the result of impudence or simplicity--deciding
apparently in favour of the latter, he desired the servant to place me
a chair, and give me a knife and fork. Fortified by a good dinner, and
encouraged by a kind twinkle in the corner of my uncle’s eye, which
belied all his attempts to look angry, I soon began to chatter away
freely, and enlighten my newly-found relative as to my opinion of things
in general. After the cloth was removed, and I had volunteered grace; at
which my uncle appeared first surprised and then edified, he began--

“‘Now, boy, tell me the truth--but first, you shall have a glass of
wine; which will you take?’

“‘I always tell the truth, uncle, even if it gets me a thrashing; and
I’ll take port, for that’s the only wine fit for a gentleman,’ answered
I, which reply so delighted my uncle, that he poured me out a bumper,
and patting me on the back exclaimed--

“‘Bravo, my boy! stick to truth and port wine through life, and you’ll
be a credit to your name!’

“That speech of mine won the day! I explained the object of my visit,
and that it had originated wholly with myself; and succeeded so
well, that on the following morning my uncle accompanied me home, was
reconciled to my father, to whom, till the day of his death (which
occurred within the next year), he showed every kindness, and after that
event took my dear mother to reside with him at the Park, provided for
my education, and eventually made me his heir.”

To this recital, followed by a detail of many of those pure thoughts and
deep feelings which lie hidden in the breast of every generous-hearted
man, till heaven blesses him with a female friend worthy to receive such
sacred confidence, did Alice listen with growing interest and sympathy;
and when, two hours afterwards, Mr. Hazlehurst returned home in a great
state of universal vinous philanthropy, Harry and his companion
could scarcely believe they had been walking together for more than

The week passed away like a dream. Harry walked, and drove, and sang,
and read poetry with the young ladies, and found himself especially
happy and comfortable. Moreover, he contrived to institute a system of
romantic rambles with Alice, during which they talked about all
those peculiar subjects which can only be discussed comfortably in a
_tête-à-tête_--thoughts and feelings too delicate to be submitted to the
rough handling of a crowd. And Alice, after three days’ experience,
told Kate Marsden, in strict confidence, that she had formed the highest
opinion of Mr. Coverdale’s principles; that he was so good and sensible,
and in every way superior to the young men one generally meets, that it
was quite a privilege to possess his friendship--didn’t Kate think
so? To which Kate replied in the affirmative; adding, that girls
were usually so frivolous and empty-headed that they were not worth
cultivating. “Where was the good of making friends of people, unless one
could look up to them?” Alice responded, “Where, indeed!” and considered
that Kate took a very proper and sensible view of the matter.

One small incident occurred, however, which somewhat ruffled the smooth
surface of Alice’s tranquillity. Two or three days after the picnic,
there arrived from Mr. Crane a note, together with a slim and genteel
quadruped, possessing a greyhound-like outline, shadowy legs, and a long
tail, and purporting to be a thoroughly-broken lady’s horse, with which
the cotton-spinner begged--“Miss Alice would allow him to replace
the pony injured by the furious riding of her brother and Mr.
Coverdale,”--an association in iniquity which delighted Tom as much as
it provoked Harry, and, secretly, Alice also. This horse Mr. Hazlehurst
insisted upon it Alice should not refuse; and he became so angry when a
faint remonstrance was attempted, that the poor girl quitted his study
in tears--a melancholy fact, which Emily, in a truly feminine and
injudicious burst of virtuous indignation, revealed to Coverdale,
thereby laying in him the foundation of a deeply-rooted aversion to the
animal, which led to results that would have been better avoided.

The morning following the arrival of this undesirable addition to the
family, Mr. Hazlehurst announced his intention of riding over to call
upon and inquire after Mr. Crane, and his wish (which meant command)
that Alice should accompany him on her new horse. “Mr. Coverdale, will
you ride with us?” continued the head of the family, graciously; “I do
not think you have seen Crane Court yet. The scenery in and around the
park is very rich, and the view from the terrace most extensive.”

Harry, in his secret soul disliking Mr. Crane and all that appertained
to him, and fancying, moreover, that the presence of Mr. Hazlehurst
would effectually neutralise the pleasure of Alice’s society, as their
conversation would be thereby restricted to unmeaning commonplaces, was
about to invent some polite reason for declining, when, happening to
glance at the young lady in question, he read--or imagined he read,
something in the expression of her countenance, which induced him to
alter his determination. Accordingly, Tom was made happy by obtaining
permission to go to the village-inn, where Coverdale’s horses were put
up, order the groom to saddle Sir Lancelot, and ride that exemplary
quadruped back, as a reward for his trouble.

“How do you like Mr. Crane’s present to my daughter? In my opinion it
is one of the most perfect lady’s horses I have ever seen,” complacently
remarked Mr. Hazlehurst to Coverdule, as they stood at the hall door,
criticising the horses which a groom was leading up and down.

“I dare say the old gentleman”--(Mr. Hazlehurst’s brow darkened)--“paid
a high figure for the animal,” was the reply; “it has its good points,
and is very well fitted for a park hack; but it’s a weedy, straggling
sort of beast--showy action, but badly put together;--and there’s
something queer about its eyes--it has an uncomfortable way of leering
round at you, and showing the whites, that I don’t like. You can sec
it’s been fed under the mark, and I shouldn’t wonder if, now it’s on
full allowance, it were to turn out skittish.”

“I can’t say I at all agree with you, Mr. Coverdale,” was the hasty
reply. “I flatter myself I know something of horses, and I consider this
as perfect a lady’s hack as I ever beheld, and a most valuable animal
into the bargain. As to temper, it’s as quiet as a lamb--a child might
ride it. I must beg you will not say anything which might tend to alarm
my daughter, or prejudice her against it.”

Harry turned away to hide a smile, as he replied, “Never fear,’ sir;
Miss Hazlehurst shall form her own opinion of its merits, without my
attempting to bias her judgment.”

When Mr. Hazlehurst assisted his daughter to mount, Harry, who really
doubted the temper of the animal, watched it closely, and his previous
opinion was confirmed by observing that it laid back its ears, glanced
viciously round, and at the moment when Alice sprang up, made a faint
demonstration with its mouth, as though it coveted a sample of Mr.
Hazlehurst from the region of that gentleman’s coat-tails, and was only
restrained from attempting to obtain one by a recollection of former
punishment. The preliminary arrangements being safely accomplished, the
trio started, followed by a mounted groom, Coverdale keeping close to
Alice’s bridle-rein.

They had proceeded some distance, without anything occurring to justify
his suspicions; and, in spite of all drawbacks, Alice was really
beginning to enjoy her ride, when her father proposed a canter; and on
quickening her pace, the odd manner in which her horse tossed and shook
his head, in some degree alarmed her.

“Loosen the curb-rein a little,” suggested Harry, “and try to hold him
entirely by the snaffle. I will keep close to you, so do not be afraid,
lest he should bolt.” Alice complied, and the horse appearing to approve
of the alteration, ceased to shake its head; but as it became warm to
its work, it pulled so hard against the snaffle, that Alice’s delicate
hands were unable to prevent the canter from increasing into
something very like a gallop. Sir Lancelot kept pace with
him, stride for stride; but Mr. Hazlehurst’s short-legged cob--the
“dray-horse-in-miniature--war-ranted--equal-to-sixteen-stone” style
of animal, which elderly gentlemen ride for the benefit of their
digestions, not being calculated for such fast work, was very soon

“What has become of papa?” exclaimed Alice, glancing round; “we ought
to wait for him, but I can’t make this creature go slower--it pulls
dreadfully. May I use the curb?”

“I had rather you did not,” was the reply; “the brute seemed so uneasy
when you tried it before--perhaps its mouth is tender; I will examine it
when you dismount. Canter on to the next hill, and then we will stop for
Mr. Hazlehurst.” And they did so accordingly, though Alice was unable to
pull in her horse until Harry leaned over and gave her the assistance of
his strong arm.


“Why didn’t you hold in your horse, Alice, and ride at a proper
lady-like pace, instead of tearing along in that extraordinary manner?”
 inquired Mr. Hazlehurst, coming up Tery red in the face, hot, and
discomposed; both himself and the cob being entirely out of that useful
article, breath.

“I could not contrive to make him go slower, papa,” replied poor Alice,
timidly; “even now you see he is very fidgetty, and keeps continually
pulling.” This was perfectly true; for the horse, excited by its gallop,
began to demonstrate its real character, and refusing to walk, sidled
along, tossing its head impatiently, pricking up its ears at every
sound, and looking as if it were prepared to shy upon the very slightest

“Pulling!--yes, of course it does,” rejoined Mr. Hazlehurst, angrily;
“you can’t expect to hold a fine, high-couraged animal like that with
the snaffle only--tighten the curb-rein directly. Take care what you are
doing!--steady! horse, steady!--touch him with the whip on the shoulder.
Bless me! she’ll be thrown!”

While Mr. Hazlehurst was speaking they had, in turning a corner, come
suddenly upon a wheelbarrow, in which were deposited two jackets and a
hat, belonging to some men who were mending the road. The moment Alice’s
horse caught sight of this object it stopped short, and as, in obedience
to her father’s directions, the frightened girl jerked the curb-rein,
and struck the animal with her whip, it reared, and at the same time
plunged round so suddenly as to unseat its rider. Fortunately, Coverdale
had kept as near to her as possible, and by a quick motion of the
bridle-hand and touch with the spur, he caused his horse to turn at the
same moment as did that on which Alice was mounted; he was thus enabled
to pass his arm round her waist and prevent her from falling.

“Is your foot clear of the stirrup?” he inquired, hastily. Perceiving
that it was so, he continued, “Let go the rein, then, and trust yourself
entirely to me.” As he spoke, the groom came up, and catching the bridle
of the plunging horse, led it away; while Mr. Hazlehurst, descending
from his saddle with a greater degree of celerity than might have been
expected from a man of his age and stoutness, received his daughter
in his arms, and lifted her to the ground;--for which feat of agility,
Harry, who was by no means impatient to be relieved of his lovely
burthen, mentally anathematised him. Then ensued a great confusion of
tongues; Mr. Hazlehurst, being himself chiefly to blame, evinced his
penitence by accusing everybody else, especially the groom--an old
favourite retainer, who held and expressed a strong ungrammatical
and illogical opinion, diametrically opposed to his master’s, on all
subjects, divine, moral, and physical. At length, in utter despair of
attaining any practical result, Harry, muttering to himself his surprise
that people would not adopt his system, and strike out for themselves a
quiet way of doing things, coolly took the matter into his own hands,
by shifting Alice’s saddle to the back of the cob; when he had completed
this arrangement, and assisted the young lady to mount, he politely
held Sir Lancelot’s stirrup for the accommodation of Mr. Hazlehurst,

“He will carry you just as quietly and easily as your own horse, sir;
he is a hand or two higher, certainly; but if you _should_ take a sudden
fancy to leap the next stiff fence you come to, he’ll carry you over it
like a bird; so you must set the good against the evil.”

“You’re very kind, sir. Ugh! what a height the brute is!”--(these
words accompanied the effort of literally _climbing_ to the
saddle)--“But--but--I’ve dropped my pocket-handkerchief--thank-you. What
are you going to ride yourself?”

“I am going, if you have no objection, to find out why Mr. Crane’s
purchase dislikes to pass that wheelbarrow, and to convince him that
there exists a strong necessity for his so doing,” returned Harry, with
his head under the flap of a saddle--he being engaged in securing with
his own hands the girt around Alice’s discarded steed, despite sundry
futile attempts at kicking and biting instituted by that unamiable

“Oh, Mr. Coverdale--please--pray do not attempt it!” exclaimed Alice,
eagerly; “I’m sure the creature is vicious! you will be thrown and hurt,
to a certainty!” Harry, thus apostrophised, emerged from beneath the
saddle-flap, and tossing back his dishevelled hair, and replacing his
hat, which for the greater convenience of strenuous buckling he had
taken off, crossed over to Alice’s side.

“You are holding the reins twisted Miss Hazlehurst,” he said; “let me
arrange them for you.” As he restored the reins properly placed to
her grasp, somehow their fingers became interlaced, and Harry appeared
unable to disentangle his for some seconds; during which space of time,
Alice, blushing and turning away her head, murmured imploringly--

“You _will_ not ride that creature!”

“Your father will never be convinced that the brute is unsafe for you
unless he sees it in its true colours; besides, I dare say I shall have
no trouble in getting it past the barrow--there is a quiet way of
doing these things,” was the confident reply. Alice still sought to
remonstrate, but in vain; for pressing her delicate fingers as though he
were loath to relinquish them, Coverdale turned away with a gay smile,
and placing his too in the stirrup, vaulted lightly to his saddle.

Having waited till Mr. Hazlehurst and his daughter had ridden on a short
distance, Harry put his horse in motion, and prepared to follow them;
but the moment it caught sight of the alarming wheelbarrow, it again
stopped short, and attempted to repeat its former manouvre. Willing to
try mild measures first, Cover-dale, although he prevented the animal
from dashing round as it had done when it unseated Alice, allowed it
to turn, and riding it back a few paces, gave it time to compose its
excited feelings, ere he again brought it up to the object of its fear.
As it approached the spot he kept it tightly in hand, and, when it began
to waver, stimulated its flagging resolution by the most delicate hint
imaginable from his “armed heel.” The instant it felt the spur, it
swerved aside, dashed round, and as soon as its head was turned in a
homeward direction, evinced an unmistakable desire to bolt. Harry’s brow
grew dark. “Lend me your whip,” he said, approaching the servant, who
sat grinning with the satisfaction usually displayed by professional
horsemen on witnessing the discomfiture of an amateur rider--more
especially if the amateur happen to be a gentleman.

“You be too good-natured with him, Mr. Coverdale; you should give it
him hot and strong, sir. But law! that hanimal ain’t fit for ladies and
gentlemen; he wants a reglar sharp rough-rider on his back, that’ll take
the nonsense out of him, he do.”

“Your whip is too light; get down and cut me a good, tough ash stick out
of the hedge there. I will hold your horse,” was the only reply Harry

The man glanced at his face in surprise, and seeing that he was in
earnest, hastened to execute his wishes, returning in two or three
minutes with a couple of plants of ground-ash, about the thickness of
a finger. Having carefully examined these, Harry selected the one he
considered the most serviceable.

The groom watched him narrowly. “So you really means business, eh, sir?”
 he said.

“I do,” was the concise reply, as, with compressed lips and flashing
eyes, Harry turned and rode off.

Probably, from some instinctive consciousness that he was not to be
allowed his own way without more serious opposition than he had yet
encountered, the horse, as he drew near the dreaded spot, displayed
stronger signs of fear and ill-temper than before, staring from side to
side, with his ears in constant motion, arching his neck, and tossing
the foam-flakes from his mouth, as he impatiently champed the bit. The
moment he caught sight of the wheelbarrow, he swerved aside with a bound
which would have unseated any but a firstrate horseman, and attempted
his usual manoeuvre of turning round. In this he was foiled by an
unpleasantly sharp stroke on the side of the nose from the ash sapling,
which, obliging him to turn in an opposite direction, brought him again
in sight of the wheelbarrow, while a stronger application of the spurs
caused him to bound forward thereupon he reared, but a crack over the
ears brought him down again; then he set to kicking, for which he was
rewarded by finding his mouth violently sawed by the snaffle-bit, while
a perfect tornado of blows from the ash stick was hailed upon his flanks
and shoulders. Finding this the reverse of agreeable, he, as a last
resource, reared till he stood perfectly erect, pawing the air wildly
with his forefeet. But he had overshot the mark.

At the conclusion of the previous struggle, the ash stick had broken off
short in Coverdale’s hand; consequently, he was prevented from applying
the counter-irritation principle as before, and was only able, by
great quickness, to extricate his feet from the stirrups, ere the horse
overbalanced itself, and fell heavily backwards. Fortunately for his
own safety, Harry was unusually prompt and active in all situations of
danger; and, in the present emergency, these qualities stood him in good
stead. Although, of course, unable entirely to free himself from the
falling animal, he contrived to slip aside, so that it should not fall
upon him; and almost as soon as the frightened creature had regained
its legs, he also had sprung up, apparently unhurt, and leaped upon its
back. But the fight was won. Completely cowed by its full, and wearied
out by the pertinacity of its rider, the conquered animal permitted
Coverdale to ride it backwards and forwards past the dreaded
wheelbarrow, approaching nearer at each turn, until at length he made
it pause, with its nose within half-a-yard of the alarming jackets, and
discover for itself that they were made of fustian, of the most innocent
quality, and flavoured with the usual cottage smell of bacon and wood

Elated with his success, he rejoined Alice and her father, saying, as
he did so, “Well, Miss Hazlehurst, I told you there was a quiet way of
taming the dragon, and you see I was right.”

Alice, who was very pale and trembling, murmured something about her
“rejoicing that he was not hurt.” But Mr. Hazlehurst, who appeared
unusually cross and grumpy, replied, “If that’s what you call a _quiet
way_ of enforcing obedience, Mr. Coverdale, all I can say is, I pity any
poor creature that happens to be under your control!”


Mr. Hazlehurst, in his position of father of a family, had been so long
accustomed to consider his will law, that the possibility of his being
in the wrong was one which he never contemplated; the fact, therefore,
of any one having proved him to be so, constituted in his eyes a
high and unpardonable misdemeanour. Of this capital crime had Harry
Coverdale, on the occasion just described, been guilty; and Mr.
Hazlehurst, albeit outwardly he resumed his usual manner towards
his guest, could not in his secret soul either forget or forgive his
offence--more especially as the circumstance of Mr. Crane’s present
being demonstrated to be unsafe for a lady to ride (and that it was so,
even Mr. Hazlehurst’s powers of self-deception could not conceal
from him), was at that particular juncture of affairs singularly
embarrassing. Of this change of sentiment straightforward, unsuspicious
Harry never dreamed; accordingly, he continued to behave towards the
old gentleman as freely as he had hitherto done, maintaining his own
opinions, even when they entirely differed from those of his host,
courteously, indeed, but with the sturdy independence natural to his
character--a sturdiness which, until it was exerted in opposition to his
sovereign will and pleasure, Mr. Hazlehurst had particularly admired.
So for the rest of the week affairs (with this single exception) went on
most agreeably and satisfactorily to all parties.

Harry, having once broken the ice, contrived speedily to win the good
opinions (to use no stronger term) of all the female portion of the
community. From the kind attention he paid Mrs. Hazlehurst, he soon
acquired so much influence over that amiable lady that, to please him,
she consented to various schemes devised for her benefit and amusement,
which her daughters had previously urged upon her in vain;--for
instance, when Harry, instructed by Alice in regard to times and seasons
and the like minor particulars, came at the _very_ moment when she was
going to decide that she did not feel equal to going out at all that
day, to tell her that the pony-phaeton was waiting at the door, and
that he should really think her unkind, and imagine he must have done
something to offend her, if she refused to allow him the pleasure of
carrying her to the chaise, and driving her just far enough to do her
good, and not to tire her,--what could she do but consent? _Ce n’est que
le premier pas qui coûte_. This point gained, if was easy to persuade
the invalid to take a short excursion daily; and as her complaint was in
some degree on the nerves, the beneficial effects of the fresh air and
exercise soon became apparent. Moreover, as Alice knew how to drive a
little, and wished to improve in that useful accomplishment, Harry could
do no less, when he had brought Mrs. Hazlehurst safely home from her
daily drive, than take out the young lady, and give her a lesson; and as
these lessons usually lasted some two hours at a stretch, the fat
ponies began to get into excellent working condition, and considering
themselves put upon, wondered why the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals neglected to interfere in their behalf. Emily, too,
had quite altered her opinion of their guest, and entirely sympathised
with Tom’s declaration that he was “a stunning good fellow, and no
mistake!” Kate Marsden said little, but observed the progress of events
with calm approval; for she perceived that to be going on, which would
greatly facilitate the execution of certain schemes which she had

At length arrived the important day of the dinner-party. Were we
called upon to define the meaning of the term dinner-party, we should
denominate it an awful immolation of mind to matter, a wanton sacrifice
of the head to the stomach. Why, on a hot summer’s day, eighteen
individuals, supposed to be in their proper senses, who might dine at
home if they chose, should agree of their own free-will to victimise
themselves and each other by congregating together in one room, for the
space of two mortal hours, to eat--and, in the case of the lords of the
creation, probably to drink also--a great deal more than is good for
them, is one of those social problems of which we expect to arrive at
the solution about the time when mankind is thoroughly regenerated by
Miss Martineau’s _a_theological views (to coin a word), but not before.

If there were no other argument against this insane system of monster
dinner-parties, the frightful state of discomfort into which the family
of the giver of the feast is thrown by the coming event, would alone
be sufficient to prove our case. Unless the establishment be on a scale
proportionable to that of the individual who, on finding the number of
his guests exceeded the means of conveyance provided for them, coolly
ordered round “more phaetons!” anarchy and confusion reign predominant
throughout the devoted mansion for at least four-and-twenty hours before
the affair comes off. In the first place the servants, male and female,
all go mad; if you give an order, the recipient stares you vacantly in
the face, and does something else immediately; if you lay down a book,
or any similar article, in its proper place, somebody instantly removes
it and hides it in an improper one, where you are fortunate if you
stumble upon it by accident in the course of the following six months.
The lunacy of the servants reacts upon their betters--everybody is a
little out of temper, everybody is over-officious, and has a way of his
or her own for doing everything diametrically opposed to the variously
diverging ways of everybody else. From the earliest dawn the very
garrets are redolent of “making eoup,” which odour remains in possession
of the house till about the time at which luncheon should be, but of
course is not, forthcoming, when it is superseded, and retires _vice_
the venison put down to roast, which we would rather decree should be
“put down” as a nuisance--at least, as far as regards our olfactory
nerves. But it were an endless task to attempt to sum up all the
miseries incidental to the preparations for celebrating one of those
“feasts of _un_-reason,” nor do we expect very many of the gentle public
to sympathise in our views; for in every society which we have as yet
frequented, “_L’Amphitryon où l’on dine_,” though he be heavy as his own
dinners, is certain to be a popular man.

However this may be, one thing is certain, that Harry Cover-dale, on the
morning preceding the dinner-party at the Grange, experiencing in his
proper person many of the inconveniences alluded to, and having made
several attempts to improve his position, by seeking to induce somebody
to do something sensible or agreeable, all of which proved abortive, by
reason of the impossibility of extracting even Alice from the vortex of
preparation--Harry Coverdale, thus victimised, _faute de mieux_, mounted
his good steed, and set off to ride away from the blue devils; but the
remedy did not succeed--the devils followed him, and grew bluer and
bluer with every mile he passed over, and, at last, the bluest of them
all assumed the likeness of Mr. Crane!

“Confound Mr. Crane!”--thus ran Harry’s thoughts--“confound the old
fellow! he’s coming to marry Alice--my nice, warm-hearted little friend,
Alice! I don’t by any means approve of it. He’s old enough to be
her father, or anybody else’s, for that matter: the thing is
ridiculous--quite absurd!--Besides, the dear little girl dislikes
him--naturally she does: there’s nothing to like in him. Why, she cares
more about me than she does about him!” He paused in thought, removed
his hat, pushed back his thick, clustering hair, put his hat on again,
and continued: “I declare, if I’d not entirely made up my mind against
marrying, I’d enter for the stakes myself, and see if one could not
jockey the old fellow and governor Hazlehurst too. Alice is a prize well
worth winning; but it’s too late to change one’s mind! I ought to have
behaved differently to her at first, if I’d wanted her to fall in love
with me--though I think I’ve got over all that pretty thoroughly, too.
Ah! well, I’ve chosen my line, and must stick to it; and as the shooting
season isn’t so very far off now, thank goodness, I shall contrive to
make it cut somehow, I dare say. And, by Jove, there’s a whole pack of
birds sunning themselves in that great field--five or six coveys all got
together--and stunning good coveys they must be, too. There’s a gap
in the hedge; I’ll leap over and see if I can get near enough to
count them. How, Lancelot--steady, sir!--you _must_ do it--over we go!
Famously cleared! I wouldn’t take five hundred guineas for you, you
beauty! that I wouldn’t. We’ll show some of ’em the way across country
when the hunting begins; wont we astonish their weak minds for them,
rather!” and so, patting and caressing his horse, Harry made a wide
circuit, and availing himself of the shelter of a belt of trees,
contrived to get near enough to the partridges to count them; by which
process he arrived at the interesting discovery that there were exactly
thirty brace, with one bird over; which ornithological irregularity
rather distressed and provoked him, though why it should have done so
neither he nor, as we imagine, any one else, could possibly conceive.

But the partridges being counted, back came the blue devils in greater
force than ever: and his thoughts grew so troublesome, not to say
unbearable, that Harry began to imagine he must be bewitched--a
supposition in which, perhaps, he was not so very far wrong after all.
As a last refuge against his persecutors, he resolved on a good gallop;
and so made his way across country, a distance of some eight miles, as
straight as the crow flies, leaping gates and crashing through hedges in
a very reckless and steeple-chasing kind of manner, which obtained for
him a more than sufficient amount of hard British swearing from sundry
irate members of the Agricultural Association, who, for once in their
lives, had a real grievance to complain of. As he cleared the last fence
leading into the park in which the Grange was situated, the village
clock struck six, and he could perceive a carriage, with the Crane
liveries (green turned up with yellow), winding slowly through the
trees. Three minutes more found him in the stable-yard, and flinging
the bridle of his reeking steed to his groom, while he uttered the hasty
caution, “You see the state he’s in; take proper care of him,” he made
his way to his bedroom by a back staircase, overturning a water-can, and
running into the arms of a pretty housemaid (to whom he apologised by
mentioning that he was sorry he was in too great a hurry to give her a
kiss), in the course of his rapid career. And so, very hot, very
dusty, considerably tired, and with a most unromantic appetite, he set
vigorously to work to (as servants inelegantly, but graphically term it)
clean himself.

When, some twenty minutes afterwards, Coverdale reached the
drawing-room, he found all the guests assembled. Many of them, to whom
he was personally known, immediately claimed acquaintance, recognising
him in spite of the improvements which his residence abroad had wrought
in his manners and appearance. Some two or three of the younger men were
old college chums, who were really overjoyed to see him again, and who
immediately gathered round him and besieged him with questions. Glancing
round the circle, he perceived D’Almayne bending tenderly over Alice;
but the sight no longer annoyed him--he had got over _that_. Alice
saw the exquisite in his true colours; Alice had laughed at him--poor
D’Almayne! But on her other hand sat the cotton-spinner, and he was
more formidable; for he did not (fortunately for himself) depend on
his personal attractions alone--there were twenty thousand solid good
reasons per annum why he should not be refused; reasons which rendered
his alliance with Mr. Hazlehurst’s family so desirable, that all that
gentleman’s paternal authority was certain to be stretched to its
uttermost limit to enable Mr. Crane to carry his point. Moreover, as
Harry entered the drawing-room, Tom had given him the following note:--

“_Dear Hal,--I have written to tell the governor that I shall be
detained in court so late that it will be impossible for me to get away
to-night (the truth, you heretic!). I shall start by the first train
to-morrow, and be with you to breakfast. Keep a sharp look-out upon the
cotton-spinner; and if at any moment he appears as if he were preparing
to pop, throw a book at his head without hesitation! So will you
continue to deserve the good opinion of,

“Arthur H._”

At dinner, Coverdale was seated next a fast young lady, who rather made
love to him than otherwise; but she did not take much by her motion,
for Harry had a good deal of business on his hands. First, there was his
appetite to satisfy, and the monster was very insatiate after his gallop
across country; next, he felt it incumbent upon him to keep a strict
watch over Mr. Crane and Alice, who were seated nearly opposite to him;
and he seriously debated in his own mind whether a finger-glass might
not be considered a legitimate substitute for a book, on one or two
occasions, when the cotton-spinner appeared to be attempting the
excessively tender. Good eating requires good drinking; thirst demands
Pale Ale, etiquette obliges Champagne, and the mixed duties of society
necessitate Port and Sherry; Hock is very refreshing in hot weather; it
is no use to hand round Curaçoa, if people wont drink it; Hermitage and
Lunel are so nice, that everybody takes them; Claret is a necessity in
all properly ordered establishments; and if your host produces a bottle
of good old Burgundy, he must be a fool who refuses to taste it. But for
a man to do all this, and at the same time to think, feel, and express
himself as coolly and prudently as he would after a mutton-chop and
a glass of table-beer, would require him to possess a brain made of
cast-iron, and no heart at all, and such was by no means the physical
conformation of our hero. Harry, however, possessed a good strong head
of his own; and although, as dessert proceeded, his eyes grew brighter,
and he involuntarily emulated D’Almayne by smiling frequently, and
unconsciously displaying an even row of white teeth, these peculiarities
only served to make him look especially handsome. But the wine did
something else; for, as the ladies rose to leave the room, it inspired
him with a determination to jockey D’Almayne, who usually usurped
the privilege of opening the door on such occasions--a “cutting out”
 expedition which Harry conducted with equal skill and success. As Alice,
who came last, passed him, some spirit (whether of wine, or another
equally favourite theme for minstrel’s lay, we cannot tell) urged him to
bend his head, and whisper the inquiry, “Have you been happy with your
delightful companion?”

A contemptuous smile, and a slight negative motion of the lips answered
the question; and, for a moment, their eyes met. Alice’s must have been
a singularly expressive glance, for Harry read therein that she was
anxious and dispirited, but felt a vague and general reliance on his
willingness and ability to afford her comfort and protection.

Had Mr. Crane known the exact feelings with which Cover-dale grasped
a finger-glass, and mentally calculated the amount of force it would
require to launch the missile against the chinchilla-crowned head of
his opposite neighbour, that worthy man would scarcely have ventured to
continue his mild and meaningless prosing so contentedly.


The moment Harry reseated himself at the dining-table, two of his old
college friends placed themselves beside him, and plunging at once into
recollections of “auld-lang-syne,” completely monopolised him. The
sound of his own name eagerly pronounced, roused him at length from an
interesting reminiscence of how gloriously drunk Jones of Magdalen had
been at Tipple-ton’s wine-party (when he _would_ sing a pathetic ballad,
beginning, “There’s a wail on the mountain!” and was stopped by a roar
of laughter, chorusing the inquiry, “how the deuce it--the whale--got
there?”). The speaker was Mr. Hazlehurst. “Excuse my interrupting your
conversation for a few minutes, Mr. Coverdale,” he began, “but we want
your opinion. You’ve travelled and seen the working of different tariff
regulations, and had opportunities of comparing the prosperity of
other nations with that of our own, while at the same time you are a
sufficiently large landed-proprietor to give you a stake in the country,
and to induce you to feel a strong interest in the general prospects
of the agricultural population. I am sure you must agree with me in
considering protection a most essential and salutary measure.”

“If I might be allowed to make just one observation before Mr. Coverdale
favours us with his views on this important question,” insinuated
Mr. Crane, in the mildest and most affectionate tone of voice
imaginable--wine always reducing this excellent man to a state of weak
and inappropriate philanthropy--“if I might observe that, with the
highest respect for, and admiration of, the agricultural population
of this great country, I feel it incompatible with my feelings as a
Protestant, and therefore, so to speak, in a general way as a brother,
not to say as a man also, and more particularly as a mill-owner, to
forget the thousands of operatives who crowd our large cities, and who,
when satisfied with cheap bread, add to the dignity and prosperity
of the nation; but, on the contrary, when deprived of this means
of support, object to resign themselves to the dispensations of a
beneficent Providence, and fly in the face of society as chartists,
levellers, red-republicans, and all that is dangerous and subversive of
morality and security of property. If I may so far presume as to call
Mr. Coverdale’s attention to the desirableness of providing food at
a rate which will enable the manufacturing classes to exist without
constantly working themselves up into a state of illegal desperation, I
shall feel that I have, if I may be allowed the expression, unburthened
my conscience.” Thus saying, Mr. Crane cast a timid and appealing look
from Harry to his host, and sipped a glass of Burgundy with the air of a
man apologising for some misdeed.

“It is not a subject upon which I have ever expended any vast amount
of consideration,” began Coverdale, wishing in his secret soul that he
might have the feeding of Mr. Crane for the ensuing six months
entrusted to him, in which case he would have afforded that gentleman
an opportunity of practically testing the merits of _very_ cheap bread
indeed, and of nothing else--except, perhaps, cold spring water; “but
the common sense of the matter appears to lie in a nutshell: the two
great divisions of the poorer classes are the manufacturing poor and
the agricultural poor, the manufacturers being the most numerous--to
sacrifice one to the other is unfair, but to offer up the greater to the
less is ridiculous. Free-trade has had a fair trial, and has been proved
to benefit the masses, though it lies heavily on the land-owners. Well,
then, relieve land of its burthens, and make the income-tax permanent
to reimburse the Exchequer. That’s the line I should take if I were
Premier, which, thank heaven, I’m not.”

As Harry concluded, two or three men began to speak at once, but Mr.
Hazlehurst, by a solemn wave of the hand, immediately silenced them.
That excellent magistrate had drunk more wine than was by any means good
for him; his constitution was gouty, and he had not had a fit for some
time; before such attacks he was usually as irritable as though his
brain were a hedgehog, and society at large a pack of wire-haired
terriers attempting to unroll it. Claret was the most unwholesome wine
he could take, and on the evening in question he had imbibed nearly
a bottle thereof; but of all this _dessous des cartes_, Harry was
innocently unconscious.

“I beg your pardon, gentlemen,” began Mr. Hazlehurst, solemnly, “but the
right of reply at present rests with myself. Moreover, if my ears did
not deceive me, Mr. Coverdale has made an observation which I must call
upon him either to explain or retract; but in the first place, let
me express my surprise and regret, sir,” here he addressed himself
pointedly to Harry, “that a young man in your position, a large
landed-proprietor, a lover of field-sports, possessing a practical
knowledge of land, and a personal acquaintance with the habits and
customs of the agricultural poor--the bone and sinews of our country,
should thus turn against and betray the interests of the class to
which he belongs, and league himself with those who would, in their
shortsightedness, sap the vitals of that free and independent character
which has made us the great nation that we are. With regard to the
observation to which I alluded, I believe, that having stigmatised
the opinions I hold as a sacrifice of the greater to the less, you
deliberately pronounced those opinions ridiculous. Have I not repeated
your words correctly?”

“I certainly said that to sacrifice the greater number to the less would
be ridiculous,” returned Harry, completely taken aback at this sudden
and unexpected accusation; “but I only meant--”

“You meant what you said, I presume?” interposed Mr. Hazlehurst, in the
magisterial tone of voice in which he was accustomed to cross-examine
and be down upon equivocating poachers.

“Of course I did,” returned Harry, his eyes flashing as he observed a
sarcastic smile upon the face of Horace D’Almayne. “I always mean what I
say; but my remark related solely to general principles, and had not the
smallest reference to you personally, sir.”

“Which is equivalent to saying, that I do not understand the common
meaning of words,” returned Mr. Hazlehurst, in the same irritating tone
of voice. “Really, Mr. Coverdale, your explanations do not tend to do
away with the unfavourable impression your observation forced upon me.”

“It is equivalent to nothing of the kind, sir,” rejoined Harry, losing
his self-command as a second glance at D’Almayne revealed the fact that
he was hiding a laugh behind an elaborately-worked cambric handkerchief;
“but if you chose to put a wrong construction upon every word I
utter, it is useless for me to discuss the matter further with a man

At this critical moment, Tom Hazlehurst, who had been listening with a
countenance of blank dismay to the altercation between his father and
his friend, contrived, either by accident or design, to throw down
and break a valuable china plate. This incident created a diversion by
calling forth an outburst of parental wrath, under cover whereof Harry
regained sufficient self-control to enable him to suppress the word
“wrong-headed,” with which he had been on the point of concluding his
sentence. At the same time, Mr. Crane, having a mortal antipathy to
anything like quarrelling, which, as he said, produced “an insalubrious
agitation of his nervous system,” or, in plain English, frightened him
out of his wits, suggested that they should join the ladies--a proposal
which led to a general move. Five minutes’ reflection, in an atmosphere
less oppressive than that of the heated dining-room, caused Harry to
perceive that, by having allowed himself to be provoked by the obstinacy
of a pig-headed and slightly tipsy old gentleman into even a momentary
forgetfulness of the respect due to Mr. Hazlehurst’s years and
position, he had acted wrongly and foolishly. It moreover occurred to
him, now that it was too late to be of the slightest use, that owing to
this unfortunate disagreement he must have completely neutralised any
influence he might have possessed with his host, and thus, in fact,
frustrated the whole purpose of his visit: by which means Arthur would
be vexed, and the possibility of Alice’s marriage with Mr. Crane rather
increased than otherwise. Just as he was about to exchange the cool
air of the garden (whither on leaving the dining-room he had betaken
himself) for the less agreeable temperature of a crowded drawingroom, he
was patted on the shoulder by one of his college acquaintance.

“Ah, Knighton! what is it man?” Observed Harry, wishing his dear
friend at Jericho. “I took you for the stem of a tree, you stood so

“Why the fact is, my dear fellow,” returned Knighton, a well-disposed
goose, who, when Harry first commenced his college career, had formed
an enthusiastic attachment for him, in return for which he expected his
friend to advise him how to act and what to say upon every occasion,
trifling as well as important--a tax which even Harry’s good-nature
found somewhat oppressive, “the fact is, I consider it quite
providential, if I may say so, finding you here to-night: you know I
always like to have your opinion before I make up my mind; there is
nobody with such good sense as you, at least, nobody that I’ve ever met
with. My dear Covcrdale, I’m going to take the most important step--that
is, if you see no reason against it, which I can scarcely feel a doubt
of; but I’ll tell you the whole affair, beginning properly at the
beginning. When I was down in Hampshire three years ago----” but we will
not inflict Mr. Knighton’s amiable prolixity on the reader, suffice it
to say that, having linked his arm within that of Coverdale, he paraded
his victim up and down a gravel walk for the space of at least three
quarters of an hour, while he poured into his ears as dull a tale of
true love as ever ran smooth: true love of the very mildest quality,
which, from the beginning, was certain to end simply and naturally in
a stupid marriage, about the whole of which affair there could not by
possibility be two opinions. At length, when Harry had agreed, with
everything and to everything at least twice over, and strongly advised
his tormentor to act as he felt certain he would have done if his advice
had been just the other way (for this young man, although he eagerly
sought counsel, by no means considered himself bound to walk thereby),
it suddenly occurred to Mr. Knighton that he was doing an unkind thing
by his friend, and a rude one by his host, in not sooner joining the
ladies; accordingly, at (literally) the eleventh hour, he exercised thus
much self-denial, viz. having nothing more to say, he said it.

When Coverdale entered the drawing-room, he cast round his eyes to
discover what might have become of Alice and Mr. Crane, and failing to
perceive them, was about to find some excuse for making his way into the
boudoir beyond, when Emily pounced upon him to entreat him to sing for
the edification of some dear Mary Jane or other, who was dying to hear
him; and the very identical Mary Jane herself seconding the request in
a mild, insinuating, blatant tone of voice, as of some bashful but
persuasive sheep, there remained nothing for him but to consent, which
he did with a very ill grace indeed. Having dashed through a tender and
sentimental Italian love-ditty in a ferocious, not to say sanguinary,
style, he declared he was so hoarse that he could not sing another note,
and again made an attempt to enter the boudoir, which he succeeded
in reaching just in time to see Alice quit the room with a heightened
colour, and in a manner which betokened hurry and agitation, while Mr.
Crane remained gazing after her with a countenance indicative of the
deepest and most helpless bewilderment. From these symptoms Harry
rightly conjectured that while he had been off duty the cotton-spinner
had popped; but whether his offer had been accepted or rejected he was
utterly unable to divine. Mr. Crane looked stupid and puzzle-pated--but
_that_ he was sure to do in any case. For the rest of the evening
Coverdale was in a fearful state of mind; people stayed late, and it
seemed to him as if everybody had entered into a league to worry and
torment him. First, the young lady who had sat next him at dinner got at
him again, and flirted at him so violently, that (his thoughts running
entirely on marrying and giving in marriage) he became possessed of a
nervous dread lest she should be going to make him an offer--this idea
gaining confirmation from its suddenly occurring to him that it was
Leap-year, he grew desperate, and pretending that Emily had made him
promise to sing again, astonished that damsel by crossing over to inform
her that his hoarseness had entirely departed, and that he should have
the greatest pleasure in favouring her friend with the song she had
wished to hear; for which piece of inconsistency Emily bestowed upon him
a glance so penetrating and satirical, that he longed to box her pretty
pert little ears for it. When the song was over, Knighton emerged from
behind a broad old lady, somebody’s mother-in-law, very far gone in
Curaçoa, which she concealed behind a pious zeal for clothing the
female natives of Barelyaragon (an unknown island, discovered by Juan
de Chuzacruz in the sixteenth century, and forgotten ever since) in the
cast-off garments of the Bluecoat-School boys. The moment Knighton
got clear of this philanthropic elder he pounced upon Coverdale,
and carrying him off to a recess, then and there related to him an
additional episode in his amatory career, which was not of the slightest
importance either to himself or to anybody else, but which took nearly
as long to communicate as the original history. During this infliction,
Harry’s attention was occupied by observing the behaviour of Mr. Crane.
Almost as soon as Alice quitted the boudoir, Kate Marsden had entered
it, and begun a long and apparently interesting conversation with Mr.
Crane, during which that gentleman, who at the commencement appeared
rather low and desponding, gradually brightened up, and, under the
influence of his fair companion’s society, grew quite lively and
animated; in fact (if by any stretch of imagination the reader can
connect two such antagonistic and incongruous ideas as Mr. Crane
and flirtation), an uninitiated spectator, beholding the pair, might
legitimately have come to the conclusion that Kate Marsden and the
cotton-spinner were very decidedly and unmistakably flirting.

The longest evenings come to an end at last, and Coverdale having seen
Knighton safely deposited in a dog-cart, with nobody to bore but
a sleepy groom, was making his way to the spot where the bedroom
candlesticks were usually to be discovered, when he suddenly encountered
Mr. Hazlehurst. Standing aside to let him pass, Harry, in his most
polite and conciliatory manner, wished him good-night. The only reply
vouchsafed was the slightest and stiffest possible nod of the head, and
with a countenance as dark and lowering as the most viciously disposed
thunder-cloud, the offended autocrat passed on.


When Coverdale reached his own room, his first act was to lock the
door, his next to fling open the window; he then untied his neck-cloth,
pulled off his coat and boots, and substituting for them a dressing-gown
and slippers, cast a long, lingering glance at his cigar-case. Shaking
his head negatively, he muttered, “I daren’t risk it; old Hazlehurst has
a wonderful nose for tobacco--if it were but as good for partridges and
pheasants he’d make an invaluable retriever!”--he paused, sighed deeply,
partly for want of a cigar--partly because, though he was not at all
aware of it, one of the great realities of life was for the first time
dawning upon him; then drawing a chair to the open window he seated
himself, and gave way to thought.

“I’ve made a pretty mess of it this evening, and no mistake!”--thus
ran his ideas--“gone and offended the governor, and rendered him as
cantankerous as an old rhinoceros, so that the more I want him to do
anything, the less likely he’ll be to do it. Then in my confounded
good-nature, I’ve allowed that ass Knighton to detain me with his stupid
prosing, so that I lost sight of the cotton-spinner, and gave him a
chance of making Alice an offer--a chance of which the old fellow was
inspired with wit enough to avail himself, I’m almost certain. Arthur
will be preciously savage! and enough to make him--the notion of
sacrificing Alice to such an old anatomy as that--a yellow-skinned brute
like a resuscitated mummy, without more than two ideas in his head, and
two such ideas--cash and cotton! he thinks of nothing else, asleep or
awake. I wonder what answer Alice gave him; but there isn’t much doubt
of that, the poor girl daren’t disobey her father--besides, women don’t
refuse £20,000 a-year. Well, I wish old Crane joy of his bargain. She’ll
soon get sick of him, and be miserable of course; then she’ll take to
flirting with every young fellow she meets, to get rid of her _ennui_;
chose out one to establish a platonic friendship with, perhaps!--I’ve
seen all that sort of thing in France and Italy often enough. D’Almayne
very likely, he’s just the sort of puppy to lead a woman on--she
laughs at him now, but it may be different when she’s only old Crane to
contrast him with. By the way, I’ll give Arthur a hint on that score.”
 He rose, paced up and down the room several times, then continued--“I
wonder what the deuce is the matter with me! I feel most absurdly and
unpleasantly miserable.” He reseated himself by the window, tossed back
his hair, and sat silently watching the moon, just then emerging from
behind a bank of clouds. It was a time and scene to elevate and refine
man’s nature; and Harry was not insensible to the influence. He thought
of his boyhood, and his mother’s tender love; he recurred to the
moonlight stroll in which he had confided these cherished memories to
Alice, and the warm and ready sympathy with which she listened to the
recital; then minute points in their subsequent intercourse forced
themselves into his recollection--smiles, words, and glances, trifles
in themselves, but when collected, suggestive of a definite idea; and
lastly, her look when she quitted the dining-room that evening flashed
across him, and with a sudden start he pressed his hand to his forehead
as he resumed--“Fool that I am, I see it all now--now when it is too
late I love her, and I might have won her love--t only required to tell
her of my own feelings, to change the affectionate interest she has
conceived for me into a warmer sentiment; and now, perhaps piqued by
my apparent indifference, she has accepted this man, and sealed her own
unhappiness--and mine too, for that matter; but I deserve it! Why did
I let this chance of a bright future escape me! To fancy that the mere
physical excitements of hunting and shooting (pastimes for a thoughtless
boy) could content a being endowed with reason and feeling!--though
really I doubt whether I deserve such a title. I must have been
blind--stultified, not to see all this before!” Burying his face in his
hands, he remained for some time in deep and self-upbraiding thought;
rousing himself at length by an effort, he continued--“well! it’s no
good sitting here tormenting myself all night long--I’ll go to bed
(though, of course, I shall not sleep a wink), and in the morning I’ll
walk over to the station, meet Arthur--tell him how I’ve mismanaged
everything he expected me to do, and find some excuse for leaving this
place to-morrow. I should go mad if I were to stay here longer! Heiglio!
I wonder what will become of me--it will be no pleasure to look forward
to the shooting season now! I don’t believe I shall ever care to hit a
bird or mount a horse again. I’ll go to India, and join the army as
a volunteer, or start off to look for the north pole, or something.
I shall hang myself if I stay at home, and do nothing but think about
Alice and that detestable old Crane!” By the time his meditations had
reached this point, Coverdale was unrobed, and, jumping disconsolately
into bed, had not laid his head on his pillow for five minutes ere he
fell sound asleep, and dreamed of a _battue_, in which he tried to shoot
Mr. Crane (who, on that occasion only, appeared ornithologically and
picturesquely attired in the tail and plumage of a cock-pheasant), and
could by no means induce his gun to go off.

The sun shining in through the open window awoke Harry, when he fancied
he might have been asleep about a quarter of an hour; on referring to
his watch, however, he found it was halfpast six, and as the train by
which Arthur Hazlehurst was expected would arrive at twenty minutes past
seven, and it was a good half-hour’s walk to the station, he rose and
began dressing. As his thoughts recurred to the events of the previous
evening, all his cares and anxieties came back upon him with redoubled
force, and he felt more thoroughly out of sorts and unhappy than he ever
remembered to have done since he had come to man’s estate. When the
operation of shaving obliged him to look in the glass, he was surprised,
and if the truth must be told, rather alarmed also, as he caught sight
of the expression of his features. “What a hang-dog, miserable brute
I look like!” he muttered to himself; “it strikes me I drank more wine
than is good for one last night--that comes of old Hazlehurst bringing
out Burgundy after everybody had had enough. The old boy must have been
frightfully screwed himself, or he would never have got so cantankerous
with me about nothing--I hate a man who grows quarrelsome over his
liquor! Heigho! I feel shockingly seedy and down in the mouth, What
the deuce am I to say to Arthur!--how on earth am I to set things right
again with the old man! I wonder whether he will be stupid enough to
expect me to make an apology? I wouldn’t mind doing it to an old codger
like that, but ’pon my word I should not know what to say--I’ve
nothing to apologise about that I can see. I hope Arthur wont be angry,
or worse still, unhappy about Alice--poor, dear Alice: if she comes down
to breakfast looking miserable, I shall never be able to stand it! I’d
better not look at her at all--that will be the only plan: I’ll be off
before luncheon. When I get home, all by myself, and have nothing to do
but sit and think, I shall have a pleasant life of it! Well, I certainly
_have_ gone and done it this time handsomely--rather!”

Thus fretting and worrying himself he finished dressing, and, making his
way quietly down stairs, effected his exit unobserved. Fancying he was
late he started at a brisk walk, and having crossed the open part of
the park, reached a stile at the entrance of a grass-grown footpath
overshadowed with trees. Before entering this he looked at his watch,
and found that instead of too late he was too early, by nearly half an
hour; accordingly, getting leisurely over the stile, he strolled onward
in the direction of a rustic bench, which he remembered to have seen
some short distance farther up the path, where, if the truth must be
told, he proposed to console himself with a cigar. As he came in sight
of this bench he perceived that it was occupied, and a second glance
was scarcely needed to convince him that the occupant was Alice. For a
moment he was perplexed as to what course to take, whether to join her,
or to retrace his steps, and avoid a meeting which he felt, under the
circumstances, must necessarily be most embarrassing. Perceiving that
the young lady’s head was turned in the opposite direction, and that
she had therefore not yet seen him, he drew back a pace or two, so as
to place the trunk of a towering elm between them. “What shall I do?”
 thought Harry; “I have not an idea what to say to her that would be
likely to be of any use; in fact, there’s nothing to be said. She has
accepted old Crane, and now she’s come here to meet Arthur, tell him
what she’s done, say she could not help it, and ask him to forgive her
and make the best of it. I shall be _de trop_ evidently, so the best
thing I can do is to jog back again; and yet--and yet I should like to
walk by her side, and look into her dear blue eyes once more--heigho! I
almost wish my dream would come true, only reversed, and that I were
the pheasant and Crane going to shoot me, though I should not be in much
danger, for the old muff would be safe to miss me. Well, I suppose
I’d better be off--is she there still? yes, but what is she
doing--crying?--why by heaven she’s crying as if her heart would break!
Oh, you know I can’t stand this, so it’s no use thinking any more about
it; speak to her I must and will!” And, suiting the action to the word,
he was about to spring forward and join her, when it occurred to him
that it would only distress and annoy her if he were to obtrude his
presence upon her when, imagining herself alone, she was unrestrainedly
giving way to her grief; so, with that tact springing from innate
delicacy of feeling which prevented Coverdale’s honest, straightforward
character from ever becoming rough or overbearing, he waited till poor
Alice had dried her tears, and with slow, listless footsteps (sadly
different from her usual bounding and elastic gait) resumed her walk in
the direction of the railway-station. As soon as she was fairly started
Harry emerged from his hiding-place, and followed her with vigorous
strides. When he had approached within hearing distance, he endeavoured
by various means, such as stamping with his feet, brushing against
the underwood as he passed, and the like, to render her aware of his
presence, but for some minutes without success. At length, however, a
violent onslaught he made against a blackthorn bush (by which means he
acquired a practical knowledge of the penetrating properties of thorns)
attracted her attention, and with a start sufficiently violent to show
that her nervous system was unusually excited, she turned and beheld
him. Re-assured by finding that the alarming sounds had been caused by
the approach of a friend, rather than by that of a wild beast or an ogre
(plagues so common in the midland counties of “England in ye nineteenth
century,” that of course her imagination had instantly suggested them),
Alice waited till he came up, and received him with her customary
bright smile, although her heightened colour, and an unusual degree of
consciousness in her manner, proved that for some reason the meeting
rather embarrassed her also.

“You walk betimes, Miss Hazlehurst,” began Harry, anxious to break the
ice, but not knowing in the slightest degree how, when it should be
broken, he was going to proceed; “You are really a pattern of early
rising; but I have a notion we are both bound on the same errand,
namely, to meet Arthur--am I wrong?”

“Quite right,” was the reply; “I got up at a wonderfully early hour;
I suppose I was too much excited by such an unaccustomed event as a
dinner-party, to be able to sleep at all soundly.”

“You look fagged and weary even now,” returned Coverdale, regarding her
unxiously, “and you will fatigue yourself still more by walking to the
station and back. Are you prudent to undertake so long an expedition
before breakfast?”

“Oh yes,” was the reply; “it will refresh me and do me good; besides, I
want particularly to see and talk to Arthur.”

“I will accompany you as far as the station, if you will allow me,”
 returned Harry, “and, as soon as your brother arrives, leave you to talk
with him in peace; the few words I have to say to him will do equally
well after breakfast.”

Alice signified her consent, and the conversation continued for several
minutes to turn on indifferent subjects, though the burden of sustaining
it fell chiefly upon Alice, Harry’s observations becoming shorter
and less coherent at each reply. At length, however, Alice’s stock of
small-talk failed her, and Harry, in despair, was about to hazard some
such original observation as, that the grass was looking remarkably
green, when his companion suddenly addressed him.

“I am afraid that you will think that I am interfering very
unnecessarily and impertinently, Mr. Coverdale, but I must trust to your
kindness to mako allowance for me.”

“She is actually going to confess the cotton-spinner to me, and tell
me I’m in the way, I do believe! Cool hands women are, and no mistake!”
 thought Coverdale; he only said, however, “Pray go on.”

“The fact is,” resumed Alice, with a faltering voice, “my brother Tom
informed me (you must not be angry with the poor boy, for he did it out
of regard for you) that you--that is that my father and you differed
about some political question after dinner yesterday, and that my father
was so carried away by the subject as to become injudiciously warm, and,
from Tom’s account, personal, and that his observations annoyed you.
How, I am so very sorry this should have occurred, for he had formed
such a high opinion of you, and Arthur was so much pleased to see how
well you got on with him--a point on which he appeared particularly
anxious.” (Coverdale bit his lip, and cut off a thistle’s head viciously
with his cane.) “But, if you could be so very good as to overlook
anything my father may have said, it would make me--I mean it would make
Arthur, and--and--all of us so much happier.”

“My dear Miss Hazlehurst,” began Harry, vehemently, “how very kind of
you to trouble yourself about me! I can assure you I am most anxious
to say or do anything to regain Mr. Hazlehurst’s good opinion. I know
I made him rather an impertinent answer; but really I was so unprepared
for such an attack; and then, to make matters worse, that old idiot,
Mr. Crane--that is,” he continued, suddenly recollecting to whom he
was speaking, and turning crimson as he did so, “I beg your pardon
for speaking so disrespectfully of him to _you_; I really forgot--I am
certainly losing my senses!” With a blush as bright, though not quite
so deep coloured as that of Coverdale, Alice, turning away her head,

“Mr. Crane’s only claim on my respect is, that he is my father’s friend;
if I must own the truth, I do not myself consider him very wise.”

“His _only_ claim did you say!” exclaimed Harry, earnestly. “Oh, Miss
Hazlehurst--Alice--pardon me if I ask you to deal openly with me; am I
indeed wrong in supposing that you are engaged, or about to become so,
to Mr. Crane?”

“Oh yes!” was the hurried reply; “such a fate would render me most

Upon this hint Harry spake; the reality and strength of his feelings
imparted an earnest dignity to his manner, and an unwonted eloquence to
his speech, which would have deeply affected his fair auditor, even had
her own heart not pleaded warmly in his favour. As it was, before they
arrived in sight of the railroad station, Harry had somehow come to the
conclusion, that the communication he should have to make to his friend
Arthur would be very much more satisfactory, though perhaps little less
embarrassing, than the one he had originally designed. It certainly
was a considerable change in the tenour of his report to be forced to
explain, that instead of considering himself the most miserable being
in the world, he felt convinced he was by far the happiest; for that
Alice--resolved not to marry the cotton-spinner--had given her heart,
and promised her hand, to him.

And thus, short, sharp, and decisive, began and ended “Harry Coverdale’s
Courtship:” all the results, good and evil, “that came of it,” may be
learned by any reader sufficiently persevering to peruse that which
remains to be told of this veracious history.


Alice and Harry were so deeply engrossed with each other and so
absorbed in the interchange of those mysterious but delightful nothings,
which form the staple of lovers’ communications, and which, deeply
interesting to the happy pair, appear to the unsusceptible public the
veriest nonsense imaginable, that they were still some distance from
the station when the train rushed up, sneezed out a few passengers, and,
snorting and coughing, dashed off like a well-disposed fiery dragon,
warranted quiet to ride and drive. Walking on rapidly they soon
discovered Arthur, embarrassed by a carpet-bag and a mackintosh, making
the best of his way to meet them; the moment he came within speaking
distance, he exclaimed--

“What do I behold! Harry Coverdale with a young lady on his arm! Surely
the age of miracles is returning! well I never did! did _you_ ever? And
Alice looking So deliciously Self-satisfied and unconscious, too! Why
you stupid little owl (you’re very like one, with your hooked nose and
great eyes), don’t you know you’re boring him to death? he cares for
nothing but horses, dogs, and guns; and above all perfectly abominates
women.” Alice smiled, and attempted to make a playful rejoinder, but in
vain,--her heart was too full; had she spoken at that moment she must
have burst into tears. The speech affected Harry differently.

“I do nothing of the kind,” he said, angrily; “Arthur how can you be
so absurd!” Pausing for a moment, the ludicrous nature of the situation
occurred to him, and, with difficulty restraining a laugh, he turned the
conversation by seizing his friend’s carpet-bag, exclaiming as he did
so, “Come, give it up, of course I’m not going to let you carry it;
you’re looking horridly thin and pale, as Londoners always do: is
he not, Al--a--, Miss Hazlehurst? What! you refuse; give it up this
instant, or I declare I’ll carry you and it too.”

During the playful struggle which ensued for the possession of the
carpet-bag, in which contention Harry was soon victorious, Alice, glad
to obtain a few minutes in which to compose herself, walked on. As the
young men hastened to rejoin her, Hazlehurst, laying his hand on
Coverdale’s arm, inquired “How has it all gone off? Crane hasn’t
ventured to offer yet, of course?”

“Yes, by Jove, he has though!” was the reply; “the old muff contrived to
pop last night--confound him!--when I was out of the room, and hadn’t a
chance of throwing anything at his head.”

“And Alice?” inquired the brother, eagerly; but his eagerness frustrated
its own purpose (no uncommon case by the way), for, pronouncing the name
in a louder key than he was aware of, the fair owner thereof stopped
short, and thus prevented the possibility of further explanation. As
they continued their homeward walk, Arthur, who was a quick observer,
soon detected a change in Harry’s manner towards his sister; for
which, at first, he felt excessively puzzled to account. A respectful
tenderness was apparent in his tone when he addressed her, and he
exhibited a degree of eager, almost affectionate, solicitude for her
ease and comfort, in all the minor incidents of a country walk, such as
Hazlehurst, during the whole of their intimacy, had never before seen
him evince towards a young lady.

“What has come to Harry now, I wonder?” thus ran his reflections; “if
it were any one in the world but him, I should say he was flirting with
Alice; but Harry never flirted in his life, so that is impossible.” He
pondered for a moment, then an idea struck him. “I see it now; my father
has forced the poor child to accept old Crane; Harry knows it, and
the pity his kind, warm-hearted nature leads him to feel towards her,
influences his manner. They were each coming to tell me all that has
occurred, and have met by accident; yes, that must be it.” In order,
however, more fully to satisfy himself of the correctness of his theory,
he observed, in his usual light, jesting manner, “I think Mr. Coverdale,
it behoves me, as ‘a man and a brother,’ to inquire how you happen to
be marching about the country, _tête-à-tête_ with my sister, at this
unconscionably early hour?”

Harry, who, between his desire to enlighten Arthur as to the new and
transcendently delightful, but especially embarrassing turn affairs had
taken, and the impossibility of doing so before Alice--the overpowering
nature of his feelings towards that young lady, and his extreme
happiness at finding them reciprocated--the great and imminent danger
_in re_ Crane, and the humiliating confession regarding his lost
influence with Mr. Hazlehurst, together with the awkward position
in which he stood towards that outraged and obdurate elder--was in a
tremendous frame of mind, merely started and stared vacantly at his

But Alice, having by this time regained in some degree her
self-possession, replied quietly, “Mr. Coverdale and I were both
coming to meet you, and encountering each other accidentally, walked on

As she spoke, Arthur, striving to read her countenance, fixed his eyes
upon her. Unable to meet his glance she turned away with an April look,
half tears half smiles. “It must be as I thought,” reflected Arthur;
“but if anything is to be done to save her, no time should be lost.
I’ll not waste the present opportunity. My dear Coverdale,” he continued
aloud, “I wish to have a few minutes’ private conversation with my
sister; you and I are too old friends to stand upon ceremony, so you
will not be offended if I ask you to walk on, and wait for us at the
stile at the end of the path.”

This direct appeal brought Harry to his senses, but not feeling sure
whether Alice would approve of having the whole burden of explanation
thrown upon her, he glanced inquiringly towards her ere he ventured to
reply. Now, Alice, fond as she was of her brother, was also (from their
difference in point of age, as well as from the fact that Arthur’s
nature was more firm and resolute than her own, and his manner quick
and abrupt) a little afraid of him. Thus, being aware how very highly
he esteemed Coverdale--an estimation which she was inclined to transcend
rather than to depreciate--a sudden fear seized her lest Arthur, deeming
her a mere silly child, should consider his friend had done a foolish
thing in choosing her for a wife, when he might have selected, at the
very least, some strong-minded peeress, and that he might be angry
with her for her presumption in having accepted him. This feeling,
overpowering for the moment every other, induced her to respond to
Harry’s look of inquiry by a slight shake of the head, and a glance
which would have kept him by her side if a whole regiment of brothers,
armed with Minie rifles and Colt’s revolvers, had attempted to separate
them. But Arthur, being totally unarmed, and having simply asked a civil
question, the answer which Harry, appropriately quoting Walter Scott,
might have made to the hypothetical regiment, “Come one come all, this
rock (not that there was a rock, but that is a trifle) will fly, from
its firm base as soon as I,” was unfitted for the present emergency,
and no other equally good suggested itself. What he _did_ say was this,
“A--really--of course I’d do it in a minute, my dear fellow--but--a--I’m
not quite sure,”--here he glanced at Alice--“that is, I’m positively
certain that--a--in fact, the thing’s impossible.”

“You’re certain that it’s impossible that you can walk on to the stile
before Alice and me! My dear Harry, what are you talking--or rather
(for the truth is you’re pre-occupied), what are you thinking about?”
 inquired Arthur, in amazement, seeing from the expression of his
friend’s countenance that he was really anxious and excited. Coverdale
was again hesitating how to reply, when Alice relieved him from his
difficulty by saying hurriedly, “I will walk on, and leave you to talk
to Mr. Coverdale.”

As she spoke, they reached the rustic bench before alluded to, and
Arthur, completely mystified, seated himself, and made a sign to
Coverdale to follow his example.

“One moment, and I’ll be with you,” replied Coverdale, springing to
Alice’s side; “then I may tell him everything?” he continued.

“Oh yes,” was the unhesitating answer.

“And you _will_ wait for us at the stile? I wont detain him five

“If _you_ wish it.”

“_Can_ you doubt it?” were the necessary lover-like rejoinders; and
Coverdale returned to his friend, who looked especially puzzled and
slightly provoked.

“Now be silent!” exclaimed Hazlehurst, as Harry was about, with the
greatest volubility, to plunge at once _in medias res_. “You have lived
amongst women till you’ve learned to chatter like them, I think. I shall
never bring you to the point, unless you will let me cross-examine you.”

“Fire away, then; only look sharp, for your sister must not be kept
waiting,” was the reply.

“You’ve grown wonderfully polite and attentive all of a sudden,”
 returned Arthur, sarcastically. “But now listen to me. Has Crane made
Alice an offer?”

Harry replied in the affirmative.

“Did she refuse him?”

“Of course she did,” was the disdainful rejoinder.

“I don’t see any of course in it,” returned Hazlehurst, moodily.

“My father is resolved on the match: Alice has been brought up to obey
him implicitly, and the habit of obedience is very strong in such a
gentle, yielding nature as hers.”

“If she is gentle and yielding I’m not!” exclaimed Harry, vehemently;
“and with your support, and the knowledge that his daughter’s happiness
is at stake, Mr. Hazlehurst must listen to reason.”

“My dear boy,” returned Arthur, earnestly, “what a warmhearted,
thorough-going friend you are! you really take as much interest in the
affair as if it were your own. I see you naturally reckon on the extent
of your influence with my father, and I have reason to believe you do
not overrate it. Why, what is the matter now? Have you taken leave of
your senses?”

This inquiry referred to a sudden and alarming outbreak on the part of
Coverdale, who, when his influence with Mr. Hazlehurst was mentioned,
sprang to his feet, uttering what mild mammas, engaged in the moral
instruction of their tender offspring, term a “naughty word.”

“You are enough to drive one mad!” he exclaimed, angrily; “saying, and
making me say, all sorts of absurd things at cross-purposes, because you
wont listen to the explanation I’m remaining here on purpose to give
you; keeping Alice waiting, too!”

“Well, let her wait,” returned Arthur, testily, worried by Harry’s
constant reference to this point; “anybody would think you were Alice’s
lover instead of old Crane!”

“And so I am,” was the unexpected rejoinder; “and what is more, old
fellow, her accepted lover also! Oh, Arthur,” he continued, seating
himself by his friend’s side, and laying his arm on his shoulder, “I’m
the happiest, luckiest dog in existence! To think that she should be
able to love such a rough, uncultivated--but you are not displeased, are
you--surprised, of course, you must be.”

“Surprised, indeed,” was the reply; “so much so, that even yet I
can scarcely believe it; it has almost taken my breath away! But
displeased!--why my dear Harry, I’d rather she married you than any man
breathing, be he prince, duke, or what not. It is the most charming,
glorious, wonderful thing that ever happened! But even now I can’t
conceive how it has come about; and yet, when I begin to reflect, I
fancied that Alice was growing shy and conscious in regard to something
or somebody, before I went away. It’s natural enough that she should
fall in love with you; but that you should take a fancy to her, or
indeed to any girl, does, I own, surprise me. I had so thoroughly made
up my mind that you meant to be an old bachelor.”

“You could not have done so more completely than I had,” rejoined Harry;
“but the fact is, that from the first moment in which I saw your sister
I fell in love with her, though I had not the most remote idea of it at
the time. I can trace it all now; hence my dislike of D’Almayne, and the
poor old cotton-spinner. I was afraid the fascinations of the one might
win her heart, or the fortune of the other obtain her hand--in fact, I
was unconsciously jealous of them both. But now come on, we are really
keeping Alice an unreasonable time. Aye, you may laugh; I don’t care a
_sous_ now that you know all about it. Why Arthur, old boy, you will
be my real _bona fide_ brother one of these days!--that is a contingent
advantage which has only just occurred to me.”

Seizing his friend’s hand as he spoke, he pressed it with such
good-will, that Hazlehurst was enabled to give a shrewd guess at
the sensation produced by that interesting mediæval amenity, the
thumb-screw. And thus mutually pleased and excited, the young men
proceeded, both talking volubly, and generally at the same moment, till
they reached the stile, where they found Alice awaiting them, looking
very timid, very conscious, but exceedingly pretty. She need not have
been uneasy, however, for Arthur had too much good taste and kind
feeling to laugh at her at that moment; on the contrary, he hastened
to set her mind at rest by whispering, as he imprinted a kiss on her
glowing cheek--

“My darling child, you have made me almost as happy as you have rendered

The walk home was a very delightful one. Alice leaned on Harry’s
stalwart arm, and felt the most perfect and irrational confidence in his
power to shield her from the effects of her father’s anger, Mr. Crane’s
despair, and all other uncomfortable consequences of the act of
filial disobedience which she meditated. Harry, already experiencing a
sensation of delicious proprietorship in regard to the sweet girl beside
him, felt himself exalted in the scale of humanity, and held his head
a good inch higher on the strength of it; from which moral and physical
elevation he looked down upon all field-sports as soulless and ignoble
pastimes, and despised them accordingly. Arthur, hoping that his
sister’s attachment to a man in every way so worthy of her, would
inspire her with the firmness requisite to withstand successfully his
father’s possible opposition to the match, and that the matter would
eventually end by securing her happiness and that of his friend, “forgot
his own griefs,” to rejoice in their bright prospects. And so they
reached the pleasure-grounds, where Alice, separating from the two
gentlemen, ran in to compose her excited feelings before appearing at

“Arthur, wait one moment,” exclaimed Covcrdale, laying his hand on
his friend’s arm to detain him; “I have something important to say to
you;--isn’t she an angel, my dear boy?”

“Why really, my good fellow, between friends, and seeing that you appear
to attach so much importance to the fact, I should say, taking into
consideration the evidence in the case, and coming to the point without
any unnecessary prolixity, that she was by no means an angel, but simply
a very pleasant little female mortal, and--ahem! my poor sister, sir.”

“Psha! you stupid old humbug!” returned Harry, giving him a playful
push, which caused him involuntarily to leap over a flower-bed; “do just
listen to me for a minute, and give me a sensible answer if you can.
It’s all very pretty for my darling Alice, and you and I, to settle
this matter so sweetly and easily; but remember, there’s the governor to
bring round, and Crane and his confounded £20,000 a-year to beat out of
the field; it strikes me we’re in an awful fix, and about to become an
interesting young couple. What is to be the next move, eh?”

“Oh, the affair lies in a nutshell,” returned Hazlehurst. “Fortunately,
my father has always appreciated you properly, and now the unusual
degree of influence you have acquired over him will stand you in good
stead. He may be a little annoyed at first, when he finds he must
relinquish his favourite design of purchasing old Crane’s farm; but he
is very fond of Alice, and very proud of her.”

“He’d be a most unnatural old heathen if he wasn’t,” muttered Harry,
_sotto voce_.

“Consequently,” continued Hazlehurst, not heeding the interruption,
“when he perceives the immeasurable advantages to be obtained by
allowing her to marry a man she loves, and who is in every way deserving
of her affection, instead of an old scarecrow, who will be in his dotage
(I believe he is so already, more or less!) while Ally is still quite a
young woman, he cannot hesitate for a moment in giving his consent. You
had better speak to him the instant breakfast is over; depend upon it
you’ll find him all amiability.”

“Depend upon it I shall find him nothing of the kind,” returned
Coverdale, snappishly; then, seeing the look of surprise that spread
over his friend’s countenance, he continued, dejectedly:--“Ah, my dear
boy, you little know the extent to which I’ve been putting my foot in it
since you went away. Tom tells me I annoyed your governor three or four
days ago, by taking the nonsense out of that beast of a horse old Crane
had the stupidity to give Alice; a brute which would have broken her
sweet neck, if I hadn’t luckily been at hand to catch her as she was
falling. Then, to improve the matter, last night we all drank wine
enough, and the Head of the Family got a little too much into it to be
good for its proprietor; accordingly, he forced me to give my opinion
about Free-trade, and then pitched into me for so doing, and declared
I’d insulted him: upon which I lost my temper, and said something rude;
and, to come to the point, as you call it, he is now as savage as a bear
with me, and all the blessed influence you’ve been paying me such pretty
compliments about, if it ever existed, is scattered to the winds. I dare
not speak to him, it would be worse than useless; he’d be only too glad
to refuse me at once, lest he should lose such a good opportunity of
paying me off for last night. Ah!” he continued, “you may well look
puzzled,--you would not like to have many clients with such a talent
as I possess for unconsciously cutting their own throats! What’s to
be done?--divide the wires of the electric telegraph at King’s Cross
Station, and then take Alice along the Great Northern to Gretna
Green--though Gretna Green has been done brown by some recent act, has
it not, and the harmonious and hymeneal blacksmith retired into private
life? Come, advise, for I can hit upon nothing; only remember one
thing,--since Alice is good enough to say she will have me, _married I
must and will be_, if all the fathers in England were to set themselves
against it!”


Arthur Hazlehurst, with an aspect graver than his wont, replied to
Harry’s appeal--“It certainly is very unfortunate that you should have
selected last night, of all others, to displease my father; because,
owing to the Crane offer, time is of the greatest importance; but for
that I should not have cared; you would only have had to wait for a
week or two, taking pains to be especially polite and deferential in
the interval, and he would have totally forgotten his anger. As it is,
perhaps I had better speak to him,--he is sure to tell me about the
cotton-spinner, and I can avail myself of that opportunity to come to
the point; and now, if you have nothing better to propose, we’ll go in
to breakfast. Love may possibly destroy the appetite, but a railroad
journey has a directly contrary effect.”

Harry _had_ nothing better to propose--(for a vague suggestion in regard
to punching old Crane’s head, if he (Crane) did not mind what he was
about, could scarcely be considered in the light of a serious, practical
amendment)--so they went in to breakfast accordingly.

This meal appeared to be a most unsatisfactory one to “all who assembled
within those walls;” for, despite the presence of every delicacy of
the season, and a few over, each individual seemed labouring under some
secret sorrow, and a general wet blanket damped, and hung heavy on,
the spirits of the whole party; with the exception, perhaps, of Horace
D’Almayne, who was unusually animated, and watched the proceedings with
a look of quiet penetration.

When the ladies quitted the room, Mr. Crane called Mr. Hazlchurst aside,
and informed him that he wished for the honour of an interview; to which
request that gentleman acceded in his most gracious manner, and they
adjourned together to the library.

Harry, with a significant glance to Arthur to remain on the look out and
watch proceedings, strolled off with Tom on some horse-or-dog-inspecting
pretext, but really to keep himself out of harm’s way till he was
wanted,--so low an estimate had he now acquired of his own diplomatic

D’Almayne and Arthur being thus left _tête-à-tête_, the former accosted
the latter after the following fashion:--

“Hazlehurst, _mon cher_, I shall die of _ennui_ if we have many such
_tristes affaires_ as this meal of which we have just partaken, How,
without being more inquisitive than my neighbours, you cannot suppose
I have remained entirely in the dark in regard to the little amusements
your friends and relations have devised to vary the monotony of life

“And the result of these your observations?” inquired Arthur, coldly.

“Is, that the various interests clash, and that delicate dilemmas
innumerable must, ere long, present their horns;--now I, being an
easy-tempered fellow, like to be happy myself, and to see every brother
man, and sister woman, happy also. I shall, therefore, have
much pleasure in doing _mon petit possible_ to smooth away these
difficulties--an endeavour in which my influence with our good friend
Crane will greatly assist me; but to enable me to do this, you must of
course take me so far into your confidence, as to tell me whether I am
right in my preconceived ideas--_che dice, Signor_?”

Arthur reflected for a moment--he knew D’Almayne to be quick-sighted,
clear-headed, and fertile in expedient, at the same time he believed he
was designing and self-interested; in the present emergency, however, he
might, from his influence with Mr. Crane, be possibly of some use,
while he could scarcely, with the worst intentions, render the aspect of
affairs more complicated and unsatisfactory than it now appeared.

Accordingly, he replied,--“It cannot involve any alarming stretch of
confidence on my part, merely to tell you whether your ‘guesses at
truth’ have hit the mark, or flown wide of it. So you have only to
propound your queries, and I will answer them as clearly and concisely
as in me lies.”

“_C’est bon!_” was the reply. “A--to begin with--I am correct, am I not,
in supposing that last night my worthy friend Crane offered his hand and
£20,000 per annum (in which latter item his heart is of course wrapped
up and included) to your amiable and accomplished sister?” Hazlehurst
nodded assent, and D’Almayne continued,--“The young lady, however, or I
am much mistaken, greatly prefers your excellent and energetic friend,
Mr. Coverdale (who, you must pardon me for saying, reminds me of a
well-intentioned, enthusiastic bull in a chinashop), which preference
the gentleman returns to such a degree, that I am inclined to believe
he _has_ told, or in some other manner rendered the fair Alice aware of,
his love. Her manner at breakfast this morning, was compounded of such
an elaborate endeavour to conceal the conscious and confiding, behind
the most transparent _eidolon_ of indifference, that no one at all
acquainted with woman’s nature could doubt about the matter.”

“You are indeed a close observer!” exclaimed Arthur, surprised out of
his caution. “Coverdale’s attachment was a thing I never even suspected
till--a--till this morning.”

“Mr. Crane tells me, your father is intensely anxious to purchase one of
his farms adjoining your estate, which he (Crane) is unwilling to part
with,” resumed D’Almayne; “thence, I imagine, proceeds your respected
progenitor’s anxiety to bring about the match. To finish the catalogue
of my observations up to the present time, I conceive Mr. Crane to be
now in the act of urging his suit to Mr. Hazlehurst, and complaining
that ‘Miss Alice’ as he calls her (he always talks on such subjects
like an underbred greengrocer, or second footman), rather kicked,
than jumped, at him when he offered her--ahem--his income and his

“Your surmises are so wonderfully correct,” rejoined Arthur (determining
to make a merit of necessity, and appear open with one who seemed thus
well acquainted with all the family secrets), “that in telling you that
as soon as Mr. Crane leaves the study, I mean to appeal to my father in
my friend’s behalf, I shall, probably, only forestall you in expressing
another of your judicious anticipations.”

“I rather imagined that would be the next move,” was the easy,
self-satisfied reply.--“Mr. Coverdale, with all his surprising freshness
and _naïveté_ of character, could scarcely propose to urge his suit
in person, after having quarrelled with your father over his wine last
night; for which reason, by the way, it requires no very great tact to
divine that Mr. Crane’s proposal will find favour in Mr. Hazlehurst’s
eyes, and Mr. Coverdale’s be rejected.”

“And the remedy?” inquired Arthur, eagerly.

D’Almayne paused, then a meaning but disagreeable smile passed across
his handsome features, as he replied,--“If I can induce Mr. Crane to
withdraw his suit of his own accord, yet continue his amicable relations
towards this family, and be willing to sell the farm to your father at
his own price, and by these means lead Mr. Hazlchurst to regard your
friend’s offer favourably, shall I be acting in accordance with your

“Nay, my dear D’Almayne, if you can indeed persuade Mr. Crane to perform
so magnanimous a part, I shall consider you the best and cleverest
fellow in the world. As to my wishing you to do so, I should as
soon have thought of wishing you to appoint me First Lord of the
Treasury--one only wishes for such things as one, in some degree,
expects to obtain. But surely you over-calculate your powers of
persuasion,” returned Hazlehurst, scarcely knowing whether D’Almayne
might not be amusing himself at his expense.

“I will remain here and await the result of your interview with your
father, and if it terminate as I predict, I will attempt my little bit
of diplomacy;--the result will prove to you whether or not I overrate my
Machiavelian talents,” was the confident reply--and so they parted.

Mr. Hazlehurst, senior, was by no means in an amiable frame of mind when
his son entered the library--the gout, considerably increased by the
wine-bibbing of the previous evening, pervaded his entire system, mental
and bodily; and through the atrabilious medium of a disordered stomach,
he looked back upon his disagreement with Coverdale, till it became
magnified into a serious quarrel. Mr. Crane had just informed him that,
on renewing his offer to Alice on the previous evening, the young lady
muttered a few words, incoherent indeed, but, as he conceived, of a
negative tendency, and instantly conveyed herself away without
affording him an opportunity of obtaining an explanation. Whereupon
Mr. Hazlehurst, waxing wroth, declared she should accept him that very
morning; begged him to retire until he should have seen his daughter,
and, as he was pleased to term it, brought her to her senses; and having
just dispatched a summons to the poor girl, was waiting her arrival
to perpetrate an act of parental tyranny, when his son entered. The
consequences may readily be imagined:--Coverdale was angrily and
unceremoniously refused; Alice anathematized, excommunicated, and
ordered magisterially to be imprisoned in her own room till farther
notice v and Arthur severely reprimanded for having introduced Coverdale
to the family (which, be it remembered, he had done at his father’s
particular request), and cautioned against venturing to countenance
Alice in her disobedience, or ever again to refer to the subject in his
(Mr. Hazlehurst’s) sovereign presence, on pain of being cut off with
the trilling patrimony of one shilling sterling. Arthur attempted a
mild remonstrance, whereby he obtained a particular request instantly to
leave the room, and a general order in regard to the entire alteration
of his conduct, and abnegation of his present opinions on all subjects,
human and divine. Returning to the breakfast-room in the frame of mind
naturally consequent upon such a reception, he discovered D’Almayne
comfortably lounging in an easy-chair, and perusing a handsomely bound
copy of the _Pleasures of Memory_.

Glancing up as Hazlehurst entered, he observed coolly--“I need not ask
you how it has gone, _mon ami_, your face tells me.”

Hazlehurst strode impatiently up and down the apartment; then stopping
short in front of his companion, he exclaimed abruptly--“Try your
plan, whatever it may be; for common sense is thrown away upon a man so
prejudiced and positive as my father has shown himself to be; and common
patience cannot bear the irritating speeches he makes, when all the time
one feels that one is striving for the right, and that he is totally and
entirely wrong.”

“You are warm, _mon cher_,” was the calm reply. “Papas have been
wrong-headed time out of mind, and will probably continue so till time
shall have passed away, together with all other sublunary weights and
measures; so why afflict yourself at the inevitable? But I will now
proceed without delay to try my eloquence upon the dear, rejected Mr.
Crane--a--by the way, you must give me one promise. ‘On their own merits
modest men are dumb;’ now my modesty is so outrageously sensitive,
that I am not only dumb myself, but require my friends to be so
likewise; in plain English, if I do this thing to oblige you, you must
promise me to keep my share in the transaction a secret; the change
must appear to emanate from the united kind regards and amiable
self-sacrifice of your father and Mr. Crane.” seeing Arthur hesitate,
he continued--“Without this assurance, you must excuse my declining to

“Be it as you will then,” began Arthur.

As he spoke the door flew open, and Alice, eager and tearful, hurried
in, exclaiming,--“You have seen my father! Can it be true that he is so
cruel as to refuse his consent. He has just written me such a dreadful
note, ordering me not to quit my room!”

Here, catching sight of D’Almayne, she stopped short in confusion and
alarm. That individual hastened to relieve her by walking to the door;
but as he passed Arthur he whispered, “You may make an exception in your
sister’s favour. I absolve you from your vow of secrecy as far as she is
concerned. I am a tender-hearted fellow, and beauty in tears is always
too many for me.” As he spoke, he left the apartment, and closed the
door behind him.

Alice heard Arthur’s account of D’Almayne’s unexpected access of
benevolence with surprise; but not having witnessed the quiet confidence
with which he asserted his power of influencing Mr. Crane, she put but
little trust in his assurances, merely setting them down as the vain
boasting of a conceited youth, who was actuated by a good-natured desire
to help them out of their difficulties. That she did him injustice may
be gathered from the fact, that later in the day Mr. Crane sought a
second interview with Mr. Hazlehurst., after which the latter gentleman
summoned Harry Coverdale to his august presence; and when that happy but
much confused young man entered the _sanctum sanctorum_ of the library,
sent for his daughter Alice likewise, and having pronounced a strongly
acidulated, not to say, crabbed, benediction upon their youthful
heads, dismissed them in time to write by that day’s post to his man of
business, to prepare the purchase-money for the Hazlecroft farm, then
the property of Jedediah Crane, Esq. The dinner-party that evening
passed off much more agreeably than the breakfast had done. Coverdale
sat by his lady-love, looking the picture, or better still, the reality
of happiness; but Arthur Hazlehurst wore a gloomy brow when he perceived
that his cousin, Kate Marsden, had paired off with the cotton-spinner,
and that they appeared mutually satisfied with the arrangement.


It must be confessed that Harry Coverdalc was of a somewhat impetuous
disposition. No sooner had he obtained Hr. Hazlehurst’s consent to the
match, than he commenced a system of alternate petting and persecution,
whereby he contrived to render the lives of Alice and her mother
scarcely endurable, until he had induced them to fix an early day for
his “execution,” as Tom irreverently paraphrased the solemnisation of
the marriage ceremony. This object happily accomplished, a journey to
London was proposed, whereat Mr. Hazlehurst looked very black; but when
Alice seated herself on his knee, and, stroking his bald head, called
him a dear, good, kind, papa (on speculation, probably, for at that
moment he did not in the slightest degree look the character), his heart
softened, and he consented to the plan. Then somebody told Arthur of a
wonderful doctor, who had found out a new system of curing everything,
and especially complaints analogous to that under which Mrs. Hazlehurst
laboured; accordingly, he determined his mother should form one of the
London party, and consult this fashionable fee-taker; and when Arthur
had determined on a thing, it generally came to pass. Therefore, after
considerable pro-ing-and con-ing, and macadamizing of difficulties, the
matter was finally arranged by Mrs. Hazlehurst, her son, and her two
daughters, taking up their abode at Cherry’s Hotel, in Jermyn Street,
while Coverdale established himself in his old quarters at the
Tavistock, in Covent-garden.

Then they began to be overwhelmed with business. First, the infallible
doctor was to be consulted; so poor Mrs. Hazlehurst was dragged out of
bed some three hours sooner than usual, breakfasted in a nervous tremor,
which rendered the ceremony a most unreal mockery, was transported from
her carriage to a stately dining-room, where some twenty fellow-victims
were already incarcerated, whence (having waited two hours, because, in
her ignorance of London rascalities, she had omitted to fee the noble
creature in plush and powder who had admitted her) she was at length
(his nobleness not being able longer to exclude her) ushered into the
presence of the potentate of pills himself. This erudite individual was
a short, stiff man, with a short, stiff appearance,--the result of the
most severe application of starch and hair-brushes,--and a short, stiff
manner, assumed, as are the stare and swagger of Yan Amburg and other
tiger-tamers, for the purpose of browbeating and mentally subduing
refractory or sceptical patients. Seeing at a glance, however, that
poor Mrs. Hazlehurst was already subdued, he obligingly let off a little
superfluous starch, slightly disarranged his hair, smiled, to show a
fine set of false teeth, put in at trade-price by a friendly dentist,
and having thus brought himself somewhat nearer the limpness of average
humanity, added (as he would have probably expressed it) a couple of
drachms _syrupi saccarinis_ to his manner, ere he proceeded to catechise
his patient as to her symptoms, and the remedies that had been applied
to remove them. To each fact thus elicited, he replied by frowning
portentously, screwing round his mouth, and muttering, “I knew it,” in a
gloomy and mysterious manner, as though he had acquired the knowledge
by some awful and supernatural course of study; and, indeed, as Mrs.
Hazlehurst’s confessions involved her having had a dangerous fall from
her horse at a period when he, the doctor, must have been about five
years old, and that she had been laid up with a bilious fever exactly
two calendar months and four days before he was born, he can scarcely be
supposed to have come by his information honestly and lawfully. In
fact, to a logical mind, the question resolved itself into the following
hypothesis--that he must either be a true prophet, or a lying doctor.

Having elicited all the facts he cared to learn (which, if he knew them
before, he might as well have saved himself the trouble of doing),
he drew himself up to his extreme altitude,--which was nothing very
tremendous after all,--got his starch up to high-pressure pitch,
judiciously tempering its stiffness with soothing syrup, and delivered
himself of the following opinion:--“Madam, you have told me nothing
that, the moment I beheld you, I was not prepared to hear. I do not in
the slightest degree impugn the judgment and skill of Mr. Smithers”
 (the Hazlehurst general practitioner), “but the instant I glanced at
his first prescription I saw he had taken a wrong view of our case.
Superacetate of Euroelydon and bi-carbonate of Hydrocephalus would never
remove the pain and palpitation on our right side--”

“The _left_ is the side on which I usually feel the pain,” began Mrs.
Hazlehurst, mildly.

“Eh! left--yes, of course; I said left, didn’t I? I believe I observed
to you before, madam, that the moment I set eyes on you I became
aware of--in fact, I _felt_ (if I may so express myself) that pain
and palpitation on our left side; and I said to myself, if that very
talented practitioner, Mr. Smithers, has administered Superacetate of
Euroclydon, and bi-carbonate of Hydrocephalus to that pain of ours--with
the highest respect for Smithers (he was walking St. Bartholomew’s when
I was dresser to the late celebrated and lamented Flayflesh), I must
say he has mistaken our case. Now, I shall just--I make no secret of my
practice--I shall just throw in three grains of extr. Borealis Aurorae,
with equal proportions of Astri caninis, Geminorum siamesiæ, and
_sesqui_-carbonate (mind that) _sesqui_-carbonate of Pantapolion, and
our pain will lapse (as Byron so beautifully expresses it) into ‘a
happy memory of the past.’ You will take the mixture six times in the
twenty-four hours, and the pills immediately before dinner. With regard
to diet, everything you have been accustomed to eat is wrong; your
appetite is weak, and you like delicacies, as they are called, better
than substantial joints, I dare say?”

Mrs. Hazlehurst acknowledged that his penetration had not failed him;
and he resumed sharply--

“Madam, we musn’t touch them! they are poison in such a case as ours.
No; we must restrict ourselves to plain beef and mutton, _very_ much
underdone; stale bread, _no_ vegetables, _no_ fruit, _no_ nice things,
_very_ bitter beer, with plenty of the camomile in it (that’s the
brewer’s secret, strychnine’s all a delusion), and stick to the
_sesqui_-carbonate of Pantapolion, and we shall be a different woman in
a short time. Let me see you again on Friday. _Good_ morning.” And
so, pocketing his guinea with less respect than many men pay to a
fourpenny-piece, the fashionable quack allowed his victim to escape.

Then there was shopping. There are a good many shops in Regent Street,
and those that are not there are in Bond Street, at least a fair
sprinkling of them; but Harry solemnly declared (_after_ his marriage)
that during the fortnight the party were in London, they went into them
_all_, and every man knows what _that_ involves. Give a woman her head,
so far as to allow her to put it into a shop, and he must indeed be a
clever fellow who can coax or coerce her out of it under half-an-hour.
But Harry was in love, and love is blind (though it has an awkward trick
of recovering its eyesight after marriage and making up for lost
time, by spying out all kinds of things to which it had far better had
remained blind); besides, Alice was not more _exigeante_ than a lover
generally desires his mistress should be: too much independence of
character in a young girl being by no means an attractive quality.

Then there was a good deal of sight-seeing to be got through. Emily had
never been in London before, and Alice only once for a week. So they
“did” Westminster Abbey, which they really enjoyed; and St. Paul’s,
which they pretended to admire, and didn’t; and the Tower, where Emily
called the figures in the horse-armoury a set of quizzical old things;
and the Polytechnic, where they saw a man go down in a diving-bell, to
pick up nothing at the bottom of a large wash-hand-basin, and come
up again half suffocated, which they considered curious and highly
satisfactory, as no doubt it was to everybody but that unfortunate
martyr to popular science himself, who (taking the most cheerful view
of his amphibious occupation) can scarcely be regarded in the light of a
jolly young waterman. Then they went to the National Gallery to see the
pictures, which, as it was not an unusually bright and clear day, of
course they were unable to do; but they had the pleasure of seeing the
building itself, and the fountains in Trafalgar Square, which they all
agreed they had never beheld anything like before; and Harry added, that
in his travels he had not met with anything to equal the whole affair in
its peculiar style, and that he thought foreigners must be very strongly
impressed by it, and that it must at once give them a clear idea of
English taste; which remarks it was a pity the architect was not there
to hear, as they might possibly have been of use to him. Emily had
never beheld a play, so they went to the I-see-um Theatre, where they
witnessed the performance of a very long melodrama, adapted from the
French (that is, all that was national and peculiar--without which the
plot became a mere silly tissue of improbable events and impossible
situations--omitted, and the place supplied by worn-out and conventional
clap-traps). This _pièce de résistance_, which was to last the
play-going public for some four or six months, according to the degree
in which it suited their appetites, was so well put on the stage, and so
well acted, that the false sentiment and worse morality which pervaded
it were for the time forgotten, and it was not till Arthur called his
attention to the fact, that Harry recollected this un-English jumble
of crimes and follies, was played night after night to crowded houses,
while the masterpieces of Shakspere, the greatest dramatist who ever
lived, were banished to an obscure theatre in the outskirts of London,
or were forced to be translated into a foreign language, and acted by a
foreign company, ere the “ears polite” of London fashionables could be
persuaded to listen to them. The two young men argued the question in
all its bearings, and arrived at this conclusion, viz. either that if
Shakspere were better acted it would be better attended, or that if
Shakspere were better attended, better actors would soon be found
to perform the characters; though which of these statements might be
regarded as the cause, and which as the effect, they could by no means
agree. And by that time, the play being concluded, Emily declared that
it was quite perfect, really charming; and that, as to Shakspere, he was
an obsolete old slow-coach, and very wicked too--or else, why did they
want a family edition of him? Whereas, if there had ever been any harm
in this play, which she did not believe could have been the case, dear
Mr. Kingsby Florence had translated it so beautifully that it might have
been acted anywhere--in a church almost. Then she turned and appealed to
her sister, to support her in her girlish and unorthodox enthusiasm.

Alice replied gravely, and with a pseudo-matronly air which was highly
amusing, that although she must confess she had been interested and
entertained by the play she had just witnessed, yet that she had
listened to Arthur’s argument with Mr. Coverdale, and quite agreed in
the view taken by the latter gentleman; for which sympathy of opinion
Harry possessed himself of the lovely sympathiser’s hand, and pressed
it gratefully; while he inwardly thanked heaven for having bestowed upon
his future wife such a correct taste and sound understanding.--And
so, between doctoring, and shopping, and sight-seeing, and hurrying
dressmakers, and tailors, and coach-builders, and a host of minor
tradesmen, all the wedding paraphernalia were purchased, a vast amount
of business transacted, settlements prepared, and money spent; and a
fortnight passed away so quickly, that it appeared like two or three
days to the actors in the genteel comedy thus performed.

Then they all returned to the country, Harry going to the Park to
make arrangements for the incoming of house-decorators and furnishers
innumerable, who were to put to the rout all the old admiral’s bachelor
abominations, and prepare the mansion for the reception of its fair
mistress. That amiable young lady was beginning to find, by experience,
that to be “going to be married” is very hard work indeed, the wear and
tear of the feelings being a marked and alarming feature in the case.
Thus, whenever Harry was away for a day, she found herself anxious,
low-spirited, and a prey to innumerable misgivings lest evil should
befall him. On one evening in particular, when he returned full twenty
minutes later than he should have done, she felt so convinced that
“dreadful trotting-mare” had by some means compassed his destruction,
that she received him with a gentle shower of tears, which of course he
kissed away, as he whispered that very soon she would be his dear little
wife, and then nothing should part them even for an hour; and Alice
smiled through her tears as she thought how, with every taste and
feeling in common, they should trip gaily along the pathway of life,
hand in hand, like a conjugal couple of Siamese twins. Dreams! pretty
Alice, dreams! which many a young girl’s loving heart has framed er?
this, only to awaken to a far different reality, and weep over the
departure of such bright illusions.

But there was not much time for dreaming or romance at the Grange, for
the “fatal day” came nearer and nearer with alarming velocity, until
at last it actually arrived; and everybody was in such a state of
excitement, that an uninitiated spectator might have imagined the whole
household, instead of merely one member of it, was going to be married.
As every one expected a most fatiguing day, of course no one slept a
wink during the previous night; and as the match was in every way most
desirable, and Alice enjoyed as fair a prospect of happiness as those
who loved her best could wish her, of course all the women, the moment
it was light, indulged in the feminine luxury of “a hearty cry;” after
which libation to sensibility, they set to work in real earnest to dress
themselves and each other as becomingly as they possibly could. On the
bride’s dressing-table was found a set of pearl ornaments, supposed by
the learned in such matters to have cost at least £500, together with a
slip of paper, representing Mr. Crane’s best wishes for her happiness;
which piece of generosity Alice thought very amiable and pretty of him,
as indeed it was. Kate (wearing a splendid bracelet, giver unknown) and
Emily were to be bridesmaids, and four of the prettiest bosom friends
the bride possessed made up the team. These six susceptible young
creatures turned out in light blue, and very nice they looked, only (as
Master Tom, reprieved for a week from Eton in order to be present at the
ceremony, observed), they did not step well together--a deficiency for
which he accounted by remarking that his cousin Kate carried her head
so high, without a bearing rein, and had such grand action, that it
naturally made the other girls look rather screwy; and indeed Master
Tom’s descriptive powers so far exceed our own, that we shall violate
confidence by availing ourselves of a letter he dispatched the next
morning to one of his friends at Eton, in which he gave his own
impressions of the eventful day. It ran as follows:--

“Dear Tipsby,--If this blessed hot weather does not make dripping of
a fellow prematurely, you will have an opportunity of weeping on the
affectionate bussing of ‘Yours, truly,’ by the 5 p.m. train on Monday
next. The cause of my shirking a week is not, as you impertinently
insinuate, my having ‘over-goose-berried myself,’ but the no less
alarming fact that my eldest sister has been and gone and committed
matrimony, and I have waited to see her turned off. The ‘shocking event’
arrived at a climax (that’s grammar, ain’t it?) yesterday. I rose with
the lark (i.e. Arthur, my big brother, came and dragged me out of bed at
seven o’clock), and dressed myself. Yes, I should think I did--rather!
Kerseymere sit-upons, made precious loose in the leg, and with a
large pink check on a lavender ground--stunnin! satin vest, colours
to sympathize; silk necktie, pink ground, lavender pattern, once
round--ends at least a quarter of a yard long, and such a bow!--there’s
high art for you, my boy!--and last, not least, real Oxford bang-tail
coatee (none of your blackguard boys’ jackets), bright blue, with only
two buttons and button-holes about it, and all sorts of jolly pockets in
original places; but, don’t fret, you shall see it. Well, to return
to our mutton, as the French say: very few showed at early breakfast,
sensibilities superseding appetites in a general way, though I can’t say
I perceived much difference as regarded number one: yet, when I come to
think of it, I recollect I only eat three eggs; but then the ham was a
real brick. Nothing particular occurred till we were to go to church;
but when the traps came round, you may fancy there was something to
look at. My brother-in-law, Coverdale--oh, Tips, he really _is_ a
fine fellow, as handsome as fun--can ride anything you like to put him
across--a dead shot--A1 with his fists (’gad, I should be sorry to get
even a left-hander from him), and as good-tempered and jolly as a cock;
but you shall see him some day: well, he came up with his own horses,
a pair of blood bays, he gave £350 for ’em, and they’re dirt cheap at
the money; he is a first-rate judge of a horse; but I’ll tell you all
about the traps when we meet. Then down came the girls; Ally (that’s my
eldest sister), was smothered with veils, and flounces, and pearls, and
that sort of nonsense; and looked precious pale and interesting, and
like to blub; so we bundled her into the family-coach, and Coverdale
jumped into his own trap, and away we all scuttled to church. We’ve got
a good, sharp parson, that can go the pace slap up when he likes; and,
knowing that the Champagne was waiting for him, he put the harness
on ’em in no time; and the women did the water-cart business in
style--where all their tears come from I can’t think--but they laid the
dust beautifully. Then there was signing names in the vestry, and a lot
of chaff about kissing the bride, which so upset that muff, Lambkin,
the parson’s apprentice (curate, I suppose, is what they call the chap),
that he fairly turned tail and bolted. Next, we all bundled home again;
Ally in Coverdale’s trap this time (and precious handsome he looked, as
he handed her in, I can tell you); and then came the ‘crowning mercy’
(as Lambkin said in his sermon last Sunday), the wedding breakfast. The
governor had done the thing well for once in his life, I will say that
for the old boy. There were all the delicacies of all the four seasons
(one only wished one had four stomachs, like a camel, to pay them proper
attention; though I didn’t do badly, in spite of my mono-stomachic
conformation). Then the Champagne;--my dear Tips, I am not using a mere
figure of rhetoric when I say the supply was unlimited;--how much
I drank I literally _cannot_ tell, but, in mentioning the affair
to inquiring friends, you had better restrict your statement to
half-a-dozen bottles--as a general rule, a gentleman should not take
more on such occasions--it is not every man who possesses my strength of
head and self-control. I sat next to one of the bridesmaids--

                   “‘A little, laughing fairy thing,

                   Just like an angel on the wing;’

                   A rosebud ’neath the moon’s pale ring;

                   A playful zephyr, whispering

                   Some secret to the early Spring.

As Tennyson has it--stunning poet, Tennyson! At first my modesty
prevented my getting on with her quite as fast as I could have wished;
in fact, till after my fourth glass cf Champagne, I had not gone beyond
asking if she liked roast chicken, and saying ‘Bless you,’ when she
sneezed; which I have since thought might not be quite etiquette, for
she certainly looked surprised. However, ‘_in vino jollitas_,’ as Cicero
says; after imbibing the ‘rosy.’ I went ahead like beans, and I flatter
myself--ahem!--made a very considerable impression; but then recollect
the expense with which I was got up! the woman who could look on that
bang-tail coatee with indifference must be a heartless tigress. At all
events, Juliana Georgina (sweet, poetical name! aint it, Tips?) didn’t;
and if my mother invites her here during the Christmas holydays--which,
betwixt you and me and the post, is not impossible--I should not be
surprised if the affair were to assume quite a serious complexion. It
is some time since I have experienced what the mounseers call a ‘_grande
passion._’ When the party generally had pitched into the grub, till
the powers of nature wore forced to cry ‘Hold, enough!’ (though, for my
part, I don’t think one’s bread-basket does by any means hold enough
on such occasions) everybody drank everybody’s health, and everybody
returned thanks. My brother-in-law, Coverdale, made a stunning speech,
the best that was made, by long odds; though Master Arthur didn’t
disgrace his profession in the jawing line either. The governor did the
pathetic and paternal; but it was precious slow, and all his jokes old
ones. Mr. Crane (he’s a rich old buffer that was nibbling after Ally,
but it wasn’t likely she’d have anything to say to him when she’d a
chance of taking such a trump-card as my brother-in-law, Coverdale, into
her hand) followed in the benevolent and philanthropic line; but he made
a regular mull of it, worse than the daddy; and when they’ done making
fools of themselves, the sitting broke up, and my brother-in-law and
Alice started for the Continent. And the last thing before they were
off, Coverdale, while he was waiting in the hall for his wife (women are
always too late for everything), tipped me a flimsy to the tune of
ten pounds, and told me not to forget I was to come to the Park in the
hunting season, and he’d take care to find me a good mount; but if ever
there was a real brick, my brother-in-law Coverdale is the identical
article, and no mistake. And that this is a full, true, and particular
account of this wonderful wedding, sayeth and attesteth,

“Yours, in the bonds of jollity,

“Tom Hazlehurst.”

P.S.--Advice to cricketers! Mind your batting, old fellow; for I’ve been
put up to some first-rate bowling dodges by my brother-in-law, Coverdale
(he’s one of the top-sawyers at Lord’s), that will send your stumps
flying about your ears, if you don’t mind your eye. “_Verbum sat.


The same post-bag in which Tom Hazlehurst dispatched his letter to his
schoolfellow, conveyed also two other epistles written by inmates of
the Grange. For the reader’s benefit we will take the same liberty with
them, which we have already taken with the Etonian’s literary effusion.
The first was from Kate Marsden to Miss Arabella Crofton, a lady some
three or four years older than herself, who had been one of the teachers
at the school at which Kate had been brought up, and was now governess
in a German family. Miss Crofton was a woman of unusual mental ability,
and having in a great degree moulded Kate’s character, was now her sole
_confidante_ and mentor. It ran thus:--

“Dear Arabella,--Since I finally determined on following your advice,
fate seems to have played my game for me, and I now consider it as
secure as anything which has not actually come to pass can be. I
told you, when I wrote to you at Baden-Baden, that _his_ friend, Mr.
Coverdale, and my cousin Alice, were evidently becoming attached; you
will therefore be the less surprised to hear that they were married
yesterday; the matter came about thus:--Soon after I wrote to you,
Mr. Crane, by my advice, offered; Alice of course refused him, but so
equivocally (she is quite a child in such things) that the poor, dear,
dull creature scarcely caught her meaning. I immediately took him in
hand, and, availing myself of the situation, flattered his vanity to
such a degree, that ere the evening finished he believed not only that
Alice would accept him, but that I, Kate Marsden, was hopelessly in love
with him. Accordingly, when he learned unmistakably next morning that
Alice meant to refuse him, _my_ good taste stood out in very favourable
contrast. In the meantime, Mr. Crane’s offer brought Mr. Coverdale
to the point, and Alice gladly accepted him, in doing which she acted
wisely, for he is a good, amiable, sterling man! and when the romance
has worn off, and they have got over the bore of awakening from ‘Love’s
young dream,’ I believe they will settle down into a very happy couple.
My uncle at first refused his consent, for Coverdale has only five,
instead of twenty thousands a-year; and Mr. Crane sulked in a corner;
but that strange Mr. D’Almayne, about whom I told you before, and who
possesses a degree of influence over Mr. Crane of which I by no means
approve, went to him, and persuaded him not only to give up Alice
good-humouredly, but actually to play a generous part, and talk my uncle
over to give his consent to my cousin’s union with Mr. Coverdale. Thus,
you see, as I began by saying, my game was played for me, and I had only
to sit still and avail myself of the moves as the others made them.

“I am much puzzled by this Mr. D’Almayne. He is, unless I am much
deceived, a complete adventurer, scheming for his own advantage (_I_
ought to be able to recognise such a character); but what his object can
have been in this affair I cannot possibly conjecture. Pure philanthropy
had nothing to do with it, of that I am certain. Again, how he contrived
to influence Mr. Crane to behave so amiably I cannot conceive. Sometimes
I fancy he has divined my intention of marrying the _millionaire_; but,
if so, why should he aid me in my project?--for I know by his manner
(although he is very cautious) that he admires me himself. Certain it
is, that since the conversation I have alluded to, Mr. Crane has been at
my feet, and is only waiting to offer till he imagines time enough shall
have elapsed to prevent the transfer of his affections (?) from Alice
to me appearing too ridiculous. However, the affair will unravel itself
some day. And now that my plans are likely to be crowned with success,
you will ask me how I feel on the subject. Determined as ever! that
which I have begun I will carry through; but, Arabella, I am most
miserable. For myself alone I should not care; to rescue my family from
poverty, I should be happy to sacrifice my personal hopes and wishes;
but to see Arthur suffer is indeed bitterness, and that he does suffer
frightfully, I, who can read his every look and gesture, cannot for
a moment doubt. Oh, that I had known the depth and reality of his
affection sooner, or that the necessity were less cogent! Then he bears
it with such manly endurance his manner to his family is exactly the
same as usual; not one of them suspects that anything has occurred to
pain him. Again, it is such an aggravation of my sorrow that he blames
me so deeply! Sometimes, when I am talking to Mr. Crane, I catch his
stern, penetrating glance fixed upon me with a calm earnestness of
rebuke, which affects me more deeply than could the most vehement
reproaches; and when I have acted my part for the day, and, in the
solitude of my chamber, I recall all that has passed between us, and
reflect that it is I who have brought this sorrow upon him--I who even
now feel that I love him better than my own soul--I who would gladly
have died for him, I sit, night by night, like a cold statue of despair,
or lie sleepless, shedding such tears as I trust God’s mercy permits not
to flow quite in vain! Yet it is my duty--you _know_, you cannot doubt
for a moment, it is my duty--you could never have _dared_ to counsel
such a sacrifice of the only thing which can make the burden of life
endurable, a real, deep, true affection, if you had not felt certain it
was my duty.

“You have set me a cruel task, Arabella, but I do not flinch from it;
you shall find your pupil worthy the trouble you have bestowed upon her.
I shall write again when anything conclusive is settled. If all goes
well, I shall be in a position to fulfil my old promise, and offer you
a home on your return to England. Would to God it were likely to be a
happier, though a humbler one! But that is past now. Farewell.

“Yours, in many senses of the word,

“Kate Marsden.”

The third epistle was from Horace D’Almayne to a friend and ally in
Paris. “We transcribe it _verbatim_:--

“Alphonse, mon cher,--I enclose you a draft for 3000 francs, wherewith
I beg you to satisfy Carreau, the tailor, _et tous les autres brigands_,
who render Paris an unsafe residence for me. You will naturally ask how
I have obtained the money; not at the gaming-table, nor on the highway,
like Claude Duval. Railroads and police have freed England from
highwaymen. No; I have for the present filled my purse by studying the
great game of life; in which, like all other games, you must either
pillage, or be pillaged. You and I, men of wit and of action, naturally
belong to the former class, and have meritoriously laboured to fulfil
our destiny. Since I have been in England this time I have sedulously
cultivated the _millionaire_ I introduced to you last season, whose
pocket you so obligingly relieved of £500 at piquet. I made a bad
bargain there in only claiming one-third of the spoil; I should have
demanded half, for without my assistance you could have done nothing
with him; but I understand them, these cautious islanders, some of
their blood runs in my veins--my mother, as you know, having been an
Englishwoman. However, the time spent on my _millionaire_ has turned
out a more profitable investment than I at all calculated upon. He is
a weak, vacillating character, one of those feeble-minded mortals who
always require some intelligence stronger than their own to lean upon.
This support he has found in your humble servant; and so convinced
has he become of my diplomatic powers, that just at present he can do
nothing without my approval and sanction. His great object in life is
to marry, and it is to assist him in obtaining a wife that my counsel
is required. When I first arrived here, I found he was dangling after
a charming little country girl, the daughter of a landed proprietor in
these parts. I soon discovered that the said proprietor, for mercenary
reasons, desired the match; but with the young lady I could do nothing.
I gave her the full benefit of my eyes, which, as you know, are not
wont to look in vain; but it was no use--even ‘_les petites moustaches
noires_,’ usually so irresistible, were thrown away upon her; nor had
friend Crane’s £20,000 per annum (_mon Dieu, Alphonse, quelle somme
merveilleuse!_) any more effect upon her. But I soon found a clue to
her obduracy--the silly child was enamoured of her brother’s friend, a
fox-hunting squire, a true specimen of young John Bull. I saw how the
game would go, John Bull returned her affection; he is a real type of
his class. Rich, obstinate, and impetuous, he was resolved to marry the
pretty rustic; she was equally determined; her brother befriended him;
the thing was to be, so I arranged my hand accordingly. There is in
the family a _belle cousine_--such a splendid creature, _Alphonse!_
beautiful as an angel, the _contour_ of a Juno, the port of an empress.
She has tact and talent; a soul of fire beneath an exterior of ice; she
is poor and ambitious. I could not have hoped to find one better suited
to my purpose. She shall marry Crane; his purse will be in her hands; he
will become her slave; and, _Alphonse_, she shall be mine! Do you doubt
my success, _mon ami?_ Bah! the game is as simple as child’s play. She
is young, ardent; she will marry an old man to satisfy her ambition--she
will despise him. Her heart will pine for an object on which to
lavish its tenderness; I shall present myself, become her friend, her
counsellor--and the result? Oh, you cannot doubt it. So I have pulled
the strings, and my? _marionnettes_ have danced, and are dancing. My
_millionaire_ offered--the little rustic refused him. While he was
smarting from this insult, I suggested to him that _la belle cousine_
pined for love of him; praised her wit and beauty; and advised him to
revenge himself by transferring his attentions to her. The bait took; I
worked out all the minor incidents admirably; the young fox-hunter has
married the pretty rustic, and taken her out of my way yesterday. The
lovely Kate, playing her own game, labours indefatigably for my interest
also. My friend Crane is delighted, and shows his gratitude by _urging_
me to borrow money of him--(I have mortgaged my farm in Brittany to
him for six times its value; when the three prior claims upon it are
satisfied, and he brings forward his, this fact will surprise him, and
teach him prudence for the future)--I avail myself of his liberality
with caution, for I must not cut up my golden goose too quickly. But
it is well to have more than one resource to rely upon; so if your rich
young German countess should resolve on visiting England, send me timely
notice. I feel that my star is in the ascendant. _Cher Alphonse_, wish
your friend the success which should reward talent, in the use of which
you have so well instructed your devoted,



If our readers, gentle or simple, will obligingly stretch their
imaginations sufficiently to depict for themselves the happiness of
Alice and Harry during the first month of their married life, popularly
denominated the honeymoon, and be content to permit us to resume our
office of chronicler at the termination of that mellifluous (though, to
all but the parties concerned, especially insipid) season, the readers
aforesaid will merit our eternal gratitude, which we hereby beg to
present them with.

Alice and Harry, then, having been married one calendar mouth, during
which period they had been “up” the Rhine, and one or two of the
Swiss mountains--having seen a great many strange things and strange
people--having talked a vast amount of bad French and worse German, and
narrowly escaped an attack of cholera from listening to the dissonance
of that arch-delusion the _Ranz-des-Vaches_--having eaten such wonderful
articles, cooked in such wonderful fashion, that if the genus Bimana
were not providentially omnivorous, they would infallibly have been
poisoned--having travelled over land and water by every species of
conveyance known to the annals of locomotion, except perhaps a balloon,
or the back of an elephant--had at length made their way to Paris; and
as the inhabitants of that skittish and inconstant capital were then
figuratively patting each other on the back, by way of congratulation
on the fortunate accident which had preserved those that remained alive
after the latest revolution from having shot each other through the
head, our bride and bridegroom, established in a comfortable hotel, had
determined to remain there till such time as they should mutually agree
upon for their return to England. For, be it observed, that enough of
the halo of the honeymoon yet lingered around this young couple, to keep
them in the misty delusion that they possessed but one “will of their
own” between them. They had yet to learn that there is a higher, truer,
nobler state of association to be arrived at, even here on earth--a
state in which we recognise the deep happiness of being privileged to
sacrifice our own desires to those of the being we love better than
ourselves. A logician may stigmatise this as merely a refined phase of
selfishness; but it is such selfishness as might cling to us in heaven,
and we yet remain sinless. Be this as it may, Alice, who had never been
abroad before, found every pleasure enhanced by the charm of novelty,
and was in a perfect Elysium of happy excitement. Harry had seen and
done it all, and a great deal more besides; and would have found it a
bore, only it was sufficient amusement to him to watch his young wife’s
delight at all she saw and heard. Whether this amusement of watching,
petting, and spoiling Alice, was at all beginning to lose its charm, may
be gathered from the following conversation:--

“Harry, you sleepy old thing, this is the third time I’ve asked you
whether Madame de Beauville is certain of getting us an invitation to
Lord N--------‘s picnic at Versailles; do rouse yourself and answer me!”

Thus apostrophised, Coverdale--who was stretched at full length on (and
beyond) a brocaded sofa, and had been lazily watching his wife, as with
a vast deal of unnecessary energy she stitched away at a button, which,
according to button-nature, had “come off” her husband’s glove the very
first moment he attempted to draw it on--half-raised himself on his
elbow as he replied--

“There is nothing certain under the sun; except that my little wife
has the prettiest hand and arm of any woman (I don’t care who she may
be--Jew, Turk, infidel, heretic, or Christian) in the known world. But
that old humbug, Madame de Beauville, promised me faithfully to do her
best for us--not that I’d believe her on her oath; she tried to book
me for one of her scraggy daughters, the last time I was here; but it
wouldn’t act--the trap was too visible, and the bait not sufficiently
tempting. What very high action you have with that needle-hand of yours!
you’ll overreach yourself, or get sprained in the back sinews, some of
these days, if you don’t look out.”

“I will not allow you to ‘talk stable’ in that way, sir,” returned
Alice, playfully shaking her finger at her recumbent spouse; “you shall
not go to the picnic at all, you naughty boy, unless you behave better.
Come, get up,” she continued, “if you lie down again you’ll be asleep in
a minute; you’re so idle, you’re actually growing fat!”

“Nonsense, you don’t really mean it!” exclaimed Harry, springing up with
a bound which shook the room, and startled Alice so much that she dropt
the glove, needle, thread, button, and all, pricking her finger into the
bargain. “By Jove,” he continued, regarding himself anxiously in a large
pier-glass, “so I am! I tell you what, Mrs. Coverdale, this is getting
serious, and must be put a stop to!”

“My dearest Harry, how dreadfully impetuous you are!--you’ve made me
jump so, that I’ve dropt my work, and been and gone and pricked my
favourite finger, as you say in your horrid slang--look!” So saying, the
pretty Alice pouted like a spoilt child, as she then most assuredly was,
and held up the injured finger to excite her husband’s commiseration.
When a proper degree of pity had been shown, and the necessary amount
of matrimonial felicity transacted, Alice resumed: “What a dreadfully
conceited fellow you are, to be so alarmed at growing fat! Are you
afraid of losing your beauty?”

“My how much?” was the astonished reply. “What funny ideas do come into
a woman’s head to be sure! Why, you silly child, do you think I ever set
up for a ‘beauty’ man? or care two straws what I look like? Such follies
are very well for got up puppies, like Horace D’Almayne; but they’re not
in my line.”

“I’m sure you’re fifty times as handsome as Mr. D’Almayne,” was Alice’s
eager rejoinder; “but” she continued reflectively “if you are not afraid
of your good looks, why are you so horrified at the idea of growing

Harry coloured slightly, and tried to evade the question; but his wife’s
curiosity, being by this time excited, was not so easily baffled, and
Coverdale had nothing for it but to confess the truth, which he did

“Well, if you must know, little wife, I’ve a bay colt by Fencer out of
a Harkaway mare, and a chesnut filly by Hercules out of Bulfinch, both
rising five (I refused 600 guineas for the pair of ’em a year ago),
which I expect to do most of my work next hunting season; but as
they’re both young unmade horses, I would not ride over twelve stone
for anything; nothing cows a young horse more than overweighting him at

“Oh, Harry!” exclaimed Alice reproachfully, “I thought you meant to give
up hunting now--I’m sure you said so when you were----, that is, before
we were married. Why, you would be away from me more than half the day
every time you went out! besides, it’s so dangerous! Oh, no; you may go
shooting sometimes, and I can ride a pony and mark for you, as I used to
do with papa and Arthur, but you must not hunt.”

“And can’t you ride and see the hounds throw off, darling? It’s one of
the prettiest sights in the world. The first thing I mean to do when
we get back, is to buy you a perfect lady’s horse; something rather
different from that brute poor old Crane gave you.”

“Then you won’t promise to give up hunting, you naughty boy--not even
when I ask you to do so to please me. And, confident in her own power,
the young wife cast a look, half-imploring, half-commanding, on her lord
and master, which he would have found it no easy matter to resist to
a degree which should vindicate his right to such a title, when the
opportune entrance of the valet, with a packet of letters, extricated
him from his dilemma.

“A note from Madame de Beauville, containing an invitation to the
picnic!--how delightful!” exclaimed Alice, appealing for sympathy to
her better half; but he was engaged in perusing the following epistle,
which, owing to the peculiarities both of diction, writing, and
spelling, it was not too easy to decypher:--

“Honoured Sur,--I remain your humbel survunt and gaim-keepur as wos,
John Markum, whech I would not ’ave intruded on you injoying of
yourself in furring parts as is most fit, having married a beutiful yung
English lady, as they do tell me, and the darter of Squire Hazlehurst
likewise; which having caused a many things to go rong at home, I thort
you would be glad to hear on it, and so rite, which I ’ope is no
offence, the same being unintenshonal on my part; but the new stewart
is agoin on oudacious, a ordering of me to kill gaim for him to sell,
which, refusing to do, agin your ordurs, Honoured Sur, and he putting
the money in his durty pocket, savin your presents, am discharged with
four small childring, and a little stranger expected, which would have
been welcome, but now must be a birding on the parish with his poor
mother; which, knowin Honoured Sur, as injustice to unborn innocents is
not in your line, nor in that of any gents but dishonest stewarts spoken
agen in Scriptur, I umbly takes the liburty of trustin in Providence,
which supports his poor mother agen the thorts of workous baby-linen,
that hangs heavy on a woman accustomed to wash for the family and keep
herself respectabul; so do not give up all hope of seeing you home,
Honoured Sur, _before every hed of gaim is destroyed_, in which case
Mr. stewart may larn that honesty is the best politics arter all; and so

“Your humbel survunt to commarnd,

“John Markujm.”

“P.S.--The rabbids is agoin to town in the carriur’s cart, frightful,
likewise the peasants.”

“My dearest Harry, there is to be a _bal costumé_ after the picnic, and
that kind Madame de Beauville sends us tickets for both! How charming!”
 exclaimed Alice, so engrossed in her pleasant anticipations that she
had not observed the gloom gathering upon her husband’s brow, and was,
therefore, quite unprepared when he broke out suddenly--

“’Pon my word, it’s enough to drive a man distracted! the moment one
turns one’s back everything goes to------ Ahem!--

“Here’s a scoundrel, who lived eight years with Lord Flashipan, and who
came to me with a character fit for a bishop, and now he’s not only
selling my game by cart-loads, but has actually dared to discharge
Markum!--as honest, trustworthy a fellow, and as good a keeper as man
need to require. Oh, if I was but near him with a horse-whip, I wouldn’t
mind paying for the assault! I’d give him something to remember Harry
Coverdale by--he might thank his stars if I didn’t break every bone in
his skin. And that poor fellow Markum turned out, and all his little
curly-headed brats, too--that makes me as mad as any of it!” He strode
up and down the room angrily, his wife watching him in terrified
amazement. At length he exclaimed abruptly--“Alice, my dear, we must
start for England to-morrow morn----”

“But the picnic and the _dal costumé,_ Harry, dearest, do not come
off till the day after that; and Madame de Beauville has just sent me
tickets for them both!” urged his wife, timidly.

“I’m sorry, my love, that it should have happened so, but go we must,”
 was the unyielding reply.

“But Madame de Beauville has taken so much trouble, and been so kind,”
 murmured Alice.

“The devil fly away with the old hag and her kindness too!” was the
angry rejoinder. “I wish to heaven she’d attend to her own affairs, and
not try to inspire you with a taste for dissipation. However, there is
a quiet way of settling this question: if you choose to stay and go to
this party, stay; and when I’ve been to Coverdale, and settled scores
with that rascal Cribbins, I’ll come back and fetch you; so please

Poor Alice! this was her first experience of Harry’s “quiet way;” the
implied indifference was more than she could bear, and murmuring, in a
broken voice, “Do you wish to leave me already!” she burst into a flood
of tears.

Of course, that settled the question. Harry called himself a brute, and
thought he was one, and felt as if he could have cried too, when he saw
the bright drops glistening in Alice’s soft, loving eyes, and so set
himself to work in earnest to console her; and succeeded to such an
extent that ere a quarter of an hour had elapsed, Alice pronounced
herself to be a silly child, and wondered how she could have been so
foolish as to cry because Harry, the kindest and most affectionate of
husbands, had evinced his just indignation on learning how the miscreant
Cribbins had tyrannized over the faithful and unfortunate Markum, and
his dear little interesting, curly-pated family. Then, as a personal
favour to herself, she begged Harry would let her give up the picnic,
and start for England next morning; she would be quite ready to go at
five A.M., or earlier, if he wished it. To which Harry replied that
nothing should induce him to deprive her of a pleasure he knew she had
set her heart on; that a French picnic and _bal costume_ were things she
could never see in England, and that as they _were_ there it would be
really a pity not to avail themselves of so good an opportunity; and he
begged she would instantly sit town and write his thanks, as well as
her own, to that thoroughly friendly, kind-hearted woman, Madame de

While Alice was thus engaged, Harry took pen in hand, and dashed off a
hurried epistle to Arthur, begging him to run down to Coverdale Park
by the next train, and in his name cashier Cribbins, and re-instate
the ill-used Markum and his much-enduring wife, if possible, before the
arrival of the expected little stranger should add another small item to
his embarrassments.

The picnic was a very gay one, and the _bal costumé_ all that Alice’s
“fancy had painted it,”--and a few over, as her slang husband was
pleased to express it. The young couple went dressed as Romeo and
Juliet. Harry, if left to himself, would have chosen a clown’s suit of
motley; but Alice considered the romantic preferable to the ridiculous,
and so he yielded; though it must be confessed that he afforded the most
stalwart, robust, and cheerful representation of the forlorn Veronese
lover that can well be imagined. Alice (although she also would have
looked the part better if her damask cheek had not glowed quite so
brightly with health and happiness) made an extremely fascinating little
Juliet, and produced a sensation which delighted her husband, and bid
fair to turn her own pretty head.

The _bal_ and picnic being safely accomplished, and Alice perceiving
that, although he did not again openly broach the subject, Harry’s
thoughts were continually wandering to Coverdale Park, pretended (like
a loving little hypocrite as she was) that she also began to feel
home-sick; and that, although Paris was all very charming and agreeable
for a little while, she should be very sorry to stay there long. Thus,
the day of their departure was fixed, so that Harry should be enabled to
reach home before the first of September,--as Alice (choosing the lesser
of two evils) meant to encourage his shooting (occasionally for a few
hours), as a bribe to induce him to give up that senseless and dangerous
pastime, Hunting; and she actually believed that her influence could
accomplish all this--dear, innocent little Alice!

On the morning before they were to start, a letter arrived from the
Grange. Alice read it eagerly.

“Oh, Harry!” she exclaimed, “what do you think Emily tells me? What a
strange, extraordinary, wretched thing!--it seems quite impossible!”

“What is it, little wife?” returned Harry. “Has your father turned
free-trader, and invited Messrs. Cobden and Bright to stay with him; or
has Arthur been made Lord Chancellor?”

“Something almost as wonderful,” was the rejoinder. “Mr. Crane has
proposed for my cousin Kate’s hand, and she has positively accepted

“And a very sensible thing, too,” replied Harry, who, leaning over the
back of his wife’s chair, was wickedly and surreptitiously attaching an
ornamental pen-wiper to the end of one of her long, silky ringlets;
“I dare say, now, you’re bitterly repenting your own folly in having
allowed her the chance.”

Alice, turning her head quickly to administer condign punishment for
this speech, by a tug at her lord and master’s ample whiskers, became
aware of the scheme laid against her unconscious ringlet by reason of a
twitch, which Harry, unprepared for her sudden movement, was unable to
avoid giving it.

“You silly boy! what are you doing to me? oh! you’ve tied a horrid thing
to my pet curl; take it off directly, sir! But seriously, now, about
Kate;--dearest Harry--do be sensible, please, and let me talk to you.”
 This exhortation was called forth by the fact of the incorrigible
Coverdale having placed the pen-wiper--which was a sort of cross between
a three-barrelled cocked hat and an improbable pyramid--on the top of
his wife’s head, just where the cross-roads in the parting of her hair

“Talk away, darling; I’m about as sensible as it’s at all likely you’ll
ever find me,” was the reply.

“‘Well, don’t you really and truly think it very shocking that such a
girl as Kate--so clever and handsome, so unusually superior in every
point--should throw herself away upon that silly old man, whom she
cannot even respect?” rejoined Alice.

“If I must speak the plain truth,” replied Harry, “I should say that a
girl who could make such a sacrifice of her own free will isn’t worth
pitying for it; she must be both mercenary and ambitious--serious faults
in a man, but positive vices in a woman, because in yielding to them she
is sinning against all the better instincts of her nature: for such a
character I can feel no sympathy.”

“But indeed, Harry, she is not such a dreadful heartless creature as you
imagine her; at least, she never used to be. On the contrary, when we
were all children together, she was rather high-flown and romantic.
It was during the time that she was at school, and under the care of a
horrid woman, a Miss Crofton--”

“A Miss how much?” inquired Harry.

“Miss Crofton.”

“What was her Christian name?” continued Harry.

“Arabella,” was the reply.

“By Jove! did you ever see her? Was she a tall, dark-looking creature,
with great flashing eyes like a gipsy’s?”

“Yes, that is an exact description of her,” returned Alice, in surprise;
“but why do you ask? What do you know of her?”

“No good,” returned Harry, mysteriously, shaking his head; “but never
mind, go on.”

“I was only going to say that I feel sure Kate must have some better
reason than a mere wish to become a great lady, to induce her to marry
Mr. Crane. You know her father and mother are very poor, and she has
several younger brothers and sisters; perhaps she wishes to help them.”

“I dare say she does,” replied Harry, turning away to conceal a
yawn; “nobody is all bad, any more than they are all the other thing.
Characters are like zebras--alternate stripes of black and white; the
only difference is, that in some one colour predominates, in some the

There was a pause, then in a lower voice Alice resumed--

“Harry, did it ever occur to you (of course, I do not want you to
betray confidence even to me), but did you ever suspect that Arthur was
attached to Kate?”

“Never in my life,” was the unhesitating reply. “Arthur always laughed
the tender passion, as he used to call it, to scorn.”

“I felt almost certain it was so,” continued Alice; “but I most
earnestly hope, for his sake, that I was mistaken; if not, only conceive
how wretched this engagement will make him!”

“Judging by my own feelings, when I fancied you had accepted the
irresistible cotton-spinner,” returned Coverdale, “I should say that
Prometheus, who had a perennial vulture making ‘no end’ of a meal on his
liver (which I take to be simply a metaphorical method of stating that
the unfortunate Titan was afflicted with hepatic disease), was, by
comparison, ‘a gentleman who lived at home at ease.’”

“I used to fancy sometimes,” pursued Alice, “that Kate returned his
affection; but she was so reserved, and her manner was always so calm
and self-possessed, that it was impossible to judge, with any degree of
certainty, what her feelings might be. However, this settles the point
so far as she is concerned; if she had really cared about him, she could
never have consented to marry Mr. Crane.”

“Hum! well I don’t know that,” returned Harry, meditatively; “it is
not all women who have such simple, true, loving hearts as you, my own
darling; and a pupil of Arabella Crofton’s may very well be capable of
loving one man and marrying another.”

“Why, how came you to know anything about Miss Crofton, Harry?”
 exclaimed Alice, her curiosity being thoroughly roused by her husband’s
second allusion to some previous acquaintance with her cousin’s
_ci-devant_ governess.

“I met her in Italy, if you must know,” returned Coverdale “She lived as
governess in a family where I visited, and I saw a good deal of her at
one time.”

There was something so odd and conscious in his manner of speaking, that
Alice exclaimed, “She fell in love with you, I am certain of it. Come,
confess now that I am right.”

“Do you think that every woman must needs be as foolish as yourself,
you silly child?” was the uncomplimentary reply. “I can assure you, Miss
Crofton is as utterly unlike you in tastes, habits, and opinions, as she
is in person; and that is a pretty considerable assertion, I take it.
And now it is time for you to get ready for our last drive in the Bois
de Boulogne, and I must go out and buy a clean pair of gloves; so for
ten minutes I shall wish you an affectionate farewell.”

Thus saying, Harry quitted the apartment; and Alice, going to prepare
for her drive, forgot, for the time, her husband’s mysterious intimacy
with Miss Crofton--it occurred to her afterwards, indeed, when----, but
we must not anticipate. The next morning saw them _en route_. As they
were about to embark at Boulogne, a sensation was created, at the hotel
at which they waited till the tide served for the packet to start, by
the arrival of a travelling carriage drawn by four horses, with a lady
inside, and her _soubrette_, and an outlandish, courier-like creature in
the rumble.

“By Jove!” exclaimed Harry, who, ensconced behind a window-curtain, had
been examining the turn out with all the interest with which a position
of enforced idleness invests every trifle. “By the powers there’s a
foreign coronet on the carriage, and ditto on Don Whiskerando’s buttons!
I wonder what she is like! Young and pretty, by all that is interesting
and romantic! I dare say she is going to cross in the same boat as we
are. Yes! Whiskerandos is gesticulating and explaining, and the landlord
waves his hand in the direction of the pier. How comes the bore of being
a married man: what a splendid adventure I am shut out from! If I
were but single, an opportunity now offers of captivating a lovely
and accomplished foreign Countess, with a dowry of diamonds in her
dressing-box, and a gold mine in her precious pocket: there’s a good
opening for a nice young man!”

“Pray avail yourself of it,” returned Alice. “Don’t let me be any
obstacle; carry off the Countess, and I will remain behind with that
noble creature whom you style Don Whiskerandos. I prefer him infinitely
to you, he is so like a very well-trained baboon.”

Harry’s conjecture that the mysterious Countess meant to cross in the
same vessel with, himself and his wife proved correct; for, scarcely
had he seen Alice comfortably established on a snug bench, where, if
the sea-fiend should be so uncourteous as to attack her, she could on an
emergency lie down, when daintily tripped along the human chicken-ladder
which connected the vessel with the shore, the graceful, _bien chaussé_,
little feet of the Countess. Then ensued a grand scene. Whiskerandos
either did not comprehend, or refused to comply with some demand of
the hotel commissionaire, who had taken upon himself the charge of
the baggage, and who accordingly resisted his conveying his mistress’s
luggage on board. Whiskerandos grimaced and chattered in a polyglot
jargon, apparently compounded of every language under heaven, and
utterly incomprehensible to the deepest philologist extant:
the commissionaire was immovable. “Whiskerandos implored--the
commissionaire was deaf to his entreaties. Whiskerandos stormed--the
commissionaire was inexorable. Whiskerandos, unable to endure his
fate with calmness, went raving mad--he swore oaths so replete with
improbable consonants that it is only a wonder they did not smash every
tooth in his head; he stumped, shrieked, clenched his fists, and shook
them in the face of his adversary--in vain; the commissionaire remained
adamant, and prepared actually to carry off the offending luggage.

“Look at that ape,” observed Harry to his wife, who was watching the
scene, half in amusement, half in terror; “he’s going into sky-blue
fits apparently: of all absurd sights an angry foreigner is the most
ridiculous. Do you see his moustaches?--they actually stand on end with
fury, like the hairs on the tail of an excited cat. But see, the Don
appeals to his mistress; the Countess will have to settle the affair
_in propriâ persona_.” This affair, however, was not to be arranged
so easily; for the inflexible commissionaire proved as deaf to the
entreaties of the mistress as he had shown himself to the threatenings
of the man; and the Countess, if countess she was, having remonstrated
to no purpose in a gentle, timid voice, looked helplessly round,
as though she would appeal to society at large to aid her in her

“Poor thing! those men have frightened her; she looks ready to cry!”
 exclaimed Alice. “Harry, dear, do go and see if you cannot assist
her--you understand how to manage those people so well; besides, they
always attend to a gentleman.”

Thus urged, Harry crossed the deck, and Alice saw him take off his
hat and address the interesting foreigner; she bowed her head, and was
evidently making a grateful answer; then Harry turned to the disputants,
who both assailed him with a volley of words, upon which he first
silenced Whiskerandos, then he exchanged a few cabalistic sentences with
the commissionaire, and slipped a talisman into his hand, whereupon,
with the celerity of some harlequinade trick, he changed into an
amiable, obliging creature, only too anxious to please everybody, and
went off, patting Whiskerandos on the back, and calling him a _brave
garçon_, to assist with his own silver-absorbing fingers in conveying
the Countess’s luggage on board. Then the Countess overwhelmed Harry
with thanks, and Harry smiled benignantly upon the Countess, and they
“talked conversation” for a few minutes; after which they both looked at
Alice, and Harry with his best company manner on (which was merely his
own natural manner _brushed smooth_), crossed over to her.

“She is really a Countess,” he began, “and a very charming, refined
style of young woman too. She wants to be introduced to you, so come

“But, Harry, dear, I shall break my neck, or tumble into the sea, if I
attempt to walk; just look how its rolling about!” remonstrated Alice,
whose essentially terrestrial education had given her rather a horror of
all nautical matters.

“We’ll fall in together then,” returned Harry, laughing; “at all events
don’t let us fall out about it. Come along, little wife, and trust
yourself to me; I’ve paced a vessel’s deck when the sea’s shown rather a
different sort of surface from that which it wears to-day.”

As he spoke, he placed his arm round his wife’s slender waist, and half
supported, half led her across the deck in safety.

“What is her name, Harry?” inquired Alice, as they were effecting the

“Bertha seems to be her Christian name--of course her surname is
something unpronounceable and appalling; but if you call her Countess
Bertha that will do; at all events, as long as our acquaintance with her
is likely to last,” was the reply.

Alice having never before encountered a real, live Countess, felt
a little shy at first; but the young foreigner’s manner, which was
perfectly easy without being too familiar, soon re-assured her, and the
two girls (for the Countess appeared little older than Alice) chatted
away, at first in French, but when it came out that the stranger
likewise understood English, in that language, to their mutual
satisfaction. But in about half-an-hour a breeze (not metaphorical, but
literal) sprung up, and the Countess signified her wish to retire to the
cabin, upon which Coverdale summoned her maid, and then assisted her to
effect the desired change of locality.


“There now, I consider I’ve done the polite in the first style of
fashion and elegance,” observed Harry, self-complacently, as he rejoined
his wife; “Horace D’Almayne himself could not have polished off the
young woman more handsomely, for all his moustaches.”

“How you do hate that poor Mr. D’Almayne!” returned Alice, laughing. “Do
you know, I think you are jealous of him.”

“I was once, and that’s the truth--very savage it made me too; for if
you could have been fascinated by such a puppy as that, I felt I had
mistaken your character _in toto_, and that the Alice I loved was a
creature of my own imagination, not a reality--but I soon saw my error.”

Alice glanced at him archly. “Are you _quite_ sure you did not fall
into a greater mistake when you fancied yourself so certain of my
indifference?” she inquired.

Harry fixed his eyes upon her with a look of inquiry, which, when he saw
that she was joking, changed to an expression of tenderness;--“I could
not look in that dear face, where every thought can be read as in a
book, and remain jealous for five minutes,” he answered.

Alice made no reply, unless placing her little hand in that of her
husband, with a confiding gesture, can be called so.

The wind continuing fresh, the unfortunate Countess did not re-appear;
but Coverdale and his wife, being so happily constituted that the
tossing produced no ill effects upon them, remained upon deck till the
vessel reached Dover. Amid the scene of confusion attending the arrival
of a steamer, Harry, having secured his luggage, was standing sentinel
over a moderately-sized pyramid, which he had caused to be erected of
the same, when Alice, then seated upon a large black trunk, which she
had seduced her husband into buying in the Rue St. Honoré, and which
would very easily have held her, bonnet, cloak, and all, suddenly
exclaimed, “Oh, Harry! do look at that young exquisite who has just come
on board; why he’s the very moral, as the old women say, of the person
we’ve been discussing--Mr. D’Almayne!”

“By Jove, he’s more than, the moral!” returned Coverdale, as the
individual thus alluded to advanced towards them bowing and smiling,
“it’s the veritable Horace himself, I vow--talk of the devil----. My
dear fellow, how are you? who’d have thought of seeing you here! You’ve
not turned Custom-house officer, have you? I’ve nothing contraband
about me, except this morning’s Galignani; if you are inclined to make a
seizure of that, you’re very welcome.”

“You’re nearer the mark than you imagine, my dear sir,” was the reply;
“though not exactly a professional _attaché_ to the Customs, I must
own that I am here as an amateur in that capacity--my object being to
facilitate the transmission of a lady’s luggage.”

“Yes?--how interesting! I hope she’s young and pretty,” observed Alice.
“Come Mr. D’Almayne, having let us so far into the secret, it’s no use
to affect the mysterious, so tell us who and where she is.”

“Where she is, perhaps you may be able to inform me, my dear Mrs.
Coverdale,” replied D’Almayne, smoothing his moustaches. “The object of
my search is a young German lady, the Countess Bertha von Rosenthal, to
whom I have promised my friend, the Honourable Mrs. Botherby, to act
as _preux chevalier_. Accordingly I came down by train this morning,
provided with an order from the Board of Customs to the people here to
pass the Countess’s luggage unexamined, and show her every attention
which may facilitate her transit; thence I am to escort her and her
property to Park Lane; by all which ‘double, double, toil and trouble,’
I secure an early introduction to, and confer a favour upon, a young and
lovely heiress.”

“That’s my Countess, as sure as fate!” exclaimed Harry. “She said her
name was Bertha”--and he then related to D’Almayne the circumstances
with which the reader has already been made acquainted. “And,” he
continued in conclusion, as a female figure, leaning on the arms of the
_soubrette_ and Don Whiskerandos, emerged from the ladies’ cabin--“and
here she comes, looking rather poorly still--nothing of the water-witch
about her, at all events. Have you met before, or SHall I introduce

“Do, by all means, _mon cher_; we are total strangers to each other.”
 was the reply. And with an injunction to Alice to remain where she was
till he should return, Harry seized D’Almayne’s arm, and hurried him
away. Before two minutes had elapsed, Coverdale returned alone.

“It’s all right,” he said: “but come along; D’Almayne’s order will clear
our luggage also, and we can all get away together.”

Then ensued a grand _scena_ of bustle and confusion, during which,
supported by her husband’s stalwart arm, Alice caught glimpses of
D’Almayne smiling to show his white teeth, and striving vigorously to
enact the part of guardian angel to the rich young heiress.

“That puppy is in his glory now,” observed Coverdale, snappishly; “I
dare say that silly woman will take him at his own price, and believe
in him to any extent to which he may like to lead her--perhaps marry
him after all, and make him Count von Rosenthal: that would suit his
complaint exactly, the fortune-hunting young humbug!”

“My dear Harry, what words!” exclaimed Alice. “You are really quite
savage to-day; I shall be obliged to take Mr. D’Almayne under my
protection, if you go on so.”

“No need to do that, my dear,” returned Harry, his face resuming its
usual bright, kind expression, as his glance fell upon his wife;
“your _protégé_ is quite certain to take the best possible care of
himself--now come along;” and in another five minutes they had left
the vessel and entered a railroad-carriage, in which the Countess and
D’Almayne had already established themselves.

The journey to London was a very agreeable one;--the Countess, having
recovered with marvellous celerity the moment she placed her pretty
little foot on _terra firma_, exerted herself to make up for lost
time, and succeeded so well that D’Almayne, who became more and more
_empressé_ and devoted every moment, determined, if he should be able
to ascertain beyond a doubt that her fortune was as large as it had
been represented, to give up every other speculation, and devote all his
energies to secure the hand and purse of this fascinating foreigner. As
they approached the London Bridge terminus the Countess, turning to her
new guardian, inquired whether it was very far to Park Lane:

“About half an hour’s drive. The carriage will, I trust, be there to
meet this train; though, owing to our having avoided all delay at the
Custom-house, we shall be in town some two hours sooner than the other
steam-boat passengers. However, if we arrive earlier than is expected,
it will only be an agreeable surprise to our kind friend, Mrs.

“Mais oui!” returned the Countess with a look of innocent perplexity;
“and who may be _cette chere_ Madame Bodairebie?”

“Mrs. Botherby, my dear Countess,” returned D’Almayne, who began to
think his charming friend must be slightly insane, “Mrs. Botherby--the
Honourable Mrs. Botherby--is the lady who obtained for me the pleasure
of rendering you this slight service.”

“_Quelle drôle de chose_. I shall not know some Mrs. Bodairebie no
veres,” was the astounding reply.

“But--but--” stammered D’Almayne, as an idea occurred to him
sufficiently alarming to surprise him out of his usual _sang froid_,
“excuse me--but surely you _are_ the Countess Bertha von Rosenthal?”

A peal of silvery laughter was the only reply the unhappy exquisite was
at first able to obtain; but, as soon as she could recover herself, the
mysterious lady began: “_Milles pardons!_ I am so rude to make a laugh
at you, but I am so gay I alvays must laugh ven I see a ridiculous thing
in front of--bah--vot you call before me. _Mon cher Monsieur_, you have,
I know not how, tumbled into a delusion. I am not at all zie Countess
Bertha von Rosenthal, but zie Countess Bertha Hasimoff, _en route_
to stay viz my friend, Lady St. Clare, in Park Lane, London, till my
hosband shall capture zie permission of die Czar to leave Petersburg and
transport himselfs after me.”

Coverdale, Alice, and the Countess Hasimoff, glanced first at D’Almayne,
then at one another, and then--but if they were heartless enough to
laugh consumedly, we will draw a veil over such unfeeling conduct.


THE first of September! No wonder if we were a covey of partridges what
we should think about the first of September, and how, generalizing from
that idea, we should feel towards the race of men,--sons of guns, as in
partridge parlance we should, doubtless, metaphorically term them! We
wonder from what point we should regard pointers (disappointers, as a
witty friend of ours called a couple of “wild young dogs” who ran in
upon their game, and cheated him of a promising shot), or how we should
look upon a setter making a “dead set” at us! Reasoning by analogy,
and not supposing partridges to be better Christians than Christians
themselves, we fear we should consider sportsmen (the very name is an
addition of insult to injury) greater brutes than their four-footed
allies; and that the idea of standing fire (either kitchen or gun), the
notion of the roasting we must undergo after we have been plucked,--of
the way in which we should be cut up by a set of blades, who are,
after all, ready enough to pick our brains, and avail themselves of our
merry-thoughts, would put us in such a flutter that it would be a mercy
if we were not to show the white feather, and refuse to die game after

Such, however, were by no means the sentiments with which Harry
Coverdale looked forward to the first of September. On the contrary,
although he endeavoured to disguise the fact from his wife, and indeed
from himself, as far as in him lay, the truth was that he was as much
delighted at the prospect of a good day’s partridge shooting, as the
veriest school-boy released from the drudgery of dictionary and grammar.
Markum, that trustworthy custodian of game, and original specimen of a
polite letter-writer, who had been safely re-instated in his office,
and received such handsome presents of baby-linen and other infantry
accoutrements that the illustrious “little stranger,” who had wisely
postponed his arrival till the evil day had departed, bid fair to be
clothed in a style befitting the heir-apparent to a dukedom rather than
to a double-barrelled gun--Markum reported that although the hares and
pheasants (which he persisted in calling peasants) had suffered some
diminution from the practice of the dishonest steward, yet that he’d
never “in all his born days seen such a blessed sight o’ partridges.”
 Stimulated by this information, and by the recollection that on the
preceding first of September he had been kicking his heels and cursing
his evil fortune, as he performed quarantine in a red-hot port of the
Mediterranean, Harry--having greatly amused Alice by the earnest zeal
with which, on the 31st of August, he examined and re-examined his “Joe
Manton,” and the exact and stringent orders he gave in regard to the
feeding of his dogs, than which the most fastidious invalid could not
have been more delicately and precisely dieted--awoke at four o’clock on
the eventful morning, and, without disturbing Alice, who was sleeping as
calmly as a child, rose and dressed himself in a thoroughly workmanlike
shooting costume. Having accomplished this feat without waking Alice,
he wrote on a bit of paper, “Good morning and good-bye, dearest. As
I intend to have a glorious day of it, do not expect me till near
dinner-time, when I hope to return with a full bag and an awful
appetite. Yours, ever, H. C.,” and placing it on his wife’s
dressing-table, stole on tiptoe to the door, closed it noiselessly after
him; and when, three hours afterwards, Alice opened her eyes, he was
striding through stubble on the farther side of the estate, having
bagged four brace of birds and a well-conditioned and respectable Jack

Mrs. Coverdale was some few minutes before she was, literally, awake
to a sense of her situation; and the lady’s-maid entering while she was
still between sleeping and waking, she half unconsciously asked the not
unnatural question--“What has become of your master?”

“If you please, Mem, Master’s been out shooting partringers ever since
five o’clock, Wilkins says. If you please, Mem, there’s a note for you,
Mem, lying on your dressing-table, in Master’s handwriting.”

Housing herself, Alice read it eagerly. The contents did not seem
particularly to please her, for, as she refolded the paper, she looked
grave, and gave vent to a mild sigh. “Do not undraw the curtain,” she
said: “come again in an hour, Ellis; I feel sleepy, and there is nothing
to get up for,” she added, in a slightly pettish tone. Falling asleep
the moment she laid her head upon the pillow, Alice dreamed that when
she came down to breakfast she found Harry had returned, saying that
he could not bear to leave her alone all day, and so had come back and
wished to drive her to call upon that agreeable woman, Mrs. Felicia
Tabinette (a name with which she was inspired for the occasion, as no
such neighbour existed), to which proposition she gladly assenting, they
had gone out in a pony-chaise made of coral and mother-of-pearl, and
drawn by two lovely little sea-green ponies with lilac manes and tails,
and harness made of the best point lace. And she was just advancing the
unanswerable proposition that, as lace was the fittest material of which
to make a lady’s collar, it must also be the most proper fabric for that
of a horse, when the inexorable Ellis appeared for the second time, and
dispelled all her bright visions by awakening her to the dull reality.
Alice, however, took her revenge upon that “dis-illusioning”--as a
Frenchman would have called it--lady’s-maid, for she was more fastidious
and difficult to please, and almost snappish, than Ellis had ever known
her before, insomuch that the excellent Abigail afterwards propounded
her opinion in the servants’ hall, that “Missus was _tuter fay_ outer
sorts,” which disheartening fact she accounted for by the hypothesis
that she--Mrs. Coverdale--must have got out of bod with the wrong foot

While the tea for her solitary breakfast was drawing, Alice, Having no
one else to look at, amused herself by regarding her own natural--no
term could be more appropriate--face in a large pier-glass, and was
quite startled to behold the unmistakeably cross expression which
characterized it. Taking herself to task for this, she, sipping her tea,
which did not taste nearly so good as when Harry was at home,
mentally decided that she was very unreasonable, and childish, and
ridiculous--that when Harry had been devoting himself for the last month
to her pleasure and amusement, going to balls and all sorts of places
which he did not care a pin about, solely to please her, it was horribly
selfish in her to grudge him a few hours to devote to a favourite
pursuit--though how men could find delight in killing those poor birds,
she could not tell. She did not so much wonder about other people;
she believed men were generally cruel; but Harry was so unusually
kind-hearted. She supposed it must be the excitement, and the beautiful
scenery, and the interest in watching those dear, clever dogs stick out
their long tails to point at the partridges with--which, looking at
it in a Chesterfieldian point of view, was decidedly impolite, if not
positively rude, of them; and yet she had neard gentlemen talk about
their sporting dogs being so well-bred.

Having thus reasoned herself into a wiser frame of mind, she resolved
to make the best of it; and suddenly recollecting she had at least a
thousand things to do, which she was continually putting aside till
some time or other when Harry should be out, she decided that _this_ was
_the_ time, and that now or never must they all be done. Accordingly,
she set vigorously to work, and wrote three letters one after another,
to three former schoolfellows, wherein she described her husband as a
species of modern demi-god, compounded of equal parts of Solomon and
Adonis, with a dash of Achilles thrown in to do justice to his heroic
qualities; and depicted matrimonial felicity in such glowing colours,
that the richest and prettiest of her correspondents eloped the next
week with her music-master; and one of the others, who was neither rich
nor pretty, turned pious out of spite, and went into a sort of High
Church Protestant nunnery-and-water, to punish the men, who, it must
be confessed, appeared to submit to the trial with the most cheerful
resignation. Then Alice brought out a large roll of bills, and a thick
house-keeping book, ruled with blue lines, and having a business-like
smell of new leather about the binding, which Alice flattered herself
would impress even the stately housekeeper (who was old enough to be her
mother, and stiff enough for anything; and of whom Alice, in her secret
soul, stood very much in dread) with a deep sense of her being a very
dragon of housewifery, prepared to be down upon the slightest attempt at
peculation like an avenging fury. But the bills were so complicated, and
never would add up twice alike, and the butcher was so inconsistent and
slippery about his prices, sometimes charging 7d. and sometimes as
“if once a pound of mutton, always a pound of mutton,” were not an
incontrovertible axiom; and the baker was as bad, besides choosing
to spell dough, d.o.e., which at first made her think that he was the
butcher and sold venison; and the hams seemed always to come from
the tallow-chandler’s with the candles, which wasn’t by any means
an agreeable association of ideas; and the footman was evidently of
Esquimaux descent, and lived sumptuously upon lamp-oil at 8s. the
gallon; and the coachman appeared to feed the carriage-horses with
sponges, wash-leather, and rotten-stone, which she was sure could not be
good for them; and she thought the under-housemaid had ordered herself
a “Turk’s-head” dessert-cake, for her own private eating, but it
turned out to be a particular species of broom; while the amount of
hearth-stones and house-flannels that girl consumed would have served to
build an “Albert pattern” model cottage once a quarter, and furnish the
pauper inhabitants thereof with winter clothing: so that by the time
luncheon arrived poor Alice, tired and confused, with inky fingers
and an aching head, had come to the conclusion that she had nothing in
common with Joseph Hume, M.P., and that for the future she should resign
the glory of managing the housekeeper’s book to Mrs. Gripples, and
restrict her department to the equally dignified, but less onerous, duty
of making Harry sign the cheques, and handing them over to that august
domestic to pay the bills with.


Luncheon--a dreadful hot luncheon--luncheon enough for four hungry men,
at least; and Alice had a headache. Of course she could not touch a bit,
so she listlessly nibbled a biscuit, and sipped half a glass of wine,
and felt very lonely and uncomfortable, and sat down to think--which was
just the very worst thing she could have done under the circumstances,
for it brought on a second attack of the “neglected wife” state of
feeling; and she had actually proceeded so far, that she was about
mentally to convict Harry (that matrimonial phoenix) of positive
selfishness, when the enormity of the idea horrified her, and produced
an instantaneous re-action, and she told herself, roundly and sharply,
that she was ungrateful in the extreme, and weak, and childish and
vacillating, and altogether unworthy of such a blessing of a husband as
Harry Coverdale. And thus, having taken herself severely to task, and
repented and confessed, and promising amendment for the future, yet
refused herself absolution, she recovered sufficiently to determine that
she would do something energetic to dissipate reflection, though of what
nature the deed was to be, she had not the smallest conception. Should
she order the carriage, and pay visits?--no, impossible! they were all
first visits to a set of total strangers, and she could no more call
upon them alone than she could fly: besides she would be lost in that
great carriage all by herself, and the horses would be sure to avail
themselves of the opportunity to shy and run away, if Harry were not
there to protect her. She knew the white-legged horse had a spite
against her, for when she wanted to pat his nose one day, he tried to
bite her--what a wonderful thing instinct was, to be sure! No, she would
go and take a brisk walk, that would rouse her, and do her headache
good; besides, she could have the dear dogs for company--oh, yes! a walk
by all means. Where should she go?--why, across the fields to visit Mrs.
Markum, and see how the little stranger looked in his gorgeous apparel,
and learn whether mother or son wanted for anything. Harry would like
her to do that, he was so fond of Markum. Ah, Alice! had you no mental
reservation?--did not a hope lurk in the bottom of your heart that
at the gamekeeper’s cottage you might possibly catch a glimpse of his
master, calling in for dry shoes, or a relay of powder and shot? Poor,
loving little Alice, ashamed to confess, even to herself, the depth
and strength of her affection!--silly little Alice, jealous even of her
involuntary rivals, the partridges, who would gladly have dispensed
with the attentions her husband was paying them!---weak, foolish, little
Alice!--and yet more truly wise in such loving folly, stronger in the
weakness of Such tender womanly devotion, nearer the Divine ideal,
whence God who made man in his own image formed woman as a help meet
for him, than the most self-engrossed _esprit fort_ who ever confused
herself and others by prating of things above her comprehension.

So Alice set out for her solitary ramble, taking with her Pepper and
Ginger, which (although the former was often found in a pretty pickle,
and would have been wholly inappropriate in a bream tart; and the
latter, judging by the appearance of a very red tongue, was decidely
“hot i’ the mouth”) were not a couple of spicy condiments, but a
brace of Skye terriers. The dogs were in charming spirits, which they
displayed by running after and barking at respectable blackbirds seeking
their frugal “diet of worms;” coming back in eccentric and violent
circles, to twitch, the ends of Alice’s boa and the corners of
her shawl, only to dash away again and lose themselves, by forcing
burglarious entrances into forbidden rabbit-burrows, with the vicious
intention of worrying the timid inmates, in their little brown coats
with practical jokes of tails. And here be it observed parenthetically,
that of all the freaks of nature, the unexpected way in which she has
seen fit to turn up rabbits’ tails, and to line them with white, to
the great disfigurement and personal hazard of the owners, has always
appeared to us one of the strangest, and only to be accounted for by the
hypothesis of a chronic practical joke. Whether this idea enhanced the
fun Pepper and Ginger had with the rabbits during that expedition, or
whether it never occurred to them, is more than we can tell; but the
extent to which those dogs persisted in burying themselves alive, and
harassing their mistress by a succession of these amateur extramural
interments, almost justifies us in supposing it must have done so.

Having at last succeeded in reducing her four-footed torments to such
a measure of obedience that, when thoroughly tired of scampering and
scratching, they condescended to follow her, Alice entered a grass
field, and had walked half across it ere she discovered the alarming
fact that there were some cows grazing in it; one of which she, to her
intense discomposure, immediately decided to be a bull, because, as she
afterwards graphically described it, “it moo’d so low down its throat
that it almost growled at her.” Of course all bulls being mad, and a mad
bull being enough to frighten anybody, Alice began to run; which feat of
activity (or activity of feet, if any reader should prefer the phrase so
transposed) charmed the dogs--who thought she did it for their express
delectation--to such an extent, that they began to bark furiously, which
frightened the cow (for despite her base voice, she was a “very” cow
after all, and fortunately a quiet one into the bargain), so that,
exalting her tail, and twisting it like a corkscrew for the greater
effect, she also set off running, thereby adding to Alice’s terror to
such a degree, that, if a providential stile had not mercifully rescued
her, the consequences might have been serious. This last “spirt,”
 however, brought her to Markum’s cottage, where she found the baby in a
great state of slobbering splendour--very red, ugly, and promising, and
altogether (as an assistant old lady, not to say hag, rather the worse
for something that had dropped into her tea out of the gin-bottle, and
who, from the accident, was in an extensive condition of maudlin and
inappropriate Christianity, piously observed), a “little crowing mercy.”
 Having done her duty by this young child--that is, having said it was
very pretty, which, to speak mildly, was untrue--and a very fine child,
which, as far as regarded its dress, it certainly was--and exactly like
its father, which was an awful----well, never mind, pious fraud we’ll
call it,--Alice tipped the inappropriate Christian half-a-crown (in
exchange for which she received a tipsy blessing), and took leave,
having obtained geographical instructions by which she might, on her
homeward route, avoid the proximity of the _basso profundo_ cow.

The walk back (with the trifling exception of an episode wherein Ginger
disturbed the tenants of a wasps’-nest) proved singularly uneventful,
and Alice, in her secret soul, pronounced the whole expedition a
failure--which, as it had cured her headache, was very ungrateful of
her; but she was so engrossed by a little pain about the heart, which
nothing but her husband’s return could cure, that she had entirely
forgotten her headache.

The hall clock struck four as its mistress entered--four o’clock, two
long hours to dinner-time! the time when Harry would, that is, ought to,
return; for she daresay’d he would be late, and that they should not sit
down to table till half-past six, at the very earliest. What should she
do to fill up this unharmonious interval? Why, as she had worked so hard
all the morning, surely she had a right to amuse herself now. She would
read some entertaining book, which would make her laugh and raise her
spirits; for, despite her best endeavours, she was getting decidedly
miserable. So to this end she opened a parcel of books from the
library, and began upon a new novel, by that very talented lady, Mrs.
Bluedeville, and read how a “fair and gentle girl,” brought up by a
select coterie of fiendish relations, and subjected from infancy to
a series of tortures, sufficient to have expended the stoutest negro,
developed, under these favourable circumstances, into a perfect Houri
of Paradise, with the “additional attraction” of possessing the mind,
manners, erudition, and phraseology of an old Divine of the Church of
England. This interesting young martyr, released from her educational
Bastile, and turned out to grass for a brief space in a pleasant
meadow, wherein pastured a gallant, but very moral, officer of dragoons,
naturally falls in love with the same, who fortunately does not resent
the liberty. Angelica, taken up from her month’s run and put to work
much too heavy for her, becomes better and better, until, as might have
been expected, she overdoes the thing, and getting too good to live,
has nothing left for it but to die, which she accordingly does on the
arrival of the post which brings an account of the bold dragoon (in
whom, from a fancied resemblance to Harry, Alice had taken the deepest
interest) having fallen a victim to his dauntless courage, which,
leading him to kill sixteen mounted Sikhs in single combat, had
failed to preserve him from the vindictive fury of the seventeenth
evil-disposed survivor. Strange to say this talented work, delightful as
it was, failed to render Alice much more cheerful; but it succeeded in
occupying her till it was time to go and dress for dinner, and for this
she was grateful to the genius of Mrs. Bluedeville.

By six o’clock Alice, ready for dinner in more senses than one,
betook herself to the drawing-room, where she waited patiently for
half-an-hour, reading up sundry parts of Mrs. Bluedeville, which, in her
rapid flight through that lady’s instructive romance, she had failed to
peruse. At seven o’clock she rang the bell, and inquired of the butler
whether his master had come in, or whether, if not, anything definite
was known of his whereabouts. The reply was unsatisfactory in the

Master had not returned, he (Wilkins) could form no idea where he was
likely to be; but, as a general maxim, considered shooting to be a
highly dangerous amusement. Would Mrs. Coverdale obligingly condescend
to ring the bell when she wished the dinner to be brought up?

Shooting a dangerous amusement! Yes, of course, so it was--guns
constantly went off of their own accord, and shot those who were
carrying them. How was it she had never thought of this before? and she
had been blaming Harry, when, perhaps----the idea was too horrible to
clothe in words, but it had occurred to her, and for Alice now there was
no peace.

Mrs. Bluedeville was thrown aside with no more ceremony than if she had
been a penny-a-liner; and with flushed cheeks and a beating heart the
anxious young wife began to pace up and down the apartment. As the
minutes crept by (_so_ slowly!) Alice’s fear increased, until, at
half-past seven, the suspense grew intolerable; and, ringing the bell,
she was just giving incoherent orders for two mounted grooms to set off
in utterly useless directions, when bang! bang! went a double-barrelled
gun in the stable-yard, and Wilkins (an amiable but timid London
servant) and his mistress nearly jumped into each other’s arms.

Still haunted by the conviction that something untoward must have
happened, Alice hastened to meet her husband as he entered the hall.
“Oh, Harry dearest, how glad I am you are safe!” she exclaimed; “but
tell me,” she continued, referring to the mysterious cause of his
prolonged absence, “tell me--what is it?”

“Sixteen brace of birds, three hares, two couple of rabbits, a landrail,
and a woodpigeon; and a very fair bag I call it for one gun,” was the
unexpected reply.

Relieved, yet slightly provoked, Alice resumed: “But what has made you
so late? I have been dreadfully frightened about you--”

“Frightened! what at? oh, you silly child! But come, let us have
dinner; I shall be ready in less than ten minutes. The idea of being
frightened!” and with a smile of compassionate derision, Harry marched
off to dress, humming--

               “A southerly wind and a cloudy sky

               Proclaim it a hunting morning.”

And this was Alice’s recompense for a lonely day spent in looking
forward to, and longing for, her husband’s return, ending in
half-an-hour of breathless anxiety for his safety! She felt decidedly
cross, and we think she had a right to be so. During dinner she was
silent and dignified on principle--her husband should see that she felt
his neglect. But Harry didn’t see it one bit, bless him! He was very
hungry, so for some time kept strictly to business, and he was very
happy, so when his appetite was appeased, he rattled on about anything
and everything, and was so pleasant and cheerful that Alice felt dignity
would be quite out of place, had a little struggle with her feelings,
and then mentally forgave him.

To prove that she did so, she laid herself out to entertain and amuse
him, and with this view, when the servant had left the room, she treated
him to a comic account of her day’s adventures, and having talked
herself into a great state of communicativeness and sociability, had
just reached the bass cow episode, when a slight sound, not very unlike
the voice of the cow itself, reached her ear--_Harry had fallen fast


So Kate Marsden married the cotton-spinner, and old Mr. Hazlehurst
repurchased his farm on very easy terms. We wonder which of the two was
best pleased with the bargain! Kate turned very pale when she promised
to love, honour, and obey a man whom she disliked, despised, and
intended to rule; nor do we wonder at it, for, with all her faults,
Kate perceived the intrinsic beauty of truth, and loved it, as she did
everything beautiful. But though she loathed herself for what she was
doing, though her bitterest enemy could not have taken a harsher view of
her conduct than she herself took, she had gone too far to retract, and
having swallowed the camel of crushing her own heart and that of Arthur
Hazlehurst, she could not stultify herself by straining at the gnat
of swearing falsely in the service for the solemnization of matrimony.
Kate’s was one of that peculiar order of consciences which can commit a
sin knowingly, on an emergency, but dare not be guilty of a blunder. In
the one case, the end appears to justify the means; while in the other,
the entire transaction is unworthy. Sophistry, Kate, sophistry! which,
while you think it, and act upon it, fails to satisfy even your warped
and distorted sense of right and wrong.

Kate Marsden married Mr. Crane--there was a union! On the one side youth
and beauty; intellect, lofty enough to have aimed at any achievement
which the mind of woman has accomplished; energy, sufficient to have
gained the object striven for; ambition, that when all was won would
have despised the trophies at her feet, and sighed for more worlds to
conquer; and a deep passionate nature, combining the fiery elements of
a southern temperament with the steady perseverance and inflexible
resolution characteristic of a daughter of the sturdy north: on the
other side, advancing age, mental weakness, timidity, and its natural
concomitant--suspicion, together with a general paucity of ideas,
centred in a vulgar pride of wealth. All Kate’s friends congratulated
her, and many envied her good fortune; and Horace D’Almayne smiled on
his future victim, as he surely reckoned her; and Arthur Hazlehurst sat
alone in his dusky chambers, with bitter thoughts busy at his heart,
struggling, like a brave and good man, against the tempting fiend that
bade him rise up and curse her who had thus rendered desolate his young
existence; and the minister of religion stood before the altar, and
pronounced his blessing over this hollow mockery of marriage, which no
amount of blessing could hallow; and the happy pair drove off to some
fool’s paradise to enjoy the honeymoon.

Poor Mr. Crane! if he had dreamed of the volcano of feeling that
smouldered at his side beneath that cold, calm exterior, he would
assuredly have flung open the carriage-door, sprung out (albeit not
accustomed to such feats of activity), and never ceased running until
he had reached Manchester. Fortunately, however, his wife’s mind was a
sealed book to him, and so he reached the end of his journey in peace
and safety.

Having borne the honeymoon with resignation, Kate endured her
bad bargain _tête-à-tête_ at various watering-places, and amongst
innumerable lakes and mountains of tourist notoriety, until she had
taught him the only accomplishment she cared to inculcate, viz.,
obedience, which he learned very readily, seeing that it relieved him
from all trouble and responsibility. This point accomplished, she took
him to a fashionable hotel in St. James’s Street, where she wrote to her
friend, Arabella Crofton, to join her. However, before that excellent
young woman of the world had time to wind up the ends of a few trifling
skeins of policy, with which she had been constructing nets for small
birds at Baden-Baden, Horace D’Almayne found out the residence of the
happy couple, and proceeded to call upon, dine with, and make himself
generally useful and agreeable to them. Kate did not like him, but
she had been for two months _tête-à-tête_ with Mr. Crane, and Horace
possessed this advantage over that devoted husband, that he was _not_ a
fool, and Mr. Crane was. Horace was not a fool; on the contrary, he was
such a clever knave that it was really a pity that he was not something
better: he saw the game he had to play, and he resolved to play it as
skilfully as his faculties and experience would enable him. He possessed
considerable insight into character, and sufficient tact to accommodate
himself to the peculiarities, and avail himself of the weaknesses, he
might thus discover. Accordingly, his first move was to endeavour to
lull Kate’s suspicions of him, which he saw had been aroused; his next
to make himself by degrees useful to her--necessary to her; then, let
him win her confidence on any subject (he would have been delighted if
she had told him the day of the month, or that she had dropped a pin, in
_confidence_, for it would have been a beginning), until by word, look,
or sign, she admitted her indifference towards her husband, and then the
game would be his own.

With Mr. Crane D’Almayne’s course appeared very simple. The
millionaire’s one clear idea was the omnipotence of wealth; he knew
D’Almayne was poor, and that he had lent him money whieh he never
expected to be repaid. He considered him in the light of a sort of
Master of the Ceremonies, who could guide him in the ways of fashionable
life, whereof he felt his ignorance--a kind of upper upper-servant--the
Vizier to his Caliphship, and he lent him money as a delicate way of
paying his wages. At present D’Almayne was in high favour with Mr.
Crane; his wife was looking very handsome, quite a gem of a wife--equal
to his pictures or his port wine; D’Almayne had negotiated his marriage
for him, and the speculation had been a successful* one; he lent
D’Almayne £500 before he had been in town a week. Horace saw it all, but
he was not proud; as he would have said, “It suited his book too well,”
 so he pocketed his wages meekly.

“My dear Kate, can you amuse yourself for a couple of hours or so alone?
D’Almayne and I are going to look at a pair of carriage-horses--a--I
shall bring him home to luncheon, and--a--now I think of it, I asked him
to dine here and go to the concert at the Hanover Square Rooms with us
afterwards;” and having thus unfolded his programme for the day, Mr.
Crane glanced timidly towards his wife, to learn whether it would
receive her sanction and approval. There was a moment’s silence, and
then in a low, musical voice, Kate replied coldly--

“I have letters to write this morning, so the arrangement will suit me
perfectly. If the horses are fine ones, I hope you will buy them.”

Mr. Crane stroked his chin (a habit in which he indulged when anything
pleased him) and smiled. His wife was satisfied with him--happy man! But
he had stroked his chin rather prematurely, for, in the same cold tone,
Kate resumed--

“There is one point on which I am anxious clearly to understand you. Is
it your wish that Mr. D’Alraayne should virtually live with us? because,
that he will do so, unless some decided measures are taken to discourage
him, is self-evident.”

This was a straightforward and uncompromising way of putting the case
which slightly discomposed poor Mr. Crane.

D’Almayne was, as we have said, eminently useful to his patron, so much
so, that at that precise epoch the good gentleman would have been sorely
puzzled how to get on without him; but the more he acknowledged this in
his secret soul, the less did he desire that any one, and especially his
young wife, should perceive it.

“Well, my dear Kate,” he began, “you see Mr. D’Almayne has turned his
attention to points which, engaged as I have been for many years in
commerce, I have never found time or opportunity to render myself
acquainted with.”

“In fact, he has made himself necessary to you,” interposed Kate.

“No, my dear, no--by no means necessary--not at all so; but that he is
useful, very useful to me, I confess. I am sorry to perceive that you
have taken up a slightly unreasonable (if I may be permitted to say so)
prejudice against this young man.”

“You are mistaken,” returned Kate, calmly. “I am perfectly indifferent
to him. If it is your wish to make use of him, he will of course be
here constantly; but as you have so kindly yielded to my desire that my
friend, Miss Crofton, should reside with us, his presence or his absence
will make little difference to me--only, if at any future time you
should hear comments on the intimacy, you will remember that I have
admitted it solely to gratify you.”

Mr. Crane, propitiated by this concession, and by the grounds on which
Kate had placed it, was endeavouring to stroke some form of thanksgiving
out of his chin, when the door opened, and the subject of their
conversation was shown in. After a few desultory remarks, Horace,
turning to Mr. Crane, observed--

“I called at the house-agent’s in my way here, and have obtained the
particulars of two houses which it will be quite worth your while to
look at; one is in Belgrave Square, the other in Park Lane.”

As he spoke, Kate raised her head and fixed her large eyes upon his
face; but he appeared unconscious of having deserved her scrutiny, and
was quietly examining some memoranda he had written on the back of a
card, regarding the number of rooms and other particulars respecting the
houses. So perfectly unconscious was his manner, that for once Kate’s
penetration was at fault. She remembered having on one occasion, months
before, at the Grange, mentioned in his presence that if she went to
live in London she should prefer either Belgrave Square or Park Lane for
her residence; but whether _he_ also had recollected this, or whether
his selection was the result of accident, she could not decide.
Moreover, it was not easy for her to determine how to act in the matter.
If he had made the selection intentionally, and she allowed it to pass
unnoticed, it would be a sort of tacit admission that she was willing to
receive such secret attentions from him, appreciating them as kindnesses
rather than resenting them as impertinences; while, on the other hand,
if by any chance it was a mere coincidence, she was unwilling to afford
him even the minute triumph of perceiving that she felt sufficient
interest in him to remember whether or not he had been present on an
occasion, since which several months had elapsed, or that she cared to
know if he had observed, or regarded her wishes. So she took a middle
course, and, availing herself of a pause in the conversation, inquired

“Where did you say the houses were situated, Mr. D’Almayne?” On
obtaining the information she required, she added, “And how came you to
select those particular localities?”

As he turned to reply, their glances met, but his face was perfectly

“If, as your tone implies, they do not meet your approval, my dear
Mrs. Crane, we need take no farther trouble in regard to them,” was his
ambiguous reply. “I chose them because I fancied situations so generally
popular might not be displeasing to you.”

Kate was again foiled, and D’Almayne, as he quietly observed it,
muttered inwardly, “Won the first trick, at all events!”

Mr. Crane, leaving the room to put on his great-coat, a precaution
without whioh he was most careful not to stir from home, L’Almayne

“You would prefer bay carriage-horses to grey, or any more conspicuous
colour, would you not?”

Surprised at his having thus discovered her taste, Kate was so far
thrown off her guard as to exclaim,--

“How in the world do you know that?”

Horace smiled a quiet smile.

“I reasoned from analog,” he said; “your dress is always rich and
striking, but never showy; and the effect is produced by its consistency
as a whole.”

Kate involuntarily returned his smile; tact and keen intelligence were
qualities she highly appreciated.

“You are a close observer,” she said, “and shall be rewarded by learning
the interesting fact that I _do_ prefer bay horses to those of any other

Before the week was over, Mr. Crane had purchased a magnificent pair
of bay carriage-horses, and had taken a lease of a noble mansion in Park
Lane. The only fault Kate could discover in either, was the conviction
forced upon her that it was to the agency of Horace D’ Almayne she was
indebted for them.


Harry could not give up shooting, Harry would not give up shooting, and
Harry did not give up shooting. On the contrary, he could, would, and
did shoot _every_ day, and all day long, except on Sundays, throughout
September and October; at least, there were so few exceptions that they
only proved the rule. Alice did not like it at all; at first she was
very miserable. One day Harry found her crying, and being considerably
surprised and greatly concerned at the unaccountable discovery, did
not rest until he had ascertained the cause, when he was particularly
shocked, and blamed himself so much, that he refrained from shooting
for two whole days, and really would have striven to reform his conduct,
only that, unfortunately, an invitation arrived to join a grand _battue_
at a certain Colonel Crossman’s. This, in his then frame of mind, he
would have refused; but there being a Mrs. Crossman in the case, Alice
was included in the invitation, and they were begged to stay three or
four days; which, as the Popem Park preserves were the best stocked
of any in the county, was an offer not lightly to be rejected. Thus,
unfortunately, they went--we say unfortunately, because Colonel Crossman
was, taken as a whole, a jovial, hot-tempered, selfish brute; and his
wife a quick-witted, worldly-minded, selfish fool. They did very well
together, because, as he usually lived out of the house, and she in it,
and both did exactly as they liked, when they liked, their faults seldom
clashed; if such a collision did take place, there was an awful tumult,
in which brutality had his way for the minute, and paid for it in minor
miseries which folly indicted upon him for the next fortnight. And yet
this amiable couple had a kind of theoretical and useless affection for
each other, which was engendered partly by habit, and partly by a deep
and essentially vulgar reverence for appearances, which, together with
going to church once on Sunday, stood them in the stead of religion
and of morality. Thus were they bad counsellors for our young married
couple. On the first morning of her visit, Alice was standing at the
drawing-room window, watching the figures of her husband and Colonel
Crossman striding through a turnip field about a quarter of a mile
distant, when Mrs. Crossman joined her.

“Ah! there they go,” she observed, in a vinegar-and-water voice; “we
shall see no more of them till seven o’clock, depend upon it.”

“Does Colonel Crossman never return to luncheon?” inquired Alice
timidly, for she stood slightly in awe of the female soldier beside her.

“Return to luncheon!” was the astonished reply, delivered in much such
a tone as might have been anticipated if Alice had inquired whether the
gallant colonel usually made his mid-day meal upon red-hot ploughshares;
“come home to luncheon! not he. He wouldn’t do such a thing to save my
life, I believe; certainly not if the scent was lying well. Why, Mr.
Coverdale does not spoil you in that way to be sure, does he? The
colonel told me he was a thorough sportsman.”

“So he is,” returned Alice with a sigh, which escaped her involuntarily.

“Ah! no woman with a heart should ever marry a sportsman,” rejoined
Mrs. Crossman, with rather more vinegar and less water in her tone than
before. “Out all day, from the first of September till the breeding
season comes round again; then the moment they’ve finished dinner and
their bottle of port-wine, asleep they go, and only wake to stamp and
swear with the cramp, and drop off again, till they tumble upstairs to
bed, and are no comfort to anybody. You are a young wife yet, my dear,
and your husband’s hardly grown tired of you, perhaps, but wait another
month or two and you’ll see--men are all alike!”

There was just enough applicability to her own case in this tirade to
make Alice feel rather angry and thoroughly uncomfortable; but the
idea of comparing Harry with Colonel Crossman was too bad, and anger
predominated as she replied, “Mr. Coverdale is not quite so selfish as
you imagine, my dear madam; certainly he left me a good deal alone when
the shooting season first began, but as soon as he was aware how dull
and lonely I felt, he gave up shooting for, for--”

“Half a day?” inquired Mrs. Crossman, sarcastically.

“He did not go out for two whole days; and since that he has generally
returned to luncheon,” replied Alice, colouring from vexation.

“‘Wonderful!” exclaimed Mrs. Crossman, with an affectation of extreme
surprise; “actually stayed at home for two whole days, when he’s been
married as many months--what a model man! Not that I believe Colonel
Crossman ever did so much as that even,” she continued, turning on the
vinegar. “I picked him up in India, you know--was actually weak enough
to fall in love with the creature! even went the length of refusing two
district judges and the resident at Bamboozel for his sake! And would
you believe it, we hadn’t been married above a week, when the man
was brute enough to go out hog-hunting, and leave me all by myself at
Boshbogie, on the borders of the great Flurry-yun-ghal Jungle, with
nothing more conversable than tawneys and tigers within thirty miles of
me; but, however, I was not long before I learned how to take care of
myself--and the sooner you do the same, my dear, the better for your
happiness. Men are easily enough managed if you do but set the right way
to work. If you choose to be always humble and meek to ’em, they’ll
let you lie down for them to wipe their boots on, but if you only show
them you’ve got a spirit of your own, and don’t care for ’em-----

“But I don’t know that I have got what you call a spirit of my own,”
 interrupted Alice, smiling at her companion’s vehemence, “and I
certainly do care about my husband.”

“Ah, my dear, that’s all very well now; but wait a bit--wait till some
day when he wants to go shooting, and you want him to do something else,
and then see of how much use your meekness and fondness will be to you.
He will think to himself, ‘Oh! she will be just as well pleased a couple
of hours hence, as if I had lost my day’s sport for her silly nonsense.’
I know he will, men are all alike. No; sooner or later you’ll find you
will have to pluck up a spirit, and treat your husband as he will treat
you. If he leaves you by yourself all day, fill your house with company;
if he goes out shooting and hunting with his friends, do you go out
riding or driving with yours; if he has his season in the country, do
you have yours in London; operas and shopping are amusements you’ve just
as good a right to, as he has to go popping at the partridges and
pheasants; and if you care so much about keeping him at home, hook some
young dandy (there will be plenty ready to nibble when such a bait as
your pretty face is hung out for them), and flirt with him steadily till
the desired effect is produced. That will bring your husband to his
senses, if anything will. I once settled the Colonel in three days by
going all respectable lengths with Adolphus Fitz-duckling. It led to a
duel, though; but that was because both Duck and Crossman were army men,
and mixed up with a fighting set. I took care never to go quite so far
again, except with a civilian; but then I hadn’t got such a quiet,
demure manner as you have. A set of impudent young puppies in the Old
43rd used to call me ‘Flirting Fan.’ However, I can tell you I was able
to keep the Colonel in much better order, ‘flirting him down,’ as I used
to call it, than I’ve ever managed to do since I grew old--that is, less
young than I was at that time.” And so this good woman, or rather this
woman who, despite her faults, had some good in her, whereby she
vindicated her title to humanity, ran on until Alice heartily wished her
back again amongst the tawneys, or the tigers: we are afraid that at
that especial moment our little heroine would decidedly have preferred
the latter.

In the meantime, Harry and the Colonel were blazing away at the
long-tails most unmercifully: Harry, who was a crack shot, bringing down
everything he pointed his gun at, while the Colonel, whose hand had
an awkward trick of shaking, as if its proprietor was in the habit of
imbibing too much port-wine, missed much oftener than was agreeable to
him, on each of which several occasions he attributed his failure to,
and condemned in no measured terms either the gun, or the bird, or
both. About two o’clock Harry pulled out his watch, and glancing at it
observed--“I don’t know what your arrangements may be, Colonel, but if
Mrs. Crossman is of as sociable a disposition as my little wife, she
will consider us great bears if we don’t return till dinner time.”

At this moment a splendid cock-pheasant rose, “whirring” into the air at
some considerable distance from the sportsmen, whereupon the Colonel,
considering it a difficult shot, called out, “Your bird, Coverdale.”
 Harry, embarrassed with his watch, which he still held in his hand,
raised his gun, and catching his finger in the guard chain, pulled the
trigger too soon, and missed with both barrels, while the Colonel,
seeing that the pheasant was now so far off that it could be no
discredit to miss it, pulled at it, and by accident brought it down.

“Bravo! Colonel, that is the cleverest shot that has been made to-day by
long odds!” ejaculated Harry.

“Ah! that’s a trifle to what I used to do when I was your age,” was the
slightly apocryphal reply; “nothing with feathers or hair on it had
a chance, if I put my gun up at it, I can tell you. But what were you
saying about going home? why I’m just getting into shooting order;
you’re not knocking up, to be sure, already.”

“No; nor six hours’ more hard walking would not do it,” returned Harry,
laughing, as he mentally contrasted his own powers with those of the
Colonel, who, although he had carefully assigned all the toughest of
the work to his guest, was evidently beginning “to want his corn,”
 as Coverdale metaphorically paraphrased the fact of his entertainer’s
requiring his luncheon. “I merely asked you whether Mrs. Crossman would
not disapprove of our remaining out all day?”

“Mrs. Crossman may go and----hang herself in her own petticoat strings!”
 was the uncourteous rejoinder. “Ah! I see how it is,” continued the “old

“I see all about it: you’re a young hand yet, Coverdale, and I’m an old
one; take my advice. You’ve married a nice gal, and a pretty gal--don’t
you go and spoil her; it’s the nature of women to like to have their own
way; and one of their ways--and a most aggravating and unaccountable one
it is--is always to have a fellow dangling about after them, and there
they’ll keep him driving ’em out, or riding with ’em, or dawdling
in shops, and paying their bills for ’em--they don’t forget that, mind
you--or reading to ’em, or some such confounded humbug. Hang it, sir,
I’d sooner be a galley-slave, or a black nigger at once! Well, if you
begin by indulging a woman (they’re all alike in such points), she’ll
be your master ever after, and your life won’t be worth a----” (As we
do not know the exact value of the coin to which the Colonel alluded,
we abstain from a more particular mention of it). “No; if you’re to have
any peace or comfort in the married state, you must let your wife see
that you’re determined to show you’re the superior. The only way to do
it effectually is--come to heel, Countess, ah! would you then!” (and
whack, whack went the dog-whip against poor Countess’s sides)--“the only
way to break ’em in is--(whack)--to show ’em clearly whose will
is the strongest, and whose must yield. I had trouble enough with Mrs.
Crossman, I can assure you. She was not an easy woman to break in, sir;
but she found she’d met her match. If she scolded, I stormed; if she
raved, I swore; if she sulked, I whistled; if she cried, I lit a cigar;
if she fainted, I laid her on the hardest board that I could pick out in
the floor, and smoked till she came round again. The only time she went
into hysterics I flung a pail of cold water over her--that cured her
at once and for ever. I dare say you think me an old brute, but the day
will come when you’ll recollect my advice, and be glad enough to act
upon it. Women are all alike, more or less.”

Harry _did_ think him an old brute, and thanked his stars that neither
in mind nor in person did Alice in the smallest degree resemble Mrs.
Crossman; he also thought that he should never remember the Colonel’s
advice with any other feeling than disgust. Ah! Harry--Harry!


“Harry! My dear Harry!--Wilkins, where _is_ your master? I _told_
you I must speak to him before he went out, and now you’ve let him go

“Wilkins! where the d------ Oh! Wilkins, what did you do with that bag
of snipe-shot I brought down from London?”

Thus apostrophised by an agitated _soprano_ at the drawing-room door,
and an impatient _tenore robusto_ in the entrance-hall, Wilkins, the
amiable and timid London butler, who had played the character of Job’s
comforter to Alice’s _Didone abandonata_ on the memorable evening of
the first of September, made two or three steps in the direction of the
drawing-room, then twisting round with a sudden jerk, as though he had
been worked by machinery with which somebody was playing tricks, rushed
frantically into the hall, and handing his master a wrong bag of shot
exclaimed, without any breath left--

“This--a--is them, sir; and my mistress--a--says----”

“Swan-shot, you fool--that is, Wilkins, big enough to roll over a
bullock! It’s the snipe-shot I’m looking for. No, not that. Don’t you
know snipe-shot when you see it? When the scent’s getting duller every
minute, too! I ought to have been out these two hours. That’s right, my
good fellow: don’t be a month about it--give it me. I shall be home to

“But my mistress particularly wishes to speak----” faltered poor
Wilkins. Harry, flinging down with an angry gesture the shot-belt he had
just filled, and muttering that he had better give up going out at all,
strode off to the drawing-room, and putting his head in through the
partially opened door, as though he were afraid of being taken prisoner
if he trusted himself bodily in the apartment, exclaimed--

“How, then, little woman, what is it? Quick, please, for I want to be

“There is an invitation just arrived from Allerton House for Tuesday
week. What am I to say?”

“Oh, we must go, of course. I want you to get intimate with Lady
Allerton, she’s a charming woman, and Lord George is a good little
fellow in his way, though an awfully bad shot. Dinner, I suppose?”

“Yes; but, Harry, wait one moment and listen to me!” exclaimed Alice.
“You need not be in such a hurry; you will have plenty of time for that
horrid shooting before six o’clock.”

“Horrid shooting, indeed! Much you know about it,” muttered the
victimised sportsman, inwardly chafing at the delay; “it will be horrid
shooting in one sense, if I am hindered much longer. The scent wont lie
when the dew is off, and I may as well go out with a walking-stick as
with a gun, for there will be nothing to shoot at.”

“Well, I’ll let you go directly, you impatient, silly boy,” returned
Alice, smiling at the serious, business-like view her husband took of
his amusement. “The only thing I wish to say is, that if we accept this
invitation, we shall be almost certain to meet the Duke and Duchess of
Brentwood there; and you know I’ve been waiting for you to go with me,
day after day, and I’ve never returned their visit yet. You must take me
to call before Tuesday week; I’ve been quite rude already.”

“All right,” returned Harry; “we’ll go in style, and call on the old
duchess. I’ll wear a red coat, and stick a peacock’s feather in my hat,
if that will please you. It’s a pity she’s so like a Chimponzie! Most
probably she is related to the monkey tribe--suppose we ask her when we
call; it will be a new and original style of conversation, eh? Well,
ta ta! It’s so late now that I’m afraid you wont have the felicity of
seeing me again till dinner-time;” and without allowing his wife an
opportunity of remonstrating, Harry closed the door, and was soon paying
off the long-bills in a way in which they scarcely approved of having
their “little accounts” settled. Alice watched him depart with a smile,
which faded into a sigh as she turned to write an acceptance to the
dinner invitation, and then employ and amuse herself as best she might,
during the weary hours which must elapse ere her husband would return.

Lord Allerton was the eldest son of the Duke and Duchess of Brentwood,
who were the great people, _par excellence_, of the Coverdale Park
neighbourhood; and when the Duke and Duchess came to spend their
Christmas in the country, Alice, stimulated thereunto by the
conversation of the Mesdames Jones, Brown, and Robinson of those parts,
felt slightly curious to know whether these ancient and venerable
limbs of the aristocracy would deign to honour her by a call, and was
proportionably gratified and bored when, on a dreary morning, the dull
old Duchess came and paid her a singularly heavy and uninteresting
visit. To induce Harry to accompany her when she returned this equally
flattering and alarming civility, had been for several days the sole
object of Alice’s existence,--an object in which, as the reader
may perceive by the foregoing conversation, she had hitherto been

The next morning Alice once again made an attempt to entice her better
half away from the pleasures of the plains; but the rabbits had begun
barking the young ash-trees in a favourite plantation, and were to be
“pulled down” accordingly. This occupation lasted several days; at the
expiration of which period certain poachers, choosing to join in the
amusement uninvited, had to be “pulled up” for their iniquities--a
series of ups and downs which left only two days vacant before the
important Tuesday dedicated to the dinner-party at Allerton would
arrive. The first of these days it rained cats and dogs, and snowed
fragments of polar bears so decidedly, that even Harry could not get out
till about half-past three, when, in desperation, he enveloped himself
in a Macintosh, and galloped over to _the_ town, five miles off (as all
towns are from all country houses), to match some ribbon for Alice, and
look at the newspaper on his own account. The _County Press_ was
just out, and therein Harry perceived a leading article attacking the
decision arrived at by himself and his brother magistrates in the
case of the “pulled up” poachers. This being equally irritating and
interesting, he sat down in the reading-room of the library diligently
to peruse the same--phsa-ing, pish-ing, and “confounding the fellow”
 at every second line. He had just got to a paragraph beginning,
“Mr. C--d--le may be well qualified to lead the way across a stiff line
of country after the hounds, or roll over unoffending hares and rabbits
in a _battue_--but that is no proof that he possesses an equal right
to ride rough-shod over the enactments of a British Parliament, or to
overturn the decrees of abler lawyers than are to be found among the
bench of magistrates at H--------,” when a large hand was placed over
his eyes, and a loud, jovial voice exclaimed--

“Never mind, Harry, my boy--little Flipkins the editor’s got a wife with
the devil’s own temper, and she helps him to write the leaders; she took
a dislike to you when she was Miss Jamby, and kept the confectioner’s
shop, when you neglected her, and flirted with the girl behind the
counter, because she happened to be the prettiest, and now she’s paying
you off; you can’t horsewhip a woman, you know, so you’d better take it

Before the speaker had arrived at the conclusion of his advice gratis,
Coverdale had removed the hand which impeded his vision, and turning
round, exclaimed--

“Why, it’s Tom Battleworth, by all that’s extraordinary--I thought you
were in Canada, with your regiment, man!”

“So I was till the gout carried off the governor, and left me a
miserable orphan with £15,000 a-year in my pocket. When that lamentable
event occurred I thought I was, for the first time in my life, worth
taking care of, so determined to cut the red cloth and pipe-clay
business, and come home and live virtuously ever after.”

“You seem to have recovered your spirits pretty well, if one may judge
by present appearances,” returned Coverdale, half-amused, half-disgusted
at his quondam friend’s sentiments--“at all events you’ve not grown thin
upon it.”

“No! but that’s the very fact which proves how deeply I feel my forlorn
condition; it’s old Falstaff--is it not--observes how grief swells a
man? I don’t ride a pound under twelve stone,” was the rejoinder. “By
the way,” continued Rattleworth, “that reminds me--it’s deucedly lucky
I met you; you’re the very man that can tell me all about it--Broomfield
is anxious to give up the fox-hounds; he is growing old and lazy, and he
wants me to take ’em.”

“My dear fellow, I’m delighted to hear it,” exclaimed Harry, eagerly;
“old Broomfield is completely past his work, and of all the men I know
you’re the fittest to succeed him--you will do the thing as it ought
to be done. I should have undertaken them myself, if I had not become a
Benedict: Broomfield tried to persuade me.”

“Well now look here,” resumed Rattleworth, meditatively; “I’ve promised
to meet Broomfield to-morrow, and take his horses and everything at a
valuation. Now there is not a man in the county whose opinion about a
horse I’d sooner have than yours; can you spare time to go with me? I
shall really consider it a personal favour if you will do so.”

“Of course I will,” returned Harry’; for if he had a weak point on
which he was accessible to flattery, it was concerning his knowledge of
horse-flesh; “there can be nothing I should like better, in fact--what
time do you go?”

“I was to lunch with him at one,” was the reply; “and we were to look at
his stud afterwards.”

“Then I’ll meet you at the cross roads by Hanger Wood, at half-past
twelve,” returned Harry; and so, with a hearty shake of the hand, the
friends parted.

Tom Rattleworth was the only son of a man who had begun life as a
land-agent and attorney in H----------; but having very early in his
career dabbled in stock-jobbing till he made a considerable sum of
money, which his business connection enabled him to lay out to great
advantage, he grew rich, purchased an estate, married into one of the
county families, and brought his son up “as a gentleman”--that is, he
sent him to Eton, where he learned nothing but how to get into and out
of scrapes; and bought him a commission which he would have done better
without. Nature having thus placed a silver spoon in Tom’s mouth,
appeared to consider his head sufficiently furnished without going to
any unusual expense in the article of brains; so she gave him barely an
average quantity, and made up the deficiency by an actual passion for
horse-flesh. Thomas, thus endowed, was the schoolfellow and holiday
associate of Harry Coverdale; and having one, and only one taste in
common, they had kept up their intimacy, until Harry started on his
grand tour, and Tom was sent with his regiment to Canada, since which
period the interview we have just described was their first meeting.

As Coverdale cantered home through the mud, and rain, and sleet, it
suddenly flashed across him that the next was the only day remaining in
which to call on the Duke and Duchess of Brentwood before the dinner at
Allerton House; and his conscience smote him as he reflected that the
engagement he had formed would prevent him from accompanying Alice;
indeed, so annoyed did he feel at this unlucky coincidence, that for a
moment he was on the point of turning his horse’s head, and riding after
Tom Battleworth to get off the engagement; but it was growing dusk, and
he reflected that Chase Hall, the residence of the renowned Thomas,
was so far out of his way that he should be unable to reach home by
dinner-time, and then Alice would get frightened about him, which would
annoy her more than being obliged to pay her visit alone; so with this
bit of sophistry he, for the moment, quieted his conscience. Before he
arrived at his own house, he had mentally decided that, as it would only
worry his wife, he should say nothing about the Battleworth engagement
to her that evening, and that in the morning he should mention it as an
equally unfortunate and unavoidable necessity, and persuade her to pay
the first visit without him. Of course she would be a little
annoyed just at first, but she was so sweet-tempered and amiable,
that--that--and here his reflections refused to clothe themselves in
intelligible language;--had they done so honestly, the sentence would
have ended thus--“that she would submit without making a scene.” And
so he cantered home, where Alice, with her sunny smile and bright loving
eyes, was waiting to receive him, and made a vast fuss with the poor
dear because he must be so wet, which, thanks to Mr. Macintosh--his
admirable invention--he was not in the slightest degree, though he
appreciated the affectionate fuss Alice made about him all the same.

Harry! you blind, stupid Harry!--as if her little finger, bless it, were
not worth all the horse-flesh that ever was foaled, from Bucephalus,
down to the winner of the last Derby.

The next morning was a very fine one. Alice and Harry made their
appearance in the breakfast parlour about nine o’clock; each was a
little out of sorts. Alice, not having been able to get any air or
exercise on the previous day, had waked with a headache, which Harry
continually forgetting, would leave the door of his dressing-room open,
and attire himself to the tune of “A hunting we will go.” Then a new
morning gown, on which Miss Flippery, the dressmaker at H--------, had
staked her credit, did not fit, and in turning round to look at the
set of the back, Alice trod on the skirt, and tore it out of the
“gathers”--whatever they may be; and as women seldom swear, and the evil
was scarcely serious enough to cry over, poor little Mrs. Coverdale was
unable to vent her annoyance, and brought it down to breakfast with her
accordingly. Harry, on the other hand, conscious that he was about
to commit an act of injustice, on which (although he repented of it
sufficiently to feel very uncomfortable) he was still determined, tried
to keep up his courage by affecting a degree of hilarity which caused
him to make bad jokes about every subject mentioned, and to evince
such a total want of sympathy with his wife’s headache and consequent
depression of spirits, that Alice for the first time in her life
considered him tiresome and in the way, and felt inclined to say sharp
things to him and snub him. After a longish pause, interrupted only
when, on two occasions, Harry was pulled up for whistling, and a third
time for beating the devil’s tattoo on the chimney-piece, Alice
began, “Really Wilkins has taken to burning the toast so black, it is
impossible to eat it. I wish you would speak to him about it, Harry.”

“Certainly, my love,” was the cheerful reply; “what shall I say to him?
That although I approve of his blacking my boots, I disapprove of his
blacking my toast, and that I shall thank him to do it brown in future?”

“If you like to risk the chance, which is almost a certainty, that the
man will misunderstand you, for the sake of making a stupid slang pun, I
advise you to do so,” was the captious reply.

“Phew!” whistled Harry; “how solemn, and sensible, and serious we’ve
grown all of a sudden! I beg to inform you, Mrs. Coverdale that I expect
my wife to admire my puns, if nobody else does.”

“Then you must contrive to make better ones, and to time them rather
more appropriately,” rejoined Alice, so snappishly that her husband
looked up in surprise. Recalled to herself by the unmistakeable
astonishment depicted on the bright, good-natured countenance of her
better half, Alice continued in a milder tone, “You must not mind what I
say this morning, Harry, dear; my headache makes me so dreadfully cross
and stupid.”

“Poor little thing! you were shut up all yesterday, you know, and that
is enough to give anybody a headache,” returned Harry, who considered
houses were built only to dine and sleep in, and would have had Alice
spend her days _al fresco_, even as he delighted to do. “You must go out
as much as possible to-day; luckily it is very fine.”

“Yes; and I am to be honoured with my husband’s company too, which is
a most unaccustomed pleasure,” rejoined Alice, brightening up at the
recollection. “It is certainly very good policy to make yourself so
scarce, though I wish you did not adhere quite so strictly to it; why
you have not driven out with me since we returned from Popem Park! At
what time do you mean to order the carriage?”

“Why it’s an hour’s drive at least; James had better be at the door by
two o’clock,” replied Harry. Then turning towards the fire, and moving
the ornaments on the chimney-piece into wrong positions, he continued,
with an elaborate attempt at _nonchalance_, which veiled most
inefficiently his consciousness that he was about to perform an act
against which his moral sense rebelled, he resumed: “I’m afraid my love
that I must ask you to call upon the Duchess of Brentwood without me
this morning--a business engagement of--a--importance--that is, one that
I cannot avoid, will, I am afraid----”

And here he broke off abruptly, for, glancing at his wife, he perceived
an expression in her pretty face that he had never beheld there before;
the bright eyes were flashing, the soft cheeks burned, and the coral
lips pouted with unmistakeable anger. Harry had at length gone too far,
and his sweet-tempered, loving-hearted little wife was positively and
seriously angry with him. But so unusual a circumstance demands a fresh


Alice Coverdale, annoyed and pained by what she considered her
husband’s injustice and unkindness, did not leave him long in doubt as
to her feelings upon the subject; for as soon as she could conquer a
choking sensation in the throat sufficiently to speak, she exclaimed:--

“Really, Harry, I must say you are most unkind and inconsiderate; you
chose of your own accord to accept the invitation to Allerton House,
though I warned you at the time that it would necessitate your calling
on the Duke and Duchess first: you agreed--in fact, you promised to do
so. There has not been a day since that I haven’t reminded you of this
promise, so it is impossible you can have forgotten it;--there was a
time, and not so very long ago either, when you were ready enough to go
anywhere with me, and were only too glad to find I wished you to do so.
I little thought, poor foolish girl that I was, how soon things would
alter; and now, when you knew as well as I did that this is the last day
on which we can pay this visit, you’ve formed some stupid engagement
(to go and shoot somewhere, I dare say; I wish guns had never been
invented--horrid dangerous things--always going off unexpectedly and
killing people), and so made it impossible to return the Duchess’s call:
and tomorrow I shall be ashamed to look her in the face, or to speak to
her; though I dare say she wont give me a chance to do that, for she is
as proud as Lu------ as a woman can be.”

Here, from sheer want of breath, Alice being forced to pause, Harry
quietly remarked: “Women can be as proud as men for that matter, _ecce
signum_, but now just listen to a little common sense for a minute. I
fully intended and wished to accompany you, but I happened yesterday, at
H--------, to meet with a very old friend of mine, who informed me that
he was going this morning to transact certain business matters which
would involve the expenditure of a considerable sum of money, in regard
to which affair he particularly required my advice and opinion.”

“He must be going to buy a gun or a horse then,” interrupted Alice;
“those are the only things people imagine you understand; and I don’t
wonder at them either, when they see you waste half your life about this
horrid sporting. If you give up all intellectual pursuits in this way,
you’ll go on till you become fit for nothing but to hunt, shoot, eat,
drink, and sleep, like that dreadful old creature, Colonel Crossman.”

Thoroughly provoked by this last speech (which touched on a sensitive
point in Harry’s disposition, and aroused a latent fear, by which he was
always more or less oppressed, lest people should consider him, from his
fondness for field sports, a mere addlepated, fox-hunting squire), he
replied, with more asperity in his tone than he had ever before used, or
believed it possible he could use, towards Alice, “Take care you don’t
become a peevish shrew, like Mrs. Crossman. You are angry, and forget
yourself; when you grow calm again, you will perceive how foolish
and unreasonable you have been to lose your temper about such a silly

“You think being rude to your friends and unkind to your wife a silly
trifle, do you?” inquired Alice.

Harry’s colour rose as he took a turn up and down the room to compose
his feelings ere he would trust himself to reply. “You want to make me
angry,” he said, “but I do not intend to afford you that satisfaction.
Listen to me,” he continued, seeing that his wife was again about to
interrupt him, “listen to me, and when you have heard what I am about
to say, you can reply as you please. I made this engagement to oblige
my friend, without at the moment recollecting that to-day was the time
appointed for calling on the Duchess; but when I reflected that one was
business of importance, and the other a mere visit of ceremony, I
hoped and believed you would be reasonable enough, when I should
have explained the matter to you, not even to wish me to give up my
engagement, and would exercise sufficient common sense and self-control,
to go and pay the visit alone.”

“Then you thought wrongly,” returned Alice, with vehemence; “if you
required a wife who could go about by herself and visit a set of proud,
stiff people, who are strangers to her, and keep up your position in
the county, while you are out hunting and shooting all day, for your own
selfish amusement, you should have chosen some fashionable woman of the
world, and not a poor simple country girl like myself, who relied on
your affection to protect and encourage her;” and here Alice showed
strong symptoms of a disposition to bring that “young wife’s last
resource” of a flood of tears to bear upon her disobedient and
refractory spouse.

Harry, seeing this, and having been throughout the interview haunted by
a latent consciousness that he was in the wrong, was strongly tempted to
yield, and, dispatching a messenger to Tom Tattleworth furnished
with some good and sufficient social white lie to account for his
non-appearance, to stay quietly at home till the time should have
arrived to accompany his wife to visit their aristocratic neighbours;
but, unhappily, Colonel Crossman’s caution, “You’ve married a nice gal
and a pretty gal, take care you don’t go and spoil her,” flashed across
him: “women are all alike, more or less; it’s the nature of ’em to
choose to have their own way; if you indulge ’em at first, they will
be your masters ever after; show your wife she has met her match,” &c.
&c.--these, and such like precepts, rang in Harry’s ears. Alice was
angry and unreasonable, striving for the upper hand, in fact; he must
not permit this: for her sake, as much as for his own, he was called
upon to assert himself, and vindicate his marital authority. Yes,
painful as it was to his feelings to speak or act harshly to his young
wife, whom, even at that moment, he cared for more than any other
created being, he would give her a lesson which should cure the evil at
once and for ever. So putting on a very grave look he began: “My dear
Alice, you are forgetting yourself, forgetting our relative positions;
but there is a quiet way of settling such affairs; verbose discussions
of this nature do not suit me--I am essentially a man of action. It is
the husband’s right to command, the wife’s duty to obey. I had hoped
your own proper feeling would have saved me the pain of being forced
to remind you of this. I must now add, that I consider myself bound
to fulfil my engagement to my friend, and intend to do so: during my
absence, it is my wish and desire that you should drive and call on the
Duchess of Brentwood; if, which I can scarcely conceive possible, you
still refuse to do as I have pointed out, I shall, before I leave this
room, write a note to Lady Allerton, informing her that we are unable to
dine with her to-morrow, without assigning any cause whatsoever for this
change of intention--which, as I cannot give the true reason, and will
not stoop to invent a false one, is the only course left open to me.”

Having delivered himself calmly and firmly of this despotic speech,
Harry folded his arms across his broad chest, and leaning his autocratic
back against the chimney-piece, stood looking as if he felt himself
completely “monarch of all he surveyed,” his wife included. Meanwhile a
fearful struggle between good and evil was proceeding in Alice’s mind;
a kind word or look would instantly have caused the good to triumph: but
her husband stood cold and inexorable as a statue of Fate. Then the
same personage who tempted Eve to the sin which lost her Eden, suddenly
caused to flash across Alice’s recollection all Mrs. Crossman’s
arguments, and she determined to follow her advice, to “pluck up a
spirit, and treat her husband as he treated her,” &c. Accordingly, by
a great effort restraining her tears, which during Harry’s harangue had
begun to flow, she looked up with flashing eyes and crimson cheeks, as
she replied:

“The obedience you require is not that of a wife but of a slave, and
I refuse to yield it. You have treated me unkindly and unjustly, and I
will not sacrifice myself to oblige you.” Harry made no reply, though
his lips moved convulsively, as though he could scarcely command himself
to keep silence; then snatching pen and ink, he scrawled a hasty note,
sealed and directed it, and rising, quitted the room without uttering
a single word. As the door closed behind him, the tears which Alice had
hitherto with such difficulty repressed, burst forth unrestrained. She
was roused from a paroxysm of weeping by the sound of horses’ feet, and
springing to the window, reached it in time to see Harry give a note to
a groom, who rode away at speed in the direction of Allerton House; then
mounting his own horse, he also galloped off, ere Alice could muster
sufficient presence of mind to attempt to recall him.


Falling out with the wife of one’s bosom is a process that bears
a marked affinity to two other domestic operations which, from time
immemorial, have lapsed into well-merited disrepute--viz., quarrelling
with one’s bread and butter, and cutting off one’s nose to spite
one’s face; the same moral but uncomfortable necessity of inherent
self-chastisement being common to all three. Thus Harry Coverdale,
having vindicated his marital dignity, and galloped off the irritation
consequent upon so acting, heartily wished the deed undone, and Alice
and himself friends again; for, little as he appeared to prize it, her
affection had become necessary to him, and he could no more do without
it, than he could have dispensed with sunshine in summer, or fires at
Christmas. Accordingly it was in no very amiable frame of mind that
he joined his fox-hunting ally; and it required all the allurements of
oysters, porter, devilled bones, and unimpeachable port wine, to
enable him to “cast dull care away,” sufficiently to take a proper and
sportsman-like interest in all the minutiæ of the proposed transfer
of stock, canine and equestrian. Once fairly in for it, however, his
stable-minded propensities asserted themselves, and he spent a deeply
interesting afternoon in feeling back-sinews, detecting incipient curbs
and spavins, condemning an incurable sand-crack, and otherwise testing
and pronouncing judgment upon the quadrupedal inmates of Squire
Broomfield’s hunting stables. As the waning light heralded the approach
of dinner-time (that important epoch in the day with all country
gentlemen, and with most London ones also), and the last horse had been
trotted out and trotted in again, and its petticoats (which grooms call
‘body-clothing’) replaced, Harry’s thoughts fell back into their former
gloomy train. Anxious, therefore, to learn how Alice was progressing
under the weight of his high displeasure, he was about to take leave,
when Tom Rattleworth drew him aside, observing in a confidential

“I say, Coverdale, old Broomfield is going to ask you to stay and
dine--I know he is, he looks so pleased with himself. For mercy’s sake
don’t refuse, or else I shall have to endure a _tête-à-tête_ with
the old boy, and that will use me up all together--horse, foot, and
artillery; for, besides being bored to extinction, he will do me out of
every advantage you have obtained for me to-day. He’s an awful screw,
and I’m good for nothing at a bargain after the first bottle; so if you
leave me to his tender mercies, I’m safe to be butchered like a lamb,
and served up in my own _mint sauce_ before we quit the mahogany.”

“I’m afraid I _must_ decline,” was the reply, “for my wife has been at
home by herself all day, and it is not fair to expect her to spend
the evening in solitude also. But you need not be victimised on that
account; come home and dine with us. You’ve never met my wife; she
was in the school-room and a pinafore when you went abroad with your
regiment. Say yes, and then you can tell old Broomfield that you are
engaged to me.”

“So be it then,” was the rejoinder, and thus was Mr. Broomfield cheated
of his guests, and Harry enabled to avoid a _tête-à-tête_ dinner, and
possibly a scene, with his outraged spouse. In the meantime, Alice had
been enduring all the mental torments consequent upon having been angry
with the person one loves best in the world. First, the idea that she
had been most cruelly used, and extensively sinned against, and put
upon, was the only one which presented itself to her mind in anything
like a clear and definite shape; and she bewailed her evil fortune in
a very thunderstorm of weeping. Having by this means condensed, and
disposed of, a vast amount of superfluous steam, she grew calmer and
more reasonable, when the uncomfortable possibility gradually dawned
upon her, that she also might have been to blame--that she had first
irritated, and then defied Harry, and utterly and completely failed in
her duty as a wife; and so penitent did she become on the strength of
this conviction, that if her husband had returned at that moment, she
would have thrown herself at his feet and humbly implored his pardon,
which act of unqualified submission must have disarmed Harry so entirely
and totally, that he would instantly have forgiven her, and frankly
confessed himself to blame, and Alice would never again have experienced
the effects of his “quiet manner.” But, unfortunately, Harry was at
that moment differently occupied, in impressing upon Tom Battleworth
the important fact, that Lucifer would be all the better for having a
red-hot iron passed lightly over his off fetlock at the first convenient
opportunity, and thus Alice’s extreme penitence evaporated as her anger
had done. The final conclusion at which she arrived was, that she
would confess her fault to Harry on his return, and then try calmly and
quietly to convince him of his injustice. If she should succeed in this,
of which she did not feel by any means certain, they would exchange
forgiveness; and, warned by that which had occurred, take heed to their
ways, and live in harmony and affection ever after. All these
sentiments Alice proposed to deliver when she and her husband should be
_tête-à-tête_ after dinner, at which time she had observed Harry to be
usually in an amiable and convincible frame of mind. It may easily be
imagined, therefore, that when she heard Tom Rattleworth declare
with much enthusiasm, and in a voice raised to the pitch in which its
possessor had been wont to direct the gallant fraction of the British
army lately under his command to “Should--der ar-r-ums,” that he was
open to “be blessed,” on the spot, if “the jolly old place did not look
stunning,” she was by no means inclined to afford him the benediction he
had invoked, and heartily wished him at the bottom of the Red Sea, which
we take to be the lowest geographical limit to which a lady’s anathema
can be permitted to descend. She had not time to do more than condemn
her unknown visitor to the oceanic penal settlement aforesaid, ere a
sound as of a jibbing man impelled forward by some powerful agency in
the rear, together with the following expostulation, met her ear:--“My
dear follow, I’m not fit to be introduced; I’m all over mud, I am upon
my life!”

In another moment the drawing-room door flew open, and her husband and
a tall, large, bushy-whiskered, bluff, young man, who looked as if he
could only have been brought in doors by way of a trick, like a pony, or
a wheelbarrow, stood before her.

“Alice, this is Tom Rattleworth, an old schoolfellow of mine, who is
very anxious to form your acquaintance, and has kindly consented to dine
with us,” observed Harry.

“Hey!--haw!” began Tom Rattleworth, uttering sounds like a bashful ogre
in his intense consciousness of his muddy disqualification for female
society; “haw!--hey! the kindnesses all--haw!--the other way. I
hope--Mrs. Coverdale--my near fellow--will excuse--I told you I wasn’t
fit to be seen; but you seem to be--the roads are--impetuous as ever--so
very muddy.” Having delivered himself of this slightly incoherent
address, the embryo M.F.H. “made his reverence” to Alice, and then
performing the military evolution expressed in the mysterious terms,
“To the right about! wheel!” he laid violent hands upon his host, end
forced him out of the room as energetically as he had been himself
propelled into it.

The dinner soon made its appearance, and was a “real blessing” to
all parties, for it provided them something wherewith to occupy their
mouths, and thus obviated the painful necessity of manufacturing
small-talk--a toil compared with which the labours of Hercules appear
child’s play, and the up-hill work of Sisyphus a mere game at ball.

The first sharp edge of his appetite taken off, Tom Rattleworth began to
converse fluently upon the only topic which never failed him, and which
invariably formed the staple ingredient in his discourse, and, indeed,
in his thoughts generally--viz., himself and his own sayings and doings.

Alice, bored and unhappy, uttered monosyllabic replies, when she
perceived that she was expected to do so; and remained silent and
_distraite_ when such exertions were not required of her.

Harry, partly grieved at perceiving the accustomed sunshine in his
wife’s pretty face overcast, partly irritated at what he imagined to be
the sulkiness of her manner; annoyed at his friend’s egotistic chatter,
which he felt was disgusting Alice, and which he could not contrive
to check (seeing that the obtuseness of Tom Rattleworth’s faculties
rendered him totally impervious to a hint); and generally provoked by
the change from his usual state of careless, light-hearted happiness
to his present uncomfortable frame of mind--a change which he
rightly enough attributed in a great measure to his own hastiness and
mismanagement, almost lost his temper. This he displayed by rating the
lad who assisted Wilkins, until he reduced that unhappy juvenile to
such a pitch of nervousness and general mental debility, that, having
inveigled his mistress into sugaring instead of peppering a broiled
turkey’s leg, and replenished the Champagne glasses from a bottle of
bitter ale, he was sent out of the room in disgrace. But in this mortal
life (which would be quite unendurable if such were not the case)
all things sooner or later come to an end--and dull dinners are no
exceptions to the rule--thus, after the dessert had been, placed on the
table, Alice, having finished her half-glass of sherry and nibbled a
fragment of some little vegetable absurdity preserved in candied sugar,
and looking like a geological specimen rather than a sweetmeat, reckoned
she had sufficiently fulfilled her duty as hostess, and was watching for
an opportunity to escape and go and be wretched comfortably by herself,
when Tom Rattleworth, addressing her especially, began, “’Pon my word,
my dear Mrs. Coverdale, when I see you and my friend Harry here so happy
together.” (Harry seized a pear and began denuding it of its rind with a
kind of ferocious eagerness, suggestive to any one acquainted with the
_dessous des cartes_ of his willingness to perform a similar operation
upon his _mal à-propos_ guest), “I declare it makes a fellow feel quite
down in the mouth when he thinks of going home to enjoy his own single
blessedness, as they call it--though single t’other thing would be more
like the truth, I fancy--but then it isn’t everybody that’s as lucky as
Harry and you--not suited to each other so charmingly, you understand.”
 (Alice, avoiding her husband’s eye, bent over her sweetmeat as though
she were anxious to count the number of spangles of candied sugar
it took to cover a square inch thereof.) “Now there was a man in our
regiment--curious coincidence, _his_ name was Harry, too--but those
things do happen so curiously--Harry Flusterton his name was--well,
ma’am, when we were quartered up at Montreal, there was a family there
to whom Harry and I took out introductions, and as we found ourselves
decidedly hard up for amusement, we used to visit there pretty much.
There were two or three daughters in the family, but the eldest was
the one that took my fancy most, and Harry Flusterton was of the same
opinion. Accordingly we both laid siege to her, but Harry soon began
to shoot ahead, and I, finding that it was no go, quietly took up with
number two, who, although she hadn’t her sister’s points, figure, or
action, was by no means a girl to be despised, especially in a
dull place like that; well, my dear fellow--haw!--my dear ma’am, I
mean--’pon my word, I’m not fit for ladies’ society--but the long and
short of it is, Harry was married--everybody thought he was the luckiest
dog breathing--I’m sure I did for one, and said as much to Eliza--that
was the younger one, you understand, that I was obliged to put up with.
When I made that remark to her, she looked at me queer like, and says
she, ‘I hope your friend is a very sweet temper, Mr. Rattleworth?’ ‘Of
course he is,’ returned I, for he was, up to the day he married, as easy
tempered a fellow as you’d wish to meet with. Would you believe it, Mrs.
Coverdale, this charming creature that we had both fallen so desperately
in love with (not but that I liked Eliza just as well when I once got
used to her) turned, out a regular vixen--a perfect virago, ma’am; why
Harry himself told me that they hadn’t much more than got over the
honeymoon, when the first time he wanted her to do something she didn’t
like, some nonsense about visiting, or some such stuff, the way she
flared up was a caution to single men----”

“My dear Rattleworth, I’m sorry to interrupt you,” exclaimed Coverdale,
who could bear it no longer, “but I’m afraid my wife is a little
overcome by the heat of the room--those servants will make such
ridiculously large fires. My dear Alice, if you prefer the drawing-room,
I’m sure Eattleworth will excuse you; this place is like the black-hole
in Calcutta.” And while Rattleworth, talking all the time, sprang to
open the door, Harry covered his wife’s retreat by instituting a furious
onslaught upon the unoffending fire. It was well he came to the rescue
when he did, for in another minute Alice would have been in hysterics.
To get rid of his dear friend as soon as possible was Harry’s next
anxiety, but this was no such easy matter. Thomas Eattleworth,
Esq., M.E.H., was at that happy moment the victim of two strenuous
necessities--one to listen to the sound of his own voice, expressing
not so much his ideas as his paucity thereof; and the other to imbibe
a bottle of port wine, in twelve doses of a wine-glass each; and
these necessities had the unfortunate property of re-acting upon and
increasing each other; for talking made him thirsty, and drinking
made him talkative, so that it was eleven o’clock before he had talked
himself out, by which time the terminus of a second bottle of port had
been arrived at. With a feeling of relief such as Sinbad the Sailor
might have experienced when he felt the legs of the Old Man of the Sea
gradually relaxing their clasp around his wearied shoulders, did Harry
assist his friend to light a cigar, then watched its fiery tip gradually
disappear in the darkness, as Rattleworth’s cover hack cantered off with
its master’s six feet one of good-natured goose-flesh.

Left to his own meditations, Harry started a cigar on his own account,
and, the night being a fine one, he paced up and down the gravel walk in
front of the house until he should have cleared his brain from the fumes
of the wine civility had forced him to swallow. The calm stars came out
one by one, and as he watched their bright effulgence, an idea of
his childhood, that they might be the eyes of angels, recurred to
his memory; and he could oven fancy they appeared to gaze upon him
reproachfully. No human being possessing even the lowest order of
reflective powers, or the faintest vestige of imagination, can watch the
tranquil splendour of a starlight night--a scene which at once proclaims
God’s omnipotence, and appears a work fitted to the majesty of the Great
Being who created it for his own glory--without becoming imbued with the
idea of rest and peace, and desirous of realising these blessings in his
own life. “With God and infinity so near us, how we loathe the trifles
of existence! and, above all, how we despise and contemn the littleness
of our fallen nature! how we repent with bitter tears of shame and
contrition the evils they have wrought in ourselves, and through us
to others! And how, at such a moment, do the qualities we inherit from
heaven--truth, and love, and mercy--expand within us, and fill our
souls, and raise us, for the time, above ourselves, and nearer to the
high estate from which we have fallen--alas I that it should be only for
the time! Coverdale was not insensible to these elevating influences;
his love for Alice returned in all its original strength and purity,
and he determined, before he slept that night, to bring about a
reconciliation, even if his wife should refuse to confess that she had
acted wrongly. Yes! he would actually go the length of owning that he
had been to blame and was sorry for it, and then Alice would forgive
him, and all would be as though this foolish disagreement had never

False reasoning, Harry! there are two things a woman, however thoroughly
she may forgive them, never forgets--neglect and unkindness; and when
once these have cast their shadow across the bright eager gladness with
which she yields up her whole soul as a thank-offering to him she loves,
man, with his stronger, sterner nature, can no more bring back the
delicacy and freshness of that young affection, than he can restore to
the peach the bloom which his careless fingers have profaned--the
love may still exist in its full reality, but the bright halo of early
romance which surrounded it has been dispelled, never to return.


Having looked at the stars, and profited by their quiet teaching, Harry
went in a sadder and a wiser man, resolved, ere he slept that night, to
confess his fault, and, if it might be so, obtain Alice’s forgiveness.
But Alice, tired and unhappy, had gone to bed, and cried herself to
sleep like a weary child; and when Harry entered her room, he found her
lying with her head pillowed on her arm, and the tear-drops scarcely
dried upon her long silken eyelashes, as soundly asleep as though
care, and sin, and sorrow, were evils of which her philosophy had never
dreamed--so Coverdale could only invoke a silent blessing upon her, and
hasten to follow her example by going to bed and to sleep himself. Thus
an opportunity was lost of regaining the “high estate” in his wife’s
affections, from which he had fallen by reason of his inconsiderate
selfishness, and hasty and impetuous temper; and it is a fact equally
true and trying, that an opportunity once lost never returns, even an
advertisement in the _Times_ would fail to regain it.

One of the strangest and least comprehensive of psychological phenomena
is the total change produced in our thoughts, feelings, opinions, hopes,
fears, sympathies, antipathies, and all the other component parts which
make up that wonderful spiritual steam-engine, the mind of man, by a
good night’s sleep. We go to bed desperately in love with some charming
girl we have flirted with half the evening, despising her cruel old male
parent, who _would_ come and disturb our _tête-à-tête_, and take her
away at least an hour sooner than anybody not utterly callous to all the
finer feelings of human nature would have dreamed of doing; and having
with unchristian malignity her tall cousin in the Blues, who, having
known her from her cradle upwards, dared to call her “Gussie” to our
very face--we sleep soundly, our mind lies fallow for some six hours,
and lo! a change has come o’er us; our goddess has stepped down from
her pedestal, and appears a very average specimen of white muslined
femininity and flirtation, whom her father has improved into quite an
amiable model _paterfamilias_, at whose patient benignity in remaining,
to please his daughter, at an evening party till half-past three a.m.
we actually marvel; and as to that fine young fellow her cousin, we are
really shocked when we recall our unchristian feelings towards him, and,
as some slight compensation, mentally book him for an invite to that
dinner at Blackwall which we propose bestowing upon a dozen of our very
particular friends, in the unlikely event of our exchequer holding out
till the white-bait season. Thus, by the next morning, Coverdalo had
slept off the sharp edge of his penitence, and when Alice began by
a great effort to refer to the events of the previous day, with the
intention of confessing herself in the wrong, and asking forgiveness,
Harry, dreading a scene with a degree of horror equally masculine and
English, checked the flow of her eloquence by exclaiming abruptly and
cheerfully, “Yes, dear, certainly--but don’t say another word about it;
we were both very silly, and made each other very miserable, when we
might be as happy as the day is long; let bygones be bygones, we will
forgive and forget, and be wiser for the future, eh?” As he spoke, he
drew her to him, and sealing his forgiveness on her lips with a kiss,
rendered all discussion impossible by leaving the room.

This speech (kiss included) ought to have satisfied any reasonable wife,
but unfortunately at that moment Alice was not exactly in a reasonable
frame of mind; she had dwelt so long on one idea, in accordance with
which she had arranged the whole programme of a dramatic reconciliation
scene, that she by no means approved of Harry’s short cut to concord,
rendering null and void all her explanation of how, and why, and
wherefore she had come to behave ill, together with a spirited sketch in
monologue of her contrition for the past and vows of amendment for the
future; the whole to conclude with certain annotations and reflections,
which she trusted would so affect her husband’s feelings, and convince
his understanding, that he would for the future restrict shooting to two
short mornings a-week, and cast hunting “to the dogs” entirely, and now
all the mysterious pleasure the gentler sex derive from talking a thing
_well_ over, was denied her.

Ah! that “talking over,” what a wonderful female attribute it is! how
vast and important a part of “woman’s mission” does it constitute!
in fact, we have met innumerable women--the majority of our female
acquaintance, we should say--whose whole and entire mission appears to
consist of a “call” to “talk over,” first, their neighbours’ affairs (a
duty to their neighbour in which they never fail), secondly, their own.
The French aphorism (seldom acted upon, by its voluble originators),
_Cela va sans dire_, must seem unspeakably absurd to these advocates for
an indefinite extension of the “freedom of debate;” while the “silent
system” must appear a more “capital punishment” than death itself,
always supposing the excellence of a punishment to be tested by its
severity: but we are slightly digressing.

If anything were needed to prove the absurdity of human
beings--creatures with immortal souls, placed in this world to prepare
for eternity--darkening the sunshine of each other’s lives by bickering
about trifles, that evidence would be afforded when we observe the
manner in which such mental _nebulae_ vanish before the presence of
any of the stem realities of existence. Thus when, breakfast being
concluded, Harry was called mysteriously out of the apartment to learn
that a mounted groom had just arrived from Hazlehurst Grange, with the
intelligence that old Mr. Hazlehurst had been seized with a fit, from
which, when the servant came away, he was not expected to recover,
Coverdale’s only thought was how most tenderly and judiciously to break
the sad news to Alice. Having executed his painful task with a degree
of tact and delicacy of feeling for which those who knew only the rough
side of his character would scarcely have given him credit, and soothed,
to the best of his ability, the burst of grief with which Alice received
the intelligence, Harry continued, “And now, love, the moment you are
able to start, the phaeton will be ready; it is lighter than the close
carriage, and in an emergency like the present, every minute becomes of

“And you?” inquired Alice, glancing at him timidly through her tears.

“I of course will drive you myself; you did not suppose I should let you
go alone.”

Alice could not reply, but as she pressed her husband’s hand
caressingly, the old loving look came back into her eyes, and Harry felt
that he was forgiven. On reaching the Grange the report of the sick
man was more favourable than Alice had dared to hope. An apoplectic fit
constitutes one of the few exceptional cases in which prompt medical
assistance does not necessarily increase the evil, and the Esculapius
of the neighbourhood had this time successfully interposed between death
and his victim; while Mr. Hazlehurst had received a lesson sufficiently
severe to prevent him from objecting to the substitution of toast and
water and “bland” puddings for Port wine, bottled in the year 1830, and
the roast beef of Old England. Coverdale having remained at the Grange
for three days, during which time he had shaken hands with, and lamented
over Arthur (who, summoned at the commencement of his father’s illness,
appeared looking so pale and thin, that it was decided _nem. con._ that
he was working himself to death--a view of the case which he rather
than otherwise encouraged by the faintness of his denial), was forced
to return to the Park to attend the next meeting of magistrates, and
finally to dispose of the offending poachers. Accordingly, having
arranged with Alice to send the close carriage for her on the day but
one following, he took leave of the Hazlehurst family, and drove to
H--------. Here, after a long examination, the aforesaid poachers were
convicted, and sentenced, one to nine months’, another to a year’s
imprisonment--Markum’s evidence being so clear and convincing, that such
an issue became inevitable. As the gamekeeper left the court, a tall,
gipsy-looking fellow came up to him, and muttered in his car, “You’ll
live to repent this day’s work, Master Keeper; look to yourself one of
these dark nights.”

“Look to _yourself_ if I catch you on our ground,” was Markum’s
contemptuous rejoinder; “there’s enough oakum to pick in H-------- gaol
for Tom and you too.”

“Who is that fellow,” inquired Coverdale, as the man, perceiving that
the keeper’s reply was beginning to attract attention, turned away with
a scowl.

“That be Jack Hargrave, Mr. Coverdale, sir,” returned Markum; “brother
along o’ Tom, as we’ve give twelve months to; and sarve ’im right, a
poachin’, thievin’ wagrant.”

“Is this fellow a poacher also?” asked Harry.

“That is he then,” was the reply; “a reg’lur bred un, and as deep a hand
as ever set a snare, only he’s so wide o’,’ that it’s not so easy
to nab the warmint; but I’ll be down upon ’im yet, for all his
threatenings. He’s bin heard to swear he’ll put a charge o’ shot under
my veskit some o’ these nights; he’d better not, though, or he may find
there’s two can play at that game.”

“No violence, my good fellow, no violence; it’s not a light thing to
shed the blood of a fellow-creature--besides, there’s a quiet way of
managing these affairs. I shall warn the police to keep an eye on that
man Hargrave; he looks dangerous; and you may as well put on another
watcher, it wont do to be shorthanded just now.” So saying, Coverdale
turned away, and was soon deep in conversation with the inspector of
the mounted rural police; after which, refusing to make one of a jovial
party who were about to dine with Tom Battleworth, and were tolerably
certain to remain playing whist, and imbibing strong liquors till the
small hours should be again upon the increase, he drove home to his
solitary mansion.

It was the first time since his marriage that Coverdale had dined by
himself, and he felt proportionably lonely; everything tended to remind
him of Alice--her favourite dog, a little black-and-tan spaniel, with
large loving eyes, not unlike her own, leaped on his knee after dinner,
and gazing wistfully at the empty chair opposite, uttered a low whine,
as though it would inquire, “Where’s my mistress?” The footstool,
whereon her dainty little feet were wont to repose--the screen with
which she was accustomed to shade her fair cheek from the too ardent
advances of the fire--each object, animate or inanimate, recalled his
thoughts to Alice; and feeling, even more strongly than he had ever
yet felt, how deeply and tenderly he loved her, he for the first time
perceived that love in its true light, and, in acknowledging its full
reality, became conscious of the duties and responsibilities such an
affection entailed upon him. Faintly and dimly at first the light broke
in upon him; deeply did he feel the difficulties of the task, and his
own inability to perform it; and bitterly, most bitterly, did he regret
his own selfish carelessness, which had, as he was fain to confess,
tended already to estrange his young wife’s affection, and to convert
a gentle, yielding girl, into a wilful and exacting woman. And thus he
sat, pondering over and regretting the past, and forming wise and good
resolutions for the future, while minutes gliding by unobserved grew
into hours, until the sudden restlessness of the little dog, which had
been sleeping quietly upon his knees, roused him, and looking at his
watch, he perceived it was nearly midnight. As he did so the dog, whose
restlessness appeared to increase, uttered a short bark, while at the
same moment a distant sound was faintly audible, which Harry’s practised
ear instantly recognised as the report of a gun. To spring to the
window, open the shutter, and fling up the sash, was the work of
an instant; a like space of time sufficed to resolve doubt into
certainty,--guns were being discharged in a favourite plantation about
half a mile from the house--a plantation in which the pheasants were as
well fed and tame as barn-door fowls; it was evident the poachers were
taking their revenge, and that these sacred birds, the Lares and Penates
of Harry’s sporting mythology, were being ruthlessly slaughtered on
their roosts. Harry rang the bell furiously; then, before the alarmed
Wilkins (who, having commenced his career in the service of an
apoplectic alderman, laboured under a chronic impression that somebody
was in a fit) had passed beyond the door of the servants’ hall, he
rushed impetuously out of the dining-room, and meeting that bewildered
domestic in full career, nearly frightened him into an attack of the
malady he so much dreaded for others, by exclaiming, “Here, quick! Tell
Saunders, or some of them, to saddle the shooting cob, and bring him
round instantly; then find me a hat and pea-jacket. Quick, I say!”

As the butler vanished on his mission, Coverdale took down from a peg in
the hall, a special constable’s staff which had been intrusted to him on
behalf of her gracious Majesty, at a time when an extra dose of politics
and strong beer had proved too potent for the dense agricultural pates
of certain free and independent (_alias_ bribed and tipsy) electors of
the neighbouring county town. It was a stout piece of ash, about a foot
and a half long, thicker than an ordinary broom-stick, and weighted with
lead, for the benefit of any unusually opaque skull into which it might
be deemed advisable to knock a respect for our glorious constitution.
Harry felt its weight, and, as he passed his wrist through the leather
thong attached to it, he thought to himself they would be bold men who
could prevent him, with that in his hand, from going where he pleased.
The instant the cob appeared he sprang into the saddle. “Do you and
Marshal get a couple of stout sticks, and make the best of your way to
the ash plantation!” he exclaimed hastily; “there are poachers out, and
from their venturing to come so near the house, I should fancy there
must be a strong gang of them, and Markum may want all the help we can
give him.”

So saying, Coverdale gathered up the reins, and without waiting the
groom’s reply, rode off at a brisk canter. As he approached the wood, he
drew in and paused, uncertain whether Markum might yet have reached the
scene of action: as he listened, the sound of men crashing through the
dry underwood became distinctly audible; then shouts and a clamour of
angry voices, and finally, the unmistakeable noise of a conflict met his
ear. Pausing no longer, he put his horse into a gallop, and dashed
on till he reached a hand-gate leading into the wood. This, to his
annoyance, he found locked; true, he had a master-key, which he had
fortunately brought with him, but he was forced to dismount in order
to unfasten the padlock. While thus engaged, the sounds proved that the
affray was still raging fiercely, and, as he flung the gate open, a gun
was discharged, followed almost instantaneously by the report of
two others. Fearing mischief might occur before he could reach the
combatants, Coverdale remounted hastily, and heedless alike of
obstacles and darkness, galloped down one of the grass rides through the
plantation, avoiding collision with the trunks and branches of trees
by, as it appeared, a succession of miracles. Before, however, he
could arrive at the scene of action, the sound of blows, the shouts
and imprecations, had ceased, and nothing but a confused hum of voices,
together with a low moaning, as of some person ill or in pain, met his
ear. Forcing his horse through the tangled underwood, Coverdale came
suddenly upon a group of men, amongst whom he recognised several of his
own farm labourers, while two under-keepers were kneeling beside the
prostrate figure of a man who, from the stiff, unnatural attitude in
which he lay, appeared either dead err dying. To leap to the ground, and
snatch a lantern from one of the bystanders, was Harry’s first act;
then bending over the fallen man, he recognised in the ghastly features,
distorted and convulsed with agony, the well-known countenance of
honest, sturdy Markum, while from a gun-shot wound in his right side the
dark life-blood was slowly flowing.

“How has this happened?” was Coverdale’s hurried inquiry. “Is it an
accident, or have any of those scoundrels dared to shoot him?”

There was a moment’s pause, and then one of the elder men replied,
“It wor no accident, Mr. Coverdale; but Giles there can tell you best,
squire; he wor nearest to un when he dropped.”

The under-keeper thus appealed to--a tall, strapping young fellow, who
was vainly attempting to staunch the blood which still continued to
flow--turned to reply, while Coverdale, kneeling beside the wounded man,
endeavoured to arrange a more effectual bandage.

“All as I know, sir,” he said, “is that I wor a watching nigh down by
the warren, when up cum poor Master Markum here, and ‘Giles,’ says he,
‘ye’re wanted, lad; there’s them out as didn’t oughter be.’ So him and
I, and the rest o’ our mates here, which master had appinted to meet at
eleven o’clock--for I expect he’d had some hint give him of what was to
be up, made for the ash spinney, and laid us down in a ditch. Well, it
warn’t long afore we heard the blackguards at work among the pheasants,
a banging away like blazes. We waited till they got near us, and then wo
up and at ’em like good uns. There was more of ’em nor there was
o’ we, so they showed light a bit. Poor master there he jest wor
real savage; he hit out hard and straight, and rolled ’em over like
nine-pins; they worn’t o’ no manner o’ use again him, not none on ’em.
Well, they soon got enough of that sort of fun, and one arter another
cut away, till at last they all fairly turned tail and bolted--that is,
all but one, and him master collared, and says he, ‘Stop a bit, Jack;
I’m agoin’ to send you to see your brother in H-------- gaol; I’m
afeard Tom should be dull for want o’ cumpany, poor chap!’ Well, Jack
Hargrave, for him it wor, fit sharp for his liburty, but master wor too
good a man for him; and he’d a took him as safe as mutton, only Jack
hollard arter one of his mates as had a gun, and told him to shoot the
-------- keeper, and not let him be took. The fellow stopped and faced
round--he wor a young chap as I knows well--I’d cotched sight cf his
face afore he cut away, a soft young feller, as anybody might bully into
anything; and when Jack rapped out a volley of oaths, and told him to
let fly, and chance hittin’ him, shoot he did, and poor master let go
his hold o’ Jack’s collar, and rolled over and over like I’ve seen many
a hare and rabbid roll over afore his gun.”

“But there was more than one barrel discharged,” interposed Coverdale;
“I heard three shots in succession--how was that?”

“Why, when I see poor Master Markum fall, I was jest agoin’ to kneel
down to raise him a bit, when I ketched sight o’ Jack Hargrave and his
pal a cutting away like lamplighters, and I felt mad like to think he
should get off scotfree arter what he’d been and done, and having my gun
in my hand, I give ’em the contents of both barrels; it worn’t right,
I knows, Mr. Coverdale, but if you’d been in my place, squire, I’m
blessed if I don’t think you’d ha done the same, axing your pardon.”

Feeling a strong private conviction that “Giles” had only judged
him correctly, Harry looked grave and shook his head, as if such
a possibility could not exist in the case of a magistrate, ere he
inquired, “Do you think you hit either of them?”

“They’d got a farish start before I pulled at ’em,” was the reply,
“and the light ain’t that good for a long shot, but I fancy Jack
Hargrave’s got something to take home with him, for he give a rare jump
as the charge reached him; but it warn’t enough to stop him, for I see
him a runnin’ like a greyhound arter-wards.”

While this conversation was proceeding, Coverdale, by aid of sundry
neckcloths, and a strip that he cut from his own pea-jacket, had
contrived a bandage which in great measure stopped the bleeding, and
Markum revived sufficiently to recognise those about him; as his eyes
fell on Coverdale, a faint smile passed across his features.

“Is it you, squire?” he murmured in a low voice. “Ah! you always had a
kind heart of your own; Jack Hargrave’s kep his word, you see. I expects
him and his mate ’as finished me atween ’em this time.”

“We’ll hope not, my poor fellow--but don’t speak. Do you think you can
bear carrying yet--yes? Four of you take that hand-gate off its hinges,
and bring it here; we’ll lay him on that. We shall have a surgeon for
you directly, my poor fellow! I sent one of the lads off on my horse to
fetch Mr. Gouger the moment I came up--now, steady with him. I’ll lift
his head--that’s it; now raise the gate steadily. Gently there--well
done--are you all ready? Step together mind--march.”

As he spoke, Harry (who himself supported one corner of the temporary
litter he had contrived) and three others, raised the wounded man on
their shoulders, and carried him to his own cottage, which fortunately
was near at hand. He bore the transit bravely, though the pain
occasioned by such motion as was unavoidable, reduced him more than once
to the verge of fainting. Shortly after he had reached his destination
the surgeon arrived. Coverdale waited until he had pronounced the wound
dangerous, though not necessarily mortal, then leaving him to make
a more minute examination, he quitted the house. He found a mounted
policeman awaiting him outside, who, making his rounds, had been
attracted by the sound of guns at that unusual hour.

“Ah, policeman, I was just going to send after you; my head keeper has
been shot by these poaching rascals, and is seriously hurt, I’m afraid!”
 exclaimed Coverdale. “How are we to make sure of the fellows who did it?
It lies between a man called Jack Hargrave--”

“A reg’lur bad un,” observed the horse-patrol, parenthetically.

“You said you knew the other man,” continued Harry, appealing to the
under-keeper; “are you acquainted with his name?”

“They do call him* ‘Winkey’ in a general way, from a trick he’s got with
his eyelids; but his right name be Jim Fags,” was the reply.

“I know him,” observed the policeman. “Well, sir, as we ’re acquainted
with the parties, I should say we’re safe to be down upon ’em
somewheres to-morrow. I’ll ride over to H--------, and put all our men
on the scent.”

“Stay! that gives me an idea,” said Coverdale; then turning to the
under-keeper, he continued in a lower voice--“You are sure you hit
Hargrave--are you, Giles?”

The young man nodded in the affirmative, and his master resumed,--

“Go and fetch Nero, poor Markum’s night-dog, muzzle him, and bring him
in one of the greyhound leashes. We’ll contrive to take these rascals
before day dawns, policeman.”

While Coverdale was explaining his plan to the patrol, Giles returned
with the dog: it was a splendid animal, a cross between the English
mastiff and a Spanish bloodhound. Its size was unusual, and its strength
enormous. Its eyes glared red in the torchlight, like those of some
wild beast. When it saw the policeman it uttered a low growl, and the
bristles on its back stood up like a mane; but at a word from Coverdale
it relinquished its hostile attitude, and with a sagacious look, which
said almost as plainly as words could have expressed it--“I comprehend;
it’s not him they’ve sent for me to worry”--thrust its huge head
caressingly into its master’s hand.

“Now patrol,” resumed Coverdale, ‘“if you will ride along the skirts of
the wood, and lead my horse, I fancy I shall be able to put the dog on
the track of these fellows--and, if so, he will never leave it till the
game is run down. You have handcuffs with you?”

“Aye, and pistols too, for the matter of that,” was the reply.

“I don’t expect they will be required,” rejoined Coverdale; “the
scoundrels will scarcely want more fighting than they’ve had already;”
 then signalling Giles to follow with the dog he turned, and, re-entering
the plantation, soon reached the scene of the late conflict.

“Now try and find, an nearly as possible, the spot where Hargrave was
when you fired at him,” began Coverdale; “give me the dog to hold, and
take the lantern with you.”

Giles obeyed; and having walked about fifty paces down a narrow pathway
through the wood, began carefully ta examine the ground on either side.
Having pursued his investigation for some minutes in silence, he paused,
examined the spot still more closely, and then made a sign to Coverdale
to join him.

On reaching the place Harry observed, by the light of the lantern,
several dark spots, and a long mark on the soft ground, as though some
person had slipped and nearly fallen, then deep footsteps led towards
the outskirts of the wood. The moment the dog perceived the scent of
blood all the savage instinct of its nature awoke, and, with a
bound, which tested the strength of the leash, and nearly dislocated
Coverdale’s shoulders, it sprang forward along the track of the
fugitives. Five minutes’ painful toiling through bush and briar, brought
them to the outskirts of the plantation, where they found the policeman
waiting with the horses. Hastily springing to the saddle, Coverdale
made Giles attach a small cord he had brought with him to the end of
the leash, against which the bloodhound now strained impatiently; then
twisting the other end round his own wrist, he was about to desire the
under-keeper to return, when the patrol interfered by observing,--

“Better take Giles with us, sir!”

“Why so, policeman?” rejoined Coverdale, sharply; “we’re two to two,
fresh men against tired ones; besides, you’re armed, and they’re not.”

“Jack’s got a gun with him, and is likely enough to use it now his
steam’s up,” insinuated Giles, who by no means approved of losing his
share in the expedition.

“And when we have nabbed ’em, I shall want help to convey ’em to
H-------- gaol,” pleaded the policeman. “I can take him up behind me.”

“As you will; only lose no more time,” was Coverdale’s reply; and
cheering on the dog, he rode forward at a brisk trot.

The track led them through the Park, and then over hill and dale,
ploughed field, and rough stubble, till it brought them out upon a wide
bleak common, dotted here and there with patches of furze and broom,
which showed dark and shadowy in the moonbeams, like plumes upon a
hearse. Across the wildest and most tangled portion of the heath the dog
led them, still straining at the leash, and uttering from time to time a
suppressed whimper indicative of impatience. On the farther side of the
common rose a steep bank, in one portion of which a deep hollow had been
excavated for the purpose of obtaining gravel. As the dog approached
this place, its eagerness became, if possible, stronger than before,
until, at about thirty yards from the spot, it suddenly stopped, and
again erecting the bristles on its back, uttered a deep growl. At the
same moment, Coverdale, whose sight was remarkably keen, perceived a
figure cautiously stealing away under cover of the bushes. Pointing him
out to the policeman, whose horse was beginning to evince symptoms of
distress under its double burden, Coverdale observed,--

“I can only see one man, but let us make sure of him. Get down Giles,
and hold the dog. Now patrol, while I ride round that bush and head the
fellow, do you go on and seize him; and if you want any assistance, I
shall be ready to afford it.”

So saying, Coverdale rode forward to cut off the poacher’s retreat,
while the policeman, putting spurs to his horse, and drawing his
cutlass, dashed up to the fellow, and seized him by the collar.

Overawed by the gleaming weapon, and exhausted by his previous
exertions, the unfortunate Jim Fags (_alias_ Winkey) attempted no
resistance; and the policeman availed himself of his pusillanimity to
produce the handcuffs, and dextrously secure his prisoner. He was thus
engaged when Coverdale, who was walking his horse quietly towards them,
suddenly caught sight of what, at the first glance, appeared to him only
the stump of a tree, but on closer inspection proved to be the figure
of a man, crouching under the shadow of the gravel-pit, while, at
the moment in which Coverdale first perceived him, he was taking a
deliberate aim with a short gun at the unconscious patrol. For a moment
the policeman’s life hung upon a thread; but a slight movement of the
horse brought the unfortunate Winkey’s head into the line of fire, and
his accomplice lowered his piece, and slightly altered his position,
while he took fresh aim. The opportunity was not to be lost--quick as
thought Coverdale rose in his stirrups, and with the full force of his
muscular arm hurled the constable’s staff, which he had retained the
whole evening, at the head of the kneeling figure. Fortunately for the
policeman, the missile took effect, and, stunned by the force of the
blow, Jack Hargrave (for he it was) measured his length upon the turf,
discharging the gun harmlessly as he fell. Before he could regain his
feet, Giles and the dog (who, but for his muzzle, would have torn the
poacher to pieces) were upon him. In less than two hours from that time
both the culprits were safely lodged in H-------- gaol.


Mr. Hazlehurst’s progress towards recovery was so satisfactory that
Alice, when the carriage arrived to fetch her home, felt not the
smallest scruple in leaving him. As Harry considered the distance
between the Grange and Coverdale Park too great for his carriage-horses
to perform twice in one day, the equipage had been dispatched the
previous evening, and the servants were consequently unacquainted with
the events of the past night. Having taken leave of her mother--who,
roused by the necessity of becoming a nurse instead of a patient,
appeared rather benefited than otherwise by the unusual demand upon her
energies--and of Emily, now fast developing into a very pretty girl,
Alice started on her return home, and accomplished the greater portion
of the transit without let or hindrance. “When within about five miles
of the Park, however, one of the horses was discovered to have cast a
shoe; and as it would have been worth more than his situation to have
taken it farther in so defenceless a condition, the coachman drew up at
a village blacksmith’s, where the evil might be remedied. Under these
circumstances, Alice determined to walk on till the carriage should
overtake her, which, as the morning was fine, she considered the reverse
of a hardship. Pondering many things--for Alice was no longer the
careless, light-hearted girl we once described her--she trudged on, at
first briskly, then more leisurely, as the road began to ascend, until
she might have proceeded some two miles; and yet the carriage did not
make its appearance. Toiling up hill, attired as ladies usually are
from November to April, with an amount of merino, velvet, and fur, which
might defy the severities of a Siberian winter, and is clearly _de trop_
under the influence of a sunshiny morning in March, not unnaturally
rendered Alice hot and tired; and fancying, from her imperfect knowledge
of the locality, that she must be upon her husband’s territory, she
determined to make acquaintance with the inmates of a cottage which she
perceived by the roadside a short distance higher up the hill, and, with
their permission, to rest herself until the carriage should arrive. With
this intention she approached the cottage, and finding the door
closed, rapped at it with first her knuckles, then the handle of a
most frivolous and ephemeral little parasol; but neither of these
applications producing the desired effect, she, like little Red
Riding-hood, raised the latch and opened the door. The sight which
met her eyes was one calculated alike to stimulate her curiosity and
interest her sympathies. In a cradle, on the opposite side of the room,
lay an unconscious and remarkably pretty and comfortable-looking baby
fast asleep, while near it, with the light from the casement streaming
full upon her smooth dark hair, only partially concealed beneath her
neat white cap, sat the young mother, her face hidden in her hands,
weeping bitterly. Starting at the sound of the opening door, she removed
her hands, and disclosed features which, swollen and disfigured as they
were by grief, yet evinced tokens of unusual beauty. She rose as Alice
entered, and hastily drying her tears, stood regarding her with a wild
eager glance of inquiry.

“What have you come to tell me?” she said: “they have not relented--not
set him at liberty again?--or the other one--he is not worse--oh,
God!--not dead?”

Surprised and embarrassed by the strange eagerness of her manner, and
interested by her appearance and evident distress, Alice hastened to
assure her that she was not the bearer of any tidings, good or evil, and
having explained the object of her intrusion, continued--

“But you are anxious or unhappy about something; will you not tell me
why you were crying so bitterly when I came in--perhaps I may be able to
assist you?”

Thus appealed to, the girl (for sho appeared scarcely above twenty)
fixed her dark eyes on Alice’s face, and reading therein her kind and
loving nature, which indeed was so legibly depicted that the veriest
dullard at deciphering character could scarcely fail to discover it,
answered more gently than she had before spoken--

“I beg pardon, lady; but I’m amost crazy with grief this morning, and
my head’s so a-running on it, that I hardly know what I’m a-saying or
a-doing on. Ye’re welcome to rest, lady, as long as you please;” and as
she spoke she dusted a chair with her apron, and placed it for Alice,
who, seating herself, resumed--

“You say you are unhappy, but you do not tell me what about.”

The woman paused for a moment in thought, then continued--“I need make
no secret of it; the whole country round is ringing with it by this
time. Some poor fellows, lady, as had wives and children to feed, and no
money to buy bread to give to ’em, went to get a few of the birds and
things that’s running wild in the woods of them that’s rich, and don’t
want ’em; and the keepers cum to stop ’em, and one of ’em got shot
in the confusion; and the police have took my husband and my brother,
and swear the’re the men that did it; and the’re to be had up to-day
before them that’s sure to condemn ’em, innocent or guilty--gentlemen
that chuses to keep the wild creatures that God sent for food for them
as wants it, all for their own selfish amusement--begging your pardon,
lady--but it’s the truth; and when one’s heart aches like mine does, the
truth will out.”

“It is natural, perhaps, that you should think thus in your situation,”
 returned Alice, gravely; “but depend upon it your husband and your
brother will not be punished unless they justly deserve it. The
gamekeeper was not killed I hope?”

“Oh no, my lady! not hurt very serious neither I do hope; only they want
to make the most of it, to get a chance to punish my poor fellows, don’t
you see?” was the reply; “and if my husband is put in prison for long,
and lays out of work, what’s to become o’ me and the children?”

“You have more than this one, then?” inquired Alice.

For answer the woman rose, and passing into the inner room of the
cottage, in less than a minute returned, bearing in her arms a little
girl, apparently about two years old, whose bright, rosy cheeks, and
eyes evidently distressed by the vivid sunlight, gave unmistakeable
tokens of having been roused out of a sound sleep. Alice possessed a
thorough woman’s love of children, leading her to consider ugly ones
pretty, and pretty ones “little angels;” so she immediately took this
particular duodecimo angelic specimen on her knee, and won its celestial
affections by allowing it to play with her watch, and a bunch of
miscellaneous rubbish attached thereunto, and denominated, on the _lucus
a non lucendo_ principle, a chatelaine. This reinforcement of infantry
having completely won the day (the “dear” sleeping baby had been a
powerful, unconscious advocate of its parent’s cause), Alice began to
consider how best she could assist the distressed mother. The first
point was to learn to whom to apply in favour of the culprits, and she
accordingly inquired on whose land they had been taken, and in whose
service the wounded gamekeeper resided? The answer was at the same
time embarrassing and satisfactory. Of course, if the offence had been
committed upon her husband’s property, he could, if he would, decline to
prosecute the offenders--if he would?--there lay the difficulty. Alice
was well aware of the serious light in which Harry regarded the crime
of poaching; and the attack on the gamekeeper even she was forced
to reprobate; but if it should prove that the man was not seriously
injured, she trusted to her newly-regained influence to enable her to
place the matter in such a light that Harry would agree with her in
overlooking the culprit’s offence for the sake of his family; or, at all
events, if that was expecting too much of his penitence, she had only
to ask it as a personal favour, and he surely could not refuse her.
So, carried away by her feelings of kindly sympathy, and acting on the
impulse of the moment, she put forth all her powers of consolation,
and ended by disclosing her name, and the relation in which she stood
towards that persecutor of poachers, Harry Coverdale, at the same time
promising to use her influence, which she represented as all-powerful,
to screen the culprits from the effects of their misdemeanors.

Before her consolatory harangue was well concluded, the carriage
arrived, and Alice, having kissed the children (the unfortunate
baby being aroused expressly for the performance of the affectionate
ceremony, a violation of the rights of the subject which it resented
by crying and slobbering with a twenty-infant power over Alice’s velvet
mantle), left five shillings in the hands of their mamma, by way of a
peace-offering, and departed, thoroughly satisfied with her _début_ in
the character of poor man’s friend and cottager’s comforter. All the way
she drove home she was building castles in the air for the benefit and
behoof of the ruined family, having mentally adopted the little girl as
lady’s-maid, and apprenticed the baby, which was of the nobler sex, to a
serious and immaculate carpenter, before she reached the Park.

Coverdale was absent when his wife arrived, having ridden over
to H--------, to assist at the committal of Jack Hargrave and his
accomplice; but she received from Wilkins, who was, in more senses
than one, a confidential servant, an over-full, untrue, and
particularly-exaggerated account of the affray of the previous night,
from which she acquired two facts, which tended considerably to disquiet
her, viz.:--first, that the wounded man was Markum, her husband’s
especial favourite; and secondly, that Harry had been personally
involved in the affair; both of which considerations increased the
difficulty of the negotiation for gaol-delivery to which she had
incautiously pledged herself. Having taken off her things, she
proceeded first to fraternise with her King Charles spaniel and the two
canary-birds (which latter plumed bipeds celebrated her return in songs
of shrill triumph, like a couple of inebriated penny whistles), then
to put all the ornaments right, which the housemaid had dusted into
uncomfortable and heterodox positions. She had just discovered a china
cup, which nobody had broken, and which yet was divided in several
places, having probably spirits own sides laughing at the grotesque
figures with which its manufacturer had seen fit to embellish it, and
she was hunting for a bottle of diamond cement wherewith to repair
the damage before her husband’s return, when the sound of horses’ feet
announced that event to have taken place.

The first words that met her ear were, “Let one of the helpers go down
to Markum’s cottage, wait till Mr. Gouger has seen him again, and bring
me his report without a moment’s delay; if it should be unsatisfactory
I’ll send for Brodie by electric telegraph. Is your mistress returned?”

A warm embrace, an expression of his delight at having lier back again,
a hurried enquiry after Mr. Hazlehurst, and then Harry rushed into his
narrative of the poaching affair, and in his eagerness to detail every
circumstance of a matter which interested him so deeply, did not notice
the tameness of Alice’s sympathy, or the lukewarm manner in which she
seconded his virtuous indignation against the miscreants who had all but
murdered good, honest Markum: “And small thanks to them that it was ‘all
but,’ for, if ever a scoundrel meant mischief, that scoundrel was Jack

Alice saw this was no time to urge her suit, and so merely confined
herself to the general remark, that it was a dreadful affair for all
parties, and that she pitied the wives of the wretched men who had
committed the rash act, as much as anybody concerned in the matter; to
which Harry replied:--

“That it served them right for marrying poachers, and that they might
think they were lucky not to be the victims themselves, for that a
fellow who would take to poaching was capable of cutting his wife’s
throat, or of any other enormity.”

Mr. Gouger’s report was, on the whole, satisfactory. Markum was going
on well, though he (Gouger) could not pronounce him out of danger;
the injury was very serious, and several days must elapse before the
ulterior consequences would be apparent; or, as the doctor himself
remarked, the effect of extraneous particles of plumbago, or lead,
introduced into the vital system by the sudden expansion of saltpetre
and other explosive compounds compressed within the narrow limits of a
gun-barrel, and discharged thence by ignition, according to the natural
laws of projectiles, was most subtle and deleterious, leading sometimes
to the total destruction of animal life, at others to a concussion of
the nervous system; or again, &c. &c.: from which sapient opinion Harry
collected that Brodie need not be sent for immediately.

Days glided by, the prisoners were remanded till Markum’s chance of life
or death should be ascertained, and Alice had not found a fitting moment
in which to make her appeal. At length the surgeon, with grave looks,
which might mean everything, anything, or nothing, advised, merely as
a matter of precaution, that the wounded man should make a deposition
before a magistrate, so that if anything _were_ to happen, the
jury might have the advantage of his statement of facts. Coverdale,
therefore, having persuaded one of his brother magistrates to accompany
him, proceeded to the cottage for the above purpose. Shortly after
he had set off, Alice was informed that a poor woman was desirous
of speaking to her; and on ordering her to be shown in, she was less
surprised than embarrassed to recognise in the tearful applicant her
cottage hostess, the wife of the culprit, Jack Hargrave. The result of
the interview may be easily foreseen. Alice descanted on the greatness
of the crime committed, Mr. Coverdale’s virtuous indignation against
the offenders, and the consequent difficulty of persuading him not to
prosecute them. Mrs. Jack brought forward, in reply, the baby and a
flood of tears,--arguments so unanswerable that Alice, having kissed the
one, and all but joined in the other, dismissed the afflicted matron,
having renewed her pledge of exerting her whole influence in favour
of the prisoners. It was with a feeling akin to desperation that she
determined to plead her _protégées_’ cause the moment Harry should
return, certain that if she again allowed her ardour to cool, she should
never have courage to enter upon the subject to him. Accordingly, as
soon as he had finished giving her an account of the clear and able
manner in which Markum had detailed the proceedings of the eventful
night on which the affray had occurred, she began:--

“I, too, have had rather a trying interview; the wife of one of the
men who have been taken up on suspicion has been here--a frail,
delicate-looking, young creature, scarcely more than a girl, with the
dearest, sweetest, little baby imaginable. I do so wash you had seen

Harry muttered a reply, which, though scarcely audible, conveyed the
impression that he was perfectly content without having had ocular
demonstration of its infantine perfections; and Alice continued--

“Yes, I wish you had seen both mother and child--its sweet, innocent
looks, and the poor girl’s tears, would have pleaded her cause better
than any arguments of mine can do, your kind heart could never have
resisted them.”

“Plead her cause,” repeated Coverdale; “that means, because her husband
and his accomplice have been so obliging as to destroy my game, and
murder, or half murder, as the case may prove, my head keeper, she
considers it my duty to support herself and family, I suppose; she
has brought this irresistible baby as a safe dodge to work upon your
feminine susceptibilities; and, with thorough woman’s logic, she has
persuaded you to look upon her as a suffering innocent, and upon me as a
tyannical oppressor. How confess--is not this the truth?”

“No, really it is not,” replied Alice, eagerly. “I own I think you, from
your passion for field-sports, take rather an exaggerated view of the
crime of poaching; but I quite feel as you do, that wounding poor Markum
was a cruel and cowardly act; still, revenging it upon this family will
not benefit him nor ourselves.”

“I don’t wish the people to starve, of course,” returned Harry, moodily,
“though I should imagine the young woman and her brats can scarcely have
got through all the game in her larder yet. I should not mind starving
on hashed hare and broiled pheasants’ legs myself for a week or two;
however, if the poor girl really is in want, I have no objection to your
relieving her, but do not be imposed upon, darling, that is all that I
mean to say.”

The kindness of her husband’s manner, and the good-natured way in which
he appeared willing to support the family of the man who had injured
him, served alike to remove Alice’s fears, and to lead her to overrate
the extent of her influence with her husband; so, leaning her arm on
his shoulder, while with her other hand she smoothed back his clustering
hair, she continued, “What a good, kind boy it is, though it does growl
sometimes. But now, to show you that my _protégée_ is not seeking to
impose on me for the sake of obtaining money, I will tell you that her
petition was for quite a different object, and one creditable alike to
her feelings as a wife and a sister: she wants you to act as only a
high and generous nature like your own would be capable of acting--she
implores you to pardon her husband and her brother.”

“To do what!” exclaimed Harry sharply, a dark shade coming across his

“To let off two of the men who were engaged in this unlucky
business--her husband and her brother--not to prosecute them, I mean,”
 returned Alice, removing her hand from her husband’s shoulder and
preparing to “hold her own,” in the dispute she foresaw impending.

“And their names:” inquired Coverdale.

Alice repeated them.

“As I expected,” resumed Coverdale; “the man who fired the shot and his
accomplice, who, more guilty than himself, urged him to do it. Now, ask
your own good sense, Alice, and reflect a moment before you answer. Even
were I willing, can I in common justice let these fellows off?”

“Oh, yes!” exclaimed Alice, without a moment’s deliberation; “it is
so great--so noble to forgive an injury! Revenge is but a mean, petty
feeling, after all.”

“An admirable reason for shaking hands with an individual who has
knocked you down,” returned Coverdale, “but none whatsoever for
screening two malefactors from the just punishment of their ill-deeds;”
 then, lapsing into the magistrate, he continued, “You mistake the whole
scope and intention of our penal code, my dear Alice. We do not punish
offenders as an act of revenge upon the individual, but in order to
benefit society by deterring others from committing a like crime;
thus, laying aside personal feeling, I should be doing an injury to the
community at large, by refusing to prosecute these fellows. You see this
clearly, do you not?”

Alice’s reasoning powers did see it, and had seen it all along, but
Alice had also seen the poor wife and the meritorious and seductive
baby, and she cared “fifty thousand times” (as she herself would have
expressed it) more for them than for the community at large; so finding
that the argument was going against her, she, woman-like, adroitly
shifted her ground. “According to your reasoning, there would be no
room for such a quality as mercy,” she began; “stern, inexorable justice
would condemn every criminal, no matter what extenuating circumstances
there might be; in each case punishment must follow sin, as effect
follows cause. I, for one, should be very sorry always to be judged by
such a cruel rule.”

“Oh, if you’re going to put German metaphysical sophistries in the place
of English common-sense, I’ve no more to say about it,” returned Harry,
gruffly; “only it seems to my simplicity that punishment always does
follow crime in this world, as soon as it’s found out. If a brat steals
the sugar, its mother slaps it; if a schoolboy prigs apples, the master
flogs him; if an apprentice bolts with the till, the law transports him;
if Jack murders Tom, the hangman stretches his neck for him:--and serve
’em all right say I; it would be a precious deal worse world to live
in if it were not so, to my thinking.”

Alice paused to consider the justice of this remark--we will follow her


Mrs. Coverdale, resuming the matrimonial discussion broken off at the
end of the last chapter, thus pursued the argument by which she hoped to
induce her husband to let off her poaching _protégé._

“In the present case the innocent must suffer with the guilty. I see no
justice in ruining a poor family by imprisoning or transporting the only
member who is able to work and support it.”

“The said member should have thought of that himself,” returned Harry;
“if he had been working and supporting his family, he would have been
safe from transportation, like any other honest man; but as he preferred
to steal my game and shoot my keeper, he thereby deprived his family of
the pleasure of his inestimable society; it is he, therefore, who has
brought this evil upon them, not I; and when I consent to your relieving
their necessities out of my pocket, I think I am doing, to say the least
of it, as much as any reasonable woman ought to expect of me.”

Despite her prejudices in favour of the seraphic baby and its
interesting mother, Alice felt the truth of her husband’s reasoning;
but she had boasted of her power too confidently, and pledged herself
to exert it too deeply, to retreat; so, pereeiving that argument would
avail her nothing, she was obliged to fall back upon woman’s last
resource--personal influence, and strive to win from Harry’s affection
that which his reason had denied her. A dangerous experiment, pretty
Alice! and one in which, if your philosophy did but go deep enough to
enable you to discern it, you would perceive success to be a greater
evil than failure, for it would argue culpable weakness in him on whom
you have to lean for support through life. But Alice was by no means in
an ethical frame of mind at that moment, and cared only for obtaining
her point by any means which occurred to her; so, drawing a stool close
to Harry, she meekly seated herself at his feet, and looking up into his
faee with her large imploring eyes, began coaxingly, “Harry, dear, are
you quite, quite determined to say No?”

An affirmative bend of the head was the only reply.

“But if I make it a personal request,” she continued, laying her soft
cheek caressingly against his hand; “if I ask you to forgive these men
for my sake, and so afford me the exquisite pleasure of making this poor
woman happy? Oh! you will not refuse me. If you do, I shall think you do
not love me. Come, you will say Yes.”

Poor Harry! he was sorely perplexed. Had it been any personal
sacrifice--even a pledge to give up hunting or shooting--which she
required of him, he would gladly have yielded, in the true and deep
tenderness towards his wife which his late self-examination had aroused.
But the serious thoughts which a review of his past errors had called
forth, while they pointed out to him how he had failed in his duty to
her whom he had vowed to love and protect, also proved to him that where
Alice was inclined to act wrongly, or foolishly, he was bound to save
her even from herself; and his clear, good sense instantly told him that
this was a request which she ought not to have urged, since to grant it
would necessitate a sacrifice of principle on his part. Accordingly, he

“Alice love, listen to me; this is not a mere matter of personal
feeling, or I would yield to you without a moment’s hesitation, but it
involves a question of right and wrong. I could not refuse to prosecute
these men without diffusing an amount of moral evil amongst the whole
of my poorer tenantry, which years of the most careful supervision would
fail to eradicate. The utmost I can promise you is, that the culprits
shall have every opportunity afforded them of clearing themselves;
and if, as I am convinced, that proves impossible, every palliating
circumstance shall be brought forward and allowed its fullest weight. I
have already given you my free permission to assist the poor woman and
her children, and more than this you cannot expect me to say.”

“But I do, or rather I _did_, expect you to say more,” returned Alice,
with flashing eyes and glowing cheeks; “I expected you to say what I
would have said to you, if you had appealed to me thus--that there was
NOTHING, even if it were life itself, that I would not give up for your
sake. But I see how it is, you do not really care for me, or, if you
do, man’s love is not like woman’s, it is merely the excitement of the
pursuit that interests you--the prize once attained becomes valueless
in your eyes: in fact, love, which makes the entire joy or sorrow of a
woman’s life, is to men but a superior kind of sporting--more engrossing
than a foxchase, or than hunting a poor stag to death, simply because
the game is of a higher order.” She paused to give vent to a sob which
she was unable entirely to repress, then continued in a sarcastic tone
of voice: “However, mighty hunter as you are, I do not intend to give
you the satisfaction of being in at my death; I have too much of the old
Hazlehurst spirit about me to break my heart for a man who does not love
me. There is a _quiet way_, as you call it, of arranging these affairs:
you have your own pursuits and amusements, henceforward I shall have
mine. You need not dread my again attempting to interfere either with
your pleasures, or your graver occupations. I have had too severe a
lesson on each point to forget it readily. But I expect you to exercise
the same forbearance towards me. From this day forth we each follow our
own line!” and, drawing her shawl over her shoulders, with an imperious
gesture, as of an offended queen, Alice swept out of the room, leaving
Harry in a frame of mind which may be more easily imagined than

A complete change, which might have been dated from the above
conversation, appeared to have taken place in Alice Coverdale. Instead
of shrinking, as she had hitherto done, from society, she rather courted
it than otherwise--ordering the carriage, and visiting the different
families in the neighbourhood, without consulting Harry on the subject,
or seeming to care in the slightest degree whether he accompanied her or
not. At first this conduct on his wife’s part occasioned Coverdale the
greatest uneasiness; but, after a time, seeing that she was amused and
interested by the new acquaintances she thus formed, he began to hope
that good might perhaps come out of evil, and that the intimacies then
commenced might afford sources of lasting pleasure when the feeling of
pique which had led her to seek them should have long since died away.
And so the time glided on, working its usual changes in men and things
as it passed away.

Mr. Gouger having ventured one day to commit himself to the rash
assertion that Markum was sinking rapidly, and could not possibly
survive the week, from that hour the gamekeeper began to amend, and had
sufficiently advanced in his progress towards recovery to be able
to appear and give evidence in person, when Jack Hargrave and his
accomplice took their trial at the next assizes. So unmistakeably was
their guilt brought home to them, that they were each sentenced to seven
years’ transportation, and would probably Have had fourteen allotted
to them, but for the thorough good faith with which Harry redeemed his
promise to Alice that every extenuating circumstance should be clearly
placed before the jury. Indeed he laboured so strenuously to impress
this point upon the counsel for the prisoners, that the learned brother,
entertaining a proper degree of professional scepticism in regard to the
purity of human motives, immediately settled, to his own satisfaction,
that Jack Hargrave must be a natural son of the late Admiral Coverdale,
commended, with his dying breath, to his nephew’s especial care and
protection. Alice received the news of the verdict with great _sang
froid_, merely remarking that she had felt certain all along that it
would be so; but when she had gained the privacy of her own chamber, she
indulged in a hearty flood of tears, occasioned as much by what she was
pleased to consider her husband’s inhumanity, as by her compassion for
the poor woman and her transcendental baby.

As these latter individuals exercise no further influence over the
destinies of our principal _dramatis personæ_, we may as well, ere
we finally take leave of them, add the information that Alice (having
supported them much better than Jack Hargrave had done in his best
days), at the expiration of two years sent them out at her own expense
to join that worthy, who, reformed by seasickness and the amenities of
convict discipline, had obtained a ticket of leave, by reason of which
privilege he was enacting the part of a penitent bullock-driver, to the
admiration of all right-minded settlers in Australia.

The month of May had begun to temper with a dash of sunshine the fine
old English east winds of April, which annually sow their share of
the seeds of consumption in the glorious British constitution--Harry
Coverdale had ceased to oppress the brute creation, leaving foxes and
pheasants to increase and multiply by antagonistic progression--and all
London was flocking to the Royal Academy Exhibition, to see a great many
very original portraits of gentlemen, who scarcely looked the character
after all--when one fine morning Alice received a letter from the modern
Babylon, in Mrs. Crane’s handwriting. Having eagerly perused it, she

“Kate has written a most kind and pressing invitation to us to come and
stay with them; Mr. Crane wishes it as much as she does.”

“Or as much as she orders him to do rather,” muttered Cover* dale,
_sotto voce_.

“Of course you can have no objection to my accepting it,” continued
Alice; “for myself, at all events?”

“Am not I invited?” inquired Hurry, gravely.

“Yes, certainly; only I did not know whether you could tear yourself
away from your dearly beloved dogs and guns.”

“And you were willing to have gone without me?”

“I did not wish to be any tie upon you,” was Alice’s reply, though she
coloured slightly, and turned away her head as she spoke. “You remember
our compact; I am a great advocate for free will.”

“Between husband and wife such a question ought never to arise,”
 rejoined Harry, seriously but kindly; “there should be complete
unanimity. I hoped you had forgotten all that folly.”

“I never forget unkindness,” was the cold reply; “but I see you are
going to favour me with a specimen of your ‘quiet manner,’ and as I am
not in the humour for a scene or a lecture, you really must excuse my
leaving you;” and as she spoke she rose to quit the apartment.

For a moment Harry’s eyes flashed, then a look of pain passed across his
features, and, taking his wife’s hand, he led her back to the sofa on
which she had been seated, saying gently, but reproachfully,--

“Why will you misunderstand me thus? You wish to accept your cousin’s

Alice bowed her head in token of assent.

“Then write and tell her we shall be happy to do so; I shall be ready
and willing to accompany you at whatever time you and she like to
arrange together.”

“Oh, that is very nice and kind of you!” returned Alice, delighted at
getting her way so easily; “I thought you were going to be cross and
disagreeable, as--as you sometimes are.”

“As usual, you were going to say,” rejoined Harry; “speak your thoughts
honestly, whatever injustice they may do me. But if, in future, instead
of condemning me unheard, you were to admit the possibility--nothing
more--of my being willing occasionally to sacrifice my wishes to yours,
it might save us both considerable pain and misconception; recollect
this, and reflect upon it quietly and calmly.” So saying, he placed his
wife’s writing-table before her, found her a footstool, and left the

As the sound of his retreating footsteps died away in the distance,
Alice felt decidedly penitent, and wished she could unsay all the sharp
things she had uttered at the beginning of the conversation; but this
was a frame of mind too uncomfortable to last long, and so she consoled
herself by the reflection that if, on this particular occasion, she had
done her husband an injustice, it was his conduct at other times which
had led her to do so. It was unfair to blame herself for the natural
effect his selfishness and unkindness had produced upon her mind; she
was sure there had been a period, before she was so rudely awakened from
her “love’s young dream,” when she had given him credit for possessing
every noble, heroic, and tender quality under the sun: it was not
her fault that she could think so no longer--people must take the
consequences of their own misdeeds. And so, consoling herself with these
and many like arguments, and magnifying the mote in her husband’s eye,
and ignoring the beam in her own, Alice talked herself into her
former frame of mind, and sat down to write her acceptance of Kate’s
invitation, convinced that if her husband had said “Yes” on this
occasion, he would say “No” on every other.


That day week saw Alice, Harry, and Celeste (a little pert _soulrette_,
whom Alice had brought back from Paris with her), on their way to the
railway-station at H--------; a groom and a couple of saddle-horses
(without which Harry could not support the burden of a London life)
having preceded them by a slower train. As Harry had a great horror
of being too late, and had flurried and bustled Alice to such a degree
that, if she had not been the most good-natured little woman in the
world (except in matters connected with the feelings), she would
assuredly have lost her temper, of course they were at least a quarter
of an hour too soon, and were forced to promenade up and down beneath a
Brobdignagian glass roof, open at each end, and enjoy the large supply
of draughts afforded by this ingenious compromise between indoors and
out of doors. Having paced up and down the platform for some ten minutes
or so--lost Celeste and the trunks, and found them again--and narrowly
escaped violent death from wild luggage-barrows, urged by reckless and
excited porters, neatly bound in green corduroy, and numbered like
the lots in a saleroom,--the train by which they were to fly to London
crawled up ignominiously at the tail of a strong-minded cart-horse,
which a heroic but unclean supernumary conducted in the way he should
go. Just as Alice had taken her seat, and was imploring Harry to join
her before a dreadful green dragon of a locomotive engine (which had
been getting up its steam, and taking in its fuel, and wetting its
whistle, and otherwise performing its awful toilet in a neighbouring
cavern, whence it issued looking as vicious, and dangerous, and eager to
burst in a tunnel, as a furious steam-devil could do) should get at
him and do him a mischief, a tall, elegant-looking young man, who was
seeking for an unoccupied place, suddenly exclaimed--

“I beg pardon, but surely I have the pleasure of seeing Harry--a--that
is--Mr. Coverdale?”

“A true bill, sir,” replied Harry; “but just at present you’ve all
the pleasure to yourself, for I must honestly confess that I do
not recollect you; and yet--no--yes--why, it can’t be little Alfred

“As for the ‘little,’ I must leave you to judge for yourself; the
copy-books tell us that ‘all weeds grow apace,’ and I’m afraid I’m
a shocking example; but Alfred Courtland I most certainly am, and
delighted to meet an old acquaintance--if an urchin in the under-school
dare pretend to have been on such a footing with one of the sixth form.”

“Little Alfred Courtland, six feet high, and cultivating whiskers!
Wonders will never cease,” resumed Harry, meditatively: “but are you
going by this train? Jump in here, man, and I’ll introduce you to my
wife. Alice, this is Alfred--I beg his pardon, but I can’t remember
he’s not a little boy still--_Lor_ Alfred Courtland. You remember Arthur
Hazlehurst, my _fidus Achates_, don’t you, Courtland? my wife is his
sister. Tickets! well, here they are. What a suspicious generation these
railway officials are! anybody would suppose they had been accustomed
to deal with thieves and pickpockets all their lives, instead of honest
Englishmen. But I hate the railroads, root and branch, that’s a fact;
they’ve ruined the breed of horses in this country.”

While Harry ran on in this style, Alice had time to observe her new
acquaintance more attentively. He appeared very young scarcely above
nineteen or twenty. His figure, though tall and graceful, was slight
and boyish; his head was small and well set on, and his pale, delicate
features were shaded by a profusion of fair curling hair; while his
bearing and appearance were singularly refined and aristocratic; or, as
Harry afterwards observed, “He looked thorough bred, every inch of
him.” His expression was good and amiable; but a want of firmness and
resolution about the lines of his mouth belied the promise of intellect
afforded by his high, smooth brow, and bright, speaking eyes.

“And what are you doing with yourself?” inquired Coverdale, after sundry
mutual acquaintances had been talked over, and the reminiscences
usual between old schoolfellows run through; “are you at either of the

“Yes, I’m a Cantab,” was the reply; “but scarcely more than nominally
so, for during my first term I got a tumble into the Cam, boating--dined
at Ely in my wet clothes, and was rewarded for my carelessness by an
aguish low fever, which I am only now recovering from; so I am ordered
to be perfectly idle and amuse myself--a prescription which I am afraid
agrees but too well with my tastes and habits.”

“And finding country ingredients too mild, you are going to town to try
and get a stronger dose there, I suppose?” inquired Harry.

“You must be a wizard,” was the reply. “The fact is, my people have
wintered abroad, and Chiselborough became so dull the moment the hunting
was over, that I found _ennui_ was bringing my ague back again; so
holding solemn conclave with the apothecary and my valet, we yesterday
decided, _nem. con_., upon a couple of months’ sojourn in the modern

To this piece of intelligence Harry vouchsafed no further answer than
a shrug of the shoulders, by which significant gesture he intended to
telegraph to his wife his opinion as to the wisdom of trusting the young
gentleman to his own sapient guidance amidst the shoals and quicksands
of a London season. At this period the dragon, which had been drawing
the train very quietly and peacefully, suddenly gave a prolonged scream
(by courtesy termed a whistle), panted violently, hissed a good deal,
and having by these maouvres “blown off” its superfluous steam, it
kindly postponed bursting for a short time, and condescended obligingly
to stop at the Tearem and Smashingly Junction, without demanding any
immediate sacrifice of human life. Coverdale and Lord Alfred instantly
jumped out (although perfectly aware that they should be obliged to jump
in again at the expiration of three minutes and a quarter), and,
after the fashion of impatient male humanity, which, as Harry somewhat
paradoxically observed, “Cannot stand sitting,” began stamping up and
down the platform as though a legion of black-beetles, or some such
entymological freebooters, had crept up their trousers’ legs, and they
were striving to dislodge them. Some operation, however, which was going
on under one of those queer kind of sheds peculiar to railway-stations,
which give one an idea of a child’s toy magnified, attracted their
attention, and caused them to discontinue their amusement. After gazing
earnestly for a few seconds, Harry exclaimed,--

“They’ll never do it so, never! There, do you see, he’s standing right
before him, dragging at his head, and yet expects the poor animal to
go on; the man must be an idiot! Yes, of course, hit the poor thing for
your own fault, and frighten him, so that you’ll be able to do nothing
with him. Ah! I thought so; they’ll have an accident directly, the
fools! as if there wasn’t a quiet manner of doing these things. Hold
my great coat, Alfred; I shall be back in two seconds.” And suiting the
action to the word, he tossed his coat to his companion and ran off.

“Where _has_ he gone to?” inquired Alice, disconsolately, from the
window of the railway-carriage.

“To assist a stupid groom to put a very fine horse into one of the
horse-boxes,” was the reply. “He said he should be back in a minute.”

“Now, gentlemen, take your places; the train’s going to start--take your
places,” vociferated an individual, who looked like a very oddly-dressed
soldier, but who was the railway-guard.

“Oh! where can he be? We shall start without him!” exclaimed Alice in

“I’ll go and look for him,” rejoined Lord Alfred, good-naturedly.

“If you would be so very kind,” returned Alice, her lovely eyes
sparkling with gratitude.

“Better not, sir; only lose your own place, without finding the
gent--train’s agoin’ to start. I must shut the door,” grumbled a cynical

“Pray keep it open till the last moment!” exclaimed Alice, drawing out
her purse, while Lord Alfred, disregarding the porter’s advice, dashed
off on his mission.

“Am I allowed to give you anything?” continued Alice, timidly, as a
vague suspicion of the illegality of bribing railway porters flashed
across her.

The man looked up and down the platform, and perceiving no informer
near, did not commit himself by words, but partially closing the door,
so as to conceal the action, held out his hand, with the palm turned
suggestively upwards. » As his fingers closed over the half-crown which
Alice, with a strong idea that she was committing an indictable offence,
placed within his grasp, an angry and imperative voice called out, “Now
then, shut that door there!” and in spite of Alice’s remonstrances, the
porter was about to obey, when, breathless with running, Lord Alfred
sprang into the carriage, the door was slammed to, a bell rang
furiously, the dragon gave a short, pert scream of delight at getting
its head, and the train started. Unheeding, in fact scarcely hearing
Lord Alfred’s mild remonstrance that he believed it was reckoned
dangerous to put one’s head out of the window of a railway carriage,
Alice immediately committed that folly, and was rewarded for her
imprudence by seeing, just as the train was getting to its full speed,
Harry rush distractedly on to the platform, shake his fist at the
retreating carriages, and then, watch in hand, stride up to the
station-master, and evidently afford him a specimen of his quiet
manner. With a feeling half way between an inclination to laugh and
a disposition to cry, Alice resumed her seat, and, under pretence
of arranging her veil, took a glance round the carriage. Her only
companion, besides Lord Alfred Courtland, was a species of prize old
gentleman, who having spent his life hitherto in growing as fat as the
nature of the case admitted, was evidently resolved to guard against the
possibility of his shadow becoming less, by devoting the remainder of
his existence to the duties of eating, drinking, and sleeping, which
latter accomplishment he was then displaying to the admiration of all
lovers of that science of which honest Sancho Panza so fervently blessed
the inventor. Having mentally summed him up in the definition “wretched
old thing,” Alice next took a survey of her new friend, and decided that
he had such a good, innocent, child-like expression of countenance,
that young and handsome as he was, she would not have minded even if the
“wretched old thing” had not been present to play _chaperone_ in dumb

“How very provoking for Mr. Coverdale to lose the train, and all through
his good-nature, too,” began Lord Alfred; “I saw the affair as well as
he did, but it would never have occurred to me to interfere.”

“Nor to any ono else except Hr. Coverdale,” returned Alice, scornfully;
“his devotion to horses and dogs is quite exemplary.”

“As a pattern or as a warning?” inquired Lord Alfred, favouring her with
a look of intelligence for which she was scarcely prepared.

“You are laughing at me,” she said; “but I will honestly confess that
it is rather trying to see Mr. Coverdale place himself and me in a
ridiculous, if not actually an embarrassing situation, merely for the
sake of a horse.”

“It was a very _fine_ horse,” observed Lord Alfred, meditatively.

“And therefore the worthier animal of the two--thank you for the
compliment, my lord,” was the slightly piqued reply, which of course
produced a carefully veiled but teasing rejoinder; and with such-like
light _badinage_ did they beguile the time, until having rushed for
some distance over acres of turnips, stubble, grass-land, and other such
agricultural territory, changing as by some pantomimic agency to the
roofs of houses, with elegant _parterres_ of chimney-pots, they were
surprised to find they had reached the London terminus.

The cessation of movement having roused the prize elder from his
meritorious slumbers, Alice waited until, with many snorts and grunts he
had aroused his legs (which were evidently each enjoying a separate and
independent nap of its own) and toddled off upon them, ere she inquired
in rather a forlorn tone, “And now I wonder what is to become of me?
Would you kindly ascertain when the next train will be in?”

Lord Alfred made the inquiry, and obtained the cheering intelligence
that the next train which stopped at the Tearem and Smashingly Junction
would arrive in exactly two hours fifteen minutes and a quarter, at
which time, as nearly as Alice could calculate, the Crane butler would
be removing the fish and soup.

“It is impossible that you can wait here all that time, my dear Mrs.
Coverdale!” exclaimed Lord Alfred. “What will you like me to do for
you? You must tell me exactly what you wish.”

“You are very kind,” returned Alice, feeling much inclined to get into a
fuss at the oddness of the situation which thus forced her to rely on
a handsome young man, with whom she had been acquainted some two
hours. Then submitting to her fate with a feeling of desperation,
she continued, “First give me your arm, and conduct me to the ladies’
waiting-room; and then if you would be so kind as to look for Celeste,
my maid, and--really I am ashamed to trouble you, my lord, but there
are some trunks she ought to find, and she can’t speak a dozen words
of English intelligibly; and--how you’re to recognize her I can’t tell;
really how Mr. Coverdale could----”

But before she could finish her accusatory sentence, Lord Alfred,
anxious to distinguish himself in his new capacity of squire of dames,
had disappeared. In less time than Alice had deemed possible, he
returned with Celeste and a bundle of shawls and wrappers on one arm,
and carrying a carpet-bag with the other.

“My mission has been accomplished with the most signal success, I
flatter myself: and now I hope your difficulties are ended, my dear Mrs.
Coverdale; Celéste and I have found _all_ the trunks. Fortunately, my
brougham is here, and I need scarcely add, entirely at your service.”
 Seeing she hesitated, he continued, “Don’t be alarmed about the
proprieties, I have been too well drilled in such matters by my sisters
to intrude where I am not wanted.”

“Really your lordship is most kind,” exclaimed Alice, all her scruples
vanishing before his good-nature and consideration. And there being
nothing for it but to take his arm (relinquished somewhat hastily by
Celeste when she discovered that it was a _Milor Anglais_ with whom
she had made so free) and allow him to put her into the well-appointed
brougham, Alice did so with an interesting succession of smiles and
blushes which made her look most dangerously pretty. Thereupon the two
hundred guinea horse, which was so thoroughly stuffed with oats that it
might almost as well have been a corn-bin, and which, being an animal of
the highest breeding, had evinced such an amount of disgust and terror
at the hissing, snorting, whistling, and other low habits of the steam
dragon, that nothing but the strongest sense of propriety and a very
severe curb-bit could have kept it from running away, stood on its hind
legs like a Christian, vindicated its transcendentalism by salaaming
like a Turk ere it resumed its quadrupedal attitude, and finally set
off, at about the rate of fifteen miles an hour, with its head and tail
as erect as if some invisible giant were attempting to lift it up by


“My dear Kate, I think your cousin, Mrs. Coverdale, has just driven
up; and yet I don’t know. Is it likely, or, as I may say, probable, that
she should arrive in a brougham?”

“With a high-stepping horse, and a coronet on the panels?--scarcely, I
should imagine.”

The speakers were Mr. Crane, who had grown rather less like a
scaffold-pole since we last were favoured with his society, and Horace
D’Almayne, who appeared quite himself and quite at home. Attracted by
their remarks, Kate joined her husband at the window.

“It can’t be them,” she said, “there is no luggage;” but, as if to
contradict her remark, at the moment she ceased to speak a cab
dashed into Park Lane with a _fair_ amount of imperials, cap-cases,
portmanteaus, carpet-bags, and other female travelling _miscellania_,
and drew up behind the brougham. As it stopped, a tall, handsome young
man sprang out, and opening the door of the brougham, offered his arm to
Alice, and conducted her up the steps most carefully.

“Why, that surely cannot be Mr. Coverdale; or, at least, if I may
be permitted to say so, he has become singularly thin and--and
youthful-looking, if it is,” bleated Mr. Crane.

“No, that is not Harry Coverdale,” returned Kate, wonderingly, “nor do I
see anything of him either!”

“If Mrs. Coverdale has lost her husband, really she has found a most
attractive substitute--a--it almost seems one of the cases in which such
a loss might be considered a gain,” lisped D’Almayne, in so low a
tone that Mr. Crane, who was nearly as slow of hearing as he was of
understanding, did not catch the remark. “Really quite a touching
farewell,” he continued, as Alice, ere she entered the house, shook
hands most cordially with her young cavalier; “and the gallant, gay
Lothario jumps into the brougham (which, coronet, high-stepping horse,
and all, evidently calls him master) and is lost to our admiring gaze.”

At this juncture a fat and rosy butler (who looked as if he had been
brought up by hand upon Port wine, and had remained faithful to it ever
since) flung open the door,’ and announced Mrs. Coverdale.

Throwing off, for once in her life, all coldness and reserve, Kate
embraced her cousin warmly, and, holding her by both hands, led her to
the sofa.

“My dearest child,” she exclaimed, “how delightful it is to see you once

“But if I may be permitted,” began Mr. Crane, “if I may be allowed to
inquire, what have you done with--or perhaps I should rather say--what
has become of our good friend, Mr. Coverdale?”

“And how came you in a brougham with a coronet upon it? and who was
that handsome and distinguished-looking young exquisite whom you had
inveigled into playing courier--eh, Mistress Alice?” inquired Kate,
archly. “I expected to find you a pattern wife, and to have your example
held up for my imitation twenty times a day; but I have alarmed myself
very unnecessarily, it seems.”

“Don’t tease, dear,” was the reply; “it was all the fault of that silly
husband of mine: he got out at one of the stations, and seduced by the
attractions of a restive horse, contrived to be out of the way when the
train started, and so I was forced to do the best I could for myself.”

“Which theory you reduced to practice by selecting the handsomest young
man you could find as a _cavalier servente_,” returned Kate, laughing.
“But who is your friend? I hope he is coming to call upon you!”

“Oh, yes, he means to call--to-morrow I think he said. I’m glad you
consider him handsome: it’s always satisfactory to have one’s taste
approved of by one’s friends; and I honestly confess I admire him

Mr. Crane’s countenance, during this speech of Alice’s, was wonderful to
behold; the intense surprise with which he listened to the beginning of
it gradually changing to the deepest disgust as she continued, afforded
such a clear index to his thoughts that Horace D’Almayne turned away
to hide an irrepressible smile, which Kato perceiving, observed with a
slight shade of annoyance.--

“And now, having mystified us thoroughly, be kind enough to tell us who
the gentleman really is, and how he came to offer you his brougham and
his services.”

Thus appealed to, Alice was obliged to confess that, in point of fact,
there was nothing wrong or romantic in the adventure from beginning
to end--that Lord Alfred Courtland was an old schoolfellow of her
husband’s, who had travelled in the same carriage with them, and who had
naturally done all he could to save her from being inconvenienced by the
effects of Harry’s stupidity, on which she dwelt rather more at length
than Kate approved of,--that young lady having a very keen perception of
right and wrong, although she by no means always acted up to the light
thus afforded her.

Some few hours later Harry arrived, very anxious about his wife, and
decidedly crest-fallen and penitent, and bore all the quizzing which
fell to his share with most exemplary patience; although any attempt
to excite his jealousy in regard to Lord Alfred Courtland proved a dead
failure, his reply being that “He was always a very good little boy, and
that he did not see much difference in him except in height.”

When the Coverdales went up to dress for dinner the following dialogue

“How well your cousin Kate is looking,” observed Harry; “the pomps and
vanities of this wicked world appear to agree with her; now she has
grown a little stouter, she really is a splendid woman.”

“Yes, she appears in better health,” returned Alice, slowly, “but--”

“But what?” inquired Harry. “A woman’s ‘but’ is like the postscript
to her letter; it unsays all she has said before. Come, out with this
_arrière pensée_, as that puppy D’Almayne would call it. By-the-way, he
seems regularly domesticated here. I wonder old Crane likes it; I should
not, in his position, I know.”

“I wonder Kate likes it,” returned Alice; “however, my ‘but’ had nothing
to do with the fascinating Horace. I was going to say that although Kate
looked well, yet she had a listless, weary expression of countenance,
which gave me the idea that, with all her riches and splendour, she was
far from happy.”

“The same being a result rather to be expected than otherwise, when
a lovely and talented young female sees fit to espouse an elderly and
feeble-minded old scarecrow,” rejoined Harry, making frantic dives
into his portmanteau, and fishing up patent bootjacks, miraculous
razor-strops--everything but the dress-neck-tie he was in search of.

“I don’t believe they see anything of Arthur,” continued Alice,
reflectively; “I asked Kate, and she seemed to know nothing about
him--such friends as they used to be at one time--it’s very odd!”

“I don’t see the oddness, myself,” returned Harry, speaking through
his dressing-room door, which stood ajar; “there is a great difference
between feeling spooney about a pretty cousin, when you’re living in the
house with her, and have nothing better to do, and dangling after her
to the neglect of your business, when she lives at one end of London and
you at the other--when, moreover, she’s married to a dreadful old muff,
antiquated enough to be her father, and slow enough to be the father of
every fool in the kingdom. I think it’s easily accounted for by
prose means, without adopting the poetical hypothesis of a romantic
attachment--two fond young hearts blighted, and all that ‘Keepsake’
style of business; besides, Arthur’s a great deal too good a lawyer
to fall in love; it’s only idle fellows like myself who commit such

“You must go and call on Arthur to-morrow, and you will soon perceive
by his manner whether he is averse to coming here; but mind you are very
careful not to let him see that you suspect anything; I am quite sure he
would be most sensitive on such a point,” observed Alice, in a tone in
which you would caution a schoolboy against playing with gunpowder.

“Keep your advice for you own benefit, most sententious Alice, seeing
that you are the suspecting party, and that such an idea would never
have occurred to my unassisted reason,” was Harry’s rejoinder; and the
dinner-bell at that moment ringing, the conversation ceased.

The next day, however, Arthur put an end to the controversy by making
his appearance in Park Lane soon after luncheon. Although no one alluded
to the circumstance, it was the first time he had set his foot in Mr.
Crane’s house, or indeed seen Kate since her marriage. He looked pale
and over-worked, and there was a restless excitement in his manner,
which Alice’s quick eye at once discovered. Beyond this, however, there
was nothing which tended in the slightest degree to confirm her in her
suspicions. He apologised quietly and naturally to Kate for not having
called oftener, adducing business as a good and sufficient reason for
his remissness; then, turning to Alice, he informed her that she could
not have chosen a more unfortunate time for her visit to London, at
least, as far as he was concerned, as he was obliged to start the next
morning for Naples, being sent out by the Foreign-Office on an affair
of some importance, which, if he could bring the matter to a successful
issue, might tend to his ultimate advancement. Kate, on the contrary,
appeared nervous and ill at ease, and probably feeling that for once
she could not rely on her self-command, took an early opportunity of
quitting the room, leaving the brother and sister _tête-à-tête_.

“Alice, you are changed,” exclaimed Arthur, as the door closed on her
whom he had once so deeply loved, towards whom he now felt as we can
only feel towards those whom we have admitted into the inmost recesses
of the heart, and who have availed themselves of the privilege to
profane and make desolate the sanctuary, “you were a girl, you have
become a woman; has matrimony produced the alteration?”

“Yes, I suppose so,” was the rejoinder. “You know one can’t remain a
child always; the realities of life are sure to find one out sooner or
later, and I was a mere baby in the ways of the world when I married.”

There was a spice of regret in the tone of this remark, which did not
escape Arthur’s quick ear and keen intelligence, and he hastened to

“You mean more than you say; why, surely, Alice, with such a husband you
must be perfectly happy; it is impossible that it can be otherwise.”

As he spoke, he fixed his dark eyes questioningly upon her. Unable
fairly to meet his gaze, Alice turned away her head, as she replied,
with an effort at careless gaiety--

“Don’t alarm yourself, most romantic of barristers; there is no
Bluebeard’s closet at Coverdale, nor does Harry turn into a skeleton,
or anything else but his bed, at twelve o’clock at night. He is just the
thoroughly good fellow (that is the term you men delight in) he always
was, and devoted to----

“His wife!” interrupted Arthur.

“Well, I was going to say dogs, guns, and horses,” returned

Alice; “and I’m afraid I must adhere to my text, unless you prefer
fiction to fact.”

She spoke jestingly; but the lines which care, and thought, and
intellectual exertion had already traced on Arthur’s brow-deepened, as,
after a pause, he murmured, half in reply to Alice, half in soliloquy--

“I am disappointed, deeply disappointed; it ought to be so different!
I--I wish I were not going abroad to-morrow; and yet I _could_ not be a
frequent visitor in this house!”

The last words were inaudible, though, by one of those intuitions which
often compensate for the inefficiency of our physical powers, Alice
divined his train of reasoning, and with subtle generalship diverted the
attack, by carrying the war into the enemy’s country, as she replied--

“Do not puzzle your brains about me and Harry; we jog on very serenely
together, now we have found out each other’s peculiarities.”

“But you never _had_ any peculiarities, either of you,” interrupted
Arthur, positively; “except that Harry was the finest, noblest, manliest
fellow going, and you were a good, simple-hearted, sweet-tempered little
girl. What do you mean by peculiarities?”

“Never mind us,” continued Alice, not heeding his interruption; “I want
to know something about you. You say I have changed from a child into
a woman, but you have turned from a young man into a middle-aged one
during these last six months; you are either ill or unhappy, or working
yourself to death--all three, perhaps.”

“Oh, you are fanciful, and not used to the pale faces of us Londoners,”
 returned Arthur.

“You cannot put me off in that manner,” continued Alice, pertinaciously;
“people do not look ill and careworn without some cause for doing so.
How is it, pray, that you never come here? so fond as you used to be of
Kate, too! I expected to find you regularly installed as _l’enfant de
famille_. Do you know I begin to have my suspicions----”

“Hush!” interrupted Arthur, in a low, stem voice; “whatever you may
suspect, never refer to this subject again, there are some sorrows in
life for which there is _no_ remedy; these must be endured and struggled
with in silence, for so only _can_ they be borne. If you would not give
me pain, forget that this idea ever occurred to you.”

As he spoke his pale face flushed, and his lip quivered with the emotion
he strove, but was unable entirely to conceal.

“Forgive me, dear Arthur!” exclaimed Alice, whilst tears of ready
sympathy glistened in her eyes; “I spoke carelessly--foolishly: indeed,
indeed, I did not mean to give you pain! But you are not angry with me?”

As she spoke she laid her hand caressingly on his shoulder and glanced
up in his face with a beseeching look, which would have melted the most
flinty-hearted stoic. Arthur drew her to him, and kissed her smooth
brow, in token of forgiveness, ere he replied--

“Before we quit this subject, never to resume it, let me say this much
to you: in this matter I have nothing to reproach myself with; as far as
I have been able to see what was right, I have acted up to it. This is
my only comfort. That I have suffered much, I will not attempt to deny;
but I am thankful to say the blow, though severe, has not paralysed me.
The sunshine of my life may be destroyed for years, perhaps for ever,
but my vigour and energy are left me, and I will yet make myself a name,
and win myself a position that the mere possession of wealth can never
bestow. Now, forget that this conversation ever took place.”

As he spoke the door flew open, and Harry and Lord Alfred Courtland,
having encountered each other at the club, made their appearance
arm-in-arm, like a pair of well-grown Siamese twins, and Alice was
dispatched all in a hurry to put on her “things,” to be taken to a
private view of the annual exhibition of the Society of Amalgamated
Amateurs in Water-colours, whom Harry irreverently paraphrased as the
“Amalgamated Muffs;” a definition the truth of whieh a closer inspection
of the efforts of those mild and amiable carieaturists did not tend to
disprove. As they strolled up and down the rooms, waiting for Kate and
Mr. Crane, who had promised to join them, Lord Alfred,--on whose arm
Alice was leaning, and who had been rattling on with great volubility,
and in the highest possible spirits,--suddenly observed--

“I do find myself such a complete country cousin in London, that really
it’s quite ridiculous! I meet all sorts of celebrities, and don’t know
one of them by sight. Now, for instance, do you see that pair of young
exquisites lounging elegantly along, like a couple of self-enamoured
sleep-walkers, and dressed like beatific visions of dandies, rather
than mere sublunary fops? I’m sure I’ve met the youngest of them
somewhere--he with the _petites moustaches noires_, which are so
irresistible that I should certainly cultivate a pair myself, if I did
not feel morally certain that my prejudiced progenitor would cut them,
and me, off with the same shilling.”

“In fact, cut off his _h_eir because you would not cut off yours,”
 punned Coverdale. “But in regard to your beatific swells, I fancy Alice
can enlighten you as to the patronymic of one of them, if she chooses;
he is a very particular friend, to say nothing more, of hers. She only
married me because she failed in captivating him.”

Alice replied to Lord Alfred’s expressive look, which asked as plainly
as words could have done, “Is this _all_ jest, or is there a small
foundation of fact for it to rest upon?”--“If that had been my only
reason for accepting my romancing husband, I should have remained Miss
Hazlehurst still; however, I plead guilty to knowing Mr. D’Almayne,
as he happens to be an intimate friend of Mr. Crane, the gentleman who
married my cousin Kate, and in whose house we are now staying.”

While they thus chatted, the following conversation was being carried
on in French between the subject of their remarks and his companion, a
showily-dressed man, some half-dozen years older than Horace D’Almayne,
with handsome features, but a worn, dissipated look, which involuntarily
prejudiced one against him. He spoke with a thoroughly foreign accent,
and the animated gestures with which he sought to elucidate his meaning
also tended to prove he was not a native of this country.

“The plan has been worked out,” he continued, referring to some subject
with which D’Almayne appeared acquainted, “and with _his_ name as
director, and £1000 ready money to pay clerks, and establish the concern
on a respectable foundation, the affair will go charmingly; John Bull
shall buy our shares and hand us his money, and in six months’ time,
with that and”--here he sank his voice--“the club in J-------- Street,
we may set fortune at defiance.”

“Mind you are careful about keeping our connection with the club
secret,” returned D’Almayne, almost in a whisper; “we are not in Paris,
remember; and the slightest suspicion that we played, would be fatal to
your hopes of inducing men of capital to join the other affair.”

“Do not fear, _mon cher_; I know my game,” was the reply. As he spoke,
his eye fell upon the Coverdale party, and hastily indicating Lord
Alfred Courtland to his companion, he continued, “Do you see that
stripling? he was pointed out to me last night as a pigeon worth
plucking, and easily handled; he is a young _milor_, very soft, and what
you call ‘green.’ You must get introduced, and bring him to ‘the club.’”

“The boy is not of age yet,” returned D’Almayne, “and English fathers
never pay gambling debts; so you must not hope for large gains from

“He can sign bills and post-obits I presume,” rejoined his companion,
with a sneering laugh; “but the people he is with are regarding you as
if they were of your acquaintance--is it so?”

“Decidedly,” was the reply. “I will effect the introduction you desire
at once, but as soon as it is over you must find an opportunity of
withdrawing; I will join the party, feel my way cautiously, and you
shall see Milor Courtland’s childish face in J-------- Street before a
fortnight has passed. _Allons, mon cher._”

Having offered two fingers to Coverdale, and three to his wife,
D’Almayne glanced towards Lord Alfred with a supercilious look, which
seemed to express, “I perceive you, but on account of your extreme youth
and inexperience, am wholly indifferent to the fact of your existence;”
 at least so his lordship interpreted it, and was immediately seized with
an eager desire to know the man who could thus afford to look down on

“Introduce me to your friend, will you, Coverdale?” he said; “I must
get him to give me a few lessons in dress and deportment; he really is a
second Brummell.”

“He really is a conceited, empty-headed puppy,” returned Coverdale,
_sotto voce_, “and it’s little good you’ll learn of a jackanapes like
that; but I suppose if I didn’t introduce you, somebody else would--so
come along.” Then placing his hand on his shoulder, and urging him
forward, he continued--“D’Almayne, here’s my friend, Lord Alfred
Courtland, wishes to be introduced to you: he thinks it his duty to know
every well-dressed man in London, and you’re so _facile princeps_
in that line--so transcendently got up--that he’s dying to ask your
tailor’s address, and the length of tick he allows.”

“You’re so obliging as to laugh at me, Mr. Coverdale, because I cannot
reconcile myself to your English Schneiders, and still patronise Blin
_et Fils_, in that paradise of tailors, Paris; but--ar--really you are
uncivilised in this particular, and require reform in your coats more
than in your constitution, which, glorious as you consider it, you are
always altering. Does not Lord Alfred Courtland agree with me?” And as
he made this appeal, Horace D’Almayne simpered, to show his white teeth,
stroked his moustache, and awaited a reply.

Ere Lord Alfred had found words to imply his admiration of Horace’s
taste, without paying him an actual broad and un-mistakeable compliment,
Harry put his ideas to flight, by exclaiming--

“Listen to a word of common sense, Alfred, my boy. Men make coats--if
you can properly call a tailor a man--but coats can never make men. You
may dress an ass up in the grandest lion-skin going, but you can make
nothing of him but an ass, nevertheless. In fact, I never believe a
man’s a man till I’ve seen him with his coat off; then if he can use his
fists as a man should, I believe in him.”

“Aha! I comprehend; ce monsieur refers to your English science of the
box. Very clever science is the box; I am acquiring him of a professeur,
who keeps a restaurant, what you call a public-house, in Smissfiel.”

As D’Almayne’s companion thus spoke, Horace seized the opportunity of
introducing him, which he did as follows:--

“Allow me to make you acquainted with my friend, Monsieur Adolphe
Guillemard, a gentleman connected with the financial interest in
Paris, and with that of Europe generally.” Then, in a stage whisper, he
added--“He was educated in Rothschild’s house.”

So Harry bowed, and Lord Alfred bowed, and Alice inclined her head
in rather a stately manner, because she did not approve of Monsieur
Guillemard’s roving eyes; and Monsieur Guillemard bowed and scraped, and
laid his hand on his waistcoat, where his heart ought to have been, and
abased his unappreciated optics, and appeared profoundly touched, and
anxious to weep on the bosom of society at large; and Mr. Crane, who
at that moment came up in his wife’s custody, not making allowance for
foreign manners, thought he was in a fit. Then Monsieur Guillemard drew
out his watch, and found he had an engagement at the Bourse, as he
was pleased to call the Stock Exchange; and so took leave of his new
acquaintance, squeezed both the yellow kid hands of his _cher_ Horace,
and with short, jaunty footsteps, as of a male ballet-dancer, quitted
the spacious gallery, sacred to the noble efforts of the Amalgamated
Amateurs. And when he had departed, of course his friends began to talk
him over. D’Almayne drew Mr. Crane aside, and related to him wonderful
anecdotes of his (Guillerard’s) skill in foreseeing political events
and their consequences, and the splendid hits he had thus made in
stock-jobbing for himself, and others who had wisely availed themselves
of his talent, and what Baron Rothschild had said and thought of him;
until Mr. Crane began to imagine him an incarnation of Mammon, and
yearned to fall down and adore him on the spot. For, be it observed,
parenthetically, that Mr. Crane, albeit nominally a member of the
Established Church, was verily and indeed a worshipper of a certain
golden calf, to whose likeness he had for years striven earnestly,
and not unsuccessfully, to assimilate himself. And Harry remarked
confidentially to Alice, Kate, and Lord Alfred, that he was prepared to
bet a pony that Guillemard was neither more nor less than a “leg,” and
that whoever had many dealings with him would be safe to put his or her
foot in it--which sentence sounded like nonsense, but was only slang.
And Lord Alfred laughed, and replied that Harry said so because he was
jealous of the superior cut of Monsieur Guillemard’s garments. Alice
agreed perfectly with her husband, which, Kate remarked, was the most
original feature of the whole affair--an observation intended for a mild
and playful jest, but at which Alice blushed, and Harry suddenly became
engrossed by a spirited sketch, in very water-colours, of Ophelia as she
appeared when drowning, which, according to the talented representation
of Miss Appela Brown, H.S.A.A., was remarkably jolly, and slightly
inebriated--next to which hung a portrait of Miss Brown herself, seated
at her easel, her pre-Raphaelite countenance beaming with mingled talent
and astonishment on the picture growing beneath her gifted brush--a
compound expression, at which, as the subject was some demi-god, or
other mythical celebrity, in heroic muscular proportions strongly
developed, and nothing else, we can scarcely feel surprise. Then the
whole party devoted their serious attention to the performances of
the amalgamated ones, and were rewarded by beholding many fearful and
wonderful things. There were “young gentlemen taken from life,” and
transported by amalgamated magic into the regions of romance--an
_un_likeness of Snook’s ruddy face being affixed to Hamlet’s velvet
body, or Mary Ann Jones’s very _retroussé_ profile heading Joan of Arc’s
steel bodice, and a select squadron of twelve French soldiers in green
hunting-coats and fancy hats and feathers, prepared to “_mourir pour la
patrie_” to any extent which the said Mary Ann might require of them.
Then there were landscapes with gamboge foregrounds, pasturing comical
cows of shapes and colours unknown to zoology; and middle distances,
gloomy with indigo trees, and cast-iron rivulets purling rigidly over
wild rocks, suggested by bald places, showing the naked paper through
a severe application of sepia and neutral tint. Ferocious battles were
there also, designed by gentle girls, who had never witnessed so much
as a street row, wherein gallant Henri Quatre-like parties, with slim
waists, feminine complexions, and white waving plumes, slaughtered
strong men in funny dresses, and pranced over their dead bodies with the
most heroic magnanimity and indifference. Then there was Mount Vesuvius
during an eruption, which, to judge by the colouring, must have been the
eruption attendant on scarlet fever; and Mont Blanc well iced, showing
the _mer de glace_ (the most difficult mare to mount on record, as “we
know who” would say), and the last batch of proselytes from the Egyptian
Hall sliding serenely down on their haunches, as wolves are _reported_
to do, only the proselytes appear to have got the “advantage” of the
wolves, by reason of their coat-tails. Scripture pieces, too, had some
of these rash amateurs perpetrated, wherein “daughters of Babylon”
 appeared like the _corps de ballet_, and kings, prophets, and
patriarchs had evidently found their prototypes in Mario, Lablache,
and Tamburini--a fact which afforded Horace D’Almayne an opportunity of
observing that it was charming to perceive in England the amiability of
the Muses; as Apollo, the divinity of painting, instead of being driven
to rugged nature for materials, or, worse still, compelled to fall back
upon his own powers of invention, was obligingly supplied with them by
Melpomene and Thalia; which same he and Mr. Crane thought a very smart
saying--the former because he had made it himself, the latter because he
did not understand it.

As they strolled on through the gallery, Kate took an opportunity, when
Mr. Crane had relinquished her arm, in order to adjust his great-coat
more to his satisfaction, to lag behind a few paces, glancing at
D’Almayne as she did so, who immediately joined her.

“I have made the inquiry you wished,” he said in a low tone, “and I
am truly glad to be able to assure you your sympathy has fallen on a
deserving object; the poor woman is as she represented herself--a widow,
with a family of young children depending upon her for support, and her
poverty is extreme.”

“Many thanks for taking so much trouble,” returned Kate, in a tone of
voice more cordial than she generally used towards her companion; “and
now tell me how best I can assist them.”

“I have a plan, but can scarcely give you the details here; when would
it be agreeable to you to”--(here his eye rested for a moment on Mr.
Crane, contending with a button-hole)--“to resume the subject, and give
me your opinion on my scheme?”

Kate reflected a moment, during which she struggled with an instinctive
feeling, and deeming it reasonless, conquered it, then replied--

“If you should be disengaged at eleven o’clock to-morrow, and would look
in, I should be very much obliged to you.”

“While this conversation passed between Kate and D’Almayne, they had
been themselves the subjects of observation to a party of strangers,
who, coming probably from the country, had not yet attuned their voices
to the requirements of London sightseeing. Accordingly, the following
remarks were distinctly audible to those for whom, of all others, they
were not intended.

“What a lovely young woman!” observed Mater Familias; “I suppose the
mustachioed gentleman is her _futur_.”

“She don’t look over loving at him, if he is,” grumbled Pater F.

“Perhaps that is because her father (regarding Mr. Crane) is so close,
and does not approve of the match,” suggested Sarah Jane, “the eldest
daughter, to Louisa Anne, her sub----”

“_Au contraire_,” remarked the intelligent London cousin, a clerk in
the Ignorance and Delay Office, who was popularly supposed to
know everything and everybody; “the old boy is a rich Manchester
cotton-spinner, and the young lady his wife; she married him for his
tin, and half London is raving about her beauty.”

“Poor thing!” muttered Mater Familias, who, for fifty-two, was
unusually romantic--“poor thing, how I pity her!”

While listening to these agreeable remarks, D’Almayne had kept his eyes
steadily fixed upon an amalgamated catalogue, desirous not to add
to Kate’s embarrassment; but at length, surprised at her silence and
immobility, he ventured to glance towards her, and was alarmed to
perceive that she had turned pale to her very lips, while she grasped
the brass rail, which was placed to protect the pictures, convulsively,
in order to save herself from falling. Any one with less tact than
D’Almayne would, in officious eagerness to assist her, have made a fuss,
and caused her to become the subject of general attention; but Horace
knew better how to turn the situation to account; handing her a chair,
he said quietly--

“The heat has made you feel faint; sit down for a moment, and perhaps
the feeling may pass off.”

As Kate hastened to follow his suggestion, she glanced towards him,
to read in his features whether he also had overheard the conversation
which had affected her. Whether his subtle intellect had led him to
divine her intention, and he was enacting the character he considered
most likely to tell with Kate, or whether he was merely obeying a
natural impulse, we do not attempt to decide; suffice it to state that,
when she looked at him, he was scowling after the amiable family, whose
conversation had caused the embarrassment, with so angry an expression
of countenance, that a fear seized his companion lest he should be about
to do something indignant and foolish, which might attract attention
to her, and produce the scene she dreaded. A moment’s reflection on
his cautious, prudent character, would have proved to her the
unreasonableness of such a fear; but she spoke without allowing herself

“What are you going to do?” she said, in a hurried whisper: “you _can_
take no notice of--of----;” and unable to find words to express her
meaning, she paused in confusion. D’Almayne finished her sentence for

“----Of those people’s ignorance of the usages of society? No, I am
not so inconsiderate; pardon me that I allowed you to see my just
indignation, but for the moment I was completely carried away by
feeling. Now,” he continued, “if you can make the effort, let us join
the others; no one has, as yet, observed your indisposition.”

By way of reply, Kate rose and took his proffered arm.

“Get them away from this place,” she said, hurriedly; “I shall suffocate
if I remain here longer.”

Horace bowed assent, and after exchanging a few indifferent remarks with
Alice and Lord Alfred Courtland, turned to Mr. Crane, observing--

“Will you forgive me for pleading the cause of one of your new
carriage-horses? The coachman tells me it has a slight cough; and it
will scarcely tend to get rid of the ailment to wait too long in this
piercing east wind.”

“No, indeed,” cherupped Mr. Crane; “and a horse that cost a hundred and
thirty puns (he meant pounds!) must not be injured, even, if I may be
allowed to say so, to please the ladies.” And having spoken, straightway
he fell into a fidgot; so that, in less than two minutes, the noble
productions of the Amalgamated Amateurs became as a dream of the past to
our _dramatis persona_.

On reaching the street, with his wife hanging on his arm, Mr. Crane, ere
he placed her in the carriage, thus addressed his domestic--

“Why, coachman, you never told me one of the horses had a cough.”

As he spoke, Kate, perfectly understanding that the horse’s cough was an
invention of D’Almayne’s, to enable them to get away from the gallery in
accordance with her wishes, involuntarily glanced towards him. But
where manoeuvring and _finesse_ were required, Horace was quite in his
element. Catching the attention of the servant (whom he had himself
recommended) by a fictitious attack of the malady under which the
quadruped was supposed to labour, he, by an almost imperceptible
contraction of the eyelid, telegraphed his wishes, ensuring their
fulfilment by suggestively tapping the silver head of his cane, to
express that in that metal should his compliance be rewarded; so Mr.
Crane was glibly informed that his horse had suffered under a bronchial
affection for about the space of four days, more or less; but that
he, the coachman, having applied an invaluable specific, known only to
himself, had not considered the matter sufficiently serious to trouble
his master withal;--for which reticence he bore meekly Mr. Crane’s
peevish rebuke, consoled by the expectation of five shillings the next
morning from Horace D’Almayne.

The polished boots of that good young man trod upon roses rather than
granite, as he ambled down Pall Mall; for, by means of those trifles
which make the sum of human things, he had achieved a great and
almost unhoped-for success--he had succeeded in establishing a private
understanding with the young and beautiful wife of the millionaire!


Having consoled himself by a canter in Rotten Row, for the minor
martyrdom he had undergone in his pursuit of the fine-arts, as
misrepresented by the Amalgamated Amateurs, Harry made the best of his
way to Park Lane. As he entered, a note was handed to him by the pompous
butler, who took the opportunity to inform him, in a voice husky with
the bee’s-wing, from which his throat was never entirely free, that
“dinner would be served in a quarter of an hour.”--“Then I’ve no time to
lose,” was the reply, and without looking at the note, Harry dashed
up stairs, three steps at a time. On reaching his room, however, and
finding that Alice’s toilet was by no means in an alarming state of
forwardness, he recovered his composure, and opened the note; it ran as

“On my arrival here two hours ago, I was surprised and embarrassed by
hearing that you and _your bride_ are staying in the house. Had I been
aware of this fact, I need scarcely tell you I would have delayed making
my appearance until your visit should have ended. But, although I knew
you had married a connection of Mrs. Crane, such a probability never
occurred to me. However, it was not likely that, mixing in the same
grade of society, we should pass through life without ever again
encountering each other; and I am still weak enough to dread our first
meeting, and to wish it over. I know your generous nature, and feel
the utmost confidence that the past will remain a secret between us. It
will, perhaps, be better--easier for us both, not to pretend to meet
as strangers. An accidental travelling acquaintance will sufficiently
account for our knowing the same places, people, &c. For your own sake,
as well as mine.

“I implore you to be careful--I have never forgotten your advice, and
have striven to act upon it--but mine is a rebellious nature. Destroy
this note as soon as you have read it.


With stern compressed lips and knitted brow, Harry perused this
mysterious epistle, and when he had finished it, crushed it in his hand
and threw it on the fire with a gesture of impatience.

“Your letter does not seem to please you,” observed Alice; “does it come
from a dun, or is there a screw loose (don’t I get on with my slang!) in
the stable or the kennel?”

Absorbed in thought, Harry made her no reply, until, surprised and
slightly annoyed at his silence, she resumed--

“Has the mysterious epistle stricken you dumb, or have we become so
thoroughly matrimonial, that you don’t consider it worth ‘while to
answer your wife when she asks you a question?”

“Eh! what? I beg your pardon, dear, the letter? no it was not from a
dun. I never was preyed upon by those vampires, thank Heaven; ‘out of
debt, out of danger,’ has always been my motto,” replied Coverdale,
rousing from his reverie.

“If it was not from a dun, whom was it from then?” continued Alice,

“You are singularly curious all of a sudden,” rejoined Harry; “all
I shall tell you about the matter is that the note referred to a
disagreeable affair which happened three or four years ago, and which I
had hoped was entirely passed and forgotten.”

“And having raised my curiosity thus, do you actually mean to say that
you will not gratify it farther?” inquired Alice.

“As you can have no good reason for asking, and as I have a very good
and sufficient one for keeping my own counsel, I am afraid I must leave
you in ignorance,” was Harry’s tantalizing reply.

Alice glanced at his face, and reading there that he was in earnest,
and meant to act on what he had said, pouted like a spoilt child who had
been refused some coveted plaything, while Coverdale betook himself to
his dressing-room in a “who-the-deuce-would-have-thought-of-her-turning
up!” frame of mind, from which he had by no means recovered when, with
his wife, still mildly vindictive, hanging on his arm, he descended to
the drawing-room.

There they found Mr. and Mrs. Crane, and a lady whom Kate introduced as
her old and particular friend, Miss Crofton. Having bowed to Alice, Miss
Crofton turned towards Harry, observing to Kate, as she did so--

“I have never had the pleasure of meeting _Mrs_. Coverdale before; but
Mr. Coverdale and I are old acquaintances; when I was travelling in
Italy with the Muirs. Mr. Coverdale was also indulging his taste for
the fine-arts, and we encountered each other at several points of the

As she spoke she held out her hand to Coverdale, who, after a moment’s
hesitation, and with a slight accession of colour, just touched and
immediately relinquished it, saying, in a cold but polite tone of

“Do you know whether the Muirs are in England now, Miss Crofton?”

As the person addressed remarked his look and tone, she pressed her lips
together so forcibly that every trace of red vanished from them; but
repressing all other sign of emotion, she replied to his question. Then
taking a seat next Alice, she began cultivating her good graces with
a degree of tact and talent which evinced her powers of shining in
society, and deserved more success than it appeared to meet with.

Arabella Crofton was a handsome woman of thirty, looking younger than
her age. She was tall, and her figure was fully developed without being
actually _embonpoint_. Her hands and feet, although proportioned to her
height, were beautifully modelled, and the former unusually white and
soft. In feature she resembled Kate, so much so that she had more
than once been mistaken for her former pupil’s elder sister; but the
_expression_ of the two faces was totally dissimilar. In Kate Crane
a fiery passionate nature was kept under control by an equally strong
degree of pride, and an amount of self-respect which served her in place
of a higher principle; in Arabella Crofton lay concealed even a greater
depth of passion, but its sole antagonist was an intellect keen, strong,
and acute, though not of the highest order, and a determination of
will and fixity of purpose which, while it led her straight towards the
object she sought, rendered her somewhat unscrupulous as to the means by
which it was to be attained; and as the mind usually writes itself more
or less legibly on the countenance, so did the expression differ in Kate
and her late governess. Still Miss Crofton’s was a face to attract and
rivet attention, a face which exercised a species of fascination over
those who beheld it, so peculiar that it is not easy to define it.
As you gazed upon it, you felt that you were in the presence of an
intelligence of no common order, but of whose nature, hopes, fears,
wishes, and designs, you were entirely ignorant--nay, in regard to which
you could not decide whether the good or evil principle predominated. In
this sense of power with which she impressed others, together with the
uncertainty how it might be directed, lay the secret of much of Arabella
Crofton’e influence. Alice, not being metaphysical, did not attempt to
define the sensations with which her new acquaintance inspired her; had
she done so, it might have appeared that she had formed much the
same estimate of her manner and appearance as that with which we have
furnished the reader. But if Alice did not moralize, she arrived at
strong and definite conclusions without that process, for before she had
been half an hour in Miss Crofton’s company, she felt morally
convinced that she should hate her, and that it would turn out that the
_ci-devant_ governess either had done, or was about to do, something
which would completely account for and justify this sudden animosity.

During dinner, a note arrived from Lord Alfred Courtland, offering
Alice and Harry seats in his opera-box, which offer, after a few polite
speeches to and from Mr. Crane, in his (in?) capacity as master of
the house, was accepted. As they drove to the theatre, the following
conversation passed between the husband and wife, the lady of course
beginning it.

“What a detestable woman that Miss Crofton is! I’m sure I shall never
be able to endure her. I see now where Kate’s faults came from. Miss
Crofton has taught her to be worldly-minded, and ambitious, and all
sorts of horrid things which she never used to be; and the creature is
an old acquaintance of yours, too I Did you know her well--intimately?”

“Eh? yes! I saw a good deal of her at one time. How slow this fellow
drives, we shall lose the overture!” was Harry’s reply, which, if he
intended thereby to change the subject of the conversation, proved a
dead failure, for Alice continued:--

“Oh! then you are not mere acquaintances, as she tried to make out! I
thought she wasn’t speaking the truth. Well, and did you like her?--I
dare say you did, for I feel sure she was in love with you; indeed I
think she is still, by the way she casts down those great rolling eyes
of hers whenever you say a word to her. I declare I feel quite jealous.”

Coverdale paused for a moment, ere he replied: “My dear Alice, you speak
thoughtlessly, but you do not know how such remarks annoy me--faults I
have, and more serious, ones than until lately I was at all aware of;
but to suppose that since I first saw you, I have ever devoted one
minute’s thought to any other woman breathing, would be to do me a foul
injustice.” Alice perceived, from his manner of speaking, that her vague
suspicions had really pained him, and having no other ground for
them but an instinct which she confessed to herself to be utterly
unsanctioned by reason, she determined to confess her sin and obtain
absolution. This is in many cases a tedious and difficult operation, but
when individuals are on those easy and agreeable terms which sometimes
last so long as a year after marriage, the process becomes greatly
facilitated. Thus, by a little graceful and appropriate pantomime, Alice
caused it to be understood that she felt deeply penitent, and in a state
of mental self-accusation only to be allayed by a remedy consisting (as
some light-minded jester has phrased it), like a sermon, of “two heads
and an application.” When this specific for female grief had been duly
administered by Harry, peace was for the time restored, and the evening
passed away most harmoniously in every sense of the word.


The Opera-house was very full and proportionably hot on the evening
when Coverdale and Iris wife visited it (it being the _début_ of the
since famous Signora Bettimartini), Alice, unused to London gaieties,
and uneasy from the suspicions she could not contrive to banish,
acquired a headache, which, when she went to bed, prevented her from
falling asleep. Thus, being anxious to court without loss of time
nature’s sweet restorer, of course she chose the most vexatious and
exciting topic she could select as a subject of thought, and began to
speculate on all the evidence she could call to mind in regard to her
husband’s relations, past and present, towards Arabella Crofton, who,
as the reader must have perceived, was just at that especial epoch poor
little Mrs. Coverdale’s _bête noire_. The first circumstance she could
recollect to form the initial link in her chain of evidence, was Harry’s
inquiry about her when Alice casually mentioned her name during the
halcyon days of their honeymoon. In this conversation, Harry had
confessed to a previous acquaintance with Miss Crofton, and when pressed
farther, added that he knew no good of her, or words to that effect. His
manner, Alice remembered, was so peculiar that her curiosity had been
at once excited, or as she mentally put it, that “naturally she felt her
husband ought immediately to have told her everything about it--_she_
had no concealments from him, she was sure.” Following up this train
of thought, another instance of this unkind and unflattering want of
confidence occurred to her--the mysterious epistle which he had received
that very afternoon, which had annoyed him so much, and about which he
had refused to afford her any explanation; and here a new idea flashed
like an infernal inspiration across her brain--could that note be in
any way connected with Miss Crofton’s arrival? “Yes! it must be so.” She
remembered when they entered the drawing-room, and she had felt surprise
at finding a stranger there, Harry seemed to take it as a matter of
course: good reason why, he knew it previously--this hateful woman, this
detestable creature, Arabella Crofton, had written to him privately,
informing him of her arrival! Oh! she saw it all; and how she would try
to wean his affections away from his poor wife--his poor, neglected,
betrayed wife! and succeed most likely--men were such fickle, wicked
things; and then it would break her heart, _that_ there could be no
question of and she should die in the course of a year--in six
months, very likely, for she wasn’t at all strong though she had a
colour--consumptive people always had brilliant complexions--think of
her poor aunt Kitty! and Harry would be sorry when it was too late,
perhaps. And so, drawing a vivid picture of her repentant husband
grieving over her untimely decease, she cried herself to sleep, bedewing
with her tears the “fickle, wicked thing,” calmly slumbering at her
side; who straightway dreamed that, being out hunting, and riding
a young thorough-bred, he had charged a brook, and that his horse,
refusing it, had pitched him head foremost into its rapid waters.

A month soon elapsed--the London season was at its height. Everybody
had been everywhere, and was going again; Grisi and Mario had arrived,
recovered from sea-sickness and British catarrh, and “surpassed
themselves” in their favourite characters. A mob of costly equipages
jostled each other round Hyde Park every afternoon; carriage-horses,
deprived of their sleep o’nights, began to grieve coachmen’s hearts
by revealing the position of their ribs; young ladies from the Country
danced away their roses and their _embonpoint_; men whose book for the
Derby was at all “shy” trembled in their patent-leather boots; the glory
of the lilacs in the squares had departed; water-carts made unpleasant
canals of the principal thoroughfares; the Honourable Mrs. Windsor Soape
had presented her youngest daughter at the last drawing-room, and tried
without success to stuff her down the throats of several eligible
eldest sons; Lady Close Shaver had inveigled an hundred and seventy
unfortunates into her hot drawing-rooms, bored them with Signor
Violini’s scientific rendering of Beethoven’s sonata in A B C minor,
poisoned them with bad ice and worse Champagne, and turned them out
to grass upon lobster salads, of which the principal feature was the
unaccountable absence of lobster: these, and many other miseries,
attendant on the “joys of our dancing days,” had been gladly suffered
by the fanatical votaries of the Juggernaut of Fashion, and still the
Coverdales lingered within the precincts of the modern Babylon. Lord
Alfred Courtland having received a summons to join his family at
Leghorn, had refused to obey it on the plea of ill health, backed by
a physician’s opinion, which cost one guinea, and was worth----! Well,
really, in this case it _was_ worth something, for it saved Lord Alfred
a lecture, and he disliked being lectured, even for his good--silly
young man! so he stayed in town, doing as other folks did, and hoping
thereby to become a man of fashion; but, as he only acted like other
people, and did nothing very clever, or very foolish, or very wrong, he
by no means succeeded in obtaining the reputation he coveted. With this
consciousness of failure before his eyes, he one night lounged dismally
out of his stall at the Opera, and was proceeding with dejected steps
along the lobby, when he suddenly encountered Horace D’Almayne, better
dressed and better pleased with himself than ever.

“Well met, my lord; I was just wishing for an agreeable companion,” was
his complimentary salutation. “I am naturally a sociable animal; if you
have no better employment, will you take pity on me for an hour or so?”

Deeply impressed with such unexpected condescension, and overcome by
the transcendant cut of D’Almayne’s waistcoat, nothing remained for Lord
Alfred but gratefully to consent; which he accordingly did. Linking his
arm in that of his companion, D’Almayno continued:--

“You are looking _triste, ennuyé _; has Grisi developed a cold, or
Cerito a corn? is it opera or ballet which has thus bored you?”

“Neither one nor the other,” was the reply; “though even operas cease to
excite after one has grown accustomed to them.”

“Yes! that is true; except to an educated musician” (and D’Almayne
looked as if he humbly trusted that he was equal to Mendelssohn, at the
very least), “I can conceive they grow tedious; but,” he continued, “you
should seek some more exciting amusement: mix in clever, witty society;
do things--see things; in fact, enjoy life as a young man with such
advantages of person and of station should do.”

“It may seem easy to you, who have achieved a reputation in the _beau
monde_, and can command any society you please, to accomplish this; but
it is the reverse of easy for a young man in these days, even if he have
a handle to his name, to persuade people that he has anything in him; in
fact I think a title stands rather in a young fellow’s way on entering
London life; people have somehow taken to connect the ideas of a lord
and a fool, until I believe they begin to think the terms synonymous!”

“What a frightfully democratic opinion for one of your order to
promulgate!” returned D’Almayne, smiling at the disconsolate tone in
which Lord Alfred spoke; “really you ought to have been born on the
other side of the Channel; but I think I perceive your difficulty: you
do not care to be admitted into society merely for your rank, but wish
to achieve a distinctive social reputation for yourself; is it not so?”

“Yes! you have expressed my ideas exactly; a great deal better than I
could have done myself,” was the reply. “And now tell me in what way is
this desirable consummation to be effected.”

“Nothing is more easy. In the first place you require self-confidence;
let people see that you think yourself a fine fellow, and they will
begin to think so too. In the next place, take a decided line of some
kind, and adhere to it steadily; but, in order to be able to do so, be
careful, ere you select it, that it is in accordance with your natural
dispositions and tastes.”

“Good general maxims,” returned Lord Alfred; “and now to apply them to
the particular instance.”

D’Almayne paused for a moment ere he replied--

“If you really wish me to constitute myself your Mentor, you must allow
me more opportunities of enjoying your society than I have hitherto
possessed, and then, from time to time, I dare say I may be able to give
you a few hints which you may find practically beneficial; and as there
is nothing like making use of the present occasion, what say you to
allowing me to introduce you to a kind of private club, where I and a
few of my particular set sometimes meet after the Opera, and while away
an hour or two with a hand at whist or écarté, or exchange our ideas
on the topics of the day over a game of billiards; the stakes are,
of course, suited to the measure of our purses, my own being an
uncomfortably shallow one. We are close to the entrance, shall we turn

After a moment’s hesitation, the result of an indefinite notion that he
was about to do something wrong, Lord Alfred consented; and D’Almayne
knocked at the door of what looked like a good private house. The portal
unclosed, and immediately shut again by some mysterious agency, for,
when they entered, no domestic was visible; and they proceeded along
a passage to a second door covered with red baize, with a glass eye,
placed Cyclop-like in the middle of its forehead, through which a human
face observed them for a moment, then disappeared, and the red baize
door opened and admitted them of its own accord, as the outer one had
set it the example. Following his companion up a flight of stone stairs,
at the top of which yet another baize door with a Cyclopian optic
presented itself, Lord Alfred Courtland heard the sounds of laughing
and conversation, and in another moment found himself in a large,
well-lighted apartment, round which were dispersed sundry small tables,
at which were seated, in groups of three or four, from a dozen
to fifteen men, all of whom were recruiting exhausted nature with
Champagne, pine-apple ice, or more substantial viands, if their tastes
inclined them thereunto. Placing himself at an unoccupied table,
D’Almayne inquired in his most insinuating tone--“Champagne, Claret,
Johannisberg--what is your pet vanity, my lord?--_c’est affreux_, the
inefficient ventilation of that Opera-house. I am positively famished
with thirst, and must drown my enemy before Horace is himself again.”

“Having obtained the privilege of considering you my Mentor, I cannot
do better than avail myself of your valuable taste and experience in
the selection of a beverage,” returned Lord Alfred, falling into his
companion’s humour with that dangerous facility which was at once his
bane and his greatest charm. So Champagne and ice, and biscuits, all
first-rate of their kind, were brought and discussed; and during the
demolition thereof, one or two intimates of D’Almayne, faultless in mien
and manners, lounged up, and were introduced to his lordship, and drank
wine dreamily, and talked smart nothings with a sleepy wittiness as of
inspired dormice; and otherwise exhibited symptoms of that life-weary,
all-to-pieces condition which very young men believe in as the _ne plus
ultra_ of modern dandyism; and Lord Alfred’s heart leaped within him
as he thought that now he had at last really begun “life,” and was in
a fair way to become a man-about-town. Such wonderful beings are we,
_otatis_ nineteen!

When a man is thirsty nothing is easier than to drink a bottle of
Champagne without knowing it, perhaps even till the next morning;
I never heard of the delusion lasting longer. Whether Lord Alfred
Courtland drank more or less than a bottle on the occasion in question,
history relateth not, but certainly, when he rose and strolled into the
billiard-room, he felt considerably exhilarated, and eager to
achieve something “fast,” which might tend to impress his incipient
“about-townishness” in the minds of his fashionable acquaintances. Thus,
hearing the rattle of dice in a further apartment, he, to D’Almayne’s
surprise and amusement, declared billiards a bore, and whist “slow,” and
“voted” for something with a little more fun in it. So, “Dante-like,”
entering the infernal regions, they very soon “knew a bank whereon”
 much “wild _time_” had been wasted, and an immense crop of wild oats
sown;--and off which certain proprietors had reaped many golden sheaves,
while the sowers themselves had gained only experience, teaching them
how to take care of their money, about the time when their money was
all gone, which must have been more improving than consolatory to the
“cleaned-out ones.” Then first upon Lord Alfred’s youthful ear fell
the command, diabolical in its persuasive eloquence, “_Faites le jeu,
messieurs!_” then timidly, and with feelings akin to those of mediaeval
youths who, in the good old feudal times, signed uncomfortable compacts
with the Evil One, which never turned out satisfactorily for them even
in this world, did Lord Alfred stake his first guinea, and unfortunately
lose it. We say unfortunately, for had he won, and so come, seen, and
conquered, he might have listened to the appeals of conscience which
just then were striving to make a coward of this neophyte man about
town; but, as matters stood, he felt a stern necessity to vindicate the
_sang froid_ with which he could support a run of ill luck; and playing
again--won, doubled his stake--won; then, against D’Almayne’s advice,
staked his winnings on “_le rouge_,” and that colour proved successful;
and then the gambler-spirit came upon him, and he played with a fierce
eagerness, and drank more Champagne, and played again, until two hours
later D’Almayne almost forced him away from the table, and took him
home, flushed and excited, a winner of one hundred pounds! Poor boy! as
he left that haunt of sordid vice and idle folly, he believed that he
had done something clever, and spirited, and manly, and longed for the
next evening, when he might again distinguish himself; but could he have
foreseen half the consequences of this, his first step in evil, or the
sorrow he was thereby bringing upon true hearts that loved him, he would
have shrunk from again crossing the threshold, as though it were indeed
that of the hell which in their unseemly jesting men term it.

Rising late the next morning, he was informed that a gentleman was
waiting to see him, and on entering the sitting-room, found Horace
D’Almayne in an easy-chair and an elegant attitude.

“I was anxious about you, _mon cher_” (they had grown wonder fully
familiar over their Champagne), “you appeared so much excited last
night,” he began, uncrossing his graceful legs, clad in a seraphic pair
of _Blin et Fils chef-d’ouvres_.

                   “Sure such a pair were never seen!”

“You seemed so carried away by your enthusiasm that I thought you would
not sleep, and thus ventured to call at this unreasonable hour to see
how you were getting on.”

“Very kind and friendly of you, I’m sure,” returned Lord Alfred, quite
overcome by such unhoped-for condescension on the part of his model
Mentor. “I suppose I did get rather excited, but I’m all right again
this morning,--at least I shall be,” he continued, as a dizzy swimming
in the head obliged him to grasp a chair-back for support, “as soon as I
have had a cup of coffee.”

“Or if I might suggest, a bottle of Seltzer-water with a suspicion of
Cognac in it, is a much more efficient substitute: allow me to brew for
you;--may I ring the bell?”

Receiving the permission he sought, Horace acted accordingly, and
when the servant appeared, desired him (on a glance from Lord Alfred,
delegating all authority to him) to bring a bottle of Seltzer-water,
brandy, and a lemon. Possessed of these _desiderata_, he commenced
shredding off two or three delicate little spiral circles of lemon-peel,
like yellow watch-springs, then dropping these into a Brobdignagian
tumbler, warranted not to run over under any severity of effervescence,
he added thereunto a liqueur glass full of the purest (and strongest)
Cognac. Unwiring the Seltzer-water, he allowed it to draw its own cork
(for thus, under his skilful control, did the operation appear to be
performed), and, forcing it to explode into the tumbler, he presented
the beverage, foaming wildly, to Lord Alfred, who, at the risk of
immediate suffocation, drank it off in that rabid condition, and
providentially surviving, declared himself greatly benefited by the
treatment. Having thus re-invigorated his patient’s exhausted frame,
D’Almayne proceeded to perform the same friendly office by his mind, and
very good counsel did he bestow upon him--only that his advice had
this peculiarity, viz., that whilst in words he recommended Lord
Alfred Courtland to bend his steps in a northerly direction, that young
nobleman felt an unaccountable conviction that by proceeding due south,
he should raise himself in the estimation of his Mentor and of all other
men of spirit. Thus he heard, with a complacent smile, that D’Almayne
was surprised at the manner in which he had carried all before him at
the gaming-table on the previous evening; that every one imagined him
to be an old hand at such matters; and one individual, who was generally
supposed to make a very decent living by gambling, had declared his
conviction that Lord Alfred played on a system, and a deucedly clever
system too!--At all of which D’Almayne appeared alarmed and uneasy, and
assured his friend that it was a very dangerous talent for a young man,
and that it would be a great relief to his mind if Lord Alfred would
promise never to go there again; to which his lordship replied by
lighting a cigar, handing the box to his Mentor, and asking him whether
he considered him such an irreclaimable muff as not to be able to win
or lose a matter of a hundred pounds without making a ninny of himself.
Declaring himself innocent of any such disrespectful innuendo, D’Almayne
also lighted a cigar (it being impossible in these piping times to
do anything without plenty of puffing), and these new allies grew
loquacious and confidential; but with this difference, that Lord Alfred
gave his confidence, and Horace obligingly received the sacred deposit.
Thus, after a fair amount of the horticultural cruelty, yclept “beating
about the bush,” had been committed, that good young man was made
acquainted with the “secret sorrow,” which, as the reader is aware, was
with much success performing the part of the “worm i’ the bud” to Lord
Alfred’s “damask cheek.” As soon as Mentor thoroughly understood
the state of the case, which he did in an incredibly short space of
time--tact being so strongly developed in him that it almost amounted to
intuition--he followed the advice of Polly in the “Beggar’s Opera,” by
“pondering well” before he ventured to prescribe for the complaint
of his Telemachus. Having sat with bent brows until his cigar was
exhausted, he flung the end into the grate, smoothed his beloved
moustaches, and then spoke oracularly:--

“You see, _mon cher_,” he begau, “you are taking to the _rôle_ of a
_flâneur_, what you call a man-about-town, full early for an Englishman;
thus, the chief thing you want is self-confidence, without which a man
can neither do proper justice to himself nor to his position. Now it
seems to me the best thing for you would be to get some pretty woman
of good station to take you in hand; you must try and establish a
flirtation with somebody.”

“_Qui bono?_” inquired Telemachus; “the governor would never stand me
marrying for--oh! not for the next five years!”

“Marrying before you’re one-and-twenty! My dear fellow, what can have
put such a frightful idea into your head!” exclaimed Mentor, aghast at
the supposition. “No, no; marriage is the last thing I should dream of
recommending, except quite as a _dernier resort_. For which reason,
I was about to add, that the best practice to set you at ease with
yourself, and therefore with other people, will be to devote your
attentions to some pretty and fashionable married woman;--there! don’t
look 30 awfully scandalized; of course I only mean a sentimental
and platonic affair--just enough to excite and interest you into
self-oblivion. When you once forget your _ipsissimus ego_--when, as that
punning friend of yours, Mr. Coverdale, would say, you cease to mind
your _I_--all your anxieties in regard to popular opinion will vanish,
and you will soon find that with your face, figure, address, and
position, Lord Alfred Courtland will become the admired of all admirers.
And that reminds me that Mrs. Coverdale would be just the person for
that purpose;--she is very pretty, moves in good society, and, _entre
nous_, is smitten with you already!”

“But really--of course I don’t set up to be any better than my
neighbours,” stammered the poor boy, colouring at the possibility
of being suspected of such slow attributes as good feeling and right
principle, and yet unable entirely to silence the promptings of his
better nature;--“of course I don’t set up for a saint; but Harry
Coverdale is an old friend and schoolfellow, and one of the best
creatures in the world; I should not like--that is, I really
couldn’t--But, I beg your pardon, I don’t think I exactly understand
your meaning.”

“I don’t think you do,” returned D’Almayne, his sarcastic tone
expressing such unmistakable contempt that Lord Alfred actually winced
as if in pain.

“I don’t think you have the faintest glimmer of my meaning. You don’t
suppose I intend you to order a chaise and four, and run off with pretty
Mrs. Coverdale to the Continent, do you? My ideas are much less
alarming, I can assure you! _par exemple_--your friend Harry is a
physical force man; he is a mighty hunter, a dead shot; he loves only
his dogs and his horses; but requires a Joe Manton to ensure him good
sport, and a pretty wife to sit at the head of his table: Mrs.
Coverdale, on the other hand, has a soul--reads Tennyson, feels her
husband’s neglect, and pines for some one who will appreciate her and
sympathize with her; you, in the kindness of your heart, pity her, and
knowing you can afford her the consolations of congeniality, obligingly
make up for her good man’s deficiency; therefore, you read poetry with
her, explain the obscure passages which neither she, you, nor any one
else can understand; her mind reposes on your superior intelligence; she
trusts you, and confides to you important secrets,--the exact age of her
dearest female friend, whom she suspects of designs upon your heart, the
dress she is going to wear at the next fancy ball,--and eventually, with
heightened colour and averted eyes, the history of that ring with the
turquoise forget-me-not, together with a biographical sketch of the
noble giver--showing how he lived pathetically, and died in the odour of
heroism, fighting at the head of his regiment in the Punjaub, the centre
of a select circle of slaughtered foemen; which latter confidence may be
considered as the latchkey to the fair lady’s heart, ensuring you
admittance at all times and seasons.”

“And having attained this agreeable position, how long do you expect so
pleasant a state of things to last, and what is to be the end of it?”
 inquired Telemachus.

“Oh! until she has got rid of her romance, and you of your diffidence;
by which time you will have grown mutually tired of each other, and the
London season will have come to an end,” was Mentor’s oracular reply.
Telemachus mused, lit a fresh cigar, and mused again. He liked the idea,
had a faint suspicion it might be wrong, but was quite sure it would be
very pleasant. Mentor, thinking this a promising frame of mind in which
to leave his pupil, would not weaken the force of his argument, by vain
repetitions, so made an engagement to meet again in the evening, and
departed. And while _les petites moustaches noires_ wounded female
hearts as he passed down courtly St. James’s Street, the spirit of the
good young man, their wearer, glowed within him, and--

                        “As he walked by himself,

                        He talked to himself,

                        And thus to himself said he!”

“Ha! ha! Milord Courtland, you are mine--your purse, your credit, your
influence--all are mine! But what a child it is! what a baby _Sacré!_
at his age I was winning twenty pounds a day at billiards in New
Orleans!--And you, Harry Coverdale, _mon ami_, I will teach you to watch
me with black looks when I am conversing with _la belle millionaire_;
you had better attend to your own wife now--young, pretty, and
neglected! _Le petit_ Alfred has a fair game before him, if he have but
wit to play it--yes! all goes as it should! fortune fills the sails!
there is a cool head and a steady hand at the helm: _vogue la galère!_”


In this “tight little island,”--of which as a whole we are all so
proud, although it affords ample occupation for its public in grumbling
at its institutions, _via_ its _Times_ newspaper--the only season of the
year when fogs are not, and every day does not resemble a “washing-day”
 on a large scale, the only period in fact when the country is endurable,
is the early summer. Thus the educated classes, whose well-balanced and
carefully developed minds enable them to arrive at sound conclusions,
and whose well-stored pockets render them free to come and go
untrammelled by pecuniary considerations, have bound themselves by the
laws of the tyrant Fashion to spend June and July in London, where they
simmer in hot rooms, when they should be in bed and asleep, until all
the goodness is boiled out of them--which new “theory of evil” beg to
offer to the notice of Miss Martineau, and all other speculative
minds anxious to elevate humanity by substituting earthly nonsense for
heavenly revelation. But however you may brick her up and smoke-dry her,
nature will assert herself, and, turning with disgust from oats at 40s.
the quarter in a mahogany manger, pine for green meat and a canter over
the spring turf. So a compromise has been effected between town and
country amusements, and horticultural _fêtes_ have been devised to
afford parboiled fashionables breathing time between their rounds of
dissipation, together with a gentle reminder of the “pleasures of the
plains,” which they are sacrificing to their craving for unnatural
excitement. Horticultural _fêtes_ are brought about in this wise: Early
in the inclemency of a British spring, while London is shivering over
its fondly cherished fire, that noun of multitude perceives in the first
column of its _Times_ a notice that members of the Horticultural Society
may obtain tickets at privileged prices until some specified day;
thereupon All-London writes to its particular friend the M. H. S. for
an “order,” and the member vouching by implication for All-London’s
standing and respectability--into which he has probably gone no deeper
than its coat--All-London besieges the office of that floral autocrat,
Dr. Lindley, and clamours for tickets, crying “Give, give,” and
insatiable as the daughter of the horse-leech. Having at length obtained
its desire, All-London buttons up its great-coat and waits timidly but
eagerly for the first Horticultural. But the London season is an outrage
upon, and an insult to nature, and nature takes her change out of the
first Horticultural; it is a pouring wet day, Chiswick becomes Keswick,
and the Duke of Devonshire’s grounds, yielding to hydraulic pressure,
cease to be dry grounds any longer. Dr. Lindley... we have not the
pleasure of that gentleman’s personal acquaintance, but we can imagine
Dr. Lindley feels disappointed and... expresses it. Then All-London
exchanges its greatcoat for a paletot, and looks forward with a timid
anxiety to the second Horticultural, which being in June enjoys the
advantage of April weather, and is only showery, so the boldest
quarter of London goes, from the Herbert Fitz-tip-tops, careless of the
bronchial tubes of their serving-men and carriage-horses, down to the
Robinson Joneses, safe in the immunity of a hack brougham, driver, and
horse--a long-suffering trio, so accustomed to wait in the rain, that
use has become a second nature to these amphibious hirelings. Our
enterprising pleasure-seekers come back ere dewy eve, and say that,
considering the fact that flowers wont blow out of doors in cold
weather, and that the gravel was a swamp, and the turf a morass, the
tents very hot, and the east wind very cold, and that there was
nobody there except a few dreadful people, who really ought not to be
anywhere--(Mrs. Robinson Jones was actually pushed up against Mr. Cutlet
and his rib, her own butcher, who makes a clear £2000 a-year, while
genteel Robinson Jones scarcely averages £1500 at the Bar; but what
does that signify?)--and that the female Quarter-of-London had got the
ridiculous soles of its little French shoes wet through in five minutes,
and had felt a tightness at its chest ever since; allowing for these
and several other slight drawbacks, it really was not such a complete
failure after all! But even English weather has its bright side;
and, content with taking the shine out of the first two, on the third
Horticultural _fete_ the sun seems resolved to come out strong, and,
setting parasols at defiance, imprint his burning kisses on the pale
features of all the pretty women in town, like an ardent old luminary as
he is. And All-London, finding that it really is a beautiful day,
puts on its best bib and tucker, and takes its wife and daughters to
Chiswick. Where the roads are watered they are very muddy, where they
are not watered they are dusty; and as the dust sticks to the carriages,
and the dust sticks to the mud, and the horses get first very hot
going there, then very cold waiting there, and the pole of every
other carriage invariably runs through the back panel of the vehicle
immediately preceding it, coachmen are not, as a general rule, fond of
the third Horticultural; but nothing _can_ please everybody, and
these Flower-shows “please the ladies” (to quote Mr. Crane’s favourite
phrase), and that is the great point after all. It was probably with
a view to “pleasing the ladies” that Mr. Crane had thought proper to
invest capital in half a dozen Horticultural tickets--seeing that his
own horticultural tastes were confined to drinking Sherry-cobbler in
an arbour, whenever such a privilege was vouchsafed to him, and his
knowledge limited to the capability of discriminating between a cabbage
and a cauliflower. The weather having been such as we have described it
during the first and second _fêtes_--on both which occasions Mr. Crane
bewailed the useless expense into which his gallantry had seduced him,
with a truly touching degree of pathos--these tickets remained unused
until the third and last flower-show, when “the face of all nature
looking gay,” and “bright Phoebus” obligingly condescending to “adorn
the hills,” the ex-cotton-spinner and his spouse, Harry Coverdale and
Alice, together with Arabella Crofton, availed themselves of five of
them--Horace D’Almayne quietly pocketing the sixth in a fit of mental
(and physical) abstraction. They were to start at a quarter before two,
as Mr. Crane always preferred being early on all occasions; but at a
quarter before two, when the carriages drew up to the door, Alice was
not ready, and moreover it was Alice’s own fault that she was not ready;
and thus it fell out. Lord Alfred Courtland played the flute well for so
young a man, and an amateur; since he had been in town, a talented
professor instructed him in this art, who was an exiled patriot--that is
to say, he and several other ardent young men had attempted one fine
morning to take their “Fatherland” away from the gentleman in
possession, and give it to the Secret-blood-and-bones-united-brother
band--the same being a pet name by which they saw fit to call
themselves. What they would have done with their fatherland, if they had
got it, neither do they, nor does any one else appear to have the least
idea; but this difficulty of disposing of their country was fortunately
spared them, as their enterprise consisted simply of a stroll along the
principal street of their native city, in company with a drum and a
little red flag, bearing the cheerful device of a skull and cross-bones,
with the motto, “Death to Tyrants!” which stroll continued until they
accidentally encountered a company of soldiers, who conveyed them--drum,
flag, and all--to the state prison, where they were detained, until it
being discovered that they were eating their heads off, the authorities
exiled them, to save their keep. Herr Hildebrand Tootletoot-zakoffski,
one of this devoted band, had brought his Polish sorrows and his German
flute to England, and between them both managed to make a much more
comfortable income than tyranny had hitherto allowed him to enjoy under
the mildewed institutions of his own blighted country. For the rest he
was a mild little man, addicted to conversing on music and patriotism
with a sort of washy sentimentality, which enabled him to pass as an
individual of refined tastes and cultivated mind with those who did not
look beyond the surface; personally he rejoiced in a complexion as of
bad putty, and an amount of heroic beard and moustaches which would have
stuffed a chair-cushion very comfortably. And being such as we have
described him, Herr Hildebrand--an acquaintance of and introduced by
Horace D’Almayne, who, in his multifarious occupations, may have been a
banded-brother, for aught we know to the contrary--had suggested to Lord
Alfred Courtland the great advantage it would be to him in his, the
professor’s, talented absence, if he, Lord Alfred, could find any
amiable pianiste of his acquaintance, able and willing to play duets
with him, to “improve his time;” and as he said this in the presence of
and immediately after a _tête-à-tête_ with Horace D’Almayne, it really
was scarcely necessary for that judicious mentor to suggest to his
lordship pretty little Mrs. Coverdale, although to guard against
mistakes he did so. Thus Alfred Courtland and Alice had played a good
many duets in Park Lane; and on the morning in question, luncheon being
announced in the middle of one of these interesting performances half an
hour sooner than usual, to guard against the possibility of anybody’s
being too late, Alice, feeling by this time quite at home in her
cousin’s house, coolly told Lord Alfred to come down and partake of the
mid-day meal, as she was resolved to finish the duet after it was over,
before she went to dress, and if they made haste she was sure there was
plenty of time. But time unfortunately is one of those stubborn facts
with which it is impossible to take a liberty without suffering for
one’s rashness; and although the latter part of the duet was rattled
through with a Costa-like rapidity, which elicited from his breathless
lordship an acknowledgment that “it is the pace that kills,” yet when
all the rest of the party were assembled, Alice was only half dressed.
Then, as was his wont on such occasions, Mr. Crane fell into a fretful
fuss, and trotted up and down the room, and made everybody fidgety and
uncomfortable, especially Harry, who was provoked with Mr. Crane for
being annoyed with Alice, and with Alice for having given him cause for

“There is a quiet way of arranging the matter, my dear sir,” he said;
“let those who are ready start in the barouche, and I will wait and
drive Alice in the mail-phaeton.”

“Yes, and then we shall never meet at the gardens, and never all come
away at the same time, and my arrangements will be completely subverted,
and everything will go wrong,” whined Mr. Crane. On this Harry ran up to
hasten Alice, and Alice, who was attiring herself at express speed, was
cross, and snubbed him out of the room, and he rejoined the company in
the drawingroom with compressed lips and an angry flush on each cheek;
and Arabella Crofton favoured him with a glance of intelligent pity,
which, if it were intended to soothe his wounded spirit, failed in its
effect most signally. After the lapse of an awful ten minutes, by the
expiration of which period Mr. Crane was on the verge of tears,
the culprit Alice made her appearance, looking very pretty, but not
altogether as penitent as might have been desired; but as she said in a
cheerful tone that she “really was quite distressed at having kept them
all waiting,” we will hope she felt more than she allowed to appear.
Then arose a debate and confusion of tongues and opinions as to how
the party was to divide. Harry offered to drive the phaeton, Mr. Crane
having privately hinted that such an arrangement would meet with his
approval,--who was to accompany him? Harry suggested his own wife,
meaning to treat her to a gentle reproof on the road for her want of
consideration in having kept a whole party waiting merely to finish a
silly duet with that boy Alfred Courtland. But Kate disapproved of this
arrangement--perhaps because she had begun to suspect that the Coverdale
couple did not always in “their little nest agree,” and had read in
Harry’s flashing eyes warning of a perturbed spirit. Whether Alice’s
conscience led her to the same result we do not pretend to decide, but
for some reason she seconded her cousin until she discovered that by
doing so Arabella Crofton would be her substitute, by which time the
affair was settled beyond her power of altering. Her annoyance would
have been sensibly diminished, however, if she could have known that
the arrangement was if possible more distasteful to her husband than to
herself, but unfortunately there was no _clairvoyant_ at hand to afford
her this desirable intelligence. Having handed up his companion, and
done all that his chivalrous nature taught him was due from a gentleman
to _any_ woman entrusted to his care, and nothing farther, Harry
gathered up his reins, placed himself by Miss Crofton’s side in the
phaeton, and sitting bolt upright, drove off with an unapproachable
expression of face, which indicated, as plainly as words could have
done, his resolve not to advance beyond monosyllables until they reached
Chiswick. But Harry was in such matters no match for the astute woman of
the world who sat beside him. Apparently falling in with his humour she
leaned back in the carriage, and the only sign she gave of her
presence was an occasional sigh, which escaped her, as it appeared,
involuntarily. Before they had proceeded far, however, they encountered
the peripatetic theatre of that inconvenient humourist, dear old
Punch, with his private band pop-going-the-weasel like an harmonious
steam-engine; whereof the horses (the identical pair which had run away
with Harry and Alice in the early spring-time of their courtship, and
which Mr. Crane still retained, although he carefully avoided
driving them himself)--preferring probably a more classical style of
music--began to express their disapprobation by plunging violently,
nearly dashing the phaeton against a coal waggon, a catastrophe which
nothing but the most consummate skill on the part of their driver could
have averted. As Coverdale succeeded in reducing the rebellious steeds
to order, he could not help involuntarily glancing at his companion to
ascertain how the incident had affected her. She was leaning forward,
her attitude and the expression of her features indicated excitement and
interest rather than terror, while her fine eyes, dilated and sparkling
with a more than ordinary lustre, were fixed upon his countenance with
looks of unmistakable admiration. Courage, or as he would have termed it
“pluck,” especially in a woman, where he considered it as an “additional
attraction,” while in a man it was simply a _sine quà non_, always
delighted Harry Coverdale; and, being as innocent and natural as a
child, he could no more help expressing his sentiments, than he could
exist without inhaling vital air.

“Well, I never did see such nerve in a woman!” he exclaimed; “why you
look pleased rather than frightened! not that there was any danger,
except of damaging Mr. Crane’s near hind wheel. They don’t bit these
horses properly, and that white-nosed animal hasn’t the tenderest mouth
at the best of times.” And as he spoke he administered a smartish
cut across the ears as a practical comment on the delinquent’s oral

“You are such a good whip,” was the reply, “and it always interests me
to see brute force controlled by skill, energy, and strength of will.
You guide these fiery horses with such a calm sense of power, that I
could never feel afraid when you were driving me.”

Miss Crofton was decidedly a clever woman; if there was one thing on
which in his secret soul Harry prided himself, it was on his driving;
and this practical compliment, standing as it unfortunately did in
somewhat marked contrast to his wife’s feminine dislike of certain
contentions with “queer tempered” horses, which had at odd times come
in for a specimen of Cover-dale’s “quiet manner,” appealed to his
weak point--he was mortal, and it touched him, and at the touch his
taciturnity vanished, and straightway he began to confide to his
dangerous companion all his most secret thoughts and feelings in regard
to----bitting hard-mouthed horses. It seemed an unlikely topic for
Arabella to make much of, and yet she allowed him to run on, listening
with a smile of pleased attention; for though his talk was solely
equestrian, yet it served as well as any other subject to melt away the
icy barrier behind which Harry had hitherto entrenched himself, and thus
effectually defended himself against all attempts at a renewal of the
former intimacy which appeared to have existed between them. Having
explained completely to his own satisfaction the advantage which in the
instance under consideration would be gained by driving “brown muzzle”
 up at the “cheek,” and the white-nosed horse in the “lower-bar,”
 together with copious notes, descriptive and explanatory, and
voluminous annotations and reflections on this momentous question, Harry
metaphorically resumed his seat amid continued cheering, and Arabella
Crofton rose in reply. Of course she started on horses, to which she
soon attached carriages, by means of which she in an incredibly short
time contrived to ride back to Italy, and finding Harry stood it better
than she expected, she continued in a voice indicative of deep but
repressed feeling--

“Ah! that was a strange, strange summer we passed there! And yet, now I
can calmly look back upon it, there were many happy hours, bright, sunny
little bits, to set against the deep shadows of such a life as mine,
times when I enjoyed the privilege of your friendship, before”--and here
her voice faltered--“before I forfeited that and everything, even my
self-respect, by my own mad folly!”

She paused in emotion, and her companion replied in a kind, frank

“Why distress yourself by reviving a disagreeable reminiscence?” (as
he used the word a slight shudder seemed to convulse her, and a look
of pain, but not the pain of contrition, flitted across her handsome
features)--“an affair which I have, as I promised you, practically
forgotten, which I should never again have entered upon with you, and in
regard to which my lips are sealed to every other living creature.”

“You are kind and generous-hearted, as you ever were,” was the
rejoinder, “but I cannot forget so readily”--here she paused, sighed
deeply, then continued--“I am so glad to have had this--> this
conversation with you; your manner has been so cold and stern, I was
afraid you had repented of your promise that if we ever met again it
should be as friends.”

“Well, you sec,” returned Harry, in an embarrassed tone, “you see
circumstances have changed with me since the time to which you refer;
and I thought--in fact, you yourself said in that note it would be
better--I assure you I meant nothing unkind, why should I? as long as
you----” and here, having been on the point of “putting his foot in it,”
 as he mentally paraphrased his colloquial _etourderie_, Harry paused
in confusion, actually blushing in his generous fear of wounding his
companion’s feelings. Having relieved his embarrassment by giving that
unfortunate scapegoat, the white-nosed horse, one more for himself, be
resumed--“And now let me ask you whether you approve of the wife I have

Harry made this inquiry, not because he felt particularly anxious
to learn Arabella’s opinion of Alice, but because he wanted to say
something, and this was the first idea which occurred to him, thus the
moment he had spoken he wished the speech unsaid. Miss Crofton hesitated
for a moment ere she replied, in a slightly constrained tone of voice--

“Your choice does your taste credit; for, in her style, Mrs. Coverdale
is singularly pretty, and I can imagine her very attractive--when she

“You speak as if she had not pleased, in your case,” rejoined Harry,
smiling at the unmistakable emphasis with which the concluding words had
been spoken. Miss Crofton smiled also; then with a melancholy expression
she replied--

“In my anomalous position in life, I am too well accustomed to slights
to feel a moment’s annoyance at such trifles.”

“But it annoys me though,” returned Coverdale, firing up with the
indignation all generous natures feel at the idea of indignity being
offered to any one in a dependent situation. “I am surprised at such
want of right feeling, or even common courtesy, in Alice! She cannot be
aware of the impression her manner has made on you. I shall speak to her
about it.”

“Do not think of such a thing!” exclaimed Arabella, hastily; “it was
folly in me to mention it:”--she fixed her eyes on his face, and reading
there that his resolution was unchanged, she laid her hand gently on his
arm, and continued. “Listen, and I will tell you the whole truth womanly
instinct, I suppose, made your wife dislike me from the first moment she
was introduced to me. I have tried in vain to conquer her dislike,
and we now, by a sort of tacit consent, avoid each other; were you to
interfere in my behalf, it would be of no avail; on the contrary,
it would increase the evil, and, pardon my saying, might lead to a
disagreement between you; for, I may be mistaken, but I have fancied
Mrs. Coverdale appears a little impatient of control sometimes--I hope I
am mistaken.”

She waited for a reply; but Harry, not being able to deny the charge,
and not choosing to assent to it, remained silent, and she, rightly
interpreting his reserve, continued:--

“In that case, I implore you, do not dream of advocating my cause. Were
I to be the occasion of any difference between you, it would render me
most unhappy.”

After a moment’s silence, she added--

“I was so much interested when I heard you were going to be married, and
hoped, nay prayed, that you might be as happy as I would--would always
have you. I am grieved to think that Mrs. Coverdale should not fully
appreciate the prize she has drawn in that most uncertain of all
lotteries, marriage; but I feel sure she will learn to understand you
better, and all will come right: you are evidently much attached to her,
and that being the case, she _must_ love you.” Then in a lower tone she
added--“_You_ are not one likely to love in vain.”

What reply, if any, Harry would have made to this speech, will never be
known, as at that minute they entered the line of carriages setting down
at the gate of the Chiswick Gardens, and Coverdale had enough to occupy
him in preventing his excitable horses from committing a breach of the
peace. Whether or no the phaeton groom was an observant man we cannot
say, but if he felt the degree of amiable interest usually displayed by
domestic servants in the affairs of their superiors, he must have been
struck when mentally contrasting Mr. Coverdale’s manner of handing Miss
Crofton into and out of that open carriage by an immense accession of
cordiality, for which he was probably more puzzled to account than we
trust the reader finds himself.


“We have somehow contrived to lose sight of the barouche,” exclaimed
Coverdale, after looking up and down the line of carriages in vain; “I
expect they must have escaped us when that white-nosed horse shyed at
Punch; I fancied I knew which way they had turned, but I must have gone
down a wrong street--poor old Crane will be in fits--I wonder what we
had better do?”

“What I should suggest is to walk slowly backwards and forwards inside
the gate, and watch for their arrival,” returned Arabella, wishing in
her secret soul that one of the barouchehorses might have fallen dead
lame, or that any other catastrophe, not involving injury to life or
limb, might have befallen the rest of the party.

After parading up and down with most laudable perseverance for nearly
half an hour, during which time the crowd grew thicker and thicker,
and everybody arrived except the party they were in search of, Harry
suddenly exclaimed,--

“You’ll be tired to death with all this pushing and squeezing; they must
have come some shorter way, and got here before us; let us go on to the
conservatory, we shall meet them there, I dare say.”

When they reached the conservatory, however, they found the crowd so
dense that to attempt to discover their missing friends would have
involved a difficulty, beside which that popular definition of a forlorn
hope, “looking for a needle in a bottle of hay,” would have sunk into
comparative insignificance. There were a couple of chairs near the exit
from the conservatory, from which a lady and gentleman rose as they

“Suppose we take possession of those seats,” suggested Arabella, “and
watch the people as they come out; I must honestly confess I am both hot
and tired.”

“I sympathise in the first adjective,” returned Harry, taking off his
hat to allow the air to cool his heated brow; “I’ve walked up hill
through heather on the moors for six hours at a stretch, and not been
so warm as this; but then I must own I was in better condition; one eats
too many dinners in London, don’t you see, and can’t get exercise enough
to keep a fellow in working order.”

Having made a suitable reply to this and sundry other thoroughly Harry
Coverdale-ish remarks, Miss Crofton turned the conversation by asking--

“Pray, is that Mr. D’Almayne a particular favourite of yours?”

“Not a bit of it,” was the unhesitating reply; “rather the other thing,
in fact. I consider him a confounded puppy; and have what you ladies
call a presentiment that some of these days I shall be obliged to give
him a lesson which he will not forget in a hurry.”

“Then you also have observed--” began Arabella.

“I have observed nothing in particular,” interrupted Harry, quickly;
“but I know this, if I were old Crane I would not have an insufferable,
ridiculous, young fop dangling about my house every day, and all day

“I think it is silly and imprudent in Kate to allow it,” returned
Arabella, “and I ventured to tell her so, but she did not take the hint
kindly, and I have not attempted to recur to the subject. I am afraid
her marriage has not improved her; I really believe since I spoke to her
she has been kinder to Mr. D’Almayne than before; he and his insinuating
young friend, Lord Alfred Courtland, have almost lived in Park Lane this
last week.”

“_His_ friend!” exclaimed Harry, “little Alfred is my friend--he and I
were at school together--that is, he was at the bottom when I was at the
top; I introduced him to D’Almayne myself, and now I wish I had left it
alone; oh, there’s no harm in little Alfred--besides, I never heard him
speak a dozen words to Kate Crane.” A meaning smile passed across his
companion’s handsome features, but she only said,--

“I am sorry he is your friend; I am afraid Mr. D’Almayne is a dangerous
acquaintance for so vain and weak a young man.”

“Alfred is no fool, though perhaps firmness is not his strong point,”
 returned Coverdale; “vain perhaps he is--all handsome boys are, I
suppose. But why do you say you are sorry he is my friend?”

Miss Crofton was silent for a minute, then in a timid and hesitating
voice replied,--

“You will be angry with me if I tell you my reason for disliking Lord
Alfred’s constant visits; you will doubt what I say, and impute to me
all kinds of false and evil motives for saying it.”

“Go on,” returned Harry, in a low, stern voice, “you have said too much
for me to rest satisfied not to hear more--tell me _all_ you know or
suspect; but take care--if, as you say, you value my good opinion--that
you speak only the simple truth.”

Thus urged, Miss Crofton proceeded cautiously to relate, that much as it
grieved her to say anything which might cause him pain or annoyance,
she would not disguise from him that she felt convinced Lord Alfred
Courtland was deeply smitten with Alice, and that his frequent visits
to Park Lane were the result of his admiration--that, moreover, Horace
D’Almayne was evidently doing his best to nurse what had been a mere
boyish fancy into a warmer and stronger feeling; of his motive she
was unable to Judge, but of the fact she was certain; she believed,
moreover, that he possessed a strong and daily increasing influence over
the young man.

“And Alice?” inquired Coverdale, with flashing eyes, “what of Alice?
Beware how you tell me that she encourages this misguided, foolish boy!
for by heaven, if you do, and it should appear that you have misjudged
her, I should be tempted to inform her and all the world the reason
which has induced you to invent such malicious calumnies!”

“You wrong me by your unkind suspicions,” was Arabella’s calm reply, “as
much as you wrong yourself by an ungenerous threat which you would be
incapable of executing; it is not for me to judge Mrs. Coverdale one way
or the Other. I have satisfied my conscience in warning you; I leave
you now to examine and observe for yourself, and test the truth of my
statement--but of one thing I am certain, Horace D’Almayne has some deep
scheme _in petto_, and that he is an unscrupulous adventurer, clever
enough to render him a most dangerous associate for any one--a person to
beware of, in short.”

“If I become convinced he is putting young Alfred up to any such
rascality as you imagine, I’ll break the scoundrel’s neck for him!”
 growled Coverdale, in a tone like the rumbling of distant thunder.

As he spoke some one touched him on the shoulder, and looking round, he
was more surprised than pleased to see the object of his kind intentions
standing behind the chair on which he was seated. How long he might have
been there, or how much of their conversation he might have heard, it
was impossible to tell; but so convinced was Coverdale that D’Almayne
had been playing the eavesdropper, that he was on the point of inquiring
what amount of information he had thus acquired, and especially whether
he had clearly understood the fate that awaited him, if he were really
inciting “little Alfred” to make love to his wife, when D’Almayne, who
possessed a womanly predilection for always having the first and last
word, began--

“Pardon me if I interrupt what appears a most interesting conversation,
but I have been hunting all over the gardens for the last half-hour
to find you. Mr. Crane imagines you have eloped with his phaeton and
horses, and Mrs. Coverdale is so completely _au désespoir_ at the
loss of her husband, that even Lord Alfred Courtland’s attentions are
powerless to console her;--really, Miss Crofton, it is too cruel of you
to seduce Benedick from his allegiance to his Beatrice--you might be
content with enslaving us poor bachelors!”

This speech was not particularly palatable to Arabella, and she would
probably have passed it over in contemptuous silence had she not glanced
at Coverdale; but, perceiving by his flashing eye and quivering lip that
he was so angry that he literally dared not trust himself to reply,
she hastened to prevent anything unpleasant occurring between them, by
observing in her usual calm, slightly sarcastic manner--

“It is like Mr. D’Almayne’s policy to screen himself by throwing the
blame on the injured party. We have been roaming up and down like
restless ghosts, hunting for Mrs. Crane and Mrs. Coverdale for the last
half-hour--ever since we arrived, in fact, until I grew so tired, that
out of compassion Mr. Coverdale allowed me to sit down and rest.”

“One word, Mr. D’Almayne,” interrupted Harry, regardless of an imploring
look and gentle pressure of the arm from Arabella Crofton, “you made a
joke (for I suppose you do not wish me to consider you spoke seriously)
about my wife a minute ago; now I’m a quick-tempered fellow--touchy you
may call it, upon some points, and this happens to be one of them; so
to prevent anything disagreeable, I tell you frankly _I don’t like such
jokes_--you understand?”

Horace _did_ understand; he glanced at Harry’s face. The handsome mouth
was sternly compressed--the small, well-cut nostril quivered, and the
large dark eyes flashed with the anger he could scarcely restrain, his
tall form was drawn up to its full height--his broad chest dilated,
and the muscles stood out on his stalwart arms until their shape became
visible beneath the “Zephyr Paletot;” altogether, Coverdale did not look
just then the kind of man with whom it would be pleasant to quarrel: so
D’Almayne, deeming “discretion the better part of valour,” smiled, and
said something which might mean anything, and conveyed a clear idea of
nothing, in his most fascinating manner, and then piloted his companions
to the spot where he had agreed on a rendezvous at a certain time with
the Crane party. They had not yet made their appearance, however, and
D’Almayne (who, since Harry gave him the “caution” conveyed in his last
speech, had evinced a marked desire to keep on good terms with, and
out of arms reach of, so dangerous an acquaintance), guessing their
whereabouts, volunteered to go and fetch them.

“Pray do not quarrel with that man,” urged Arabella, as D’Almayne
quitted them; “you are as little his equal in scheming and manoeuvring,
as he is yours in strength and courage, and for this reason he is more
to be dreaded than if he were a very Hercules; do not lose your temper
with him, for by so doing you will put yourself in the wrong and play
his game; come, be guided by me in this matter; believe me, my only
object is to secure your happiness.”

As she spoke, she looked up in his face with such an expression of
interest, not to say affection, that Coverdale, whose anger at the worst
was always a very evanescent affair, felt an impulse of pity for her,
which appeared in the softened tones of his voice, as he replied:--

“Don’t be afraid; I’m not going to give him his deserts at present, and
I’m very sorry I spoke harshly to you just now; but I know Alice to
be so good, and true, and pure--innocent and spotless as a child (by
heaven, the slightest blow to my faith in her would drive me mad!), and
the mere mention of that foolish boy supposing her to be a fit recipient
for his romantic sentimental nonsense, made me lose my temper: but you
need not fear my doing anything hasty. I shall, as you advise, observe
Alfred Courtland, and if, as I feel certain, his attentions annoy Alice,
I shall speak to him seriously and kindly (I know the boy has a good
heart, and that it is D’Almayne who has set him on this business, if he
_is_ set on it); then, finding I am aware of it, his fancy will die a
natural death; but I have little expectation that my preaching will be
required. Alice’s indifference will work the best cure.”

As he spoke, the Crane party came in sight, Kate and her husband leading
the van, closely attended by Horace D’Almayne; while, at some little
distance behind them, lingered Alice on the arm of Lord Alfred
Courtland. As they came up, he was addressing her in an earnest,
pleading manner. Alice appeared thoughtful and _distraite_, but the
moment her eye fell upon Harry and Miss Crofton she started, coloured
up, and turning to her companion, said in a hurried, eager tone--

“Such constancy and perseverance, my lord, deserve rewarding,” and as she
spoke she gave him a rosebud she carried in her hand, which he fastened
in his button-hole with an expression of eager delight.

Alice’s words and action were neither of them lost upon her husband or
his companion.


It is popularly asserted and believed that everything has two sides
to it. Even a plum-pudding has an inside and an out; and that romantic
malady, yclept “love unrequited,” although at first sight it appears an
entirely one-sided affair, often demonstrates its bilateral capabilities
by proving a much less heart-rending business than was imagined, when
the lapse of time enables one to discern the bright side of the picture.
The Crane expedition to the Horticultural Fête formed no exception
to this law of nature:--thus, at the moment when Harry, like Hamlet’s
unfortunate papa, was having poison poured into his ear, and was
gradually working himself up to the bolster-scene-in-Othello pitch,
Alice, that pleasant little Desdemona, unconsciously amused herself with
Cassio, Lord Courtland, emulating Dr. Watts’s “busy bee,” by flitting
from flower to flower, laughing at very small jokes, and altogether
conducting herself with great levity, and in a singularly undignified
manner--at least, so Mr. Crane thought; and as he was said to be made of
gold, his opinions ought to have partaken of the value of that precious
metal. But Mr. Crane had never quite forgiven Alice for not appreciating
his many excellences, and was disposed to judge her harshly. After a
time, however, when the novelty of the scene began to wear off--when
Alice had reviewed the contents of Howell and James’s, Swan and Edgar’s,
Redmayne’s, and other ruination shops, on the fair forms of the
ladies of the land--when she had “oh-how-beau-tiful-ed” and
“is-n’t-it-lovely-ed” the flowers to her heart’s content--when she had
heard, and longed to dance to, the Guard’s band, suddenly a dark
vision rose to her mind’s eye--her husband _tête-à-tête_ with that evil
mystery, Arabella Crofton, obscured the sunshine of her spirit; the
rose-coloured spectacles through which she had beheld Vanity Fair fell
off; the serpent had entered in; and, for Alice Coverdale, Chiswick was
Paradise no longer. Thereupon she decided that Lord Alfred was a silly,
tiresome boy, and worried her with his childish nonsense; that Mr. Crane
was a fractious old idiot, who ought to be shut up in an appropriate
asylum; that Kate looked bored and tired, which she did not wonder
at; that Horace D’Almayne was fitter for the Zoological than the
Horticultural Gardens, and deserved to be caged with the chimpanzees
without loss of time; and, finally (forgetting their separation had
resulted from a caprice of her own), that Harry was very unkind to stay
away from her in that way, with that hateful creature, Arabella Crofton,
whom she was sure he liked after all, though he did pretend to treat her
so coldly.

Then people began to push and crowd, and dresses became tumbled; and
D’Almayne having left the party to look for Harry and Miss Crofton, Mr.
Crane misled them, and they fell into difficulties, and were very hot
and uncomfortable; and Alice quite pined to meet her husband, whose
sturdy arm would have supported her, and whose tall figure and broad
shoulders would have forced a way for her through the crowd. Next, Lord
Alfred began to tease her to give him a flower from her bouquet, and
got snubbed for his pains; until Horace D’Almayne, returning, made
his report, viz., that, after much toil and trouble, he had at length
discovered Miss Crofton and Mr. Coverdale, seated together in a
shady corner, apparently absorbed in some deeply interesting topic
of conversation. This information, tallying so exactly with her worst
fears, and finding poor little Mrs. Cover-dale both vexed and tired,
very nearly produced a burst of tears, to avoid which pathetic
display she did that which the unfortunate first Mrs. Dombey failed
to effect--viz., she “made an effort,” and became, not exactly herself
again, but Alice Coverdale as she appeared when enacting the heartless
coquette. And this she did, poor child! not from a want, but from a
superfluity of heart. So, seeking to read her truant husband a practical
moral lesson on the iniquity of charioteering dangerous damsels, in
common with whom he possessed mysterious antecedents, she afforded Lord
Alfred a “material guarantee” of her favour, in the shape of the flower
he had coveted; and having thus firmly riveted his chains, ostensibly
petted and made much of her captive. This conduct on his wife’s part was
by no means calculated to soothe Harry Coverdale, pained, ruffled,
and excited by his conversation with Arabella Crofton; and, without
reflecting on the prudence or politeness of such a proceeding, he left
his late companion to take care of herself, and stalking with stately
steps, as of an offended lion, up to Lord Alfred Courtland, observed, in
a tone of dignified irony--

“I am much obliged to your Lordship for taking such _extreme_ care of
Mrs. Coverdale, but will now relieve you from any further trouble on her
account: take my arm, Alice.”

Lord Alfred, strong in the possession of his rosebud, felt inclined to
resist, and murmured something about its being a pleasure rather than
a trouble; while Alice was just determining to support her swain, when
luckily she happened to read in Harry’s flashing eye symptoms of the
approach of an attack of his “quiet manner,” so hastily disengaging her
arm, she placed it within that of her husband, saying, as she did so--

“I am not going to let this truant escape, now that I have caught him.
He deserves punishment--so I shall inflict my society upon him for the
rest of the afternoon, unless,” she added, with a glance which bewitched
Lord Alfred more completely than before, “I should find any stringent
necessity to exercise my feminine prerogative of changing my mind.”

“Your friend Mr. Coverdale’s method of relieving you of your fair charge
was more vigorous than polite, _mon cher_,” remarked D’Almayne to Lord
Alfred, who, feeling he was _de trop_, had left the wedded pair to their
own devices. “However, I think I have obtained a clue, which I have only
to follow up, to arrive at a discovery which will help you on with
your pretty little lady-patroness, by rendering her more the _femme
incomprise_, and neglected wife than ever.”

“Indeed!” was the reply; “what a clever fellow you are! I certainly owe
Coverdale one, for his manner to me just now was anything but nice. Tell
me, what have you discovered?”

“Well, it seems nothing very remarkable at first; but many a large said
goodly oak has grown from as small an acorn. Listen--the immaculate
Harry Coverdale has a private understanding with that dark-eyed gipsy,
Arabella Crofton; they are a great deal more intimate and confidential
in a _tête-à-tête_, than they allow themselves to appear in general
society. I must try and learn what passed between them in Italy, and
I think I can do so with very little trouble. I saw a man in town
yesterday, Archie Campbell, who married one of the Muir girls, with whom
the fair--or rather the dark--Arabella lived as governess, when they
tried to exchange their Scotch brogue for the _lingua Toscana_. She
went to Italy with them, and there met Harry Coverdale--that I know as a
fact; for additional particulars, I shall apply to the said Archie.”

“Then do you think--do you conceive--do you mean to imply, in fact, that
Mr. Coverdale is attached to this Miss Crofton?” stammered Lord Alfred,
colouring, as though he, and not Alice’s husband, were the supposed

“You always put things into such plain words, _mon cher_; it is a
foolish habit, and the sooner you can divest yourself of it the better,”
 was D’Almayne’s reply; “probably the mighty Nimrod, in flirting with
Miss Crofton, means no more harm than you do by your Platonic attachment
for his pretty wife. Nevertheless, if such should prove the fact, and
you gently insinuate the same to _la belle Alice_, the chances are that
she will be kinder than ever, to evince her gratitude for your having
rendered her jealous of her husband--not that you seem to require any
help--I saw where that rosebud came from, _coquin_; but now you may, if
you will, render me a service; find your way to the entrance-gate, and
wait till my friend, Monsieur Guillemard, makes his appearance--probably
you will find him waiting there already--and having discovered him,
bring him here.”

As the obedient lordling strolled away on his mission, the indefatigable
Horace gathered a rose; then approaching Kate Crane, he lisped in his
most dreamy and affected style--

“I’ve been searching everywhere to find a rose of that peculiar tint
which might harmonise and yet contrast well with your dress; at length,
I am charmed to say my efforts have been successful. Mr. Crane, will you
favour me by presenting this rose to Madame? Coming through your hands,
I feel sure it will be accepted.”

“No, positively; that is, really it will be much more fitting--if I may
be allowed to say so--that, as you have been so obliging as to find it,
you should yourself present it. Mrs. Crane will, I feel convinced, be
happy to acknowledge your politeness, by accepting a flower offered--if
I may be permitted to say so--with such propriety and respect.”

D’Almayne appeared about to avail himself of the permission which Mr.
Crane thus graciously accorded him; when suddenly drawing back, he
exclaimed, “Excuse me one minute; the thorns are so very sharp, I am
afraid to hand it to you without some protection against them;”--then,
taking a slip of paper from his waistcoat pocket, he wound it round the
stem of the flower, and fixing his eyes with a meaning look on those
of Kate, he gave her the rose. Having done so, he began talking to Mr.
Crane; and soon contrived, by a judicious selection of topics, chiefly
connected with the Stock Exchange, to engross that zealous Mammonite’s
attention. As soon as his wife perceived this to be the case, she
unrolled the paper from the stem of the rose, and, glancing at it
hastily, perceived the following words written in Horace D’Almayne’s
neat hand: “Give me five minutes’ conversation--I will make the
opportunity, if you will avail yourself of it.” Instantly crushing it
in her hand, she rushed into conversation with Arabella Crofton, on the
merits and demerits of certain new annuals; which subject, skilfully
managed, lasted her until Lord Alfred Courtland returned, arm in arm
with Monsieur Guillemard, better got up, more jaunty, and in yellower
kid gloves than ever. This vivacious foreigner was instantly captured
by Horace, and desired to explain, “as he alone could do,” the peculiar
advantages of that famous investment in Terra Cotta preference bonds,
as Mr. Crane had an odd £10,000 lying comparatively fallow--only at
three-and-a-half per cent---which he would be glad to put out well. So,
foolish avarice and clever roguery ambled off together. Then D’Almayne
contrived to dispatch Coverdale and his wife to look at a wonderful
specimen of the _Hypothetica Screamans_, and to saddle Lord Alfred with
Arabella Crofton, although that smitten young aristocrat would have
preferred to have trotted mildly about after Alice, like a pet lamb.
Having disposed of these supernumeraries, he as a matter of course
offered his arm to Kate, who had quietly acquiesced in his arrangements,
and followed at such a judicious distance that, although they still
belonged to the party, in effect they enjoyed all the advantages of a

D’Almayne was the first to break silence. “This is most kind,” he said,
“and leads me to hope that you are at length beginning to understand
me--to perceive that my only wish is to act the part of a true friend
towards you. I have a conviction that I owe a duty to you, for I
often reflect with pain how large a share I had in bringing about your

At these words Kate gave a slight start, and her colour deepened: not
appearing to observe these signs of agitation, her companion resumed:

“You may not be aware that it was by my advice that Mr. Crane
transferred his attentions from your cousin (whose affection for Mr.
Coverdale I perceived would oppose an effectual barrier to his wishes)
to yourself:--my object in doing so was twofold. Mr. Crane had shown
me much kindness and attention; he was anxious to marry some one
whose presence would invest his home with an air of distinction and
attractiveness which his wealth could never bestow. The moment I beheld
Miss Marsden, I felt that no one could do so more efficiently. Thus,
from an impulse of gratitude towards Mr. Crane, I persuaded him that it
would be in every way a most suitable and desirable match, and induced
him to make such an offer to Mr. Hazlehurst as should neutralize any
objection that gentleman might have had to your occupying the position
he had destined for his daughter. Again mistaking, in great measure,
both your character and that of Mr. Crane, I believed you would have
suited each other far better than I fear is the case: I fancied you
ambitious, and that the power which wealth would bestow would render you
not only contented, but happy; while I trusted marriage would develop in
Mr. Crane traits of generosity and tenderness of which I now am forced
to confess his nature is incapable. Had I guessed this sooner, I need
scarcely add, the respect and admiration I have always experienced for
one so gifted as you are, would have prevented my advocating the match.
All that now remains for me is to compensate, as far as it is in my
power to do so, for any little failures in tact (believe me they are
nothing more) of which my excellent friend, Mr. Crane, may be guilty;
and I speak thus honestly and openly, in order that, appreciating my
motives, you may place full confidence in me, and thus enable me,”--and
here he sank his voice almost to a whisper--“to assist you in bearing
the burden which I have unconsciously helped to place upon you.”

“I must believe you mean kindly by me,” was Kate’s reply; “but you are
aware that, with me, deeds tell better than words. Has the application
been made?”


“And with what result? But I fear I need scarcely ask.”

“Not a favourable one, I regret to say. Mr. Crane saw Mrs. Leonard,
hoping, I fancy, that she might have learned some tidings of her
husband; but when he became aware of the object of her visit, he not
only refused to assist her, or to do anything for her children, but grew
irritated, reproached her with what he termed her husband’s infamous
conduct, declared he had lost thousands of pounds by his negligence, and
wound up by threatening that, if she ever set foot in his house again,
he would give her in charge to the police. When I visited her, I found
her in tears, and utterly heart-broken by this failure of her last

“You must go to her again,” exclaimed Kate, eagerly; “tell her you
have mentioned her necessities to a lady of your acquaintance, who is
willing, and, thank God, able to assist her; give her money; find out
what she most requires; devise some plan by which she may be enabled to
support herself and educate her children. Oh! if I can save this poor
family from ruin, it will be some little----” She checked herself
abruptly, then continued: “Mr. Crane is most liberal to me, and allows
me more than I have the least occasion or desire to spend on myself--so
do not let them want for anything. And oh! be most careful--you say she
is a lady, poor thing!--be most careful not to wound her feelings. You
do not know how shrinkingly sensitive poverty makes natures that are at
all refined.”

“I fear Mr. Crane’s words, spoken, I dare say, under a very just feeling
of annoyance, both pained and irritated her,” returned D’Almayne. “She
naturally draws a strong line between the fact that her husband has
been imprudent and unfortunate, and the insinuation that he had been
criminal. Mr. Crane, I grieve to say, appeared to doubt the truth of
her statement, that Mr. Leonard was ignorant of his partner’s intended
flight and defalcation.”

“Ungenerous! cruel!” murmured Kate, carried away by her excitement, and
forgetting, or perhaps at the moment scarcely heeding, the fact that
D’Almayne’s quick ears were eagerly drinking in these acknowledgments of
the estimation in which she held her husband.

“I am most anxious to save you all trouble in this matter,” resumed
D’Almayne; “but it would be a great satisfaction to me, and relieve me
of a responsibility for which I am scarcely fitted, if you would not
object to visit Mrs. Leonard yourself: She is already most anxious to
see and thank the kind benefactress to whom I have informed her she is
indebted. Were you once to talk to her, you would perceive the gentle
yet strong nature we have to deal with; you would learn her hopes,
fears, and prospects, from her own lips, rather than through such
an unworthy interpreter as myself; you would see the interesting
children;--may I hope that you will consent?”

Kate paused--considered; but her answer demands a fresh chapter.


The question we left Kate Crane considering in the last chapter she
decided thus:--

“I should like to visit Mrs. Leonard,” she said slowly. “I feel the
truth of all you urge--but there are difficulties in the way; Mr. Crane
would greatly disapprove of such a proceeding on my part.”

“He need never know it,” suggested D’Almayne, in a voice little above a

“He need not,” returned Kate, calmly, “but I have since my marriage made
it a point of conscience never to do anything which I should object to
Mr. Crane’s hearing of; I still consider the rule a good one, and am
disinclined to break through it.”

“Does not your sensitive conscience,” rejoined D’Almayne, “lead you to
refine rather too much, until, adhering to the form of goodness, you in
a great degree lose the substance, and thus, by a chivalrous scruple of
never disobeying your husband, miss an opportunity of doing real
good, by which you would neutralise the injury which Mr. Crane’s
_peculiarities_ may otherwise inflict upon this unfortunate family? I
think, if you reflect on this for a minute, your excellent sense will
convince you that your amiable but romantic scruple is fallacious.”

Kate did reflect, and apparently her convictions assumed the shape
D’Almayne had predicted, for she replied in a less assured voice than
that in which she had formerly addressed him--

“Mr. D’Almayne, you have spoken more honestly and openly to-day than you
have ever done before, and I will treat you with equal frankness. You
were acquainted with Mr. Crane before I had ever heard his name; you
appear to know him well; you have alluded generally to his good points,
and have pointed out his weak ones with equal talent and perspicuity. I
neither admit nor deny your statements--but, in the individual instance
before us, I believe that you are right. You have been very kind in this
matter; you first introduced this poor Mrs. Leonard to my notice; you
have since taken much disinterested trouble on her account; you possess
great tact, and have divined the happiness it affords me to assist
those who, from misfortune and poverty, have fallen from the rank of
gentlewomen;--therefore, in this matter, I feel you have a claim to work
with me; for the first time, therefore, I will repose confidence in you.
I wish to visit this poor lady--how am I to accomplish it without my
husband’s knowledge?”

Horace D’Almayne had won his point, Horace D’Almayne was happy! yet he
did not clap his hands, neither did he hurrah wildly, nor dance a lively
measure around Kate Crane, whom he believed he had circumvented in a
different manner; but he forced his imperturbable countenance into an
expression of philanthropic benevolence and gratitude, and arranged with
Mrs. Crane a plan by which, during her husband’s daily worship in the
temple of Mammon his god--an edifice more familiarly known in the good
city of London as the Stock Exchange--she should visit unfortunate Mrs.
Leonard, and witness with her own eyes how justly the prince of this
world (who is identical with the monarch of a lower kingdom still)
distributes his subjects’ property.

About this time all the members of this disunited party assembled, and
jointly and severally ended their day’s enjoyment (?) by returning home
tired, dejected, and suffering more or less from that ailment which
defies those guinea-pigs, “the faculty”--an ailment as rife in St.
James’s as are cholera and smallpox within the precincts of St.
Giles’s--an ailment which, thanks to those bitter curses, the forms,
ceremonies, requirements, and prejudices of society, afflicts and hangs
heavily on many an honest man and loving woman--an ailment indigenous
even in our glorious constitution, and which has as many _aliases_ as
shapes, the spleen, _ennui_, but truest name of all, the _Heartache!_

“_Ogni Medaglia ha il suo reverso_,” there is no rule without its
exception! Horace D’Almayne was the exception to this particular
rule--he was not troubled with heart-ache, because, in the metaphysical
sense of the word, he did not possess a heart; but nature had made it up
to him by giving him a very clear head, and thus it reasoned:--

“Yes, my pretty Kate, _tout va bien_; you have grown civil, almost
kind--not yet affectionate, but that is to come. Yet she is clever;
doubts, suspects me!--what children women are, even clever women; once
appeal to their feelings, their impulses--bah! their reason lies captive
before you--they are puppets in your hand. _Ah! c’est bien drôle cette
petite existence ici cas!_ for the rest, all goes well; the beautiful
Kate shall compromise herself--the millionaire shall open wider his
purse strings--the bank wins for me--the little Alfred plays my game--
_courage, Horace!_ thy star is in the ascendant, you will die a rich man


The morning after the Horticultural Fête, Coverdale suggested to his
wife that they had, in his opinion, spent sufficient time and money in
the gay metropolis, and that agricultural and manorial duties called him
to the country forthwith; but Alice pleaded so earnestly for only one
week more of dissipation, with Lady Tattersall Trottemout’s _soirée
dansante_ at the end of it, that Harry could not find it in his heart
to refuse her. Scarcely had he yielded the point, when a letter arrived
from Tom Rattleworth, Magistrate, and Master of Fox-hounds, to inform
him that, owing to the baneful influence of a certain grand seigneur in
the neighbourhood, it was proposed to enclose a common and turn a
road, which would destroy a favourite fox cover, and give Coverdale
half-a-mile further to drive to the nearest railway-station--that the
matter was to be decided at the next meeting of Magistrates--that he
(Thomas) had striven tooth and nail to get up an opposition, in which he
had been tolerably successful, and that he considered it only required
Coverdale’s presence to prevent the evil altogether. Thus urged, Harry
had but one course to pursue, viz., commend his wife to Mrs. Crane’s
safe custody, and start for Coverdale Park forthwith, promising to
return in time for “Lady Tat. Trott.’s benefit,” as he was pleased
to term it. Alice at first opposed his going, but when she found the
question resolved itself into one of these alternatives, either that
she must let him go alone, or give up her ball and accompany him, her
opposition ceased. So Harry packed his carpet-bag and departed--and
the hours rolled by on their patent noiseless wheels, until the time
appointed for that notable solemnity, Lady Tattersall Trottemout’s
_soirée dansante_, arrived.

On that day Lord Alfred Courtland invited to a quiet dinner, at his
comfortable bachelor lodgings, Horace D’Almayne, Monsieur Guillemard,
and a youth who, because he was in every particular Lord Alfred’s exact
opposite, was an especial crony of his.

Jack Beaupeep, _otatis_ twenty-five, was a clerk in a public office
with a salary of £150 per annum, on which, by means of his talents,
he contrived to live at the rate of----anything under a thousand. As,
however, we shall not have very much to do with him in the course of
this history, we will spare the reader further details by summing up
his character in the two expressive words, “fast” and “funny.” Everybody
knows a fast, funny man; and his was a bad case of the complaint. At
a quarter to eight, P.M., on the day in question, this excellent young
buffoon of private life betook himself to Lord Alfred’s lodgings, and
finding himself first in the field, looked around with a practised eye
for the best means of turning the situation to comic effect. First he
perceived a valuable statuette of Venus, as she appeared before the
discovery of the art of dress-making, for which his innate sense of
propriety led him to improvise a petticoat, by means of a doyley and
a small portion of the red tape of old England, purloined from her
Britannic Majesty’s stores that morning, and secreted by the delinquent
for any possible exigencies of practical jesting. Having attired this
young lady to his satisfaction, he obligingly bestowed on her a real
Havannah cigar, which, thrust through an opening left by the sculptor
in her clenched hand, with the end resting against her ambrosial lips,
resembled a speaking-trumpet, anti gave her that “ship-ahoy!” kind of.
appearance with which early engravers were pleased to endow Fame. He
then wrote and watered on the pedestal of the statuette thus embellished
a label, bearing the inscription, “_Eugénie_, Empress of the French,”
 murmuring to himself, “Delicate little compliment to the illustrious
foreigner who is coming.” Next he availed himself of a pair of
boxing-gloves; “unearthing,” as he termed it, the rolls inserted in
two of the dinner napkins, and substituting for them these elementary
instructors in the noble art of self-defence; and, lastly, espying the
cruet-stand, he had just time to reverse the contents of the pepper and
sugar casters, and confuse _all_ the sauces, when to him entered Lord
Alfred Courtland.

This young nobleman’s appearance had considerably changed since first
we had the pleasure of describing him. By abstruse study, and unflagging
attention to the sayings and doings of men-about-town, he had acquired
many noble attributes--he could lounge and dawdle, and walk with a
pert yet lazy roll in his gait, as of a tipsy dancing-master, or of a
cock-sparrow afflicted with sciatica; he could lisp as though his very
tongue was too about-town-ish to speak plain, unadulterated English;
he could make play with his eyes half shut, like a timid girl, or stare
with them offensively wide open, like an insolent coxcomb, though he was
not quite perfect in this last manouvre as yet. Also, his clothes were
large and loose enough for himself and half another man-about-town
besides; and he had a bunch of baby’s toys, modelled in gold, dangling
from his watch-chain--Lilliputian house furniture, and a gun, and a
sword, and a pistol to match, and a little man in armour with impossible
features, accompanied by a horrid little skull of the same after his
decease, with two of his little golden marrow-bones crossed under it, as
if they were saying their prayers; there was likewise a ridiculous fish,
which wagged its tail, and a fox’s mask, as it is “knowing” to term the
physiognomy of that astute quadrupedal martyr; the whole to conclude
with a limp and jointed Punchinello, or Tomfool, as a _pendant _(in
every sense of the word) to the fool of larger growth who wore these
childish absurdities. Thus attired and adorned, Lord Alfred Courtland
withdrew one white hand from a pocket of his liberal trousers, and,
laying it on Beaupeep’s shoulder, with a want of energy, general
lassitude, and fish-out-of-water-ishness of manner, which did him
infinite credit, drawled forth--

“Ah! my dear fellar! this is very good of you, to come at such short

“Not at all, not at all,” was the brisk reply, for Beaupeep did not go
in for, or revere, the all-to-pieces style, but rather made it a theme
for playful jesting; “when I got your invite, I just scribbled off
a line to Palmerston to say I’d dine with him to-morrow instead of

Lord Alfred quietly raised his eyebrows, while, nothing abashed,
Beaupeep continued--

“It’s very jolly to be on those terms with a man like ‘Pam.,’ and I
consider it quite sufficient recompense for my unwearying devotion to my
public duties.”

“It really wont do with me, my dear Jack,” interrupted Lord Alfred, in
a tone of affectionate remonstrance; “reflect how long we’ve known each

“By the way,” recommenced Jack, ignoring the interruptional rebuke,
“talking of ‘Pam.’ puts me in mind of the Foreign Office, which, not
unnaturally, leads to the inquiry of who may be the illustrious ‘Mossoo’
who is to make our fourth to-day?”

“Monsieur Guillemard! oh, he is a very gentlemanly and intelligent
Frenchman, and a particular friend of Horace D’Almayne’s.”

“But _what_ is he?” continued Beaupeep, pertinaciously; “is he a noble
political exile, or a _perruquier_ from the _Palais Royal_, who can’t
meet his liabilities? does he gain a frugal living by imparting a
knowledge of his native tongue in six lessons, at half-a-crown each?

“Hush! here he is,” interrupted Lord Alfred, as a smart rat-tat-tat at
the house-door announced an arrival; “he has something to do with the
funds, and the financial interests, and the Rothschilds, and all that
mysterious pounds, shillings, and pence business, in regard to which I
have, I am afraid, no clearly defined ideas.”

“Except to spend ’em first, and make your governor shell-out
afterwards, you lucky beggar you!” was the plainly audible aside, as the
servant announced Monsieur Guillemard and Mr. D’Almayne.

After the ceremony of introducing the volatile Jack to the new comers
had been performed, that individual immediately attached himself, and
devoted his conversation to Monsieur Guillemard, whom he persisted in
addressing as “Mossoo le Comte,” and whom he seemed to imagine just
caught in some very foreign country indeed, and ignorant of the simplest
English manners and customs; a delusion to which that gentleman’s
limited acquaintance with Bindley Murray’s, or, indeed, any other
British grammar, lent some slight colouring.

“I think I observed, Mossoo le Comte, that you came in a Hansom cab?”
 remarked Jack.

“Yers, we promenaded in a ver handsome carb, a handsome hors also; you
shall drive some much more handsome hors in your street than with us,”
 was the reply.

“The native British cab is a great and noble product of the liberal
institutions of this free and happy land,” returned Jack, oratorically;
“if an Englishman chooses to walk, an enlightened legislature not only
allows him to do so, but provides him with a granite pavement to walk
upon; if he chooses to ride, the legislature has a cab awaiting his
slightest wink--a mere contraction of the eyelid, Mossoo le Comte,
obtains for the wearied Englishman a luxurious vehicle, a swift and
steady horse, and a skilful driver, prepared to convey him one mile
in any conceivable direction, for the trifling outlay of sixpence

“With the advantage of studying the _patois_ of Billingsgate in for the
money, when the cabman returns thanks for his fare,” added D’Almayne.

Jack Beaupeep favoured him with a glance of inquiry which, if it had
been framed in words, would have run thus--“Are you a knave or a fool?”
 Apparently deciding in favour of the former hypothesis, he resumed--

“The additional attraction to which you so perspicuously allude, my dear
sir, involves yet another striking peculiarity--viz., this driver,
who so carefully conducts you through the crowded thoroughfares of our
colossal metropolis, is no servile hireling, no parasitical serf to
crouch at your feet, but a man, sir--a freeborn Briton--with as much
vested right in ‘Rule Britannia’ as yourself. Sir! when a dissatisfied
cabman alludes to ray eyes and limbs, I open widely those aspersed
optics, proudly draw up those vituperated limbs, and rejoice that he and
I are fellow-countrymen!”

“My dear Jack, we’re not upon the hustings; we have none of us the
slightest intention of coming in for anywhere; and dinner has been
served for the last five minutes,” suggested his host, mildly.

Favouring him with a melodramatic scowl, which, at “Sadler’s Wells” or
the “Victoria,” would, in theatrical parlance, have “brought down the
house,” Jack exclaimed--

“Is it thus a haughty aristocracy strives to trample on the honest poor
man! it is not well in ye, my lord, and before an illustrious foreigner,
too; alas, my country!”--then perceiving that Guillemard was regarding
him with a glance which evinced extreme doubts as to his sanity, that
D’Almayne was looking supercilious, and Lord Alfred annoyed at his
absurdity, Jack experienced the proud conviction that he had attained
his object--viz., to astonish, confuse, and discomfit everybody.
Having done so, he dropped the heroic, and condescended to make himself
agreeable after the fashion of ordinary mortals, which, as he was really
clever and well-informed, he succeeded in doing to a degree that, in
great measure, effaced his previous misconduct from the recollection of
his associates. He prefaced his reformation, however, by contriving to
seat Guillemard by one of the boxing-gloved napkins, a manouvre which
elicited from that perplexed foreigner the exclamation, “_Mais que
diable!_ vot shall zies be?” and a reproving “Jack, you idiot, how can
you!” from Lord Alfred, who was equally amused and scandalised at his
friend’s absurdities. But a Frenchman’s tact is seldom long at fault;
and by the time Guillemard had extricated the boxing-glove from its
envelope, he continued--

“_Ah, je comprends_, I apprehend! Monsieur Jacques Pipbo! _il est
gai, il est farceur_, he vos play vot you call von practicable joke,
_n’est-ce-pas, Milor?--bien comique!_ ver fonney, ha! ha!”

So, harmony being established, they ate, drank, and were merry;
Champagne, Moselle, Rhine wines, French wines, wines with names we know
but cannot pronounce, wines with names we do not know and could not
spell if we did, were produced, and done justice to, during dinner and
dessert; and then they quietly settled down to Claret at 80s. the dozen,
which tasted best, as they agreed, out of tumblers; Fribourg’s finest
cigars also made their appearance and were not neglected; and for some
time these four lords of the creation enjoyed life undisturbed. But
Frenchmen seldom sit long over their wine. D’Almayne had too many
schemes, which required a cool head to carry them out, to venture to
inflame his brain with the juice of the grape; and by ten o’clock Lord
Alfred proposed a hand at piquet, to while away an hour or so, until
it should be time to adjourn to Lady Tattersall Trottem-out’s ball,
to which Mentor and his pupil were invited; so Guillemard and his
host began to play, Jack Beaupeep and his companion watching them,
and betting half-crowns on the varying chances of the game. At first,
fortune seemed inclined to befriend Lord Alfred, for he won three times
consecutively; and Jack, who, as he observed, was resolved “to back
the thorough-bred colt,” realised capital to the amount of

“_Ah! lah!_ Horace, _mon cher!_ you shall bet wis me _contre moi-même!_
I cannot play for a so little stake, he does not agree wis me!”
 exclaimed Monsieur Guillemard, tossing down the cards pettishly.

“Let us double them, Monsieur,” began Lord Alfred, eagerly; “I was just
going to propose it when you spoke; nothing is more _ennuyant_ than
playing for inadequate stakes.”

“_Mais oui!_ you have reason, my Lord. Horace, _mon ami_, mix me _de
Veau sucrée_ wis a Ouinam Laque ice in him; I have thirst; he makes hot
this evening.”

“Not a bad idea, only I’ve a better one,” rejoined Lord Alfred; “brew
some Sherry-cobbler, Jack; ring the bell, and order the materials: it’s
your deal, Monsieur Guillemard.”

Sherry-cobbler is _not_ a safe thing to play piquet upon, especially
when your opponent confines himself to _eau sucrée_. Lord Alfred lost,
grew excited, doubled the stakes again and lost, trebled them and won,
then played on recklessly against a run of ill-luck, until D’Almayno

“It is twelve o’clock, Alfred, _mon cher_; wo shall be late for Lady

“----Lady Tatt.!” was the uncomplimentary reply; “I shall not go.”

D’Almayne leaned over him, and observing in a whisper, “You forget _la
belle Alice_ is expecting you,” drew the cards from his reluctant hand.

Rising sulkily, Lord Alfred walked with a slightly unsteady step to a
writing-table, took pen and ink, and hastily tracing a few words, handed
the paper to Monsieur Guillemard--it was a cheque for £500!

“Ring for the brougham, D’Almayne,” he continued; “Monsieur Guillemard,
you must give me my revenge at an early opportunity; good night,
Jack;” then turning away with a laugh, as he perceived that youthful
legislator, who had “gone in” for Sherry-cobbler rather too zealously,
fast asleep on the sofa, he retired to his dressing-room to remove, as
far as he was able, the outward effects of wino and excitement.

As he quitted the apartment, D’Almayne, after a hasty glance at the
“used up” Jack, drew Guillemard aside, and speaking French, said in an
eager whisper, “You are much too precipitate, and will ruin everything;
what could persuade you to win so large a sum from him at one sitting?”

“You conceive it that I am too impressed! _Regarde!_ One gave to me this
_billet_ at the dinner-table,” was the reply.

Hastily snatching it, D’Almayne read as follows:--

“-----Street, Eleven, p.m.

“Prince Ratrapski, the Russian nobleman, has been playing deeply; has
had a run of unparalleled luck, and _broken the bank_; unless you can
come by £500 immediately, there will be an unpleasant exposure, and
D’Almayne and yourself will be, before morning, the tenants of a
debtor’s prison, with

“Your devoted,

“Le Roux.”


Lady Tattersall Trottemout lived in the Brompton and Kensington region,
and knew everybody. Her deceased papa had walked into Manchester
some fifty years since, with a good head on his shoulders, and
fourpenee-halfpenny in his breeches-pocket. Being tired with his walk,
he sat down in Manchester, and rested there for the space of forty
years, during which time, by a process peculiar to that city, his
fourpenee-halfpenny grew into an hundred and forty thousand pounds. Unto
him was born, in lawful wedlock, one only daughter, the subject of the
present brief memoir, who, on his retirement to “t’ Oud Churchyard” (as,
in his Lancashire dialect, he was accustomed to denominate his final
resting-place in the burial-ground of the Collegiate Church), inherited
the fourpence-halfpenny and its compound interest; with which, when
her mourning for her father was ended, she purchased Sir Tattersall
Trottemout. This noble baronet, who was by no means worth the price
she gave for him, had been essentially a fast man, and had run through
everything he could lay his “blood-red hand” upon--his own fortune and
the fortunes of several of his relations included--and when they were
all gone and spent, he ran through his reputation; which last “rapid
act” did not take him long, as that “bubble” was not as “wide as a
church-door, nor deep as a draw-well,” when he began upon it. Thus,
finding himself under a cloud and in difficulties--the only things he
had yet encountered which he could not run through (the good old days
of “pinking” one’s tailor instead of paying him being unfortunately
past)--Sir T. T. felt that his time was come, and that he must prepare
his mind for another--that is, a married--life. So, _otatis_ forty-five,
he went into dock, dyed his hair and whiskers, purchased a new set
of teeth, laid in a stock of patent leather boots, and ran down to
Manchester to captivate an heiress. The respectable owner of the
enlarged and embellished fourpenee-halfpenny had, at that epoch, been
about one year _under_ the turf which his future son-in-law had been
_on_ for above twenty; and his orphan daughter, of sweet nineteen,
was immediately smitten and wounded by the aristocratic appearance and
distinguished manners of the broken-down titled blackleg who sought
her.... fortune. She, being then a simple-minded, honest girl, absurd
as it may appear, loved the creature; and, despite the advice of several
kind-hearted, strong-headed, fearfully vulgar old men, who were her
trustees, guardians, legal advisers, &c. &c. (policemen, so to
speak, appointed by the lamented deceased to prevent his developed
fourpence-halfpenny being prematurely reduced to its pristine elements),
this young lady vowed she would marry Sir Tattersall Trottemout--and did
so. But, as the baronet’s talent for running through any amount of
cash was rumoured even at Manchester, the ancient policemen tied up the
fourpence-halfpenny so tightly that nobody could manufacture ducks
and drakes with it--not even Sir Tat. Trott.: so, after a few abortive
attempts, that ornament to his order gave up his evil courses, and
settled down quietly on cigars, brandy and water, and whist with
half-crown points--a notable example of the reformatory powers of
matrimony. His lady-wife went through the usual agreeable process of
awaking from “Love’s young dream,” and discovering that, after the
manner of Caliban, she had, in her simplicity,--

                   “Made a wonder of a poor drunkard,”

she, like a sensible woman, resolved to put up with her bad bargain,
keep her husband in respectable order, and create or discover some fresh
interest in life for herself. In accordance with this determination, she
restricted the marital cigars and brandy and water to certain definite
limits; tested several phases of London society; and then took her line,
and chose her associates accordingly. Being an intellectual woman, and
having literary taste up to a certain point, she affected the society
of artists of all classes, and in every department of art. Thus, at her
_soirees_, you might meet literary men of various species: historians,
novelists, journalists, critics, _et hoc genus omne_; painters,
sculptors, musicians; the leading actors of the day, male and
female,--in fact, all the celebrities whom the London season delighteth
to honour. But, knowing that talent requires an intelligent audience,
Lady Tattersall Trottemout associated a certain proportion of the
_profanum vulgus_ to worship her collected divinities. Her parties,
therefore, soon became noted as the most agreeable of their kind; and to
one of these meetings, in which dancing was to be the chief feature of
the evening, were our friends in Park Lane invited. Harry had promised
Alice that, if it were possible, he would return to escort her to
this notable gathering; however, on the appointed evening, ten o’clock
arrived, but no Coverdale. Alice was rather frightened and considerably
annoyed, but Kate persuaded her that there was no just cause for alarm;
and so, leaving a note for Harry, begging him to join them, if he should
arrive in time to make it worth while to do so, they proceeded to the
“spacious mansion” of Lady Tattersall Trottemout.

For some time, little Mrs. Coverdale was sufficiently amused by
observing the appearance, manners, and customs of the various
notabilities, as they were pointed out to her by no less a personage
than her hostess, who, attracted by the simple beauty of her new
acquaintance, and the evident pleasure and interest she took in all
that was going on around her, actually devoted to her ten minutes of
the valuable time in which, on such occasions, a clever mistress of the
house is expected, and actually contrives, to say and do something
civil to an hundred and fifty human beings, all prepared to magnify
any accidental neglect into an intended slight, and to resent it
accordingly. But, ere ten minutes had well elapsed, an illustrious
stranger arrived, who was so intensely foreign that he could not be
prevailed upon to speak or understand any language of which the deepest
philologists present were able to make head or tail, and who, in his
consequent bewilderment, had seated himself on the music-stool, with
his back towards the key-board of the pianoforte--thereby establishing a
complete blockade of that harmonious and indispensable instrument, which
no representations in French, German, or Italian, could induce him to
relinquish: so a breathless female aide-de-camp, in flaxen ringlets
and white muslin, hurried up to report this frightful dilemma to
the commandress-in-chief, who, with the greatest presence of mind,
dispatched her to summon Count Cacklewitz, the young Hungarian patriot,
who, it was generally believed, could speak everything, even his
own language, and then hastened in person to raise the siege of the
piano-forte. Alice, thus deserted, fell into the hands of a tall, gaunt,
blue woman, rejoicing in a red nose and a long fluent tongue, who began
to talk high art to her, and confused her about transcendentalism and
Carlyle,--_the_ Oxford Graduate (viz., Turner’s single and singular
disciple, wonderful Mr. Buskin), and pre-Raphaelism,--the meaning of
Tennyson, when he condescends to be obscure (for he _can_ write real
poetry, which “he who runs may read” and feel),--and of the dark
Brownings, and Macaulay and the romance of history, and many other
hackneyed pseudo-literary topics of the day, until our unlucky little
heroine lapsed into that state of mental incapacity usually described as
not knowing whether one is standing on one’s head or one’s heels. Then
began vocal music, which mercifully silenced Alice’s strong-minded
persecutor; and a rather raffish baritone gentleman, who wanted shearing
dreadfully, and was all voice, eyes, and feathers, like a lean bird,
accosted a singularly hard-featured, middle-aged German lady, as “Oh!
thou beloved one!” to which she made an appropriately tender _soprano_
reply; and the company listened with much forbearance, for quite ten
minutes, to the united affections of this interesting couple, detailed
to an accompaniment now rapturous, now pathetic, at the end of which
period they both suddenly exalted their voices, bellowed their love at
each other in one final outburst of sympathetic insanity, and subsided
into a refreshing silence. Then a young lady in a pink sash informed
the company that her brain was on fire, her heart consuming, and her
digestive organs generally in a state of spontaneous combustion, because
her fatherland writhed in the grasp of tyrants--“tra la, tra lira
la!”--which unpleasant state of affairs was much applauded by hairy
exiles, with microscopic washing bills, which they never paid, and a
monomania in regard to freedom, which they never obtained, but which had
kept them in hot water (the only water they patronized) from their youth
upwards. Lastly, a very mild young gentleman of England excited himself
about some “Rivar! rivar! shining rivar!” into which pellucid stream he
kept putting his foot “deeper and deeper still,” until every one was so
sorry for him, that the whole party appeared on the verge of hysterics,
and were forced to conceal their emotion behind fans, flounced
pocket-handkerchiefs, and white-gloved hands. Then the votaries of
Terpsichore stood at ease upon their light fantastic toes (except in
the cases of tightly-shod martyrs), and polking was the order of the
night--at which period Alice looked about and wondered what had become
of Lord Alfred Courtland, who had said a great deal on the subject of
the delight he expected in dancing with her, and had engaged her hand
for the first polka.

Now, whether any strictly moral reader, with that bad opinion of poor
human nature which very strict morality usually induces, has decided
that “every woman is at heart a rake,” and believed our little
heroine about to prove herself a “dreadful creature,” and transfer her
affections from her lawful husband to her unlawful admirer, we do
not know; but if any reader has set his (or her) heart on such a
consummation, we are sorry to be obliged to inform him that he is
mistaken. Alice considered Lord Alfred a good-natured agreeable boy,
whose conversation served to amuse her, and to whose society she had
become accustomed; she would a thousand times rather have talked to
Harry at any time, but Harry was not always attainable--indeed, the
chances were generally against her seeing anything of him from breakfast
till dinner-time, and then Lord Alfred became a very good and safe

But the first polka was over, and a _valse à deux temps_ followed
it, neither of which Alice danced, and still no Harry, no Lord Alfred
appeared; and in despair she was obliged to say Yes to a heavy cornet in
the Life-Guards, who was big enough to eat her, and polked like a
polite young elephant. Glad to escape without being squeezed to death
or trampled under foot by this ponderous young warrior, Alice had just
found a seat, when D’Almayne and Lord Alfred lounged in; the latter
immediately joined her, and claimed her promise to dance with him; but
Alice was tired and bored, and feeling that it was in some degree owing
to him that she had become so, and that he ought to have been there
sooner, she replied coldly--

“I promised to reserve the first dance for you, my lord, but the first
dance has been over some time, and several others have followed; I do
not feel disposed to dance at present.”

Of course, Lord Alfred endeavoured to excuse himself, and when Alice
declined dancing, said, “Very well, then he should sit still too--all
the night, if she pleased, for he certainly should not dance with any
one else.” So, after she had teased him until he very nearly lost the
little good temper which the events of the earlier part of the evening
had left him, she took compassion on him, and danced with him twice
consecutively; but when he urged her to do so a third time, she refused;
and on his pressing her, told him plainly, that as her husband was away
she felt bound to be more than usually particular, and that it was not
_étiquette_ to dance the whole evening with one gentleman; at which,
rebuff his lordship was pleased to take offence, and leading her to a
seat, he bowed and left her. Deserted by his lady-love, and swindled
out of his money by his pseudo-friends, this victimised young nobleman
looked about for his protector and adviser--at once patron and
parasite--Horace D’Almayne, but for some time without success; when at
length he did discover him, he was engaged in such an earnest private
conversation witli some gentleman unknown, that Lord Alfred felt it
would be ill-bred to interrupt them; accordingly, he lounged through
the rooms, resisting several introductions to “great heiresses” and
“loveliest girls in London,” all declared to be dying to dance with
him wandered listlessly into the refreshment-room, drank a tumbler of
Champagne and sodawater, and was thinking seriously of turning sulky and
going homo to bed, when D’Almayne seized him by the arm, exclaiming--

“Alfred, _mon cher_, where have you hidden yourself? I’ve been hunting
for you for the last half hour. Why have you left _la belle_ Coverdale?”

“Oh, yes! that is good! looking for me, indeed, when I passed you twice
close enough almost to brush against your elbow, and you never even saw
me, so engrossed were you plotting treason with some party unknown,” was
the captious reply.

“Ungrateful! when it was for your interest I was exerting myself,”
 returned D’Almayne, reproachfully; “but you do not explain why you have
quitted _la belle_ Alice; you really are not sufficiently attentive; no
pretty woman likes to be neglected.”

“She’s a little fickle, heartless coquette, and I’ll let her see that
I’m not so completely her slave as she appears to imagine,” answered
Lord Alfred, snappishly, at the same time filling his glass with
Champagne; “she refused to dance with me more than twice because it
was not _étiquette_, and she wished to be extra particular because
her husband was not here. I don’t think he’d overwhelm her with his
attentions if he were, unless he means to alter very much. No: the fact
is, she is out of humour, and chooses to vent it on me; it would just
serve her right if I were to go home, and leave her to her own devices.”

“Do nothing of the kind, _mon cher_; but listen to me, and--excuse me,
but don’t drink any more Champagne, or you’ll do something absurd; your
comic friend brewed that Sherry-cobbler too strong. Go quietly back to
the Coverdale; try and persuade her to dance, but if she refuses,
show no annoyance, and get her to allude again to her husband: then
carelessly and incidentally, as if you had no design in what you were
saying, suggest that she would scarcely be so particular, if she
knew what a naughty boy he had been in Italy, and having excited her
curiosity, tell her the following little anecdote.”

As a bevy of men entered the refreshment-room at that moment, D’Almayne,
linking his arm with that of Lord Alfred, led him aside, and made to him
a communication, the nature of which will appear in the due course of
this history. Lord Alfred seemed surprised, and, to his credit be it
spoken, even pained, by the information thus afforded him; and when
D’Almayne had concluded, his auditor remained a minute or so buried in
thought, then he asked abruptly--

“You are _sure_ there is still some clandestine understanding between
them--you are quite certain?”

“I am as certain as a man can be of any clandestine proceeding to which
he is not a party,” was the reply; “you are aware of what I observed
on the occasion of the Horticultural Fête. I now relate to you the
antecedents; you are no longer a child, but sufficiently a man of the
world to draw your own deductions.” The adroit flattery on the weak
point told: faith in truth and honour would argue a want of knowledge of
life; so with a slight laugh, assumptive of an omniscience in evil., he
replied, “I was willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, if it were
possible; but, as you say, the thing is clear enough; and now, how is
this to advantage me?”

“Do you ask?” was the surprised rejoinder; “I thought you told me just
now that the cruel fair one had snubbed you, by throwing her duty to
her husband at your head; so it occurred to my simplicity that this
information, properly applied, would prevent a recurrence of such

“But surely you would never have me tell _her_, and her own husband the
hero of the adventure!” expostulated Lord Alfred.

“Listen, _mon cher_, one moment,” was D’Almayne’s reply, spoken in a
low, impressive voice; “I do not wish you to follow _any_ particular
line of conduct; I have no interest to serve, no desire to gratify, by
your doing or abstaining from anything; but when you tell me you desire
to gain such and such a social position, and ask my advice as to the
best way of attaining your wishes, I, as your friend, point out the
means to you--it is for you to judge whether they are such as you choose
to employ. You must now excuse me: I see some old acquaintances of mine,
to whose memory I am anxious to recall myself.”

“Then you really advise me to tell her!” exclaimed Lord Alfred, seizing
D’Almayne’s arm in his eagerness and indecision.

“I really advise nothing of the kind, _mon cher_,” was the reply; “I
have already cautioned you against that abrupt plain-speaking of yours;
you _should_ divest yourself of that rustic habit. You could scarcely
sin more deeply against good taste and good breeding than to go to _la
belle_ Coverdale, and bring a railing accusation against her husband,
nor could you divine a plan more certain to frustrate your hopes
and wishes; but if, grieving over her misplaced confidence, you
philanthropically incline to hint to her that he is scarcely the
immaculate ascetic her imagination depicts, _c’est tout autre chose!_
and now you must excuse me;” and as he spoke, he gently freed his
coat-sleeve from Lord Alfred’s grasp, and regarding him with a
half-sarcastic, half-compassionate, but wholly irritating smile, he
turned and quitted the spot.

Thus left to his own reflections, which were none of the most agreeable,
Lord Alfred paused for a few moments in indecision; then, with a hand
tremulous from excitement, again replenished his glass, tossed down the
Champagne, and returned to the dancing-room.

During her admirer’s absence, Alice had, for want of some more
interesting occupation, been conversing with Arabella Crofton, using
all her skill to try to elicit some particulars of her acquaintance with
Harry in Italy, in which endeavour she had been most adroitly foiled
by the quiet self-possession of the _ci-devant_ governess, who told her
most readily all she did _not_ care to learn, and nothing that she did.
As Lord Alfred approached, an individual was introduced to Miss Crofton,
who desired the honour of her hand for the next polka, which desire
that young lady obligingly gratified, thus affording his lordship an
opportunity of seating himself by Alice, of which he instantly availed

“It is never right to believe in a fair lady’s nay,” he began, “so I
have returned to afford you an opportunity of confessing your change of
mind with a good grace; come, they are just going to begin a new polka,
let us take our places.”

“If ladies do always change their minds, I am going to be the
interesting exception which proves the rule,” was Alice’s reply.

“How provokingly and unnaturally obstinate you are to-night, Mrs.
Coverdale! You pretend to be fond of dancing, and yet, because I ask
you, you resolve to sit still!”

“I have already told you my reason,” rejoined Alice; “in Mr. Coverdale’s
absence I do not choose to dance the whole evening with any one

“What a pattern wife you are!” was the reply; “you give up your own
amusement, and destroy all my pleasure, out of regard for the ghost of
a scruple, which I dare say has never entered Mr. Coverdale’s brain;
really, the patient Griselda was nothing compared to you.”

Alice was annoyed by his pertinacity, and, considering this speech
impertinent, was about to repeat her refusal in terms which would have
enlightened his lordship very considerably on these points, when it
flashed across her that he might have taken rather too much Champagne;
and the idea having occurred to her, his flushed face and excited manner
confirmed it. Having sufficient liking for him to wish to prevent him
from making himself ridiculous, she good-naturedly resolved to engross
his conversation herself, and, aware of what she conceived to be the
true state of the case, not to take offence at anything he might say,
intending to read him a lecture on the following day. In accordance with
this resolution, she replied--

“I consider it a great compliment to be compared to the patient Grisel,
more particularly as I was not of opinion that she and I had very many
qualities in common. By the way,” she continued, seeking to change the
subject, and taking the first idea that occurred to her, “what do you
think of the lady whose chair you are occupying? I have never asked your
opinion of Miss Arabella Crofton.”

The question was a most unfortunate one. Alice’s continued refusal to
dance with him had annoyed Lord Alfred, and wounded his vanity; the
reason of her refusal was her absurd devotion (as he considered it) to
her husband; and now she, as it were, held the cup of revenge to his
lips by the question she had asked him. Up to this point his better
nature had struggled with the temptation successfully, but now it had
acquired an additional strength, and overcame him.

“I wonder you should care to know _my_ ideas on the subject,” he said;
and as he proceeded to work out Horace D’ Almayne’s suggestions, his
tone and manner unconsciously assumed a resemblance to that excellent
young man’s sarcastic and suggestive delivery: “Miss Crofton is merely
a recent and very slight acquaintance of mine; you should apply to Mr.
Coverdale--_he_ could tell you many much more interesting particulars of
her history than I am able to communicate, if he were willing to do so.”

All temptations to do things foolish or wrong are orthodoxly supposed
to come from the Prince of Darkness; if it be so, the fact speaks very
highly for the intellectual capacity of that sable potentate, as the
said temptations invariably adapt themselves in a most wonderful manner
to the various weaknesses and inconsistencies of our nature. Thus,
as Alice’s speech had, unintentionally on her part, appealed to Lord
Alfred’s leading foible--vanity, so, in turn, did his reply re-act upon
Alice’s vulnerable points--jealousy of Arabella Crofton, and consequent
curiosity as to her former relations with Harry Coverdale. Accordingly,
forgetting time, place, proprieties, even her doubt in regard to the
perfect sobriety of the person she was addressing, in the overpowering
interest of the question, she asked, hurriedly--

“Why do you say that? to what do you refer? has Mr. Cover-dale ever told
you anything on the subject?”

Lord Alfred smiled at the effect which his hint had produced; though,
when he marked his victim’s eager eye and trembling lip, his good
feeling made one last appeal, and he half resolved to leave D’Almayne’s
communication untold. Had he been completely himself, the good
resolution would have been formed and adhered to; but he had “put an
enemy into his mouth to steal away his brains,” and was no longer able
to control his impulses; so, by an effort, he silenced the voice of
conscience, and replied--“I shall break no confidence by telling you why
I supposed Mr. Coverdale better ‘up’ in Miss Crofton’s previous history
than I am, for he never mentioned her name in my presence; indeed, now I
come to think of it, it is a subject he always studiously avoids; but my
information relates to certain romantic passages said to have occurred
in Italy.”

“In Italy!” exclaimed Alice, aghast at this apparent realisation of all
her vague fears and suspicions. “Go on,” she continued, impatiently;
“I can listen to no hints aspersing my husband’s character; if you have
anything to say against him, do not insinuate it, but speak out plainly
and honestly.”

“Really, you mistake me,” was the reply; “I have no accusation to bring
against Mr. Coverdale: but your question recalled to my mind an anecdote
which I heard lately, and I was amused at your requiring information
from me which your own husband was so much better able to afford.”

“And what was this remarkable anecdote? Pray let me have the benefit of
hearing it, my lord,” rejoined Alice, in vain trying to look and speak
in an unconcerned manner.

“Really I think I had better not tell you; you ladies are apt to be a
little jealous sometimes without reasonable cause. ‘Where ignorance is
bliss,’ you know----” He paused with a tantalising smile, then seeing
from Alice’s manner that she was not in a humour to be trifled with, he
continued--“Well, I see you mean to hear it, so I may as well tell you
at once--not that there is anything very wonderful to tell. You must
know that, some three or four years ago, Miss Crofton, being then
younger and handsomer than she is now (she is not _my_ style, but many
people consider her vastly attractive still), was living as governess
with a family of the name of Muir, and in that capacity accompanied them
to Florence. John Muir, the eldest son, was an old college friend of Mr.
Coverdale’s, and meeting by chance in Switzerland, they joined forces,
and spent two or three months at Florence, making occasional excursions
into the adjoining country. Everything progressed with cheerfulness and
serenity in this Italian Arcadia, until one fine day the eldest Miss
Muir eloped with an individual who represented himself as a Neapolitan
count, and proved to be merely either valet or courier to the same. This
broke up the party, and Mr. Coverdale took his leave; but scarcely had
he been gone twelve hours, when, lo and behold, Miss Crofton, who had
been much blamed for not having looked after the eloped-with young lady
more closely (I suppose she was looking after somebody else), suddenly
disappeared. After hunting about Florence in vain, Pater Familias Muir
somehow obtained a clue to the lady’s whereabouts, following which he
reached a village some thirty miles distant, where he discovered Miss
Crofton, and, if my informant did not err, Mr. Coverdale also. Whether
it had been his intention to place her in that position now so much
more worthily filled, or whether he proposed an arrangement of a less
permanent character, history telleth not; suffice it to add, as the
books say, that the eloquent representations of Pater Muir induced the
lady to return with him to Florence, whence he instantly dispatched
her to England under some safe escort, while Mr. Coverdale pursued his
onward course to Turkey and the East.” He paused, but as Alice made
no reply, merely concealing her countenance behind a voluminous fan,
somewhat smaller than a peacock’s expanded tail, he continued--“Such
was the _historiette_ related to me; but scandal-mongers are so given
to exaggerate, that I dare say it is not half true, so do not _worry_
yourself about it, my dear Mrs. Coverdale.”

This consolatory codicil was added because his lordship heard, or
fancied he heard, a sound analogous to a repressed sob proceed from
behind the fan, and this pseudo-profligate young nobleman carried a very
tender heart under his embroidered waistcoat.

On receiving this confirmation of her worst, nay, more than her worst,
fears, Alice’s first impulse was to give way to a flood of tears--an
impulse so strong that, unable entirely to check it, the sob which Lord
Alfred had partially overheard was the result. The story chimed in with
her jealous suspicions so exactly, that it never for a moment occurred
to her to question the truth of it; on the contrary, it would have
required the clearest evidence of its falsehood to make her disbelieve
it. Having by a great effort repressed her tears, her next impulse was
to prevent any one, especially Lord Alfred, from perceiving how deeply
his intelligence had affected her. Accordingly she turned to him, and
replied in as careless a tone as she could summon--

“A very pretty bit of scandal, truly; and, as you say, worth as much, or
as little rather, as scandal usually is; however, the tale has served to
amuse me and put me in a good humour; so, as you seem to have set your
heart upon another dance, I suppose I must exercise my woman’s privilege
in your favour, and change my mind. They are going to waltz--shall we

Surprised and delighted at the success of his experiment, and almost
inclined to attribute supernatural wisdom to Horace D’Almayne, Lord
Alfred hastily offered his arm to his enslaver, and in another minute
they were whirling round the room in all the giddy excitement of a rapid
waltz. While the dance was still proceeding, a tall, striking-looking
man entered the room, and shading his eyes from the unaccustomed
brilliancy of the lights, carefully scrutinised the dancers, until his
glance fell upon the figures of Alice and Lord Alfred, when a shade came
over his handsome features, and leaning his shoulder against the side of
a doorway, he remained with his eyes tracking the evolutions of two of
the figures glancing before him. After he had remained motionless for
some minutes, absorbed in his own thoughts, which were, apparently, of
no over-pleasant nature, a gentle touch on the arm aroused him, and,
looking round, he perceived Arabella Crofton. She was about to address
him, but by a warning gesture he silenced her, and she remained standing
silently beside him until, in a low, stem voice, he asked abruptly--

“How often has she been dancing with him?”

“Three times, I believe; but I assure you--”

“Hush!” continued Coverdale in the same stem, impressive voice, which
was just above a whisper; “I want facts, not comments. Has she danced
with any one else since he has been here?”

“Not that I am aware of,” was the reply. “She danced with a young
guardsman before he came.”

“And since?”

“They have been either dancing or talking together, except for about ten
minutes, during the last two hours.”

Coverdale made no reply, but his lips became more sternly compressed,
and the shade on his brow grew deeper, until the dance concluded, then

“This must not go on: I shall make her come away”--he strode across the
room to where (her late partner bending gracefully over her, and talking
about nothing with the deepest _empressement_) his wife was seated.


On perceiving her husband, Alice started, and, between surprise
and anger, her cheeks assumed a hue more resembling that violent and
unsentimental flower the peony, than the blush-rose, to the use of which
our minor poets are so strongly addicted. This blush which, with all
his trust in and affection for his wife, Harry could scarcely fail to
misinterpret, did not tend to impart any great degree of cordiality to
his manner, as he thus accosted her:--

“I scarcely expected to find you still here, so late as it is; but I
only reached Park Lane within the last half-hour. There had been an
accident on the line, and our train was delayed between two and three
hours. You look flushed and tired. You’ve been tempting her to dance too
much, I’m afraid, Courtland. I saw the carriage waiting as I came in. I
should think you must have had enough of this nonsense, Alice! What say
you to coming away? I’ve lots of news to tell you from home.”

“I’m afraid your budget must wait a little longer. I’m engaged to Lord
Alfred for the next dance, and intend to fulfil my engagement; so you
had better submit to your fate quietly, and provide yourself with a
partner,” was Alice’s cool reply.

“Courtland will excuse you, I am sure,” urged Harry’; “come away, if for
no better reason than that I wish it.”

“An all-sufficient one in your autocratic eyes, I dare say,” was the
flippant rejoinder; “but the barrel-organs remind us too constantly
that ‘Britons never shall be slaves,’ for me to think of sacrificing my
freedom to all your imperious fancies. Come, my lord, they are going to
wind up with Sir Roger de Coverley; let us take our places.” So saying,
Alice accepted the proffered arm of her _cavalier servante_, and walked
off with him, leaving her husband to struggle against his rising anger
(which in her then frame of mind she saw and disregarded) as best he
might. A severe struggle it was, and one in which nothing but his deep
love for her, and fear of compromising her by word or deed, could have
rendered him successful. By a powerful exercise of self-control, he
contrived to avoid any outward manifestation of his feelings; and after
watching Alice and her partner for some minutes, with flashing eyes and
an aching heart, as they hurried through the boisterous evolutions
of that romping dance, he wandered listlessly through the rooms, now
partially deserted, seeking some spot where he might be alone with
his troubled thoughts, and avoid the necessity of replying to the
commonplaces of society, to which, at that moment, he felt himself
completely unfitted. Having passed through the music-room, he found
himself in an elegantly-furnished boudoir, which at first sight he
believed to be untenanted, and, flinging himself into an easy-chair,
leaned his head on his hands, and gave way to painful reflections. After
remaining in this attitude for several minutes, a sound resembling a
sigh caught his ear, and, hastily looking up, he perceived Arabella

“Were you here when I entered?” he inquired.

“Yes; I was standing in the recess of the window, and the curtain
concealed me. I should have spoken to you, but as I perceived you were
preoccupied, I was afraid to disturb you, and did not intend to move
until you had left the boudoir, but your ears are so quick that you
detected me. I wish,” she continued, in a timid, faltering voice, “your
brow did not wear so deep a shade, or that I were in any degree able to
remove it.” As she spoke; she drew nearer to him, and leaned her arm on
the back of the chair on which he was sitting.

Kindness and affection are never so much prized as when we have suffered
injustice at the hands of one we love. Words cannot console at such a
moment: but sympathy--the conviction that another heart feels for and
with us, is able in some degree to do so. Whatever faults Arabella
Crofton might possess,--and that they were neither few nor light no one
was better aware than Harry Coverdale,--the truth and strength of her
regard for him he did not doubt. Deeply, fondly, earnestly as he
loved his wife, he must have been more than mortal had he not perforce
contrasted the levity (to use the mildest term) and unkindness of her
on whom he thus lavished his whole treasure of affection, with the ready
sympathy, the watchful tenderness of one who, if she had been all evil,
nay, if she had not possessed in some degree unusual generosity of
character, might have hated him with a strength proportioned to the
regard she now appeared to feel towards him. Men are constitutionally
denied the relief which the gentler sex derive from tears; but if, when
a woman would weep, a man of deep, strong feeling can be sufficiently
softened to give vent to his sorrow in words, the effect is somewhat
analogous. Harry’s heart was full to overflowing, and Arabella’s
well-timed sympathy caused the torrent of his grief to burst forth.

“Why does she try me thus!” he said; “it is, it _must_ be, mere want of
thought; she _is_ wilful, I see it, as clearly as I see and know that
it was my culpable neglect which first made her so; but this is a hard
punishment for even so gross a fault! If she knew how her cold looks and
hard words pain me--how it grieves, destroys me to be forced to deny
her anything--to feel it my duty, as I perceive it to be now, to oppose
her slightest wish! And then to see her doing things which may give
those who do not know her truth and purity as I do, occasion to slander
her--Arabella, it maddens me!” he pressed his hand to his forehead to
still its throbbing; but when his companion appeared about to attempt
to console him, he resumed, abruptly--“Don’t speak; you cannot defend
her--her conduct admits of no defence, and I will not hear her blamed!
Neither can you advise me; as far as action goes, my course is clear--I
shall take her out of town tomorrow; and as I cannot have it out with
that scoundrel D’Almayne, or the weak, ungrateful boy he is ruining,
without compromising her, I must postpone the day of reckoning with
them--it will come sooner or later, that is all clear enough; but that
is not the point”--here words failed him, and covering his eyes with his
hand, he relapsed into his former gloomy silence.

Arabella Crofton was a woman of strong passions, and naturally of strong
impulses also, but these she had learned in great measure to control;
thus her manner was usually quiet and collected, and she both spoke and
acted according to a rule laid down by herself for her own guidance, and
tending towards some definite end. But when, as in the present instance,
she was actuated by any overpowering feeling, she was for the moment
completely carried away by it, and would act for good or evil, as the
impulse which controlled her was a right or wrong one, even in direct
opposition to her own plans and intentions. She disliked Alice
most heartily, and she had many--we cannot say “good,” but
sufficient--reasons for doing so; yet she sympathised so strongly with
Harry’s grief at the idea that his wife was encouraging the attentions
of Lord Alfred Courtland, that--believing, as she did honestly, Alice
to be merely amusing herself, possibly for the sake of annoying her
husband, but evidently not from any deep feeling for her admirer--she
could not help trying to comfort him.

“Do not afflict yourself so deeply,” sho said; “I cannot bear to see you
suffer thus! Believe me, you think too seriously of this matter; Mrs.
Coverdale is only amusing herself with this foolish, infatuated young
man. I am as certain as if I were in her confidence that she does
not really care for him; the very openness with which she accepts his
attentions proves that it is so; as soon as she has left the gaieties
and frivolities of town, she will forget his very existence.”

“She may forget _him_,” was the bitter reply; “but will she ever forget
the cause which has driven her to encourage him--which has forced her
to seek amusement in all these heartless gaieties and follies? will she
ever forget the time when, pursuing my own selfish pleasures, I left
her, day after day, alone--she who had always been accustomed to live
in a cheerful family, will she ever forget my neglect, and restore to
me that love without which life has no longer a charm for me--that love
which I once possessed, and which, God help me! I fear I have alienated
for ever!”

“Yes, she will,” was the eager reply; “if she ever loved you, she loves
you still; real, true love never dies: it would be better for some of us
if time could efface feeling!”

The evident emotion with which she uttered these last words touched
Harry’s kind heart, and, regarding her with a look of pitying interest,
he rejoined--

“Poor Arabella! you too have had much sorrow to contend with; and no one
can lament more deeply than I do the share I have had in increasing
it. Mine is a strange fate!--love that I cannot return is lavished and
wasted on me, and the only affection I pine for, I have alienated by my
own rash and inconsiderate conduct!”

She stood by him as he spoke, in the excitement of his feelings he had
taken her hand and clasped it in his own. At this moment two figures,
which had been pausing at the door of the boudoir, passed hastily on--by
the rustling of the dress, one of them was evidently a woman.

“But now hear me once more,” he continued, raising himself, and
regarding her kindly but steadily; “I am sorry, very sorry, to find that
you have not yet overcome--however, we will not allude to that--if at
any time you want a _friend’s_ advice or assistance, apply to me: my
purse, I need scarcely say, is always at your command; in fact, as I am
well-off, and you unfortunately are not, I think it is an over-refined
though generous scruple, which prevents you from allowing me to assist
you as I might and wish to do. Why do not you remember and strive to
follow my advice? You are still in a dependent situation quite unworthy
of you; while you have talents and powers which, if you would employ
them in some straightforward, honest avocation--instead of forming
plans and seeking objects of, to say the least, questionable
advisability--would secure you a respectable and comfortable-position.
Think of all this, dear Arabella, and then apply to me, as to an old
friend, to advance you funds to carry out my ideas in any way which
seems to you most advisable.”

For a moment she remained silent; then bending over him, so that her
ringlets mingled with his dark curling hair, she murmured--

“You are good, and kind, and generous, as you ever were; and--yes, I
_will_ strive to make myself worthy of your friendship; if I fail, you
know my impulsive, passionate nature, and you will pardon, not condemn
me; for my _greatest sorrow_, you now know how to pity me! You say you
intend to leave London to-morrow, and I think it will be wise in you to
do so--perhaps wo may never meet again, and so, my dear, dear friend,

He had retained her hand, and she returned his cordial, warm pressure;
then, by a sudden impulse, she stooped, pressed her pale lips upon his
high, smooth brow, and--was gone.

Harry followed her with his glance as she left the room.

“Poor thing!” he murmured, “she has many high qualities; and such a
life as she leads must be a complete purgatory to her proud, impetuous
disposition; I hope she will fall into good hands, and--and keep out of
my way. Alice evidently dislikes and suspects her, and nothing I can say
is likely to lessen the feeling. Now for taking my poor, dear, naughty,
foolish, little wife home, and lecturing her. She seemed angry with
me; because I did not arrive in time to accompany her to the ball, I
suppose--as if I could prevent railway-trains from breaking down!--ah,
it’s wretched, miserable work all of it!”

Having arrived at this cheerful conclusion, Harry rose and proceeded in
search of his wife.

In the meantime, the country-dance being ended, Lord Alfred had offered
his arm to his partner, and proposed a stroll through the rooms--a
proposition to which Alice, who, in her present state of feeling, was
anxious to do anything rather than hasten the inevitable tete-a-tete
with her husband, consented. As they passed a group who were gathered
round a clever copy from one of the great works of some old master,
D’Almayne approached Lord Alfred, and, making some light remark to
screen his real object, found an opportunity to whisper to his pupil--

“Take her to the door of the boudoir, and detain her there to look at
the pictures in the anteroom for a minute; there is a _tableau vivant_
inside the apartment which will interest her deeply!” Partially guessing
his meaning, Lord Alfred executed the task with so much tact and skill,
that all this by-play was completely unnoticed by Alice, and when
they reached the dore of the boudoir, which stood ajar, she stopped
to examine a picture, in perfect unconsciousness of any plot or
contrivance; as she did so, the following sentence, spoken in tones of
deep emotion, fell upon her ear:--

“_Love that I cannot return is lavished and wasted on me, and the only
affection I pine for, I have alienated by my own rash and inconsiderate

The sound of the voice was all that Alice required to enable her to
decide that the speaker was her husband: and a hurried glance proved to
her that his speech had been addressed to Arabella Crofton, her rival,
as she had long suspected her to be--a fact in regard to which she now
received the assurance of her own senses.

Harry’s speech could bear but one interpretation: the “love wasted
on him which he could never return,” was her own--his wife’s! the
“affection he pined for, and had alienated by his rash and inconsiderate
conduct,” was that of Arabella Crofton, the “rash conduct” he was so
bitterly repenting--his marriage. Yes, she saw it all, and felt that for
her there was no longer such a thing as happiness in this life. How that
she knew, that she had heard from his own lips, that he no longer loved
her,--nay, that he had transferred his affection to another,--she felt
how all important, how essential it had been to her--existence without
Harry’s love to brighten it, would be like the universe without
sunlight--cold, dark, desolate.

Poor little Alice! she had acted very wrongly; she had been self-willed,
petulant, unjust, and disobedient to her husband; but if suffering could
atone for sin, the bitterness of that moment might have expiated graver
offences than those of which she had been guilty. Her first idea was to
get away from the spot: lost as he was to her, Harry should never say
she was a spy upon his actions. She turned to communicate her wish
to her companion, and saw his eyes fixed on her face with a peculiar
intelligence which she had never observed before, and in an instant the
thought flashed across her that she had been brought there by design;
and, without allowing time for reflection as to the advisability of
making such an accusation, she exclaimed--

“You knew they were there, and brought me on purpose to see them, and so
to destroy the happiness of my future life! what have I ever done to you
to deserve this at your hands!”

Utterly taken aback by this direct and unexpected attack, Lord Alfred
coloured up, stammered something unintelligible, and at last attempted
to screen himself behind the equivocation that he did not know Mr.
Coverdale was in the boudoir.

“If you did not know it, you suspected it,” was the reply; “your
features are more honest than your words, my lord, and betray you.”

Greatly confounded at this most unexpected result of his scheme, Lord
Alfred vowed, and protested, and attempted to clear and defend himself,
but in vain. The shock Alice had received had couched her mental vision,
and, turning a deaf ear to his excuses, she sternly desired him to
take her back to Mrs. Crane immediately; and then preserved an offended
silence, so that his lordship was glad to take her at her word, and lead
her back to the drawing-room, in which the Crane party had ensconced

“Kate, let us get home--I am wearied to death; somebody said the
carriage was waiting.”

The words were commonplace enough, but something in the tone in which
they were uttered caused Mrs. Crane to regard her cousin attentively,
and her quick eye soon discerned that there was something amiss. “Alice,
is anything wrong, dear? you are not ill?”

“Yes! no! my head aches--only let us get away!” was the reply.

“But some one told me that Mr. Coverdale had arrived; where is he?--you
will wait for him?” returned Kate, alarmed and surprised at Alice’s
unwonted agitation.

“He will come when he likes; he--has found some friends of his, I
believe,” murmured Alice. “_Only_ let us get away!” she added, in so
imploring a tone that Kate, convinced some _contre-temps_ had occurred,
dispatched Mr. Crane in search of Miss Crofton, and, taking leave of
Lady Tattersali Trottemout (who thinking they had resolved to spend the
night there, naturally deplored their “running away so early”), repaired
to the cloakroom. Here the others, including Harry Coverdale, joined
them, and in another quarter of an hour they were safely housed in Park

Thus ended Lady Tattersali Trottemout’s _soirée dansante_; but its
consequences continued to influence the lives of those whoso fortunes we
are tracing, for many a long year.

Nothing passed between Coverdale and Alice in reference to the scenes we
have just described until the next morning, when, before they went down
to breakfast, Harry observed abruptly, “Alice, it is my particular wish
that you should go down to the Park to-day: can you be ready to start by
the four o’clock train?”

“Yes,” was the unexpectedly acquiescent reply; then, after a moment’s
pause, “What reason am I to give Kate for leaving her so suddenly?”

Astonished at such a ready consent where he had expected strong
opposition, if not an actual refusal to comply with his desire, Harry
looked steadfastly at his wife, but her face was turned away, so that he
could not read its expression. “My true reason I will explain to you at
some time when we can talk the matter over coolly and quietly,” was
the reply; “the reason I wish you to give your cousin--which is a good,
true, and sufficient reason in itself, although not the only one
by which I am actuated--is, that your sister Emily has received an
invitation to stay with a friend of hers, which Mrs. Hazlehurst is
anxious she should accept, thinking she requires change; but Emily
very properly refused to leave her mother. I dined there the day before
yesterday, and hearing of the dilemma, proposed that you should take
Emily’s place for a fortnight or three weeks--I was not wrong in making
such an offer, was I?”

“No; I shall be very glad to see and be of use to dear mamma,” was the

“I should have told you all this last night,” continued Coverdale, “but
for reasons I will not enter upon at present.”

He waited for some comment on his speech, but he waited in vain; Alice
continued to add the finishing touches to her toilet, until, being
completely equipped, she quietly observed, “It is time to go down, I
think; the breakfast bell will ring directly;” and, suiting the action
to the word, she departed, leaving her husband to follow when he
pleased. Kate was surprised to hear of their sudden determination to
leave town, and sorry to part with them; but their reason for so doing
was such a plausible one, that she could urge nothing against it. She
saw that there was something more--that neither Harry nor his wife were
at their ease; but Alice kept her own counsel so closely that all Kate’s
endeavours to win her confidence were futile, and she was obliged to
content herself by supposing that it was a mere matrimonial breeze which
would blow over, as such affairs usually do, without any very serious
consequences resulting from it.

Coverdale Park was reached without adventure, and appeared as cool,
and calm, and happy as the country usually does to the eyes of
fashion-wearied Londoners; and Harry, unaffectedly delighted to escape
from the uncongenial atmosphere of a crowded city to his home,--which he
loved with his whole heart,--forgot, in the pleasure he experienced, the
amount of Alice’s misdemeanours, and was only anxious to be reconciled
with her, and to assure her of his perfect and entire forgiveness. But
since the previous evening a change--for which he could not account, and
which began to render him very uneasy--had come over Alice, she was
no longer irritable and petulant at one moment, yet amused and
light-hearted at the next, but a settled gloom hung o’er her brow, which
indicated sorrow rather than anger; and although she had never allowed
him to surprise her in tears, her eyes bore unmistakeable traces of
weeping. Their _tête-à-tête_ dinner passed off heavily enough: as they
sat moodily over their dessert, Harry observed, “The evening is most
lovely--come out and take a stroll.” He spoke kindly, almost tenderly,
and as Alice looked up to reply to him, her eyes filled with tears;
hastily checking them before they could be observed, she agreed. Her
husband carefully placed a shawl over her shoulders, brought from the
hall her garden bonnet, and, drawing her arm within his own, they walked
on for some distance in silence. At length Harry observed, “Alice, dear,
you seem downcast and unhappy--why is this? surely you cannot regret
that hot, miserable, artificial London? you must be glad to get back to
our own dear, quiet home again?”

“I do not in the least regret London,” was the reply; “on the contrary,
I am glad to be once more in the country again.”

“Then why this gloomy manner?” urged Coverdale; “I may have been a
little annoyed with you at times lately, but I am quite prepared to
believe it was mere thoughtlessness on your part; in fact, I never
considered it anything else. I feel sure when you come to reflect
seriously on the matter, you will yourself see that your conduct was
a little injudicious; and, in that case, believe me the affair is from
this moment forgotten and forgiven.” Harry paused for a reply, but
for several moments none was forthcoming; at last, his patience being
exhausted, he inquired in a tone of surprise, “Alice, did you hear what
I was saying?”

“I beg your pardon,” rejoined Alice, starting, “I was _not_ attending
properly at that moment; you were blaming me for something, were you
not? I am very sorry--what was it?”

As she spoke, Harry glanced towards her to discover whether she had been
really too much pre-engrossed to attend to him, or whether she merely
affected to have been so for the amiable purpose of provoking him;
deciding in favour of the first hypothesis, he resumed: “I was saying,
my dear Alice, that although your flirtation with that foolish boy,
Alfred Courtland, had caused me some uneasiness--because people dared
to remark on it, unluckily not in a way that I could take up--yet that
I was convinced it was merely thoughtlessness on your part, and was
anxious to forgive and forget it.”

If he had expressly tried to rouse Alice from the state of gloomy
depression into which she had fallen, Harry could not have devised
means more effectual than the speech he had just addressed to her. With
flashing eyes she heard him to the end, then inquired: “And pray who
has dared--(you may well use the word!)--who has dared to accuse me of
flirting? But I need not ask,” she continued, bitterly; “no one but
Miss Crofton would have ventured to asperse your wife’s character before
you--from no one else would you have listened to such a falsehood--no
one else could have induced you to believe it!”

Astonished, and, if the truth must be told, somewhat confounded at
having the tables thus turned upon him, Harry exclaimed, “Alice, what
do you mean? what are you talking about? have you taken leave of your
senses all of a sudden?”

“If I had I should scarcely be surprised,” was the rejoinder; “but I
know only too well what I am saying, and the cause I have to say and
believe it; however, I do not want to reproach you, that would do no
good; but--but--knowing what I know--” an hysterical sob choked her
voice--“it is too hard that _you_ should accuse _me_ of flirting”--and
here, utterly overcome by her feelings, she burst into a paroxysm of
weeping. Wholly confounded at this unexpected result of his very
mild remonstrance, which had been intended more as a judicious way of
forgiving Alice’s misdemeanours than as a reprimand, Harry led her to
a seat, and then used his best endeavours to console and bring her to
reason; but in vain, nor was it until she was fain to stop through sheer
physical exhaustion that her tears ceased; by which time, what between
bodily fatigue (she had not been in bed until between three and four
on the previous night, or rather morning, could not sleep then, and had
accomplished a railroad journey since) and mental agitation, she was
so completely worn out that even Harry, who was not usually too
clear-sighted on such points, perceived this was not a fitting
opportunity to continue the discussion.


On the afternoon of the day after that on which she returned home,
Alice was to go to the Grange, and take her sister’s place as companion
to Mrs. Hazlehurst. During the morning, Harry was occupied with
his bailiff and the farming accounts, but he made his appearance at
luncheon. When that meal was concluded, and the servants had quitted
the room, he began gravely, but kindly--“Alice, dear, I do not wish to
distress or annoy you, but, before you leave home, I must once again
refer to the conversation of last night. I know not who has coupled
my name with that of your cousin Kate’s friend, Miss Crofton, nor what
falsehoods they may have coined to blacken my character in your eyes;
but, since I have known you, I have never attempted to deceive you on
any point; and I tell you now, on my honour as a gentleman, that nothing
ever has passed, or is in the smallest degree likely to pass, between
myself and that young lady, calculated to cause you the slightest pain
or even uneasiness. Does this satisfy you, or, if not, can I say or do
anything that will?”

“Yes!” exclaimed Alice, her face flushing with eagerness as the idea
struck her; “promise to tell me exactly all that passed between you and
her in Italy!--promise me this; show me that you are willing to confide
in me; trust to my affection to forgive you, should you tell me anything
you think may displease me, and I will, on my part, try to forget my own
convictions that--that--in fact, that you do not love me as I believe
you once did. Tell me all frankly, and there may yet be happiness in
store for us both.”

She paused, breathless with emotion, and fixing her large eyes on her
husband’s countenance, as though she fain would read his very thoughts,
awaited a reply; but for a minute none appeared likely to come.
Coverdale, pushing back his hair, rubbing his forehead, and evincing
unmistakable signs of annoyance and perplexity, at length roused
himself by an effort, and, in a constrained, embarrassed tone of voice,

“Ask me anything but that: I am under a solemn promise never to mention
the facts you desire to learn; I cannot break my word even to regain
your affection.”

“I will ask nothing more of you,” returned Alice, in a tone of
deeply-wounded feeling; “it was foolish to ask that--I might have known
you would refuse to answer me; and it was worse than folly to fancy you
cared to retain my affection! And now let me go home to mamma; thank
God, I may yet be of some use and comfort to her, and, at all events,
I know that _she_ loves me--oh! that I had never left her!” and,
disregarding Harry’s exclamation, “Alice, hear me! indeed you mistake--”
 she hurried out of the room.

Her husband remained motionless until her retreating footsteps became
inaudible, then, springing from his chair, he began pacing up and down
with hasty strides, while his ideas arranged themselves somewhat after
the following fashion:--

“Well, I’ve made a pretty mess of it now, and no mistake! Of all things
in the world for her to have fixed upon--to want to know about Arabella;
and poor Arabella has behaved so nicely and kindly too in this affair!
I _can’t_ tell her! besides, there’s my promise--come what may I’ll keep
my promise; but I am an unlucky dog as ever lived! Ah! I never ought to
have married, that’s the whole truth. Women don’t seem to understand me,
and I’m sure I don’t understand them; whether I’m stern or whether I’m
kind it all turns out alike, and all wrong. Poor, dear, little Alice!
she is making herself just as miserable as she has made me; and, for the
life of me, I don’t know how to say or do anything to mend matters! I
must leave it to time, I suppose. Perhaps her mother may talk her into
a happier frame of mind. I am glad she is going back to the Grange; I
think I’ll leave her there for a short time--home influences may soften
her, and induce her to judge me more charitably. I’m certain it’s all my
own fault, somehow! She was as sweet-tempered as an angel when I married
her.” He continued to pace the room, and after some moments a new notion
seemed to strike him. “I wonder whose been putting these ideas about
Arabella into her head,” he resumed; “somebody has been telling her
about the Florence business, that’s clear--lies most likely, and in
order to set her against me. That man D’Almayne, I mistrust him--he’s
playing a deep game of some kind; and his manner to Kate Crane I
disapprove of strongly. If he has been meddling--if he has dared to say
or insinuate anything against me to Alice, by heaven, I’ll--I’ll--no, I
could not trust myself to horsewhip him, at least not just yet, I should
kill the scoundrel. I’ve a great mind to run up to London, when I’ve
taken Alice to the Grange, and try and find out something about it;
but I wont be hasty--I _must_ not! the interests at stake are too
important--Alice’s happiness for life, to say nothing of my own,
which is bound up in hers, depends upon how I behave for the next few
months--no; I wont act rashly or hastily, nothing shall induce me to do

Of all the high and solemn mysteries that enshroud the spirit-. life
none are more inscrutable, yet invested with a deeper and more vital
interest, than those apparently irreconcilable paradoxes--predestination
and free will. Our possession of this latter attribute is a tenet held,
and carelessly acquiesced in, by Christians of every denomination; yet
how little do we realise or estimate its practical importance! It is
impossible to reflect, even for a moment, on so vast a field of thought
without eliciting ideas at once salutary and impressive. Nor can we
fully recognise our obligations as responsible beings until, in tracing
the fortunes of some follow-creature, of whose path through life our
limited powers enable us to perceive only the dim and shadowy outline,
we see how what appear trifles--made a right use of, as they should
be, or abused, as they too often are--influence a lifetime here, and,
fearful thought, determine an eternity hereafter! In things spiritual,
as well as in things material, cause governs effect; and the laws which
regulate consequences are equally stringent and immutable in both cases,
although in the former they are not so easily traceable. Still, to
the earnest, careful, and patient observer of the mysterious ways of
Providence, suggestive glimpses are afforded, aided by which he may
reason from things seen to things unseen. Thus, remarking how some
strange train of events result from a single act whieh we may long have
feebly proposed to perform, but the execution of which wo have delayed
from day to day, until some unexpected excitement has quickened our
resolve into action, wo may legitimately argue that these events have
been, as it were, waiting for the touch which was to set the train in
motion; that if that motive power had been applied sooner, the same
results would have been proportionably hastened; and that if it had
never been applied at all, the history of events would have borne a
different record. Wo are so fearfully and wonderfully constituted, and
the dealings of the Creator with his creatures are so complicated and
inscrutable, that we know not what great events may hinge upon our
slightest actions. The avalanche lies in all its dread sublimity,
apparently as immovable as the mountain-Side it rests on; the careless
foot of some chamois hunter dislodges a stone--the spell which enchained
the destroyer is broken--with the velocity of the whirlwind the mass
descends, crushing and overwhelming all before it--and heart-rending
memories are all that remain to bear witness of some once prosperous
village and its inhabitants.

One, who saw all clearly where we but blindly and feebly catch a ray of
light, prayed for His executioners in these remarkable words--“Father,
forgive them, _they know not what they do!_” Ideas such as the foregoing
are calculated to inspire feelings of awe; but, if they are true,
they should not be put aside because they give a solemn view of our
responsibilities; when, moreover, rightly considered, they teach an
important practical lesson--namely, never to neglect what appear to be
little duties, or carelessly to fall into little sins. It seems but a
little duty to extinguish a fallen spark; yet that spark may kindle a
fire which may consume a city, which, save for that accident, might have
endured for centuries. It seems but a little sin to utter a playful jest
on some serious subject; but that jest may inspire a doubt which may
injure a wavering faith, and endanger a soul’s salvation. Some may deem
these remarks misplaced in a work of fiction; but if it be a novelist’s
endeavour to depict truly the various phases of human life, nought that
truly affects the springs of human action can be foreign to his subject.

The evening of Lady Tattersall Trottemout’s party was not the first
occasion on which Harry Coverdale had bestowed good and sound advice on
Arabella Crawford, but never before had it produced the desired effect.
Now, however, a new impulse sprang up within her--she would conquer her
hopeless, selfish, sinful love for him, and strive to render herself
worthy of his friendship, and win at least his esteem; but how should
she begin practically to work out his advice--how attempt to render
herself independent--what duty lay most directly in her path? Her
intention was honest and sincere, and that morning’s post brought
an answer to her question. A female relation whom she had hitherto
neglected, was taken seriously ill, and wrote wishing, but scarcely
expecting, her to come to her immediately. This lady was old,
uninteresting, and in straitened circumstances; to go to her was an act
of unmitigated self-sacrifice, and in Arabella’s then frame of mind
this was its great attraction. Kate Crane was sorry to part with
her, although the short time they had passed together had sufficed to
convince her of the disagreeable fact that her dear friend no longer
suited her as she had done in her schoolgirl days. There was a very
simple reason for this, although Kate did not at once perceive it:
Arabella Crofton was at an age when the mind and body having reached
maturity, if they do not remain stationary, yet alter so gradually, that
the change is almost imperceptible; she was, therefore, much what she
had been four years previously. Kate, on the contrary, had advanced from
a girl into a woman; and her intellectual powers had not only
developed until they were now in every respect superior to those of her
_ci-devant_ governess, but her taste had been formed on a better and
purer model, and her natural instincts were of a higher and more refined
character. Thus, Arabella was constantly jarring against and annoying
Kate’s sensitiveness by thought, word, and deed; and she felt that a
gulf had grown up between them, which would effectually prevent her
friend’s society from affording her the comfort and support she had
hoped and expected. Arabella was much too quick-sighted not to have
perceived the effect this feeling had produced upon Kate’s manner,
although she was ignorant of the cause. Thus, the parting between the
friends--for, from old association, friends they still were--was by no
means so painful as under other circumstances they might have considered

Left to her own devices, Kate bethought her of the expedition to visit
Mrs. Leonard, which Horace D’Almayne had proposed to her on the occasion
of the horticultural _fête_, but which she had never yet found an
opportunity to accomplish. Mrs. Leonard’s history was a distressing one.
Her husband had been partner in a north country bank, at which Mr. Crane
usually kept a considerable account. On one occasion, when his balance
there exceeded even its usual limits, a junior partner suddenly
absconded to America, taking with him so considerable a sum that the
bank was obliged to stop payment, and Mr. Leonard found himself a ruined
man. In his adversity, his mind became engrossed by one fixed idea,
which almost assumed the character of a monomania--viz., that it was his
mission to trace out his late partner, and recover the money with which
he had made away; this notion preyed upon him until one morning he, too,
suddenly disappeared, leaving a letter to inform his wife that he had
set out in search of the delinquent, and that she would hear nothing
more of him until he had succeeded in his object. On inquiry it appeared
that he had taken a berth in an American packet, which had just sailed,
and, beyond that, all trace of him was lost. Consequently, his family
had fallen into actual poverty, which, day by day, assumed a sterner and
more hopeless character. A gentleman well versed in the details of Mr.
Crane’s early acquaintance with Mr. Leonard (who, before Mr. Crane had
amassed the fortune he now possessed, had several times advanced him
money, and in a measure, therefore, contributed to his success in life),
advised Mrs. Leonard to apply to him for assistance; and, being
aware how much the _millionaire_ was guided by the opinion of Horace
D’Almayne, suggested that she should make her first application through
him: in which appeal the fertile brain of that good young man perceived
matter which might be made profitable to the furtherance of his designs,
and re-arranged his hand, so as to take in the new cards thus placed
within his reach.

The plan which D’Almayne had settled with Kate was this:--she was
sitting for her portrait to an artist friend of Horace’s, to whose
painting-room she went twice a-week; D’Almayne proposed to send away the
carriage and servants, when he would have a hired brougham in readiness
to convey her to the obscure suburb in which Mrs. Leonard’s poverty
compelled her to reside; he would meet her on her arrival there, and
introduce her to Mrs. Leonard; she could then return to the artist’s,
whence her own carriage could again fetch her and convey her home. Kate
disliked all this clandestine contrivance; but, considering the end of
sufficient importance to justify the means, she was unable to devise any
less objectionable scheme, and so reluctantly consented. She reached her
destination without adventure. The dwelling occupied by Mrs. Leonard was
situated in one of the labyrinths of small, unwholesome streets which
lie between Islington and Pentonville, and contain a description of
houses too good, or, more truly speaking, too expensive, for the very
lowest orders to reside in, and yet so confined and comfortless that
it appears incredible that any persons, accustomed to even the ordinary
requirements of respectable life, can tolerate them. D’Almayne was
waiting in readiness to receive her, and, offering her his arm, led
her up the narrow steps and into a miserable parlour, some eight feet
square, with the same elaborate and coxcombical politeness with which
he would have conducted her across the receiving-room of a duchess. Mrs.
Leonard was a singularly gentle, lady-like person, evidently worn down
by her continued struggle to support herself and family, which
consisted of two boys and three girls, the eldest son and daughter being
respectively fourteen and fifteen, whence their ages decreased down to
a little pale thing of four years old, whose juvenile roses could not
bloom for want of purer air and more nutritious diet. To them, with the
greatest tact and kindness, did Kate proceed to enact the character of
guardian angel; and, ere she had been half-an-hour in the house, had
completely won all their affections, from the poor mother, who began
to see light breaking in upon her darkness, to the olive-branch of
four--whose visions of unlimited sugar-plums bade fair to be realised.
Ah! it is easy to buy golden opinions of the poor and needy in this
world: generosity, _i.e._, judiciously disposing of superfluous cash, is
a virtue strangely overrated. The widow’s mite is an offering for which
one can feel respect, even with a well-filled stomach; but that shrine
for an Englishman’s heart must be indeed empty, ere he can thank Dives
for his crumbs. But, when Kate smiled brightly, and spoke kindly and
tenderly as she opened her purse-strings, what wonder that the inmates
of that house of mourning were ready almost to worship her beauty and
munificence? nay, in the excess of her gratitude, poor Mrs. Leonard so
lauded Horace D’Almayne for the sunshine he had caused to fall upon the
“frost of her despair,” that this excellent young man really began to
believe himself to have been actuated by pure philanthropy, and wished
he had not, from disuse, entirely lost the power of blushing. So _he_
talked, and _she_ talked, and _they_ talked, and were all very much
pleased with themselves and with each other; and Kate Crane turned to
depart, with her purse and her heart equally lightened by this most
satisfactory visit. D’Almayne, enraptured alike with the success of his
scheme, and with himself for having so cleverly devised and executed the
same, led Kate to her brougham with nearly as conspicuous a display
of gallantry to the lady, and admiration of himself, as that which
distinguished Lord Bateman’s proud young porter on the memorable
occasion of his playing gentleman usher to the fair Sophia. Having
placed her in the brougham, handed her parasol (why do ladies take
parasols about in carriages, where there is not the most remote chance
of their being required?), and a shawl, and a carriage-bag full of
elegant rubbish, and smirked to show his white teeth three times--once
for each article--he received as a reward a kindly smile (for Kate
really felt obliged to him for the opportunity of doing good which he
had afforded her), which he received with a look of deferential ecstacy,
and the brougham, with its fair occupant, drove off.

On a sordid pallet, in the garret of the house opposite to that in which
Mrs. Leonard resided, lay a man who, having lived wickedly, was then
dying miserably: stricken with remorseful terror at the near approach
of death--inevitable, fearful, retributive death--gate to the stern,
inexorable Future, when he would be weighed in the balance and found
wanting--he had wished, poor wretch! to undo some of the evil he had
committed, and so sent to a rising young barrister, then getting up
evidence in a disputed peerage case, to confess to him the forgery of a
name in a parish-register and other iniquities, the knowledge of which
would materially strengthen the cause of the young lawyer’s client. The
interview, a most painful one to any man of feeling, was concluded;
and, having taken copious notes of the dying forger’s confession in the
presence of a competent witness, soothed the miserable being with
such comfort as human sympathy could suggest, and promised to send
the clergyman who his patient and gentle persuasion had induced him
to receive, the young barrister left the house at the moment D’Almayne
handed Kate Crane to the brougham. Why does the stranger turn first red
then pale? why does he clench his fist till the nails dig deep into
the flesh? why does he make a hasty stride forward, then, with an
exclamation, half curse half sob, as hastily draw back, and screen
himself in the shadow of the doorway until the carriage had driven off?
He starts because he has seen the woman he once loved better than
his own life--the woman he has striven to forgive and forget, and has
succeeded in accomplishing neither the one nor the other--leave a shabby
house in a disreputable suburb, whither she has been in the society of
a notorious libertine! He clenched his fist and strode forward from an
impulse of rightful indignation, which made him burn to annihilate
the scoundrel who stood triumphing in his villainy before him: but he
checked himself as the bitter remembrance flashed across him that
_he_ had no claim on her which could give him a right to interfere,
although--and this, even at that moment, was the most painful thought
of all--another had!--who was evidently incompetent to fulfil the
sacred trust which he had undertaken. So, with old wounds thus cruelly
re-opened, Arthur Hazlehurst, heart-sick and weary, returned to his
chambers, pondering many things, both of this life and of the life to


It is a dreary thing when much of life seems still before us, and a
dark, unfathomable future lies between us and the grave; it is a bitter
thing to sit alone and ponder on the days to come, and discover
no bright spot in the darkness--discern no kind hand to beckon us
forward--hear no friendly voice to council and encourage us in the
battle of life; it is an uphill task to struggle through existence
without an object on this side the tomb--a hard and cruel lot to hope
for nothing until death shall have changed hope into fruition! To live
in order to fit oneself to die is the duty of every Christian, but to
live for that alone requires a far higher degree of spirituality than to
lay down one’s life for the faith: the stake and the axe of persecution
are tender mercies compared with the chronic martyrdom of such a
life-long sacrifice.

Some such gloomy thoughts as these passed through the overwrought brain
of Arthur Hazlchurst as, late in the night after Kate’s visit to Mrs.
Leonard, he folded up the last document of which he had made himself
master relative to the disputed peerage case in which he was retained.
The evidence of which he had that day become possessed would, he felt
certain, ensure his client’s success, in which event his own career
would in all probability be a prosperous one, and fame and fortune
become his; but how worthless did these appear, now they could no longer
be shared with her he loved! Until the incident of that morning had
so powerfully affected him, he hoped that he had in great measure
eradicated this affection, which his good sense enabled him to perceive
could only be a source of grief to him: but the pain he had then
experienced effectually dispelled the illusion, and he was fain to
acknowledge that, strongly as he condemned her conduct in sacrificing
his deep and true regard to (as he deemed it) a desire for wealth and
the pomps and vanities of fashionable life, he yet, despite his reason,
loved her as he felt he never could love any other woman; and the
thought that through her husband’s neglect and incompetency she
was exposed to the insidious advances of such a character as Horace
D’Almayne weighed upon him, and grieved and irritated him until he could
endure it no longer. “Come what may of it, I will see her and warn
her; she shall not be led on by that scoundrel without knowing his true
character!” he exclaimed, rising and hastily pacing the room. “For what
purpose could she have accompanied him to such a neighbourhood as that?”
 he continued, musing; “he may possibly have got up some plausible lie
to induce her to do so, merely to compromise her in the eyes of her
husband--such a scheme is not unlikely to have occurred to his subtle
brain. Yes, come what may, I will see her to-morrow; and, unless she is
indeed lost to all better feeling, I will rouse her to a sense of duty,
and thwart that scoundrel’s designs. If her husband should learn my
interference, I care not; because, in his incapacity, he neglects the
sacred trust he has undertaken, that is no reason why I should stand
tamely by and see her sacrificed; no--I will save her in spite of
herself! this shall be my revenge for the happiness which she has
blighted. God grant my interference may not prove too late!”

His mind occupied with such thoughts as these, Arthur Hazlehurst passed
a sleepless night, and the first moment he could tear himself away from
business on the following day, he betook himself to Park Lane. Kate
was from home when he arrived; but having notified to the servant his
intention of awaiting her return, he was shown into the drawing-room,
where he found a tall, fashionably-dressed young man standing in a
disconsolate attitude by the fire-place, to whom he made a slight
inclination of the head, heartily wishing him at Jericho, or any other
locality equally remote from Park Lane; then, taking up a book, he left
him to his own devices. Things remained in this thoroughly English and
unsociable state for about ten minutes, towards the end of which period
the fashionable young man, having stared hard at Hazlehurst, grew first
interested, then excited, and finally the spirit moved him, and he

“I beg pardon--a--really I don’t think I can be mistaken--a--very
absurd, I’m sure, if I am--but I was at school with one Arthur

“And I am he,” was the reply; “but you have the advantage of me; for I
was at school with some four hundred boys, and, to tell you the honest
truth, it does not at this moment occur to me which of them you may have

“Yet Alfred Courtland has to thank you for such slight skill as he may
possess in the noble arts of boot-cleaning, brushing clothes, and
frying sausages; besides early lessons in the demolition of oysters and
porter--enforced by example rather than precept,” was the rejoinder;
and, the unsocial ice of Old England being thus broken, the _ci-devant_
school-fellows talked on until they grew quite intimate. At length, Lord
Alfred looked at his watch, was silent and _distrait_ for a minute or
two, then began in a timid, hesitating voice, “I was waiting here to see
Mrs. Crane; but, I don’t know--that is, I feel as if I could tell you
all about it quite as well; you can do what I wish better than sho
could; and I don’t think you’ll be angry with me when I’ve made you
understand the affair.”

“Suppose you come to the point, and try to do so at once,” replied
Arthur, anxious to get him away, if possible, before Kate’s return.

“Well, you see, my dear Hazlehurst, I wish you hadn’t been abroad, and
then you would have understood it all so much better; but since you went
away--though, by Jove, now I come to think of it, I saw you here one day
when Coverdale and your sister first came to town--deuced odd I didn’t
make you out then; but if I recollect, you went away just as I came
in--” and thus rambling on, he gave a true, though by no means a full
and particular account of his intimacy with the Coverdales, continuing:
“Your sister was very kind to me, and took so much trouble about our
duets. She pianos, and I do a little in a mild way on the flute, you
know, and we were great friends, and got on very serenely until the
other night, when I was fool enough to do, or rather to say, something
which made her angry--a good right she had to be so; but the fact is,
I’d had some men dining with me, and we drank a lot of wine, and then
sat down to cards, and I lost my money and my temper, and in this frame
of mind I met Mrs. Coverdale at Lady Tattersall Trottemout’s ‘let off,’
and she snubbed me--I dare say I deserved it, but I didn’t like it; and,
as my evil genius would have it, a man I know related to me a tale in
regard to her husband’s flirtations with a pretty governess in Italy,
and to tease her I, like a fool, must needs go and repeat it to her; and
she took it more seriously to heart than I had expected, and was angry
with me, and--but I see you are getting impatient--”

“Not at all, not at all,” returned Arthur, who, preoccupied with his own
cares and anxieties, and nervous in regard to the approaching interview
with his cousin, scarcely heard or understood half Lord Alfred was
saying, and was only desirous to get rid of him before Kate should
arrive; “no; it’s merely a legal habit I’ve fallen into of trying to
bring people to the point with as little delay as possible. Yes; I
quite understand--Alice told her husband of your flirting with a pretty
governess, and he said something which offended you.”

“No; it was _I_ who told the story,” interrupted Lord Alfred, aghast
at the state of confusion his auditor appeared to have fallen into, and
from which he immediately endeavoured to extricate him by commencing a
long explanation.

Obliged in self-defence to attend, Arthur soon found out that Lord
Alfred’s object in his ill-timed confidence was to ask him to convey his
apologies to his sister, whenever he might be writing to her; whereupon,
considering the whole affair a mere silly, boyish punctilio, he

“If you’ll take my advice, my Lord, I should say, get a sheet of
rose-scented paper and a diamond-pointed pen”--(a sheet of foolscap
and a goose-quill would be more appropriate, was his mental
commentary),--“and sit down and write your penitence to the fair lady
yourself. Alice must be greatly altered for the worse if she does not
grant you a ready pardon.”

“But do you really think--” began Lord Alfred, in remonstrance.

Arthur cut him short--“I don’t _think_ about it, my dear Courtland; I
feel as certain of the result as if I had already seen her answer. Do
you suppose I don’t know my own sister, man? But, to come to the point,
here’s her address;” he drew a card from his pocket, hastily scribbled
a few words, then handing it to Lord Alfred, continued, “and the sooner
you go to your club and write the letter, the sooner will your mind be
at ease.”

Puzzled, confused, half-alarmed and half-pleased with the new idea thus
forced upon him, one thing alone seemed clear to the bewildered
young nobleman, viz., that for some reason unexplained his old new
acquaintance was desirous of getting rid of him; and, not having yet
sufficiently acquired the habits and feelings of a man-about-town to
be utterly regardless of the wishes of others, he shook Arthur’s hand,
promised to act upon his advice, and departed.

He had scarcely been gone five minutes when a thundering knock at the
house-door announced that its mistress had returned, and ere Arthur had
time to do more than spring to his feet, Kate, attired in the richest
and most becoming out-of-doors costume, entered. As she perceived who
was her guest, she started, and her colour went and came rapidly; but
recovering herself by a powerful effort, sho advanced towards him, and,
extending he: hand, observed--

“You are such an unaccustomed visitor, that I could scarcely believe my
eyes. ‘When did you return from the continent? I am afraid you expected
to find Alice here, but she and Mr. Cover-dale left me some days since.”

“I returned the day before yesterday,” was the reply, “and found a note
from Coverdale, informing me they had left town; my visit here to-day is
to yourself.”

As he uttered the last words, his voice unconsciously assumed a sterner
tone, and a shade came across his care-worn features. An idea suddenly
flashed into Kate’s mind, and in a voice which sufficiently attested her
alarm, she exclaimed--

“Something is the matter! I was sure of it the moment I saw you. _You_
would not come _here_”--(she unconsciously emphasized the words in
italics)--“unless such were the case. What is it? I am strong, I can
bear it--is my father worse?--dying?’”

As she spoke she sank into a chair, and, fixing her eyes upon his face,
awaited his reply.

“You alarm yourself unnecessarily,” he said calmly, almost coldly; “I am
the bearer of no ill tidings: that I have an object in visiting you I do
not deny; whether you will consider it a justifiable one I know not;
I regard it in the light of a duty, and therefore, even at the risk of
paining and offending you, it must be performed.” He paused for a reply,
but as Kate remained silent, he continued: “Your brothers are mere boys,
your father a confirmed invalid; circumstances lead me to doubt whether
your--whether Mr. Crane is aware of the character of a person who is,
I am grieved to find, a constant visitor at this house; and I therefore
conceive I have a duty to discharge to one whom I have known from
childhood--one in whose welfare an irrevocable past, which cannot be
forgotten while memory remains, forces me to interest myself. Kate, I
am here to warn you against the insidious advances of that heartless
profligate, Horace D’Almayne!”

As he spoke, he fixed his eyes upon her with a searching glance. Kate
coloured, drew herself up haughtily, and appeared about to make an angry
reply; checking the impulse almost as it arose, she answered--

“I am bound, and indeed most willing to believe, you mean kindly by me;
I will therefore explain to you that which I would not have condescended
to explain to any other man living--that I merely admit Mr. D’Almayne’s
intimacy to oblige my husband, who has become so accustomed to his
society and services, as to consider them indispensable. Mr. D’Almayne
may or may not deserve the harsh epithets you apply to him; but if you
are aware of any circumstances seriously affecting his character, it is
to Mr. Crane you should mention them, not to me.”

For a moment Arthur remained silent, then pressing his hand to his
forehead, he murmured inaudibly, “She can actually stoop to deceit!--is
such a change possible!”

Surprised and hurt at his silence, Kate resumed: “Why do you not speak?
You look at me as if you doubted my assertion!” Unheeding her question,
Arthur still continued to regard her with an expression in which grief,
surprise, and disapproval, contended for the mastery. At length he said,
in a low deep voice, which caused a shudder to pass through the frame of
his auditor--

“I have suffered much on your account, but such pain as this I never
thought to experience!--Kate, you once said you had never attempted to
deceive me--can you say so now?”

“I am at a loss to understand you,” was the reply; and as she grew angry
at what she deemed unmerited insult, her self-possession returned, and
she spoke in her usual cold, hard tone of voice. “I can only repeat what
I before stated, that I allow Mr. D’Almayne’s intimacy merely to oblige
my husband. From your manner you still appear to doubt the fact--may I
ask why?” Arthur paused for a moment, then, with an eager and excited
voice, he exclaimed--

“Kate, hear me! I have not taken this step lightly, or without due
consideration. I seek not to refer to the past, though that past
is never absent from my memory; but you may imagine it cost me some
resolution to come here to-day, when I tell you that I had rather have
seen you lying dead before my eyes, feeling towards you as I felt
one short year ago, than behold you surrounded by the luxuries of
wealth--knowing as I do that you have obtained them by the sacrifice
of all that is lovable in woman, by sinning against all your best and
noblest impulses, by forfeiting all that renders life aught but one
weary, endless round of cares and duties! To look on you as you are
now--to read, as I can read, in every feature of your countenance,
which, though a sealed book to others, I have studied too long not to
decipher at a glance, traces of that desolation of heart which you have
prepared for yourself--to see you thus, and to know that I am powerless
to help you, and that you must sustain the burden of such an existence
unaided, is to me bitter pain, and I have avoided this house as though
it were plague-stricken. But as I sat through the long hours last night,
striving to weigh dispassionately the past and the present, I arrived at
the conclusion that even yet I owed you a duty, and I came here to-day
actuated only by a desire to warn you, and to save you from a fate, to
contemplate the mere possibility of which inspires me with horror. I
came, regardless of my own feelings, forgetful of my wrongs, to do you
a benefit; and now you close your soul against me, and receive me
with hard words and cold looks! Kate, T have not deserved this at your

“But, indeed--believe me you are mistaken,” replied Kate, eagerly; “I
appreciate and thank you for the interest you still take in one who, as
you truly say, has forfeited every claim on your regard; but your fears
and suspicions are groundless--the intimate footing Mr. D’Almayne has
attained in this house is merely a natural consequence of the trust Mr.
Crane reposes in him. Why will you not believe the truth of what I tell

“Because it is impossible for me to do so without doubting the evidence
of my own senses,” was the stern reply. “If you require any further
reason for my scepticism it is this: I was in -------- Street,
Pentonville, at two o’clock yesterday!”

“And if you were,” rejoined Kate, with flashing eyes, “you saw nothing
to justify you in entertaining such a cruel and unjust suspicion of
one whom _you_ should have been the last to believe likely to sacrifice
_anything_ for love; and whom you might have known better than to
deem an easy prey for the first self-confident libertine who should
condescend to display his butterfly attractions in her presence. I
consider that you have insulted me deeply--so deeply as to relieve me
from part of the weight of self-reproach with which I have hitherto
deplored the injury that by my choice of a career I have inflicted on
you. You say it pains you to enter this house; I now therefore beg
you to leave it, and will esteem it a favour--the only one I desire of
you--not to enter it again until--yes! until I send for you!”

As she spoke she rose hastily, and rang the bell. Astonished at the
effect of his speech, and for the moment overpowered by her vehemence,
Arthur stood speechlessly regarding her. Then rousing himself by an
effort, he said in a low, deep voice, that, trembled with suppressed

“Remember the words you have spoken! I shall need no second bidding; I
will not enter this house, nor will I see your face again, _until you
send for me!_ And since you thus drive your best friend from you, and
encourage your bitterest enemy, may God protect you! and when you see
and repent of your error, may He bless you also!”

As he uttered the last words, he seized his hat, hurried from the room,
and ere Kate could sufficiently recover herself to attempt to stop him,
she heard the house-door close behind him: and then the proud woman’s
haughty spirit failed her, and murmuring--“I shall never see him
again--never, never!” she buried her face in her hands, and wept


The reader, if that noble myth who rules the destiny of us poor writers
be possessed of an average amount of memory, will recollect that on the
evening when Lord Alfred Courtland entertained Jack Beaupeep and friends
at his comfortable bachelor lodgings, a gentleman then first mentioned,
bearing the euphonious patronymic of Le Roux, conveyed to Monsieur
Guillemard the startling intelligence that the Russian Count Ratrapski
had broken the bank in J-------- Street. How, although immediately after
receiving this news, Horace D’Almayne had proceeded to Lady Trottemout’s
_soirée_, and, according to his wont, made himself universally
agreeable, and transacted a more than usual amount of mischief, by
bringing about the most serious disagreement which had yet occurred
between Harry Coverdale and Alice his wife, it must not be supposed that
the intelligence did not interest him. On the contrary, it appealed to
him in his weakest point--the pocket; for in that gambling establishment
(of which D’Almayne was part proprietor) had he invested his little
all, and the losses incurred by the good fortune of Count Ratrapski
swallowed up every farthing he had in the world, leaving him nothing but
his debts and his talents to live upon. This position, however, by no
means possessed the charm of novelty for our excellent young friend; on
the contrary, as it was a favourite theory of his--which he never lost
any opportunity of reducing to practice--that it was the duty of those
who had money to support those who had not, he rather preferred being
insolvent; and, paradoxical as it may appear, considered himself best
off when he was worst off--for then he was obliged to exert all his
energies to ensure that some purse better filled than his own should
relax its strings to provide for his necessities.

Thus, on the very day on which Arthur Hazlchurst had his unsatisfactory
interview with Kate Crane, the husband of that proud beauty met by
appointment, at an office not far from the Royal Exchange, Monsieur
Guillemard,--Mr. Vondenthaler, a Belgian capitalist,--Mr. Bonus Nugget,
a man well known upon ’Change,--the Hon. Captain O’Brien,--and last,
though not least, Horace D’Almayne. Mr. Crane having seated himself,
after undergoing the ceremony of introduction to Mr. Vondenthaler, who
was the only member of the party unknown to him, D’Almayne opened the
proceedings by observing--

“Well, gentlemen, I am glad to tell you that everything is progressing
as we could wish, and that my previous calculations, which I had the
honour of laying before you at our last meeting, appear likely not
only to be verified, but exceeded. Mr. Vondenthaler informs me that
the applications for shares from the principal foreign merchants are
incessant; and Mr. Nugget and Captain O’Brien will tell you the same in
regard to their own connection. Is it not so, Captain?”

“Indeed, and it is, thin,” replied the gentleman thus accosted, who
possibly, from his having mixed so much with the aristocracy of Europe
generally, spoke with a strong Irish accent. “Bedad, sir, the way they
come tumbling in is perfectly astonishing; ’tis, upon me conscience!”

“The only thing that remains then, before we proceed to issue the shares
and receive deposits, is to decide how many we shall allot to each
director _ex officio_, and how many you gentlemen may desire to retain
for--your friends,” observed D’Almayne, glancing expressively towards
Mr. Crane as he spoke.

“In regard to the shares to be held by directors, I would suggest five
hundred,” began Mr. Crane.

“_Das ist gut_; dat shall be him,” muttered Mr. Vondenthaler.

“I’ll not object to that same,” exclaimed the Captain, “if you leave
a thundering wide margin for the shares we may retain for our friends;
for, to be plain with ye, gentlemen, my best friend in the world,
and that’s Terence O’Brien, means to go in for this business in real
earnest; and if I can’t invest capital that will take five figures to
write, bedad I’d rather be out of it altogether.”

“Ten thousand, which I presume is the sum you hint at, Captain O’Brien,
could not I think be objected to,” observed Mr. Bonus Nugget, as if
£10,000 were a mere cab-fare.

“_Mais oui_, we will all demand so much as him, he is so small;
_n’est-ce pas, mon cher?_” interposed Monsieur Guillemard, favouring
Horace D’Almayne with a grimace indicative of the tenderest affection.

“If I might be allowed--if I might venture to suggest,” began Mr. Crane,
timidly, “I would propose that, at so early a stage in the affair, no
limit should be placed to the number of shares the directors may hold.
I am, ahem! a--myself I am a man who has been tolerably fortunate in my
commercial speculations, and might be disposed--in fact, I may say I
am disposed--to embark an amount of capital considerably above the sum
lately mentioned by Captain O’Brien.”

“Sir! your sentiments do you honour! Sir, I’m proud of your
acquaintance; you’re not one to do things by halves, I see. I like plain
speaking--the speculation’s a da-vlish good speculation, or you would
not find such men as Mr. Vondenthaler and my friend Bonus Nugget in
it. We’re going to give our valuable time and trouble to work the thing
ship-shape; and bedad, sir, if we’re not to profit by it, I’d jist like
to know who should!”

“Yes; that is all very well for you, O’Brien,” observed Mr. Nugget,
speaking with an air of authority; “but I happen to know a thing or two.
Mr. Crane, gentlemen, is--I say it to his face--able to go down to his
bankers, and draw a cheque, which they will honour, for more money than
any two of us could raise between us. Very well; now it’s no news to any
of us to be told that ‘money is power.’ But if Mr. Crane thinks, be-he
can embark his £50,000,--or I believe I might raise the figure as
high again without overstating the matter,--that he is going to ride
rough-shod over the practical men who have started this scheme, and to
take the lion’s share of the enormous profits that he is sharp enough to
foresee must accrue, I for one beg to tell him I wont stand it.”

“Ya! ya! _das ist gut!_ Ye have not started to be shod rough by Cranes!
Herr Bonus he knows a thing! _das ist recht und gut!_ Ye vill not
be roughed by Cranes!” muttered Mr. Vondenthaler through the thick
hay-coloured moustachios invariably worn by Belgian capitalists.

“_Mais oui_, you have reasons, Monsieur Vondenthaler, _mon ami_: but
if you yourself have mistaken, _n’est-ce pas?_” interposed Monsieur
Guillemard, eagerly. “I am assured Monsieur Crane is not _un homme
comme ça_; he shall not _se promener a cheval_--vot you call ride on a
horseback ovaire us _du tout; au contraire_, zies grate skim whom we
are zie undairetakers for, shall advance herself on his capital for zie
goods of us all. _Voyez vous, cher Monsieur Bonous!_”

“’Pon me conscience, now ye’re the first set of men I ever yet clapped
eyes on that made a fuss about taking money when it was offered to
’em!” exclaimed the Hon. Captain O’Brien, surprised into a stronger
brogue than he had yet allowed to appear. “Sure, now, by the time
we’ve tunnelled under the whole of Arabia Pethreea, and flung our
Britannia-metal tubular bridge across the Persian Gulf, we’ll find money
growing pretty tight with us.”

“As there seems some difference of opinion on the point,” returned Mr.
Bonus Nugget, “I would suggest that we summon a general meeting of all
the directors, and appoint a managing committee to decide such matters
for the future.”

This proposition was agreed to _nem. con._, and a day having been fixed
for their next meeting, D’Almayne began:--

“In my capacity as secretary, I have to call your attention to one point
before this meeting breaks up. I have, in accordance with a resolution
passed at the last board, gone into the current outlay, and find that to
pay the engineers now surveying the portion of the line already decided
on, and other expenses which I will not detain you by enumerating, the
account at our bankers is overdrawn. I would propose, therefore, that
two of the directors should sign a cheque for £3000, to be placed to the
company’s credit.”

“Better say five,” interposed Nugget; “it don’t do to be overdrawing our
account; I’ve known a trifle like that ruin a speculation as promising
even as the present one. Don’t let this occur again, D’Almayne; I can
let you have money at any moment, as you are well aware.”

“_Ya! ya!_ or I, vin you please; you must not starve him for no
accounts,” chimed in the Belgian capitalist.

“Certainly, £5000 should be paid in at once,” observed Mr. Crane,
producing a cheque-book. “I shall have much pleasure in advancing the
sum, if you gentlemen will sanction my so doing.”

This both Nugget and the Belgian protested against, each urging
their claims as originators of the scheme; but O’Brien silenced their
opposition, and settled the matter by exclaiming in his off-hand

“Let Mr. Crane have his way, sir!--he’s a fine fellow entirely--a
liberal and enlightened man he is--one of the merchant princes of this
great counthry; and though I’d the misfortune to be born an aristocrat
myself, I’ve no class bigotry about me. I admire a true Briton when I
meet with one; and whoever wishes to bully and browbeat that Briton in
my presence, must do it some time when Terence O’Brien isn’t there to
stand up for him. Shake hands, Mr. Crane--I’m proud to know you. Take
this pen and write, sir! Browbeat a man like that, indeed!--’pon my
conscience, what next I wonder!”

And so, under cover of the Captain’s blustering, Mr. Crane signed a
cheque for £5000, for which D’Almayne gave him a receipt in the name of
the company; then bowing to his codirectors, and exchanging a word or
two aside with D’Almayne, he departed. As the sound of his retreating
footsteps died away in the distance, D’Almayne, quietly pocketing the
cheque, observed--

“If we can but get the shares to sell for--aay twenty thousand, the
speculation will not pay badly. You see, Guillemard, these crafty
islanders--these denizens of ‘_perfide Albion_’--then-pockets are not
impregnable when you assault them judiciously. Five thousand pounds from
one man is not such a bad morning’s work!”

“Thrue for you, me boy!” exclaimed the Irishman; “by the powers, a few
more such mornings’ work will make men of us, if it please providence
to keep us out of jail so long; but it’s a dangerous game your playing.
Sure now there’s jist five of us here present--why wouldn’t we take a
thousand a-piece, and make ourselves scarce without any more ado? I’m
content for one, bedad.”

“You’ll do nothing of the sort, Terence,” was the reply: “for two very
good reasons: one being, that if you remain quiet and follow my lead, I
will enable you to bolt--if it come to bolting--with £10,000 instead of
one; and the other, that Mr. Crane’s cheque is very safely buttoned up
in my pocket, to be applied as I think best; and any man who attempts
to take it from me will become practically acquainted with the merits
of this ingenious little instrument,” and as he spoke he drew from his
breastpocket a small, beautifully-finished revolving pistol, whereupon
the individual termed Nugget interposed by observing--

“Nonsense, D’Almayne, put that thing away: we’re not in New Orleans,
man; and the report of that would blow our schemes to the devil long
before the bullet had penetrated O’Brien’s thick skull. But really
there is nothing to disagree about that I can see: it’s quite clear,
gentlemen, that D’Almayne knows perfectly well what he’s doing, and that
our interests could not be in better hands. We meet again on Friday.
D’Almayne, you’ll see me to-night in J-------- Street; and now that
we’re in funds again, Ratrapski will be as good as a fortune to us:
a man does not break the bank twice.” Then, nodding familiarly to the
others, Mr. Bonus Nugget resumed his usual “City” look (worth five
hundred a-year to him at the most moderate computation), and departed.

“Terence, never look sulky, man; I meant no harm; what I said was as
much for your good as my own,” began D’Almaync, in a conciliatory
tone. “Come, I want you and Guillemard to dine at Blackwall, to meet an
unfledged lordling, to whom I’ll allow you to sell a horse, if you like;
and you may do a little bit of ‘turf’ business too, if he’ll bite; only
it must be done in a quiet, gentlemanly way mind, because I’ve ulterior
views in regard to my young friend: he has a taste for the club in
J--------Street--you understand?”

“I believe ye, me boy! an it’s a fine child ye are intirely; and the
way ye’ve cut yer wisdom teeth is a credit to yer blessed mother--always
supposing ye ever possessed such a respectible relative,” was the
Hibernian’s reply.

“By the way, if you’re really going in for the horse business,” resumed
D’Almayne, meditatively, “you may as well do the thing properly. Get
a flash trap, you know, and drive us down; and--who’s that
sporting-looking young fellow you had packing you at Epsom--dark curly
hair, and grey hawk’s eyes?”

“Oh, Phil Tirrett, the great Yorkshire breeder’s son; he is his father’s
London agent, and a very promising young--”

“Scoundrel,” interposed D’Almayne, “I read it in his face. However,
you’ll want somebody to back up your lies, and he’ll pass with such
green boys as we shall have to-day; so bring him. Let me see--it’s now
two o’clock--call for me at the Pandemonium at five; and, excuse me, but
drop the Irish blackguard, and assume the foreign _militaire_ as much as
you conveniently can. Remember, you’re captain in the Austrian service,
and I was in your regiment, your sub., for a year.”

“Bedad! it’s as well you reminded me of that same, for it had slipped my
memory some way,” was the affable reply, as, arranging his auburn, not
to say red, hair under his hat, the gallant Captain prepared to take
himself off. Ere he did so, however, he chanced to cast his eyes on the
Belgian capitalist, who was amusing his leisure moments by performing
some intricate manouvres with a pack of cards, an occupation which he
interrupted by slapping Vondenthaler on the back with such force that a
covey of cards flew out of the pack about the room.

“What devil’s dodge are you planning there, you old sinner!” he
exclaimed; “let’s look at ye!” he continued, seizing him by the chin,
and turning his head so that the light fell upon his countenance;
“bedad! them moustachios alter you surprising! Nobody that had not known
ye as I’ve done, since I could handle a dice-box, and that was before
I was into me teens, would recognise in Mr. Vondenthaler, the Belgian
merchant, Le Roux the old _croupier!_”

“Leave him alone,” observed D’Almayne; “Le Boux’s a steady, sensible
man, and one I have a great respect for; he knows his work, and does it
well and quietly; and I’d back his long head against your noisy talent
(for the ‘gift of the gab,’ as you term it, is a noisy talent and
a dangerous one) any day, Captain.” Then, turning to Le Boux, he
said--“The bank will re-open to-night, and we shall be there in force.
Mind the Champagne’s better than the last batch. Let everything be
in first-rate style, and spare no expense. Guillemard, you heard the
rendezvous? Five o’clock, messieurs, _au revoir_.”

So saying, D’Almayne bowed with as much scrupulous politeness to the
worshipful fraternity of ------ men of science he was quitting, as if he
had been leaving the council-chamber of a prince. Calling a Hansom cab,
this industrious and zealous young man drove to his west-end lodgings,
and exchanging his suit of quiet black, in which he had dressed the
man-of-business character he had been pleased to enact, for more
butterfly garments, went down to a certain fashionable club, where he
felt sure of meeting Lord Alfred Courtland, and found him accordingly,
but by no means in the amiable, docile frame of mind in which he usually
rejoiced. The hour preceding that at which D’Almayne entered the
club had been spent by Lord Alfred in concocting, pursuant to Arthur
Hazlehurst’s advice, a penitent letter to Alice Coverdale--a composition
which had cost him much trouble and anxiety, and wherein he had
endeavoured in some measure to justify himself, by shifting as much
of the blame as he truthfully could on to the shoulders of Horace
D’Almayne; and he had just closed and dispatched this accusatory epistle
when, as though to overwhelm him with shame at such a betrayal of one
who professed himself, and whom in great measure he still believed to
be, his friend, his aspersed mentor seated himself opposite to him, and
addressing him by his usual endearing epithet of “_mon cher_,” invited
him to dine with him that day, and meet a few choice spirits at

“You’re very kind, but you really must excuse me,” was Lord Alfred’s
reply. “I’ve been knocking about a good deal lately, and begin to want a
little quiet.”

“Yes, I know,” was D’Almayne’s rejoinder; “such is always one’s morning
theory--but one never puts it in practice; when eight o’clock comes, _il
faut diner!_ Seriously, however, I can’t let you off. I have asked
two or three men to meet you, who are most anxious to make your
acquaintance”--(this was _strictly_ true),--“and who will be awfully
savage if you don’t come.”

“Come--of course he’ll come, and so will I too, if anybody will ask me,
and there’s a lark in hand--what does Milton say?--

                   ‘A bird in hand is better far,

                   Than two that in the bushes are.’

Fine poem, _Paradise Lost_. By the way, did you ever hear my riddle on
that head? ‘Why is the fact of the contents of a backgammon-board having
been thrown out of the window like Milton’s _chef-d’ouvre?_’ Do you give
it up? * Because it’s a _pair o’ dice lost_.’ None so dusty that--eh?
for a commoner like me? We poor devils that have to grind all day to
procure our modest chop and our unassuming pint of London porter, can’t
be expected to say such brilliant things as you noble swells, who have
had nothing to do but cultivate your understandings ever since you came
into the world with gold spoons in your mouths. But you have not told me
what’s up yet.”

Here the speaker, who was none other than the facetious Jack Beaupeep,
paused for want of breath, and D’Almayne interposed with a reply to his

“The particular event exalted at the moment you joined us is a bachelor
dinner at Blackwall to-day, for which I am trying to beat up a few
recruits; let me hope you will enlist under my banner, and, with such a
reinforcement, I am sure Lord Alfred will surrender at discretion.”

“All serene!” rejoined the voluble Jack; “I was ‘to let unfurnished’
(with a dinner)--and let me tell you a Blackwall feed is a special mercy
that’s not to be sneezed at. Come, Alfred, my boy, merge the haughty
noble in the jolly-good-fellow till further notice, and say ‘I will.’”

“Have it your own way. Since you’re both determined on my capture, it’s
hopeless to resist,” said Lord Alfred, his feeble attempt at reformation
completely defeated; “but I certainly had made up my mind to spend a
quiet evening.”

“So had I,” returned Jack; “but then I did not expect such luck as to
come in for a noisy one. What time, and where do we meet?”

“At the Pandemonium, at five o’clock,” was D’Almayne’s reply; “and mind
you are both punctual.”


Nero fiddled while Rome blazed! We possess the record of the main
fact, but all details connected with that memorable performance have
perished in the lapse of ages. We can imagine, however, that the novelty
and horrid grandeur of the situation by no means interfered with the
skill and execution of the imperial amateur; but rather added a force
and brilliancy to his playing, for which it may not have been usually
remarkable. If he had at all a turn for improvisation, an opportunity
then offered for his making a great hit; the roaring of the flames, the
crash of falling buildings, the coarse laughter of a brutal soldiery,
mingling with the shrieks of women and children, and with the shouts
changing to the half-curse, half-prayer, of the death agony of brave,
true-hearted men, striving to rescue the helpless ones, and perishing in
the exercise of their noble daring, all must have afforded a suggestive
theme for the _crescendo and diminuendo_ of the tyrant’o catgut, which
may have been handed down to posterity, until the tradition may have
furnished the thesis of that classic and artistic composition, the
“Battle of Prague.”

Everybody considers Nero a hateful tyrant, and everybody may be in
the main right; although good Dr. Goldsmith, in his interesting Roman
history (which has been perpetually “abridged for the use of schools”
 ever since it was written, and is not half short enough yet), has
probably applied too deep a coating of lamp-black even to Hero. But,
though as manners and customs change, the outward seeming of things
varies with them, human nature, too bad ever to be all good, and too
good to be all bad, remains much the same, despite the preaching of
Paul, and the watering-pot of Apollos.

Thus, while in the heart of mighty London vice filled model prisons
with the recklessly depraved, or, far worse, the recklessly
hypocritical--while hospital-wards teemed with those comparatively
fortunate victims of disease and improvidence whom some good Samaritan
had thus far rescued, when a frightful majority were dying untended in
reeking alleys and other hotbeds of pestilence--while covetousness and
hatred were scarcely restrained from breaking forth into rapine and
murder by the strong arm of the law--my Lord Alfred Courtland, and the
leeches who sought to prey upon his youth and inexperience, drove
down to Black-wall to nibble a small fry of ridiculous little
fishes, enveloped in batter, called whitebait, and esteemed, for some
undiscoverable reason, a delicacy.

Exactly as the clock struck five, a dark, well-appointed drag, with
three bays and a chestnut--all thorough-bred, or thereabouts--drew up at
the entrance to the Pandemonium. Captain O’Brien, handing the reins to a
dark-whiskered, good-looking young fellow, who was his companion on the
box, descended, and entering the club, was introduced by D’Almayne to
Lord Alfred Courtland and Jack Beaupeep; the first mentioned individual
acknowledging his salutation by the slightest possible removal of the
hat, together with an all but invisible motion of the head, the latter
by a profound salaam, together with the diffident remark--

“Sir, you do me proud.”

“Not at all, sir, not at all; on the contrary, it’s proud I am to make
your acquaintance, and you a mimber of the government, too. Did ye know
Smith O’Brien, now?” Not waiting a reply, he continued--“Oh, he’s a
great legislathur entirely; and sure them that don’t die first will live
to see him prime-minister of this country, one of these fine mornings;
and a _prime_ minister he’ll make, sure! ‘Justice to Ireland’ will be
found engraved in copper-plate on his heart, by any gentleman who may
have the pleasure of attending the _post-mortem_ examination of his
remains, and long life to ’em!”

“Are we waiting for any one?” inquired Horace, fearful lest his
Hibernian associate should disgust Lord Alfred by his offensive
familiarity at first starting. “Guillemard has, I see, already taken his
seat. Have you any objection to pull up at the Guards’ Club, O’Brien?
There are three or four army men who have promised to come, and your
drag will carry them easily.”

The Captain agreeing to this--as indeed he appeared willing to agree
to any and everything suggested by D’Almayne--they took their places;
O’Brien insisting on Lord Alfred succeeding to the box-seat, vacated for
that purpose by the dark-whiskered, hawkeyed youth, who was none other
than Phil Tirrett, the horse-breeder’s son, whom Horace D’Almayne had
designated as a very promising young scoundrel--a style of character
which he was so well able to recognise, and so thoroughly competent
to form an opinion upon, that we feel convinced he only did the young
gentleman’s merits justice.

By no means captivated by O’Brien’s manners or address, Lord Alfred was
at first haughty and monosyllabic; but perceiving that D’Almayne was us
scrupulously polite to this son of Erin as to the most polished member
of the fashionable world, it occurred to him that in his character
of man-about-town the correct thing was to assume a general
languid citizen-of-the-worldship; and, as a duty to his presumed
imperturbability, to appear, not all things to all men, but the same
thing to every man. Thus, rousing himself, he paid a die-away and
meaningless compliment to the workmanlike manner in which Captain
O’Brien--“Ar--put his team along, and--ar--the correct style of the
whole affair.”

This led to an equestrian and sporting rhapsody on the part of the Hon.
Terence, interspersed with anecdotes--strange, if true--of the dams and
the sires, and the own brothers and sisters, of the individual members
of the team, and especially of the chestnut, which had been--“The
sweetest thing, sir, across a stiff country that ever man rode; no day
was too long and no burst too fast for him, bedad! and the bitterest
moment ever I, Terence O’Brien, knew (barring the loss of me maternal
grandmother, by spontaneous combustion, from fortuitously sitting down
upon a lighted cinder, which had providentially popped out of the fire
for that purpose), was when I staked him above the near hock at Melton,
last season; and he’s never been fit to gallop since, or it isn’t in
harness ye’d see him now--and him costing me a cool £400, and worth all
the money now, if he was but sound,” &c. &c.

The witty author of _Tristram Shandy_, in introducing to the reader that
most lovable of humorists, my Uncle Toby, has discoursed eloquently on
the various hobby-horses which take possession of, and enslave, the mind
of man. Fortification, which was my Uncle Toby’s mania, engrossed
his thoughts, and influenced his conversation, until nothing but his
simplicity and kindness of heart saved him from degenerating into a
complete bore; but when a man’s hobby-horse is the equine animal itself,
you can no more unhorse him than if he were--as assuredly he ought to
have been, if mind and body had borne a proper affinity to each other--a
centaur. O’Brien _was_ a centaur, and having once mounted his hobby,
he rode him all the way to Blackwall, to Lord Alfred’s extinction, or
thereabouts; but considering that a certain amount of “turf” adheres to
the character of a man-about-town, he bore the infliction like a--well,
suppose, though we have foresworn slang as low, we for this once say--a

Three guardsmen, and a young heavy dragoon, who lived to consume beer
and cigars, and produce moustachios and stupidity were duly added to the
party; and by the time they reached Blackwall everybody grew hungry, and
prepared to do ample justice to the whitebait. Of course, everybody
has at some period of their earthly career eaten a Blackwall dinner, and
such feeds are all exactly alike. First appears a course of fish,
enough to constitute a dinner in itself: sea-fish, river-fish,
pond-fish--fishes boiled, fried, stewed, and bedeviled in various ways,
which it would require the knowledge of the supposed inventor of cooks
himself to detail; then come the wonderful whitebait themselves, their
stupid little bodies enveloped in skeleton dresses of batter; and then
fishes are ignored, and develop, according to the “Vestiges of Creation”
 theory, into the higher forms of animal, into which the highest form of
all--man--pitches cannibal-like, until the culinary cosmos is resolved
into its pristine chaotic elements. And around this hecatomb of
slaughtered zoology and feasting humanity skip nimble waiters, furnished
with bottles of every shape and hue; for, since Noah first discovered
the seductive beverage, wine-bibbing has been a levelling principle,
by means of which the lords of the creation have been accustomed
to assimilate themselves to their subjects the brutes, despite the
hydraulic pressure of Father Matthew, and all others who have pledged
themselves to cold-water such degrading customs. And, indeed, we fear
that of the two parties whose respective mottoes might be “_in vino
veritas_” and “truth lies at the bottom of a well,” the latter will
continue to constitute the minority until the end of the chapter; or, as
Jack Beaupeep expressed the same sentiment, when D’Almayne propounded
to him a somewhat similar theory, be “safe to kick the bucket, if they
don’t put their foot in it in any other way:” but that misguided young
man not only made, but rejoiced in shocking bad puns.

The dinner had been done ample justice to--the wines (and their name
was legion) had not been at all neglected--Lord Alfred had become quite
intimate with the guardsmen, who, as the wine unlocked their tongues,
began, in a quiet, gentlemanly way, to quiz everything and everybody,
especially the heavy dragoon, who rejoiced in the patronymic of
Gambier--a name on which the other military gentlemen were pleased to
exercise their wit whenever they addressed him. As, for example, 1st
guardsman, _loquitur_:----

“I say, Beaupeep, have you heard Fred’s (2nd guardsman’s) last?”

“I haven’t even heard his first,” was the rejoinder.

“No; I should think not,” continued No. 1; “he made that when he was
quite a _baby in arms_.”

“Ye may as well say before he could speak, while ye are about it,”
 suggested O’Brien.

“Bravo, Captain! you wont better that,” said the narrator.

“However, Fred’s last and worst was this--‘Why is the gallant cornet
opposite, an addition to any mess-table?’ Do you give it up? Because
he’s half game and half beer!’”

“I dare say it’s very funny,” muttered the heavy subject of the jest,
“but I don’t see the point myself.”

“It’s a _pint_ of half-and-half,” observed-Jack Beaupeep, explanatorily.

“Or ‘heavy’ wet, if he were out in the rain,” added guardsman No. 2.

“Talking of heavy wet, puts _me_ in mind of coming down with the dust.
When are you going to perform that operation in regard to the Windsor
Steeple-chase?” inquired the cornet, surlily; who, not having anything
witty to reply to his assailant, substituted instead the most unpleasant
topic he could select.

“That is soon answered,” was the rejoinder; “whenever you’ll make a
fresh match between the horses, and give Rattletrap a chance of showing
Teacaddy the way home, when he’s not been pricked in shoeing by a
confounded blacksmith.”

“Oh! if that’s all, you may hand over the cash to-morrow morning,”
 returned the dragoon; “the mare’s in first-rate order, and I’m game to
back her for a match, hurdle-race, steeple-chase, or what you will,” was
the confident reply.

“Ah! is it a steeple-chase now, ye’re talking of?” interrupted O’Brien,
filling himself a tumbler of Claret; “sure an’ I’ve got a horse I’d be
proud to enter, if it wasn’t jist putting me hand in your pockets and
taking the money out of ’em; for if he’s in the race, I’d name the winner
before they start.”

“He must be a wonderful animal, Captain,” observed the first guardsman;
“high-pressure, express train style of quadruped, eh?”

“Furnished with a _screw_-propeller, more likely,” added his companion,

“Faith, an’ ye’re wrong there entirely: it’s little of the screw ye’ll
find about Broth-of-a-boy. Talk about railroads, indeed, I never knew
what flying was till the day I first galloped him in the Phoenix Park. I
only wish I’d had him in Spain, when I served with the legion of Sir
De Lacy Evans; it isn’t overtaken and kilt entirely by their blackguard
dragoons I’d have been then--though it’s little but hard blows and hard
swearing they got out of me, as it was, the Lord be praised!”

“Hear, hear! a story, a story!”

“Military reminiscences of Captain O’Brien! order, order!”

“Silence for the noble anecdote!”

“Out with it, Captain!” &c. &c., were some of the exclamations with
which the Hibernian’s last speech was hailed by various members of the
party, upon whom the whitebait (?) was beginning to tell.

Thus urged, that worthy, clearing his throat by a sip at the Claret,
which half emptied the tumbler, began:--

“Well, boys” (here he caught a look from Horace D’Almayne, which caused
him, nothing abashed, to add parenthetically), “if in the congeniality
of good fellowship you will permit me to call ye so, the story’s nothing
so very wonderful, after all--it was just a bit of a spree, do ye see,
nothing more; but such as it is ye’re welcome to it”--(polite aside
from Jack Beaupeep for Lord Alfred’s benefit--“You’re _too_ liberal,
really!”) “I was with Sir De Lacy Evans in Spain, captain in a
regiment of lancers; a rare set of rattling dogs they were, too--up
to everything, from robbing a henroost to burning towns and sacking
monasteries”--(Beaupeep aside--“A decidedly _sac-religious_ act that

“On one occasion, we were stationed at a place distant about four miles
from a village occupied by a strong body of Carlists; well, sir, for
several nights running, our sentinels on the side towards the village
were assassinated--stabbed through the heart they were! We had ’em
doubled, two men to each post; bedad, the only improvement that effected
was, we got two men murdered instead of one; and yet the scamp that did
it always contrived to get away clear and clean--we never so much as
clapped eyes on him! Well, I bothered and puzzled the matter over, and
thought of this thing and that thing, and at last I got hold of a notion
I fancied might work well; so I cut off to our Colonel, and ‘Colonel,’
says I, ‘with your kind permission, I think I can stop these
assassinations.’ ‘What is it, O’Brien?’ says he, ‘you’re a clever,
rising young officer, and a man that bids fair to be an ornament to his
profession;’ but I wont trouble ye with the illegant eulogy he was so
polite as to pronounce upon me that day”--(“Hear, hear!” from Beaupeep
and the guardsmen). “So I jist obtained his permission to select two
well-mounted troopers out of my own company, and leave to do what
I pleased with them and myself during the night, and that was all I
wanted. I happened at that time to have a particularly fast mare--a
sweet thing she was, bay, with black points, nearly thorough-bred, a
head like an antelope, and as to pace, ’gad there wasn’t a horse in
the regiment could come near her. Before nightfall I picked out my two
troopers--sharp, plucky young fellows, that I knew I could depend upon
if it came to hard fighting, each of them well mounted; and I took care
to see that their horses and the mare were properly fed and watered, so
as to be fit for a stiff burst; then I amused myself with sharpening the
point of my lance till it was as keen as a razor. About a stone’s
throw from the post where the sentry they used to assassinate was
stationed”--(“Of course, the same man every night till further notice,”
 murmured Jack Beaupeep, continuing his running commentary)--“there was
a thicket of olive bushes and other shrubs; behind this, as soon as it
grew dusk, I posted my men with the horses, while I availed myself of a
rise in the ground to advance nearer, and lie down, hidden from sight
by a stunted bush or two. Well, I waited and waited, and watched and
watched, so that a mouse could not have stirred without my noticing it;
but nothing did I see, except the shadowy figure of the sentinel pacing
up and down in the moonlight, as though he were the discontented ghost
of one of his murdered comrades”--(“Very pretty--quite poetical, I
declare!” from Beaupeep).

“Well, at last, just about a quarter of an hour before daybreak, which
is the darkest period of the night in those latitudes, whether I had
dozed off for a minute I don’t know, but I was startled by a noise
differing from the monotonous tread of the sentinel, and which sounded
to my ear like the cracking of a dry twig; in another moment I perceived
a dark, round object moving upon the ground, which I soon made out to
be the head of a man drawing himself along, snake-fashion, upon his
stomach--while so close had he got to the unconscious soldier that I
perceived, if I would save the poor lad’s life, not an instant was to be
lost. I therefore gave the signal to my troopers to come up, and drawing
my sword, rushed forward to secure the assassin. As I did so, a light
active figure sprang up from the ground, and brandishing a long keen
dagger, made a furious stab at the sentry; but, fortunately, my approach
confused the scoundrel, so that he missed his stroke, and, instead
of killing the man, merely inflicted a slight flesh wound of no
consequence. Notwithstanding his surprise,--for, as the soldier
afterwards declared to me, his antagonist seemed to have risen out of
the earth,--the sentry attempted to seize him; but he contrived to slip
out of his hands like an eel, and before I could reach the spot, had
disappeared in the darkness. In another moment the dull sound of a
horse’s feet galloping over the turf proved to me that he was away; but
my own horse being brought up, I sprang into the saddle, snatched my
lance from the trooper who held it, and ordering the men to follow me,
started in pursuit. ’Pon me conscience, gentlemen, I niver reflect
on me feelings at that critical moment but it makes me--Ah, well! I’ll
trouble your Lordship for the Claret.”


Captain O’Brien, having finished his glass of Claret, and turned up the
points of his carroty moustaches, thus resumed his story:--

“At first it was as much as I was able to do to track the fellow by the
sound of his horse’s hoofs upon the soft turf, but I trusted a good deal
to the mare’s instinct to follow the horse before her; fortunately we
had not very far to go before we got upon the hard village road, and
then there was nothing to do but ride him down, for the grey light that
precedes the dawn enabled me to see his figure distinctly. But that same
riding him down was easier to talk about than to do, for the scoundrel
had obtained a long start of us, and though I was well mounted, I soon
perceived that he was equally so. Away we rattled at a slashing
pace, and for about a mile the two troopers managed to keep up pretty
tolerably; but by the time we had ridden rather more than twice that
distance, I found my friend was gradually drawing ahead, and that if I
waited for my men, I should soon have seen my last of him; so giving
the mare her head, and a trifling reminder with the spur besides, I left
them, and they gradually tailed off in the distance, until a turn of
the road hid them altogether. In my time, I’ve ridden steeple-chases,
hurdle-races, and every species of race that the divil ever invented,
but a faster thing than that morning’s ride I never saw nor heard of.
The horses were well matched as to speed, mine was rather the freshest,
but then the Carlist was the lighter weight; the thing could not have
been fairer. However, after a couple of miles or so more, I was glad to
perceive that I was gradually creeping up to him; and I suppose he began
to suspect it too, for, as the light increased, I saw him every now and
then look round suspiciously, and urge his horse still faster at each
successive glance. About a mile from the village, I had gained upon him
so decidedly that it was evident I must overtake him before he could
reach its friendly shelter. Apparently he was of the same opinion, for,
before I was aware of his intention, he unslung a carbine he carried,
pulled up suddenly, and turning in his saddle, levelled it, and took a
deliberate aim at me. Everybody that knows Terence O’Brien, knows he’s
no coward, but ’pon my conscience, at that moment, I wouldn’t have
been sorry to have turned my horse’s head, and cried quits with him;
however, a bullet is a style of article that doesn’t allow a man much
time for deliberation, so seeing it was a case of hit or miss, I only
rammed in the spurs harder, bent down my head, couched my lance, and
galloped on. Bang went the carbine; and almost before the report reached
me, a bullet whistled through the air; I heard a sort of ‘thud,’ as
when an arrow strikes a straw target, and felt my throat-strap suddenly
tightened,--the messenger of death had passed through my cap, severing
a lock of hair and just raising the skin, without doing me the slightest
injury; but it was a close shave in every sense of the word. Well, as
soon as the scoundrel perceived that his shot had failed, he felt that
his only chance was to exert every nerve to reach the village before I
overtook him; so, flinging away his discharged carbine, he dashed on,
urging his failing steed with voice and spurs, and even, as I gained
upon him, with the point of his dagger. Another minute brought us in
sight of the village, where a sleepy sentinel was pacing up and down the
road in front of a sort of toll-house. Astonished at the sight of two
men riding like lunatics, he first attempted to close the bar fixed
there to defend the entrance to the village, then, recognising my
companion, he paused, and before he had come to any decision, we had
dashed past him--my friend obligingly desiring him to ‘shoot the dog of
a Christino,’ as we flew by; an order which, fortunately for me, he was
too much confused to execute, discharging his firelock harmlessly into
the air. As we passed the toll-house, I was not above two horse-lengths
from my antagonist, and gaining upon him at every stride. Any
feelings of compunction I might have had at the thought of slaying a
fellow-creature, had been effectually put to flight by the shot he had
so deliberately fired at me; thus when I found myself at length coming
up with him, I grasped my lance more firmly, set my teeth, drove
the spurs into the mare, and dashed at him. In another moment I had
overtaken him, the point of my lance entered his back between the
shoulder-blades, and by the mere impetus of my onward career I drove
it through him. As the weapon transfixed him, the poor wretch uttered a
yell of agony, and fell forward on his horse’s neck a corpse. If you’ll
believe me, gentlemen, it wasn’t till I’d thus squared accounts with the
rascal for our sentries that he’d murdered in cold blood, that the idea
ever struck me how I was to get back again, with the Carlist village
between me and our camp. The first thing I tried, was to pull my lance
out of the dead assassin, as he lay on his face in the middle of the
road; but the more I pulled, the more it wouldn’t come--I’d driven it
in with such force; and, at last, with a wrench I gave it, I snapped the
staff in two. Seeing there was no time to lose, I was about to turn my
mare’s head in a homeward direction, when it occurred to me that they’d
never believe in the regiment that I’d killed the fellow;”--(“Not an
improbable thing,” soliloquised Beaupeep)--“so I jumped down, secured
the scoundrel’s sash and dagger, remounted, and rode off. As I expected,
the sentinel’s shot had roused the village, and just as I got back, a
company of soldiers were turning out, half-awake and in great confusion,
and the lieutenant contrived to draw a file across the road to stop me.
There was nothing for it but impudence; so, drawing my sabre, I waved it
in the air, then looking round, as if I’d got a regiment at my back, I
sang out, ‘Come on, boys!--trot, gallop, charge!’ and dashed at ’em,
cut down the lieutenant, and what between their fright and their
confusion, broke their line, rode slap through ’em, escaped by good
luck half-a-dozen bullets that were sent after me, and should have got
clear away but for a patrol of dragoons that came up on hearing the
firing, and who, learning how the matter stood, gave chase. As their
horses were fresh, while the race she’d won had pumped every puff of
wind out of my mare, they soon overtook me; and after two or three
minutes’ hard fighting, a cut in the sword-arm disabled me, and I was
forced to give in. Well, they carried me back to the village, settled
that I was a spy, besides having killed Don Pedrillo Velasquez de
Hatadoro, or some such jargon; for which double crime I was to be hung
at noon. Owing to the fortunate arrival of my lancers and a regiment
of rifles, however, that event was indefinitely postponed, but I’ll
mercifully spare you the recital of the scrimmage, which ended in our
taking the village; and, as talking is dry work, I’ll just thank you for
the Claret, D’Almayne, me boy!”

Much cheering and acclamation followed the conclusion of the Captain’s
story, under cover whereof Jack Beaupeep insinuated to Lord Alfred his
opinion that the history in question was better suited to the capacity
of the marines than to that of able-bodied seamen, to which his
Lordship, quoting Horace, replied, that “Judaeus Apella” might believe
it, but that he did not; which, as he said it in the original language
of the Roman poet, elicited from his companion the remark that it
sounded very pretty, and he wished that _he_ understood Dutch.

“But about this said race; what is it to be, and when is it to come
off?” inquired the heavy cornet, who possessed every requisite except
brains to become a first-rate blackleg.

“Do you really mean that you’ve a horse you’d like to enter for, say a
hurdle-race, Captain O’Brien?” observed the first guardsman, thinking
the gallant Hibernian had been rhapsodising, and desirous of exposing
the fact.

“Indeed then an’ I have, if you’re plucky enough to enter any horse
against him,” was the confident reply. “Broth-of-a-boy will show ’em
the way home in style; but there may be a very pretty race for second,

A laugh followed this slightly gasconading assertion, and the “Heavy”
 continued: “Suppose we try and make a good race of it, and each of us
here enter a horse, and do the thing well.”

“_Mais que diable_--vot shall he mean?” inquired Monsieur Guillemard,
completely out of his depth; “to entaire, to valk into!--how shall ve
valk into a horse?”

“Oh, it’s a mere _façon de parler_,” returned Beaupeep, delighted at an
opportunity of mystifying a foreigner; “it’s merely a term used in
this kind of game; it is a sort of lottery, in which each person
thinks of--invents, in fact--some horse’s name, _Jaques-bon-Homme, or
Mart-de-ma-Vie_, or any other name that occurs to him; then, some day
that may be agreed on, these names are written on slips of paper, and
drawn out of a hat or cap, and those that don’t lose, win; but there’s
very little chance of losing--almost everybody wins; it’s a pretty game,
and very simple when you’re used to it. Do you quite understand, or
shall I say it again?”

“_Mais oui_, you are polite, not at all. I shall apprehend him one day,
when I shall have played at him: _vive la bagatelle!_ long live zie
rubbish!” was the cheerful rejoinder.

While this little conversation had been proceeding, the dark, handsome
young man, yclept Phil Tirrett, receiving a hint from O’Brien, conveyed
in a contraction of the eyelid, so slight that no one but himself
perceived it, wrote a few words on a scrap of paper, and tossed it to
Horace D’Almayne. Having read it, D’Almayne crushed it in his hand;
then, turning to Lord Alfred, he said--

“Do you know who my left hand neighbour is?”

“What, the good-looking, gipsy-like party?--no; you will surprise me if
you tell me he’s a gentleman,” was the sarcastic reply.

“By no means,” returned D’Almayne, helping himself to Claret, and
pushing the bottle to Lord Alfred; “but, although he would pass with
less discriminating critics than ourselves, what I like about him is,
that he never pretends to anything of the kind--he knows perfectly well
his position, and the terms on which he gets admitted to society such
as the present. His father is a great Yorkshire horse-breeder--a man who
supplies half the London market, and exports largely into the bargain;
there’s not a year in which old Tirrett does not turn over his ten or
fifteen thousand pounds, and bag four or five of ’em clear profit by
the end of it. This lad is his eldest son, and comes up to town every
season with a lot of young horses; some are bought by the dealers,
others, generally two or three of the best, he shows himself, and keeps
back till he finds an opportunity of placing them to advantage. This
is his third season in town; and from his manner and appearance, not
to mention the chance of picking up first-rate horse from him, he has
acquired a sort of standing among turf-men.”

“And this brief biography comes _à propos_ to what?” inquired Lord
Alfred, languidly, filling his glass.

“_A propos_ to his handing me this bit of paper,” rejoined D’Almayne.

Lord Alfred unrolled the mysterious _billet-doux_; it ran as follows:--

“If your friend Lord A. C. has a fancy to enter a horse, I can show him
one to-morrow no one in London has yet seen, or heard of; it can beat
any animal that will be named to-night, _I know_; and, for its stamp,
the figure is not a high one. If he likes the idea, let him name Don

Lord Alfred pondered: during his life in London his money had been
making itself wings, and using them also with alarming assiduity. For
a peer, his father was not a rich man, and his own allowance, although
enough for a gentleman to live upon carefully, was by no means
calculated to withstand such reckless inroads as had lately been
made upon it. As yet he was not in debt, and had a virtuous horror
of becoming so; but to purchase a racehorse, with such a name as Don
Pasquale--an animal with a reputation which would ensure its beating any
horse likely to be entered by cavalry cornets, real live guardsmen, or
captains of lancers, who had speared Carlist spies, was an idea equally
fearful and fascinating, which, even the mystical information that (for
such an unparalleled quadruped) the figure was not to be a high one,
was unable to divest of its equal powers of terror and temptation. He
glanced at the cornet and at the guardsmen; the cornet might be
about his own standing, but he felt a proud consciousness that if the
prejudices of his benighted country had allowed him to wear a moustache,
he could have grown a much more imposing style of article. One guardsman
was a noble adult, endowed by nature with unimpeachable black whiskers,
and impregnable in the _sang froid_ of three decimals; but the other,
the fastest and punning_est_ of the party, was a mere boy apparently his
lordship’s junior by a year or more: yet this precocious young warrior
talked of entering racehorses, and betting cool hundreds, as though such
pursuits were analogous to playing marbles for stakes payable in
the copper coinage sacred to the effigy of Britannia, of wave-ruling
celebrity. And should he, the knowing man-about-town, the friend and
favourite pupil of Horace D’Almayne, should he be deterred by prudential
considerations which even that boy had the spirit to ignore and

D’Almayne’s eyes looked through him as if he had been made of
plate-glass, perceived his hesitation and its cause, and hastened to put
an end to it. “Have nothing to do with it, _mon cher_,” he said, _sotto
voce_; “you’ve been spending money pretty fast lately, and we shall have
your noble father cutting up rough, and refusing the supplies.”

“You seem to think I am a baby!” was Lord Alfred’s piqued reply, as he
filled a large Claret-glass to the brim, having already partaken of
that liquor and others freely; “you fancy I am to go through life in
leading-strings; but you will learn better some of these days;” then,
with a confidential nod to Phil Tirrett, which that accomplished young
scoundrel acknowledged with a significant smile, he continued aloud,
“Captain O’Brien, I am curious to test your assertion, and beg to
enter a horse of mine, Don Pasquale, in order to discover whether
Broth-of-a-boy can show _him_ the way home, as that is a feat which I
have yet to seek the animal able to perform.”

“At this challenge, so boldly thrown down, everybody grew clamorous and
excited, with the exception of Jack Beaupeep, who, for the delectation
of himself and the younger guurdsman, went through a pantomimic
representation of first hanging himself, then, with a dessert-knife,
severing his carotid artery,--regarding Lord Alfred the while with a
smile of mock commiseration, as though to signify his conviction that
the young nobleman was metaphorically performing a similar suicide
operation on his own account. Horace D’Almayne, with a face indicative
of deep concern, vainly endeavoured to dissuade Lord Alfred from having
anything to do with horse-racing, which he described as a snare and
a delusion, with such pathetic earnestness that his Lordship, bent on
vindicating his enfranchisement from parental or morel leading-strings,
even if he were necessitated to throw himself over a precipice in
order to do so, became more than ever determined to have his own way.
Accordingly, he made an appointment to meet the guardsman and Captain
O’Brien on the following morning at the “Pandemonium,” and settle all
the preliminaries of the race. This interesting and important matter
being thus put properly in train, much “turf” conversation followed; and
too much wine was drunk by the party generally, and Captain O’Brien
in particular; until somebody suggesting that they had a longish drive
before them, the meeting broke up, and D’Almayne retired with the
head-waiter, to undergo that uncomfortable operation yclept “paying
the bill.” As he did so, Tirrett drew Lord Alfred into a corner, and
inquired in a low tone--

“How early may I call on your Lordship, and take you to see Don

“Eh? early did you say?--do you mean really and positively early,
or early for London? I seldom breakfast before eleven,” was the
“about-townish” reply.

“I did mean _really_ early,” rejoined Tirrett. “Don Pasquale is at a
stable a little way out of town, where I would advise your Lordship to
keep him quiet till after the race; and, as there is no good in letting
too many people into the secret of his whereabouts, I was going to
propose to meet you at Hyde Park Corner, at eight o’clock to-morrow
morning, and drive you down; in which case you might be in town again by
your usual breakfast hour, and no one any the wiser for our expedition.”

“Yes--you know best, of course; but really it’s an alarming sacrifice
of ‘nature’s sweet restorer;’ still I’m game for the exertion--a--eight
o’clock did you say? ’Gad, I’d better book it, for my memory is not my
strong point,” and as he spoke Lord Alfred produced a knowing little
betting-book, which he considered it the correct thing to carry, and, in
the portion thereof, dedicated to memoranda, entered “Mr. Tirrett, H. P.
C., 8 a.m.;” then, replacing it in his pocket, joined a group, in the
centre whereof Jack Beaupeep was spinning a dessert-plate on the point
of his forefinger, and performing various feats of legerdemain. The drag
being reported in readiness, this facetious young gentleman was obliged
summarily to discontinue his performance, or, as he expressed it, “shut
up shop, in consequence of the early closing movement;” and, after an
agreeable moonlight drive, they reached town without adventure about
eleven o’clock.

“D’Almayne, my boy, what are we to do with ourselves?” inquired the
punning guardsman; “I’m open to anything--except, of course, going
quietly to bed.”

“Sure and can’t we get into a row anywhere, now?--is there any
gentleman’s head handy that we could punch for a little harmless
divarsion?” asked O’Brien.

“What do you say to kidnapping a policeman, charter a cab, convey him to
a gin-palace in some obscure locality, fill him blind drunk, shave off
his whiskers, blacken his face, and then deposit nim at the door of the
nearest station-house, to be punished for insobriety, riotous
conduct, and neglect of duty?” suggested Beaupeep, with the air of a
philanthropist proposing some plan for the benefit of his species.

“Sure, an’ its a great idea intirely, and a thing that should be done
forthwith,” observed O’Brien, meditatively and approvingly.

“You can, of course, please yourselves, gentlemen,” replied D’Almayne;
“but such valorous achievements are scarcely in my line, or in that of
my friend Lord Courtland; _n’est-ce pas_, Alfred, _mon cher?_”

“Yes, decidedly. I was going to propose that we should look in at
J-------- Street for an hour or so, and then go quietly to bed--I don’t
want to be late to-night.”

“I’m with you,” chimed in the first guardsman, “what say you, Bred?”

“All serene; though I was in a position to vocalise in the teeth of a
footpad--‘_vacuus canit_,’ &c., you know--regularly cleaned out, the
last time I quitted those realms of enchantment; but never mind, faint
heart never succeeded with lovely woman, eh? Go in and win, that’s about
the time of day!”

“Of night, rather,” suggested Beaupeep, critically; then, assuming a
severe tone and manner, he continued, “I’ll tell you what it is, you’re
a set of very dissipated young men, and gambling is a vice of which all
your anxious parents most strongly disapprove!”

“Faith, and if mine should happen to do that same it wont cost me any
overpowering amount of remorse thin; for me father died some years
before I came into this wicked world, and my mother was so cut up by the
catastrophe that she did not survive him many days,” remarked O’Brien,
with drunken gravity.

And having by this time reached the door of the mysterious club in
J-------- Street, D’Almayne knocked a peculiar knock, and the whole
party entered, with the exception of Jack Beaupeep, who, observing that
he had to write a private despatch to the Pope, and a confidential note
to Abd-el-Kader, before he went to bed, excused himself on the score of
his official duties. As he turned to depart, he glanced at Lord Alfred
Courtland, who, with flashing eyes and heightened colour, was the
first to enter:--“If that poor boy has not fallen into the hands of the
Philistines, it’s a pity!” was his mental comment, and he shook his head
with the ominous profundity of a second Lord Burleigh.


No one could justly accuse Mr. Philip Tirrett, son and agent to
the well-known Yorkshire horse-breeder, of that prolific vice,
idleness--mother of evil--on the night and morning after D’Almayne’s
whitebait dinner. So far, indeed, was he from evincing any reprehensible
slothfulness in attending to his father’s (and his own) interest, that
hastening, the moment he quitted his companions, to his lodgings, he
exchanged his evening costume for his every-day habiliments; then lying
down, ready dressed as he was, he snatched a couple of hours’ sleep;
and, as soon as the first ray of daylight became visible, rose and took
his way to a neighbouring livery stable. Arriving there, he roused a
sleepy helper, and desired him to saddle the bay mare; which, when his
order had been complied with, he mounted; and telling the man to have
the tilbury and the chestnut thorough-bred ready by a quarter before
eight, rode off. As at that early hour the entrances to Hyde Park were
still closed, he followed the windings of Park Lane, until he reached
Cumberland Gate, when, giving his mare the rein, he rode at a smart trot
down the Bayswater Road, until he reached the turnpike, after passing
which he increased the trot to a fast canter. This pace he kept up for
about four miles along the Harrow Road; then turning off to the right,
he proceeded about a mile farther, until he came to a gate leading
across a field, on the opposite side of which were situated a cottage
and some farm buildings. Riding into the yard, Tirrett gave a shrill
whistle, and immediately a round, bullet-shaped, close-cropped head, was
protruded from a stable-door.

“Come and take my mare, Dick; put her in and give her a handful of corn
to nibble at. How is the Don?”

“He he a getting on stunnin’, Mr. Philip; I’ve kept him bandaged, as you
told me, sir, and it aint hardly noticeable.”

“Let me have a look at him,” was the reply; and after leading the mare
into the stable from which he had originally himself appeared, Dick
produced a key, and, unlocking therewith the door of another stable,
Tirrett entered. In a loose-box, enveloped in cloths, stood a remarkably
fine horse, which, as the door opened, turned its small, well-formed
head to gaze at the intruders, laying back its ears and showing its
teeth when Tirrett approached it. Master Phil, however, appeared
perfectly aware of its various little peculiarities, both of temper and
bodily estate.

“Put a saddle and bridle on him,” he said; “I want to see him out.” The
execution of this order invoked a scene analogous to the little _ballet
d’action_ usually performed between a refractory child requiring to have
its face washed, and a firm, but tender and judicious nurse. Thus, on
Dick approaching his charge gingerly, with the bridle held out in a
tempting and seductive manner, that perverse quadruped immediately
elevated its head to the altitude of that of a cameleopard, or
thereabouts; which, as Dick was rather under than over the middle
height, completely frustrated his purpose; whereupon the groom told
Pasquale to “now then!” superadding a request to him to “come out o’
that, will yer!” without unnecessary delay. If the demonstrative pronoun
referred to the Don’s attitude, he _did_ “come out of it” instantly,
by turning short round, and in a most senseless and uncivil fashion
presenting his tail to be bridled instead of his head; but this little
display of wilfulness and ill-breeding defeated his object, for by his
sudden gyration he placed himself in a corner of his loose-box, where
Dick cleverly contrived to pin him, and before (if he had possessed the
faculty of speech) he could have invoked Jack Robinson, clapt the bridle
on him, and “brought him round” in every sense of the term. “Take the
bandage off the foreleg,” was Tirrett’s next order; as soon as the
groom had executed it, his employer stooped down and carefully felt and
examined the uncovered leg. “The heat and tenderness seem all gone,” he
said; “there’s a little fulness still, but that will go down when you’ve
had him out for half an hour. Does he show lame at all?”

“I aint took him out of a valk, you know, since it happened, Master
Phil; but he don’t valk lame none,” was the reply.

“I mut see him out, Dick; take him down to the meadow with a saddle on
over his clothes. How is his temper?” was the next inquiry.

“Yell, he aint jist the sort o’ hanimal for a timid old gentleman, you
know, Master Phil; it takes a man to ride him; but he’d be civil enough
with you or me on his back, after the first five minutes,” rejoined
Dick, buckling the girths so tightly as disagreeably to compress the
person of the irascible Don Pasquale, who, fortunately for himself, by
no means resembled in figure his namesake, as enacted by the inimitable
Lablache; but who still resented this indignity by making sundry
vigorous, but abortive efforts to bite and kick his attendant, by
which he obtained an exhortation to “cup!” (whioh we take to be
an abbreviation Of “come up!”), together with the interrogative
remonstrance, “what are you arter--can’t ye?” His toilet thus completed,
the Don was led, snorting and curvetting, across the yard to a gate
opening into a grass paddock of from ten to twelve acres; where, as
soon as he was fairly inside the gate, he commenced a series of violent
pantomimic protestations against the indignity of being mounted; nor
was it until Dick, having exhausted his entire vocabulary of equine
endearment, had been forced to betake himself to a course of hard
Yorkshire swearing, that he could be induced to stand still for ten
consecutive seconds. That desideratum being fortunately attained just
before Dick became black in the face from the force of the language he
was compelled to employ, the groom, gathering up the reins, grasped the
front of the saddle firmly, and requested from Tirrett the favour of “a
leg up;” a demand to which that young gentleman responded by seizing him
by the right knee, and flinging him recklessly upward into space, whence
by a special mercy he descended on the saddle, and therefore on the
back of Don Pasquale. Then that noble quadruped tried to obtain forcible
possession of his own head, with the felonious intention of careering
madly round the meadow, and annihilating Dick in his rapid career; but
the astute groom, foreseeing some such catastrophe, would by no means
permit him to accomplish his design, but retained possession of his head
by a strong hand, a stout rein, and a powerful bit. Frustrated in his
amiable intention, the Don appeared determined to prove to society at
large that, if he had lost his head, he at all events possessed the
free use (not to say abuse) of his limbs; so he pranced, and sidled,
and jumped with all four feet off the ground at once, varying the
performance by alternately kicking and rearing, until he had in that
rash and inconsiderate manner made the circuit of the paddock, when,
finding his rider clung to the saddle with an adhesive pertinacity which
rendered the probability of throwing him completely a forlorn hope,
he apparently gave the matter up in despair, dropped quietly into the
habits and customs of ordinary horses, and permitted himself to be
ridden hither and thither at his master’s, and his master’s master’s,

“Take him by at a slow trot, then at a fast, then at a canter,”
 was Tirrett’s first direction; when this had been complied with, he
continued: “Now take him over the leaping-bar.” Dick, who seemed devoid
of all individuality of will, and to exist only in order to do as he
was bid, without the slightest reference to its compatibility with the
safety of his own life and limbs, immediately turned to obey; but Don
Pasquale, whatever degree of fondness he had evinced for gymnastic
exercises on his own account, clearly had not the smallest inclination
to perform such feats for the pleasure of others: thus, when brought
up to the leaping-bar, he not only refused to go over it, but actually
turned his “head where was his tail,” and dashed off in a diametrically
opposite direction. But it was of no avail; Dick, once mounted, was
immovable, inexorable; moreover, he wore a pair of singularly sharp
spurs, with which he had a disagreeable habit of excoriating the sides
of any cantankerous quadruped he might bestride. So, after fight number
two, the Don was again conquered, and taken over the leaping-bar, which
he cleared in gallant style. “That will do, bring him here,” continued
Tirrett; “he scarcely shows lame at all; but he’s too fresh, his temper
appears too plainly, he wants severe exercise. Will the fore-leg stand
training for a race, do you think?”

“Yell, if ve has the doing of it, Master Phil; so as we can humour
him, and doctor him, and vork him only on the soft turf, and little
and often, not to overtire the back sinews, do yer see; and keep him
cold-bandaged at night, and so work the horacle that fashion, the thing
may be done without making a mull on it.”

Tirrett removed his hat, passed his fingers through his hair, replaced
it again, thought for a moment, once more felt the suspicious back
sinews, shook his head, and then resumed: “Keep him out for the next two
hours; give it him sufficiently stiff to take the devil completely out
of him; then feed and clean him, and have him ready to show by half-past
eight. Get yourself dressed, too, for if I sell the horse I shall let
you go with him for a time--you understand; but you shall have full
directions when I see my way clearly. Now I must be off; you need not
come in, I can get the mare myself. Take him over that bar again once
or twice; it wont do for him to shirk it when I’m showing him--remember,
half-past eight.” So saying, Tirrett returned to the stable, brought out
his mare, remounted, and rode off at the same speed as that at which he
had arrived.

When he reached the livery stable whence he had procured the mare, it
still wonted a quarter of seven; calling a cab, he drove without delay
to a small street in the neighbourhood of Leicester Square, and rang
twice at one of the houses without producing any result, but a third and
more strenuous application of the bell-pull unearthed a curl-papered and
slip-shod maidservant, who replied to his inquiry, “Whether the captain
was at home?” that he was in bed and asleep, for aught she knew to the
contrary. “Show me his room,” was the reply. The girl scrutinised him
with a doubtful air, which, Tirrett perceiving, continued, “It’s all
right, my good girl, I’m not a dun;” at the same time he placed a
shilling in her hand, and, her scruples vanishing at the magic touch
of silver, she led the way up two flights of stairs, then, tapping at a
bedroom door, she exclaimed--

“Here’s a gentleman to see you, Captain.” Tirrett, without farther
announcement, opened the door and walked in; thereby relieving the
gallant tenant of the apartment from an alarming suspicion which was
continually haunting him.

“Ar, Phil me boy, and I’m glad to see you are your own self then, and
not a sheriff’s officer. What has brought ye here at this onconscionably
early hour of the night? have ye set the Thames on fire, or bolted with
the Bank of England?”

“Neither,” was the reply; “both exploits are more in your way than mine;
but I’ve not a minute to lose. I’ve just come back from the stables at
Shark’s Farm, and I’m to drive that green goose, with a handle to his
name, down to look at the horse at eight o’clock.”

“You’ve got his Lordship so far as that, have ye? ’Pon me conscience
you’re a clever lad, and your father ought to be proud of ye,” was the
complimentary remark this announcement drew forth.

Unheeding it, Tirrett continued: “And now, Captain, before we go any
farther, let us come to a clear understanding; the matter, I think,
at present stands thus: I sold you the horse for 200 guineas, and half
everything he might win during the ensuing year; 100 you paid out of
your Derby winnings, 100 you still owe me; you next made a foolish bet,
when you were half screwed, that the horse could perform an impossible
leap, and in attempting it threw him down and lamed him; from that
lameness he has wonderfully recovered--sound I never expect him to get;
though, with care and management, he may now be sold and trained; but
how are we to arrange about terms?”

“Terms, indeed!” was the astonished reply. “Why, I’ll pay you your
second hundred out of the price I get for him; and well content ye
should be with your good luck,--for if the nag had gone to the bad, it’s
more kicks than ha’pence ye’d have got from Terence O’Brien.”

“Wont do, Captain,” was the cool rejoinder: “I must have the hundred
down, and half whatever you get beyond. Why, there’s a bill of thirty
pounds from the ‘Vet.’ for time and medicines, besides the half share of
the winnings which I lose by your Belling him.”

The angry discussion which ensued, and which ended in O’Brien’s
obtaining terms slightly more favourable for himself we will not inflict
on the reader; suffice it to say that, ere the associates parted, all
their differences were reconciled, and their alliance likely to
be cemented more firmly than ever, by their proposed inroad on the
credulity and cash of Lord Alfred Courtland.


Kate Crane was the eldest of a large family; two children younger than
herself had died in infancy, so that her next brother was five years her
junior. He was a fine, high-spirited lad, generous to a fault, as wilful
and determined as his sister, but unfortunately without her power of
self-control or steadiness of principle. Thus constituted, he was at
once the darling and the torment of his family. Through Mr. Crane’s
interest he had obtained a good position in a large mercantile
establishment in the city, where, though Kate had at first entertained
considerable apprehensions as to his steadiness, he appeared to be going
on satisfactorily.

One morning, about three weeks after the date of the occurrences we have
related, Mr. Crane having as usual departed for the city to coin money,
the mid-day post brought the following letter for his wife--

“Dearest Kate,--It is with reluctance that I take up my pen to ask you
whether it will inconvenience you to pay me a part of the next quarter’s
allowance you so generously make us, in advance. You know well how I
strive and struggle to keep down our expenses, without depriving your
dear father (who, I grieve to say, gets weaker and weaker) of the
comforts which his declining health renders daily more necessary for
him. My best endeavours cannot, however, prevent some of the tradesmen’s
bills from getting in arrear,--the fearful expense of your father’s
illness absorbing the addition to our income whieh your kind husband’s
liberality has enabled you to make. Such a difficulty is now pressing
upon me, and induces me to apply to you. If you can help me, I am
sure you will; if you are unable to do so, I can only trust that the
beneficent Providence who has hitherto supported me under my heavy
trials will not now desert me. Believe me to remain, dearest Kate,

“Ever your affectionate mother,

“Rachel Marsden.”

“P.S.--I am uneasy about Fred; his letters have been short and
unsatisfactory for some time; and for the last three weeks he has not
written to me at all. I wish you would see him, and endeavour to learn
from him how he employs his evenings, &c. You will think my fears
unreasonable; but you know how fond and proud we both are of our boy.
If anything were to go wrong with him, in your father’s present state of
debility, I believe it would be his death-blow.”

Kate’s first impulse on reading the above epistle was to fly to her
writing-desk--ten, twenty, thirty pounds, was all that remained: the
liberal assistance she had bestowed on Mrs. Leonard and her family
having reduced her finances to this low ebb. Reserving only five pounds
for her own use, she immediately dispatched a hurried answer, enclosing
an order for five-and-twenty pounds, and explaining, in general terms,
the reason of her inability to render her parents more effectual
assistance, promising to be more careful of their interest for the

As she was desiring the servant to post her letter without delay, a
sharp knock at the street-door caused her to start, and she had barely
time to close her writing-desk, ere Mr. Frederick Marsden was announced,
and a tall handsome lad entered.

“Why, Fred, how is this? away from business at this hour! what will that
tremendous individual, the ‘Head of the Firm,’ say to you?” inquired
Kate, with an attempt at gaiety which scarcely concealed an undefined
dread of something having gone wrong, with which her brother’s
unexpected arrival, and the information contained in her mother’s
letter, had inspired her.

Young Marsden waited until the servant had quitted the room, then,
meeting his sister’s glance steadily, he replied--

“It does not much signify what he might say, Kate, for I no longer am a
member of his establishment.”

“What do you mean? You have surely never been so mad--so ungrateful to
Mr. Crane--so cruel to our mother, as to throw up your appointment!”

“Do not add to my misfortunes by upbraiding me, for I am wretched enough
as it is; or at all events hear what I have to tell you first,” was the

Kate made a gesture for him to continue; and he immediately began an
eager, hurried recital of his troubles and difficulties. It was the old
story--poverty and pride, temptation resisted often, yielded to once;
and that once effacing in a moment the recollection and results of
the repeated resistance. Youth and impetuosity, led astray by high
and generous impulses, without judgment to control them; meanness and
malevolence profiting thereby to effect the poor boy’s ruin. And as he
stood before her, with his fair clustering hair in wild disorder, his
bright cheeks glowing with contrition for the past, and real, earnest,
good resolutions for the future,--with the tear-drop sparkling in his
bright blue eye, suggesting the childhood from which he had so lately
emerged, while the compression of the short, stern upper lip, indicated
the approach of the full rich manhood into which, if the world will but
grant him forbearance for the present, and fair play for the future,
he will surely develop,--what wonder that his sister, deeming him more
sinned against than sinning, should press him to her warm woman’s heart,
as she murmured--

“My poor boy! don’t make yourself so miserable; we must see what can be
done to help you.”

When, however, she had in some degree succeeded in calming his emotion,
and they came quietly to review his position, the said question of “What
could be done to help him?” appeared no easy one to answer.

The son of his late employer, and junior partner in the establishment--a
dissipated and unprincipled young man--had, on Fred Marsden’s first
arrival, taken, or pretended to take, an extreme fancy to him,
introduced him to his sporting acquaintance, and made him his constant
companion. The first fruits of this ill-assorted alliance were, that
the high-spirited boy, eager to vie with his associates, was led almost
unconsciously into expenses, which soon left him first penniless, then
in debt.

In debt!--to owe a few shillings, a few pounds, appears a mere
trifle--an imprudence, perhaps, but scarcely a sin; or if a sin, a very
venial one--a peccadillo, nothing more. Believe it not! the fact of
owing that which, if it be required of him, a man cannot pay, is the
step across the Rubicon between honesty and dishonesty, between honour
and dishonour, between being a free agent or a bond-slave. To be in debt
is to forfeit selfrespect; to lose self-respect is to lose the practical
result of obedience to the guiding principles of religion and morality;
a loss too soon followed by a distaste for the holy things thus
dishonoured, by a relaxation of all attempts at self-improvement, by
a reckless indifference to the opinion of the good and the true:--the
stone set rolling, gathers speed from its own impetus; the wedge
inserted, the seam widens, and the stoutest oak is riven. Let a young
man be once in debt, and no helping hand stretched out to save him
from the consequences of his imprudence before the sense of shame has
departed, and the dereliction of duty acquired the fatal force of habit,
and it does not require any very profound experience of life to prophesy
his future career. No one who has witnessed the mean subterfuges--the
paltry evasions--the shameless encroachment on kindness--the parasitical
cringing to opulence, which the burden of debt forces on natures not
originally deficient in generosity and delicacy of feeling, but must
dread for those near or dear to him the first downward step towards this
abyss of misery, and exert every nerve to restrain them, ere it be too

Frederick Marsden, ignorant as a child of the value of money, and
imagining his salary calculated to supply his every fancy, had spent it
at least three times over, ere the uncomfortable possibility of being
in debt occurred to him; and when he did open his eyes to the fact, his
pseudo friend soon quieted his scruples by lending him a sum--not indeed
sufficient to defray his debts, but to enable him to continue his
career of extravagance a little longer. But the delusion was soon rudely
dispelled: after a wine-party, at which Marsden had drunk quite as much,
and his friend considerably more than was good for him, the latter,
returning home, chose to follow and insult an unprotected girl. Fred
attempted to restrain him, but in vain; and on his instituting a more
vigorous remonstrance, a quarrel ensued, in which, heated by wine
and anger, the junior partner struck his subordinate, by whom he
was immediately knocked down in return. Becoming from this moment
Frederick’s bitter enemy, he commenced a series of petty persecutions,
to which the high-spirited boy submitted with unexpected patience, until
on one occasion, stung beyond his powers of endurance by some
unjust indignity inflicted on him in the presence of several of his
fellow-clerks, he gave vent to his anger, and was instantly summoned
before the head of the firm, and only saved himself from dismissal by
taking the initiative, and resigning his situation.

“And now, Kate,” he continued, “I have told you the whole truth; I own
myself to blame, I see where I have been weak and foolish, where I have
been headstrong and impetuous; and I admit that by contracting these
debts which are weighing me down, and paralyzing any efforts I might
hope to make to regain my character and position, I have acted weakly,
and--and”--(with a choking sob)--“almost dishonestly;--” he paused, then
added, “and now, seeing all this, feeling it most deeply; anxious only
to retrieve the past, or if that is impossible, at all events to do
better for the future, how am I to carry out my intentions--how prove
to my poor mother that I am in earnest? Oh, Kate, dear Kate, help
me--advise me! I know I don’t deserve it; but I have nobody but you to
look to!”

Thus appealed to, Kate would not have been the true woman she was,
had she hesitated. Fred had acted wrongly, foolishly, but he had done
nothing unmanly or mean; he was her own dear brother still, and all the
assistance in her power she would render him, gladly. But what was
in her power? there was the rub. What were his own ideas? had he any
friends, any future prospects? Friends likely to assist him he had
none--future prospects he had plenty, but they were very hazy. He
should like to go out to India--could Mr. Crane get him a cadetship, or
anything else which would enable him to earn his own living? Kate did
not know. Mr. Crane would of course be very angry, but she would talk to
him, and see what could be done; these debts were the worst part of the
affair--did Fred know their amount?

Fred was not exactly aware of their uncomfortable total, but was afraid
they could not be less than £150: and a peculiar feature in the case
was, that the tradesmen appeared by instinct to have discovered his
altered prospects, and were all sending in their bills at once, and
clamouring for payment. And so while they schemed, and devised, and
hoped, the time slipped away, until it approached the hour at which Mr.
Crane usually returned, when Frederick grew alarmed, and would by no
means risk meeting him until Kate had talked to him well--from which
colloquial process he seemed to expect extraordinary results: thereby
proving that this young fellow, however deficient he might be upon most
points of worldly knowledge, was not wholly ignorant of some of the
arcana of married life; especially of those private enactments relating
to the maintenance of the proper authority, rule, and governance of the
wife, over that legal and clerical fiction, her lord and master.

“When her brother had left her, Kate sat down, and endeavoured to review
quietly and dispassionately the circumstances of the case. Her brother
must be saved at all hazards; as a first step, his debts must be paid;
to do this £150 were required, and she possessed exactly £5, and would
not receive any more for another month. She must apply to her husband,
that was clear; and now she should reap the advantage of her sacrifice.
Had she married Arthur Hazlehurst, knowing that every farthing he
possessed was acquired by his mental labour, she could not have ventured
to ask him--it would have been unfair to him, wrong on her part; but now
the case was different, what were a couple of hundred pounds to a man
whose income was reported to be £20,000 a-year! True, Fred had thrown
up the appointment which Mr. Crane had obtained for him; this she knew
would offend and vex him; worse still, Fred had run in debt--a sin
which, as he had no temptation to it himself, her husband regarded
with the greatest horror. He would be very angry with Fred, and perhaps
refuse to assist him. No doubt she had great influence with him, and
where money would in any way make a show, as in the matter of carriages
and horses, plate, jewellery, and the like, he was liberal in the
extreme; but on other points he was strangely parsimonious. She had
never known him give a sixpence away in charity since she had been
married; and all such appeals invariably irritated him, and threw him
into a state of dogged obstinacy, in which it was perfectly impossible
to influence, or in any way control his actions. Her pride rebelled
against asking him a favour, even for her brother’s sake; but the mental
suffering Kate had gone through since we first made her acquaintance,
had given her truer views on certain important points, and she had begun
to perceive pride to be one of the rocks on which she had shipwrecked
her happiness, and had learned to mistrust it accordingly. Occupied by
such thoughts as these, she, for the first time in her married life,
sat awaiting her husband’s return with a feeling of mingled anxiety
and impatience. At last the expected knock sounded, and in due time Mr.
Crane made his appearance in the drawingroom; his greeting to his wife
ran thus:--

“Really, my dear, I must be excused for observing that I know no door
in London at which I am kept waiting so long as at my own. I am sure my
establishment costs me money enough; but the better servants are paid,
and the more they’re indulged, the more useless they become. I shouldn’t
be surprised if I’ve taken cold standing there. I did hope--no doubt it
was unreasonable of me--but I certainly did expect when I married, that
a household conducted on so liberal a scale as---I must be allowed to
remark--mine is, would be well regulated; that the eye of a mistress
would see whether the domestic duties were performed properly.”

He paused, so evidently expecting a reply, that Kate felt it incumbent
on her to say something, so she began--

“If Thomas is inattentive, you should desire Roberts to reprove him; and
if that does not produce the desired effect, give him warning and let
him go.”

“Yes, it is easy to say, ‘Let him go,’ but you forget that one has to
teach a new servant all one’s habits and wishes. Thomas has lived with
me for some years, and though at times he is slow and dilatory, yet he
knows my ways--not that I require much waiting on; thank Heaven, I can
wait upon myself: still I am not going to part with a faithful servant
merely to satisfy--if I may be allowed the expression--female caprice.”

Having delivered himself of this sensible and consistent opinion, Mr.
Crane solemnly stalked off to prepare for dinner. Poor Kate! she had
by this time become acquainted with her husband’s small and dreary
peculiarities, and she perceived, from his fretful, irritable manner,
that something had occurred to disquiet him in the course of the
morning. It was clear that this was no favourable moment in which to
make her appeal; and yet time pressed. She trusted the dinner would
produce a tranquillising effect on him; and she must choose a favourable
opportunity, while he was sitting over his wine, to introduce the
subject of her brother’s troubles and indiscretions.

Mr. Crane re-appeared with a gloomy brow; he had been obliged to wash
his hands in cold water--the hot was a perfect sea of blacks. “Why were
his things not put out for him to dress:” Kate believed they had been;
unless she was very much mistaken, she had seen them laid out in his
dressing-room. “What, his dress shoes?” Kate did not remember to have
seen the shoes. “No! he should think not; the shoes were what he was
particularly alluding to--they were not put out: on the contrary, it
took him quite five minutes to hunt for them. But it was always
the case--few things as he required, those few were certain to be
neglected;” and in this strain did he bewail himself, until, to Kate’s
inexpressible relief, dinner was announced.

Without being exactly a _gourmand_, Mr. Crane took a deep and solemn
interest in his dinner, the cooking of which he criticised with equal
acumen and severity. On the present occasion he helped himself to soup,
and tasted the first spoonful with an air of anxious inquiry. As he
became aware of the flavour, his countenance fell, and the shadow on his
brow darkened.

“Have you tasted that compound, Mrs. Crane?” he asked, in a tone
indicative of deep but tragic feeling.

“It’s rather salt, is it not?” returned Kate.

“Rather salt! it’s brine, made with sea-water, I’m certain such a
deleterious mixture as that is sure to disagree with me: the way they
dress my food in this house is undermining my constitution--bringing
me to my grave! I’m certain of it! Roberts, take that down to Mrs.
Trimmins, and tell her I can’t touch it; and mind such stuff as that
does not come up again. That’s the way money is wasted in this family;
that woman gets the best and most expensive materials, and then, just
because she has not to pay for them herself, goes and spoils them by her
unpardonable carelessness--it’s too bad!--oyster sauce. My dear Kate,
you’ve given me no sounds now!”

“Really,” rejoined Kate, colouring with annoyance, and making vigorous
but fruitless pokes at the cod with the fish-slice, “really, I’m afraid
there ate no sounds with this fish.”

“No sounds!” repeated Mr. Crane, in a high, whimpering falsetto;
“codfish and no sounds! the only part, as Mrs. Trimmins knows; that I
care about! Serve up a codfish without sounds! No, really this cannot be
allowed to go on; there’s no man cares less about his eating than I do!
Take it away, Roberts, I shall not touch a bit. A crust of bread and
cheese, if it is but clean and wholesome, is all I require; still, when
I do sit down to a dinner, I like to have that dinner fit to eat. As a
bachelor, I put up with such annoyances; if they spoilt one’s dinner,
one dined at one’s club for the next week, and so gave the cook a hint,
which rendered her more careful; but I own, when I married, I did hope
that these things might be remedied; that while I was out, working
hard from breakfast till dinner-time, to provide funds for all these
expenses, the eye of a mistress might have been applied to an occasional
inspection of her household; and that her husband’s comfort would have
been a fitter study for an amiable and domestic character, than the
immoral and pernicious writings of German and French novelists. Take
that horrible joint up to your mistress, Roberts, and bring me the
cutlets and Tomata-sauce. I should have thought Mrs. Trimmins might have
known by this time how much I dislike a great coarse leg of mutton;
but I suppose your rural tastes lead you to prefer it to a more refined
style of cookery, in which case I must only request that your favourite
dish may always be placed at your end of the table; I declare the
sight of it is enough to destroy my appetite, and makes me quito

“Don’t you think there may be a little fancy in that?” returned Kate,
as cutlet and Tomata-sauce at last filled Mr. Crane’s mouth, and stopped
his grumbling monologue; “I cannot help thinking good roast meat must
contain more nourishment, and for that reason be more wholesome than
made dishes.”

A struggle between his rising anger and his descending food having
occasioned a fit of choking, which did not tend to increase his general
amiability, Mr. Crane, as soon as he was sufficiently recovered,

“Unless it may be for the sake of contradicting me, my dear, I cannot
conceive--ugh! ugh!--I cannot conceive why you should imagine it
possible you can form a judgment about the matter; with such a strong--I
may say Herculean--digestion as you are gifted with, how should you
guess how these things affect a delicate organisation like mine? You can
doubtless eat these fearful legs of mutton with impunity; but were you
to eat the legs of a horse--as I verily believe you could--that would be
no argument in favour of dieting me on dog’s-meat. I know you think me
fanciful; your more robust temperament does not enable you to sympathise
with the difficulties my delicate, sensitive digestion subjects me

“The better way will be to give the housekeeper a general order never
again to send a leg of mutton up to table,” returned Kate; “I have
no especial predilection for the joint, and can dine quite as
satisfactorily on anything else.”

“No, my dear; I beg you will give no such order. I am not of such a
selfish disposition as to wish the dinner ordered merely with a view to
my likes and dislikes; neither is it my desire to curtail any of your
enjoyments, however much I may regret that they are not of a more
refined or intellectual nature;--have your legs of mutton as you have
been accustomed to have. I dare say there will always be bread and
cheese or cold meat in the house; thank Heaven, I am not particular,
anything simple and wholesome--give me some wine, Roberts; no, the
Burgundy, only half a glass--simple and wholesome does for me. Roberts,
desire Mrs. Trimmins to take care that she provides a liberal supply of
legs of mutton for her mistress.”

“Really, Mr. Crane, you mistake me; I have no particular preference for
legs of mutton, I assure--” began Kate.

Mr. Crane raised his hand deprecatingly, and checked her in mid speech.

“Quite enough has been said on this subject,” he interposed, severely;
“these endless discussions weary me. I come home tired and annoyed with
the cares, and anxieties, and fatigues of business: and when I seek for
quiet and repose in the bosom of my family, I am met by these, frivolous
and vexatious complaints, my dinner made a trial to me, and my digestion
upset, my constitution undermined, and my comfort in my home--my
domestic comfort, Mrs. Crane--entirely destroyed! However, one word
shall end this matter; if I am to be subjected to these ebullitions
of--I am afraid I must say, a fretful and dissatisfied temper, I dine at
my club in future.”

And having thus worked himself up into a mild, childish, and ineffectual
rage, Mr. Crane continued to growl at his wife and harass the servants
until dinner was over, and the domestics had departed. And then came
out the cause of this agreeable episode in Kate’s married life--the
_Bundelcundah_, East Indiaman, had gone down at sea, all hands had
perished, and £40,000 worth of cargo, the property of Jedidiah Crane,
had gone down with them!

Tears for their loved and lost ones dimmed the eyes of the widows
and orphans of the gallant seamen who had sunk in the _Bundelcundah_;
mothers wept as memory recalled some bright young face, glowing with
health and youthful daring, which now lay pale and swollen in the depths
of mighty waters; girls, with blanched lips and hollow eyes, grieved for
the lovers whom they should behold no more till the sea should give up
its dead, in an agony of speechless anguish, to which the sorrow that
can find vent in tears would have been a merciful relief; and Crane,
the _millionaire_, fretted over the loss of his £40,000 with a grief
as lively and earnest as any of them--for “where the treasure is, there
shall the heart be also.”

During all this scene her brother’s difficulties were never absent from
the mind of Kate Crane, but she felt that this was not the time to
bring them forward, and kept silence. Did the idea occur to her how
differently she would have felt had Arthur Hazlehurst been the person
to whom she had desired to confide her trouble? Let us hope not, for her
heart was full enough without it.


“So he will not do anything for me?”

“Nothing, my poor boy!”

“And you asked him--pressed him very much?”

“Don’t speak of it! I actually stooped to implore him; I did my duty by
you thoroughly; I kept down my rebellious heart, though it throbbed
as if it would burst. I told him of your youth, your penitence, and I
entreated him to befriend you.”

“And he still refused?”

“He said money was ‘tight’ in the city, and that he had none to waste on
an ungrateful boy who did not know its value.”

“I am not likely to learn it practically now, unless by trying how I
can live without it. I have just five shillings left; though as I am in
debt, I cannot honestly call those my own,” was the bitter reply. There
was a pause; then suddenly raising his head, Frederick asked abruptly,
“Kate, have you got any money?”

“Never was anything so unfortunate!” was Kate’s answer; “I have been
at a good deal of expense lately in assisting a distressed family; and
yesterday, just before you came, I received a letter from mamma, telling
me she was pressed for money in consequence of poor papa’s illness, and,
excepting five pounds, I sent her every farthing I had.”

As she thus destroyed his last hope, her brother sprang to his feet,
and began to pace the room with hurried strides. At length he exclaimed,
“I’ll not stay here to beg or starve--I’ll enlist in a cavalry regiment;
I’m quite six feet now, and ride under nine stone; I should not wonder
if they’d take me in the Lifeguards or the Blues.”

Kate’s only reply was by a mournful and dissentient shake of the head,
and Frederick continued--

“What! you don’t think it gentlemanly to enlist as a private? Well, it
_would_ be a bore, having to associate with the Common men--not that
I’ve any false pride about me, but a gentleman can’t help being a
gentleman, and I own I should feel out of my element. I have it--I’ll
work my way out as a sailor to Australia, and go to the gold-fields--eh?
Gold is what I want you know. I’ll dig up enough to pay my debts, and
keep a decent coat on my hack for a year or two, and then I’ll come
home, and be a credit to you yet--why wont that do?”

“Think of our poor mother, Fred; it would break her heart! She is so
wrapped up in you--has always loved you the best of all her children;
think of all she has upon her now--you would not add to her distress! Oh
no, you must give up all such wild thoughts, it would be too cruel!”

As she spoke the boy paused in his impetuous walk, and murmuring, “I
shall break her heart any way, miserable wretch that I am!” he flung
himself on the sofa, and gave vent to an outburst of mingled shame and

Kate’s unhappiness at witnessing his grief--which she could soothe,
indeed, but of which she was powerless to remove the cause--may readily
be imagined. Having after a time succeeded in subduing his extreme
sorrow, of which unavailing self-reproach formed the sharpest sting,
Kate gave him three out of her five pounds, to provide for his immediate
necessities, and dismissed him, promising to take advantage of any
symptoms of relenting which Mr. Crane might evince, again to press her
suit; and the poor boy departed, in some degree re-assured by hopes
of which, even as she expatiated upon them, she perceived the probable

As soon as he had quitted her, she sat down and fell into a train of
gloomy and bitter reflections. This wealth that surrounded her, of what
use was it in her trouble? None! She could not convert it into money to
save her brother; and its possession had hardened the heart of him to
whom she should naturally turn for assistance--her husband! And as she
pronounced the name, an involuntary shudder came over her. She had sold
herself to a man she despised, for the good of her family; sold herself
to save them from the curse of poverty; and now, at her utmost need, her
self-sacrifice proved unavailing--the money she required was denied
her--her earnest pleadings were disregarded --the evil she dreaded had come
upon her in its bitterest form, and she was powerless to avert it. Was
it for this, then, that she had stifled the voice of affection in her
heart--was it for this she had thrown aside the priceless love of Arthur
Hazlehurst, and embittered his life and her own by so doing? And now the
harrowing doubt which, from the first hour in which she had conceived
the project of marrying Mr. Crane, to this moment in which the
conviction of its fruitlessness was forced upon her, had never ceased to
haunt her, recurred with redoubled vigour. In so acting, had she indeed
deceived herself?--had she, instead of performing an act of generous
self-sacrifice, committed a sin against her better nature, for which she
had no justification, and of which she was now paying the bitter
penalty? As she thought it over, the conviction forced itself upon
her, more and more strongly, that she had rebelled against the decrees
of Providence, and sought to free herself and her family from the cross
He had seen fit to lay upon them, by unlawful means; that, blinded by
the proud and haughty spirit which precedes a fall, she had done evil
that good might come: she had sown the wind--what wonder that she should
reap the whirlwind! It was a cruel discovery to make now, when it was
too late to remedy the evil; but, fortunately, Kate had a strong brave
spirit for good, as well as for evil; and though this new aspect in
which she regarded her past conduct occasioned her the deepest remorse,
though it displayed her faults of pride and overweening self-confidence
in their worst and most repulsive aspect, yet she did not shrink from
the scrutiny, but honestly sat in judgment on herself; and where,
weighing herself in the balance, she was found wanting, she recognised
the deficiency, and unhesitatingly acknowledged her transgression. Yes!
she saw it clearly, now it was too late--in the deep, earnest, tender
affection of Arthur Hazlehurst, Heaven had bestowed upon her an
inestimable blessing, which she had no right to cast from her. By so
doing she had inflicted the bitterest wound man can receive, on him who
thus had given her his all of love--a wound which time indeed may heal
superficially, but which continues to throb and bleed internally while
life remains;--that death-blow to hope which the heart receives, when
the conviction is forced upon it that the idol enshrined in its inmost
recesses is unworthy of such holy sanctuary.

‘Well, she had chosen her lot, and must abide by it; repining was worse
than useless; all chance of happiness sho had forfeited by her own act;
but there still remained to her the possibility of resignation, which,
persevered in, might produce contentment. Could she gain that, and the
self-approval of her own conscience, life might become endurable after
all. But, to obtain this, one path alone was open to her--the rigid path
of duty. She had done Mr. Crane sufficient wrong in marrying him without
affection, and for the sake of expediency: if she could not love and
honour him--as at God’s holy altar she had falsely sworn to do--she
could at least obey him, and strive to render his life as easy and
comfortable as in her lay: she would alter her cold manner towards him;
she would refrain from the covert sarcasm which lurked under every
word she had hitherto addressed to him, and which so thinly veiled the
contempt she felt for him, that occasionally even his dull perception
penetrated it. Oh, how as the clearer light in which she now regarded
her past behaviour fell upon each separate fault and error, did she
abhor herself! with what bitter tears of unavailing contrition did
she bewail the thoughts, words, and actions, which could never be
recalled!--unavailing contrition! yes, unavailing as regards the
irrevocable past, but the past only, for there was One who witnessed her
true penitence, who has declared, in His gracious mercy, that “a broken
and contrite heart He will not despise.”

How long she thus sat, reviewing and grieving over her past errors, and
forming good resolutions for the future, and imploring strength from
above to enable her to carry them into effect, Kate Crane knew not; but
she was startled from her reverie by a knock at the house-door; and ere
she had time to banish the traces of her late emotion, a light footstep
bounded up the stairs, and Horace D’Almayne entered. Assuming as
composed a maimer as she was able, she began--

“You are an early visitor to-day, Mr. D’Almayne; so early, indeed, that
Mr. Crane has not yet returned from the city.”

“I am aware of that fact already, my dear Mrs. Crane, having parted
from my good friend scarcely an hour since, when I left him engaged at
Lloyd’s, going into the details of his losses on the unfortunate
East Indiaman. I was on my way to visit a friend in Belgravia, when a
circumstance occurred which induced me to alter my destination, and take
the chance of finding you disengaged; in which case I ventured to hope
you would allow me a few minutes’ conversation.”

Rather surprised at his mysterious manner, though by no means so much so
as if she had been unacquainted with his habit of making a mountain of
any molehill he might happen to stumble upon, Kate motioned to him to be
seated, resumed her own chair, and wondered what was to come next.

Probably reading as much in her expression, D’Almayno began--

“You will at once understand why I have thus presumed upon my privilege
as an old friend, when I tell you that I have just met, and had a long,
and I hope not entirely profitless, conversation with your brother.”

“With Fred!” exclaimed Kate, colouring with mingled surprise and
annoyance, for D’Almayne was about the last person to whom she desired
to confide her family troubles.

D’Almayne read her thoughts.

“Your brother,” he said, in a tone expressive of wounded feeling, “your
brother, entertaining no unkind suspicions of my friendly interest,
unhesitatingly confided to me the dilemma in which his inexperience has
placed him, and which his want of knowledge of the world has magnified
into something much more alarming than it really is. So I obtained his
permission to speak to you on the subject, promising, if he would allow
me to do so, that between us we should very soon devise means to relievo
him from his difficulties.”

“I’m afraid then you have only prepared a fresh disappointment for
the poor boy,” returned Kate. “Did he not tell you that he had already
applied to me, and that I was so unfortunate as to be unable to render
him any effectual assistance?”

“Surely a word from you to Mr. Crane would remove all difficulty?
Believe me, you are the only person who could for a moment doubt the
effect of such an appeal;” and, as he spoke, D’Almayne fixed his dark,
piercing eyes upon her, as though he would read her very soul.

For a moment Kate looked down in confusion and annoyance; then her
spirit rose, and calmly returning his glance, she replied--

“My brother, no doubt, wished to spare me pain, by concealing from you
that I have already applied to Mr. Crane; but that, irritated against
poor Fred, and vexed by the loss of this ship, my husband refused my

Smarting under Mr. Crane’s unkindness, anxious and unhappy about her
brother, provoked at Fred’s imprudence in admitting Horace D’Almayne to
his confidence, yet clinging to the hope that her companion’s tact and
knowledge of life might devise some means of extricating her brother
from his difficulties, Kate forgot her usual caution, and spoke eagerly
and hastily.

D’Almayne glanced at her as, with flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes, she
owned her vain appeal to her husband’s liberality--never had he seen her
look so lovely; he had always admitted her statuesque grace, but now the
statue had become animated, and her beauty appeared to his fascinated
vision enthralling, entrancing; while the absence of the reserve she
usually maintained towards him misled him and threw him off his guard.
Thus, utterly sceptical as to the existence of female virtue, urged by
the impulses of his warm southern blood, and deceived by his experiences
of foreign society, he conceived the moment for which he had so long
waited and schemed had arrived; gamester-like, he resolved to stake
all on the hazard of a die; and, turning towards her, while his voice
trembled with an emotion which for once was not feigned, he exclaimed

“I have witnessed long and silently, though that silence has proceeded
from an effort of the strongest self-control, the mean-spirited and
selfish conduct of the cold-hearted, witless _imbécille_ to whom it is
your misfortune to be allied; I have seen also, with sentiments of the
warmest and most vivid admiration, the heroic endurance with which
you have borne his insults--the gentle tenderness with which you have
striven to conceal his faults--the noble generosity with which you have
impoverished yourself to atone for his selfish parsimony. I have seen
all this with feelings of the deepest indignation towards him--of the
warmest, the most devoted admiration towards you. I have perceived
the low, sordid spirit of the one--the beautiful angelic nature of
the other; and I have afflicted myself with a vain remorse when the
reflection that I was a weak, blind instrument in bringing about this
incongruous, this most abhorred union, forced itself upon me--night
after night have I lain sleepless, indulging in these sombre
reflections. At length a thought, am idea, an inspiration, as it were,
flashed across my brain, like lightning through the darkness that
overwhelmed me. The laws of man change, it said; they are weak, vain,
frivolous; a breath can make, a breath can alter them; but the laws of
Heaven are immutable--written on human hearts, whence death alone can
efface them. In the stillness of night a voice said, ‘Look within; read
your own heart; what do you find written there? Is it not that a
strange, sweet, yet mysterious sympathy attracts you towards her--links
you to her? Does not an intuition teach you her every thought and wish?
When she smiles, does not an ecstatic joy pervade your frame? When she
suffers, do you not suffer also?’ I recognised the truth, delightful yet
exquisitely painful; but I put it away from me. I said, ‘Our paths in
life diverge--the joy of such soul-communion is not for me--I am alone
in life!’ But I watched you; I saw your unhappiness increase; you
required a friend--again the voice addressed me; it said, ‘Be that
friend;’ and I came, and did the little I was able to aid you. I was of
use to you, and for the time I was happy. Once more, this day, when your
brother confided in me, the voice spoke, ‘Go, Horace,’ it exclaimed,
‘she requires you.’ It had not deceived me; I found you pale, dejected,
traces of tears on your silken lashes, sorrow marked in every line of
your speaking countenanee--in every _pose_ of your graceful figure; and
with flashing eyes and burning cheeks you tell me of your wrongs. Again,
at this moment, the voice addresses me: ‘It is in vain to strive.’ it
cries, ‘you cannot silence the utterances of the heart; they may be
repressed for a time, but they will make themselves heard. Listen to
their dictates now. She who is part of your soul is unhappy: she seeks
affection, and is repelled with insensate coldness; she requires a mind
capable of appreciating and reciprocating her own, and is met by feeble
incapacity; she asks for common justice--common courtesy, and encounters
sordid illiberality, fretful churlishness. Oppressed by her dismal fate,
she sits alone and weeps. And shall this continue?--no! break through
the trammels of dull conventionality, and let heart speak to heart; tell
her of your ardent sympathy--of your tender devotion; ask her to permit
your boundless love to compensate for the effete indifference of her
despicable partner.’”

Up to this point Kate had been so entirely taken by surprise, and so
carried away by the vehemence of D’Almayne’s address, that she could
scarcely collect her ideas sufficiently either to comprehend his meaning
or to attempt to check him; when, however, encouraged by her silence, he
exchanged his German sentimentalism for the plain speaking contained in
his last sentence, Kate’s indignation eould no longer be restrained, and
she cut him short by exclaiming--

“Do not further degrade yourself or insult me, Mr. D’Almayne, by
continuing to address to me language which I should have thought you had
known me sufficiently to feel sure could excite in me no other feelings
than those of contempt and disgust. Leave me, sir! I am disappointed in
you; I believed you were too much of a gentleman to have presumed upon
Mr. Crane’s mistaken confidence in you, and dared thus to insult me!
I shall now, however, feel it my duty to enlighten him as to the true
character of the man he has so injudiciously trusted.”

As Kate thus reproached him, a look of fiend-like malignity, compounded
of disappointed passion, baffled rage, and an eager thirsting for
revenge, passed across D’Almayne’s usually unmoved countenance; it came
and went in an instant, but not so quickly as to escape Kate’s keen
glance; and, from that time forth, she know that he was a man to be
feared, as well as to be disliked.


The malevolent glance with which D’Almayne favoured Kate passed away
in a moment, and was succeeded by his usual expression of quiet,
contemptuous sarcasm.

“If you choose thus to resent the warmth of expression into which my
sympathy for your trials has betrayed me,” he said, “at the same time
that you inform Mr. Crane of my delinquencies, pray tell him of the
attentions which you have accepted from me, as well as of the one you
reject. Tell him of the scroll wrapped round the rose-stalk, asking
a private interview, which you instantly granted; tell him of the
ostensible visits to the portrait-painter, undertaken to conceal the
secret expedition to Mrs. Leonard; tell him that this expedition was
made in a carriage hired by me to convey you to meet me by appointment
at a house in an obscure quarter of London; and ask him, as a man of
the world, whether he imagines you went there simply out of pure
benevolence, and whether that benevolence to the wife of a man whom he
supposes to have defrauded him, meets with his approval; or rather, I
will ask him all this when he applies to me for an explanation of my
conduct.” He paused, then perceiving from Kate’s look of embarrassment
and annoyance that she recognized and was disconcerted by the force of
his remarks, he continued: “You now see the absurdity, as well as the
danger, of threatening me. Were Mr. Crane to break with me to-morrow, it
would only be the loss of a dull acquaintance--”

“Indeed!” interrupted Kate, with quiet but cutting irony “I should
rather have compared it to the fact of your banker failing.”

D’Almayne’s cheeks grew pale, and his lips quivered with suppressed
anger, but he continued as if sho had not spoken:--

“His vengeance does not greatly alarm me. A man who can snuff a candle
with a bullet at twelve paces need not fear an old _gentleman!_”--(he
sneered as he pronounced the word)--“who probably never saw a pistol
levelled in his life, and would not easily be brought to face one.”
 Finding that Kate made no reply, he resumed in a more conciliatory tone:
“I think your quick intelligence has by this time shown you the folly
of quarrelling with me; let there be truce between us. I will own that
carried away by my feelings, I used language in which perhaps I was
scarcely warranted; but you must remember that the blood of sunny France
sparkles through my veins--that one of my parents sprang from a race,
who (unlike you cold and cautious islanders), when they feel strongly,
speak with warmth and ardour; and now say, is it to be peace or war
between us?”

“I perceive that by my own imprudence, springing not so much from a
misconception of your true character, as from a desire not to act
from the dictates of what I strove to convince myself was an unfounded
prejudice against you, I have so far placed myself in your power that
I cannot in a moment judge whether I shall be doing right or wrong by
informing my husband of your conduct towards me; but of two things be
sure, first, that whatever I decide to be right, I will do; secondly,
that neither your threats nor your sophistries will turn me from my
purpose; for the rest, after what has occurred to-day, there can be
no farther--friendship I will not call it, for it never was so--but
alliance between us. I now _know you, sir!_ and that is enough.”

Again the evil look flashed across D’Almayne’s handsome features, but so
transient was it that even Kate failed to perceive it. D’Almayne’s quick
wit showed him that he had already gained an advantage, which, if
he could follow it up, would go far to retrieve the false, or as he
considered it premature, step he had taken. If he could induce Kate to
conceal the declaration he had made her, the very fact of her having
done so would place her still more in his power, his schemes in regard
to Mr. Crane might yet be prosecuted; and so confident was he in his own
resources, that he even believed he might gain from Kate’s fears that
which he began to doubt whether he should obtain from her affection. So
assuming the manner of a good man suffering injustice meekly, he rose to
depart, saying--

“You are now angry, and unable to regard the matter in its true light.
You have confessed you are prejudiced against me, but I know you well
enough to feel sure of justice at your hands; nor shall I allow this
painful misunderstanding between us to cause any relaxation, on my part,
of such efforts as I may be able to make towards freeing your brother
from his embarrassments--do not interrupt me,” he continued, seeing
Kate was about indignantly to refuse his aid, “I know what you would
say--how, still mistrusting me and misinterpreting my motives, you would
reject my assistance--and I would gladly save myself the pain of hearing
from your lips bitter words, which at some future time you would repent
having uttered. I will now leave you, nor shall I again intrude upon you
until I have won, at least, your forgiveness.”

D’Almayne was an excellent actor, and as he pronounced the concluding
words of the last sentence, his voice trembled with so good an imitation
of the pathos of real emotion, that Kate actually glanced towards him
to ascertain whether the expression of his face confirmed the idea.
Unwilling, however, to weaken the effect he trusted his words had
produced, he turned and quitted the room, without having afforded her
the opportunity she sought for.

Mr. Crane did not return home that day, being summoned by telegraph
to Liverpool,--a merchant there, who was concerned with him in the
speculation for which they had chartered the _Bundelcundah_, East
Indiaman, having, on hearing of its loss, blown out his brains.
Thus Kate had no opportunity of revealing to her husband D’Almayne’s
misdeeds. As soon as she found Mr. Crane had left town, she sent to her
brother, intending to warn him against accepting D’Almayne’s offers
of assistance, but her messenger brought back her missive, with the
announcement that Mr. Marsden had quitted his lodgings. Early the next
morning she received the following note:--

“Dear Kate,--You need be under no farther uneasiness on my account. My
difficulties are at an end, and a career far better suited to me than
the drudgery of a counting-house is afforded me. I am not at liberty to
inform you to whom I am indebted for this unhoped-for assistance; but I
have indeed met with a true friend in my distress, towards whom I, and
all who care for my welfare, must ever feel the deepest gratitude. I am
bound by an express stipulation not to reveal the name of the benefactor
who has so generously come forward to assist me, even to you; but,
believe me, I am not deceived this time. I long to tell you all, but my
lips are sealed. I will write to my mother when I can explain more fully
my future prospects. Farewell, dear Kate, my faith in human nature
is restored; this is not one of the least obligations I owe to my
noble-hearted friend.

“Ever yours,

“Fred Marsden.”


“My dear Alice, what has changed you so completely? You have lost
your spirits, and appear to take a dark, morbid view of life. You find
a thousand faults with things and people you used to be perfectly
satisfied with; and you look thin and ill. Are you unwell?” inquired
Mrs. Hazlehurst of her daughter, after Alice had been staying some days
at the Grange. They were sitting together in Mrs. Hazlehurst’s morning
room, which commanded an extensive view across the park. Alice’s eyes
had been for some minutes fixed upon one particular spot, and as she
gazed they filled with tears--it was the stile leading to the shady walk
wherein Harry had first told his love, and the sight of it called up
a host of tender recollections. How different was the bright, sunny,
trusting affection which she then felt for him, from her present
perturbed state of mind!--in which jealousy of Arabella Crofton and
estrangement from her husband (springing originally from his neglect and
injustice, and kept alive by the untoward events of their London
season) contended with a love, the strength of which was proved by the
wretchedness all these doubts and misunderstandings caused her. Scarcely
hearing her mother’s question, she replied, mechanically, “No, that
she was ûot ill,” and relapsed into her train of gloomy musing. Mrs.
Hazlehurst regarded her in anxious silence for a few moments, then
observed abruptly--

“Alice, you never speak of your husband now; yet, when you were first
married, your letters were full of his praises, and you could neither
talk nor write of anything but Harry’s perfections. How is this?”

“Oh! one cannot be always a baby,” was the reply. “While I was a new
plaything, Mr. Coverdale spoiled me, and made much of me; and I was
child enough to be delighted with his attentions--to fancy they would
always continue the same, and that life would prove a path of roses, so
I rhapsodised about it accordingly. I have now found out my mistake, and
indulge in raptures no longer--that is all!” She strove to speak lightly
and carelessly, but her tearful eyes and quivering lips belied the sense
of her words. Her mother saw it, and could abstain no longer.

“Alice, my child, you are unhappy,” she said; “it is useless to attempt
to conceal it. Come, tell me what it is. You know of old that I am to be
trusted, and who so fit as your mother to confide in?--who so well
able to sympathise with--and perhaps to counsel you?” As she spoke, she
passed her arm caressingly round Alice’s slender waist, and drew
her towards her. For a minute or so Alice submitted passively to her
embrace, then, with an hysterical sob, she flung her arms round her and
burst into a passion of tears. Mrs. Hazlehurst allowed her to weep in
silence, until the violence of her grief had in some measure subsided,
then, by degrees, drew from her an account, at first broken and
disjointed, but becoming fuller and more coherent as she proceeded,
of all her woes, real and imaginary, with which the reader is already

“And now, mamma dearest, how can I ever again be happy, knowing as I do
that Harry is still attached to that dreadful woman, and that he regrets
his marriage with me more because it places a bar between them, than
because I have disappointed him by not proving the spiritless, tender,
and affectionate doll he fancied me when I first married? I--I almost
wish I was, for then perhaps I could make him happy, and I’m sure I
don’t now!” She paused, then resting her head against her mother’s
shoulder, added, “Mamma--you will tell me honestly--do you think I have
behaved very ill?”

“I certainly cannot exonerate you from blame, my poor child; there have
been, as it seems to me, serious faults on both sides. Mr. Coverdale’s
appear to me to have proceeded more from thoughtlessness than from
intention; while yours, I am both sorry and surprised to find, seem
chiefly to have arisen from warmth of temper.”

“Yes, I see it now; and yet you know, mamma, I am not really
ill-tempered--at least, I never used to be; but you know I loved, or,”
 she added with a sigh, “I may say I _love_ Harry so very dearly, that
the slightest neglect or unkindness on his part appears such a cruel
return for my affection that I cannot bear it quietly; if I were not
to lose my temper and get angry about it, I should pine away and die--I
know I should!”

“Did you ever tell him this?” inquired Mrs. Hazlehurst.

Alice shook her head. “One does not tell such things,” she said; “if
Harry cared for my affection he would soon perceive how entirely I love
him; if, as I fear, he is indifferent to it, all the telling in the
world would make no difference; besides, I have heard from his own lips
that he loves another.”

“I do not make out that affair at all,” observed Mrs. Hazlehurst,
reflectively; “it is so completely unlike Mr. Coverdale’s
straightforward, honest character, to marry one woman when he cared for
another, that I cannot but think there must be some mistake about it.”

“How can there be any mistake, dear mamma?” was the rejoinder. “I have
long felt certain that Miss Crofton was attached to Harry; and I myself
heard him say to her that he was most unfortunate, because love which
he could not return was lavished upon him (meaning mine), while he had
alienated by his own act (his marriage of course) the only affection he
cared to possess (that is Arabella Crofton’s): I do not know what could
be clearer.”

“Did you not say that Mr. Coverdale appeared aware that he had neglected
you for his sporting, and blamed himself for so doing?”

“Yes; I think he knows it, and is sorry for it--and--and he does not
leave me nearly so much alone as he used; only I fancied--that is, I was
afraid he did so from a sense of duty, and not because it was a pleasure
to him to stay with me. Harry has a very strict sense of duty.”

“You say he seems to doubt your affection,” continued Mrs. Hazlehurst,
“and you own you conceal it from him, treating him to bursts of
pettishness and ill-humour, of which you refuse to explain the cause.
You also tell me that this Miss Crofton appears to have been attached to
Mr. Coverdale; now, from what you have told me of the way in which you
behaved at Lady Trottemout’s party--which I confess I think was both
foolish and wrong--I can easily conceive your husband to have been
greatly annoyed with you; and it seems to me that nothing would be more
natural than for him to have told, or in some way to have allowed Miss
Crofton to perceive his annoyance; in which case, as I fear she must
be a designing, unprincipled woman, she might avail herself of the
opportunity to contrast her own affection with your disobedience and
petulance. Thus your husband’s speech, on which you have built up all
this alarming fabric of future unhappiness, may be interpreted much more
satisfactorily: as, for instance, the affection lavished on him, which
he could not return, might be Miss Crofton’s, and the love he coveted,
yours, which he by his own neglect had alienated. Do you perceive?”

“Oh yes, mamma!” exclaimed Alice, eagerly, her face lighting up with the
ray of hope thus given her; “I see it really might mean that! Oh, if I
dare but believe it was so!”

She paused to reflect, and as the recollection of Harry’s frank, earnest
face, and simple, truthful manner came across her, when in their last
discussion he had told her there was not, and never had been, anything
between himself and Miss Crofton which need give her uneasiness, she,
for the first time since Lady Tattersall Trottemout’s _soirée_, allowed
herself to hope that she had mistaken the meaning of the words she had
overheard; that her husband still loved her; that she had only to show
him how these troubles and estrangements had served but to prove to her
the depth and reality of their mutual affection; and that, warned by
past experience to bear and forbear, a life of happiness still awaited

“No one could be more averse than I am to raise false hopes,” resumed
Mrs. Hazlehurst; “but I really believe, from my previous knowledge of
Mr. Coverdale’s character, as well as from all you have told me to-day,
that my interpretation of the enigmatical speech is the true one.”

“If it is, dearest mamma, I shall owe the whole happiness of my life to
you,” exclaimed Alice, enthusiastically; “already I feel as if a load
which had been crushing me to the earth was taken off my shoulders: the
thought that Harry preferred that woman to me haunted me continually,
and embittered my existence. Even now,” she continued, sorrowfully, “as
long as the fact of Harry’s refusal to tell me what has passed between
them remains unaccounted for, I cannot feel quite satisfied.”

“Do you know, Alice, I think you are evincing extreme narrow-mindedness
in these unworthy suspicions; if you do not take yourself seriously to
task, and strive to overcome this very grave fault in your character,
I am afraid the evil you so much dread--the loss of your husband’s
affection, may come upon you after all; but it will be solely to your
own ungenerous mistrust that you will owe it. I do not wish to distress
you,” she continued, as Alice burst into tears at this the most severe
rebuke she had ever received from her mother’s lips; “but if I did not
tell you what I believe to be the truth, I should fail in my duty to

Alice wept for some moments in silence, then drying her tears, she
said in a submissive, child-like manner, “I have done very, very wrong;
advise me, mamma, and I will try and act according to your wishes.”

Mrs. Hazlehurst drew Alice towards her, and kissing her pale cheek
affectionately, replied:

“My advice is this, love; when you return home, do not enter upon any of
these matters which have been subjects of dissension between you and Mr.
Coverdale; and should he do so, take care to reply gently and without
irritation, remembering that ‘a meek and quiet spirit is a woman’s
chiefest ornament;’ for the rest, try and make yourself as pleasant
and agreeable as you can to him. Let him perceive your affection in the
thousand constantly-recurring trifles of which a loving woman can avail
herself for such a purpose, but be careful not to bore him with it at
unsuitable times; above all, do not be _exigeante_, and expect or desire
him to give up his sporting tastes, or his love of farming, or even the
society of his gentlemen friends for your sake: you could not do it if
you would, and you would only deteriorate his frank, manly character if
you were to succeed. At the same time you may, by your influence, lead
him to cultivate some of his more refined pursuits, into which you
can enter with him. He sings charmingly; get him to keep up his music,
procure the cleverest and best-written books, and persuade him to read
and discuss them with you. His clear intellect and strong good sense
will be of the greatest use in expanding and forming your mind, and
supplying the deficiencies which my ill-health has occasioned in your
education. I see I need not go farther into detail--you understand me.”

“Oh yes, mamma! and if I were but able to realize the picture you have
drawn of our domestic life, how happy we might yet be! but I will try my
very best, only I feel so weak, and sometimes so wicked; if I were but
as wise and good as you--but I will try. Ah! if I had done so at first,
I should have had so much easier a task--however, they say it is never
too late to mend.” She paused, sighed deeply, then continued: “Emily
comes home to-morrow; I will write to Harry to send for me the next day,
and then--and them--Mamma, do you think I shall succeed?”

At the very moment Alice was thus repenting the past, and forming good
resolutions for the future, Harry, with gloomy brow and clenched teeth,
was striding impatiently up and down his library, holding in his hand
a sealed letter--it was addressed to his wife, and the writing was Lord
Alfred Courtland’s. “So,” he muttered, “so, not content with amusing
(that’s the phrase now-a-day) himself during his London season by
dangling after my wife, he must try to keep up the thing now she is
away--foolish young idiot!--but I feel sure that scoundrel D’Almayne is
at the bottom of it, setting him on for some purpose of his own. ‘Well,
I’ve borne it patiently--more patiently than one man in fifty would have
done--nobody can say I’ve been rash or hasty in this matter; but it’s
time to act, and when I do begin, I’ll astonish them. I’ll take Alfred
Courtland off to his father, and tell him the boy’s not fit to be
trusted alone. If he wont go, I’ll horsewhip him; and as to D’Almayne,
by the Heaven above me, I’ll shoot him like a dog! such a scoundrel is
not fit to live! it would be a benefit to society to rid it of such a
fellow. But I may be wrong; I said I would do nothing hastily in this
business, and I’ll be true to my word. I’ll wait till Alice comes
home, give her the letter myself, and ask her to show it to me. If she
refuses, or if it contains such matter as I expect, I shall then know
how to act.”


When things happen not to go smoothly in this mortal life (that is,
about nine times out of every ten) people are apt to rail against
destiny, deplore their evil fortune, or, if they happen to be very
good indeed, reckon up the number of crosses vouchsafed them with
self-complacent resignation; in fact, they each, after their own
fashion, give currency to the sentiment expressed by our neighbours
across the water, in the proverb, “_L’homme propose, Dieu dispose_.”
 How, although we acknowledge that this proverb embodies a great truth,
yet, looking at the present state of things more closely, we conceive it
to be by no means the whole truth--for this reason:--a large proportion
of the evils of life are no results of blind chance, or, more correctly,
no chastisements proceeding direct from the hand of Providence, but the
natural, almost the necessary, consequences of our own actions. Action
might be generally defined as the working--according to certain fixed
rules--of cause and effect; if we would but bear this in mind, and
reflect that every action produces some result good or evil, we might
not indeed (so wrong-headed is human nature) act more wisely, but we
should at all events feel less surprise when the inevitable results
followed; and so, knowing that we had only ourselves to thank for our
punishment, gain experience which might make some few fools of us wiser
for the future.

These remarks were called forth by, and therefore might have occurred
to, Alice Coverdale, had she been of what it is the fashion to term an
“introspective habit”--_i.e_. had she been accustomed to turn her
mind inside-out before its own eye. Not, however, being given to this
uncomfortable practice, she failed to discern the troubles in store for
her, and returned home fondly deeming that having at length perceived
the error of her ways, she need only confess, and receive her husband’s
absolution, to set every wrong right again. Harry did not come to fetch
her, it being a day on which there was a magistrates’ meeting; but
he was standing at the hall-door waiting to receive her, which he did
warmly, and as if he was very glad to have her back again, though a
gloom hung on his brow which, when the first confusion of her arrival
was over, Alice could not fail to perceive; but conscious to a painful
degree of her own faults and short-comings, she did not venture to
remark upon it. When they reached the drawing-room, Harry threw back her
veil, and regarded her with a long, earnest gaze, which brought the warm
blood into her cheeks as in the days of her girlhood.

“You are looking better, brighter, and more like your former self than
I have seen you for some time,” he said. He paused, then resumed
sadly:--“Ah, Alice, I’m afraid you were happier in your old home than
you will ever be in your new one!”

“Do not say so--do not think so, dear Harry!” was the eager reply. “I
may have been silly, and--and wicked enough to have been unhappy, and to
have vexed you and rendered you so, too; but I have been taking myself
seriously to task since I have been away, and have come home full of
good resolutions, and intending to strive hard to keep them; and if
you would be so very good as to forgive me the past and help me in the
future, I think perhaps I may succeed.”

Touched by her words and by the evident feeling with which they were
spoken, Harry drew her to him, and kissed her tenderly.

“We may both have been in some measure to blame,” he said, “but I by
far the most so, for neglecting the sacred trust I took upon me when
I possessed myself of your affection; but I was a heedless boy
then--experience has made something rather more like a reasonable being
of me by this time, I hope; at all events, I now know how to appreciate
and guard the treasure I possess.” But even as he uttered these words
his brow grew clouded, for he thought of Lord Alfred Courtland’s letter,
lying at that moment in his pocket. Should he give it to her at once, as
she stood by him blushing, and smiling, and looking up at him with all
the light of her former love beaming in her soft blue eyes? What if she
refused to show it him?--if its contents should destroy the harmony so
happily re-established between them? Still it must be done sooner or
later, and Harry was not one to put off the evil day. With that letter
on his mind he could not meet Alice’s affection warmly and frankly as it
deserved, and as she would expect him to do; besides, the contents might
be of a nature to relieve, rather than to increase his anxiety, in which
case he was needlessly prolonging his own uneasiness. So turning towards
her, he said in a tone of voice which he vainly endeavoured to render
easy and unconstrained, “Alice, love, here is a letter for you, which I
chose to give you myself, and which, when you have read it, I hope and
believe you will allow me to see also.” As he spoke he led her to the
sofa, then handing her Lord Alfred’s unopened letter, waited in a state
of anxiety which he vainly attempted to conceal, until she should
have perused it. Alice coloured slightly when she perceived by the
handwriting from whom the epistle proceeded; but, judging from her
consciousness that nothing really wrong had passed between them that
certainly she should be able to show it to Harry, and so eradicate any
seeds of jealousy which might be lurking in his mind, she hastily broke
the seal.

The letter was a long one, for Lord Alfred, being really very sorry for
his misconduct on the night of the ball, and very anxious to retrieve
Alico’s good opinion, waxed eloquent upon his theme, and expended as
much fine writing upon his exculpation as would have formed a leader in
the _Times_. After two sides of penitence, he continued:--

“In fact my excuse amounts to this: that I was, and I may say am, a fool
in the hands of a knave; and a very, very bad excuse I feel it to be.
But really D’Almayne is such a clever rogue, if rogue he be--knows
so much of life is so brilliant and amusing--_dresses so well_--does
everything with such perfect tact and good taste--is, in short, so
consistent as a whole, that although one neither respects nor approves
of him, yet it is impossible (at least for me) to resist his influence;
time after time have I resolved to break with him, and time after time
have I allowed him again to do what he pleased with me. I can truly and
honestly declare, that everything that I have said or done which could
cause you a moment’s annoyance, has been prompted by him; he flattered
my vanity by urging me to get up a sentimental flirtation with _la belle
Coverdale_, as he impertinently styled you; and, but for your good
sense in showing me you had no taste for such folly, I know not what
absurdities I might have committed. Again, he told me that ill-natured
story of Mr. Coverdale, which I believe he embellished, and gave a much
more serious colouring to than the truth would bear out; and finally
and lastly, he it was who persuaded me to take you to the door of the
boudoir to witness that scene between Miss Crofton and your husband, of
which I feel certain we do not know the true explanation; for I am most
confident my good friend Cover-dale cares for you, and you only, as an
affectionate husband should do. _Why_ D’ Almayne did all this, except
that I fancy he has some spite against Coverdale, I do not know or care.
Nor do I think I am wrong in thus showing the exquisite Horace up in his
true colours to you, as every word I have stated is the simple truth;
and were he to tax me with having done so, I should be perfectly ready
to justify my conduct and abide the consequences, though he is such a
dead shot, and fond of ‘parading his man’ at daybreak. Of course you
will not show this letter to your husband, as, although I do not think,
if he knew the whole truth, he would be very angry with me, such would
not be the case in regard to D’Almayne, and might lead to something
serious between them. But if, my dear Mrs. Coverdale, I can obtain your
forgiveness, and (after my return from Italy, where I am shortly about
to join my family) you will, in consideration of my penitence, still
allow me the privilege of your friendship, I shall not so deeply regret
the inexcusable folly of,

“Yours very sincerely,

“Alfred Courtland.”

“His lordship has treated you to a voluminous epistle,” observed Harry;
“I am, I own, curious to learn what the boy can have found to say to
you; he was by no means so prolific with his pen in the days of Greek

As he spoke he held out his hand for the letter; but Alice drew
back; the words “of course you will not show this letter to your
husband”--“dead shot”--“fond of parading his man before daybreak”--“lead
to something serious,” &c., swam before her eyes, her brain reeled, all
the blood seemed to rush to her heart, and for a moment she felt on the
verge of fainting. By an effort she recovered herself sufficiently to
falter out--

“Dear Harry, do not ask to see it--I cannot show it to you--it is a
private letter, meant for my eye only; and--and--you _will_ not ask to
see it!” She spoke in the humblest, most imploring tone; but the shadow
on Harry’s brow grew deeper.

“It is most strange--incomprehensible, in fact--how and why you
misunderstand me in this way!” he said. “I have a right to ask to see
that letter; I should be neglecting a plain and positive duty if I
failed to do so--putting aside all personal feeling in the matter--the
duty I owe to you, the responsibility I took upon myself when I married
you, requires it. I have suffered too much already from my careless
neglect of these sacred obligations to fall into the same error again!”
 He paused; then taking Alice’s hand in his own, he continued with a
mournful tenderness:--“You are but a young girl yet, my poor child;
as ignorant of the ways of the world as if you were a child; I have
deprived you of the safeguard of a father’s authority, of a mother’s
watchful tenderness, and, with my best endeavours, it is but most
imperfectly I can make up for these deficiencies. You may trust me in
this matter; in trifles I know I am rash and headstrong, but in a case
like this, where my deepest, strongest feelings are concerned, you need
not fear me; your happiness is not a thing to trifle with. Understand
me clearly; I do not in the slightest degree suspect you of anything in
this affair but thoughtlessness; I do not believe anybody or anything
could deprive me of your affection but my own acts; and if, by my
heedless folly in neglecting you to follow my selfish amusements, I have
not already alienated your love, I hope and believe that I shall give
you no farther cause for repenting that you ever entrusted me with so
priceless a treasure.” A warm pressure from the hand which he still
retained, assured him better than words could have done that his
wife’s heart was still in his keeping, and he continued:--“With every
confidence in you, however, it is not right that I should allow this
foolish boy to continue his intimacy with you, after the tone he and his
libertine friend, that scoundrel D’Almayne, have chosen to give it. I
have heard more than one conversation at clubs and elsewhere in regard
to ‘D’Almayne’s promising pupil, and _la belle Coverdale?_ as the
puppies had the insolence to call you” (Alice started as she remembered
Lord Alfred’s allusion to the phrase being D’Almayne’s), “which would
have caused your cheeks to burn with shame and anger, and which, if I
were quite the rash, headstrong character people would make me out to
be, might have led to unpleasant consequences;--men have been shot for
such remarks before now. Thus, it is quite time this folly should be
brought to an end. I hoped it would die a natural death when I took you
out of town; but as Alfred Courtland has chosen to write to you, I think
it my duty, as I before said, to see the letter, that I may be able to
judge what steps it may be necessary to take to bring the affair to a

“Indeed, Harry dearest, there will be no need to take any steps at all!”
 exclaimed Alice, eagerly. “Lord Alfred simply writes to apologise for
something he did which annoyed me on the evening of Lady Tattersall
Trottemout’s party, owing, as he confesses, to his having drunk more
Champagne than was wise. I can assure you the letter evinces nothing but
good feeling on his part, and is rather to his credit than otherwise.”

“Then, in the name of common sense, why not show it to me--write him a
good-humoured, friendly answer--and there will be an end to the matter
without any more fuss?” exclaimed Harry.

Poor Alice, she could only repeat “I cannot show it you--do not ask me!”
 and as the words passed her lips, she felt how foolish, or obstinate, or
wicked, they must make her appear. Her husband rose and took a turn up
and down the room, as was his wont when anything annoyed him, yet he did
not wish to lose his self-control--the first symptom, in fact, of the
approach of his “quiet manner.” Alice recognised it, and her
heart fluttered, and her colour went and came. Having regained his
self-command, Harry reseated himself, and began:--

“You need not be afraid to trust me in this matter, Alice, love; I
promise you I will do nothing inconsiderate or hasty, if you will but
act straightforwardly by me, and treat me with proper confidence.
Alfred Courtland is a mere boy; the utmost I suspect him of is foolish
romance, which, joined with his inexperience in the ways of the world,
enables such men as D’Almayne to guide him as they please. I have an old
regard for him, having known him from his childhood; and the worst I
am likely to do to him is to read him a lecture, give him a little good
advice, and possibly write to his father, and suggest that he had better
look after the young gentleman until he is a year or two older, and, it
is to be hoped, wiser. Perhaps, even, when I see the letter I may not
deem it necessary to interfere at all. Come, do not let any fanciful
punctilio weigh witli you, but give it me at once.”

“Harry, do not ask me! Indeed, indeed, dear Harry, I cannot--must not
show it to you! Oh! how unlucky, how strangely unfortunate I am!--now,
too, when I wanted so to do right!” and, overcome by the embarrassment
of the situation, Alice burst into tears.

Surprised and annoyed at her continued refusal, Harry, despite his
confidence in his wife’s fidelity, not unnaturally began to suppose
there must be more in this letter than he had at first imagined; and his
desire to see it increased, as he became more and more convinced that
Alice meant to adhere to her determination not to show it to him. Again
he rose, and again, more impatiently than before, begau to stride up and
down the room; he continued silent for two or three minutes, and when he
did address his wife, it was without resuming his place by her side.

“Many men,” he said, “would consider themselves justified in forcing you
to show that letter; but I do not feel so. I will, instead, put clearly
before you the effect which your agitation and your determination to
conceal its contents, must necessarily produce on my mind. Either the
writer must address you in such language that you are afraid to show it,
lest it should lead to a serious misunderstanding between him and me;
or he refers to some previous passages between you, with which you are
unwilling your husband should become acquainted. Now, as I have before
said, I have every confidence in you, which nothing but proof positive
that you are not deserving of it could shake. The matter then resolves
itself into this:--that Courtland has addressed you in that letter in
some unbecoming style; and if you persist in refusing to satisfy me on
this point in the only effectual manner, viz., by showing me the letter,
I shall be under the necessity of obtaining the information in some
other way; and when once I have taken up the matter and begun to act
for myself, depend upon it I shall go through with it, to whatever
consequences it may lead. Should they be such as to cause you sorrow,
remember it is _now_ in your power to avert them--then it will be too
late! Go to your own room, and reflect on all this quietly and
calmly. If you decide to show me the letter, rely on my moderation and
discretion; if you persist in your refusal, I must act as I may consider
my position renders necessary; and may God help us both if evil should
come of it! If you should think better of your unwise determination,
bring or send me the letter at any moment; but if not, I had rather you
remained in your boudoir during the evening, as I feel deeply on this
matter, and cannot trust myself to speak of it without saying things
which I should be sorry for afterwards. Now go, and think it over. Do
not look so frightened,” he continued in a gentler tone; “believe me, I
speak more in sorrow than in anger.”

“Oh, yes! I see you do,” returned Alice, in a tone of the deepest
emotion; “and it is that which is breaking my heart! I had rather, ten
thousand times, that you were angry with me: and yet I know I am doing
what is best!” She paused; then, with a fresh burst of tears, she threw
herself into her husband’s arms, exclaiming, “Harry! dearest Harry! have
pity on me!” Her husband soothed and supported her tenderly till she
grew somewhat calmer, then, kissing her forehead, he led her to the
door, saying kindly but gravely, “Have pity on yourself, darling; act as
I would have you, and all will go well.”

Greatly perplexed, considerably frightened, and altogether in that state
of mind which can best be described by the term “upset,” poor Alice’s
first performance was the thoroughly feminine one of “having her cry
out.” Having thus poured forth her grief, _via_ her eyelids, she set to
work seriously to face her difficulties, and come to some decision which
might, if possible, reconcile her conflicting duties. The simplest and
easiest way would, of course, be to do as Harry wished her; show him
the letter, and leave him to decide on the matter, both for her and for
himself. With this view she carefully re-read it; and when she had done
so, felt more than ever convinced that to allow her husband to see it,
would be to ensure a quarrel with Horace D’Almayne,--and from that to
a hostile meeting, Harry shot, and herself sent for by telegraph to
receive his dying benediction, was only a natural feminine transition.
Supposing she were to adhere then--as adhere she must--to her
resolution, what would Harry do? Set off for Loudon, to seek an
explanation from Lord Alfred; yes, and he would get it too! Lord Alfred
would be forced to say much the same us he had written; for it was clear
he felt no delicacy about showing up D’Almayne; and though, perhaps,
he might not mention the business in regard to Miss Crofton, yet Harry
would soon collect that D’Almayne had first suggested to Lord Alfred
to flirt with her, and then encouraged him to try and change what
would have been simply an agreeable acquaintanceship into a sentimental
love-affair. Oh! if she had but known all this sooner, she would have
effectually cured Lord Alfred of his _penchant_, instead of encouraging
him in order to pique Harry out of his supposed indifference. How blind,
how stupid she had been! how she had mistaken everybody and everything!
even in regard to Harry--his conduct about this letter--trusting her
when she was obliged to confess appearances were strongly against
her--treating her with such tender forbearance when her behaviour
must seem to him, to say the least, perverse and incomprehensible! How
differently had she behaved in regard to Miss Crofton! how ready had she
been to suspect Harry on the slightest grounds! Yes, she saw it clearly
now, her mother’s interpretation of that speech was the true one--Harry
loved her still; nay, had never ceased to do so. Ah! her first idea of
him was right--there was nobody like him; and she was not worthy of such
happiness as to be his wife--his chosen one--the object of his deep,
tender, manly affection. Her eyes were open at last; she saw the truth;
recognised his worth, perceived her own deficiencies and faults. If this
wretched business could ever be got over, how careful she would be to
guard against her former errors! what happiness was there not yet in
store for her! Could nothing be devised? As she pondered, an idea struck
her. Harry evidently would take no step till the next morning; the
post had not yet gone out; there would be time for her to write to Lord
Alfred, explain her dilemma, and appeal to his good feeling to leave
town for a day or two. Harry, thus missing him, would naturally return
home, when she would ask Lord Alfred to write him such a letter as would
satisfy his doubts--a duplicate, in fact, of the one which had caused
all this trouble, only without the attack on D’Almayne. The scheme was
not perfectly satisfactory; still, the more she thought of it the more
she became convinced that it was the only way of escape from the present
emergency. Lord Alfred, she felt pretty sure, would act as she wished,
if she made his compliance the condition on which her forgiveness of the
past and friendship for the future must depend. Then she trusted a good
deal to the chapter of accidents to help her; and at some indefinite
epoch, when Horace D’Almayne should have gone abroad, and be out of
Harry’s way, she would show him the letter, explain why she had not
done so sooner, confess the words she had overheard at Lady Tattersall
Trottemout’s party, the history she had been told in regard to Arabella
Crofton, and in fact (to use an inelegant but graphic expression) make a
clean breast of it, and trust to his affection to pity and forgive her.
So she sat down and scribbled off a hurried but eloquent letter to
Lord Alfred, which she flattered herself would produce the effect she
desired. Having completed it, she indited a few lines to Harry, telling
him she had thought the matter over calmly and seriously; and with the
strongest desire to do as he wished her, she yet felt it her duty to
adhere to her former decision.

In the meantime Coverdale sat in gloomy meditation: why would not Alice
let him see that letter? he could not, he _did_ not imagine it contained
anything to lessen his respect and affection for her; but if not, what
could it contain to make her so resolute not to show it to him? He
perceived with pleasure, though it added to his perplexity, that she
was not swayed by any ebullition of temper, but was acting from a sense
(however mistaken) of duty; he saw the pain it gave her to refuse him,
and appreciated and rejoiced in the good resolutions she had formed at
the Grange. It _was_ strange, certainly, how events seemed to militate
against the happiness of his married life! he had forfeited his domestic
felicity by his own selfish addiction to his bachelor pursuits and
habits, and it appeared impossible to regain it. Then he commenced a
minute and painful review of all the occurrences of his matrimonial
career, endeavouring to trace out the causes which had led to each
several result, and carefully scrutinising his own conduct, to discover
how far he had acted up to the rules he had laid down for himself. He
was thus engaged when Alice’s note was brought to him; he read it, and
his resolution was formed: he would go to London by the first train the
next morning, see Lord Alfred Courtland, and learn the contents of his
letter, either by fair means or foul; he would try fair means first, and
be patient, and for Alice’s sake endeavour to avoid a quarrel--yes, that
was decided on. So he sat down and wrote a couple of notes to put off
engagements in the neighbourhood, then rang the bell. “Has the post-bag
gone?” he asked, as the servant appeared. The reply was in the negative,
and in another minute Wilkins returned with it. Harry and Alice had each
a key, but when he was at home hers was seldom used; so was therefore
rather surprised to find it already locked. Unlocking it, he attempted
hastily to insert his two notes, but a letter which was in the bag had
become fixed in a fold of the leather, and prevented his doing so. With
an exclamation of impatience he took it out, and was about to replace
it, when the address accidentally caught his eye; it was in his wife’s
handwriting, and directed to Lord Alfred Courtland, with _immediate_
written in one corner. “Leave the bag two or three minutes, Wilkins,”
 he said hurriedly, “I have thought of something else.” As soon as the
servant quitted the room, Coverdale again took up the letter. What
_could_ it mean?--why had Alice written off in such hot haste to this
young man? Had she divined his intention of seeking out Lord Alfred, and
was this letter sent off thus hurriedly to tutor him what to say--or,
worse still, what to conceal? Should he end all these wretched doubts
and suspicions at once--should he send for Alice, and in her presence
open and read the letter? The temptation was a strong one, but he
overcame it. Even if the circumstances of the case were sufficient to
warrant him, he felt it would be an act of domestic tyranny against
which his generous nature revolted. What should he do then? Suffer
the letter to go, and so throw away his only chance of arriving at
the truth? No, that would be mere weakness: his resolution was formed.
Putting Alice’s letter in his pocket, he relocked the post-bag, and
ringing the bell, desired it might be taken immediately. Having seen his
order executed, he sat down and wrote a note, and sealed up a packet.
About four hours later on the same evening, _i.e._ between nine and
ten o’clock, this packet was placed in Alice’s hands; it contained her
letter to Lord Alfred Courtland, unopened, and the following note from
her husband:--

“My dear Alice,--When you receive this I shall be on my road to London,
whither I am going to have a little serious conversation with Alfred
Courtland. As I wish and intend him to tell the truth uninfluenced, I
have taken upon me to delay your letter a post. Trusting this affair may
end so as to secure your happiness, in which I think you now see mine is

“I am, ever yours affectionately,

“H. C.”

“P. S.--If you have occasion to write to me, direct to Arthur’s


Contrary to Mr. Philip Tirrett’s expectation, Don Pasquale’s delicate
fore leg improved under training, and became so nearly sound that he and
Captain O’Brien were quite depressed when they reflected that but for
its temper, which was vile, the horse was really worth two out of the
£350 they had received from Lord Alfred Courtland for it; and regretted
with sundry strong but unavailing expletives their folly in not having
demanded £500, which they now considered to be its figure in _proper_
(_i. e._ their own dirty) hands. A conclave had been held at the
Pandemonium, and the handsome guardsman, and the fast comet, and the
heavy lieutenant, and sundry other noble and gallant cavaliers, had
entered spicy screws, with impossible names; and a steeple-chase, with
gentlemen riders, was to come off in a sporting locality, within easy
distance of London, on a certain day. This day had nearly arrived, when,
on the same afternoon which witnessed Alice Coverdale’s return home,
and the uncomfortable scene produced by the delivery of Lord Alfred’s
letter, that young nobleman was seated at a library-table in his
fashionable lodgings, poring over, his betting-book, which, since the
Black-wall dinner, was, we suspect, the only book he had looked into,
when “to him entered” Horace D’Almayne.

“What! at it still?” he exclaimed; “why, _mon cher_, you’ll be fit for
some ‘bookkeeping-by-double-entry’ style of appointment before this
business comes off. How do you stand by this time?”

“Safe to win £500 if the Don does but run true,” was the reply.

“And if he _should_ make a _fiasco_ by any unlucky chance?”

“Don’t talk about it; time enough to face evil when it comes, without
going half-way to meet it. The Don is looking splendid, he improves
every day under training, and even Tirrett seems surprised at his
performance. Dick took him over the brook this morning, and, by Jove!
he cleared it in his stride, and six feet beyond, at the least. Tirrett
seems sure about the line of course; if so, that brook will win us the
race. Captain O’Brien’s is the only horse I’m at all afraid of, and
Tirrett’s got out of his groom that Broth-of-a-boy wont face water.”

“Witnessing these trials necessitates a frightful amount of early
rising, does it not, _mon cher?_” inquired D’Almayne, with a
half-pitying, half-provoking smile; “breakfast comes off at six, I
suppose, instead of eleven or twelve? You look sleepy now from your
unusual exertions.”

“Well I may,” was the reply; “I dined with the Guards’ Mess yesterday,
and went knocking about ‘with Bellingham and Annesley afterwards; got
home about three a.m., had a cigar and a bottle of soda-water, changed
my dress clothes, and slept in the arm-chair until Tirrett came for me
in a dog-cart at half-past four,--for they take the Don out as soon as
its light.”

“You certainly improve, _mon ami_; you have learned how to live, instead
of merely existing, as you used to do, and are better able to take care
of yourself:--which is fortunate, by the way, for I’ve come to tell you
(what on your account I’m very sorry for) that I shall be unable to be
with you at this said steeple-chase.” A start, and an exclamation of
surprise, we had almost said of consternation, which escaped Lord Alfred
at this announcement, might have suggested that he did not feel quite
such implicit confidence in his own resources as his associate’s
compliment would seem to imply. He only said, however--

“Eh, really! what an awful bore! But why are you going to throw me

“Simply because, not being a bird, my presence in Brussels and at the
steeple-chase at one and the same time is, to speak mildly, impossible.”

“And, in the name of common sense, why go to Brussels at this particular
juncture?” inquired his Lordship.

“_Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galcre!_” quoted Horace;
“business takes me--not pleasure, I assure you. It seems this East
Indiaman, over the loss of which old Crane has been whining and pining
for the last three days, was heavily insured in a Belgian house; but
owing to some supposed informality in the drawing up of the papers,
they, on hearing of the shipwreck, deny their liability. Now a cousin of
mine is an _avocat_--the same thing as a barrister--at Brussels, so I am
going over to put the case in his hands. Old Crane pays my expenses,
and gives me a very handsome commission, and--you know I never make any
secret of the unfortunate anomaly, that my habits are expensive and my
pocket shallow--I can’t afford to throw such a chance away. I tell you
this in confidence, to prove to you that I really am unable to see you
through this horse business, which from the first, you are aware, I
never liked; but I find, as I suspect many mentors have found before me,
that it’s a good deal easier to lead on a young fellow of spirit like
you, _mon cher_, than to hold him back.”

Lord Alfred smiled faintly--a pre-occupied smile--at the implied
compliment, for his mind was engrossed by the prospect of the loss of
D’Almayne’s presence and support at the steeplechase--a loss at which
he felt vastly more uneasy than he would have been at all willing to
confess. Anxious as much to be reassured himself as to inspire his
companion with confidence, he said in a tone which, despite his
endeavours to the contrary, betrayed his self-distrust--

“Yes, but really, D’Almayne, even taking your view of the matter, I
don’t see reasonably what there is to croak about: that young fellow
Tirrett, who has been born and bred among horses, and knows practically
what those prigs of guardsmen--the frightfully heavy dragoon, the
romancing Irish captain, and last and least, my innocent self--pretend
to know, assures me there’s no horse entered that can come near the Don.
As they are to be all ridden by gentlemen, and he is a gentleman rider
(so called, like the theatrical walking gentleman, from his being
utterly unlike the genuine article--on the _lucus a non lucendo_
principle, I imagine), he rides for me, and I depend a great deal on
his perfect acquaintance with all the peculiarities of the horse (for,
_entre nous_, I fancy his temper is his weak point); and as his pay
is to be more than doubled in the event of his winning, I think I have
èvery reason to believe he will do me justice, and to feel sanguine as
to the result.”

“Well, _mon cher_, I wish you most heartily success,” was the reply;
“and I still more wish I could remain and see you through it; for
without meaning to throw discredit on young Tirrett, or any of them in
particular, I, as a general rule, mistrust these horse people. However,
I think you have your eyes open, and may be trusted to take care of
yourself. And now I must be off; I embark at eight to-night. By the way,
I dare say you’ll allow me to write a note here; it will save my going
round by the club.”

Suiting the action to the word, he seated himself at a library-table,
and wrote as follows:--

_Dear Tirrett,--Your game is clear; let A. C. and O’B------n each
believe that you will ride for him, and at the last minute throw both
over. In this case Captain Annesley’s Black Eagle is safe to win, as I
dare say you know better than I do; thus you will perceive how to make
a paying book. If I prove a true prophet, I shall expect a £50 note from
you, as O’B------n will (before you quarrel with him) tell you I got up
the whole affair myself, introducing him to A. C., &c.

“I remain, yours faithfully,

“You’ll know who when I claim tue tin.”

“P.S.--If you make a heavy purse out of the business, I shall expect ten
per cent, on all beyond £500.”_

Having sealed this precious missive, and put a penny stamp of Lord
Alfred’s upon it, he consigned it to his pocket, took an affectionate
farewell of his victim, and departed.

When Harry Coverdale reached London that evening, Horace D’Alraayne was
“off’ the Nore,” and feeling none the better for sea-air, wished most
heartily that he was “off” the ocean also. In order to make up for his
want of sleep on the previous night, Lord Alfred Courtland desired his
valet not to let him be disturbed until he rang his bell, the result of
which order was, that at one p.M. on the following morning his Lordship
was eating his breakfast in that state of dreamy imbecility usually
induced by an over-dose of “nature’s sweet restorer.” From this mental
torpor he was in some degree aroused by a quick, sharp, and decided
knock at the door, followed by a heavy but active footstep on the
stairs, and ere he had time properly to regain his sleep-scattered
senses, the valet announced Mr. Coverdale.

“You’re just about the last person I expected to see in town?” exclaimed
Lord Alfred, languidly rising and holding out two fingers--a mild
civility of which Harry did not avail himself. “I thought you were
revelling in all the sweets of rural felicity, and that nothing would
have tempted you to leave them. I’m uncommonly glad to see you though,”
 he continued, as it suddenly occurred to him that Coverdale would be a
very good substitute for Horace D’Almayne, to advise and see him
through this alarming steeple-chase, in regard to which two fixed ideas
constantly haunted him, viz.: that he had risked a sum of money upon
it much larger than he had any right to have done; and that he was as
entirely ignorant of the whole affair, and as completely in Tirrett’s
hands, as a baby could have been under the circumstances. “I’ll tell
you why,” he continued; “the truth is, I’ve got in for an affair, the
magnitude of which I by no means bargained for; in fact, I should not
be surprised or offended if (as I know you’re both a kind friend and a
plain-spoken fellow) you were to tell me I’d made a considerable ass of

“One moment, Courtland,” interrupted Coverdale; “I have come to town
expressly to see you, in regard to a matter which nearly concerns me;
and until we have discussed that, I really cannot give my attention to
anything else. Now listen to me, Alfred,” he continued gravely, but not
angrily: “I’ve been acquainted with you since you were a child, and I
know your good points as well as your weak ones. I know, although you’re
easily led away by bad precept and worse example, that you’ve a kind
heart and a generous nature; and so, for the sake of this old regard,
I have allowed you to--to amuse yourself and occupy your idle time by
devoting yourself to my wife; and I am now about to talk to you, and
reason with you on the subject, in a far milder tone than I should use
to any other man under the circumstances.” Lord Alfred was about eagerly
to interrupt him, but by a gesture Harry restrained him:--

“Hear me out,” he continued, “and then, when you understand the tenour
and amount of my accusation, you can say what you like in your defence.
You considered my wife pretty and good-natured, and you fancied,
or _were told_, it would give you _éclat_ with the set you have
unfortunately mixed up with--and a very shady set I’m afraid they
are--to have a sentimental love-affair with some pretty young married
woman. I was not quite the blind careless creature you imagined me all
the time we were in London; on the contrary, I saw what was going on
plainly enough, and was annoyed at it--but nothing more. I had the
most thorough confidence in my wife; and she is so _real_ in all her
feelings, so completely fresh and genuine, that I was not afraid your
sentimentality would infect her; moreover, I trusted to your own good
heart to keep you from going very far wrong; but, towards the conclusion
of our stay in Park Lane, I heard remarks dropped at clubs, and observed
other things, which made me resolve to put an end to the folly: and as
the quietest and best way of doing so, I took Alice out of town. As far
as she was concerned, the experiment appears to have succeeded; for I
can’t flatter your vanity by saying that I believe she ever gave you a
second thought. But with you it does not seem to have had the desired
effect; for, a few days since, I was not best pleased to perceive a
letter for my wife in your handwriting. Wait!” he continued, seeing
Lord Alfred was again about to speak; “Hear me out: I shall not try your
patience much longer. This letter I chose to give her myself, for the
purpose of asking her, as soon as she had read it, to show it to me--”

“And she refused?” observed Lord Alfred, coolly.

“Yes, sir, she did!” returned Harry, with flashing eyes; “she refused
to show me that letter; and at the same time was unable or unwilling
to give me any good reason for objecting to satisfy my just demand: and
now, perhaps, you can guess at the nature of my business with you. I
have come up to town to obtain from you the information I have been
unable to gain from her; and I now ask you to repeat to me, as nearly as
you can, word for word, the contents of that letter.”

“Under what penalty if I should decline to comply with your--somewhat
unusual request?” was the reply.

Harry’s brow grew dark. “I have not wasted a thought on so unlikely a
contingency,” he said abruptly.

There was a pause, then Lord Alfred rose, and drawing up his tall but
slender figure to its full height, replied--

“Now listen to me, Coverdale; you have spoken unpleasant truths to me
in an unpleasant manner--a manner which, boy as you deem me, I should
in any other man resent; but you are, as you have said, one of my oldest
friends, and as such privileged. Moreover, in the transactions you
allude to, I freely confess that I have been to blame; and I have no
objection to tell you that my chief object in writing to Mrs. Coverdale
was to make her aware of this, and ask her to forgive me any annoyance
I might have caused her. Having explained thus much to you, you must
excuse my declining to say more.”

“Indeed I shall do no such thing,” was Coverdale’s angry reply; “you
have told me no more than Alice told me herself. Sir, I came to town
expressly to learn from you the contents of that letter, and by fair
means or foul I intend to do so! I may not know how to deal with women,
but, by heaven! I do know how to deal with men, or with green boys,
who give themselves the airs of men, before they have acquired a man’s
strength, either of mind or body!” He took a turn up and down the room,
then continued in a milder tone--“Come, Alfred, do not let us quarrel
about this foolish affair; you see I am in earnest, so satisfy me
on this one point, and let there be an end of these absurd
misunderstandings between us.”

“You pay Mrs. Coverdale a very bad compliment,” rejoined Lord Alfred,
“when you make out that she refused to comply with her husband’s wish
without some very good reason; at all events, I so entirely differ with
you on this point that I feel called upon to follow her example.”

“Am I then to understand--” began Harry.

“You are to understand clearly and distinctly that I refuse to tell you
one single line in that letter,” was the unexpected answer; “and so
now do your worst, for to this decision I intend to adhere, and no
representations or threats shall induce me to alter it.”

As he spoke, Lord Alfred again drew up his slight graceful figure with
a degree of dignity of which those who had seen him only in his languid
affected moods would not have deemed him capable, and, folding his arms
calmly, awaited Coverdale’s reply. But that reply was for some little
time not forthcoming; the truth being that, in spite of his assertion to
the contrary, Harry for once in his life did not know how to deal with
a man. He was very angry with Lord Alfred, and felt strongly tempted to
knock him down; but even at that moment his old feeling that it was his
duty to protect the high-spirited but delicate boy, though it were from
himself, came across him, and paralysed his energy.

Lord Alfred, however, who like all very good-tempered easy people,
when once roused, felt a necessity to give immediate vent to his anger,
possibly from a secret consciousness of its evanescent character, did
not wait the termination of this mental struggle, but continued--

“Well, Coverdale, do you perceive the reasonableness of my position, or
am I to incur the penalty of my disobedience, and become acquainted with
your terrific method of dealing with refractory men?”

As he spoke sarcastically, and with a slight resumption of his
fashionable lisp, Coverdale made one step towards him, and clutching his
shoulder with his left hand in a vice-like grasp, while the fingers
of his right clenched themselves involuntarily, he said in a low deep

“For your own sake--nay, for both our sakes--Alfred, I advise you not to
provoke me farther!”

“And why not?” inquired Lord Alfred, firmly, though he grew a little
pale at the expression he saw stealing over Cover-dale’s features.

“I will tell you why not,” was the reply; “look at this!” and he raised
his clenched fist to a level with his companion’s features; “with one
blow of this I believe I could fell an ox. I _have_ felled a man of
double your weight and power, and I did not use my full strength then;
if I had, I believe I should have killed him. I have a quick temper, and
you have roused it. I don’t want to hurt you, but I can’t trust myself;
so if you are not utterly reckless, leave me alone!”

As he spoke, he unconsciously tightened his grasp on the young
nobleman’s shoulder, till it became so exquisitely painful that it
required all the fortitude Lord Alfred could muster to endure it without
flinching. Whether owing to this practical proof of his adversary’s
strength, or whether he read in Harry’s flashing eye and quivering lip
the volcano of passion that smouldered within, certain it is that as
soon as the grasp was removed from his aching shoulder, Lord Alfred
turned away, and seated himself with a discontented air in an attitude
of passive expectation.

After pacing the room in moody cogitation for several minutes, Coverdalo
suddenly paused, and said--

“I was unprepared for this refusal, so pertinaciously adhered to, and
I confess it embarrasses even more than it provokes me. I fancied--that
is, I forgot you were not really a boy still, and imagined that when you
found I was serious about the matter, your will would yield to mine;
it seems I was mistaken. Any other man who had withstood me as you have
done, on such a subject, would now be lying at my feet; but I can no
more bring myself to use my strength against you than I could bear to
strike a woman; and as to the alternative which equalises strength,
I shudder at the idea as a temptation direct from Satan. If I were to
shoot you, I should never know another happy moment. How should I face
that kind old man, your father, who, when I was a boy, has given me many
a sovereign in the holidays? I should feel like a second Cain, as if I
had slain my brother!”

This speech, which Harry delivered eagerly and with evidences of deep
feeling, appealed to Lord Alfred’s better nature; he grew more and
more excited as it proceeded, and at its conclusion he sprang up,
exclaiming:--” ’on my word--’pon my honour as a gentleman,
Coverdale, I assure you you are worrying yourself about nothing! I own I
have behaved wrongly--foolishly in this matter, and I am very sorry
for it. But your wife is an angel, and cares for you and you only:
she treated me with friendly kindness, but nothing more: I am to blame

“Why then does she so obstinately refuse to show me your letter, and why
do you object to enlighten me as to the contents, and so satisfy me and
set the matter at rest for ever?” inquired Harry.

Lord Alfred paused for a moment in thought ere he replied.

“I think I can divine Mrs. Coverdale’s reason for not showing my letter
to you, and if so, it is one that does her credit; but it is enough for
me to know that she does not wish its contents revealed, to make me
feel that, as a man of honour, I am bound to be silent. Believe me,
Coverdale, I do not say this to annoy you, or to set you at defiance. I
would gladly tell you, if I did not think it would be dishonourable and
wrong to do so. I wish to heaven I had never written the letter now,
since it has produced all this annoyance; but I really did it for the
best--I did, upon my honour!”

He spoke with such an air of truthfulness, and his manner was so simple
and ingenuous, that Coverdale felt it impossible to doubt his veracity;
and for a moment he was on the point of flinging his suspicions to the
winds, and, shaking hands with Lord Alfred, to tell him everything was
forgotten and forgiven. But Harry’s mind was of that order which is slow
to receive a feeling so foreign to its general tone as suspicion, and
which, when the idea has once become fixed, finds equal difficulty in
relinquishing it. Thus, in the present case, having convinced himself
that the only satisfactory way of clearing up his doubts would be by
gaining oral or ocular acquaintance with the contents of the mysterious
letter, he could in no way divest himself of the conviction, but was
continually looking out for reasons in its favour. Instead, therefore,
of yielding to his first impulse, he reflected that having refused to
put faith in Alice’s unsupported assertion, he should equally be unjust
to her, and untrue to his own convictions, if he gave credence to that
of Lord Alfred Courtland. So, taking up his hat, he said--

“Since you persist in your refusal, I must go and think this matter
over coolly and quietly; you shall see or hear from me before this time
to-morrow.” He turned to depart, but Lord Alfred held out his hand:--

“We part as friends?” he said, inquiringly.

“Neither as friends nor foes,” was the reply. “You shall learn my
decision to-morrow.” And rejecting his proffered hand, Coverdale quitted
the apartment.


No alarming amount of imagination will be required to enable the reader
to conceive that Harry returned to his hotel considerably provoked and
dissatisfied at the result of his interview with Lord Alfred Courtland.
He had encountered opposition where he had expected an easy victory;
where he had felt certain of success, he had failed most signally;
and by no means the least embarrassing part of the matter was, that
he really did not know whether to be most angry, or pleased, with Lord
Alfred, for his unexpected firmness. But, if the past was perplexing,
the future appeared much more so. On quitting Lord Alfred, he had called
at Horace D’Almayne’s lodgings, where he acquired the information that
their usual occupant had started for the continent on the previous
evening. Baffled in every attempt to obtain information concerning the
mysterious letter, which haunted his imagination with the pertinacity
of some intrusive spectre callous to the restringent influence of bell,
book, and candle, Coverdale, after lying awake the greater part of
the night, bent his steps, the first thing the next morning, in the
direction of his brother-in-law’s chambers, wishing to consult him,
but at the same time feeling so unwilling to blame Alice, even by
imputation, that the chances were against his taking such a step. On
reaching his destination, however, the difficulty solved itself, for,
early as was the hour, Arthur was from home, but Coverdale found a
letter awaiting him in Alice’s hand writing. Hastily tearing it open, an
enclosure dropped from it, and on stooping to pick it up he perceived,
to his extreme surprise, that it was the identical epistle which had
already caused him a journey to London and a sleepless night; and
which, but for his forbearance and kindliness of disposition, might have
involved him in a serious quarrel--if nothing worse--with his former
friend and school-fellow. Alice’s letter, which bore every mark of
having been written under feelings of the greatest excitement, ran as

“Dearest Harry,--Your hasty departure has overturned all my plans and
arrangements, which, believe me, were made with a view only to try
and avert the catastrophe which, I shudder to think, may be even
now impending. Justice to Lord Alfred, who may have incurred your
indignation, as well as my anxiety to clear myself in your eyes, by
making you acquainted with the whole truth, induce me to send you
the interesting letter which has given rise to all this sad
misunderstanding; and, as I imagine you have ere this seen and come to
some sort of explanation with Lord Alfred, my reason for withholding
it exists no longer. When you read it, you will perceive _why_ I was
so unwilling to show it to you. I felt convinced that the passages
referring to Mr. D’Almayne, which completely confirm the unfavourable
opinion you have always entertained of him, would irritate you greatly
against him; and, when Lord Alfred proceeds to write of him as a noted
duellist, a dead shot, &c., you may smile at my womanly weakness, but
can you wonder that I hesitated to show you the letter, that I chose
rather to allow you to think untrue things of me, than to clear myself
at the risk of imperilling your safety? And now, dearest Harry, if you
love me as you say, and as I hope and believe you do, if you would ever
have me know another moment’s peace, and not be weighed down by endless
self-reproach, return home, I implore you, without taking any farther
step in this matter. I am not afraid, when you have seen his penitent
letter, that you will be angry with Lord Alfred, but entreat of you to
avoid that hateful Mr. D’Almayne. Even supposing that he has been
the cause of all this unhappiness; that is now passed, and he will be
powerless to influence our future life.

“I am quite willing, if it will be any satisfaction to you, to agree
never to spend another spring in London; I have seen enough of its
heartless dissipation and frivolity, and for the future hope to find my
happiness in our own dear home, which, if you do but return to it
safe and sound, I would not exchange for a queen’s palace. Pray, pray,
dearest Harry, come back without delay. I have worried and fretted
myself quite ill already, and shall be wretched till I see you again.
Ever your penitent, but loving,


Having perused his wife’s letter with mingled feelings of satisfaction
and regret,--satisfaction to find how completely she was able to clear
herself, and regret at the pain and annoyance which he was sure this
affair must have occasioned her,--Coverdale unfolded and read carefully
Lord Alfred’s epistle, which had occasioned results the writer little
contemplated. At his Lordship’s ingenuous confession of his follies and
absurdities, Harry smiled, muttering, “Poor boy! I wish I had not been
so sharp with him yesterday;” but as he went on his brow contracted,
and when he came to the account of Horace D’Almayne, and the report
he had circulated in regard to Coverdale and Miss Crofton, he could
restrain his rage no longer, and springing up, he exclaimed, “Scoundrel!
mean, pitiful, lying scoundrel! but he shall answer to me for this. A
bold rogue, who would execute his own villainy, is a prince to a rascal
like this, who lays a plot to deprive me of my wife’s affections, and
then makes a cat’s-paw of that poor foolish boy to carry it out. I see
it all now. The behaviour which appeared so strange and unaccountable
in my darling Alice, proceeded from a very natural feeling of jealousy,
excited by all these abominable reports; and, the worst of it is, that
even now I can’t be entirely open with her, because of my promise
to Arabella. I wish to heaven I had never been fool enough to bind
myself!--and yet how could I avoid it? for she has a good heart, and a
generous disposition--though, partly from a bad education, partly from
natural temperament, her ideas are sadly warped. I am sure she really
loved me; of course, in a conventional point of view, it was not right
in her to do so; but--well, it’s no use humbugging--I don’t believe the
mam ever breathed, who honestly, and from his heart, could blame a woman
for loving him; principle and reason may accuse her, but feeling defends
her so eloquently, that the cause is gained at the first hearing. I
think I acted rightly by her. If I had it to do over again, I don’t see
how else I could honourably behave; perhaps it was weak to make her a
promise of concealment, but she was _so_ unhappy, her proud spirit was
so utterly crushed and broken down, that I would have done anything, not
actually wrong, to console her.”

He paused, reseated himself, then resumed more quietly, “Perhaps it
is as well that scoundrel D’Almayne is not within reach: if I were to
horsewhip him, as I most assuredly should and would, I suppose I should
be forced to meet him, blackguard as he is, if he were to challenge
me; and he would do so, I dare say, though I know him to be a coward at
heart, for his social position is his livelihood, and he must maintain
that, or starve. I utterly abhor duelling--it’s so very like deliberate
murder; it was different in the old days, when men wore swords
habitually; then, a couple of fellows quarrelled and tilted at
each other across the dining-table, while their blood was up, and a
flesh-wound or two generally let off their superfluous energy, and cured
their complaint--it was little more than knocking a man down who has
insulted you. There was none of that waiting, and then coolly, calmly,
taking the life of a fellow-creature in cold blood, which is the
disgusting part of the modern duel. And now about little Alfred. Poor
boy, he has been sadly led away by that scoundrel, but his heart is in
the right place still; that is a very nice letter of his to my wife,
and I’m glad he wrote it, though it has caused me some trouble and
annoyance. Well, I’ll call on him, and tell him I did him injustice,
and then go down to the Park by the next train, to comfort my darling
Alice. By Jove, I feel quite a different man since I read that
letter--Harry’s himself again.” And in proof of his assertion, he began,
for the first time for many weeks, to whistle his favourite air--

                   “A southerly wind, and a cloudy sky,

                   Proclaim it a hunting morning.”

Another ten minutes, and a Hansom cab sufficed to take him to Lord
Alfred’s lodgings.


“I dare say the lazy young dog isn’t up yet,” was Coverdale’s mental
comment, as he knocked at the door of Lord Alfred Court-land’s lodgings.
Although, as a general rule, the idea might not be a mistaken one, yet
this particular occasion was evidently an exception, for, on entering
Lord Alfred’s sitting-room, Coverdale found that young gentleman most
elaborately got up in an unimpeachable sporting costume, but sitting
with an open letter and his betting-book before him, looking the picture
of despair. As Coverdale entered, he glanced upward with a slight
start; then, without waiting to be spoken to, he exclaimed, in a strange
reckless tone, as different from his usual manner as a tempest from a
zephyr, “Well! which is it to be? peace or war? either will suit me,
though I should rather prefer the latter; about the best thing that can
happen to me would be for you to put a bullet through my head; at all
events, it would save me the trouble of blowing my own brains out, for I
expect that is what it will come to before long.”

“Nonsense!” was the reply. “What do you mean by talking such childish
rubbish? what is the matter with you, man?”

“First answer my question, and let me know whether I am speaking to a
friend or a foe,” rejoined Lord Alfred.

“A friend, as I always have been, and always will be, to you, as long as
you deserve an honest man’s friendship,” returned Coverdale, heartily.
“Alice has sent me your letter, and it does you great credit; but I
always knew you had a good heart; so, for any trouble or annoyance you
have caused me, I freely forgive you, and I’ll answer for it Alice does
the same; and I don’t know that you may not have taught her a lesson
which may be very useful to her in after life. She was young and giddy,
and pleased with admiration and gaiety; and this has shown her the
danger and folly of such frivolous pursuits as these tastes lead to.”

As he spoke, he held out his hand; Lord Alfred seized and shook it

“My dear Coverdale,” he said, “you have made me happier, or I might more
truly say, less miserable, than five minutes ago I would have believed
it possible for anything to do; it was not your anger, or its
consequences, I dreaded; but the truth is, I always had the greatest
regard and respect for you--I was proud of your friendship--and the idea
that, by my faults, I had forfeited it, lowered me in my own estimation,
and was a source of continued uneasiness and regret to me. You thought I
was talking exaggerated nonsense just now, but I assure you when you
came into this room five minutes ago, I was thoroughly reckless; just in
the frame of mind in which men commit suicide, or any other act of
wicked folly.”

Coverdale, though he by no means comprehended the “situation” (as it
is now the fashion to term all possible combinations of events), yet
perceived that his companion was thoroughly in earnest, and required
sympathy and assistance; so he evinced the first by getting up and
laying his hand encouragingly on Lord Alfred’s shoulder, while he
offered the latter in the following words: “What is it, my boy? anything
that I can help you in?”

“If anybody can, you are the very man,” replied Lord Alfred, as he
eagerly grasped his friend’s hand; “but really,” he continued, while
the tears that sparkled in his clear blue eyes proved his sincerity,
“really, I don’t know how to thank you for all your kindness, when I
have deserved so differently at your hands too; but you always were the
most generous, best-hearted----”

“There! that will do, you foolish boy,” interrupted Coverdale, who, like
all simple truthful characters, felt uncomfortable at hearing his own
praises; “we’ll take it for granted that I’m no end of a fine fellow,
and proceed to learn what particular scrape your wisdom has failed to
keep you out of.”

“Scrape, you may call it,” was the reply; “partly through my own folly,
partly through the rascality of others, I am almost certain to lose a
couple of thousand pounds on a steeple-chase, for which I’ve been idiot
enough to enter a horse, and where to lay my hands on as many hundreds
is more than I know. I shall not be able to meet my engagements, and
shall be stigmatized as a blackleg and a swindler, at the very time when
it is through the villainy of blacklegs and swindlers that I shall be
placed in such a position!”

“Can’t your father?” began Coverdale.

“If you don’t wish to render me frantic, don’t mention my father,” was
the unexpected rejoinder; he paused, then resumed--“Coverdale, I will
not trust you by halves, I know you will hold my confidence sacred.
My father is most kind and liberal to me, more liberal almost than he
should be, for he is not a rich man, and has many calls upon him, and
this year I know he has met with severe losses. I had an allowance
on which I could have lived well, and as becomes my rank; but Horace
D’Almayne, under pretence of showing me life, took me to a gaming-house,
I acquired a taste for play, or rather I played, because I thought it
the ‘correct thing’ and I am now not only without money, but actually in
debt. Then came this horse business,”--here Lord Alfred gave Coverdale
a succinct account of the various particulars of the affairs with
which the reader has been already made acquainted. “I felt, up to this
morning,” he resumed, “tolerably confident of success, relying chiefly
on Tirrett’s riding, which is said to be first-rate; imagine, then,
my rage and disgust when half an hour ago _this_ was given me!”--As he
spoke, he handed Coverdale the following note:--

_“I am sorry to inform your lordship that circumstances, over which I
have no control, oblige me to decline the honour of riding Don Pasquale
for you to-day.

“I am,

“Your Lordship’s obedient servant,

“Philip Tirrett.”_

“Pleasant and encouraging, certainly,” observed Coverdale, when he had
finished reading the note.

“That fellow Tirrett is the greatest scoundrel unhung!” exclaimed Lord
Alfred, crushing the paper in his hand with an action suggestive of
his willingness to perform a similar process of annihilation upon its

“By no means,” returned Harry, coolly; “he is simply a very average
specimen of his class, half-jockey, half-dealer, and whole blackleg of
a low stamp--there are hundreds such on the turf; however, he seems to
have got you into an awful fix this time--we must try and find out
what can be done. I’ll stay and see you through it at all events; it’s
fortunate to-day is the day, for I could not have remained beyond; I
dare say I shall be back in time to catch the eight o’clock train, and I
shall then be at home by eleven. What time do you start, and how do you
get down?”

“I go down on a drag which leaves the Pandemonium at twelve. I’ll take
care to keep a seat for you, if you really are kind enough to go with
me. I am really quite ashamed to avail myself of your kindness, when
I know how anxious you must be to get back, and calm Mrs. Coverdale’s
fears; but I feel your presence and your knowledge of the right way in
which to deal with these people will be so invaluable to me, that I have
not sufficient self-denial to deprive myself of them.”

“All serene! don’t make fine speeches about it,” rejoined Harry. “I’ve
one or two places to call at, and I’ll meet you at the Frying Pan, as
they call that diabolically named club of yours, five minutes before
twelve; and, above all, don’t look so woe-begone, or you’ll have the
odds against Don Pasquale increased to a frightful degree; put on a cool
nonchalant air, like your precious friend and adviser, D’Almayne, who
may thank his stars that the German Ocean lies between him and me just
now, for I’d have horsewhipped him, as sure as I stand here, so that he
should have spent the next fortnight in his bed at all events, and it
would have been a mercy if I hadn’t broken some of his bones for him;
but I’m glad he’s away, for, after all, I suppose one has no right to
take the law into one’s own hands. Well, I must be off, but depend upon
my meeting you, and in the meantime look alive, and don’t sit poring
over that stupid betting-book; you’re in a mess, that I don’t deny, but
that is no reason why you should lose heart: on the contrary, you’ll
have need of all your pluck to get you through it. Never despond, man!
when things come to the worst, they’re sure to mend. Look at me: since
I received that letter from my little wife, and read your notable
composition, I’m a different creature.” So saying, Coverdale resumed his
hat, and was about to quit the room, when glancing at his companion’s
countenance, he suddenly stopped.

“Alfred, my poor boy,” he said kindly, “I can’t leave you with such a
face as that! listen to me, I’ll do all I can for you, to get you out of
this scrape to-day, and very likely things may turn out better than we
expect; but if the worst come to the worst, you have only to promise me
two things, viz., to give up your intimacy with Horace D’Almayne, and
not to enter a gambling-house again for the next ten years; and whatever
money you require, shall be placed in your banker’s hands before

As he spoke, Lord Alfred grasped his hand, endeavoured to falter forth a
few words of gratitude, but, utterly breaking down In the attempt, burst
into tears.

Harry, nearly as much affected at the sight of his friend’s emotion,
muttered, “Pshaw! there’s nothing to make a fuss about,” wrung his hand
cordially, and hastily quitted the room.

At ten minutes to twelve a well-appointed drag, with four slapping
greys, excited the admiration of street boys in the vicinity of the
Pandemonium, by drawing up at the door of that fastest of clubs, and
five minutes later, Harry Coverdale, habited in a loose dust-coloured
wrapper, made his appearance, and tossing a small carpet-bag to one of
the grooms, desired him to put it in the boot. Lord Alfred was eagerly
waiting to receive him, and introduced him to sundry noble sportsmen, or
men desiring so to be considered, who were to compose the live freight
of the drag; one or two of them were old acquaintances of Coverdale’s,
amongst them being the facetious Jack Beaupeep, who appeared in his
usual charming spirits, and took an early opportunity of informing
Coverdale, in the strictest confidence, that a certain young man, with
pale and swollen features, who, he declared, lived only to play on the
cornopean, might be expected to produce new and startling effects upon
his next performance, he (Jack Beaupeep) having already contrived to
insinuate percussion crackers into all three valves of his victim’s
instrument. One minute before twelve a tall, good-looking man, attired
in a white hat, and a wonderful driving cape, whose Christian name was
William, and his patronymic Barrington, but who, from his passion for
driving, was more commonly known by the _sobriquet_ Billy Whipcord,
descended the steps of the Pandemonium, and, arranging the reins
scientifically between his fingers, mounted the box and assumed his
seat, at the same time not taking, but bestowing, the oaths for the
benefit of an obtuse helper, who had “presumed to buckle the off
leader’s billet in the check, instead of the lower bar, when he knew the
mare pulled like----” well, suppose we say, “like a steam-engine!” As
the first stroke of twelve pealed from the high church steeple of
St. Homonovus, which, as everybody knows, stands exactly opposite the
Pandemonium, the aforesaid Billy Whipcord obligingly made his team a
present of their respective heads, the attendant helpers seized
the corners of the horsecloths which had hitherto guarded their
thorough-bred loins from whatever may be the equine equivalent for
lumbago, and jerked them off with a degree of energy which threatened
to take hide and all together, with a bound and a plunge the denuded
quadrupeds sprang forward, the boys cheered, the club servants performed
pantomimic actions, indicative of admiration and respect, and the drag

Monsieur de Saulcy, Mr. Kinglake, and other travellers, French, English,
and American, who take pleasure in going to the East to make mistakes
about the site of Sodom and Gomorrah, hazard a futile hypothesis
in regard to the Holy Sepulchre, or, in some similar fashion, exert
themselves to prove that other than wise men come from the West in
these latter days, inform us, that when a camel dies, vultures and other
strange fowl suddenly congregate around the body, though in what way
the intelligence (for those birds can have no _Bell’s Life_) reaches
them, is a point on which no _savant_ has yet been found wise enough to
enlighten us--wherefore, in general terms, the fact is stated to result
from instinct. By a like instinct do strange creatures mysteriously
appear on the face of the earth, when a steeple-chase, or other sporting
event, is arranged to come off in any given locality: human vultures,
hawks, carrion-crows, bats, and owls, all (singular as an ornithologist
may deem it) with very black legs, attracted by the fascinations of
horse-flesh, assemble from the four quarters of--heaven, we were going
to say, but, on second thoughts, we cannot so conclude the paragraph.
Still, from whatever locality they come, come they do in flocks, and
gather at certain points, whence they may witness the start, or, “the
jump into the lane,” or, “crossing the brook,” or the “awkward place,”
 over which the horse that leaps, tumbles, or scrambles first, is safe to
win, as their various tastes may lead them.

There is one feature in these affairs, for which we have never been able
to account, viz., the mysterious presence of a certain average amount of
babies; they invariably arrive in taxed carts, and entirely engross the
mental and bodily faculties of one mother and one female and sympathetic
friend each, so that every ten babies necessitate the presence of twenty
women, who, from the moment they set out, to the time at which they
return, never appear conscious of the race-course, the company, the
jockeys, the horses, or, indeed, of anything save their infant tyrants.
That these women can have brought the babies for their own pleasure, is
an hypothesis so absurd, that no one who had seen the goings on of these
young Pickles towards their parents and guardians, can for a moment
entertain it; a more, perhaps the most, probable one is, that the
infants come to please themselves, for, although we have never observed
that they pay much attention to the strict business of the race, yet,
in their own way, they appear to enjoy themselves very thoroughly. Their
manners and customs are marked by an easy conviviality, and absence from
the restraints which usually fetter society, which we can conceive
must render their babyhood one epicurean scene of gay delight. Thus,
monopolizing the best place in the cart, shaded by the family umbrella,
and dressed in the latest fashion from Lilliput, these young Sybarites
recline languidly on the maternal bosom, or sit erect, “mooing,”
 crowing, and “wa wa-ing” in the faces of the company generally, roaring
at the sight of family friends whose acquaintance they do not desire
to cultivate, or clawing at the eyes and hair of the select few whose
homage they are willing graciously to receive. Then, wildly reckless of
appearances, and consulting only their own ungoverned appetites, they
not only resolve to dine in public, at the maternal expense, but when
their desire has been gratified by their self-sacrificing parents,
betray a thankless indifference to the safe custody of the good things
afforded them, which renders their vicinity dangerous to all decently
attired Christians (those only excepted, who consider a “milky way” the
way in which they should go), during the remainder of the festivities.
Thus (we say it boldly, though we know we are provoking the enmity of
all our female readers, who consider a _darling_ baby can never be _de
trop_), we hereby declare our opinion, that by the laws of the Jockey
Club, all dogs and infants found unmuzzled on any race-course, should be
seized by the police, and instantly---------- we leave the minds’
eyes of the anxious mothers of England to supply the blank. But we are
slightly digressing.

As they reached the field whence the start was to take place, in which a
booth or two and a very mild specimen of a grand stand had been erected,
Harry found an opportunity to whisper to Lord Alfred----

“Now, remember what I told you; appear as cool as if you hadn’t sixpence
depending on this race; if long odds are offered against the horse, take
’em; I’ll stand the risk up to a fifty-pounder; if it has transpired
that Tirrett wont ride for you, say quietly that you are provided with
an efficient substitute--as soon as I see clearly how the land lies,
I’ll tell you more.”

Lord Alfred looked--as he was--singularly puzzled, but of the hundreds
who were flocking to that race-course, Coverdale was the only man on
whom he felt he could rely, and he most willingly placed himself in his

Having insinuated the drag into the most favourable position for
beholding from its roof the line of the course, the Hon. Billy Whipcord,
having acquitted himself so as to call forth an encomium even from Harry
Coverdale, who was a severe critic in such matters, descended from
his seat, and, with most of the others, repaired to an extempore
betting-ring, composed of all the knowing ones present.

Lord Alfred was about to accompany them, when Harry laid his finger on
his arm to detain him.

“What time did you order the Don to be on the ground?”

Lord Alfred referred to his watch.

“He wont be here for the next half-hour,” was the reply. “It was
considered advisable to spare his excitable nerves as much of the noise
and bustle as possible.”

“He is at a farm somewhere near, is he not?” continued Coverdale. “I see
your saddle-horses on the ground; let us canter down and have a’ look at

Lord Alfred agreeing, at a signal from his master the packgroom rode
up, and resigning his horse to Coverdale, the friends mounted, and were
about to ride off in the direction of the fam-house, when the Honourable
Billy Whipcord intercepted them with a face expressing the deepest

“My dear Courtland,” he began, “a report has somehow got abroad that
Tirrett wont ride for you, and that Irish blackguard, Captain O’Brien,
does not scruple openly to declare that he is to ride Broth-of-a-Boy for
him instead; the rumour gains ground every minute, and the Don is going
down accordingly; all his best friends are hedging wherever they can get
a bet taken. I hope there’s no truth in it.”

Coverdale glanced for a moment towards Lord Alfred, who replied
carelessly, “Don’t alarm yourself, my dear fellow, I can hardly suppose
even Phil Tirrett would have the face to throw me over and ride for
O’Brien; but, if he should indulge in such a caprice, I know my man,
and am prepared with a substitute so efficient, that I rather hope
your tidings may be true.” Seeing that the Honourable William looked
incredulous, he continued, “If you’re inclined to follow the hedging
dodge yourself, I’m as willing as ever to back the Don against the
field: how do the odds stand?”

Reassured by this practical proof of his Lordship’s sincerity, the
Honourable William (who, in spite of his innate honourableness, was
rather a “leg” than otherwise), hastily muttered “that he’d a very safe
book as it stood, and that if the Don was all serene, he had no wish to
alter it,” and returned to reap some advantage from the information he
had acquired.

“How did I do that?” asked Lord Alfred, as they cantered off.

“Splendidly!” was the reply; “when all other trades fail you, you’ll
be able, with a little of my able tuition, to turn horse-chaunter and

Lord Alfred shook his head, adding, “Only let me get out of this affair
safely, and if you find me doing anything in the horse line again, write
me down the veriest idiot that ever ran his head, open-eyed, against a
brick wall.”

Five minutes’ brisk riding brought them to the gate at which Tirrett had
entered on the morning after the Blackwall dinnerparty. As they did so,
a horseman left the yard by a hand-gate at the opposite corner. Lord
Alfred gazed after him eagerly.

“Who is your mysterious friend?” inquired Harry.

“I can’t be certain,” was the reply, “but the figure, and the way in
which he sits his horse, are very like that young scoundrel, Tirrett;
I’ve a great mind to gallop after him, and either make him ride for me,
or horsewhip him;” and Lord Alfred looked quite fierce and determined,
as if he meant to do as he said, and was able; but Coverdale, smiling at
his energy, restrained him--

“Gently there--take it coolly! why, you’re becoming quite a fire-eater,”
 he said, laughing; “but, seriously, if you could make him ride for you
against his will, he would only contrive to lose you the race. And, as
to horsewhipping, if you were to horsewhip every blackleg who
breaks down with you in turf affairs, you’d require a portable
thrashing-machine, for mortal arm could never stand it.”

As he spoke, they reached the stable, dismounted, and, tying their
horses up to a couple of rings in the wall, Lord Alfred drew a key from
his pocket, and, applying it to the lock, admitted Harry and himself.
So quietly did they enter, and so engrossed was the groom with his
occupation, that they had full time to observe him before he was aware
of their presence. Fully equipped (with the exception of his coat)
for appearing on the race-course, he was stooping over a pail of water
bathing his nose, from which the blood was still rapidly dropping.
Coverdale glanced expressively at Lord Alfred, then whispered, “Speak to
him--I want to see his face.”

“Why, Dick, what is it? have you hurt yourself, my lad?” he inquired,

Raising himself, with a start, the man looked round. “No, my Lord, it
is nothin’ to sinnify; honly, has I wos a reching hup to get the Don’s
saddle, hit slipped, hand fell right hon my blessed nose, hand set hit a
bleeding howdacious!”

“Did you obtain that genius, with the horse, from Tirrett?” inquired
Harry, _sotto voce_; receiving a reply in the affirmative, he continued,
“Then let me have a word or two with him in private--I think he may be
made useful, but one never can get anything out of these fellows, except
in a_ tête-à-tête_.”

Lord Alfred nodded assent, and, feigning some plausible excuse, left the

As soon as they were alone, Harry addressed the groom with an
intelligent half-nod, half-wink, which, however ineffectual it might
have proved in the case of a blind horse, produced a decided impression
on the sharp-sighted Dick.

“Hark ye, my friend,” he began, “it strikes me you and I are old

“Can’t say as I ever remembers setting heyes on your honour afore,”
 was the reply, though something in the expression of the man’s face
contradicted his assertion.

“Did you never live with Count Cavalho, a Spanish nobleman?”

The man paused, then answered in a surly tone, “And suppose I did, what

“Merely, that while I was in Paris, a groom in his employ was detected
selling the corn and hay; the moment the charge was brought against him
the fellow decamped, but the evidence of his dishonesty was so clear,
that the Count offered a reward of fifty pounds for his apprehension;
the man was not found, but I should know him by sight if I were to meet
him,” and again Coverdale fixed his piercing glance upon his companion’s

Having paused for a minute, during which time the groom stood eyeing him
furtively, and shifting uneasily from leg to leg--at the expiration of
that period, Harry asked abruptly, “Why did young Tirrett strike you in
that brutal manner, before he left the stable just now?”

He spoke at a venture, but the arrow hit the bull’s-eye. Thrown
completely off his guard, the man exclaimed, with an oath, “You know
everything! who in the world are you?”

“My name’s Coverdale,” was the reply. “I’m no wizard, but I’ve been on
the turf long enough to keep my eyes and ears open; and now listen to
me; you know all I’ve said is true, you perceive that I could expose you
if I were so inclined; you _have_ no cause to entertain any very strong
affection for Mr. Philip Tirrett; therefore I see many reasons why you
should do as I wish you--none why you should not.”

He paused for a reply, and, after a moment’s hesitation, the groom
began, “I see it ain’t o’ no use trying to gammon you, Mr. Coverdale,
you’re right about Tirrett, he cum here a wantin me to lame that horse,
and so git myself into trouble, may be; when, as I told him, there ain’t
no need for it, for he ain’t agoing to ride it, and barrin myself and
him, there ain’t nobody else as can ride it to win, I’ll take my davy
o’ that, so he’d no call to cut up rough, and knock a feller about like
that--but I owe him one for it, and I’ll pay it some of these days. As
to that hay and corn business of the Count’s, I didn’t do the correct
thing altogether by him, I know, but though I had to cut, and it was all
laid on to me, there was others more to blame nor me, I do assure you,
I was but a boy like at the time, and I wor led on, don’t ye see? Still,
it’s true enough; I don’t want the thing brought up again. My lord here,
he’s a nice young feller--precious green, the’ I _never_ did--” he added
parenthetically, with a sympathy-demanding wink at Coverdale, “and he’s
treated me very kind and liberal, and so the long and the short of it
is, if I can oblige you, sir, why I’m agreeable.”

“Well, you can oblige me, and it shall be worth your while to do so,”
 was the reply; “and as I see you’ve got an honest side to your nature,
I’ll be frank with you. Lord Alfred has trusted Tirrett to win this race
for him, and has betted very largely on the faith of his riding for him;
Tirrett, being a scoundrel, has thrown him over, and we’re in a fix--the
only way I see of getting out of it is to ride the horse myself.”

Here the groom interrupted, by audibly ejaculating, “The Lord have mercy
on your poor neck!”

“To ride the horse myself,” continued Coverdale, coolly; “and I want you
to tell me honestly, first, whether if the brute is properly ridden, he
has a fair chance to win, and secondly, if you were going to ride, and
try all you knew to come in first, how you would set about it.”

For a minute, the man remained mute with surprise, then muttering,
“Well, I’ve seen you ride, and you’ve a better seat, and nearly as good
a bridle-hand as Phil Tirrett himself; but, lor, to think of riding a
steeple-chase on that beast the first time you’re on his back! however,
if you _will_ do it, listen to me,” and, drawing Harry aside, he
whispered innumerable hints and directions in his ear, in as low a tone
as if he feared the very winds of Heaven would reveal the matter.


“To keep a light but steady hand on him; to be careful not to pull at
him or check him with the curb; but to saw his mouth with the snaffle,
if he can’t be held without; never to hit him, upon any consideration,
by reason that he’ll stand the spur, but not the whip; to be prepared
for his knocking my brains out when he throws up his head, or breaking
my back by a way he’s got with his hind-quarters when he flings up his
heels; to look out for his pleasant little trick of jumping off the
ground all four feet at once in a slantindicular direction, when
anything surprises him; to let him take his leaps in his own fashion, or
he’ll either rush at them or refuse them altogether; to jump on his back
before he bites or kicks me, if I can possibly do so; and, above all,
to show him, from first to last, that I’m not in the slightest degree
afraid of him--I think these are the chief points to which I am advised
to direct my attention in riding the fascinating quadruped on whom you
have invested your capital,” observed Coverdale to Lord Alfred, as they
cantered back to the race-ground.

“You shall not do it--you must not think of it!” rejoined Lord Alfred,
hastily; “you’ll be thrown and killed, and Mrs. Coverdale will say it’s
my doing. I could not bear it--it would drive me mad. Come, promise
you’ll give it up!”

“Silly boy!” returned Coverdale, with a good-natured smile “tell me,
would _you_ give it up in my position?”

“Well, yes--no, perhaps I should not; but then you know the case would
be a very different one.”

“Certainly it would,” returned Coverdale; “I am not the heir to an
ancient peerage--the noble constitution of England would not suffer
injury in one of its three notable estates, if my neck were broken;
but I don’t see the necessity for pre-supposing any such sombre
contingency--this is not the first time, by many, that I’ve galloped a
queer horse across country. Why, man, from the day I was fourteen
I’ve broken all my own hunters, and let me tell you, a hot-tempered
four-year-old thorough-bred is rather an awkward customer to deal with.
A timid old gentleman would find himself decidedly misplaced astride
such a quadruped. But here we are. Now recollect, keep up a bold
exterior, as the melodramatic gents paraphrase ‘never saying die.’ Back
the Don as freely as if Tirrett was going to ride for you, and
mention me as the illustrious gentleman-jockey you have secured as his

Lord Alfred nodded assent, and they rejoined the group around the
betting-ring, in the centre of which stood the gallant Milesian, Captain
O’Brien, vociferating loudly in what he would himself have termed a
thundering rage. The cause was soon discovered: Mr. Philip Tirrett
had, five minutes before, made his appearance on the course, and coolly
informed the captain not only that he was mistaken in supposing he
intended to ride for him, but that he was going to perform the service
for Captain Annesley, of Her Majesty’s Life Guards, upon his famous
steeple-chaser Black Eagle, which, in his poor opinion, looked very
like a winner. As Lord Alfred and Harry came up, the Honourable
Billy Whipcord, who, so to speak, lived upon horseflesh, and having a
tolerably heavy book on the race, was in a great state of agitation and
excitement, exclaimed, “Here, Lord Alfred, what do you say to all this?
there’s a squabble as to who Mr. Tirrett is to ride for. I thought you’d
settled with him, long ago, to ride Don Pasquale?”

“Such was, no doubt, the understanding between us,” returned Lord
Alfred, firmly; “nor had I reason to suspect that he meant not to fulfil
his engagement, until I received a note some two hours ago, telling me
that circumstances prevented him from riding for me. These circumstances
I now, for the first time, conjecture to resolve themselves into the
fact that he has been bribed by some one to ride for Captain Annesley.”

“Pray, my Lord, do you intend that remark to apply to me?” inquired
Captain Annesley, who was a tall, handsome, fashionable-looking man, with
black whiskers and moustaches.

“I intended the remark to apply to Mr. Tirrett,” was Lord Alfred’s
reply; “he had engaged to ride for me; I believe no has been bribed to
break that engagement, because I can imagine no other reason so likely
to influence a person of his character; but it’s a matter of perfect
indifference to me who may have bribed him, and as I am fortunate enough
to have secured the services of a gentleman on whose honour I can rely,
as well as upon his horsemanship, I care very little about the whole
matter, and must leave you, gentlemen, to settle your differences
without my interference.”

As he spoke he was turning to leave the spot, when Tirrett stepped
before him and prevented him.

“Not so fast, my Lord,” he said, insolently; “I consider that you’ve
insulted me by the terms in which you have just spoken, and I desire you
to recall your words.”

An indignant refusal from Lord Alfred apparently exasperated the young
blackleg beyond endurance, and raising his horsewhip threateningly, he
advanced a step towards his opponent. As he did so, a heavy hand was
pressed against his chest, effectually barring his farther progress,
while a deep voice said sternly, “Stand back, sir! I should have thought
you had been on the turf long enough to recognize a gentleman when you
see him, and to know that such persons are not to be bullied, though
they may be swindled. Let me give you a word of advice: you will have
quite enough on your hands to get out of this morning’s work without
some unpleasant _exposé_. Your associate, Captain O’Brien, seems
inclined to be disagreeably communicative--don’t get yourself
horsewhipped into the bargain!”

When Coverdale made the reference to O’Brien, Phil Tirrett turned pale,
and gnawed his under lip in fruitless anger; but, as he concluded,
he got up the steam sufficiently to inquire, with an insolent laugh,
“Horsewhipped, eh?--who’s likely to do it, I should like to know?”

“_I_ am,” was Coverdale’s quiet answer. Their eyes met--but Tirrett
could not endure Harry’s steadfast gaze; be, favouring him with a most
melodramatic scowl of hatred, he slunk away through the crowd. After
much angry altercation, Captain O’Brien’s horse was withdrawn--other
preliminaries of the race settled--and the time appointed for starting
drew nigh, when Captain Annesley lounged up to Lord Alfred Courtland,
and, twisting his moustaches, drawled out, “Haw! ar ’spose yur ’ware
m’lord that--haw--tha’re all gentlemen riders?--eh! yur friend comes
under that denomination, ’spose, haw?”

“When, the officers of the----th chose me as umpire about a disputed
stroke at billiards, and I decided in favour of one Cornet Annesley, he
did not object to the verdict on the score of my position,” returned
Coverdale, with quiet self-possession; upon which the captain muttered--

“Hey, haw, Mr. Coverdale, aw think--arm sor davlish shortsighted--ar
reely didn’t recognize yar--haw! beg par’n, reely,” and lounged off
considerably discomposed.

After the ceremony of weighing the riders had been satisfactorily
performed, and other preliminaries arranged, the bell rang for saddling,
and Coverdale, flinging off his wrapper, and removing a pair of leggings
which had effectually concealed his top-boots, appeared in full and
appropriate racing costume, to Lord Alfred’s intense surprise.

“By Jove!” he exclaimed, as the blue silk racing shirt revealed its
glories to his astonished optics--“by Jove! Coverdale, you really are
one of the most wonderful fellows I ever came across; why, you were not
aware two hours ago that there was a chance of your being required to
ride this race, and yet you come togged out in as noble and appropriate
garments as if you had been preparing for the last month--it is all a
perfect mystery to me!”

“The mystery is easily explained,” returned Harry, laughing at his
companion’s puzzled look. “When I left your rooms this morning, the idea
of riding for you had already occurred to me-; it so happened that I,
when last in town, ordered a new pair of hunting breeches and boots of
my tailor and boot-maker, which I knew would be ready for me to jump
into; the tailor directed me to a masquerade warehouse, where I procured
the racing shirt; and I purchased the wrapper and leggings ready made.
In the carpet-bag I have a coat, which I could have put on at the
stables, had Tirrett chosen, at the last moment, to keep his engagement
with you: so you see there’s no magic in the business, after all.”

As he spoke, Don Pasquale, arching his neck, snorting, laying back his
cars and pointing them forward alternately, rolling his eyes until
the whites were plainly visible, and altogether showing symptoms of
a temperament quite unlike that popularly attributed to the genus pet
lamb, was led in by Dick and an attendant satellite, at the imminent
risk of their respective lives and limbs. As the clothing was removed,
Coverdale scrutinized him narrowly without speaking; at length he
exclaimed--“He’s a devil, that there’s no mistaking; but he’s a splendid
horse: if he’s sound, and it’s at all possible to screw him along, I’ll
give you all the money you paid for him, and fifty pounds to the back of
that, if you don’t like to part with him under.”

“My dear Coverdale, in that and everything else I shall be guided by
your wishes,” was the reply. “I’d make you a free gift of him, and be
glad to get rid of the brute, if it wasn’t for the money I owe.”

At this moment, the groom made a signal, to which Coverdale immediately

“The longer he stays in this here crowd and bustle, the wilder and
savager he’ll get, and the worser he’ll be to mount; so the sooner I
sees yer honour in the saddle, the better I shall be pleased.”

“All serene, Dick,” returned Harry, cheerfully. “Wish me luck and keep
your spirits up, Alfred, my boy!” he continued, shaking his companion’s
hand heartily: then, with a nod to the groom, to announce his intention,
he approached the horse leisurely, and watching his opportunity, waited
until something had attracted the animal’s notice, and caused it to turn
its head in an opposite direction; when, placing his foot quietly in the
stirrup, he was firmly seated before Don Pasquale became aware of his
intention, or had time to attempt any resistance. Slowly gathering up
the reins, Coverdale desired Dick to “give him his head;” the first use
he made of it being to place it between his fore legs with a jerk, which
if his rider had not judiciously yielded to it, would have pulled the
reins from his grasp But Don Pasquale had an object in thus lowering his
haughty crest--namely, at the same time to fling up his heels, and
eject the intruder who had dared so unceremoniously to usurp the seat
of dominion on his august back, much as a stone is hurled from a sling.
Harry, however, being prepared for any eccentricity of motion on the
part of the amiable quadruped he bestrode, retained his seat in spite
of the Don’s strenuous efforts to dislodge him; a performance which
appeared to astonish and impress the creature to such a degree, that he
tossed up his head so suddenly as to render Dick’s caution in regard to
“knocking out brains” by no means a superfluous figure of speech, and
abruptly started off in a kind of half-sidling, half-dancing canter.
Having indulged the Don with a preliminary gallop up and down the first
quarter of a mile of the course, during which he amused himself by
occasionally lashing out in a way which soon obtained for him those
popular desiderata--a clear course and _no favour_, Harry brought him
back to the starting-post just as Phil Tirrett appeared, looking the
perfection of a jockey, and mounted on a splendid black thorough-bred,
which Coverdale conjectured must be--from its superiority to every other
horse on the course--Captain Annesley’s Black Eagle. At this moment,
Dick, the groom, handed Cover-dale a leaf of a betting-book, crumpled up
into the form of a note; seizing an opportunity when his horse was for
an instant quiet, Harry opened it, and read the following words:--

_“Hond sur, Black hegel’s wery prity to luke hat, but he han’t got the
Don’s pluck, nor P. T. hun’t got yourn--hin ther last field but won
ther’s a corner may be eut hoff by taking a dich with a low ston warl
hon the bank abuv, and a rail atop--hits a properly dangrus leep, but if
our ’orse is rode boldly and aint blowd, he’ll faee hit and clear hit,
hand B. E. and P. T. won’t.--Yr humbel survent, Dick Dodge.”_

Hastily casting his eye over it, Harry caught the general meaning of the
note, and, tearing it, he gave his confidential adviser a glance, which
so clearly conveyed his recognition of the merits of his scheme, that
Dick in soliloquy confided to himself, that he was at that moment open
to be “blowed” if it was not his conviction that if Coverdale eould keep
his seat for the first five minutes, he might do the trick after all. As
Harry rode up to the starting-post, Tirrett perceived, from his firm
but easy seat in the saddle, his strong yet light hand on the rein,
restraining without irritating his horse, that he had a first-rate rider
to contend against; and knowing, as no one did so well as himself, the
powers of the animal on which Coverdale was mounted, he, for the first
time since he had refused to ride for Lord Alfred, felt anxious as to
the result of the race, which, reckoning it completely secure, he had
betted on much more largely than was his habit. After relieving his
feelings by a muttered volley of oaths, he continued mentally,--

“This is pleasant: the fellow sits his horse as composedly as if he were
in an arm-chair! he seems to understand the temper of the brute too! I
suppose Dick has put him up to that, in revenge for the blow I gave him.
I’ve got a frightfully heavy book on the event--nearly £1000. I was a
fool to risk it; and yet I thought the money was as safe as if it had
been in my pocket. I never expected the horse would have trained sound
as he has; if I’d been sure of that I would have ridden him myself.
Well, the race must be won at all hazards; if the Don would but get into
one of his tantarums now, nobody that didn’t know his ways could sit
him. Ha; yes, a good idea; I think it maybe done that way--and yet it’s
hazardous--but I wont be rash--only Black Eagle must not lose, whatever
may be the consequence.” While such thoughts as these were passing
hurriedly through his brain, the signal was given, and the horses


After making one violent effort to get his head and bolt,--an
effort which it tasked Harry’s strength and skill to the utmost to
counteract,--the Don gradually settled into his stride, crossed a
grass-field, and flew across an easy fence at the end of it, with a
bound which would have cleared one of three times its magnitude, in
a style which convinced Harry of the superior powers of the animal
he bestrode. Besides Black Eagle and Don Pasquale, six other horses
started. Of these, one, a fiery chestnut colt, rushed at his first
fence, fell, threw his jockey, then got away, and was not caught for
the next two hours; a ploughed field pumped the wind out of two more so
effectually, that for all chance of winning the race they might as well
never have started; the jump into the lane settled a fourth, which was
led off with two broken knees; while a furze common used up a fifth; so
that as they approached the brook, the sporting cornet (who rode his
own horse, Grey Robin), Tirrett, and Harry, were the only remaining
competitors. About five hundred yards from the brook (which was a very
picturesque but singularly uncomfortable looking stream to ride over,
having steep rugged banks, being too deep to ford, and quite as wide
as a horse could conveniently leap), Tirrett, who was leading, held in
Black Eagle with a view, as Coverdale imagined, to save his wind, and
get him well together for the leap. His own horse, which was going
beautifully, was so fresh, that Harry considered him able to clear the
brook without any such precautions, and believing, if he kept on at the
same pace he should either gain ground which Tirrett would be unable to
recover, or force him to press Black Eagle to a degree which might break
him down at his leap, he did not draw rein until he came to within about
fifty yards of the bank. Having mentally selected the spot at which he
meant to charge the brook, he was about to put his horse at it, when a
rushing sound caused him to turn his head. As he did so, Tirrett dashed
by him like a flash of lightning, so closely that their elbows brushed,
while as he passed he turned in his saddle, and brought his riding whip
down with his full force between Don Pasquale’s ears. The effect of his
villainous scheme fully answered his expectations; the horse, which had
been going at an easy stretching gallop, and was just gathering itself
up for the leap, stopped so abruptly, that it was with the greatest
difficulty Harry was able to prevent himself from going over its head;
the next moment the animal roared, and stood pawing the air wildly with
its fore legs, so that Coverdale was forced to throw himself forward and
cling to the creature’s neck to prevent it from falling over upon him.
Then commenced a furious struggle for mastery between man and horse.
Tirrett’s cowardly stroke had aroused the vicious temper of the brute,
and failing in its first desperate attempts to unseat its rider, it laid
back its ears, planted its feet firmly on the ground, and obstinately
refused to move. Irritated beyond control at the rascally trick which
had been played him, and at its complete success, Coverdale, with whip,
spurs, and bit, gave Don Pasquale a thorough specimen of his quiet
manner, but with no other result than one or two futile attempts to
bite or kick its rider: at length he was compelled to desist from pure
exhaustion, and, laying the bridle on the animal’s neck, he shifted
the whip to his left hand, while he extended the cramped fingers of his
right, preparatory to recommencing hostilities. Whether through mere
caprice, or whether, as is more probable, the Don caught sight of the
other horses, which had safely accomplished the transit of the brook,
and were resuming their course on the other side, it is not easy to
decide; certain it is, however, that the moment it found its head at
liberty, it dashed off at full speed; and before Harry could gather up
the reins, the creature had reached the bank, plunged madly forward,
and in another moment Coverdale found himself up to the breast in
water, with no part of his horse visible except the head. Although taken
completely by surprise, his presence of mind did not forsake him; thanks
to his experience in the hunting-field, the situation was not new to
him, and scarcely had he glanced round ere his quick eye selected the
point at which he should effect a landing; guiding his horse to a spot
where the bank was least steep and abrupt, he waited until the animal
obtained a precarious footing; then, encouraging it by hand and voice,
he lifted it by the rein, and urged it forward; there was a scramble and
a slip, then a more violent struggle than before, and the Don and his
rider were once again high, though by no means dry, on _terra firma_. As
soon as he could find time to look after his competitors in the race,
he became aware that both had cleared the brook in safety, and were half
across the field beyond, Tirrett some twenty yards ahead,--a distance
which he kept so completely without effort, that Harry at once perceived
Grey Bobin was beaten. That Tirrett thought the same of both his
antagonists was evident, from the easy pace at which he was going. In
order to accomplish his rascally manoeuvre before crossing the brook,
he had pressed Black Eagle injudiciously; and, confident that both the
other horses must be in an equally exhausted condition, he was saving
him for the final struggle. He was, however, wrong in regard to Don
Pasquale; true, its contention with its rider had taken for the time a
good deal out of it, but the last act of that affair having consisted of
a display of passive obstinacy, had in some degree refreshed it; and its
plunge into the brook had also exercised a beneficial influence; so that
Harry perceived, to his great delight, so soon as they resumed their
course on the farther bank, that his horse had plenty of good running
still left in it, and when it got again into its stride, that it was
improving every minute. Thus, if Coverdale could manage to creep up to
his opponent so gradually as not to alarm him until he had regained
a portion of the ground he had lost, and Dick’s suggestion of the
desperate leap over the wall should prove at all practicable, he did
not despair of the race yet. In accordance with this view, Harry rather
restrained than urged the Don, until Tirrett had cleared the next fence,
and entered the field beyond; but the moment the overhanging branches of
the hedge closed behind him, Coverdale gave his horse the rein, came up
with Grey Bobin, who disputed precedence with him for a few yards, and
then fell back beaten; flew over the fence like a bird, took up the
running on the other side in first-rate style; and before Tirrett had
got Black Eagle fairly into his stride again, the Don was alongside of
him. And now the race, properly so called, began in earnest: for nearly
a mile the course lay along a slight descent of smooth springy turf,
terminated by a ditch, and a low brick wall heightened by a rail, beyond
which the ground rose more steeply for a short distance, up to the
winning-post. Thus, as Dick had foreseen, the man and horse that first
cleared the wall in safety must of necessity win. At one spot the fence
was broken, and the wall partially knocked down; but this gap, although
within the marked line, was somewhat out of the direct course. Thus,
by taking the ditch, wall, and fence, at the nearest point (always
supposing any jockey bold enough to attempt such a leap, and fortunate
enough to accomplish it in safety), an amount of distance would be saved
which would ensure success to the enterprising rider. Harry’s quick eye
took in the situation at a glance, and he resolved to attempt it, unless
he should gain such an advantage over his adversary, before reaching the
boundary wall, as should render his success no longer a doubtful matter.
That Tirrett equally perceived the critical nature of the situation
might be gathered from the fact that, although aware of the task before
him (for even across the gap the leap was one which a good horseman, on
a fresh steed, might congratulate himself on having accomplished safely,
and which, on a tired one, he would, think twice ere he ventured to
attempt), he pressed the pace to the utmost extent of his horse’s power,
with the evident intention of rendering Don Pasquale so blown that it
must break down at the leap. Unwilling to risk the desperate chance
which Dick’s _billet_ had suggested, Coverdale exerted all his skill to
maintain the position he had gained, which at one moment was in advance
of, and for some distance neck and neck with, his opponent; but,
although Don Pasquale was the stronger animal of the two, and gifted
with greater powers of endurance, on soft level turf Black Eagle had’
decidedly the advantage in point of swiftness; moreover, in a mere trial
of speed, Tirrett’s acquaintance with all the resources of professional
jockey ship stood him in good stead, so that before they had approached
the wall Black Eagle had not only passed, but was several lengths ahead
of his opponent. Thus, Coverdale perceived that, unless he chose to
adopt Dick’s dangerous suggestion, he must relinquish all chance of
winning the race. Had it been simply a trial of speed and skill, good
sense and right principle would probably have prevented Harry
from risking his life for so inadequate an object; out Tirrett’s
dishonourable behaviour towards Lord Alfred, and his rascally attempt to
excite the vicious temper of Don Pasquale (au attempt which all but
gained its object), had irritated and excited Coverdale to such a degree
that, reckless of consequences, he was eager to dare any peril rather
than allow such infamous conduct to be triumphant. Accordingly, keeping
the direct line, he shouted to Tirrett, who had turned off to the left
and was making for the gap, “Why don’t you follow me, sir, like a man,
instead of sneaking over gaps like a coward?” he got his horse well in
hand, and rode boldly on.

When Tirrett became aware of his intention he half drew in his rein,
irresolute what course to take; if he refused to follow, and Coverdale
should by any chance succeed in getting safely over, he knew that the
race, and all he had depending on it, would be lost, and he eagerly
scanned the leap with his practised eye; but it was too formidable, and,
as Dick had foreseen, his courage failed him; so, turning first red,
then pale, he muttered an uncharitable wish concerning Harry’s neck,
and rode on towards the gap, hoping for its fulfilment. As Coverdale
approached the wall, the conviction that he was about to attempt a most
hazardous, if not an impossible feat, forced itself upon him; still his
resolution never wavered, and he was preparing himself for the leap,
when a figure, which he recognised as that of the groom, suddenly rose
from the ditch, and, pointing to a particular spot, shouted, “Come over
here! give him his head, and let him take it his own way; he’s got his
steam up, and wouldn’t refuse a haystack.”

Relying on the man’s acquaintance with the animal, Harry resolved to
follow his advice implicitly, and, slackening his rein, pressed his hat
firmly over his brows, clasped his saddle tightly with his knees, and
awaited the result.

Dick was not mistaken in his estimate of the Don’s courage; for, as soon
as the horse perceived the obstacle before it, it pricked up its ears,
gathered its legs well under it, and dashed forward. Nor had he formed a
wrong conception in regard to the animal’s general powers of endurance;
but the episode occasioned by Tirrett’s foul blow, with the subsequent
immersion in and struggle out of the brook, were incidents on which
he had not calculated. Thus, although Don Pasquale rose to the leap
gallantly, and by a prodigious bound cleared ditch, wall, and fence, the
exertion so completely exhausted its remaining strength, that, on its
descent on the further side, all Harry’s efforts were unable to keep it
on its legs, and it pitched heavily forward, falling with and partially
on its rider.


Stunned by the violence of the shock, Harry was aware vaguely, and as
in a dream, that the horse had risen, and that some person was soothing
and caressing it; from this state of semi-unconsciousness he was aroused
by the voice of Dick, the groom, exclaiming, “If you b’aint too much
hurt, Mr. Coverdale, you may do it yet, sir, if so be as you can
sit your horse; for Black Eagle has refused the gap, and Tirrett’s a
bullying him to get him over now.”

Thus appealed to, Harry rose with difficulty (uttering an exclamation
of pain as he did so), and gazed confusedly round him. Uninjured by
its fall, Don Pasquale was standing by him, held by Hick; while,
considerably to the left, Tirrett, having ridden back a few paces, was
forcing Black Eagle, by a severe application of both whip and spur, to
attempt the leap over the gap, which he had just refused.

“Here, quick!” exclaimed Coverdale eagerly, “hold the stirrup--that
will do--don’t touch my arm--I’ll disappoint that scoundrel yet!” and,
gathering up the reins with his right hand, he put spurs to his horse,
and galloped off. After a struggle, Tirrett succeeded in forcing Black
Eagle across the gap, and, by dint of spurring and shaking, got him into
a sort of shambling canter on the farther side of it; but it was of no
avail, for, as Don Pasquale passed the winning-post, Black Eagle
was still several lengths behind: Coverdale’s desperate leap had
accomplished the purpose for which it had been attempted, and Lord
Alfred Courtland’s horse remained winner of the steeple-chase.

As he rode in triumphant, an eager crowd of Hon Pasquale’s backers
surrounded him with loud congratulations. “Splendidly done! I never saw
such riding in my life!” “That leap with a tired horse was the pluckiest
thing ever attempted--there’s not another man on the course would have
faced it!”

“The business of the brook was the cleverest dodge of all--I saw it
through a race-glass, and I never expected you could have kept on him.”

“Didn’t the horse fall on you? are you hurt, Mr. Coverdale?” Such were
some of the numerous remarks and exclamations which rang in Harry’s
ears, as, faint and giddy, it was as much as he could do to retain his
seat without falling from the saddle.

“Harry; my dear, kind friend, how can I ever thank you sufficiently?”
 exclaimed Lord Alfred Courtland, forcing his way through the crowd.

“Find the groom,” was the hurried reply, “for I can’t keep on the horse
much longer.”

As he spoke, Dick, with a face crimson with heat and triumph, made his
appearance, and took charge of Don Pasquale, while Harry, with a painful
effort, swung himself to the ground, where he staggered and appeared
scarcely able to stand.

“You are faint!” exclaimed Lord Alfred, hastily; “here, lean upon me,
and let us get out of this crowd.”

“Take care of my arm,” murmured Harry, compressing his lips as though to
restrain an expression of suffering.

“Your aim! why, good heaven! what is the matter with it?”

“It is only broken,” returned Harry, quietly; “the horse fell upon it
with his full weight at the last leap; but I was able to hold him with
one hand, so it did not signify.”

“And you mounted again, and won the race, with your arm broken!”
 exclaimed Lord Alfred. “Why, it’s the most gallant, noble--but you are
suffering dreadfully! Oh, what am I to do for you? why did I ever let
you ride that vicious, dangerous brute!”

“There, don’t make a fuss,” returned Coverdale; “let us get out of this
crowd; find me a glass of wine, for I’ve a sort of faintness comes over
me every now and then, and when I’ve drank that I shall do well enough
until we can get a surgeon to set my arm; don’t worry about it--when I
put the horse at that wall I fully expected to break my neck.”

Five minutes’ rest, and a couple of glasses of old Sherry, restored
Coverdale sufficiently to enable him to announce his readiness to
proceed, though he refused to leave the ground until the Honourable
Billy Whipcord had undertaken to see that the winner was defrauded of
none of his rights; and then, and not till then, did Harry accept Lord
Alfred’s offer to accompany him to town in a Hansom’s cab, which a
gentleman who had engaged it for the day obligingly gave up the moment
he learned for what purpose it was required.

The conversation of the two friends during the drive to London afforded
a curious illustration of character. Lord Alfred grieved and
shocked beyond measure at the accident which had occurred to his old
schoolfellow in his service, was engaged the whole time in pouring forth
unavailing lamentations and self-accusings; while Coverdale, although
suffering the most excruciating anguish from every motion of the cab,
was so touched by the evidence of feeling shown by his companion, that
he not only repressed all outward signs of pain, but used his best
endeavours to comfort and console Lord Alfred. On their way to Lord
Alfred’s lodgings, where he insisted Coverdale should take up his abode
until he should be well enough to travel, they called at the house of
a surgeon celebrated for his skill in cases of fracture, and were
fortunate enough to find him at home. On learning the nature of the
accident, he provided himself with the necessary apparatus, reached
the lodgings as soon as his patient, and, within an hour of the time
at which the injury was inflicted, Coverdale’s arm was set, and the
fracture pronounced to be not a very serious one.

“And now for my poor Alice,” was Harry’s first exclamation, when,
with strict injunctions to go to bed and keep his arm quiet,
Mr. B------ had departed; “how am I to act about her? If I write her
word I’ve met with an accident, she’ll be frightened out of her wits;
and yet if I don’t, she may hear of it some other way (those confounded
newspapers are sure to get hold of the affair), and fancy I am killed,
or some such notion; I’d better write--give me the tools, there’s a good

“But, really you ought not to exert yourself to do it, remember----”
 began Lord Alfred, deprecatingly.

“I remember, sir, that my wife is alone, and anxious about me already,
and that if I can spare her any shock or alarm, I will do so as long
as I can hold a pen,” was Coverdale’s positive and somewhat snappish
answer; for which he must be held excused, as severe bodily pain does
not tend to improve the temper.

Lord Alfred, seeing it was useless to contend the point, gave him pen,
ink, and paper; and, unfit as he was for such exertion, Coverdale wrote
Alice a full account of his day’s adventures, only concealing the nature
and extent of his accident. The letter was most kind and judicious, and
well calculated to soothe and console her to whom it was addressed,
and no doubt would have succeeded in so doing, but for the following
untoward events.

Alice, left to herself, had grown desperately frightened as to the
possible upshot of her husband’s rash expedition to London; and, as the
reader is already aware, had dispatched after him Lord Alfred’s letter,
and her own reasons for so doing, fairly written upon two sheets of
scented note-paper. But, although she rightly considered this the best
thing she could do, yet it by no means afforded her lasting comfort, and
she remained restless and unhappy until, on the evening of the day on
which the steeple-chase occurred, she worked herself up to such a pitch
of nervous anxiety, that she was becoming quite ill, when the idea
struck her that perhaps Harry, having received her letter, might set
off at once, and arrive by a train which got in about seven, p.m. On the
chance of this she dispatched, to meet the aforesaid train, a groom
and a dog-cart. How, as the reader knows, it was impossible Harry could
arrive by that train, because at the time it started, he--having written
to Alice--had just been undressed by Lord Alfred Courtland’s valet, and
gone to bed, which, no one can doubt, was by far the best place for him.
But though he did not come by that train, a young farmer did, who was
one of Harry’s tenants, and who, as ill luck would have it, had been
at the steeple-chase, witnessed Coverdale leap and fall, and heard
afterwards an exaggerated account of the injuries he had received. Thus,
when the groom inquired if he had seen his master get into the train,
he favoured that equine servitor with a graphic history of the morning’s
proceedings, illustrated and embellished by the narrator’s imaginative
powers; which recital producing much grief and consternation in the mind
of the faithful fellow, who was much attached to his master, induced him
to drive home as fast as the trotting mare could step, to destroy his
mistress’s peace of mind, by imparting to her these disastrous tidings.
Having great and, as the sequel proved, unfounded reliance on his own
tact and eloquence, he, on his arrival, would by no means allow Wilkins
to be his mouthpiece; on the contrary, nothing would serve him but to be
shown into his mistress’s presence, and, as he termed it, “break it
to her easy-like” himself--which judicious intention he carried out
thus:--“If you please, Mrs. Coverdale, ma’am, I’m sorry to say somethin’
dreadful’s been and happened, which I thought p’raps you might like to
’ear; so, not to frighten you, I made bold to come and break it to you
myself!” Poor Alice! all the blood seemed to rush to her heart, while
a choking sensation in her throat totally deprived her of the power of
speech. After a moment, she contrived to gasp out interrogatively, “A
railroad accident? your master----”

Answering her idea rather than her words, the man replied, “If you
please, ma’am, it wasn’t on the railway as poor master met with his

“Then he has met with--” began Alice, and the idea at that moment
flashing across her mind that he had encountered D’Almayne, and been
wounded, perhaps killed, in a duel, she shrieked out, “Oh! I see it all;
he is dead or dying, and I have been his murderess!” and sank back in a
fainting fit.

The groom, frightened at the effect of his tidings, summoned the female
servants, and Alice was carried to her room, undressed, and placed in
bed, before she had by any means recovered from her swoon; and even
when, after one or two relapses, she did regain her consciousness, her
burning hand, flushed cheeks, and unnaturally brilliant eyes, together
with an incoherence of expression and an excitability of manner
occasionally verging on delirium, so alarmed the stately housekeeper,
that she, on her own responsibility, sent off for that eminent medical
practitioner, Gouger; the result of his visit was, that Harry, bruised
and sore from head to foot, having lain awake half the night from the
pain of his broken arm, was aroused from an uneasy slumber, into
which, towards morning, he had fallen, by the following telegraphic
message:--“H. Coverdale, Esq., from Scalpel Gouger, M.D.--Was called
in to Mrs. C. last night, at nine, P.M..--symptoms acute, febrile,
threatening the brain! state critical--if Mr. C. can travel without
danger, let him come _at once!_”

In less than half an hour, Harry Coverdale was up, dressed, and in the
first railway train which left London. As he had lain sleepless through
the weary hours of the night, he had thought the pain of his broken limb
all but unbearable; during his journey home he never even felt it, so
deep and absorbing was his mental agony.


While Harry Coverdale, with the best possible intentions, had been
breaking his wife’s heart and his own bones, the world had not stood
still, nor had the ordinary course of events been in the slightest
degree retarded. On the contrary, the unsympathizing globe we inhabit
had revolved on its axis with its accustomed perseverance, and men had
been born into it in their first childhood, and died out of it in
their second; and the sons and daughters of men had married and given in
marriage, and the many had gone on sinning and the few repenting,
very much as it all happened in the days of Noah, while the ark
was a-build-ing, and the long suffering of God waited to allow the
evil-doers to perceive the error of their way, and to turn from it ere
the day of mercy should be over, and the destroyer should be let loose
upon them. The world was then a profligate young world, sowing its wild
oats broadcast, with a frank and careless disregard of appearances,
which involved at least the one virtue of sincerity--the world is now
a crafty old world, in its dotage, one is sometimes tempted to imagine;
but even the Flood only whitewashed its outside, for it still clings
to its darling sins, though no longer openly--the world has grown too
cunning for that, it knows the value of a good name, and has set up a
gilded idol of clay, yclept Respectability, to resemble the refined gold
of which virtue’s image is composed; and because it worships this idol
zealously, short-sighted optimists mistake hypocrisy for true religion,
and deem the world has grown pious in its old age; but there are those
who fear that if, once again, the waters should overspread the earth,
sin would weigh so heavily on the inhabitants thereof, that not very
many of them would swim.

Be this as, it may, certain it is that while Harry was riding Don
Pasquale across the country at the risk of his neck, and Alice was
fretting herself into a brain fever on the chance of his being shot
by Horace D’Almayne, that talented young gentleman was labouring most
industriously, with the assistance of his cousin, the _avocat_, at
Brussels, to obtain the sum of money due to Mr. Crane, on the cargo
of the unfortunate _Bundelcundah_ East Indiaman. When men exert their
utmost energies to attain an object, success nine times out of ten
is the result; consequently, very few days had elapsed after Horace’s
departure before Mr. Crane had the pleasure of learning that the mere
threat of energetic law proceedings had brought his adversary to reason,
and that the money had been actually paid into D’Almayne’s hands.
But somehow this announcement did not appear to afford the worthy
ex-cotton-spinner such satisfaction as might have been expected; on the
contrary, when he closed the letter which conveyed the intelligence, he,
to his wife’s surprise, muttered something very like an oath; whereupon,
after the laudable fashion of her sex, that lady appeared deeply
scandalized, and exclaimed, “My dear Mr. Crane!” in a tone of voice
which metamorphosed that affectionate address into “You wicked old man,
where do _you_ expect to go to?” Replying rather to her tone than her
words, her husband, exalting his peevish treble, began:--

“Yes, it’s all very well for you, Mrs. Crane, who have nothing to do but
sit here and spend the money I pour into your lap, to keep your temper,
and look horrified if one utters a hasty expression; but if you had to
toil and moil all your days to scrape it together, and then be defrauded
out of your hard-earned gains by creeping serpents, whom you have warmed
and cherished in--if I may be allowed the expression--in your breeches
pocket, and who have availed themselves of their position to--yes! I may
say--to pick that pocket, I wonder what expressions you would indulge
in then, Mrs. Crane!” And having worked himself up almost into a fit of
crying, Mr. Crane once more turned to his letter.

“Ah! coming home, is he? I’ve a great mind to have him arrested as soon
as he places his foot on British soil; I wonder at his impudence, that I

“To whom do you refer?” inquired Kate, quietly, as soon as she could get
in a word; for Mr. Crane, when excited, was as voluble as a washerwoman.

“To whom do I refer!” repeated her husband, in the highest note of his
shrill falsetto; “why, madam, to whom should I refer, except to your
precious friend and admirer, Horace D’Almayne?”

“Mr. D’Almayne!” exclaimed Kate, in surprise; for only two days before,
Mr. Crane had detained her for a good half-hour to listen to the praises
of his factotum’s zeal and fidelity. “Mr. D’Almayne! why I thought you
were so much pleased with the tact and intelligence he had displayed in
your service! surely, you told me he had actually received the money of
which your foreign agent attempted to defraud you.”

“And if he has, how do I know that it’s any safer in his hands than it
was before? it’s a large sum to trust a needy man with: how can I tell
that he wont bolt with it?”

“Surely, you do not suspect him of dishonesty?”

“I suspect him of everything that’s wicked, and deceitful, and
dreadful,” returned Mr. Crane, in a tone of voice so dismal, that Kate
could scarcely restrain a smile. “But of course _you_ defend him--yes,
Mrs. Crane, I say, of course _you_ defend him! I am not surprised at
that--in fact, I may add, I expected as much. I had reason, good reason,
madam, to imagine such would be _your_ line of conduct.”

Kate paused until her husband had talked himself into the state of mean
and abject peevishness, which was the nearest approach he could ever
make towards being in a rage with one who was not utterly weak and
powerless, and, when he stopped from sheer want of breath, observed

“I really am at a loss to comprehend to what you allude, or what reason
you can possibly have to connect me with this sudden change of opinion
in regard to Mr. D’Almayne: would you oblige me by explaining?”

“I sha’n’t do anything of the kind, madam; I don’t see that I’m obliged
to give you _any_ reason; it ought to be enough for you to know that
I disapprove of your conduct--conduct which could give rise to such
representations, madam; and--and comments, Mrs. Crane, impertinent
remarks, derogatory to my position--_must_ be reprehensible.”

“I do not desire to annoy you, but I must again ask to what remarks and
representations you refer?” was Kate’s reply. Mr. Crane fidgeted, looked
perplexed, tried to get angry, and carry it through with a high hand,
met Kate’s calm eye and could not, and at last with a very ill grace
drew from his pocket a letter, which he unfolded and prepared to read,

“There, Mrs. Crane! since my word is not sufficient to gain your
credence, or my desires, ahem! my wishes, if you prefer the expression,
to secure your obedience, you force me to submit to you this singular--I
may say, this offensive document, which, ahem! in conjunction with other
information, has occasioned me much justifiable annoyance, and, I may
add, mental anxiety and distress.”

The letter was written in a bold, dashing, though evidently disguised,
hand, and ran as follows:--

“Sin,--I have no doubt you consider yourself a clever, cautious man
of business, a prudent master of a family, and a kind and judicious
husband--if you do, all that I can say is, that ‘I am unable to agree
with you.’ A clever, cautious man of business would scarcely leave
important money transactions to the management of Horace D’Almayne, a
needy and unprincipled adventurer; a prudent master of a house would not
encourage such an intimacy; nor would a kind and judicious husband allow
a notorious libertine to be constantly in the society of his young
and pretty wife. Your infatuation has already produced some of the
unpleasant results naturally to be expected from it; you have advanced
above £5000 on a bubble company, not one farthing of which you will ever
see again, whilst you have incurred liabilities, to learn the extent of
which you had better consult your man of business, and I wish you joy
of the revelation I expect you will obtain from him. In regard to your
young wife, I have no positive information to afford you; but that
D’Almayne has designs upon her, I know,--and he is not a man to fail in
an adventure of that description, even without taking into consideration
the circumstance of a beautiful young woman being married to a man of
your years. You may wonder why I trouble myself to write thus to you; so
I will tell you: I owe D’Almayne a grudge, and it suits me to take this
opportunity of discharging the debt. But though this is my object, all I
have told you is only the plain truth; I suspect it comes too late to be
of much use to you; but that is your look-out, not mine.”

The letter was without signature.

Kate listened attentively while Mr. Crane read aloud, with much
hesitation and stammering, such portions of the alarming epistle
as concerned his property and his wife, carefully suppressing every
sentence which related to his own weakness and gullibility. When he had
concluded, she remarked, “The letter is a singular one, and appears to
me to bear a certain impress of truth; if I were you, I would attend to
the hints in regard to your pecuniary investments.”

“And as to those which affect my wife, what would you advise in regard
to them, madam?” inquired Mr. Crane, screwing up his face into an
expression of feeble sarcasm, which gave him very much the appearance
of an ancient monkey. Kate paused: here was an opportunity which might
never occur again of enlightening her husband as to her experience of
Horace D’Almayne’s true character. She had every reason to do so; his
threat of revealing the clandestine visit she was prepared to forestall,
if necessary, by an honest confession of the entire affair, preferring
to bear with her husband’s fretful displeasure (of which, if the truth
must be told, she did not stand very greatly in awe), rather than to
excite his suspicions by a concealment which would lend countenance to
the insinuations of this anonymous correspondent--yes! she had every
reason to tell all she knew concerning him, even to his late avowal of
affection, and yet she felt she could not do it. In the first place she
shrank, as any pure-minded woman would shrink, from confessing that
such an avowal had been made to her; but especially did she shrink from
confessing it to such a nature as that of Mr. Crane: he would never see
the matter in its true light--never believe that she had not, in some
measure, encouraged such advances--never comprehend the disgust
and loathing with which they had inspired her. But another and more
stringent reason withheld her--her brother Frederick! she still believed
that D’Almayne had befriended him, and saved him from, at all events,
the immediate consequence of the dilemma into which his youth and
inexperience had plunged him: true, she mistrusted his object in
performing this act of benevolence--or, rather, she felt convinced that
he had done it merely to establish a claim on her gratitude;--still
the fact remained the same--in her difficulty, when all other human aid
appeared to have forsaken her, he had come to her assistance, and by
doing so had saved her brother: believing this, could she expose his
baseness? The question was a difficult one.


Those who are skilled to read that strange, yet easily to be penetrated
mystery, a woman’s heart, will have at once decided how Kate Crane
determined to act in regard to D’Almayne--he had saved her brother, and
though he had offered her an unpardonable insult, she would not betray
him, so she replied calmly--“I should on that point advise you as I did
on the former one: reflect whether the accusation is likely to be
true; whether you have observed any encouragement given by me to Mr.
D’Almayne; whether, from what you know of my character, you imagine
it likely that I should be so devoid of principle, so wanting in
selfrespect, as to accept Mr. D’Almayne’s or any other man’s attentions.
Recollect a speech I once made you, which really appears as if I had
had a presentiment of this accusation--a speech in which I begged you
to bear in mind that, if at any time comments should be made on the
intimate footing on which Mr. D’Almayne visited at this house, it was
according to your expressed wish and desire that he did so, and on that
account only did I tolerate it. If, when you have thus considered the
matter, you still feel dissatisfied, I advise you to use every endeavour
to arrive at the truth. My own opinion is, that the letter being
written by (as the writer honestly enough confesses) an enemy of Mr.
D’Almayne’s, he has raked up every accusation which scandal, may have
invented to blacken that gentleman’s character; still, as, if there
is any truth in the charges, the knowledge of it would prove of great
importance to you, it behoves you quietly and carefully to inquire into
them, and I would recommend you to do so without delay.”

Kate’s perfect self-possession and coolness always produced great effect
on Mr. Crane, and in the present instance they so thoroughly convinced
him that his anonymous correspondent had accused his wife falsely, that
without more ado he started for the city to investigate the truth of
the other charges, leaving his better-half to strive against the
uncomfortable conviction that unintentionally she had played the part of
a hypocrite.

One of the elements of Horace D’Almayne’s success in life was his
punctuality in all matters of business: if he said he would do a thing,
he did it; if he promised to be at any place by a fixed time, at the
appointed day and hour there was Horace to be found: this consistency
even in apparent trifles caused others to place great reliance on him,
and contributed to establish a certain degree of _prestige_ and weight
of character which often stood him in good stead. No one was better
aware of this fact than Horace himself; who, perceiving the value of the
practice, had adopted it as one of his guiding principles, to which
he invariably acted up with a consistency worthy of a better code.
Accordingly, having transacted Mr. Crane’s business to his own
satisfaction, he appointed a day on which to return to England, and
when the time arrived, embarked; but, unable finally to conclude the
transaction without proceeding to Liverpool, he selected a vessel bound
for that port. On his arrival, after a favourable passage, he took up
his abode at a small, quiet hotel, much frequented by foreigners. Having
engaged a private room, he was looking over the papers which he had
brought with him, when his quick ear caught the sound of a voice with
the tones of which he fancied himself familiar--listening attentively,
he overheard the following colloquy:--

“Can I have a private sitting-room here?”

“Well, sir, we’re very full; should you require a bedroom also?”

“No; I am going by the New York packet, which leaves at eight o’clock
this evening.”

“If you’ll wait one moment, sir, I’ll see; but I’m a’most afraid we’re

Anxious to obtain a view of the speakers, D’Almayne crossed the room
with noiseless tread, and looked out through the half-opened door; the
figure nearest to him was that of the waiter at the hotel; the person
with whom he had been conversing was, or appeared to be, a seafaring
man of the more respectable class, and at the first glance D’Almayne
believed him to be an entire stranger--still, the voice, so peculiar
and so well known, he surely could not be mistaken in that! and again
he scrutinised the stranger’s appearance. He was a tall thin man, well
advanced in life, with sharp acute features, and keen grey eyes; his
hair was cut short, and of an unnaturally raven blackness; and his face
was closely shaven, without the slightest trace of whisker or moustache.
For a moment, Horace D’Almayne paused in doubt, during which interval
the stranger’s evil genius obliged him to cough, a dry husky cough
which, once heard, was not easily mistaken--it was enough. In going
to seek the master of the hotel, the waiter had to pass the door of
D’Almayne’s room; a sign from that individual’s finger caused him to
enter it.

“Show that gentleman into this room, as if it was the untenanted
apartment he has inquired for--leave the key in the lock inside, and if
I ring the bell twice fetch a policeman instantly; but as I hope such an
extreme measure may not be necessary, do not say a word about the affair
to any one.” As he spoke, he slipped a sovereign into the man’s hand,
adding, “Manage this cleverly and quietly, and a second awaits you.”

The waiter bowed, and with a nod of intelligence quitted the room. The
door of the apartment was so placed that when opened it shut in an angle
of the wall, in which stood a screen quite large enough to conceal the
figure of a man; in this corner did D’Almayne ensconce himself; scarcely
had he done so ere the waiter returned, ushering in the stranger for
whose benefit these arrangements had been made. Perfectly unsuspicious
of any stratagem, the new comer signified his approval of the
accommodation provided for him, placed a leathern valise which he
carried in his hand on the table, and then seated himself by the window
with his back towards the door, which the waiter immediately closed,
at the same time leaving the room, when with noiseless steps D’Almayne
glided from his place of concealment, and double-locking the door placed
the key in his pocket. The slight sound made by the bolt shooting
into its socket attracted the stranger’s attention, and turning round
quickly, he gave a most perceptible start as his eye fell upon his
companion; recovering himself instantly, he rose, and bowing to
D’Almayne, said--

“The waiter must have made some mistake! I asked for an unoccupied room.
I must apologise for thus intruding on you, sir; but the mistake is not
on my part.” As he spoke, he took up his valise preparatory to leaving
the room, but D’Almayne motioned him to a chair, as he replied--

“There is no mistake in the case, my friend, unless it be your fancying
that, because you have shaved off your whiskers and dyed your hair, I
should not recognise you--that is a complete mistake.”

The person thus addressed turned pale and bit his lip; but, making an
effort to recover himself, replied--

“I do not understand you, sir; you are labouring under some delusion;
allow me to pass directly, or I shall ring and summon the waiter.”

“You’d better not,” returned D’Almayne, drily, “for that is the signal
agreed on--for him instantly to fetch a policeman.”

The stranger glanced towards the door, on which D’Almayne quietly
produced the key, and, when it had caught his eye replaced it in his
pocket; he then stretched his hand, with a hesitating and uncertain
action, towards a stout stick on which he carried his valise; but
D’Almayne drew from the breast pocket of his surtout the beautifully
finished little revolving pistol which he always carried, and, having
somewhat ostentatiously displayed it before the eyes of the individual
he was thus brow-beating, returned it to its place of concealment, as
the other with a sullen dogged look replaced his stick, and murmured--

“Well, Mr. D’Almayne, supposing you do happen to recognize me indulging
in a little freak--supposing I have disguised myself the better to carry
out a little intrigue of my own, why should that so greatly surprise
you? I do not think you have ever found me absent from my post when
business required me; you must be aware I have the interest of the
establishment as much at heart as any of the parties connected with it;
when they begin to play to-night in J-------- Street, my frolic will be
over, and I shall be in my proper place.”

“I think it’s highly probable you will, always supposing that place to
be a cell in Pentonville prison, or, as you lodge in Westminster, the
Penitentiary, perhaps; but it strikes me, that if I had not fortunately
met you, you would at that hour have been tossing about in St. George’s
Channel--as I happen to know you have taken your passage in a New York
packet, which is to sail at eight this evening.” As D’Almayne spoke, he
fixed his piercing eyes on the individual he addressed, who, unable to
bear his scrutinizing glance, turned away muttering with an oath,
“-------- him, I thought he was safe in Holland.” After a moment’s
reflection, he appeared to decide on the course best for him to
follow--under what was evidently a contingency equally unforeseen and

“Assuredly there never was any one like you, Mr. D’Almayne, for
shrewdness and penetration,” he said, in a tone of apparent frankness;
“here am I (supposed by all who take an interest in my whereabouts to be
in London), in a disguise in which my own mother (the poor soul has been
dead these twenty years) would not have recognized me; at the first
glance you penetrate it, and by intuition appear to have discovered my
intention! How you have tracked me, or whether you have met me by
accident, I am unable to divine; but, as you _have_ discovered me, I
think it is best to be frank with you, and to throw myself on your
generosity--confident that you will deal leniently with your old
associate, if I may venture to use the term, though, perhaps, your
faithful follower would be more true; for I am well aware how such
talent as yours raises you above us plodding poor fellows. But I will
make a clean breast to you, sir. The fact is, I am no longer young;
scarcely still middle-aged; and the life I have been for so many years
engaged in is a hazardous and exhausting one. I have been a frugal and
careful man, and I do not scruple to tell you, sir, that I have
contrived to save a few hundred pounds. Well, sir, I have for some time
wished to leave England, and settle in America, where I am unknown, and
might begin the world afresh--in some quieter and more respectable line
of life; so I thought I would avoid all the difficulties and all the
troubles which, none are better aware than you, sir, would attend my
quitting London just at this time, by taking French leave, and setting
off in disguise and under a feigned name, hoping that in Mr. Maxwell,
the traveller for a Manchester cotton firm, no one would recognize Le
Roux, the croupier; and now, sir, having told you all, I throw myself on
your generosity not to attempt (though I see no pretext on which you
could legally do it) to detain me.”

While Le Roux had been making this statement, which he did with the air
of a man convinced against his will that the only course left open to
him is to declare the whole truth, come what may of it, D’Almayne had
taken a pencil from his pocket, with which he had been writing certain
calculations on the back of a card. As soon as the other had concluded,
he observed quietly--“I have been making a rough estimate of all the
available cash on which you could lay your hand, and it appears to me,
that, owing to my folly in resting contented with the belief that it was
your interest to be honest, you have at least £15,000 in that leathern
case of yours--a sum quite sufficient to tempt you to bolt, especially
at a time when you fancied I was safely out of your way. I make it out
thus the establishment in J-------- Street has never less than £5000
ready to pay all demands; to that, of course, you have unlimited access,
and have availed yourself of it. Then comes the Overland Route Railroad
speculation; Guillemard writes me word that the shares are going off
tolerably fast, and that something like £10,000 in hard cash has been
paid into our bankers; a cheque signed by two of the directors would
enable you to draw out the whole amount at any moment--your own
signature as Herr Vondenthaler, the Belgian capitalist, provides for
one, and the other would offer little difficulty to a man of your talent
and experience. I have so strong a conviction that, in consequence of my
absence, you will have done me the honour to select my name, that it is
upon a charge of forgery I intend to have you apprehended, and to take
you up to London in my company and that of a policeman.”

During this speech the varying expression on Le Roux’s face would have
formed an interesting study to the physiognomist or the artist--at
first, assumed indifference, changing to surprise, anxiety, and
ill-concealed alarm--then astonishment and fear, merging in a state of
bewildered terror which again gave place to an astute subtle look, as
an idea occurred to him which might yet interpose to save him from the
utter ruin to which the supernatural discovery, as it appeared to him,
of his intended and partially executed villainy exposed him. As soon
as D’Almayne had ended, Le Roux turned to him, and said in a low calm

“You are, without any exception, Mr. D’Almayne, the cleverest man, for
your years, that I have ever met with in our profession. I don’t say
it to flatter you, sir; but I say it because it is my deliberate
conviction. One of your strong points is your clear good sense, and it
is to that I am now about to appeal. You have, how I cannot divine, got
me completely in your power, and, knowing or suspecting all you say you
do, it is useless for me to attempt to deceive you; it is clear you
can ruin me if you choose; but how will it advantage you to do so? or,
rather, how can you expose me without exciting a host of unpleasant
inquiries about yourself? I presume you scarcely wish your connection
with the gaming-house in J-------- Street published to the world at
large, nor would you like too much revealed concerning the private
history of the directors and general management of the railway company,
and yet I don’t see how you could place me in the hands of justice
without my enlightening the public on some of these points. As I am sure
you are aware of the force of these remarks, I need say no more; but I
put it to you, as a sensible man of the world, will it not be better
for me to pay you that £1000, which, I daro say, you can remember, I am
indebted to you, for ‘value received,’ we’ll say, and for you to forgot
that you happened to meet me here to-day?” As he spoke, he fixed his
sharp cunning glance upon D’Almayne, as though he would fain read his
inmost thoughts; but even to such an old hand as Le Roux the gambler,
Horace’s expression was a sealed book. But he was not long in doubt
as to the effect of his appeal; for in his usual tone of calm sarcasm.
Horace replied--

“Cleverly put, Monsieur Le Roux; but there are two important flaws in
your argument. In the first place, your offer proves the truth of my
suspicions, only that, as you are not usually famous for the liberality
of your disposition, its amount satisfies me that I have rather under
than overrated the sum of which you have contrived to gain possession.
As to any accusations you can bring against me, I care little or nothing
for them; they may be true, but you have damaged your own character so
deeply that no one will believe you. You may _assert_ that I am part
proprietor of the gambling-house, and you may call Guillemard to prove
it; I shall deny the fact, and he will back my denial. You will assert,
also, that I have got up this nefarious railroad speculation in order to
levant with the capital as soon as I could obtain a sufficient amount to
gratify my cupidity; I shall reply that you have done what you accuse
me of intending to do, and that I have been the means of bringing you
to justice. You will adduce, in proof of your assertion, the fact that
I introduced you as a director under the feigned name of Vondenthaler; I
shall rebut this accusation by declaring that I had always known you
as Vondenthaler, which I believe to be your true name; and that your
identity with Le Roux, the croupier, was never even suspected by me.
Of course, in these instances, I shall be swearing falsely; you, truly;
nevertheless, I shall come off with flying colours, and you will be
transported. _Telle est la vie!_ Would you oblige me by ringing that
bell twice, for the policeman?”

The transition, from the assurance of successful cunning, to
self-distrust, anxiety, rage, despair, which flitted across the sharp
but expressive face of Le Roux, showed how strongly D’Almayne’s words
had agitated him. For a moment, he stood trembling in every limb,
clenching his hands until the nails dug into the flesh; then, carried
away, by the impulse of his overpowering terror, he flung himself at
Horace D’Almayne’s feet, exclaiming--

“For God’s sake, Mr. D’Almayne, have pity on me! I am an old man, sir;
older than I seem. I am sixty-five next month; I am, indeed; and I have
led such a wretched, miserable life! I have always been somebody’s tool,
somebody’s slave. Sir, I have been for years the victim of a monomania:
as a very young man, I lost every halfpenny I possessed (and that was
enough to have secured me a competence in some respectable line of life)
at the gaming-table; and since that time I have been haunted by the idea
that, by intensely studying, and constantly calculating the chances,
I should discover some infallible system by which I could not only
retrieve my losses, but realize a large fortune. Over and over again
have I tried, and over again have I failed; until, at last, experience
has brought some little wisdom, even to such a miserable fool as I have
proved myself, and I have given up all attempts at discovering a system;
but, sir, when this last hope failed me, the little honesty I had left
deserted me, and you have divined the result. Mr. D’Almayne, I have a
wife and three little innocent children at Brussels; they were to join
me in America if this attempt (which they only know of as a mercantile
speculation) had proved successful. If I am sent out of this country as
a convicted felon, it will break my wife’s heart; and my little children
will be left to starve. Mr. D’Almayne, for the love of Heaven, have
pity, if not on me, on them!”

During this appeal, Horace remained in an easy and fashionable attitude,
with his back against the closed door which detained his captive, and
the points of his white and taper fingers inserted in his trousers
pockets; at its conclusion, he said, in his usual cool and indifferent
manner, “I think, my good friend, you began this harangue with a
complimentary appeal to my common sense; not wishing to discredit your
flattering opinion, let me ask you, is it likely, that, having toiled
and schemed for the last twelve months to bring these two projects of
the gambling-house and the railroad company into working (and paying)
order, I should allow you to go quietly to America, carrying with you
the fruits of my labour, forethought, and sagacity, merely because, when
your last subterfuge has failed you, you whine out a beggar’s petition
about the love of Heaven, and a wife and three children? Bah! it is
childish, it is really too absurd! Still, for old acquaintance sake,
I do not want to be hard on you; and if you will do exactly as I shall
propose, perhaps there may still remain some middle course, by which
such an uncomfortable result as transportation for life may be spared
you. What say you?” Poor wretch! his crime discovered, its fearful
penalty awaiting him, and the “tender mercies of the wicked” his only
hope and refuge--with remorse for the past, and despair for the future,
rending his very heart asunder--what remained for him but to give
himself up, soul and body, as the dupe, tool, and agent of Horace
D’Almayne: Long and earnest was their conference: the valise was opened;
money and papers produced and examined; accounts gone into; arrangements
for the present, and schemes for the future, discussed and agreed upon.
The result may be summed up in a few words: when the New York packet
sailed, at eight o’clock that evening, Le Roux had taken possession of
his berth, with his valise considerably lightened; and Horace D’Almayne,
having seen his associate safely out of the country, departed by the
last train which left for London, some ten thousand pounds richer than
he had been on his arrival that morning in the good city of Liverpool!


Mr. Crane obtained nothing by his visit to the city, except a bad cold,
caught in a draughty omnibus, in which he rode because he was too stingy
to indulge himself with a cab; all the men he wished to see were out of
town, or attending some special appointment, and no information could he
obtain in regard to the security of his property invested in the “Direct
Overland Route to India Railway” shares, so he returned home in a worse
temper than any in which Kate had yet seen him, and led her such a life
of misery, during the evening, by means of a process termed, in the
_patois_ of back kitchens and washhouses, “nagging” at her, that when
she retired to her own room, at ten o’clock, she was so utterly worn
out, that she sat down and cried, from sheer nervous depression. If
Arthur Hazlehurst could have seen her then, he would scarcely have
recognized in that shrinking, trembling, spirit-broken woman, the proud,
cold, haughty, beautiful Kate, who had won his heart but to trample
on it in her career of worldly ambition;--if he had heard her broken,
faltering prayer that death might soon relieve her from the daily,
hourly martyrdom of striving to render respect and obedience to a
man whom she did not hate, only because hate involves some degree of
equality, and Mr. Crane she too utterly despised,--if Arthur could have
witnessed her total prostration, mental and bodily, he would scarcely
have retained his hard thoughts of her, although the gentler ones which
might have replaced them, would, in their way, have been exquisitely
painful to him.

The next morning, Mr. Crane’s cold was worse, and Kate recommended him
to dispatch a note to his man of business, asking him to come to Park
Lane; which advice, being good and sensible, was, of course, rejected,
and Kate was asked whether, not content with impoverishing him by her
extravagance, and by the burden of supporting her pauper relatives, she
wished to ruin him quite, by inducing him to neglect the management
of his property. Having delivered hi