Sir Felix Carbury made an appointment for meeting Ruby Ruggles a second time at the bottom of the kitchen-garden belonging to Sheep's Acre farm,
which appointment he neglected,
made without any intention of keeping it.
But Ruby was there,
and remained hanging about among the cabbages till her grandfather returned from Harlestone market.
An early hour had been named;
but hours may be mistaken,
and Ruby had thought that a fine gentleman,
such as was her lover,
used to live among fine people up in London,
might well mistake the afternoon for the morning.
If he would come at all she could easily forgive such a mistake.
But he did not come,
and late in the afternoon she was obliged to obey her grandfather's summons as he called her into the house.
After that for three weeks she heard nothing of her London lover,
but she was always thinking of him;
--and though she could not altogether avoid her country lover,
she was in his company as little as possible.
One afternoon her grandfather returned from Bungay and told her that her country lover was coming to see her.
"John Crumb be a coming over by-and-by,"
said the old man.
"See and have a bit o' supper ready for him."
"John Crumb coming here,
He's welcome to stay away then,
"That be dommed."
The old man thrust his old hat on to his head and seated himself in a wooden arm-chair that stood by the kitchen-fire.
Whenever he was angry he put on his hat,
and the custom was well understood by Ruby.
"Why not welcome,
and he all one as your husband?
Look ye here,
I'm going to have an eend o' this.
John Crumb is to marry you next month,
and the banns is to be said."
"The parson may say what he pleases,
I can't stop his saying of
It isn't likely I shall try,
But no parson among
'em all can marry me without I'm willing."
"And why should you no be willing,
you contrairy young jade,
"You've been a' drinking,
He turned round at her sharp,
and threw his old hat at her head;
--nothing to Ruby's consternation,
as it was a practice to which she was well accustomed.
She picked it up,
and returned it to him with a cool indifference which was intended to exasperate him.
"Look ye here,
"out o' this place you go.
If you go as John Crumb's wife you'll go with five hun'erd pound,
and we'll have a dinner here,
and a dance,
and all Bungay."
"Who cares for all Bungay,
--a set of beery chaps as knows nothing but swilling and smoking;
--and John Crumb the main of
There never was a chap for beer like John Crumb."
"Never saw him the worse o' liquor in all my life."
And the old farmer,
as he gave this grand assurance,
rattled his fist down upon the table.
"It ony just makes him stoopider and stoopider the more he swills.
You can't tell me,
about John Crumb.
I knows him."
"Didn't ye say as how ye'd have him?
Didn't ye give him a promise?"
"If I did,
I ain't the first girl as has gone back of her word,
--and I shan't be the last."
"You means you won't have him?"
"That's about it,
"Then you'll have to have somebody to fend for ye,
and that pretty sharp,
--for you won't have me."
"There ain't no difficulty about that,
He's a coming here to-night,
and you may settle it along wi' him.
Out o' this ye shall go.
I know of your doings."
You don't know of no doings.
There ain't no doings.
You don't know nothing ag'in me."
"He's a coming here to-night,
and if you can make it up wi' him,
well and good.
There's five hun'erd pound,
and ye shall have the dinner and the dance and all Bungay.
He ain't a going to be put off no longer;
"Whoever wanted him to be put on?
Let him go his own gait."
"If you can't make it up wi' him --"
I shan't anyways."
"Let me have my say,
There's five hun'erd pound!
and there ain't ere a farmer in Suffolk or Norfolk paying rent for a bit of land like this can do as well for his darter as that,
--let alone only a granddarter.
You never thinks o' that;
If you don't like to take it,
But you'll leave Sheep's Acre too."
"Bother Sheep's Acre.
Who wants to stop at Sheep's Acre?
It's the stoopidest place in all England."
"Then find another.
Then find another.
That's all aboot it.
John Crumb's a coming up for a bit o' supper.
You tell him your own mind.
I'm dommed if I trouble aboot it.
On'y you don't stay here.
Sheep's Acre ain't good enough for you,
and you'd best find another home.
You'll have to put up wi' places stoopider nor Sheep's Acre,
afore you've done."
In regard to the hospitality promised to Mr. Crumb,
Miss Ruggles went about her work with sufficient alacrity.
She was quite willing that the young man should have a supper,
and she did understand that,
so far as the preparation of the supper went,
she owed her service to her grandfather.
She therefore went to work herself,
and gave directions to the servant girl who assisted her in keeping her grandfather's house.
But as she did this,
she determined that she would make John Crumb understand that she would never be his wife.
Upon that she was now fully resolved.
As she went about the kitchen,
taking down the ham and cutting the slices that were to be broiled,
and as she trussed the fowl that was to be boiled for John Crumb,
she made mental comparisons between him and Sir Felix Carbury.
She could see,
as though present to her at the moment,
floury head of the one,
with hair stiff with perennial dust from his sacks,
and the sweet glossy dark well-combed locks of the other,
that she was ever longing to twine her fingers among them.
And she remembered the heavy,
broad honest face of the meal-man,
with his mouth slow in motion,
and his broad nose looking like a huge white promontory,
and his great staring eyes,
from the corners of which he was always extracting meal and grit;
--and then also she remembered the white teeth,
the beautiful soft lips,
the perfect eyebrows,
and the rich complexion of her London lover.
Surely a lease of Paradise with the one,
though but for one short year,
would be well purchased at the price of a life with the other!
"It's no good going against love,"
she said to herself,
"and I won't try.
He shall have his supper,
and be told all about it,
and then go home.
He cares more for his supper than he do for me."
with this final resolution firmly made,
she popped the fowl into the pot.
Her grandfather wanted her to leave Sheep's Acre.
She had a little money of her own,
and would take herself off to London.
She knew what people would say,
but she cared nothing for old women's tales.
She would know how to take care of herself,
and could always say in her own defence that her grandfather had turned her out of Sheep's Acre.
Seven had been the hour named,
and punctually at that hour John Crumb knocked at the back door of Sheep's Acre farm-house.
Nor did he come alone.
He was accompanied by his friend Joe Mixet,
the baker of Bungay,
as all Bungay knew,
was to be his best man at his marriage.
John Crumb's character was not without many fine attributes.
He could earn money,
--and having earned it could spend and keep it in fair proportion.
He was afraid of no work,
--to give him his due,
--was afraid of no man.
He was honest,
and ashamed of nothing that he did.
And after his fashion he had chivalrous ideas about women.
He was willing to thrash any man that ill-used a woman,
and would certainly be a most dangerous antagonist to any man who would misuse a woman belonging to him.
But Ruby had told the truth of him in saying that he was slow of speech,
and what the world calls stupid in regard to all forms of expression.
He knew good meal from bad as well as any man,
and the price at which he could buy it so as to leave himself a fair profit at the selling.
He knew the value of a clear conscience,
and without much argument had discovered for himself that honesty is in truth the best policy.
who was dapper of person and glib of tongue,
had often declared that any one buying John Crumb for a fool would lose his money.
Joe Mixet was probably right;
but there had been a want of prudence,
a lack of worldly sagacity,
in the way in which Crumb had allowed his proposed marriage with Ruby Ruggles to become a source of gossip to all Bungay.
His love was now an old affair;
though he never talked much,
whenever he did talk,
he talked about that.
He was proud of Ruby's beauty,
and of her fortune,
and of his own status as her acknowledged lover,
--and he did not hide his light under a bushel.
Perhaps the publicity so produced had some effect in prejudicing Ruby against the man whose offer she had certainly once accepted.
Now when he came to settle the day,
--having heard more than once or twice that there was a difficulty with Ruby,
--he brought his friend Mixet with him as though to be present at his triumph.
"If here isn't Joe Mixet,"
said Ruby to herself.
"Was there ever such a stoopid as John Crumb?
There's no end to his being stoopid."
The old man had slept off his anger and his beer while Ruby had been preparing the feast,
and now roused himself to entertain his guests.
is that thou?
how is it wi' you?
Ruby's a stewing o' something for us to eat a bit.
'e smell it?"
--John Crumb lifted up his great nose,
sniffed and grinned.
"John didn't like going home in the dark like,"
said the baker,
with his little joke.
"So I just come along to drive away the bogies."
"The more the merrier;
--the more the merrier.
'll have enough for the two o' you,
I'll go bail.
So John Crumb's afraid of bogies;
The more need he to have some
'un in his house to scart
The lover had seated himself without speaking a word;
but now he was instigated to ask a question.
"Where be she,
They were seated in the outside or front kitchen,
in which the old man and his granddaughter always lived;
while Ruby was at work in the back kitchen.
As John Crumb asked this question she could be heard distinctly among the pots and the plates.
She now came out,
and wiping her hands on her apron,
shook hands with the two young men.
She had enveloped herself in a big household apron when the cooking was in hand,
and had not cared to take it off for the greeting of this lover.
"Grandfather said as how you was a coming out for your supper,
so I've been a seeing to it.
You'll excuse the apron,
"You couldn't look nicer,
if you was to try it ever so.
My mother says as it's housifery as recommends a girl to the young men.
What do you say,
"I loiks to see her loik o' that,"
said John rubbing his hands down the back of his trowsers,
and stooping till he had brought his eyes down to a level with those of his sweetheart.
"I loiks to see her loik o' that."]
"It looks homely;
turning round sharp,
and going back to the other kitchen.
John Crumb turned round also,
and grinned at his friend,
and then grinned at the old man.
"You've got it all afore you,"
said the farmer,
--leaving the lover to draw what lesson he might from this oracular proposition.
"And I don't care how soon I ha'e it in hond;
--that I don't,"
"That's the chat,"
said Joe Mixet.
"There ain't nothing wanting in his house;
It's all there,
and the rest of it.
A young woman going to John knows what she'll have to eat when she gets up,
and what she'll lie down upon when she goes to bed."
This he declared in a loud voice for the benefit of Ruby in the back kitchen.
"That she do,"
"There's a hun'erd and fifty poond o' things in my house forbye what mother left behind her."
After this there was no more conversation till Ruby reappeared with the boiled fowl,
and without her apron.
She was followed by the girl with a dish of broiled ham and an enormous pyramid of cabbage.
Then the old man got up slowly and opening some private little door of which he kept the key in his breeches pocket,
drew a jug of ale and placed it on the table.
And from a cupboard of which he also kept the key,
he brought out a bottle of gin.
Everything being thus prepared,
the three men sat round the table,
John Crumb looking at his chair again and again before he ventured to occupy it.
"If you'll sit yourself down,
I'll give you a bit of something to eat,"
said Ruby at last.
Then he sank at once into his chair.
Ruby cut up the fowl standing,
and dispensed the other good things,
not even placing a chair for herself at the table,
--and apparently not expected to do so,
for no one invited her.
"Is it to be spirits or ale,
when the other two men had helped themselves.
He turned round and gave her a look of love that might have softened the heart of an Amazon;
but instead of speaking he held up his tumbler,
and bobbed his head at the beer jug.
Then she filled it to the brim,
frothing it in the manner in which he loved to have it frothed.
He raised it to his mouth slowly,
and poured the liquor in as though to a vat.
Then she filled it again.
He had been her lover,
and she would be as kind to him as she knew how,
--short of love.
There was a good deal of eating done,
for more ham came in,
and another mountain of cabbage;
but very little or nothing was said.
John Crumb ate whatever was given to him of the fowl,
sedulously picking the bones,
and almost swallowing them;
and then finished the second dish of ham,
and after that the second instalment of cabbage.
He did not ask for more beer,
but took it as often as Ruby replenished his glass.
When the eating was done,
Ruby retired into the back kitchen,
and there regaled herself with some bone or merry-thought of the fowl,
which she had with prudence reserved,
sharing her spoils however with the other maiden.
This she did standing,
and then went to work,
cleaning the dishes.
The men lit their pipes and smoked in silence,
while Ruby went through her domestic duties.
So matters went on for half an hour;
during which Ruby escaped by the back door,
went round into the house,
got into her own room,
and formed the grand resolution of going to bed.
She began her operations in fear and trembling,
not being sure but that her grandfather would bring the man up-stairs to her.
As she thought of this she stayed her hand,
and looked to the door.
She knew well that there was no bolt there.
It would be terrible to her to be invaded by John Crumb after his fifth or sixth glass of beer.
she declared to herself,
that should he come he would be sure to bring Joe Mixet with him to speak his mind for him.
So she paused and listened.
When they had smoked for some half hour the old man called for his granddaughter,
but called of course in vain.
"Where the mischief is the jade gone?"
slowly making his way into the back kitchen.
The maid as soon as she heard her master moving,
escaped into the yard and made no response,
while the old man stood bawling at the back door.
"The devil's in them.
They're off some gates,"
he said aloud.
"She'll make the place hot for her,
if she goes on this way."
Then he returned to the two young men.
"She's playing off her games somwheres,"
"Take a glass of sperrits and water,
and I'll see after her."
"I'll just take a drop of y'ell,"
said John Crumb,
apparently quite unmoved by the absence of his sweetheart.
It was sad work for the old man.
He went down the yard and into the garden,
hobbling among the cabbages,
not daring to call very loud,
as he did not wish to have it supposed that the girl was lost;
but still anxious,
and sore at heart as to the ingratitude shown to him.
He was not bound to give the girl a home at all.
She was not his own child.
And he had offered her £500!
he said aloud as he made his way back to the house.
After much search and considerable loss of time he returned to the kitchen in which the two men were sitting,
leading Ruby in his hand.
She was not smart in her apparel,
for she had half undressed herself,
and been then compelled by her grandfather to make herself fit to appear in public.
She had acknowledged to herself that she had better go down and tell John Crumb the truth.
For she was still determined that she would never be John Crumb's wife.
"You can answer him as well as I,
she had said.
Then the farmer had cuffed her,
and told her that she was an idiot.
if it comes to that,"
"I'm not afraid of John Crumb,
nor yet of nobody else.
Only I didn't think you'd go to strike me,
"I'll knock the life out of thee,
if thou goest on this gate,"
he had said.
But she had consented to come down,
and they entered the room together.
"We're a disturbing you a'most too late,
said Mr. Mixet.
"It ain't that at all,
If grandfather chooses to have a few friends,
I ain't nothing against it.
I wish he'd have a few friends a deal oftener than he do.
I likes nothing better than to do for
--only when I've done for
'em and they're smoking their pipes and that like,
I don't see why I ain't to leave
"But we've come here on a hauspicious occasion,
"I don't know nothing about auspicious,
If you and Mr. Crumb've come out to Sheep's Acre farm for a bit of supper --"
"Which we ain't,"
said John Crumb very loudly;
--"nor yet for beer;
--not by no means."
"We've come for the smiles of beauty,"
said Joe Mixet.
Ruby chucked up her head.
if you'll be so good as to stow that!
There ain't no beauty here as I knows of,
and if there was it isn't nothing to you."
"Except in the way of friendship,"
"I'm just as sick of all this as a man can be,"
said Mr. Ruggles,
who was sitting low in his chair,
with his back bent,
and his head forward.
"I won't put up with it no more."
"Who wants you to put up with it?"
'em to come here with their trash?
I don't know what business Mr. Mixet has interfering along o' me.
I never interfere along o' him."
have you anything to say?"
asked the old man.
Then John Crumb slowly arose from his chair,
and stood up at his full height.
swinging his head to one side.
"Then say it."
He was still standing bolt upright with his hands down by his side.
Then he stretched out his left to his glass which was half full of beer,
and strengthened himself as far as that would strengthen him.
Having done this he slowly deposited the pipe which he still held in his right hand.
"Now speak your mind,
like a man,"
"I intends it,"
But he still stood dumb,
looking down upon old Ruggles,
who from his crouched position was looking up at him.
Ruby was standing with both her hands upon the table and her eyes intent upon the wall over the fire-place.
"You've asked Miss Ruby to be your wife a dozen times;
"And you mean to be as good as your word?"
"And she has promised to have you?"
"More nor once or twice?"
To this proposition Crumb found it only necessary to bob his head.
"You're wishing to have the banns said without any more delay?"
"There ain't no delay
"Everything is ready in your own house?"
"And you will expect Miss Ruby to come to the scratch?"
"That's about it,
said Joe Mixet,
turning to the grandfather.
"I don't think there was ever anything much more straightforward than that.
Miss Ruby knows all about John Crumb.
John Crumb didn't come to Bungay yesterday,
--nor yet the day before.
There's been a talk of five hundred pounds,
Mr. Ruggles made a slight gesture of assent with his head.
"Five hundred pounds is very comfortable;
and added to what John has will make things that snug that things never was snugger.
But John Crumb isn't after Miss Ruby along of her fortune."
said the lover,
shaking his head and still standing upright with his hands by his side.
--it isn't his ways,
and them as knows him'll never say it of him.
John has a heart in his buzsom."
raising his hand a little above his stomach.
"And feelings as a man.
It's true love as has brought John Crumb to Sheep's Acre farm this night;
--love of that young lady,
if she'll let me make so free.
He's a proposed to her,
and she's a haccepted him,
and now it's about time as they was married.
That's what John Crumb has to say."
"That's what I has to say,"
repeated John Crumb,
"and I means it."
addressing himself to Ruby,
"you've heard what John has to say."
"I've heard you,
and I've heard quite enough."
"You can't have anything to say against it,
There's your grandfather as is willing,
and the money as one may say counted out,
--and John Crumb is willing,
with his house so ready that there isn't a ha'porth to do.
All we want is for you to name the day."
and I'll not be agon it,"
said John Crumb,
slapping his thigh.
"I won't say to-morrow,
nor yet the day after to-morrow,
nor yet no day at all.
I'm not going to have you.
I've told you as much before."
"That was only in fun,
"Then now I tell you in earnest.
There's some folk wants such a deal of telling."
"You don't mean,
"I do mean never,
"Didn't you say as you would,
Didn't you say so as plain as the nose on my face?"
John as he asked these questions could hardly refrain from tears.
"Young women is allowed to change their minds,"
exclaimed old Ruggles.
I'll tell'ee what,
She'll go out o' this into the streets;
--that's what she wull.
I won't keep her here,
"She ain't that;
--she ain't that,"
"She ain't that at all.
She's no slut.
I won't hear her called so;
--not by her grandfather.
she has a mind to put me so abouts,
that I'll have to go home and hang myself."
you ain't a going to serve a young man that way,"
said the baker.
"If you'll jist keep yourself to yourself,
I'll be obliged to you,
"If you hadn't come here at all things might have been different."
"Hark at that now,"
looking at his friend almost with indignation.
who was fully aware of his rare eloquence and of the absolute necessity there had been for its exercise if any arrangement were to be made at all,
could not trust himself to words after this.
He put on his hat and walked out through the back kitchen into the yard declaring that his friend would find him there,
round by the pig-stye wall,
whenever he was ready to return to Bungay.
As soon as Mixet was gone John looked at his sweetheart out of the corners of his eyes and made a slow motion towards her,
putting out his right hand as a feeler.
"He's aff now,
"And you'd better be aff after him,"
said the cruel girl.
"And when'll I come back again?"
It ain't no use.
What's the good of more words,
said old Ruggles.
"I'll even it to her.
She'll have to be out on the roads this night."
"She shall have the best bed in my house if she'll come for it,"
"and the old woman to look arter her;
and I won't come nigh her till she sends for me."
"I can find a place for myself,
Old Ruggles sat grinding his teeth,
and swearing to himself,
taking his hat off and putting it on again,
and meditating vengeance.
"And now if you please,
I'll go up-stairs to my own room."
"You don't go up to any room here,
you jade you."
The old man as he said this got up from his chair as though to fly at her.
And he would have struck her with his stick but that he was stopped by John Crumb.
"Don't hit the girl,
she breaks my heart."
While her lover held her grandfather Ruby escaped,
and seated herself on the bedside,
again afraid to undress,
lest she should be disturbed by her grandfather.
"Ain't it more nor a man ought to have to bear;
said the grandfather appealing to the young man.
"It's the ways on
A whipping at the cart-tail ought to be the ways on her.
She's been and seen some young buck."
Then John Crumb turned red all over,
through the flour,
and sparks of anger flashed from his eyes.
"You ain't a meaning of it,
"I'm told there's been the squoire's cousin aboot,
--him as they call the baronite."
"Been along wi' Ruby?"
The old man nodded at him.
"By the mortials I'll baronite him;
said John seizing his hat and stalking off through the back kitchen after his friend.
RUBY RUGGLES OBEYS HER GRANDFATHER.
The next day there was great surprise at Sheep's Acre farm,
which communicated itself to the towns of Bungay and Beccles,
and even affected the ordinary quiet life of Carbury Manor.
Ruby Ruggles had gone away,
and at about twelve o'clock in the day the old farmer became aware of the fact.
She had started early,
at about seven in the morning;
but Ruggles himself had been out long before that,
and had not condescended to ask for her when he returned to the house for his breakfast.
There had been a bad scene up in the bedroom overnight,
after John Crumb had left the farm.
The old man in his anger had tried to expel the girl;
but she had hung on to the bed-post and would not go;
and he had been frightened,
when the maid came up crying and screaming murder.
"You'll be out o' this to-morrow as sure as my name's Dannel Ruggles,"
said the farmer panting for breath.
But for the gin which he had taken he would hardly have struck her;
--but he had struck her,
and pulled her by the hair,
and knocked her about;
--and in the morning she took him at his word and was away.
About twelve he heard from the servant girl that she had gone.
She had packed a box and had started up the road carrying the box herself.
"Grandfather says I'm to go,
and I'm gone,"
she had said to the girl.
At the first cottage she had got a boy to carry her box into Beccles,
and to Beccles she had walked.
For an hour or two Ruggles sat,
within the house,
telling himself that she might do as she pleased with herself,
--that he was well rid of her,
and that from henceforth he would trouble himself no more about her.
But by degrees there came upon him a feeling half of compassion and half of fear,
with perhaps some mixture of love,
instigating him to make search for her.
She had been the same to him as a child,
and what would people say of him if he allowed her to depart from him after this fashion?
Then he remembered his violence the night before,
and the fact that the servant girl had heard if she had not seen it.
He could not drop his responsibility in regard to Ruby,
even if he would.
as a first step,
he sent in a message to John Crumb,
to tell him that Ruby Ruggles had gone off with a box to Beccles.
John Crumb went open-mouthed with the news to Joe Mixet,
and all Bungay soon knew that Ruby Ruggles had run away.
After sending his message to Crumb the old man still sat thinking,
and at last made up his mind that he would go to his landlord.
He held a part of his farm under Roger Carbury,
and Roger Carbury would tell him what he ought to do.
A great trouble had come upon him.
He would fain have been quiet,
but his conscience and his heart and his terrors all were at work together,
--and he found that he could not eat his dinner.
So he had out his cart and horse and drove himself off to Carbury Hall.
It was past four when he started,
and he found the squire seated on the terrace after an early dinner,
and with him was Father Barham,
The old man was shown at once round into the garden,
and was not long in telling his story.
There had been words between him and his granddaughter about her lover.
Her lover had been accepted and had come to the farm to claim his bride.
Ruby had behaved very badly.
The old man made the most of Ruby's bad behaviour,
and of course as little as possible of his own violence.
But he did explain that there had been threats used when Ruby refused to take the man,
and that Ruby had,
taken herself off.
"I always thought it was settled they were to be man and wife,"
"It was settled,
--and he war to have five hun'erd pound down;
--money as I'd saved myself.
Drat the jade."
"Didn't she like him,
"She liked him well enough till she'd seed somebody else."
Then old Daniel paused,
and shook his head,
and was evidently the owner of a secret.
The squire got up and walked round the garden with him,
--and then the secret was told.
The farmer was of opinion that there was something between the girl and Sir Felix.
Sir Felix some weeks since had been seen near the farm and on the same occasion Ruby had been observed at some little distance from the house with her best clothes on.
"He's been so little here,
said the squire.
"It goes as tinder and a spark o' fire,
said the farmer.
"Girls like Ruby don't want no time to be wooed by one such as that,
though they'll fall-lall with a man like John Crumb for years."
"I suppose she's gone to London."
"Don't know nothing of where she's gone,
--only she have gone some'eres.
May be it's Lowestoffe.
There's lots of quality at Lowestoffe a' washing theyselves in the sea."
Then they returned to the priest,
who might be supposed to be cognisant of the guiles of the world and competent to give advice on such an occasion as this.
"If she was one of our people,"
said Father Barham,
"we should have her back quick enough."
"Would ye now?"
wishing at the moment that he and all his family had been brought up as Roman Catholics.
"I don't see how you would have more chance of catching her than we have,"
"She'd catch herself.
Wherever she might be she'd go to the priest,
and he wouldn't leave her till he'd seen her put on the way back to her friends."
"With a flea in her lug,"
suggested the farmer.
"Your people never go to a clergyman in their distress.
It's the last thing they'd think of.
Any one might more probably be regarded as a friend than the parson.
But with us the poor know where to look for sympathy."
"She ain't that poor,
said the grandfather.
"She had money with her?"
"I don't know just what she had;
but she ain't been brought up poor.
And I don't think as our Ruby'd go of herself to any clergyman.
It never was her way."
"It never is the way with a Protestant,"
said the priest.
"We'll say no more about that for the present,"
who was waxing wroth with the priest.
That a man should be fond of his own religion is right;
but Roger Carbury was beginning to think that Father Barham was too fond of his religion.
"What had we better do?
I suppose we shall hear something of her at the railway.
There are not so many people leaving Beccles but that she may be remembered."
So the waggonette was ordered,
and they all prepared to go off to the station together.
But before they started John Crumb rode up to the door.
He had gone at once to the farm on hearing of Ruby's departure,
and had followed the farmer from thence to Carbury.
Now he found the squire and the priest and the old man standing around as the horses were being put to the carriage.
"Ye ain't a' found her,
he asked as he wiped the sweat from his brow.
--we ain't a' found no one yet."
"If it was as she was to come to harm,
I'd never forgive myself,
"As far as I can understand it is no doing of yours,
said the squire.
"In one way,
and in one way it is.
I was over there last night a bothering of her.
She'd a' come round may be,
if she'd a' been left alone.
She wouldn't a' been off now,
only for our going over to Sheep's Acre.
"What is it,
"He's a coosin o' yours,
and long as I've known Suffolk,
I've never known nothing but good o' you and yourn.
But if your baronite has been and done this!
If I was to wring his neck round,
you wouldn't say as how I was wrong;
Roger could hardly answer the question.
On general grounds the wringing of Sir Felix's neck,
let the immediate cause for such a performance have been what it might,
would have seemed to him to be a good deed.
The world would be better,
according to his thinking,
with Sir Felix out of it than in it.
But still the young man was his cousin and a Carbury,
and to such a one as John Crumb he was bound to defend any member of his family as far as he might be defensible.
"They says as how he was groping about Sheep's Acre when he was last here,
a hiding himself and skulking behind hedges.
They've gals enough of their own,
Why can't they let a fellow alone?
I'll do him a mischief,
--if he's had a hand in this."
Poor John Crumb!
When he had his mistress to win he could find no words for himself;
but was obliged to take an eloquent baker with him to talk for him.
Now in his anger he could talk freely enough.
"But you must first learn that Sir Felix has had anything to do with this,
Must l'arn as he did it,
afore I does it.
But when I have l'arned!"
-- And John Crumb clenched his fist as though a very short lesson would suffice for him upon this occasion.
They all went to the Beccles Station,
and from thence to the Beccles post office,
--so that Beccles soon knew as much about it as Bungay.
At the railway station Ruby was distinctly remembered.
She had taken a second-class ticket by the morning train for London,
and had gone off without any appearance of secrecy.
She had been decently dressed,
with a hat and cloak,
and her luggage had been such as she might have been expected to carry,
had all her friends known that she was going.
So much was made clear at the railway station,
but nothing more could be learned there.
Then a message was sent by telegraph to the station in London,
and they all waited,
loitering about the post office,
for a reply.
One of the porters in London remembered seeing such a girl as was described,
but the man who was supposed to have carried her box for her to a cab had gone away for the day.
It was believed that she had left the station in a four-wheel cab.
"I'll be arter her.
I'll be arter her at once,"
said John Crumb.
But there was no train till night,
and Roger Carbury was doubtful whether his going would do any good.
It was evidently fixed on Crumb's mind that the first step towards finding Ruby would be the breaking of every bone in the body of Sir Felix Carbury.
Now it was not at all apparent to the squire that his cousin had had anything to do with this affair.
It had been made quite clear to him that the old man had quarrelled with his granddaughter and had threatened to turn her out of his house,
not because she had misbehaved with Sir Felix,
but on account of her refusing to marry John Crumb.
John Crumb had gone over to the farm expecting to arrange it all,
and up to that time there had been no fear about Felix Carbury.
Nor was it possible that there should have been communication between Ruby and Felix since the quarrel at the farm.
Even if the old man were right in supposing that Ruby and the baronet had been acquainted,
--and such acquaintance could not but be prejudicial to the girl,
--not on that account would the baronet be responsible for her abduction.
John Crumb was thirsting for blood and was not very capable in his present mood of arguing the matter out coolly,
little as he loved his cousin,
was not desirous that all Suffolk should know that Sir Felix Carbury had been thrashed within an inch of his life by John Crumb of Bungay.
"I'll tell you what I'll do,"
putting his hand kindly on the old man's shoulder.
"I'll go up myself by the first train to-morrow.
I can trace her better than Mr. Crumb can do,
and you will both trust me."
"There's not one in the two counties I'd trust so soon,"
said the old man.
"But you'll let us know the very truth,"
said John Crumb.
Roger Carbury made him an indiscreet promise that he would let him know the truth.
So the matter was settled,
and the grandfather and lover returned together to Bungay.
Augustus Melmotte was becoming greater and greater in every direction,
--mightier and mightier every day.
He was learning to despise mere lords,
and to feel that he might almost domineer over a duke.
In truth he did recognise it as a fact that he must either domineer over dukes,
or else go to the wall.
It can hardly be said of him that he had intended to play so high a game,
but the game that he had intended to play had become thus high of its own accord.
A man cannot always restrain his own doings and keep them within the limits which he had himself planned for them.
They will very often fall short of the magnitude to which his ambition has aspired.
They will sometimes soar higher than his own imagination.
So it had now been with Mr. Melmotte.
He had contemplated great things;
but the things which he was achieving were beyond his contemplation.
The reader will not have thought much of Fisker on his arrival in England.
not a man worthy of much thought.
He had never read a book.
He had never written a line worth reading.
He had never said a prayer.
He cared nothing for humanity.
He had sprung out of some Californian gully,
was perhaps ignorant of his own father and mother,
and had tumbled up in the world on the strength of his own audacity.
such as he was,
he had sufficed to give the necessary impetus for rolling Augustus Melmotte onwards into almost unprecedented commercial greatness.
When Mr. Melmotte took his offices in Abchurch Lane,
he was undoubtedly a great man,
but nothing so great as when the South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway had become not only an established fact,
but a fact established in Abchurch Lane.
The great company indeed had an office of its own,
where the Board was held;
but everything was really managed in Mr. Melmotte's own commercial sanctum.
some inscrutable law of commerce,
the grand enterprise,
--"perhaps the grandest when you consider the amount of territory manipulated,
which has ever opened itself before the eyes of a great commercial people,"
as Mr. Fisker with his peculiar eloquence observed through his nose,
about this time to a meeting of shareholders at San Francisco,
--had swung itself across from California to London,
turning itself to the centre of the commercial world as the needle turns to the pole,
till Mr. Fisker almost regretted the deed which himself had done.
And Melmotte was not only the head,
but the body also,
and the feet of it all.
The shares seemed to be all in Melmotte's pocket,
so that he could distribute them as he would;
and it seemed also that when distributed and sold,
and when bought again and sold again,
they came back to Melmotte's pocket.
Men were contented to buy their shares and to pay their money,
simply on Melmotte's word.
Sir Felix had realised a large portion of his winnings at cards,
--with commendable prudence for one so young and extravagant,
--and had brought his savings to the great man.
The great man had swept the earnings of the Beargarden into his till,
and had told Sir Felix that the shares were his.
Sir Felix had been not only contented,
but supremely happy.
He could now do as Paul Montague was doing,
--and Lord Alfred Grendall.
He could realize a perennial income,
buying and selling.
It was only after the reflection of a day or two that he found that he had as yet got nothing to sell.
It was not only Sir Felix that was admitted into these good things after this fashion.
Sir Felix was but one among hundreds.
In the meantime the bills in Grosvenor Square were no doubt paid with punctuality,
--and these bills must have been stupendous.
The very servants were as tall,
almost as numerous,
as the servants of royalty,
--and remunerated by much higher wages.
There were four coachmen with egregious wigs,
and eight footmen,
not one with a circumference of calf less than eighteen inches.
And now there appeared a paragraph in the "Morning Breakfast Table,"
and another appeared in the "Evening Pulpit,"
telling the world that Mr. Melmotte had bought Pickering Park,
the magnificent Sussex property of Adolphus Longestaffe,
And it was so.
The father and son who never had agreed before,
and who now had come to no agreement in the presence of each other,
had each considered that their affairs would be safe in the hands of so great a man as Mr. Melmotte,
and had been brought to terms.
which was large,
was to be divided between them.
The thing was done with the greatest ease,
--there being no longer any delay as is the case when small people are at work.
The magnificence of Mr. Melmotte affected even the Longestaffe lawyers.
Were I to buy a little property,
some humble cottage with a garden,
unless you be magnificent,
--the money to the last farthing would be wanted,
or security for the money more than sufficient,
before we should be able to enter in upon our new home.
But money was the very breath of Melmotte's nostrils,
and therefore his breath was taken for money.
Pickering was his,
and before a week was over a London builder had collected masons and carpenters by the dozen down at Chichester,
and was at work upon the house to make it fit to be a residence for Madame Melmotte.
There were rumours that it was to be made ready for the Goodwood week,
and that the Melmotte entertainment during that festival would rival the duke's.
But there was still much to be done in London before the Goodwood week should come round in all of which Mr. Melmotte was concerned,
and of much of which Mr. Melmotte was the very centre.
A member for Westminster had succeeded to a peerage,
and thus a seat was vacated.
It was considered to be indispensable to the country that Mr. Melmotte should go into Parliament,
and what constituency could such a man as Melmotte so fitly represent as one combining as Westminster does all the essences of the metropolis?
There was the popular element,
the fashionable element,
the legislative element,
the legal element,
and the commercial element.
Melmotte undoubtedly was the man for Westminster.
His thorough popularity was evinced by testimony which perhaps was never before given in favour of any candidate for any county or borough.
In Westminster there must of course be a contest.
A seat for Westminster is a thing not to be abandoned by either political party without a struggle.
at the beginning of the affair,
when each party had to seek the most suitable candidate which the country could supply,
each party put its hand upon Melmotte.
And when the seat,
and the battle for the seat,
were suggested to Melmotte,
then for the first time was that great man forced to descend from the altitudes on which his mind generally dwelt,
and to decide whether he would enter Parliament as a Conservative or a Liberal.
He was not long in convincing himself that the Conservative element in British Society stood the most in need of that fiscal assistance which it would be in his province to give;
and on the next day every hoarding in London declared to the world that Melmotte was the Conservative candidate for Westminster.
It is needless to say that his committee was made up of peers,
with all that absence of class prejudice for which the party has become famous since the ballot was introduced among us.
Some unfortunate Liberal was to be made to run against him,
for the sake of the party;
but the odds were ten to one on Melmotte.
This no doubt was a great matter,
--this affair of the seat;
but the dinner to be given to the Emperor of China was much greater.
It was the middle of June,
and the dinner was to be given on Monday,
now three weeks hence;
--but all London was already talking of it.
The great purport proposed was to show to the Emperor by this banquet what an English merchant-citizen of London could do.
Of course there was a great amount of scolding and a loud clamour on the occasion.
Some men said that Melmotte was not a citizen of London,
others that he was not a merchant,
others again that he was not an Englishman.
But no man could deny that he was both able and willing to spend the necessary money;
and as this combination of ability and will was the chief thing necessary,
they who opposed the arrangement could only storm and scold.
On the 20th of June the tradesmen were at work,
throwing up a building behind,
knocking down walls,
and generally transmuting the house in Grosvenor Square in such a fashion that two hundred guests might be able to sit down to dinner in the dining-room of a British merchant.
But who were to be the two hundred?
It used to be the case that when a gentleman gave a dinner he asked his own guests;
--but when affairs become great,
society can hardly be carried on after that simple fashion.
The Emperor of China could not be made to sit at table without English royalty,
and English royalty must know whom it has to meet,
--must select at any rate some of its comrades.
The minister of the day also had his candidates for the dinner,
--in which arrangement there was however no private patronage,
as the list was confined to the cabinet and their wives.
The Prime Minister took some credit to himself in that he would not ask for a single ticket for a private friend.
But the Opposition as a body desired their share of seats.
Melmotte had elected to stand for Westminster on the Conservative interest,
and was advised that he must insist on having as it were a Conservative cabinet present,
with its Conservative wives.
He was told that he owed it to his party,
and that his party exacted payment of the debt.
But the great difficulty lay with the city merchants.
This was to be a city merchant's private feast,
and it was essential that the Emperor should meet this great merchant's brother merchants at the merchant's board.
No doubt the Emperor would see all the merchants at the Guildhall;
but that would be a semi-public affair,
paid for out of the funds of a corporation.
This was to be a private dinner.
Now the Lord Mayor had set his face against it,
and what was to be done?
Meetings were held;
a committee was appointed;
merchant guests were selected,
to the number of fifteen with their fifteen wives;
--and subsequently the Lord Mayor was made a baronet on the occasion of receiving the Emperor in the city.
The Emperor with his suite was twenty.
Royalty had twenty tickets,
each ticket for guest and wife.
The existing Cabinet was fourteen;
but the coming was numbered at about eleven only;
--each one for self and wife.
Five ambassadors and five ambassadresses were to be asked.
There were to be fifteen real merchants out of the city.
Ten great peers,
--with their peeresses,
--were selected by the general committee of management.
There were to be three wise men,
three independent members of the House of Commons,
two Royal Academicians,
three editors of papers,
an African traveller who had just come home,
and a novelist;
--but all these latter gentlemen were expected to come as bachelors.
Three tickets were to be kept over for presentation to bores endowed with a power of making themselves absolutely unendurable if not admitted at the last moment,
--and ten were left for the giver of the feast and his own family and friends.
It is often difficult to make things go smooth,
--but almost all roughnesses may be smoothed at last with patience and care,
and money and patronage.
But the dinner was not to be all.
Eight hundred additional tickets were to be issued for Madame Melmotte's evening entertainment,
and the fight for these was more internecine than for seats at the dinner.
were handled in so statesmanlike a fashion that there was not much visible fighting about them.
Royalty manages its affairs quietly.
The existing Cabinet was existing,
and though there were two or three members of it who could not have got themselves elected at a single unpolitical club in London,
they had a right to their seats at Melmotte's table.
What disappointed ambition there might be among Conservative candidates was never known to the public.
Those gentlemen do not wash their dirty linen in public.
The ambassadors of course were quiet,
but we may be sure that the Minister from the United States was among the favoured five.
The city bankers and bigwigs,
as has been already said,
were at first unwilling to be present,
and therefore they who were not chosen could not afterwards express their displeasure.
No grumbling was heard among the peers,
and that which came from the peeresses floated down into the current of the great fight about the evening entertainment.
The poet laureate was of course asked,
and the second poet was as much a matter of course.
Only two Academicians had in this year painted royalty,
so that there was no ground for jealousy there.
There were three,
and only three,
specially insolent and specially disagreeable independent members of Parliament at that time in the House,
and there was no difficulty in selecting them.
The wise men were chosen by their age.
Among editors of newspapers there was some ill-blood.
That Mr. Alf and Mr. Broune should be selected was almost a matter of course.
They were hated accordingly,
but still this was expected.
But why was Mr. Booker there?
Was it because he had praised the Prime Minister's translation of Catullus?
The African traveller chose himself by living through all his perils and coming home.
A novelist was selected;
but as royalty wanted another ticket at the last moment,
the gentleman was only asked to come in after dinner.
His proud heart,
resented the treatment,
and he joined amicably with his literary brethren in decrying the festival altogether.
We should be advancing too rapidly into this portion of our story were we to concern ourselves deeply at the present moment with the feud as it raged before the evening came round,
but it may be right to indicate that the desire for tickets at last became a burning passion,
and a passion which in the great majority of cases could not be indulged.
The value of the privilege was so great that Madame Melmotte thought that she was doing almost more than friendship called for when she informed her guest,
that unfortunately there would be no seat for her at the dinner-table;
as payment for her loss,
she should receive an evening ticket for herself and a joint ticket for a gentleman and his wife.
Georgiana was at first indignant,
but she accepted the compromise.
What she did with her tickets shall be hereafter told.
From all this I trust it will be understood that the Mr. Melmotte of the present hour was a very different man from that Mr. Melmotte who was introduced to the reader in the early chapters of this chronicle.
Royalty was not to be smuggled in and out of his house now without his being allowed to see it.
No manoeuvres now were necessary to catch a simple duchess.
Duchesses were willing enough to come.
Lord Alfred when he was called by his Christian name felt no aristocratic twinges.
He was only too anxious to make himself more and more necessary to the great man.
It is true that all this came as it were by jumps,
so that very often a part of the world did not know on what ledge in the world the great man was perched at that moment.
Miss Longestaffe who was staying in the house did not at all know how great a man her host was.
Lady Monogram when she refused to go to Grosvenor Square,
or even to allow any one to come out of the house in Grosvenor Square to her parties,
was groping in outer darkness.
Madame Melmotte did not know.
Marie Melmotte did not know.
The great man did not quite know himself where,
from time to time,
he was standing.
But the world at large knew.
The world knew that Mr. Melmotte was to be Member for Westminster,
that Mr. Melmotte was to entertain the Emperor of China,
that Mr. Melmotte carried the South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway in his pocket;
--and the world worshipped Mr. Melmotte.
In the meantime Mr. Melmotte was much troubled about his private affairs.
He had promised his daughter to Lord Nidderdale,
and as he rose in the world had lowered the price which he offered for this marriage,
--not so much in the absolute amount of fortune to be ultimately given,
as in the manner of giving it.
Fifteen thousand a year was to be settled on Marie and on her eldest son,
and twenty thousand pounds were to be paid into Nidderdale's hands six months after the marriage.
Melmotte gave his reasons for not paying this sum at once.
Nidderdale would be more likely to be quiet,
if he were kept waiting for that short time.
Melmotte was to purchase and furnish for them a house in town.
almost understood that the young people were to have Pickering Park for themselves,
except for a week or so at the end of July.
It was absolutely given out in the papers that Pickering was to be theirs.
It was said on all sides that Nidderdale was doing very well for himself.
The absolute money was not perhaps so great as had been at first asked;
at that time,
Melmotte was not the strong rock,
the impregnable tower of commerce,
the very navel of the commercial enterprise of the world,
--as all men now regarded him.
and Nidderdale himself,
in the present condition of things,
content with a very much less stringent bargain than that which they had endeavoured at first to exact.
in the midst of all this,
who had at one time consented at her father's instance to accept the young lord,
and who in some speechless fashion had accepted him,
told both the young lord and her father,
that she had changed her mind.
Her father scowled at her and told her that her mind in the matter was of no concern.
He intended that she should marry Lord Nidderdale,
and himself fixed some day in August for the wedding.
"It is no use,
for I will never have him,"
"Is it about that other scamp?"
he asked angrily.
"If you mean Sir Felix Carbury,
it is about him.
He has been to you and told you,
and therefore I don't know why I need hold my tongue."
"You'll both starve,
Marie however was not so wedded to the grandeur which she encountered in Grosvenor Square as to be afraid of the starvation which she thought she might have to suffer if married to Sir Felix Carbury.
Melmotte had not time for any long discussion.
As he left her he took hold of her and shook her.
"By -- --,"
"if you run rusty after all I've done for you,
I'll make you suffer.
You little fool;
that man's a beggar.
He hasn't the price of a petticoat or a pair of stockings.
He's looking only for what you haven't got,
and shan't have if you marry him.
He wants money,
you little fool!"
But after that she was quite settled in her purpose when Nidderdale spoke to her.
They had been engaged and then it had been off;
--and now the young nobleman,
having settled everything with the father,
expected no great difficulty in resettling everything with the girl.
He was not very skilful at making love,
--but he was thoroughly good-humoured,
from his nature anxious to please,
and averse to give pain.
There was hardly any injury which he could not forgive,
and hardly any kindness which he would not do,
--so that the labour upon himself was not too great.
"governors are stern beings: are they not?"
"Is yours stern,
"What I mean is that sons and daughters have to obey them.
I think you understand what I mean.
I was awfully spoony on you that time before;
I was indeed."
"I hope it didn't hurt you much,
"That's so like a woman;
You know well enough that you and I can't marry without leave from the governors."
"Nor with it,"
nodding her head.
"I don't know how that may be.
There was some hitch somewhere,
--I don't quite know where."
--The hitch had been with himself,
as he demanded ready money.
"But it's all right now.
The old fellows are agreed.
Can't we make a match of it,
I don't think we can."
"Do you mean that?"
"I do mean it.
When that was going on before I knew nothing about it.
I have seen more of things since then."
"And you've seen somebody you like better than me?"
"I say nothing about that,
I don't think you ought to blame me,
"Oh dear no."
"There was something before,
but it was you that was off first.
Wasn't it now?"
"The governors were off,
"The governors have a right to be off,
But I don't think any governor has a right to make anybody marry any one."
"I agree with you there;
--I do indeed,"
said Lord Nidderdale.
"And no governor shall make me marry.
I've thought a great deal about it since that other time,
and that's what I've come to determine."
"But I don't know why you shouldn't --just marry me --because you --like me."
--just because I don't.
I do like you,
"I like you ever so,
--only marrying a person is different."
"There's something in that to be sure."
"And I don't mind telling you,"
said Marie with an almost solemn expression on her countenance,
"because you are good-natured and won't get me into a scrape if you can help it,
that I do like somebody else;
"I supposed that was it."
"That is it."
"It's a deuced pity.
The governors had settled everything,
and we should have been awfully jolly.
I'd have gone in for all the things you go in for;
and though your governor was screwing us up a bit,
there would have been plenty of tin to go on with.
You couldn't think of it again?"
"I tell you,
I'm --in love."
So you were saying.
It's an awful bore.
I shall come to the party all the same if you send me a ticket."
And so Nidderdale took his dismissal,
and went away,
--not however without an idea that the marriage would still come off.
There was always,
--so he thought,
--such a bother about things before they would get themselves fixed.
This happened some days after Mr. Broune's proposal to Lady Carbury,
more than a week since Marie had seen Sir Felix.
As soon as Lord Nidderdale was gone she wrote again to Sir Felix begging that she might hear from him,
--and entrusted her letter to Didon.
Mr. BROUNE'S PERILS.
Lady Carbury had allowed herself two days for answering Mr. Broune's proposition.
It was made on Tuesday night and she was bound by her promise to send a reply some time on Thursday.
But early on the Wednesday morning she had made up her mind;
and at noon on that day her letter was written.
She had spoken to Hetta about the man,
and she had seen that Hetta had disliked him.
She was not disposed to be much guided by Hetta's opinion.
In regard to her daughter she was always influenced by a vague idea that Hetta was an unnecessary trouble.
There was an excellent match ready for her if she would only accept it.
There was no reason why Hetta should continue to add herself to the family burden.
She never said this even to herself,
--but she felt it,
and was not therefore inclined to consult Hetta's comfort on this occasion.
what her daughter said had its effect.
She had encountered the troubles of one marriage,
and they had been very bad.
She did not look upon that marriage as a mistake,
--having even up to this day a consciousness that it had been the business of her life,
as a portionless girl,
to obtain maintenance and position at the expense of suffering and servility.
But that had been done.
The maintenance was,
because of her son's vices;
but it might so probably be again secured,
--by means of her son's beauty!
Hetta had said that Mr. Broune liked his own way.
Had not she herself found that all men liked their own way?
And she liked her own way.
She liked the comfort of a home to herself.
Personally she did not want the companionship of a husband.
And what scenes would there be between Felix and the man!
And added to all this there was something within her,
almost amounting to conscience,
which told her that it was not right that she should burden any one with the responsibility and inevitable troubles of such a son as her son Felix.
What would she do were her husband to command her to separate herself from her son?
In such circumstances she would certainly separate herself from her husband.
Having considered these things deeply,
she wrote as follows to Mr. Broune: --
I need not tell you that I have thought much of your generous and affectionate offer.
How could I refuse such a prospect as you offer me without much thought?
I regard your career as the most noble which a man's ambition can achieve.
And in that career no one is your superior.
I cannot but be proud that such a one as you should have asked me to be his wife.
life is subject to wounds which are incurable,
and my life has been so wounded.
I have not strength left me to make my heart whole enough to be worthy of your acceptance.
I have been so cut and scotched and lopped by the sufferings which I have endured that I am best alone.
It cannot all be described;
--and yet with you I would have no reticence.
I would put the whole history before you to read,
with all my troubles past and still present,
all my hopes,
and all my fears,
--with every circumstance as it has passed by and every expectation that remains,
were it not that the poor tale would be too long for your patience.
The result of it would be to make you feel that I am no longer fit to enter in upon a new home.
I should bring showers instead of sunshine,
melancholy in lieu of mirth.
be bold enough to assure you that could I bring myself to be the wife of any man I would now become your wife.
But I shall never marry again.
I am your most affectionate friend,
About six o'clock in the afternoon she sent this letter to Mr. Broune's rooms in Pall Mall East,
and then sat for awhile alone,
--full of regrets.
She had thrown away from her a firm footing which would certainly have served her for her whole life.
Even at this moment she was in debt,
--and did not know how to pay her debts without mortgaging her life income.
She longed for some staff on which she could lean.
She was afraid of the future.
When she would sit with her paper before her,
preparing her future work for the press,
copying a bit here and a bit there,
inventing historical details,
dovetailing her chronicle,
her head would sometimes seem to be going round as she remembered the unpaid baker,
and her son's horses,
and his unmeaning dissipation,
and all her doubts about the marriage.
As regarded herself,
Mr. Broune would have made her secure,
--but that now was all over.
This at any rate may be said for her,
--that had she accepted the man her regrets would have been as deep.
Mr. Broune's feelings were more decided in their tone than those of the lady.
He had not made his offer without consideration,
and yet from the very moment in which it had been made he repented it.
That gently sarcastic appellation by which Lady Carbury had described him to herself when he had kissed her best explained that side of Mr. Broune's character which showed itself in this matter.
He was a susceptible old goose.
Had she allowed him to kiss her without objection,
the kissing might probably have gone on;
whatever might have come of it,
there would have been no offer of marriage.
He had believed that her little manoeuvres had indicated love on her part,
and he had felt himself constrained to reciprocate the passion.
She was beautiful in his eyes.
She was bright.
She wore her clothes like a lady;
--if it was written in the Book of the Fates that some lady was to sit at the top of his table,
--Lady Carbury would look as well there as any other.
She had repudiated the kiss,
and therefore he had felt himself bound to obtain for himself the right to kiss her.
The offer had no sooner been made than he met her son reeling in,
at the front door.
As he made his escape the lad had insulted him.
helped to open his eyes.
When he woke the next morning,
or rather late in the next day,
after his night's work,
he was no longer able to tell himself that the world was all right with him.
Who does not know that sudden thoughtfulness at waking,
that first matutinal retrospection,
into things as they have been and are to be;
and the lowness of heart,
the blankness of hope which follows the first remembrance of some folly lately done,
some word ill-spoken,
some money misspent,
--or perhaps a cigar too much,
or a glass of brandy and soda-water which he should have left untasted?
And when things have gone well,
how the waker comforts himself among the bedclothes as he claims for himself to be whole all over,
teres atque rotundus,
--so to have managed his little affairs that he has to fear no harm,
and to blush inwardly at no error!
the way of whose life took him among many perils,
who in the course of his work had to steer his bark among many rocks,
was in the habit of thus auditing his daily account as he shook off sleep about noon,
--for such was his lot,
that he seldom was in bed before four or five in the morning.
On this Wednesday he found that he could not balance his sheet comfortably.
He had taken a very great step and he feared that he had not taken it with wisdom.
As he drank the cup of tea with which his servant supplied him while he was yet in bed,
he could not say of himself,
teres atque rotundus,
as he was wont to do when things were well with him.
Everything was to be changed.
As he lit a cigarette he bethought himself that Lady Carbury would not like him to smoke in her bedroom.
Then he remembered other things.
"I'll be d -- -- if he shall live in my house,"
he said to himself.
And there was no way out of it.
It did not occur to the man that his offer could be refused.
During the whole of that day he went about among his friends in a melancholy fashion,
saying little snappish uncivil things at the club,
and at last dining by himself with about fifteen newspapers around him.
After dinner he did not speak a word to any man,
but went early to the office of the newspaper in Trafalgar Square at which he did his nightly work.
Here he was lapped in comforts,
--if the best of chairs,
of writing tables,
and of reading lamps can make a man comfortable who has to read nightly thirty columns of a newspaper,
or at any rate to make himself responsible for their contents.
He seated himself to his work like a man,
but immediately saw Lady Carbury's letter on the table before him.
It was his custom when he did not dine at home to have such documents brought to him at his office as had reached his home during his absence;
--and here was Lady Carbury's letter.
He knew her writing well,
and was aware that here was the confirmation of his fate.
It had not been expected,
as she had given herself another day for her answer,
--but here it was,
beneath his hand.
Surely this was almost unfeminine haste.
He chucked the letter,
a little from him,
and endeavoured to fix his attention on some printed slip that was ready for him.
For some ten minutes his eyes went rapidly down the lines,
but he found that his mind did not follow what he was reading.
He struggled again,
but still his thoughts were on the letter.
He did not wish to open it,
having some vague idea that,
till the letter should have been read,
there was a chance of escape.
The letter would not become due to be read till the next day.
It should not have been there now to tempt his thoughts on this night.
But he could do nothing while it lay there.
"It shall be a part of the bargain that I shall never have to see him,"
he said to himself,
as he opened it.
The second line told him that the danger was over.
When he had read so far he stood up with his back to the fire-place,
leaving the letter on the table.
the woman wasn't in love with him!
But that was a reading of the affair which he could hardly bring himself to look upon as correct.
The woman had shown her love by a thousand signs.
There was no doubt,
that she now had her triumph.
A woman always has a triumph when she rejects a man,
--and more especially when she does so at a certain time of life.
Would she publish her triumph?
Mr. Broune would not like to have it known about among brother editors,
or by the world at large,
that he had offered to marry Lady Carbury and that Lady Carbury had refused him.
He had escaped;
but the sweetness of his present safety was not in proportion to the bitterness of his late fears.
He could not understand why Lady Carbury should have refused him!
As he reflected upon it,
all memory of her son for the moment passed away from him.
Full ten minutes had passed,
during which he had still stood upon the rug,
before he read the entire letter.
"'Cut and scotched and lopped!'
I suppose she has been,"
he said to himself.
He had heard much of Sir Patrick,
and knew well that the old general had been no lamb.
"I shouldn't have cut her,
or scotched her,
or lopped her."
When he had read the whole letter patiently there crept upon him gradually a feeling of admiration for her,
greater than he had ever yet felt,
he almost thought that he would renew his offer to her.
"'Showers instead of sunshine;
melancholy instead of mirth,'" he repeated to himself.
"I should have done the best for her,
taking the showers and the melancholy if they were necessary."
He went to his work in a mixed frame of mind,
but certainly without that dragging weight which had oppressed him when he entered the room.
through the night,
he realised the conviction that he had escaped,
and threw from him altogether the idea of repeating his offer.
Before he left he wrote her a line --
Be it so.
It need not break our friendship.
N. B. This he sent by a special messenger,
who returned with a note to his lodgings long before he was up on the following morning.
No word of this will ever pass my mouth.
M. C. Mr. Broune thought that he was very well out of the danger,
and resolved that Lady Carbury should never want anything that his friendship could do for her.
the 21st June,
the Board of the South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway sat in its own room behind the Exchange,
as was the Board's custom every Friday.
On this occasion all the members were there,
as it had been understood that the chairman was to make a special statement.
There was the great chairman as a matter of course.
In the midst of his numerous and immense concerns he never threw over the railway,
or delegated to other less experienced hands those cares which the commercial world had intrusted to his own.
Lord Alfred was there,
with Mr. Cohenlupe,
the Hebrew gentleman,
and Paul Montague,
and Lord Nidderdale,
--and even Sir Felix Carbury.
Sir Felix had come,
being very anxious to buy and sell,
and not as yet having had an opportunity of realising his golden hopes,
although he had actually paid a thousand pounds in hard money into Mr. Melmotte's hands.
Mr. Miles Grendall,
was also present as a matter of course.
The Board always met at three,
and had generally been dissolved at a quarter past three.
Lord Alfred and Mr. Cohenlupe sat at the chairman's right and left hand.
Paul Montague generally sat immediately below,
with Miles Grendall opposite to him;
--but on this occasion the young lord and the young baronet took the next places.
It was a nice little family party,
the great chairman with his two aspiring sons-in-law,
his two particular friends,
--the social friend,
and the commercial friend Mr. Cohenlupe,
who was Lord Alfred's son.
It would have been complete in its friendliness,
but for Paul Montague,
who had lately made himself disagreeable to Mr. Melmotte;
--and most ungratefully so,
for certainly no one had been allowed so free a use of the shares as the younger member of the house of Fisker,
[Illustration: The Board-room.]
It was understood that Mr. Melmotte was to make a statement.
Lord Nidderdale and Sir Felix had conceived that this was to be done as it were out of the great man's own heart,
of his own wish,
so that something of the condition of the company might be made known to the directors of the company.
But this was not perhaps exactly the truth.
Paul Montague had insisted on giving vent to certain doubts at the last meeting but one,
having made himself very disagreeable indeed,
had forced this trouble on the great chairman.
On the intermediate Friday the chairman had made himself very unpleasant to Paul,
and this had seemed to be an effort on his part to frighten the inimical director out of his opposition,
so that the promise of a statement need not be fulfilled.
What nuisance can be so great to a man busied with immense affairs,
as to have to explain,
--or to attempt to explain,
--small details to men incapable of understanding them?
But Montague had stood to his guns.
He had not intended,
to dispute the commercial success of the company.
But he felt very strongly,
and he thought that his brother directors should feel as strongly,
that it was necessary that they should know more than they did know.
Lord Alfred had declared that he did not in the least agree with his brother director.
"If anybody don't understand,
it's his own fault,"
said Mr. Cohenlupe.
But Paul would not give way,
and it was understood that Mr. Melmotte would make a statement.
The "Boards" were always commenced by the reading of a certain record of the last meeting out of a book.
This was always done by Miles Grendall;
and the record was supposed to have been written by him.
But Montague had discovered that this statement in the book was always prepared and written by a satellite of Melmotte's from Abchurch Lane who was never present at the meeting.
The adverse director had spoken to the secretary,
--it will be remembered that they were both members of the Beargarden,
--and Miles had given a somewhat evasive reply.
"A cussed deal of trouble and all that,
He's used to it,
and it's what he's meant for.
I'm not going to flurry myself about stuff of that kind."
Montague after this had spoken on the subject both to Nidderdale and Felix Carbury.
"He couldn't do it,
if it was ever so,"
Nidderdale had said.
"I don't think I'd bully him if I were you.
He gets £500 a-year,
and if you knew all he owes,
and all he hasn't got,
you wouldn't try to rob him of it."
With Felix Carbury Montague had as little success.
Sir Felix hated the secretary,
had detected him cheating at cards,
had resolved to expose him,
--and had then been afraid to do so.
He had told Dolly Longestaffe,
and the reader will perhaps remember with what effect.
He had not mentioned the affair again,
and had gradually fallen back into the habit of playing at the club.
had given way to whist,
and Sir Felix had satisfied himself with the change.
He still meditated some dreadful punishment for Miles Grendall,
in the meantime,
felt himself unable to oppose him at the Board.
Since the day at which the aces had been manipulated at the club he had not spoken to Miles Grendall except in reference to the affairs of the whist-table.
The "Board" was now commenced as usual.
Miles read the short record out of the book,
--stumbling over every other word,
and going through the performance so badly that had there been anything to understand no one could have understood it.
said Mr. Melmotte,
in his usual hurried way,
"is it your pleasure that I shall sign the record?"
Paul Montague rose to say that it was not his pleasure that the record should be signed.
But Melmotte had made his scrawl,
and was deep in conversation with Mr. Cohenlupe before Paul could get upon his legs.
had watched the little struggle.
whatever might be his faults,
had eyes to see and ears to hear.
He perceived that Montague had made a little struggle and had been cowed;
and he knew how hard it is for one man to persevere against five or six,
and for a young man to persevere against his elders.
Nidderdale was filliping bits of paper across the table at Carbury.
Miles Grendall was poring over the book which was in his charge.
Lord Alfred sat back in his chair,
the picture of a model director,
with his right hand within his waistcoat.
He looked aristocratic,
and almost commercial.
In that room he never by any chance opened his mouth,
except when called on to say that Mr. Melmotte was right,
and was considered by the chairman really to earn his money.
Melmotte for a minute or two went on conversing with Cohenlupe,
having perceived that Montague for the moment was cowed.
Then Paul put both his hands upon the table,
intending to rise and ask some perplexing question.
Melmotte saw this also and was upon his legs before Montague had risen from his chair.
said Mr. Melmotte,
"it may perhaps be as well if I take this occasion of saying a few words to you about the affairs of the company."
instead of going on with his statement,
he sat down again,
and began to turn over sundry voluminous papers very slowly,
whispering a word or two every now and then to Mr. Cohenlupe.
Lord Alfred never changed his posture and never took his hand from his breast.
Nidderdale and Carbury filliped their paper pellets backwards and forwards.
Montague sat profoundly listening,
--or ready to listen when anything should be said.
As the chairman had risen from his chair to commence his statement,
Paul felt that he was bound to be silent.
When a speaker is in possession of the floor,
he is in possession even though he be somewhat dilatory in looking to his references,
and whispering to his neighbour.
when that speaker is a chairman,
of course some additional latitude must be allowed to him.
Montague understood this,
and sat silent.
It seemed that Melmotte had much to say to Cohenlupe,
and Cohenlupe much to say to Melmotte.
Since Cohenlupe had sat at the Board he had never before developed such powers of conversation.
Nidderdale didn't quite understand it.
He had been there twenty minutes,
was tired of his present amusement,
having been unable to hit Carbury on the nose,
and suddenly remembered that the Beargarden would now be open.
He was no respecter of persons,
and had got over any little feeling of awe with which the big table and the solemnity of the room may have first inspired him.
"I suppose that's about all,"
looking up at Melmotte.
--perhaps as your lordship is in a hurry,
and as my lord here is engaged elsewhere,"
--turning round to Lord Alfred,
who had not uttered a syllable or made a sign since he had been in his seat,
--"we had better adjourn this meeting for another week."
"I cannot allow that,"
said Paul Montague.
"I suppose then we must take the sense of the Board,"
said the Chairman.
"I have been discussing certain circumstances with our friend and Chairman,"
"and I must say that it is not expedient just at present to go into matters too freely."
"My lords and gentlemen,"
"I hope that you trust me."
Lord Alfred bowed down to the table and muttered something which was intended to convey most absolute confidence.
said Mr. Cohenlupe.
said Lord Nidderdale;
and he fired another pellet with improved success.
said the Chairman,
"that my young friend,
doubts neither my discretion nor my ability."
--not at all,"
said the baronet,
much flattered at being addressed in this kindly tone.
He had come there with objects of his own,
and was quite prepared to support the Chairman on any matter whatever.
"My Lords and Gentlemen,"
"I am delighted to receive this expression of your confidence.
If I know anything in the world I know something of commercial matters.
I am able to tell you that we are prospering.
I do not know that greater prosperity has ever been achieved in a shorter time by a commercial company.
I think our friend here,
should be as feelingly aware of that as any gentleman."
"What do you mean by that,
"What do I mean?
--Certainly nothing adverse to your character,
Your firm in San Francisco,
know very well how the affairs of the Company are being transacted on this side of the water.
No doubt you are in correspondence with Mr. Fisker.
The telegraph wires are open to you,
my Lords and Gentlemen,
I am able to inform you that in affairs of this nature great discretion is necessary.
On behalf of the shareholders at large whose interests are in our hands,
I think it expedient that any general statement should be postponed for a short time,
and I flatter myself that in that opinion I shall carry the majority of this Board with me."
Mr. Melmotte did not make his speech very fluently;
being accustomed to the place which he occupied,
he did manage to get the words spoken in such a way as to make them intelligible to the company.
"I now move that this meeting be adjourned to this day week,"
"I second that motion,"
said Lord Alfred,
without moving his hand from his breast.
"I understood that we were to have a statement,"
"You've had a statement,"
said Mr. Cohenlupe.
"I will put my motion to the vote,"
said the Chairman.
"I shall move an amendment,"
determined that he would not be altogether silenced.
"There is nobody to second it,"
said Mr. Cohenlupe.
"How do you know till I've made it?"
asked the rebel.
"I shall ask Lord Nidderdale to second it,
and when he has heard it I think that he will not refuse."
--don't ask me.
I've got to go away.
I have indeed."
"At any rate I claim the right of saying a few words.
I do not say whether every affair of this Company should or should not be published to the world."
"You'd break up everything if you did,"
"Perhaps everything ought to be broken up.
But I say nothing about that.
What I do say is this.
That as we sit here as directors and will be held to be responsible as such by the public,
we ought to know what is being done.
We ought to know where the shares really are.
I for one do not even know what scrip has been issued."
"You've bought and sold enough to know something about it,"
Paul Montague became very red in the face.
at any rate,
"by putting what was to me a large sum of money into the affair."
"That's more than I know,"
"Whatever shares you have,
were issued at San Francisco,
and not here."
"I have taken nothing that I haven't paid for,"
"Nor have I yet had allotted to me anything like the number of shares which my capital would represent.
But I did not intend to speak of my own concerns."
"It looks very like it,"
"So far from it that I am prepared to risk the not improbable loss of everything I have in the world.
I am determined to know what is being done with the shares,
or to make it public to the world at large that I,
one of the directors of the Company,
do not in truth know anything about it.
absolve myself from further responsibility;
but I can at any rate do what is right from this time forward,
--and that course I intend to take."
"The gentleman had better resign his seat at this Board,"
"There will be no difficulty about that."
"Bound up as I am with Fisker and Montague in California I fear that there will be difficulty."
"Not in the least,"
continued the Chairman.
"You need only gazette your resignation and the thing is done.
I had intended,
to propose an addition to our number.
When I name to you a gentleman,
personally known to many of you,
and generally esteemed throughout England as a man of business,
as a man of probity,
and as a man of fortune,
a man standing deservedly high in all British circles,
I mean Mr. Longestaffe of Caversham --"
asked Lord Nidderdale.
"I mean Mr. Adolphus Longestaffe,
I am sure that you will all be glad to welcome him among you.
I had thought to strengthen our number by this addition.
But if Mr. Montague is determined to leave us,
--and no one will regret the loss of his services so much as I shall,
--it will be my pleasing duty to move that Adolphus Longestaffe,
be requested to take his place.
If on reconsideration Mr. Montague shall determine to remain with us,
--and I for one most sincerely hope that such reconsideration may lead to such determination,
--then I shall move that an additional director be added to our number,
and that Mr. Longestaffe be requested to take the chair of that additional director."
The latter speech Mr. Melmotte got through very glibly,
and then immediately left the chair,
so as to show that the business of the Board was closed for that day without any possibility of reopening it.
Paul went up to him and took him by the sleeve,
signifying that he wished to speak to him before they parted.
said the great man bowing.
looking round on the young baronet with his blandest smile,
"if you are not in a hurry,
wait a moment for me.
I have a word or two to say before you go.
what can I do for you?"
Paul began his story,
expressing again the opinion which he had already very plainly expressed at the table.
But Melmotte stopped him very shortly,
and with much less courtesy than he had shown in the speech which he had made from the chair.
"The thing is about this way,
I take it,
--you think you know more of this matter than I do."
"Not at all,
"And I think that I know more of it than you do.
Either of us may be right.
But as I don't intend to give way to you,
perhaps the less we speak together about it the better.
You can't be in earnest in the threat you made,
because you would be making public things communicated to you under the seal of privacy,
--and no gentleman would do that.
But as long as you are hostile to me,
I can't help you;
--and so good afternoon."
without giving Montague the possibility of a reply,
he escaped into an inner room which had the word "Private" painted on the door,
and which was supposed to belong to the chairman individually.
He shut the door behind him,
after a few moments,
put out his head and beckoned to Sir Felix Carbury.
Nidderdale was gone.
Lord Alfred with his son were already on the stairs.
Cohenlupe was engaged with Melmotte's clerk on the record-book.
Paul Montague finding himself without support and alone,
slowly made his way out into the court.
Sir Felix had come into the city intending to suggest to the Chairman that having paid his thousand pounds he should like to have a few shares to go on with.
at the present moment very nearly penniless,
and had negotiated,
or lost at cards,
all the I.O.U.'s which were in any degree serviceable.
He still had a pocket-book full of those issued by Miles Grendall;
but it was now an understood thing at the Beargarden that no one was to be called upon to take them except Miles Grendall himself;
--an arrangement which robbed the card-table of much of its delight.
he had lately been forced to issue a little paper himself,
--in doing which he had talked largely of his shares in the railway.
His case certainly was hard.
He had actually paid a thousand pounds down in hard cash,
a commercial transaction which,
as performed by himself,
he regarded as stupendous.
It was almost incredible to himself that he should have paid any one a thousand pounds,
but he had done it with much difficulty,
--having carried Dolly junior with him all the way into the city,
--in the belief that he would thus put himself in the way of making a continual and unfailing income.
He understood that as a director he would be always entitled to buy shares at par,
as a matter of course,
always able to sell them at the market price.
This he understood to range from ten to fifteen and twenty per cent.
He would have nothing to do but to buy and sell daily.
He was told that Lord Alfred was allowed to do it to a small extent;
and that Melmotte was doing it to an enormous extent.
But before he could do it he must get something,
--he hardly knew what,
--out of Melmotte's hands.
Melmotte certainly did not seem disposed to shun him,
and therefore there could be no difficulty about the shares.
As to danger;
--who could think of danger in reference to money intrusted to the hands of Augustus Melmotte?
"I am delighted to see you here,"
shaking him cordially by the hand.
"You come regularly,
and you'll find that it will be worth your while.
There's nothing like attending to business.
You should be here every Friday."
said the baronet.
"And let me see you sometimes up at my place in Abchurch Lane.
I can put you more in the way of understanding things there than I can here.
This is all a mere formal sort of thing.
You can see that."
I see that."
"We are obliged to have this kind of thing for men like that fellow Montague.
is he a friend of yours?"
He is a friend of a cousin of mine;
and the women know him at home.
He isn't a pal of mine if you mean that."
"If he makes himself disagreeable,
he'll have to go to the wall;
But never mind him at present.
Was your mother speaking to you of what I said to her?"
said Sir Felix,
staring with all his eyes.
"I was talking to her about you,
and I thought that perhaps she might have told you.
This is all nonsense,
about you and Marie."
Sir Felix looked into the man's face.
It was not savage,
as he had seen it.
But there had suddenly come upon his brow that heavy look of a determined purpose which all who knew the man were wont to mark.
Sir Felix had observed it a few minutes since in the Board-room,
when the chairman was putting down the rebellious director.
"You understand that;
Sir Felix still looked at him,
but made no reply.
"It's all d -- -- nonsense.
You haven't got a brass farthing,
You've no income at all;
you're just living on your mother,
and I'm afraid she's not very well off.
How can you suppose that I shall give my girl to you?"
Felix still looked at him but did not dare to contradict a single statement made.
Yet when the man told him that he had not a brass farthing he thought of his own thousand pounds which were now in the man's pocket.
"You're a baronet,
and that's about all,
"The Carbury property,
which is a very small thing,
belongs to a distant cousin who may leave it to me if he pleases;
--and who isn't very much older than you are yourself."
he's a great deal older than me."
"It wouldn't matter if he were as old as Adam.
The thing is out of the question,
and you must drop it."
Then the look on his brow became a little heavier.
"You hear what I say.
She is going to marry Lord Nidderdale.
She was engaged to him before you ever saw her.
What do you expect to get by it?"
Sir Felix had not the courage to say that he expected to get the girl he loved.
But as the man waited for an answer he was obliged to say something.
"I suppose it's the old story,"
--the old story.
You want my money,
and she wants you,
just because she has been told to take somebody else.
You want something to live on;
--that's what you want.
--out with it.
Is not that it?
When we understand each other I'll put you in the way of making money."
"Of course I'm not very well off,"
"About as badly as any young man that I can hear of.
You give me your written promise that you'll drop this affair with Marie,
and you shan't want for money."
"A written promise!"
--a written promise.
I give nothing for nothing.
I'll put you in the way of doing so well with these shares that you shall be able to marry any other girl you please;
--or to live without marrying,
which you'll find to be better."
There was something worthy of consideration in Mr. Melmotte's proposition.
Marriage of itself,
simply as a domestic institution,
had not specially recommended itself to Sir Felix Carbury.
A few horses at Leighton,
Ruby Ruggles or any other beauty,
and life at the Beargarden were much more to his taste.
And then he was quite alive to the fact that it was possible that he might find himself possessed of the wife without the money.
had a grand plan of her own,
with reference to that settled income;
but then Marie might be mistaken,
--or she might be lying.
If he were sure of making money in the way Melmotte now suggested,
the loss of Marie would not break his heart.
But then also Melmotte might be --lying.
"could you let me have those shares?"
And the heavy brow became still heavier.
"Don't you know?
--I gave you a thousand pounds,
and I was to have ten shares."
"You must come about that on the proper day,
to the proper place."
"When is the proper day?"
"It is the twentieth of each month I think."
Sir Felix looked very blank at hearing this,
knowing that this present was the twenty-first of the month.
"But what does that signify?
Do you want a little money?"
said Sir Felix.
"A lot of fellows owe me money,
but it's so hard to get it."
"That tells a story of gambling,"
said Mr. Melmotte.
"You think I'd give my girl to a gambler?"
"Nidderdale's in it quite as thick as I am."
"Nidderdale has a settled property which neither he nor his father can destroy.
But don't you be such a fool as to argue with me.
You won't get anything by it.
If you'll write that letter here now --"
--not to Marie at all;
but to me.
It need never be shown to her.
If you'll do that I'll stick to you and make a man of you.
And if you want a couple of hundred pounds I'll give you a cheque for it before you leave the room.
I can tell you this.
On my word of honour as a gentleman,
if my daughter were to marry you,
she'd never have a single shilling.
I should immediately make a will and leave all my property to St. George's Hospital.
I have quite made up my mind about that."
"And couldn't you manage that I should have the shares before the twentieth of next month?"
"I'll see about it.
Perhaps I could let you have a few of my own.
At any rate I won't see you short of money."
The terms were enticing and the letter was of course written.
Melmotte himself dictated the words,
which were not romantic in their nature.
The reader shall see the letter.
In consideration of the offers made by you to me,
and on a clear understanding that such a marriage would be disagreeable to you and to the lady's mother,
and would bring down a father's curse upon your daughter,
I hereby declare and promise that I will not renew my suit to the young lady,
which I hereby altogether renounce.
Your obedient Servant,
The letter was dated 21st July,
and bore the printed address of the offices of the South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway.
"You'll give me that cheque for £200,
The financier hesitated for a moment,
but did give the baronet the cheque as promised.
"And you'll see about letting me have those shares?"
"You can come to me in Abchurch Lane,
Sir Felix said that he would call in Abchurch Lane.
As he went westward towards the Beargarden,
the baronet was not happy in his mind.
Ignorant as he was as to the duties of a gentleman,
indifferent as he was to the feelings of others,
still he felt ashamed of himself.
He was treating the girl very badly.
Even he knew that he was behaving badly.
He was so conscious of it that he tried to console himself by reflecting that his writing such a letter as that would not prevent his running away with the girl,
find it to be worth his while to do so.
That night he was again playing at the Beargarden,
and he lost a great part of Mr. Melmotte's money.
He did in fact lose much more than the £200;
but when he found his ready money going from him he issued paper.
PAUL MONTAGUE'S TROUBLES.
Paul Montague had other troubles on his mind beyond this trouble of the Mexican Railway.
It was now more than a fortnight since he had taken Mrs. Hurtle to the play,
and she was still living in lodgings at Islington.
He had seen her twice,
once on the following day,
when he was allowed to come and go without any special reference to their engagement,
three or four days afterwards,
when the meeting was by no means so pleasant.
She had wept,
and after weeping had stormed.
She had stood upon what she called her rights,
and had dared him to be false to her.
Did he mean to deny that he had promised to marry her?
Was not his conduct to her,
ever since she had now been in London,
a repetition of that promise?
And then again she became soft,
and pleaded with him.
But for the storm he might have given way.
At that moment he had felt that any fate in life would be better than a marriage on compulsion.
Her tears and her pleadings,
touched him very nearly.
He had promised her most distinctly.
He had loved her and had won her love.
And she was lovely.
The very violence of the storm made the sunshine more sweet.
She would sit down on a stool at his feet,
and it was impossible to drive her away from him.
She would look up in his face and he could not but embrace her.
Then there had come a passionate flood of tears and she was in his arms.
How he had escaped he hardly knew,
but he did know that he had promised to be with her again before two days should have passed.
On the day named he wrote to her a letter excusing himself,
which was at any rate true in words.
He had been summoned,
to Liverpool on business,
and must postpone seeing her till his return.
And he explained that the business on which he was called was connected with the great American railway,
demanded his attention.
In words this was true.
He had been corresponding with a gentleman at Liverpool with whom he had become acquainted on his return home after having involuntarily become a partner in the house of Fisker,
This man he trusted and had consulted,
and the gentleman,
Mr. Ramsbottom by name,
had suggested that he should come to him at Liverpool.
He had gone,
and his conduct at the Board had been the result of the advice which he had received;
but it may be doubted whether some dread of the coming interview with Mrs. Hurtle had not added strength to Mr. Ramsbottom's invitation.
In Liverpool he had heard tidings of Mrs. Hurtle,
though it can hardly be said that he obtained any trustworthy information.
The lady after landing from an American steamer had been at Mr. Ramsbottom's office,
inquiring for him,
and Mr. Ramsbottom had thought that the inquiries were made in a manner indicating danger.
He therefore had spoken to a fellow-traveller with Mrs. Hurtle,
and the fellow-traveller had opined that Mrs. Hurtle was "a queer card."
"On board ship we all gave it up to her that she was about the handsomest woman we had ever seen,
but we all said that there was a bit of the wild cat in her breeding."
Then Mr. Ramsbottom had asked whether the lady was a widow.
"There was a man on board from Kansas,"
said the fellow-traveller,
"who knew a man named Hurtle at Leavenworth,
who was separated from his wife and is still alive.
according to him,
a queer story about the man and his wife having fought a duel with pistols,
and then having separated."
This Mr. Ramsbottom,
who in an earlier stage of the affair had heard something of Paul and Mrs. Hurtle together,
managed to communicate to the young man.
His advice about the railway company was very clear and general,
and such as an honest man would certainly give;
but it might have been conveyed by letter.
such as it was,
respecting Mrs. Hurtle,
could only be given vivâ voce,
and perhaps the invitation to Liverpool had originated in Mr. Ramsbottom's appreciation of this fact.
"As she was asking after you here,
perhaps it is as well that you should know,"
his friend said to him.
Paul had only thanked him,
not daring on the spur of the moment to speak of his own difficulties.
In all this there had been increased dismay,
but there had also been some comfort.
It had only been at moments in which he had been subject to her softer influences that Paul had doubted as to his adherence to the letter which he had written to her,
breaking off his engagement.
When she told him of her wrongs and of her love;
of his promise and his former devotion to her;
when she assured him that she had given up everything in life for him,
and threw her arms round him,
looking into his eyes;
--then he would almost yield.
what the traveller called the breeding of the wild cat,
having escaped from her,
he thought of Hetta Carbury and of her breeding,
--he was fully determined that,
let his fate be what it might,
it should not be that of being the husband of Mrs. Hurtle.
That he was in a mass of troubles from which it would be very difficult for him to extricate himself he was well aware;
--but if it were true that Mr. Hurtle was alive,
that fact might help him.
She certainly had declared him to be,
or even divorced,
And if it were true also that she had fought a duel with one husband,
that also ought to be a reason why a gentleman should object to become her second husband.
These facts would at any rate justify himself to himself,
and would enable himself to break from his engagement without thinking himself to be a false traitor.
But he must make up his mind as to some line of conduct.
She must be made to know the truth.
If he meant to reject the lady finally on the score of her being a wild cat,
he must tell her so.
He felt very strongly that he must not flinch from the wild cat's claws.
That he would have to undergo some severe handling,
an amount of clawing which might perhaps go near his life,
he could perceive.
Having done what he had done he would have no right to shrink from such usage.
He must tell her to her face that he was not satisfied with her past life,
and that therefore he would not marry her.
Of course he might write to her;
--but when summoned to her presence he would be unable to excuse himself,
even to himself,
for not going.
It was his misfortune,
--and also his fault,
--that he had submitted to be loved by a wild cat.
But it might be well that before he saw her he should get hold of information that might have the appearance of real evidence.
He returned from Liverpool to London on the morning of the Friday on which the Board was held,
and thought even more of all this than he did of the attack which he was prepared to make on Mr. Melmotte.
If he could come across that traveller he might learn something.
The husband's name had been Caradoc Carson Hurtle.
If Caradoc Carson Hurtle had been seen in the State of Kansas within the last two years,
that certainly would be sufficient evidence.
As to the duel he felt that it might be very hard to prove that,
and that if proved,
it might be hard to found upon the fact any absolute right on his part to withdraw from the engagement.
But there was a rumour also,
though not corroborated during his last visit to Liverpool,
that she had shot a gentleman in Oregon.
Could he get at the truth of that story?
If they were all true,
surely he could justify himself to himself.
But this detective's work was very distasteful to him.
After having had the woman in his arms how could he undertake such inquiries as these?
And it would be almost necessary that he should take her in his arms again while he was making them,
--unless indeed he made them with her knowledge.
Was it not his duty,
as a man,
to tell everything to herself?
To speak to her thus;
--"I am told that your life with your last husband was,
to say the least of it,
that you even fought a duel with him.
I could not marry a woman who had fought a duel,
--certainly not a woman who had fought with her own husband.
I am told also that you shot another gentleman in Oregon.
It may well be that the gentleman deserved to be shot;
but there is something in the deed so repulsive to me,
--no doubt irrationally,
on that score also,
I must decline to marry you.
I am told also that Mr. Hurtle has been seen alive quite lately.
I had understood from you that he is dead.
No doubt you may have been deceived.
But as I should not have engaged myself to you had I known the truth,
so now I consider myself justified in absolving myself from an engagement which was based on a misconception."
It would no doubt be difficult to get through all these details;
but it might be accomplished gradually,
--unless in the process of doing so he should incur the fate of the gentleman in Oregon.
At any rate he would declare to her as well as he could the ground on which he claimed a right to consider himself free,
and would bear the consequences.
Such was the resolve which he made on his journey up from Liverpool,
and that trouble was also on his mind when he rose up to attack Mr. Melmotte single-handed at the Board.
When the Board was over,
he also went down to the Beargarden.
with reference to the Board,
the feeling which hurt him most was the conviction that he was spending money which he would never have had to spend had there been no Board.
He had been twitted with this at the Board-meeting,
and had justified himself by referring to the money which had been invested in the Company of Fisker,
which money was now supposed to have been made over to the railway.
But the money which he was spending had come to him after a loose fashion,
and he knew that if called upon for an account,
he could hardly make out one which would be square and intelligible to all parties.
Nevertheless he spent much of his time at the Beargarden,
dining there when no engagement carried him elsewhere.
On this evening he joined his table with Nidderdale's,
at the young lord's instigation.
"What made you so savage at old Melmotte to-day?"
said the young lord.
"I didn't mean to be savage,
but I think that as we call ourselves Directors we ought to know something about it."
"I suppose we ought.
I don't know,
I'll tell you what I've been thinking.
I can't make out why the mischief they made me a Director."
"Because you're a lord,"
said Paul bluntly.
"I suppose there's something in that.
But what good can I do them?
Nobody thinks that I know anything about business.
Of course I'm in Parliament,
but I don't often go there unless they want me to vote.
Everybody knows that I'm hard up.
I can't understand it.
The Governor said that I was to do it,
and so I've done it."
--there's something between you and Melmotte's daughter."
"But if there is,
what has that to do with a railway in the city?
And why should Carbury be there?
heaven and earth,
why should old Grendall be a Director?
but if you were to pick out the two most hopeless men in London in regard to money,
they would be old Grendall and young Carbury.
I've been thinking a good deal about it,
and I can't make it out."
"I have been thinking about it too,"
"I suppose old Melmotte is all right?"
This was a question which Montague found it difficult to answer.
How could he be justified in whispering suspicions to the man who was known to be at any rate one of the competitors for Marie Melmotte's hand?
"You can speak out to me,
nodding his head.
"I've got nothing to speak.
People say that he is about the richest man alive."
"He lives as though he were."
"I don't see why it shouldn't be all true.
I take it,
knows very much about him."
When his companion had left him,
Nidderdale sat down,
thinking of it all.
It occurred to him that he would "be coming a cropper rather,"
were he to marry Melmotte's daughter for her money,
and then find that she had got none.
A little later in the evening he invited Montague to go up to the card-room.
and Dolly Longestaffe are there waiting,"
But Paul declined.
He was too full of his troubles for play.
"Poor Miles isn't there,
if you're afraid of that,"
"Miles Grendall wouldn't hinder me,"
"Nor me either.
Of course it's a confounded shame.
I know that as well as any body.
God bless me,
I owe a fellow down in Leicestershire heaven knows how much for keeping horses,
and that's a shame."
"You'll pay him some day."
"I suppose I shall,
--if I don't die first.
But I should have gone on with the horses just the same if there had never been anything to come;
--only they wouldn't have given me tick,
As far as I'm concerned it's just the same.
I like to live whether I've got money or not.
And I fear I don't have many scruples about paying.
But then I like to let live too.
There's Carbury always saying nasty things about poor Miles.
He's playing himself without a rap to back him.
If he were to lose,
Vossner wouldn't stand him a £10 note.
But because he has won,
he goes on as though he were old Melmotte himself.
You'd better come up."
But Montague wouldn't go up.
Without any fixed purpose he left the club,
and slowly sauntered northwards through the streets till he found himself in Welbeck Street.
He hardly knew why he went there,
and certainly had not determined to call on Lady Carbury when he left the Beargarden.
His mind was full of Mrs. Hurtle.
As long as she was present in London,
--as long at any rate as he was unable to tell himself that he had finally broken away from her,
--he knew himself to be an unfit companion for Henrietta Carbury.
he was still under some promise made to Roger Carbury,
not that he would avoid Hetta's company,
but that for a certain period,
as yet unexpired,
he would not ask her to be his wife.
It had been a foolish promise,
made and then repented without much attention to words;
--but still it was existing,
and Paul knew well that Roger trusted that it would be kept.
Nevertheless Paul made his way up to Welbeck Street and almost unconsciously knocked at the door.
--Lady Carbury was not at home.
She was out somewhere with Mr. Roger Carbury.
Up to that moment Paul had not heard that Roger was in town;
but the reader may remember that he had come up in search of Ruby Ruggles.
Miss Carbury was at home,
the page went on to say.
Would Mr. Montague go up and see Miss Carbury?
Without much consideration Mr. Montague said that he would go up and see Miss Carbury.
"Mamma is out with Roger,"
said Hetta endeavouring to save herself from confusion.
"There is a soirée of learned people somewhere,
and she made poor Roger take her.
The ticket was only for her and her friend,
and therefore I could not go."
"I am so glad to see you.
What an age it is since we met."
"Hardly since the Melmottes' ball,"
I have been here once since that.
What has brought Roger up to town?"
"I don't know what it is.
Whenever there is a mystery I am always afraid that there is something wrong about Felix.
I do get so unhappy about Felix,
"I saw him to-day in the city,
at the Railway Board."
"But Roger says the Railway Board is all a sham,"
--Paul could not keep himself from blushing as he heard this,
--"and that Felix should not be there.
And then there is something going on about that horrid man's daughter."
"She is to marry Lord Nidderdale,
They are talking of her marrying Felix,
and of course it is for her money.
And I believe that man is determined to quarrel with them."
"Mr. Melmotte himself.
It's all horrid from beginning to end."
"But I saw them in the city to-day and they seemed to be the greatest friends.
When I wanted to see Mr. Melmotte he bolted himself into an inner room,
but he took your brother with him.
He would not have done that if they had not been friends.
When I saw it I almost thought that he had consented to the marriage."
"Roger has the greatest dislike to Mr. Melmotte."
"I know he has,"
"And Roger is always right.
It is always safe to trust him.
Don't you think so,
Paul did think so,
and was by no means disposed to deny to his rival the praise which rightly belonged to him;
but still he found the subject difficult.
"Of course I will never go against mamma,"
"but I always feel that my Cousin Roger is a rock of strength,
so that if one did whatever he said one would never get wrong.
I never found any one else that I thought that of,
but I do think it of him."
"No one has more reason to praise him than I have."
"I think everybody has reason to praise him that has to do with him.
And I'll tell you why I think it is.
Whenever he thinks anything he says it;
he never says anything that he doesn't think.
If he spent a thousand pounds,
everybody would know that he'd got it to spend;
but other people are not like that."
"You're thinking of Melmotte."
"I'm thinking of everybody,
--of everybody except Roger."
"Is he the only man you can trust?
But it is abominable to me to seem even to contradict you.
Roger Carbury has been to me the best friend that any man ever had.
I think as much of him as you do."
"I didn't say he was the only person;
--or I didn't mean to say so.
But of all my friends --"
"Am I among the number,
--I suppose so.
Of course you are.
Of course you are a friend,
--because you are his friend."
"It is no good going on like this.
I love Roger Carbury,
--as well as one man can love another.
He is all that you say,
You hardly know how he denies himself,
and how he thinks of everybody near him.
He is a gentleman all round and every inch.
He never lies.
He never takes what is not his own.
I believe he does love his neighbour as himself."
I am so glad to hear you speak of him like that."
"I love him better than any man,
--as well as a man can love a man.
If you will say that you love him as well as a woman can love a man,
--I will leave England at once,
and never return to it."
--for at that moment there was a double knock at the door.
"I DO LOVE HIM."
So it was.
Lady Carbury had returned home from the soirée of learned people,
and had brought Roger Carbury with her.
They both came up to the drawing-room and found Paul and Henrietta together.
It need hardly be said that they were both surprised.
Roger supposed that Montague was still at Liverpool,
knowing that he was not a frequent visitor in Welbeck Street,
could hardly avoid a feeling that a meeting between the two had now been planned in the mother's absence.
The reader knows that it was not so.
Roger certainly was a man not liable to suspicion,
but the circumstances in this case were suspicious.
There would have been nothing to suspect,
--no reason why Paul should not have been there,
--but from the promise which had been given.
no breach of that promise proved by Paul's presence in Welbeck Street;
but Roger felt rather than thought that the two could hardly have spent the evening together without such breach.
Whether Paul had broken the promise by what he had already said the reader must be left to decide.
Lady Carbury was the first to speak.
"This is quite an unexpected pleasure,
Whether Roger suspected anything or not,
The moment she saw Paul the idea occurred to her that the meeting between Hetta and him had been preconcerted.
--making a lame excuse,
where no excuse should have been made,
--"I had nothing to do,
and was lonely,
and thought that I would come up and see you."
Lady Carbury disbelieved him altogether,
but Roger felt assured that his coming in Lady Carbury's absence had been an accident.
The man had said so,
and that was enough.
"I thought you were at Liverpool,"
"I came back to-day,
--to be present at that Board in the city.
I have had a good deal to trouble me.
I will tell you all about it just now.
What has brought you to London?"
"A little business,"
Then there was an awkward silence.
Lady Carbury was angry,
and hardly knew whether she ought or ought not to show her anger.
For Henrietta it was very awkward.
could not but feel that she had been caught,
though no innocence could be whiter than hers.
She knew well her mother's mind,
and the way in which her mother's thoughts would run.
Silence was frightful to her,
and she found herself forced to speak.
"Have you had a pleasant evening,
"Have you had a pleasant evening,
said Lady Carbury,
forgetting herself in her desire to punish her daughter.
attempting to laugh,
"I have been trying to work hard at Dante,
but one never does any good when one has to try to work.
I was just going to bed when Mr. Montague came in.
What did you think of the wise men and the wise women,
"I was out of my element,
but I think your mother liked it."
"I was very glad indeed to meet Dr. Palmoil.
It seems that if we can only open the interior of Africa a little further,
we can get everything that is wanted to complete the chemical combination necessary for feeding the human race.
Isn't that a grand idea,
"A little more elbow grease is the combination that I look to."
if the Bible is to go for anything,
we are to believe that labour is a curse and not a blessing.
Adam was not born to labour."
"But he fell;
and I doubt whether Dr. Palmoil will be able to put his descendants back into Eden."
for a religious man,
you do say the strangest things!
I have quite made up my mind to this;
--if ever I can see things so settled here as to enable me to move,
I will visit the interior of Africa.
It is the garden of the world."
This scrap of enthusiasm so carried them through their immediate difficulties that the two men were able to take their leave and to get out of the room with fair comfort.
As soon as the door was closed behind them Lady Carbury attacked her daughter.
"What brought him here?"
"He brought himself,
"Don't answer me in that way,
Of course he brought himself.
That is insolent."
How can you say such hard words?
I meant that he came of his own accord."
"How long was he here?"
"Two minutes before you came in.
Why do you cross-question me like this?
I could not help his coming.
I did not desire that he might be shown up."
"You did not know that he was to come?"
if I am to be suspected,
all is over between us."
"What do you mean by that?"
"If you can think that I would deceive you,
you will think so always.
If you will not trust me,
how am I to live with you as though you did?
I knew nothing of his coming."
"Tell me this,
are you engaged to marry him?"
--I am not."
"Has he asked you to marry him?"
Hetta paused a moment,
before she answered this question.
"I do not think he ever has."
"You do not think?"
"I was going on to explain.
He never has asked me.
But he has said that which makes me know that he wishes me to be his wife."
"What has he said?
When did he say it?"
Again she paused.
But again she answered with straightforward simplicity.
"Just before you came in,
he said --;
I don't know what he said;
but it meant that."
"You told me he had been here but a minute."
"It was but very little more.
If you take me at my word in that way,
of course you can make me out to be wrong,
It was almost no time,
and yet he said it."
"He had come prepared to say it."
"How could he,
--expecting to find you?"
He expected nothing of the kind."
"I think you do him wrong,
I am sure you are doing me wrong.
I think his coming was an accident,
and that what he said was --an accident."
"It was not intended,
I have known it ever so long;
--and so have you.
It was natural that he should say so when we were alone together."
--what did you say?"
"I am sorry that my coming should have been so inopportune.
But I must ask one other question,
What do you intend to say?"
Hetta was again silent,
and now for a longer space.
She put her hand up to her brow and pushed back her hair as she thought whether her mother had a right to continue this cross-examination.
She had told her mother everything as it had happened.
She had kept back no deed done,
no word spoken,
either now or at any time.
But she was not sure that her mother had a right to know her thoughts,
feeling as she did that she had so little sympathy from her mother.
"How do you intend to answer him?"
demanded Lady Carbury.
"I do not know that he will ask again."
"That is prevaricating."
--I do not prevaricate.
It is unfair to say that to me.
I do love him.
I think it ought to have been enough for you to know that I should never give him encouragement without telling you about it.
I do love him,
and I shall never love any one else."
"He is a ruined man.
Your cousin says that all this Company in which he is involved will go to pieces."
Hetta was too clever to allow this argument to pass.
She did not doubt that Roger had so spoken of the Railway to her mother,
but she did doubt that her mother had believed the story.
"Mr. Melmotte will be a ruined man too,
and yet you want Felix to marry Marie Melmotte."
"It makes me ill to hear you talk,
--as if you understood these things.
And you think you will marry this man because he is to make a fortune out of the Railway!"
Lady Carbury was able to speak with an extremity of scorn in reference to the assumed pursuit by one of her children of an advantageous position which she was doing all in her power to recommend to the other child.
"I have not thought of his fortune.
I have not thought of marrying him,
I think you are very cruel to me.
You say things so hard,
that I cannot bear them."
"Why will you not marry your cousin?"
"I am not good enough for him."
you say so.
But that is what I think.
He is so much above me,
though I do love him,
I cannot think of him in that way.
And I have told you that I do love some one else.
I have no secret from you now.
coming up to her mother and kissing her.
"Do be kind to me;
--do believe me."
Lady Carbury then allowed herself to be kissed,
and allowed her daughter to leave the room.
[Illustration: Lady Carbury allowed herself to be kissed.]
There was a great deal said that night between Roger Carbury and Paul Montague before they parted.
As they walked together to Roger's hotel he said not a word as to Paul's presence in Welbeck Street.
Paul had declared his visit in Lady Carbury's absence to have been accidental,
--and therefore there was nothing more to be said.
Montague then asked as to the cause of Carbury's journey to London.
"I do not wish it to be talked of,"
said Roger after a pause,
--"and of course I could not speak of it before Hetta.
A girl has gone away from our neighbourhood.
You remember old Ruggles?"
"You do not mean that Ruby has levanted?
She was to have married John Crumb."
--but she has gone off,
leaving John Crumb in an unhappy frame of mind.
John Crumb is an honest man and almost too good for her."
"Ruby is very pretty.
Has she gone with any one?"
--she went alone.
But the horror of it is this.
They think down there that Felix has,
made love to her,
and that she has been taken to London by him."
"That would be very bad."
"He certainly has known her.
Though he lied,
as he always lies,
when I first spoke to him,
I brought him to admit that he and she had been friends down in Suffolk.
Of course we know what such friendship means.
But I do not think that she came to London at his instance.
Of course he would lie about that.
He would lie about anything.
If his horse cost him a hundred pounds,
he would tell one man that he gave fifty,
and another two hundred.
But he has not lived long enough yet to be able to lie and tell the truth with the same eye.
When he is as old as I am he'll be perfect."
"He knows nothing about her coming to town?"
"He did not when I first asked him.
I am not sure,
but I fancy that I was too quick after her.
She started last Saturday morning.
I followed on the Sunday,
and made him out at his club.
I think that he knew nothing then of her being in town.
He is very clever if he did.
Since that he has avoided me.
I caught him once but only for half a minute,
and then he swore that he had not seen her."
"You still believed him?"
--he did it very well,
but I knew that he was prepared for me.
I cannot say how it may have been.
To make matters worse old Ruggles has now quarrelled with Crumb,
and is no longer anxious to get back his granddaughter.
He was frightened at first;
but that has gone off,
and he is now reconciled to the loss of the girl and the saving of his money."
After that Paul told all his own story,
--the double story,
both in regard to Melmotte and to Mrs. Hurtle.
As regarded the Railway,
Roger could only tell him to follow explicitly the advice of his Liverpool friend.
"I never believed in the thing,
"Nor did I.
But what could I do?"
"I'm not going to blame you.
knowing you as I do,
feeling sure that you intend to be honest,
I would not for a moment insist on my own opinion,
if it did not seem that Mr. Ramsbottom thinks as I do.
In such a matter,
when a man does not see his own way clearly,
it behoves him to be able to show that he has followed the advice of some man whom the world esteems and recognises.
You have to bind your character to another man's character;
and that other man's character,
if it be good,
will carry you through.
From what I hear Mr. Ramsbottom's character is sufficiently good;
--but then you must do exactly what he tells you."
But the Railway business,
though it comprised all that Montague had in the world,
was not the heaviest of his troubles.
What was he to do about Mrs. Hurtle?
He had now,
for the first time,
to tell his friend that Mrs. Hurtle had come to London,
and that he had been with her three or four times.
There was this difficulty in the matter,
--that it was very hard to speak of his engagement with Mrs. Hurtle without in some sort alluding to his love for Henrietta Carbury.
Roger knew of both loves;
--had been very urgent with his friend to abandon the widow,
and at any rate equally urgent with him to give up the other passion.
Were he to marry the widow,
all danger on the other side would be at an end.
in discussing the question of Mrs. Hurtle,
he was to do so as though there were no such person existing as Henrietta Carbury.
The discussion did take place exactly as though there were no such person as Henrietta Carbury.
Paul told it all,
--the rumoured duel,
the rumoured murder,
and the rumour of the existing husband.
"It may be necessary that you should go out to Kansas,
--and to Oregon,"
"But even if the rumours be untrue I will not marry her,"
Roger shrugged his shoulders.
He was doubtless thinking of Hetta Carbury,
but he said nothing.
"And what would she do,
Roger admitted that it would be awkward.
"I am determined that under no circumstances will I marry her.
I know I have been a fool.
I know I have been wrong.
But of course,
if there be a fair cause for my broken word,
I will use it if I can."
"You will get out of it,
honestly if you can;
but you will get out of it honestly or --any other way."
"Did you not advise me to get out of it,
--before we knew as much as we do now?"
--and I do.
If you make a bargain with the Devil,
it may be dishonest to cheat him,
--and yet I would have you cheat him if you could.
As to this woman,
I do believe she has deceived you.
If I were you,
nothing should induce me to marry her;
--not though her claws were strong enough to tear me utterly in pieces.
I'll tell you what I'll do.
I'll go and see her if you like it."
But Paul would not submit to this.
He felt that he was bound himself to incur the risk of those claws,
and that no substitute could take his place.
They sat long into the night,
and it was at last resolved between them that on the next morning Paul should go to Islington,
should tell Mrs. Hurtle all the stories which he had heard,
and should end by declaring his resolution that under no circumstances would he marry her.
They both felt how improbable it was that he should ever be allowed to get to the end of such a story,
--how almost certain it was that the breeding of the wild cat would show itself before that time should come.
that was the course to be pursued as far as circumstances would admit;
and Paul was at any rate to declare,
claws or no claws,
husband or no husband,
--whether the duel or the murder was admitted or denied,
--that he would never make Mrs. Hurtle his wife.
"I wish it were over,
"So do I,"
as he took his leave.
He went to bed like a man condemned to die on the next morning,
and he awoke in the same condition.
He had slept well,
but as he shook from him his happy dream,
the wretched reality at once overwhelmed him.
But the man who is to be hung has no choice.
when he wakes,
declare that he has changed his mind,
and postpone the hour.
It was quite open to Paul Montague to give himself such instant relief.
He put his hand up to his brow,
and almost made himself believe that his head was aching.
This was Saturday.
Would it not be well that he should think of it further,
and put off his execution till Monday?
Monday was so far distant that he felt that he could go to Islington quite comfortably on Monday.
Was there not some hitherto forgotten point which it would be well that he should discuss with his friend Roger before he saw the lady?
Should he not rush down to Liverpool,
and ask a few more questions of Mr. Ramsbottom?
Why should he go forth to execution,
seeing that the matter was in his own hands?
At last he jumped out of bed and into his tub,
and dressed himself as quickly as he could.
He worked himself up into a fit of fortitude,
and resolved that the thing should be done before the fit was over.
He ate his breakfast about nine,
and then asked himself whether he might not be too early were he to go at once to Islington.
But he remembered that she was always early.
In every respect she was an energetic woman,
using her time for some purpose,
either good or bad,
not sleeping it away in bed.
If one has to be hung on a given day,
would it not be well to be hung as soon after waking as possible?
I can fancy that the hangman would hardly come early enough.
And if one had to be hung in a given week,
would not one wish to be hung on the first day of the week,
even at the risk of breaking one's last Sabbath day in this world?
Whatever be the misery to be endured,
get it over.
The horror of every agony is in its anticipation.
Paul had realised something of this when he threw himself into a Hansom cab,
and ordered the man to drive him to Islington.
How quick that cab went!
Nothing ever goes so quick as a Hansom cab when a man starts for a dinner-party a little too early;
--nothing so slow when he starts too late.
Of all cabs this,
was the quickest.
Paul was lodging in Suffolk Street,
close to Pall Mall,
--whence the way to Islington,
across Oxford Street,
across Tottenham Court Road,
across numerous squares north-east of the Museum,
seems to be long.
The end of Goswell Road is the outside of the world in that direction,
and Islington is beyond the end of Goswell Road.
And yet that Hansom cab was there before Paul Montague had been able to arrange the words with which he would begin the interview.
He had given the street and the number of the street.
It was not till after he had started that it occurred to him that it might be well that he should get out at the end of the street,
and walk to the house,
--so that he might,
as it were,
fetch his breath before the interview was commenced.
But the cabman dashed up to the door in a manner purposely devised to make every inmate of the house aware that a cab had just arrived before it.
There was a little garden before the house.
We all know the garden;
--twenty-four feet long,
by twelve broad;
--and an iron-grated door,
with the landlady's name on a brass plate.
when he had paid the cabman,
--giving the man half-a-crown,
and asking for no change in his agony,
--pushed in the iron gate and walked very quickly up to the door,
rang rather furiously,
and before the door was well opened asked for Mrs. Hurtle.
"Mrs. Hurtle is out for the day,"
said the girl who opened the door.
she went out yesterday and won't be back till to-night."
Providence had sent him a reprieve!
But he almost forgot the reprieve,
as he looked at the girl and saw that she was Ruby Ruggles.
is that you?"
Ruby Ruggles had often seen Paul down in Suffolk,
and recognised him as quickly as he did her.
It occurred to her at once that he had come in search of herself.
She knew that Roger Carbury was up in town looking for her.
So much she had of course learned from Sir Felix,
--for at this time she had seen the baronet more than once since her arrival.
was Roger Carbury's intimate friend,
and now she felt that she was caught.
In her terror she did not at first remember that the visitor had asked for Mrs. Hurtle.
it is I.
I was sorry to hear,
that you had left your home."
"I'm all right,
Mrs. Pipkin is my aunt,
my mother's brother's widow,
though grandfather never would speak to her.
She's quite respectable,
and has five children,
and lets lodgings.
There's a lady here now,
and has gone away with her just for one night down to Southend.
They'll be back this evening,
and I've the children to mind,
with the servant girl.
I'm quite respectable here,
and nobody need be a bit afraid about me."
"Mrs. Hurtle has gone down to Southend?"
she wasn't quite well,
and wanted a breath of air,
And aunt didn't like she should go alone,
as Mrs. Hurtle is such a stranger.
And Mrs. Hurtle said as she didn't mind paying for two,
and so they've gone,
and the baby with them.
Mrs. Pipkin said as the baby shouldn't be no trouble.
And Mrs. Hurtle,
--she's most as fond of the baby as aunt.
Do you know Mrs. Hurtle,
she's a friend of mine."
I didn't know.
I did know as there was some friend as was expected and as didn't come.
Be I to say,
as you was here?"
Paul thought it might be as well to shift the subject and to ask Ruby a few questions about herself while he made up his mind what message he would leave for Mrs. Hurtle.
"I'm afraid they are very unhappy about you down at Bungay,
"Then they've got to be unhappy;
that's all about it,
Grandfather is that provoking as a young woman can't live with him,
nor yet I won't try never again.
He lugged me all about the room by my hair,
How is a young woman to put up with that?
And I did everything for him,
--that careful that no one won't do it again;
--did his linen,
and his victuals,
and even cleaned his boots of a Sunday,
'cause he was that mean he wouldn't have anybody about the place only me and the girl who had to milk the cows.
There wasn't nobody to do anything,
And then he went to drag me about by the hairs of my head.
You won't see me again at Sheep's Acre,
--nor yet won't the Squire."
"But I thought there was somebody else was to give you a home."
there's John Crumb.
There's plenty of people to give me a home,
"You were to have been married to John Crumb,
"Ladies is to change their minds if they like it,
I'm sure you've heard that before.
Grandfather made me say I'd have him,
--but I never cared that for him."
you won't find a better man up here in London."
"I didn't come here to look for a man,
I can tell you that.
They has to look for me,
if they want me.
But I am looked after;
and that by one as John Crumb ain't fit to touch."
That told the whole story.
Paul when he heard the little boast was quite sure that Roger's fear about Felix was well founded.
And as for John Crumb's fitness to touch Sir Felix,
Paul felt that the Bungay mealman might have an opinion of his own on that matter.
"But there's Betsy a crying up-stairs,
and I promised not to leave them children for one minute."
"I will tell the Squire that I saw you,
"What does the Squire want o' me?
I ain't nothing to the Squire,
--except that I respects him.
You can tell if you please,
I'm a coming,
Paul made his way into Mrs. Hurtle's sitting-room and wrote a note for her in pencil.
He had come,
immediately on his return from Liverpool,
and was sorry to find that she was away for the day.
When should he call again?
If she would make an appointment he would attend to it.
He felt as he wrote this that he might very safely have himself made an appointment for the morrow;
but he cheated himself into half believing that the suggestion he now made was the more gracious and civil.
At any rate it would certainly give him another day.
Mrs. Hurtle would not return till late in the evening,
and as the following day was Sunday there would be no delivery by post.
When the note was finished he left it on the table,
and called to Ruby to tell her that he was going.
she said in a confidential whisper,
as she tripped down the stairs,
"I don't see why you need be saying anything about me,
"Mr. Carbury is up in town looking after you."
'm I to Mr. Carbury?"
"Your grandfather is very anxious about you."
"Not a bit of it,
Grandfather knows very well where I am.
Grandfather doesn't want me back,
and I ain't a going.
Why should the Squire bother himself about me?
I don't bother myself about him."
that you are trusting yourself to a young man who is not trustworthy."
"I can mind myself very well,
"Tell me this.
Have you seen Sir Felix Carbury since you've been in town?"
whose blushes came very easily,
now flushed up to her forehead.
"You may be sure that he means no good to you.
What can come of an intimacy between you and such a one as he?"
"I don't see why I shouldn't have my friend,
as well as you.
if you'll not tell,
I'll be ever so much obliged."
"But I must tell Mr. Carbury."
"Then I ain't obliged to you one bit,"
shutting the door.
Paul as he walked away could not help thinking of the justice of Ruby's reproach to him.
What business had he to take upon himself to be a Mentor to any one in regard to an affair of love;
who had engaged himself to marry Mrs. Hurtle,
and who the evening before had for the first time declared his love to Hetta Carbury?
In regard to Mrs. Hurtle he had got a reprieve,
as he thought,
for two days;
--but it did not make him happy or even comfortable.
As he walked back to his lodgings he knew it would have been better for him to have had the interview over.
at any rate,
he could now think of Hetta Carbury,
and the words he had spoken to her.
Had he heard that declaration which she had made to her mother,
he would have been able for the hour to have forgotten Mrs. Hurtle.
"UNANIMITY IS THE VERY SOUL OF THESE THINGS."
That evening Montague was surprised to receive at the Beargarden a note from Mr. Melmotte,
which had been brought thither by a messenger from the city,
--who had expected to have an immediate answer,
as though Montague lived at the club.
said the letter,
If not inconvenient would you call on me in Grosvenor Square to-morrow,
at half past eleven.
If you are going to church,
perhaps you will make an appointment in the afternoon;
the morning will suit best.
I want to have a few words with you in private about the Company.
My messenger will wait for answer if you are at the club.
Paul immediately wrote to say that he would call at Grosvenor Square at the hour appointed,
--abandoning any intentions which he might have had in reference to Sunday morning service.
But this was not the only letter he received that evening.
On his return to his lodgings he found a note,
containing only one line,
which Mrs. Hurtle had found the means of sending to him after her return from Southend.
"I am so sorry to have been away.
I will expect you all to-morrow.
The period of the reprieve was thus curtailed to less than a day.
On the Sunday morning he breakfasted late and then walked up to Grosvenor Square,
much pondering what the great man could have to say to him.
The great man had declared himself very plainly in the Board-room,
--especially plainly after the Board had risen.
Paul had understood that war was declared,
and had understood also that he was to fight the battle single-handed,
knowing nothing of such strategy as would be required,
while his antagonist was a great master of financial tactics.
He was prepared to go to the wall in reference to his money,
only hoping that in doing so he might save his character and keep the reputation of an honest man.
He was quite resolved to be guided altogether by Mr. Ramsbottom,
and intended to ask Mr. Ramsbottom to draw up for him such a statement as would be fitting for him to publish.
But it was manifest now that Mr. Melmotte would make some proposition,
and it was impossible that he should have Mr. Ramsbottom at his elbow to help him.
He had been in Melmotte's house on the night of the ball,
but had contented himself after that with leaving a card.
He had heard much of the splendour of the place,
but remembered simply the crush and the crowd,
and that he had danced there more than once or twice with Hetta Carbury.
When he was shown into the hall he was astonished to find that it was not only stripped,
but was full of planks,
The preparations for the great dinner had been already commenced.
Through all this he made his way to the stairs,
and was taken up to a small room on the second floor,
where the servant told him that Mr. Melmotte would come to him.
Here he waited a quarter of an hour looking out into the yard at the back.
There was not a book in the room,
or even a picture with which he could amuse himself.
He was beginning to think whether his own personal dignity would not be best consulted by taking his departure,
when Melmotte himself,
with slippers on his feet and enveloped in a magnificent dressing-gown,
bustled into the room.
"My dear sir,
I am so sorry.
You are a punctual man I see.
So am I.
A man of business should be punctual.
But they ain't always.
--from the house of Todd,
--has just been with me.
We had to settle something about the Moldavian loan.
He came a quarter late,
and of course he went a quarter late.
And how is a man to catch a quarter of an hour?
I never could do it."
Montague assured the great man that the delay was of no consequence.
"And I am so sorry to ask you into such a place as this.
I had Brehgert in my room down-stairs,
and then the house is so knocked about!
We get into a furnished house a little way off in Bruton Street to-morrow.
Longestaffe lets me his house for a month till this affair of the dinner is over.
if you'd like to come to the dinner,
I've got a ticket I can let you have.
You know how they're run after."
Montague had heard of the dinner,
but had perhaps heard as little of it as any man frequenting a club at the west end of London.
He did not in the least want to be at the dinner,
and certainly did not wish to receive any extraordinary civility from Mr. Melmotte's hands.
But he was very anxious to know why Mr. Melmotte should offer it.
He excused himself saying that he was not particularly fond of big dinners,
and that he did not like standing in the way of other people.
"There are ever so many people of title would give anything for a ticket.
You'd be astonished at the persons who have asked.
We've had to squeeze in a chair on one side for the Master of the Buckhounds,
and on another for the Bishop of --;
I forget what bishop it is,
but we had the two archbishops before.
They say he must come because he has something to do with getting up the missionaries for Thibet.
But I've got the ticket,
if you'll have it."
This was the ticket which was to have taken in Georgiana Longestaffe as one of the Melmotte family,
had not Melmotte perceived that it might be useful to him as a bribe.
But Paul would not take the bribe.
"You're the only man in London then,"
"But at any rate you'll come in the evening,
and I'll have one of Madame Melmotte's tickets sent to you."
not knowing how to escape,
said that he would come in the evening.
"I am particularly anxious,"
"to be civil to those who are connected with our great Railway,
and of course,
in this country,
your name stands first,
--next to my own."
Then the great man paused,
and Paul began to wonder whether it could be possible that he had been sent for to Grosvenor Square on a Sunday morning in order that he might be asked to dine in the same house a fortnight later.
But that was impossible.
"Have you anything special to say about the Railway?"
It is so hard to get things said at the Board.
Of course there are some there who do not understand matters."
"I doubt if there be any one there who does understand this matter,"
Melmotte affected to laugh.
I am not prepared to go quite so far as that.
My friend Cohenlupe has had great experience in these affairs,
and of course you are aware that he is in Parliament.
And Lord Alfred sees farther into them than perhaps you give him credit for."
"He may easily do that."
Perhaps you don't know him quite as well as I do."
The scowl began to appear on Mr. Melmotte's brow.
Hitherto it had been banished as well as he knew how to banish it.
"What I wanted to say to you was this.
We didn't quite agree at the last meeting."
we did not."
"I was very sorry for it.
Unanimity is everything in the direction of such an undertaking as this.
With unanimity we can do --everything."
Mr. Melmotte in the ecstasy of his enthusiasm lifted up both his hands over his head.
"Without unanimity we can do --nothing."
And the two hands fell.
"Unanimity should be printed everywhere about a Board-room.
"But suppose the directors are not unanimous."
"They should be unanimous.
They should make themselves unanimous.
God bless my soul!
You don't want to see the thing fall to pieces!"
"Not if it can be carried on honestly."
Who says that anything is dishonest?"
Again the brow became very heavy.
If you and I quarrel in that Board-room,
there is no knowing the amount of evil we may do to every individual shareholder in the Company.
I find the responsibility on my own shoulders so great that I say the thing must be stopped.
it must be stopped.
We mustn't ruin widows and children,
We mustn't let those shares run down 20 below par for a mere chimera.
I've known a fine property blasted,
sent straight to the dogs,
--so that it all vanished into thin air,
and widows and children past counting were sent out to starve about the streets,
--just because one director sat in another director's chair.
by G -- --!
What do you think of that,
Gentlemen who don't know the nature of credit,
how strong it is,
--as the air,
--to buoy you up;
how slight it is,
--as a mere vapour,
--when roughly touched,
can do an amount of mischief of which they themselves don't in the least understand the extent!
What is it you want,
"What do I want?"
Melmotte's description of the peculiar susceptibility of great mercantile speculations had not been given without some effect on Montague,
but this direct appeal to himself almost drove that effect out of his mind.
"I only want justice."
"But you should know what justice is before you demand it at the expense of other people.
I suppose you are like the rest of us,
in this matter.
You want to make money out of it."
I want interest for my capital;
that is all.
But I am not thinking of myself."
"You are getting very good interest.
If I understand the matter,"
--and here Melmotte pulled out a little book,
showing thereby how careful he was in mastering details,
--"you had about £6,000 embarked in the business when Fisker joined your firm.
You imagine yourself to have that still."
"I don't know what I've got."
"I can tell you then.
You have that,
and you've drawn nearly a thousand pounds since Fisker came over,
in one shape or another.
That's not bad interest on your money."
"There was back interest due to me."
it's due still.
I've nothing to do with that.
I am most anxious that you should remain with us.
I was about to propose,
only for that little rumpus the other day,
as you're an unmarried man,
and have time on your hands,
you should go out to California and probably across to Mexico,
in order to get necessary information for the Company.
Were I of your age,
and without impediment,
it is just the thing I should like.
Of course you'd go at the Company's expense.
I would see to your own personal interests while you were away;
--or you could appoint any one by power of attorney.
Your seat at the Board would be kept for you;
should anything occur amiss,
--which it won't,
for the thing is as sound as anything I know,
--of course you,
would not share the responsibility.
That's what I was thinking.
It would be a delightful trip;
--but if you don't like it,
you can of course remain at the Board,
and be of the greatest use to me.
after a bit I could devolve nearly the whole management on you;
--and I must do something of the kind,
as I really haven't the time for it.
--if it is to be that way,
--do be unanimous.
Unanimity is the very soul of these things;
--the very soul,
"But if I can't be unanimous?"
--if you can't,
and if you won't take my advice about going out;
for you would be most useful.
It might be the very making of the railway;
--then I can only suggest that you should take your £6,000 and leave us.
should be greatly distressed;
but if you are determined that way I will see that you have your money.
I will make myself personally responsible for the payment of it,
--some time before the end of the year."
Paul Montague told the great man that he would consider the whole matter,
and see him in Abchurch Lane before the next Board day.
said Mr. Melmotte,
as he bade his young friend adieu in a hurry.
"I'm afraid that I'm keeping Sir Gregory Gribe,
the Bank Director,
During all these days Miss Melmotte was by no means contented with her lover's prowess,
though she would not allow herself to doubt his sincerity.
She had not only assured him of her undying affection in the presence of her father and mother,
had not only offered to be chopped in pieces on his behalf,
but had also written to him,
telling how she had a large sum of her father's money within her power,
and how willing she was to make it her own,
to throw over her father and mother,
and give herself and her fortune to her lover.
She felt that she had been very gracious to her lover,
and that her lover was a little slow in acknowledging the favours conferred upon him.
she was true to her lover,
and believed that he was true to her.
Didon had been hitherto faithful.
Marie had written various letters to Sir Felix,
and had received two or three very short notes in reply,
containing hardly more than a word or two each.
But now she was told that a day was absolutely fixed for her marriage with Lord Nidderdale,
and that her things were to be got ready.
She was to be married in the middle of August,
and here they were,
approaching the end of June.
"You may buy what you like,
"and if papa agrees about Felix,
why then I suppose they'll do.
But they'll never be of any use about Lord Nidderdale.
If you were to sew me up in the things by main force,
I wouldn't have him."
Madame Melmotte groaned,
and scolded in English,
and wished that she were dead;
she told Marie that she was a pig,
and a toad,
and a dog.
as she always did end,
by swearing that Melmotte must manage the matter himself.
"Nobody shall manage this matter for me,"
"I know what I'm about now,
and I won't marry anybody just because it will suit papa."
"Que nous étions encore à Francfort,
ou New York,"
said the elder lady,
remembering the humbler but less troubled times of her earlier life.
Marie did not care for Francfort or New York;
for Paris or for London;
--but she did care for Sir Felix Carbury.
While her father on Sunday morning was transacting business in his own house with Paul Montague and the great commercial magnates of the city,
--though it may be doubted whether that very respectable gentleman Sir Gregory Gribe was really in Grosvenor Square when his name was mentioned,
--Marie was walking inside the gardens;
Didon was also there at some distance from her;
and Sir Felix Carbury was there also close along side of her.
Marie had the key of the gardens for her own use;
and had already learned that her neighbours in the square did not much frequent the place during church time on Sunday morning.
Her lover's letter to her father had of course been shown to her,
and she had taxed him with it immediately.
who had thought much of the letter as he came from Welbeck Street to keep his appointment,
--having been assured by Didon that the gate should be left unlocked,
and that she would be there to close it after he had come in,
--was of course ready with a lie.
"It was the only thing to do,
--it was indeed."
"But you said you had accepted some offer."
"You don't suppose I wrote the letter?"
"It was your handwriting,
"Of course it was.
I copied just what he put down.
He'd have sent you clean away where I couldn't have got near you if I hadn't written it."
"And you have accepted nothing?"
"Not at all.
As it is,
he owes me money.
Is not that odd?
I gave him a thousand pounds to buy shares,
and I haven't got anything from him yet."
forgot the cheque for £200.
"Nobody ever does who gives papa money,"
said the observant daughter.
But I just wrote it because I thought anything better than a downright quarrel."
"I wouldn't have written it,
if it had been ever so."
"It's no good scolding,
I did it for the best.
What do you think we'd best do now?"
Marie looked at him,
almost with scorn.
Surely it was for him to propose and for her to yield.
"I wonder whether you're sure you're right about that money which you say is settled."
"It's no good scolding."]
"I'm quite sure.
Mamma told me in Paris,
--just when we were coming away,
--that it was done so that there might be something if things went wrong.
And papa told me that he should want me to sign something from time to time;
and of course I said I would.
But of course I won't,
--if I should have a husband of my own."
Felix walked along,
pondering the matter,
with his hands in his trowsers pockets.
He entertained those very fears which had latterly fallen upon Lord Nidderdale.
There would be no "cropper" which a man could "come" so bad as would be his cropper were he to marry Marie Melmotte,
and then find that he was not to have a shilling!
were he now to run off with Marie,
after having written that letter,
the father would certainly not forgive him.
This assurance of Marie's as to the settled money was too doubtful!
The game to be played was too full of danger!
And in that case he would certainly get neither his £800,
nor the shares.
And if he were true to Melmotte,
Melmotte would probably supply him with ready money.
But then here was the girl at his elbow,
and he no more dared to tell her to her face that he meant to give her up,
than he dared to tell Melmotte that he intended to stick to his engagement.
Some half promise would be the only escape for the present.
"What are you thinking of,
"It's d -- -- difficult to know what to do."
"But you do love me?"
"Of course I do.
If I didn't love you why should I be here walking round this stupid place?
They talk of your being married to Nidderdale about the end of August."
"Some day in August.
But that's all nonsense,
They can't take me up and marry me,
as they used to do the girls ever so long ago.
I won't marry him.
He don't care a bit for me,
and never did.
I don't think you care much,
A fellow can't go on saying so over and over again in a beastly place like this.
If we were anywhere jolly together,
then I could say it often enough."
"I wish we were,
I wonder whether we ever shall be."
"Upon my word I hardly see my way as yet."
"You're not going to give it up!"
--not give it up;
But the bother is a fellow doesn't know what to do."
"You've heard of young Mr. Goldsheiner,
"He's one of those city chaps."
"And Lady Julia Start?"
"She's old Lady Catchboy's daughter.
I've heard of them.
They got spliced last winter."
--somewhere in Switzerland,
At any rate they went to Switzerland,
and now they've got a house close to Albert Gate."
"How jolly for them!
He is awfully rich,
"I don't suppose he's half so rich as papa.
They did all they could to prevent her going,
but she met him down at Folkestone just as the tidal boat was starting.
Didon says that nothing was easier."
Didon knows all about it."
"That she does."
"But she'd lose her place."
"There are plenty of places.
She could come and live with us,
and be my maid.
If you would give her £50 for herself,
she'd arrange it all."
"And would you come to Folkestone?"
"I think that would be stupid,
because Lady Julia did that.
We should make it a little different.
If you liked I wouldn't mind going to --New York.
we might --get --married,
That's what Didon thinks."
"And would Didon go too?"
"That's what she proposes.
She could go as my aunt,
and I'd call myself by her name;
--any French name you know.
I should go as a French girl.
And you could call yourself Smith,
and be an American.
We wouldn't go together,
but we'd get on board just at the last moment.
If they wouldn't --marry us on board,
they would at New York,
"That's Didon's plan?"
"That's what she thinks best,
--and she'll do it,
if you'll give her £50 for herself,
--that's a White Star boat,
goes on Thursday week at noon.
There's an early train that would take us down that morning.
You had better go and sleep at Liverpool,
and take no notice of us at all till we meet on board.
We could be back in a month,
--and then papa would be obliged to make the best of it."
Sir Felix at once felt that it would be quite unnecessary for him to go to Herr Vossner or to any other male counsellor for advice as to the best means of carrying off his love.
The young lady had it all at her fingers' ends,
--even to the amount of the fee required by the female counsellor.
But Thursday week was very near,
and the whole thing was taking uncomfortably defined proportions.
Where was he to get funds if he were to resolve that he would do this thing?
He had been fool enough to intrust his ready money to Melmotte,
and now he was told that when Melmotte got hold of ready money he was not apt to release it.
And he had nothing to show;
--no security that he could offer to Vossner.
--this idea of starting to New York with Melmotte's daughter immediately after he had written to Melmotte renouncing the girl,
"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune."
Sir Felix did not know these lines,
but the lesson taught by them came home to him at this moment.
Now was the tide in his affairs at which he might make himself,
or utterly mar himself.
"It's deuced important,"
he said at last with a groan.
"It's not more important for you than me,"
"If you're wrong about the money,
and he shouldn't come round,
where should we be then?"
said the heiress.
"That's all very well;
but one might venture everything and get nothing after all."
"You'd get me,"
said Marie with a pout.
--and I'm awfully fond of you.
Of course I should get you!
"Very well then;
--if that's your love,"
turning back from him.
Sir Felix gave a great sigh,
and then announced his resolution.
"I'll venture it."
how grand it will be!"
"There's a great deal to do,
I don't know whether it can be Thursday week."
He was putting in the coward's plea for a reprieve.
"I shall be afraid of Didon if it's delayed long."
"There's the money to get,
and all that."
"I can get some money.
Mamma has money in the house."
asked the baronet eagerly.
"A hundred pounds,
--perhaps two hundred."
"That would help certainly.
I must go to your father for money.
Won't that be a sell?
To get it from him,
to take you away!"
It was decided that they were to go to New York,
on a Thursday,
--on Thursday week if possible,
but as to that he was to let her know in a day or two.
Didon was to pack up the clothes and get it sent out of the house.
Didon was to have £50 before she went on board;
and as one of the men must know about it,
and must assist in having the trunks smuggled out of the house,
he was to have £10.
All had been settled beforehand,
so that Sir Felix really had no need to think about anything.
Nobody's looking and she can open that gate for you.
When we're gone,
do you creep out.
The gate can be left,
Then we'll get out on the other side."
Marie Melmotte was certainly a clever girl.
"CAN YOU BE READY IN TEN MINUTES?"
After leaving Melmotte's house on Sunday morning Paul Montague went to Roger Carbury's hotel and found his friend just returning from church.
He was bound to go to Islington on that day,
but had made up his mind that he would defer his visit till the evening.
He would dine early and be with Mrs. Hurtle about seven o'clock.
But it was necessary that Roger should hear the news about Ruby Ruggles.
"It's not so bad as you thought,"
"as she is living with her aunt."
"I never heard of such an aunt."
"She says her grandfather knows where she is,
and that he doesn't want her back again."
"Does she see Felix Carbury?"
"I think she does,"
"Then it doesn't matter whether the woman's her aunt or not.
I'll go and see her and try to get her back to Bungay."
"Why not send for John Crumb?"
Roger hesitated for a moment,
and then answered,
"He'd give Felix such a thrashing as no man ever had before.
My cousin deserves it as well as any man ever deserved a thrashing;
but there are reasons why I should not like it.
And he could not force her back with him.
I don't suppose the girl is all bad,
--if she could see the truth."
"I don't think she's bad at all."
"At any rate I'll go and see her,"
"Perhaps I shall see your widow at the same time."
but said nothing more about his widow at that moment.
"I'll walk up to Welbeck Street now,"
taking his hat.
"Perhaps I shall see you to-morrow."
Paul felt that he could not go to Welbeck Street with his friend.
He dined in solitude at the Beargarden,
and then again made that journey to Islington in a cab.
As he went he thought of the proposal that had been made to him by Melmotte.
If he could do it with a clear conscience,
if he could really make himself believe in the railway,
such an expedition would not be displeasing to him.
He had said already more than he had intended to say to Hetta Carbury;
and though he was by no means disposed to flatter himself,
yet he almost thought that what he had said had been well received.
At the moment they had been disturbed,
as she heard the sound of her mother coming,
had at any rate expressed no anger.
He had almost been betrayed into breaking a promise.
Were he to start now on this journey,
the period of the promise would have passed by before his return.
Of course he would take care that she should know that he had gone in the performance of a duty.
And then he would escape from Mrs. Hurtle,
and would be able to make those inquiries which had been suggested to him.
It was possible that Mrs. Hurtle should offer to go with him,
--an arrangement which would not at all suit him.
That at any rate must be avoided.
But then how could he do this without a belief in the railway generally?
And how was it possible that he should have such belief?
Mr. Ramsbottom did not believe in it,
nor did Roger Carbury.
He himself did not in the least believe in Fisker,
and Fisker had originated the railway.
would it not be best that he should take the Chairman's offer as to his own money?
If he could get his £6,000 back and have done with the railway,
he would certainly think himself a lucky man.
But he did not know how far he could with honesty lay aside his responsibility;
and then he doubted whether he could put implicit trust in Melmotte's personal guarantee for the amount.
This at any rate was clear to him,
--that Melmotte was very anxious to secure his absence from the meetings of the Board.
Now he was again at Mrs. Pipkin's door,
and again it was opened by Ruby Ruggles.
His heart was in his mouth as he thought of the things he had to say.
"The ladies have come back from Southend,
and Mrs. Hurtle is expecting you all the day."
Then she put in a whisper on her own account.
"You didn't tell him as you'd seen me,
"Indeed I did,
"Then you might as well have left it alone,
and not have been ill-natured,
said Ruby as she opened the door of Mrs. Hurtle's room.
Mrs. Hurtle got up to receive him with her sweetest smile,
--and her smile could be very sweet.
She was a witch of a woman,
as like most witches she could be terrible,
so like most witches she could charm.
"that you should have come the only day I have been two hundred yards from the house,
except that evening when you took me to the play.
I was so sorry."
"Why should you be sorry?
It is easy to come again."
"Because I don't like to miss you,
even for a day.
But I wasn't well,
and I fancied that the house was stuffy,
and Mrs. Pipkin took a bright idea and proposed to carry me off to Southend.
She was dying to go herself.
She declared that Southend was Paradise."
"A cockney Paradise."
what a place it is!
Do your people really go to Southend and fancy that that is the sea?"
"I believe they do.
I never went to Southend myself,
--so that you know more about it than I do."
"How very English it is,
--a little yellow river,
--and you call it the sea!
--you never were at Newport!"
"But I've been at San Francisco."
you've been at San Francisco,
and heard the seals howling.
that's better than Southend."
"I suppose we do have the sea here in England.
It's generally supposed we're an island."
--but things are so small.
If you choose to go to the west of Ireland,
I suppose you'd find the Atlantic.
But nobody ever does go there for fear of being murdered."
Paul thought of the gentleman in Oregon,
but said nothing;
of his own condition,
and remembered that a man might be murdered without going either to Oregon or the west of Ireland.
"But we went to Southend,
and Mrs. Pipkin and the baby,
and upon my word I enjoyed it.
She was so afraid that the baby would annoy me,
and I thought the baby was so much the best of it.
And then we ate shrimps,
and she was so humble.
You must acknowledge that with us nobody would be so humble.
Of course I paid.
She has got all her children,
and nothing but what she can make out of these lodgings.
People are just as poor with us;
--and other people who happen to be a little better off,
pay for them.
But nobody is humble to another,
as you are here.
Of course we like to have money as well as you do,
but it doesn't make so much difference."
"He who wants to receive,
all the world over,
will make himself as agreeable as he can to him who can give."
"But Mrs. Pipkin was so humble.
However we got back all right yesterday evening,
and then I found that you had been here,
"You knew that I had to go to Liverpool."
"I'm not going to scold.
Did you get your business done at Liverpool?"
--one generally gets something done,
but never anything very satisfactorily.
Of course it's about this railway."
"I should have thought that that was satisfactory.
Everybody talks of it as being the greatest thing ever invented.
I wish I was a man that I might be concerned with a really great thing like that.
I hate little peddling things.
I should like to manage the greatest bank in the world,
or to be Captain of the biggest fleet,
or to make the largest railway.
It would be better even than being President of a Republic,
because one would have more of one's own way.
What is it that you do in it,
"They want me now to go out to Mexico about it,"
said he slowly.
"Shall you go?"
throwing herself forward and asking the question with manifest anxiety.
"I think not."
I would go with you.
Why should you not go?
It is just the thing for such a one as you to do.
The railway will make Mexico a new country,
and then you would be the man who had done it.
Why should you throw away such a chance as that?
It will never come again.
Emperors and kings have tried their hands at Mexico and have been able to do nothing.
Emperors and kings never can do anything.
Think what it would be to be the regenerator of Mexico!"
"Think what it would be to find one's self there without the means of doing anything,
and to feel that one had been sent there merely that one might be out of the way."
"I would make the means of doing something."
"Means are money.
How can I make that?"
"There is money going.
There must be money where there is all this buying and selling of shares.
Where does your uncle get the money with which he is living like a prince at San Francisco?
Where does Fisker get the money with which he is speculating in New York?
Where does Melmotte get the money which makes him the richest man in the world?
Why should not you get it as well as the others?"
"If I were anxious to rob on my own account perhaps I might do it."
"Why should it be robbery?
I do not want you to live in a palace and spend millions of dollars on yourself.
But I want you to have ambition.
Go to Mexico,
and chance it.
Take San Francisco in your way,
and get across the country.
I will go every yard with you.
Make people there believe that you are in earnest,
and there will be no difficulty about the money."
He felt that he was taking no steps to approach the subject which he should have to discuss before he left her,
--or rather the statement which he had resolved that he would make.
Indeed every word which he allowed her to say respecting this Mexican project carried him farther away from it.
He was giving reasons why the journey should not be made;
but was tacitly admitting that if it were to be made she might be one of the travellers.
The very offer on her part implied an understanding that his former abnegation of his engagement had been withdrawn,
and yet he shrunk from the cruelty of telling her,
in a side-way fashion,
that he would not submit to her companionship either for the purpose of such a journey or for any other purpose.
The thing must be said in a solemn manner,
and must be introduced on its own basis.
But such preliminary conversation as this made the introduction of it infinitely more difficult.
"You are not in a hurry?"
"You're going to spend the evening with me like a good man?
Then I'll ask them to let us have tea."
She rang the bell and Ruby came in,
and the tea was ordered.
"That young lady tells me that you are an old friend of hers."
"I've known about her down in the country,
and was astonished to find her here yesterday."
"There's some lover,
--some would-be husband whom she does not like?"
"And some won't-be husband,
whom she does like."
"That's quite of course,
if the other is true.
Miss Ruby isn't the girl to have come to her time of life without a preference.
The natural liking of a young woman for a man in a station above her,
because he is softer and cleaner and has better parts of speech,
--just as we keep a pretty dog if we keep a dog at all,
--is one of the evils of the inequality of mankind.
The girl is content with the love without having the love justified,
because the object is more desirable.
She can only have her love justified with an object less desirable.
If all men wore coats of the same fabric,
and had to share the soil of the work of the world equally between them,
that evil would come to an end.
A woman here and there might go wrong from fantasy and diseased passions,
but the ever-existing temptation to go wrong would be at an end."
"If men were equal to-morrow and all wore the same coats,
they would wear different coats the next day."
But there would be no more purple and fine linen,
and no more blue woad.
It isn't to be done in a day of course,
nor yet in a century,
--nor in a decade of centuries;
but every human being who looks into it honestly will see that his efforts should be made in that direction.
you never take sugar;
give me that."
Neither had he come here to discuss the deeply interesting questions of women's difficulties and immediate or progressive equality.
But having got on to these rocks,
as the reader may perceive,
been taken on to them wilfully by the skill of the woman,
--he did not know how to get his bark out again into clear waters.
But having his own subject before him,
with all its dangers,
the wild-cat's claws,
and the possible fate of the gentleman in Oregon,
he could not talk freely on the subjects which she introduced,
as had been his wont in former years.
changing his cup.
"How well you remember!"
"Do you think I shall ever forget your preferences and dislikings?
Do you recollect telling me about that blue scarf of mine,
that I should never wear blue?"
She stretched herself out towards him,
waiting for an answer,
so that he was obliged to speak.
"Of course I do.
Black is your colour;
--black and grey;
--and perhaps yellow when you choose to be gorgeous;
But not blue or green."
"I never thought much of it before,
but I have taken your word for gospel.
It is very good to have an eye for such things,
--as you have,
But I fancy that taste comes with,
or at any rate forbodes,
an effete civilisation."
"I am sorry that mine should be effete,"
he said smiling.
"You know what I mean,
I speak of nations,
Civilisation was becoming effete,
or at any rate men were,
in the time of the great painters;
but Savanarola and Galileo were individuals.
You should throw your lot in with a new people.
This railway to Mexico gives you the chance."
"Are the Mexicans a new people?"
"They who will rule the Mexicans are.
All American women I dare say have bad taste in gowns,
--and so the vain ones and rich ones send to Paris for their finery;
but I think our taste in men is generally good.
We like our philosophers;
we like our poets;
we like our genuine workmen;
--but we love our heroes.
I would have you a hero,
He got up from his chair and walked about the room in an agony of despair.
To be told that he was expected to be a hero at the very moment in his life in which he felt more devoid of heroism,
more thoroughly given up to cowardice than he had ever been before,
was not to be endured!
with what utmost stretch of courage,
--even though he were willing to devote himself certainly and instantly to the worst fate that he had pictured to himself,
--could he immediately rush away from these abstract speculations,
encumbered as they were with personal flattery,
into his own most unpleasant,
most tragic matter!
It was the unfitness that deterred him and not the possible tragedy.
through it all,
he was sure,
--that she was playing her game,
and playing it in direct antagonism to the game which she knew that he wanted to play.
Would it not be better that he should go away and write another letter?
In a letter he could at any rate say what he had to say;
--and having said it he would then strengthen himself to adhere to it.
"What makes you so uneasy?"
still speaking in her most winning way,
caressing him with the tones of her voice.
"Do you not like me to say that I would have you be a hero?"
"I came here with a purpose,
and I had better carry it out."
She still leaned forward,
but now supported her face on her two hands with her elbows resting on her knees,
looking at him intently.
But one would have said that there was only love in her eyes;
--love which might be disappointed,
but still love.
The wild cat,
was all within,
still hidden from sight.
Paul stood with his hands on the back of a chair,
propping himself up and trying to find fitting words for the occasion.
"Must the purpose be told to-night?"
"Why not to-night?"
I am not well;
--I am weak now.
I am a coward.
You do not know the delight to me of having a few words of pleasant talk to an old friend after the desolation of the last weeks.
Mrs. Pipkin is not very charming.
Even her baby cannot supply all the social wants of my life.
I had intended that everything should be sweet to-night.
if it was your purpose to tell me of your love,
to assure me that you are still my dear,
to speak with hope of future days,
or with pleasure of those that are past,
--then carry out your purpose.
But if it be cruel,
if you had come to speak daggers;
--then drop your purpose for to-night.
Try and think what my solitude must have been to me,
and let me have one hour of comfort."
Of course he was conquered for that night,
and could only have that solace which a most injurious reprieve could give him.
"I will not harass you,
if you are ill,"
"I am ill.
It was because I was afraid that I should be really ill that I went to Southend.
The weather is hot,
though of course the sun here is not as we have it.
But the air is heavy,
--what Mrs. Pipkin calls muggy.
I was thinking if I were to go somewhere for a week,
it would do me good.
Where had I better go?"
Paul suggested Brighton.
"That is full of people;
is it not?
--a fashionable place?"
"Not at this time of the year."
"But it is a big place.
I want some little place that would be pretty.
You could take me down;
could you not?
Not very far,
--not that any place can be very far from here."
in his John Bull displeasure,
that it would take twenty-four hours.
"Not Penzance then,
which I know is your very Ultima Thule;
nor yet Orkney.
Is there no other place,
"There is Cromer in Norfolk,
--perhaps ten hours."
"Is Cromer by the sea?"
--what we call the sea."
"I mean really the sea,
"If you start from Cromer right away,
a hundred miles would perhaps take you across to Holland.
A ditch of that kind wouldn't do perhaps."
--now I see you are laughing at me.
Is Cromer pretty?"
--I think it is.
I was there once,
but I don't remember much.
"Mrs. Pipkin told me of Ramsgate.
I don't think I should like Ramsgate."
"There's the Isle of Wight.
The Isle of Wight is very pretty."
"That's the Queen's place.
There would not be room for her and me too."
Lowestoft is not so far as Cromer,
and there is a railway all the distance."
"Sea enough for anything.
If you can't see across it,
and if there are waves,
and wind enough to knock you down,
and shipwrecks every other day,
I don't see why a hundred miles isn't as good as a thousand."
"A hundred miles is just as good as a thousand.
at Southend it isn't a hundred miles across to the other side of the river.
You must admit that.
But you will be a better guide than Mrs. Pipkin.
You would not have taken me to Southend when I expressed a wish for the ocean;
Let it be Lowestoft.
Is there an hotel?"
"A small little place."
But almost any place would do for me."
"They make up,
about a hundred beds;
but in the States it would be very small."
delighted to have brought him back to this humour,
"if I were to throw the tea things at you,
it would serve you right.
This is all because I did not lose myself in awe at the sight of the Southend ocean.
It shall be Lowestoft."
Then she rose up and came to him,
and took his arm.
"You will take me down,
will you not?
It is desolate for a woman to go into such a place all alone.
I will not ask you to stay.
And I can return by myself."
She had put both hands on one arm,
and turned herself round,
and looked into his face.
"You will do that for old acquaintance sake?"
For a moment or two he made no answer,
and his face was troubled,
and his brow was black.
He was endeavouring to think;
--but he was only aware of his danger,
and could see no way through it.
"I don't think you will let me ask in vain for such a favour as that,"
"I will take you down.
When will you go?"
He had cockered himself up with some vain idea that the railway carriage would be a good place for the declaration of his purpose,
or perhaps the sands at Lowestoft.
"When will I go?
when will you take me?
You have Boards to attend,
and shares to look to,
and Mexico to regenerate.
I am a poor woman with nothing on hand but Mrs. Pipkin's baby.
Can you be ready in ten minutes?
--because I could."
Paul shook his head and laughed.
"I've named a time and that doesn't suit.
you name another,
and I'll promise it shall suit."
Paul suggested Saturday,
He must attend the next Board,
and had promised to see Melmotte before the Board day.
Saturday of course would do for Mrs. Hurtle.
Should she meet him at the railway station?
Of course he undertook to come and fetch her.
as he took his leave,
she stood close against him,
and put her cheek up for him to kiss.
There are moments in which a man finds it utterly impossible that he should be prudent,
--as to which,
when he thought of them afterwards,
he could never forgive himself for prudence,
let the danger have been what it may.
Of course he took her in his arms,
and kissed her lips as well as her cheeks.